Former premier Brian Gallant will step down as MLA within a month
37-year-old lawyer quit as Liberal leader after failing to secure 2nd mandate
Former premier Brian Gallant says he'll give up his seat in the New Brunswick legislature within the next month.
Gallant announced in a Facebook post that "with a heavy heart," he'll resign as MLA for Shediac Bay-Dieppe on or before Oct. 7.
The 37-year-old lawyer quit as leader of the Liberal Party after he failed to secure a second mandate in last year's New Brunswick election. He sought to cling to power by winning the support of another party in the legislature but lost a confidence vote last Nov. 2.
His resignation will give the Progressive Conservative government more breathing room during votes in the legislature.
The PCs have 22 seats and the Liberals will be down to 19, excluding Speaker Daniel Guitard, who only votes to break a tie. The People's Alliance and the Greens have three seats each.
"I have cherished every moment that I have had the privilege to sit in the New Brunswick Legislature to represent the people of Shediac Bay-Dieppe and the former riding of Kent," Gallant said in his statement.
"I will forever appreciate the people from these two ridings for putting their confidence in me to represent them in Fredericton."
Gallant was chosen Liberal leader in 2012 and was first elected as an MLA the following year.
Premier Blaine Higgs will be required to call a byelection to fill his seat within six months.
That represents an opportunity for new Liberal leader Kevin Vickers, who doesn't have a seat in the legislature. Shediac Bay-Dieppe is one of the most reliable Liberal ridings in the province.
In a statement, Vickers did not rule out running for the seat, saying he's humbled by the many Liberals suggesting he do it.
"I will be meeting with the riding executive and membership of Shediac Bay-Dieppe, offering my support and rallying the troops to prepare for a byelection in the riding. As I have indicated at the outset, it is ultimately my intention to represent the people of the Miramichi."
In his statement, Gallant touted his record as premier, including programs to make university and college more affordable and to make child-care spaces more accessible.
He made no mention of two controversies about his tenure that erupted after he lost power: cost overruns for the now-cancelled Francophonie Games and criticisms by the auditor-general of a special funding deal he put in place for the City of Saint John.
Gallant recently accepted a part-time position as a "special adviser" to the president of Toronto's Ryerson University on innovation, cybersecurity and law.