New Brunswick

Brian Gallant's Davos trip amid Sussex job losses defended

Premier Brian Gallant's decision to remain in Davos, Switzerland, with the world's richest and most powerful leaders while Sussex is coping with news that its largest employer is closing, is being defended by Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault.

Energy Minister Donald Arseneault says premier is drumming up business during Switzerland trip

Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault defended Premier Brian Gallant's decision to remain in Switzerland after PotashCorp announced it would suspend operations at its Picadilly mine in Sussex. (CBC)

Premier Brian Gallant's decision to remain in Davos, Switzerland, with the world's richest and most powerful leaders while Sussex is coping with news that its largest employer is closing, is being defended by Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault.

The Liberal cabinet minister said Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan let the New Brunswick government know of the decision to halt operations at its Sussex mine on Monday. 

Arseneault said the premier had already arrived in Switzerland when the company delivered the news.

"So when we did meet with the president, the premier did join us by phone," Arseneault said on Wednesday.

"But at the same time … we can't spend a day without looking for economic opportunities for our province. The premier is not in Switzerland having a vacation. The premier is in Switzerland talking to business leaders."

The premier's office has not posted a public itinerary for Gallant's Davos trip.

More than a week ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office said the prime minister would attend the World Economic Forum to discuss his government's infrastructure commitments and tax changes.

Gallant's office did not circulate a similar explanation for the premier's trip.

But Arseneault said the premier will be meeting with companies such as Glencore, Alibaba, IBM and Uber while in Switzerland.

"We are continuously working tirelessly trying to drum up some business, some economic opportunities," the energy minister said.

"We cannot stop. I'm glad he's out there because the last thing I need is a government taking a break and not looking for economic opportunities."

Gallant's overseas trip has generated criticism from some of his political rivals.

Michael Murphy, the former Liberal cabinet minister who Gallant defeated for the party's leadership, said on Twitter that he was "shocked" that the premier was overseas.

The Official Opposition has also used their Twitter account to question the cost of the trip and the premier's silence since news broke of the Sussex job losses.

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