New Brunswick

Former NDP leader running under PC banner in provincial election

Dominic Cardy will be running in a New Brunswick election for the fourth time — this time as a Progressive Conservative in Fredericton West-Hanwell.

Dominic Cardy running in Fredericton West-Hanwell

Former NDP leader Dominic Cardy will run for the PCs in Fredericton West-Hanwell. (CBC)

September's New Brunswick election could be the fourth time lucky for Dominic Cardy.

The former NDP leader, who tried to get elected as an MLA three times — in one general election and two by-elections — will be on the ballot again this fall, this time as a Progressive Conservative.

Cardy was the only candidate for the party's nomination in Fredericton West-Hanwell before last week's deadline.

"It's a chance to get in and be part of a Blaine Higgs government and do all the things I've been talking about the whole time I've been in politics," he said, "pushing for genuine progressive, conservative change: fiscally responsible and strong, well-developed social programs."

Cardy became NDP leader in 2011 and ran in Fredericton West-Hanwell in the 2014 election, placing second to PC incumbent Brian Macdonald. He had 29.7 per cent of the vote compared to 35.2 per cent for Macdonald.

Cardy steered the party away from many of its conventional left-wing positions, declaring that government spending was not always the best solution. The party won a record 13 per cent of the popular vote in 2014 but failed to elect any MLAs.

Joining the PCs

He quit the leadership and the party on New Year's Day 2017, declaring he was fed up responding to criticism from long-time left-leaning New Democrats upset with his approach.

He later joined the PC party and became chief of staff to leader Blaine Higgs.

PC Leader Blaine Higgs, left, announced Dominic Cardy, right, would join the Tories last year. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

Macdonald announced this spring he was leaving provincial politics.

Cardy said Friday many of his supporters from 2014 have moved to the PCs with him and have encouraged him to run.

"This election has got to be above and beyond party. Party's important, and I think the PCs are the only vehicle to really deliver change in New Brunswick, but we have to bring in folks from across the political spectrum," he said.

Cardy's Liberal opponent, Cindy Miles, acknowledged that he's a high-profile candidate but "I know I have some confusion — is his profile from the NDP or is his profile from the Conservative Party?"

She also pointed to a comment Cardy made last year when he went to work for Higgs. "I enjoyed my time running for office but wasn't, obviously, hugely good at that," he said at the time.

Hanwell priority

As NDP leader, Cardy ran in a 2012 by-election in Rothesay and in another by-election in Saint John East in 2014. He placed third in both races.

Cardy said he's trying again because Higgs has promised to give his MLAs more power in government decision-making.

He doesn't live in Fredericton West-Hanwell, though he lives across the street from one corner of the riding.

The riding includes the rural community of Hanwell, which has been lobbying for a new school for its growing population. The school was ranked as the top priority for the Anglophone West district education council but wasn't in this year's capital budget.

Cardy said the DEC's recommendation should have been heeded by the Liberal government. "We have got to start paying attention to the institutions that exist when it comes to decision-making," he said.

Miles said she supports putting a school in Hanwell "one hundred per cent" but could not explain why the Liberal government hadn't funded the construction.

After the DEC recommendation, "there's a lot of other pieces that would come into place," he said. "I can't speak to it. I wasn't part of the capital budget conversation."