Jack MacDougall resigns as Green Party leader
Jack MacDougall has resigned as the leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, a year after he led the party into the 2010 election campaign.
Greta Doucet, who was a Green candidate in the Moncton North riding, will be the interim leader of the party.
MacDougall said he expects a full-time leader will be in place by next spring and he felt it was the right time to step aside.
"I did what I set out to do, that was get them through the first election," MacDougall said.
"With the small group that started, I was the only person who had the time to do it and perhaps the experience to do it. Now it is really important for us to have a new leader and I would like to devote my time to get the party organized for the next election."
The Green Party did not elect any members in the provincial election campaign. The party did win 4.5 per cent of the popular vote in the election.
MacDougall placed a distant third in his own fight for a seat. The Green Party leader garnered 727 votes, or 9.4 per cent of the vote, in the riding of Fredericton-Nashwaaksis.
His replacement did not fare much better in the 2010 campaign.
Doucet placed fourth in the riding of Moncton North, earning 367 votes, or seven per cent of the vote. In an email to CBC News, she described herself as a "raging granny" and said she was eager to get started on her new job.
"I am an informal person, a very passionate Green, and I am extremely pleased to be able to help the N.B. Green Party as it prepares for new leadership," she said.
While the party may not have had any MLAs elected, MacDougall said the party emerged out of the election with a lot of optimism.
"I think we ran a very credible effort on the campaign, we had an excellent campaign and excellent candidates," he said.
"I think we outperformed the expectations of a lot of people. I think we were seen as a credible voice in the debate."
Dedicated to the party
MacDougall said he is staying on with the Green Party and will act as a fundraiser until the end of the year. He said he hopes he can continue to help the party organize for the next election.
"I am as dedicated to the party as I ever was, but I think I can best place my experience as an organizer," he said.
A year after the election campaign, the Greens are having difficulty maintaining their support.
The latest Corporate Research Associates poll showed the Green Party had zero per cent of the decided vote.
Those poll numbers do not worry MacDougall, who argues the party should not fixate on those numbers in the same way that more traditional parties do.
"We have to take that [poll] out of the mix, whether or not we are popular or not. We exist because we feel there is a vacuum in New Brunswick on our message. We are out there talking about issues that are very, very important to us," he said.
Premier David Alward told reporters on Monday that he felt MacDougall made a positive contribution to the province's political landscape.
"We always had very good discussions. I think he was someone who was a pragmatist," Alward said.
"He worked to find solutions, to make things better, and I've always found him very good to deal with."
Split with Liberals
MacDougall switched to the Green Party in 2008 after a long career with the Liberals.
He ran against Shawn Graham for the Liberal leadership in 2002. He came second in the two-person race, earning 25 per cent of the vote.
MacDougall started with the Liberals in 1984, when the party was in opposition and eventually served as a senior adviser in the premier's office under Frank McKenna.
After losing the 2002 Liberal leadership race, MacDougall left politics to pursue higher education. He finished his bachelor of education degree at the University of New Brunswick in 2005.
However, MacDougall was also well-known in the Saint John community for his fundraising efforts.
In 1982, he took on a two-year fundraising initiative that allowed the Imperial Theatre in Saint John to open. The building had been used by the Full Gospel Assembly Pentecostal Church before MacDougall purchased the building for $1 and then committed to raising $1 million within a year.
The target was achieved and the theatre has since been designated as a National Historic Site.