New Brunswick

Ex-MP Mike Allen joins Progressive Conservative leadership race

Former MP Mike Allen launched his Progressive Conservative leadership campaign on Thursday with a five-point plan that focused on controlling government spending, creating jobs and using future resource revenue to pay down the province’s debt.

Former Conservative MP represented Tobique-Mactaquac from 2006 to 2015

Mike Allen, the former Conservative MP for Tobique-Mactaquac, is running for the Progressive Conservative leadership. (CBC)

Former MP Mike Allen launched his Progressive Conservative leadership campaign on Thursday with a five-point plan that focused on controlling government spending, creating jobs and using future resource revenue to pay down the province's debt.

Allen had about 85 people turn out for his campaign launch in Fredericton.

"I am telling you that Mike Allen is officially here to serve," he said at the launch.

The former Tobique-Mactaquac MP offered several policy ideas during his speech. He said it isn't enough to criticize other parties, "we have to propose things."

In his five-point plan, Allen said the provincial government must control spending more tightly. However, he also said the provincial government should not cut teachers in proportion to declining student enrolment.

He also highlighted the need to promote entrepreneurism and innovation, spur on job creation from small- and medium-sized businesses and provide access to services for all New Brunswickers.

Allen is also calling for responsible resource development, but he said any future revenue needs to be directed toward paying down New Brunswick's debt.

"I think the royalties that we gain off our natural resources which I call our legacy assets, they should go into legacy projects, like paying down our debt and conserving New Brunswick for future New Brunswickers and should not be used in program spending because of the volatility," he told reporters.

He said he would want to work with the province's auditor general to make sure the funds were accounted properly. 

The development of the shale gas industry was a major focus of the 2014 election campaign. The David Alward-led Tories campaigned hard on their support for shale gas industry.

Premier Brian Gallant has put a moratorium on the development of the industry, a move that drew criticism from Allen.

He said it is important to establish the right regulatory environment for the industry now, so the province is ready if the demand and price returns for shale gas.

Allen also weighed in on the contentious dual busing issue. He said the Gallant government didn't have the "intestinal fortitude" to deal with the issue and "kicked it" to the courts.

The Court of Appeal is being asked to answer whether there is a constitutional obligation in New Brunswick to provide "distinct school transportation in relation to one or the other official language?"

Allen said he supports bilingualism but he said there needs to be a "fair and equitable" approach to its application to government policies.

"We need to have common sense in the system," he said.

Allen's supporters

Tory MLA Kirk MacDonald is one of Allen's supporters. (CBC)
The former MP's leadership bid was backed by MLA Kirk MacDonald, former Confederation of Regions MLA Max White and former MPs Keith Ashfield and Greg Thompson.

Thompson, who served as a cabinet minister in the Stephen Harper government, said he believes Allen is the right person to take over the helm of the provincial party.

"I think his record in Ottawa speaks for itself, he is incredibly bright and a very, very hard worker," Thompson said.

"So it's a good combination to lead a party. He has a track record, good work ethic and the skills to do the job."

Ashfield, a former provincial and federal cabinet minister, said he was impressed with Allen's skills.

"People are looking for some ideas and answers to issues, I think Mike has the ability to bring those forward," he said.

4 candidates in the race

Tory MLA Brian Macdonald, who is also running for the party's leadership, attended Allen's campaign launch on Thursday. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)
There are now four people in the Tory leadership race.

Allen now joins Quispamsis MLA Blaine Higgs, the former finance minister, Fredericton West-Hanwell MLA Brian Macdonald and Moncton lawyer Monica Barley in the Tory leadership race.

The party's top job opened up when former premier David Alward resigned following the 2014 election loss.

Macdonald attended Allen's launch and described the former MP as a "friend and colleague." He said he's not concerned by the growing field of leadership candidates.

"This shows the strength of our party. We've got a strong party, there are a lot of good candidates coming forward," he said.

Allen was elected in 2006 as a Conservative MP in Tobique-Mactaquac and was then re-elected in 2008 and 2011. He decided not to run in the 2015 election.

His successor Richard Bragdon lost to Liberal T.J. Harvey as a part of the Liberal sweep of New Brunswick.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.