MLA tossed from PC caucus claims she did nothing wrong
Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin suggests New Brunswick anti-vaxxers took over border protest
Former PC MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin hasn't decided whether she'll fight to keep her job as MLA now that she's an Independent.
But she says she is certain of one thing. She says she had nothing to do with the protest that shut down traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway most of last Wednesday.
"Why would I participate in a protest to blockade the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border, which is something I've been fighting to get opened for months?" Smith-McCrossin told CBC News in a Zoom interview from her constituency office in Amherst.
"I did not participate in that or support it and in fact had several conversations to try to and get them to open things up."
The representative for Cumberland North said she did support a smaller and shorter blockade on Tuesday evening on Highway 104 but she said that protest had nothing to do with the gathering at the border.
She said that protest may have included locals, but was commandeered by outsiders.
"It would appear that some professional protesters from New Brunswick, is what I was told, that were clearly anti-vaxxers took over the protest," said Smith-McCrossin.
"I'm a registered nurse, I've given vaccines for 30 years as a registered nurse," she said. "In fact, I've given COVID-19 vaccines in my husband's clinic. So I'm fully supportive of COVID-19 vaccinations.
"Vaccines prevent viral illnesses and [I] did not endorse or support what happened on Wednesday."
Smith-McCrossin said people erroneously tied that blockade to a video she posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon. It issued an ultimatum to Premier Iain Rankin, demanding he rescind new border restrictions for people travelling to and from New Brunswick.
"You have until 4 o'clock today and if you don't the Trans-Canada highway will be shut down," said Smith-McCrossin. "We're shutting down the Trans-Canada Highway away from us but close to you where it's gonna hurt."
'I came across indignant because I was'
Rather than inciting or leading the blockade, she said she was standing up for her residents.
"I came across indignant because I was," she said. "I will not apologize for that. [My constituents] deserve better. They have deserved better for a long time."
The one-time PC leadership candidate said she was sad to have been ejected from the PC caucus.
But she said she wasn't about to do what they wanted her to do last week, which was to take responsibility for the disruption caused by the blockade at the border, including the cancellation of more than 100 appointments at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre in Amherst.
In an email to CBC News, RCMP Cpl. Chris Marshall confirmed there were two blockades on Highway 104 last week "that occurred one after the other."
According to the police timeline, "the blockade at exit 7 on the 104 Highway began at approximately 4:25 p.m. on June 22, 2021. The protestors dispersed between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. and moved to the Nova Scotia/New Brunswick border.
"The blockade on Highway 104 at the New Brunswick/Nova Scotia border began at approximately 11:30 p.m. on June 22, 2021."
Messages of support
Police moved in to break up that blockade the following day. Officers arrested three people.
Smith-McCrossin said she has received hundreds of messages of support for her stance and is considering whether to try to win her seat again in the next election.
"Out of respect for my constituents I will give it some thought."