'New Brunswick has gotten the shaft,' Vickers tells Saint John audience
New Brunswick's new Liberal leader went on the attack today in his first major speech since taking over the job.
Former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers toughest language was aimed, not at the Higgs government, but at Ottawa.
Vickers chose a business audience to make his first foray into Saint John as provincial liberal leader, but his primary target today, were his former employers in Ottawa.
“Quite frankly ladies and gentlemen, New Brunswick has gotten the shaft,” Vickers said. “It is the forgotten child of Confederation.”
Forgotten, says Vickers, especially when it comes to federal spending.
“Nova Scotia's economy is now supported by the frigate program, millions to Bombardier over the years, loan guarantees to Muskrat Falls in Newfoundland,” Vickers said, running down a few examples of federal spending in Atlantic Canada.
The former ambassador to Ireland spoke of family connections in Saint John, a city where his party needs to rebuild support.
Saint John now poses a significant challenge for Kevin Vickers and for provincial liberals. The party won only one seat in the greater Saint John area, and that seat, by just 10 votes.
Vickers visit comes just days after New Brunswick's auditor general criticized a bailout package given to Saint John by the former Gallant government.
Today, Vickers sided, with the Auditor General Kim MacPherson.
“The auditor general, she does god's work,” Vickers said.
And he echoed pleas from municipal leaders.
“(There is an) urgent need for municipal reform, so that everyone pays their fair share of taxes and the city can get on its feet financially,” Vickers said.
Though time for that reform, is running out.
“So, we're coming toward the end of those three years, we've got another year left and
I don't see any reform in the future,” said Saint John Coun. Donna Reardon. “So yeah, am I getting nervous? Absolutely.”
So far, Liberals seem pleased with Vickers’ first steps into the public eye.
“This is the first time I think Kevin has been selling himself as a politician and so far, the vision has been pretty refreshing,” said David Hickey, the chairman of the Young Liberals of Canada.
There is one thing to keep in mind, though; with the Blaine Higgs government in a minority situation, Vickers may not have a lot of time to prepare himself and the party for the next election.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.