A longtime local politician is extolling the virtues of New Brunswick’s new Liberal leader.
Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, who spent a lengthy career in politics until her retirement from the Senate in 2008, is delighted former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers has been declared the new leader of the party, effective today, April 24. Vickers was acclaimed to the position after being the sole candidate left in the race after his lone rival René Ephestion withdrew earlier this month.
“He is one of the most dedicated and sincere persons I have ever known, and one of the hardest working, always going above and beyond the call of duty,” said Trenholme Counsell.
Trenholme Counsell, who served as an MLA for Tantramar, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick and a Canadian Senator, has been close friends with Vickers and his wife Ann for more than 20 years, first meeting him when he took on the aide-de-camp position when she was Lieutenant Governor.
Vickers was hailed as a hero for helping to end the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill, but Trenholme Counsell says he is modest about his role in ending the crisis, saying he believes he was just doing his duty and that others also had a part in this historic event.
“I talked to him that night and believe his actions were truly heroic,” said Trenholme Counsell. “For a few moments he was alone, face to face, with Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who was still holding his own gun. He knew he had to fire the first shot or be fatally shot himself. The rest is history. In all his years with the RCMP he had never had to fatally shoot anyone so this caused him much mental anguish. “
Vickers had a long career of public service, including 29 years in the RCMP. He served as the aide-de-camp for the NB Lieutenant Governor and then served as sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons between 2006 and 2015.
“In addition to this dedication to duty, I think his essential goodness and his genuine liberal values will inform his leadership,” said Trenholme Counsell. “He believes each person has a right to opportunity and hope. This belief will be the foundation of his vision for New Brunswick.”
The New Brunswick Liberal party has canceled its June leadership convention as a result of the acclimation and will instead hold a policy convention in Saint John next spring.
Vickers will replace former premier Brian Gallant as Liberal leader. Gallant stepped down last November after his government lost the majority in the Legislature following last September’s provincial election.
At 62, Vickers is a newcomer to the political arena and announced his candidacy in March after retiring as Canada’s ambassador to Ireland.
In a statement released by the party last week, Vickers said he is “incredibly humbled to become the next leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party.”
“My life has been shaped by so many people that have helped to build this province,” said Vickers. “I'm thrilled to do my part in the months and years ahead to ensure that New Brunswick's future is one that is filled with hope and opportunity."
Trenholme Counsell said Vickers has often talked about his “love for New Brunswick” and when he was first approached last December about offering for the leadership of the NB Liberal Party, he decided to give this opportunity serious consideration.
Having spent nine years as sergeant-at-arms in Canada’s Parliament, Trenholme Counsell said Vickers gained plenty of political experience where “he listened and watched politicians from all parties debating and speaking on thousands of subjects important to the people of Canada.”
“He learned much and, despite the often harsh reality of politics, he still believes in the possibility of improving the lives of his fellow citizens of all ages.”
Vicker’s plan is based on improving the economy and growing the population, prudent fiscal management while protecting the most vulnerable, transforming education, strengthening health care, and making environmentally sound economic and social decisions.
“He wants the people of New Brunswick to think, act and live green.”