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At least two applications submitted for New Brunswick Liberal leadership race

Kevin Vickers, the former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms, announces his intention to run for the leadership of the New Brunswick Liberals, in Miramichi, N.B. on Friday, March 15, 2019. Vickers recently retired as Canada's ambassador to Ireland. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

There could be some competition for Kevin Vickers, the former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms seeking the leadership of New Brunswick’s Liberal party.

A senior party official confirmed Friday that at least one other person has applied to become a candidate, though party rules prevent identifying applicants until they are approved by a committee.

Hailed as a hero for helping to end the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill, Vickers was the first candidate to officially enter the race two weeks ago.

The party also confirmed Friday it had distributed five application packages to would-be candidates.

The deadline for submitting applications and a $20,000 entrance fee is Friday at 4:30 p.m.

At that time, the party will only confirm the number of applications received.

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READ MORE: Kevin Vickers announces he’ll seek New Brunswick Liberal leadership

The next step is a formal vetting process by a green-light committee, which could take more than a week to complete.

Rene Ephestion, leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Multicultural Inclusion Commission, has also expressed his interest in seeking the leadership. He could not be reached for comment.

A leadership convention has been scheduled for June 21-22 in Saint John.

Vickers issued a statement Friday saying he is looking forward to speaking with Liberals “about a new path forward.”

He has drafted a five-point plan that calls for growing the province’s economy and population, improving health care, “transforming” education, ensuring environmental protection and making sure provincial finances are well managed.

His statement also took a shot at the governing Conservative party.

“With this year’s provincial budget, we saw the finance minister raise his hands in despair against the economic and demographic headwinds that New Brunswick faces,” Vickers said.

“We’ve also seen no provincial action on climate change, despite the fact that we’re a year removed from record flooding in key parts of the province.”

WATCH: Why Kevin Vickers wants to be New Brunswick’s premier

Click to play video: 'Why Kevin Vickers wants to be New Brunswick’s premier' Why Kevin Vickers wants to be New Brunswick’s premier
Why Kevin Vickers wants to be New Brunswick’s premier – Mar 17, 2019

Vickers, who also served as Canada’s ambassador to Ireland, has acknowledged spending many years away from the province, but he has also focused on his deep roots in New Brunswick.

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He is hoping to replace former premier Brian Gallant, who lost power last fall after the Liberals failed to form a minority government in the weeks following the Sept. 24 provincial election.

The party’s executive director, Keiller Zed, said the leadership race is getting the party revved up.

“There’s a great feeling of excitement for starting a new chapter in the party’s history,” he said in an interview. “We’re looking forward to building upon a strong team.”

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