A Saturday afternoon rally welcomed the recently-acclaimed leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party in his hometown of Miramichi.
Kevin Vickers said his direction for the province focuses on five points: economy and population growth, fiscal responsibility, education, healthcare and the environment.
It was his first official public address since being acclaimed party leader last month; a conference in Fredericton was cancelled in late April due to flooding.
Vickers says climate change is a “global crisis” that is the “greatest threat to humanity,” saying future generations rely on change now.
“We must recognize that a price on carbon emissions can make way for [a] shift in societal behaviour,” Vickers said, “reducing carbon consumption and emissions, and ultimately resulting in a cleaner and healthier New Brunswick.”
As for his carbon plan, Vickers says it can’t put New Brunswickers at a disadvantage.
“There is no need for us to be paying a higher tax to heat our homes and put fuel in our cars, above and beyond what our neighbours in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia do,” he said.
WATCH: Why Kevin Vickers wants to be New Brunswick’s premier (March 17)
Despite a lack of history as a politician himself, Vickers is known as a hero for his role in the 2014 shooting on Parliament Hill, as he helped take down the gunman.
Following his role as Sergeant-at-Arms for the House of Commons, he went on to become Canada’s ambassador to Ireland.
Vickers was acclaimed the leader of the provincial Liberals in April, as the only other candidate announced he was no longer in the mix.
Following the rally, Vickers told reporters the biggest challenge for the province is immigration.
“I mentioned one per cent, which would be 7,500 new immigrants each year, but realistically, we probably need many more than that,” Vickers said.
He talked about the importance of fiscal responsibility when it comes to provincial spending.
“Every dollar spent by our government must be considered as if it belonged to a New Brunswick family because it does,” he said at the podium.
Lisa Harris, the Liberal MLA for Miramichi Bay-Neguac, says the party knows an election could be called at any point, but says they’re ready for it.
“[Vickers] is going to be the next premier of the Province of New Brunswick,” Harris said.
WATCH: Kevin Vickers retiring as Canada’s ambassador to Ireland (Feb. 1)
Moncton South MLA Cathy Rogers, meanwhile, says she’s confident in the party’s leader, despite his lack of political experience.
“What New Brunswickers want is authenticity — New Brunswickers want real,” Rogers said in an interview with Global News.
“New Brunswickers want someone who is going to unite us, help restore hope, and connect with the people.”
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