Kevin Vickers believes Saint John is not getting its fair share.
In a wide-ranging speech at a Saint John Chamber of Commerce luncheon, he began to outline some of the policy goals that would make up the backbone of a Vickers-led Liberal government.
“We’re not the lepers of confederation. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m telling you, New Brunswick has gotten the shaft,” he told the 80 or so people gathered at the Saint John Delta.
The former sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons spoke about slashing the corporate tax rate, municipal reform, creating foreign investment through aggressive tax policy, and, echoing New Brunswick’s current premier, about not letting partisanship get in the way of making good decisions.
It’s been about two months since Vickers became leader of the New Brunswick Liberals. Since then he has spent most of his time travelling the province, meeting with communities and mayors to hear exactly what is important to them.
Next up, he says, is the business community.
“Trying to find ways to, good ideas as to what policies could be developed to attract foreign direct investment here in New Brunswick and obviously to attract and increase our population which is critical that we correct,” he said.
WATCH: Why Kevin Vickers wants to be New Brunswick’s premier
Vickers has been largely quiet since being named leader, even as debates over immunization and binding arbitration have enveloped Fredericton over the last few months.
“It’s definitely been a somewhat quiet and slow political launch, some of that may be that he’s inexperienced in elected politics,” said political expert JP Lewis.
“He hasn’t lived in the province for a while, so maybe he wants to make sure he really knows what he’s talking about before he goes after issues of the day. “
But Lewis says Vickers’ low profile is a little unusual, considering the tenuous minority situation inside the legislature where an election could be called sometime in the next year.
“Voters, they might be able to assess politicians just as well outside of the legislature. Politicians, new leaders, might take that calculated risk, that, can I do more just by having a free schedule of touring around where I want to gain support and learn about those areas,” said Lewis.
“At the same time, being in the legislature would definitely help his leadership within caucus, because then he’s the leader of the opposition party in the legislature, not just the leader of the Opposition party.”
Vickers says he would like to get into the house sooner rather than later, but would prefer to run in his home riding of Miramachi.
“I would love to have the opportunity to do so in my home, in Miramachi, but should ridings come open, I’m anxious now to get into the legislature should an opportunity arise,” he said.