“These are not the results we were hoping for,” he said during his concession speech. “I’m sorry that we did not win this election for the strong, positive values that we share.”
Vickers said he knows many will be “disappointed,” adding that he takes “full responsibility” for the election results.
“As a result I will be resigning as leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick,” he said. “Under the leadership of a new leader, I know the Liberal party will be a strong voice for all New Brunswickers.”
Vickers, who served as the sergeant-at-arms in the House of Commons, then as Canada’s ambassador to Ireland before entering provincial politics, was defeated in the riding of Miramichi by People’s Alliance candidate Michelle Conroy.
Conroy was the riding’s incumbent, serving as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Miramichi since 2018.
By 9:30 p.m. ADT, with nine out of 11 polls reporting, Conroy had secured 44.4 per cent of the vote for the People’s Alliance.
Vickers had collected 28.9 per cent of the votes.
Global News has projected Blaine Higgs and the Progressive Conservatives will form majority government.
Liberal campaign manager Don Arsenault said the party had hoped the race would have been “a little tighter,” but that they knew it was an “uphill battle.”
“I find it’s unfortunate what we see here this evening, but we did have a good campaign. We’re very proud of the campaign we’ve run, we ran a very responsible, positive campaign.”
Arsenault said the Liberals also knew “from the get-go” it was going to be a challenge in Miramichi, saying Vickers was a “rookie” heading into this campaign.
“All the other leaders except for the NDP — they’ve been on this trail before, so it was trying to introduce the leader into New Brunswickers’ homes,” he said. “And it was challenging under a pandemic because you’re not doing the rallies, you’re not doing these gatherings that we have throughout the province, so it was a little bit challenging.”
Vickers is best known for fatally shooting Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, moments after Zehaf-Bibeau killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a soldier, at the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa, in 2014.
Lori Turnbull, an associate professor of political science at Dalhousie University, said she couldn’t imagine Vickers’ political career had a “lot of runway at this point” after losing his seat.
“I think the party needs to figure out how they’re going to rebuild going forward,” said Turnbull, who is also the director of the Dalhousie’s School of Public Administration.
“And you know Blaine Higgs is now going to be a two-time premier, and the Liberals have to figure out how to win the next election.”
During his victory speech Monday evening, Higgs said he knows it must have been a “tough night” for Vickers.
“While we may have differences, we have many things in common,” he said. “And at the top of the list is that we care about New Brunswick.”
“I look forward to continue to work with all parties on the cabinet COVID the committee.”
— With a file from Global News’ Ross Lord.