Two Liberal MLAs departing New Brunswick politics

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Two New Brunswick MLAs leaving provincial politics
Daniel Guitard and Denis Landry have had their final day at the New Brunswick legislature. The two have left provincial politics – one offering his seat to the Liberal Party’s new leader, Susan Holt. Nathalie Sturgeon looked at their careers and how people reacted to their departure – Nov 27, 2022

Two Liberal MLAs are leaving provincial politics.

Daniel Guitard and Denis Landry are trading in their trips to Fredericton for a spot closer to home, as mayors of their prospective municipalities. The two of them have put in three and half decades in provincial politics.

Landry one of the longest-serving MLAs

Denis Landry is one of the longest serving MLAs left, and the only remaining one to have served under former Liberal premier Frank McKenna.

He was first elected in 1995 and was most recently representing Bathurst East-Nepisiguit-Saint-Isidore.

During his 23 years, he’s been minister of Natural Resource and Human Resource, minister of Justice and Public Safety, and acting minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Over the years, he’s seen many changes, but mostly changing faces, he said in an interview on Nov. 25.

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“All of the faces I started with are no longer here,” he said. “There are not many young people entering politics.”

Landry was quick to point out it is very difficult for young people, especially women to enter politics. There are many reasons for it, he said, including childcare while they would be in Fredericton.

“It depends what support you have home or what support you can have here,” he said. “But for (a) young person who wants to get involved in politics, men or women, it’s not easy.”

He credited his wife Johanne for playing a key role during his time as a politician, taking care of their children.

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Reflecting on the big moments

“I remember one day, 1999, I got home,” he said. “My son was leaving with the car, my youngest son, I said to my wife, where is he going … he’s going to register at UNB. And I said, ‘holy jeez, like those four years, I didn’t (see) them. I mean work, work, work and my reason to be in politics then, is the same today, is to help as many people as I can, but not maybe watching my family as I should have.

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There was also that quick trip to jail.

Landry, who described himself as a social activist, spent about two weeks in jail. He said in an interview he is probably the only Justice and Public Safety Minister who had been to jail.

Landry was protesting changes to the forestry industry, mainly the introduction of technology that was causing people to lose their jobs.

“I decided to defend my colleagues and workers at that time,” he said, noting he was protesting changes to forestry, the mechanization of harvesting on woodlots.

He demonstrated with large groups along the New Brunswick-Quebec border. He said the police did an inquiry and he was identified as a leader of a group.

“Then the RCMP pressed some charges against me,” he said. “Public mischief. I had to go to trial and defend myself and I won.”

Through all it though, including serving under eight different premiers, he has one singular piece of advice: “patience.”

Historical speaker of the house

Daniel Guitard was first elected in 2014 and represented Restigouche-Chaleur.

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He’s served as deputy government whip during his first term, and as speaker of the house during the first minority government since 1920.

It’s one of his favorite moments of his time in the legislative assembly.

“When I was a speaker (there were) no questions. It was historical because it was the first minority government in 100 years.”

He said he was grateful for how all the parties agreed to give him the wiggle room to learn on the fly.

“We proved over those two years that we could make it work,” he said on Nov. 25.

Guitard said there are different ways to make changes, and certain things went his way.

“At the end of the day, you have to adopt a strategy that fits your personality,” he said. “Stay within the team. You win some, you lose some.

He said he feels confident leaving the party in its current form and under the leadership of newly-elected leader Susan Holt.

Members of the opposition parties spoke highly of Guitard and Landry, setting aside the sometimes partisan rhetoric. Premier Blaine Higgs was one of those politicians.

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“He (Landry) just has a balance about him. I guess I would have met with him more than anyone else, so that’s why I can speak to Denis a little more. I think both of them are fine gentlemen.”

Kevin Arsenault, who is a Green MLA, said he shares a common background with Landry, who has ties to the forestry industry and union leadership.

“He told me, ‘I wish you’re here as long as me,’” Arsenault said Friday. “That was pretty cool …coming from Denis, you know, I don’t know if I’ll have his patience but it was touching.”

Denis Landry has been acclaimed mayor in Hautes-Terres and Daniel Guitard is in a three-way race for mayor of Belle-Baie. Election results are expected Nov. 28.

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