Former prime minister Brian Gallant said he would step down as leader of the Liberal Party earlier than planned.
Gallant said on Friday that he would resign at the next party caucus meeting, which is scheduled for mid-February, rather than waiting until the leadership convention can choose a successor.
"It is clear that while I am still in the role of leader, many will hope – and some will fear – that I will run again in the next election," Gallant said at a news conference in Moncton.
"Let me explain, I will not run again in the next election as the leader of the Liberal Party or become the MLA for Shediac Bay-Dieppe."
Gallant was not depressed, said MLA
Discussions are underway about whether the next caucus meeting should be held sooner than mid-February, said caucus chairman Jean-Claude D Amours.
Gallant made the decision to stop himself and not be under pressure, said D 'Amours.
"I really appreciate his decision to decide not to be the leader of the Liberal Party," he said.
A temporary leader will be chosen at the next caucus meeting too, but D & Amours hopes party members can choose new leaders as soon as possible. The party steering committee will choose a date for the leadership convention, which will be held at Saint John, he said.
Resignation has been announced
Gallant, who tried to form a minority government after the Sept. 24 election, announced his intention to resign when his government was defeated in the legislature and the Progressive Conservatives took over.
At that time, Gallant said he would remain as leader until the party found a replacement, which had not yet been done. On Friday, he suggested that by leaving early, he would encourage the party to get new leaders faster.
"My hope is that by doing this, the Liberal Party will realize that it is indeed necessary to choose a new leader and within a reasonable time frame for the party," Gallant said.
He also suggested there was some urgency because Prime Minister Blaine Higgs, who had the support of three members of the People's Alliance, ruled "like he has a majority."
"He has given all the cards to the People's Alliance and therefore controls the government agenda."
As a result, said Gallant, the PC government might fall in the first budget, which will be presented after the legislature regrouped on March 19.
Gallant said he would remain as MLA for Shediac Bay-Dieppe for now but would not say whether he would stay until the next election.
He said he would remain neutral on who should be the next Liberal leader.
He became the Liberal leader in 2012 and won the majority government two years later, defeating the Progressive Conservative David Alward.
Gallant said he was not interested in running a government at another level of government.
At a press conference on Friday, Gallant thanked New Brunswickers for the opportunity to serve the province. He said he and his wife would continue to contribute to the improvement of the province, but in other ways.
He has no plans at this time.
Later Friday, Higgs hopes Gallant is "the best" in his business in the future.
He said he did not know what to do with Gallant's allegations that he was running the province as if he had a majority.