New Brunswick NDP leader reluctantly resigns

·3 min read
NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason made the announcement on Tuesday at the Fredericton Inn. (Edwin Hunter/CBC - image credit)
NDP Leader Mackenzie Thomason made the announcement on Tuesday at the Fredericton Inn. (Edwin Hunter/CBC - image credit)

A "disheartened" Mackenzie Thomason announced Tuesday that he will step down as leader of the New Brunswick NDP later this month.

At a news conference in Fredericton, Thomason said he still believes he is the best person to lead the New Democratic Party in the province.

Thomason said he made the decision to quit because of internal comments among executive members.

He said some members thought that at 24, he was too young for the job, and he felt others were taking positions that didn't align with traditional NDP values.

"I am incredibly saddened," said Thomas, whose resignation is effective June 18.

Headed for leadership review

Thomason's leadership status was going to be up for automatic review anyway at the NDP convention in July, but he said he didn't want the governing council of the NDP to be left scrambling to find a new interim leader.

"I want the work of replacing me to start tomorrow," said Thomason, who led the party in the last provincial election, when it won no seats.

"I want the boots to be able to be on the ground to make sure that this next leadership race is a success, to make sure it is contested and to make sure that it is done in the fullest amount of transparency possible."

Thomason was interim leader of the party from 2019 until he resigned in December 2020 to seek the leadership. He has served as full-time leader since September 2021.

Council lost confidence

As leader, Thomason faced criticism from members of the governing council and, at an April 30, 2022, meeting, members passed a motion of no confidence in Thomason, but it wasn't binding.

The party failed to nominate any candidates for the two byelections next week in Miramichi Bay-Neguac and Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin.

A New Democrat hasn't been elected since 2003, when then-leader Elizabeth Weir won her seat.

Thomason said that before deciding to resign, he sent a letter to the New Brunswick NDP president, Cyprien Okana, requesting that council members elect an interim leader at an already-scheduled council meeting on June 25.

He said this would give him three days to transition his duties to the interim leader.

Not giving up on party

Thomason said the party is important to him, and he urged New Democrats to stay with the party.

"I do want to stress to any and all supporters of the party that it is not over," he said. "We have the ability to get through to the 2024 campaign."

Thomason does not have any plans at this time to run under another political banner because, he said, he does not believe in the policies of any other political party.

Thomason said the decision to step down was not easy. Still, he believes that the NDP, provincially and federally, is the only party that can bring results for New Brunswickers.

CBC News
CBC News

"I was looking at the party and realizing nothing was going to get done with me as leader," he said. "With an interim leader, with a new leader, hopefully, that person will be able to be on the same side as the group that we have.

Thomason said he intends to make his preference for the next leader known during the leadership race.

He wants the NDP to be known as a pro-worker progressive party.

Thomason said he can't say now whether he'll run for another position within the party.

"I want this party to move forward, I want it to be the best option for New Brunswickers," he said. "And right now that can't happen with me at the helm."

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