Former PC MLA coming out of retirement to run for N.B. Liberals in Sussex area

A former MLA who served four terms on the Progressive Conservative side of the New Brunswick Legislature, says he wants to run again in the electoral district encompassing Sussex — this time as a Liberal.

Bruce Northrup says he is coming out of retirement and will move back to Sussex from Nova Scotia to seek the nomination in Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins for the fall provincial election. The seat is now held by PC MLA Tammy Scott-Wallace.

"I have been following [Premier Blaine] Higgs closely over the last few years and I don't think he, or the current MLA, are serving the needs of the people of Sussex and area," Northrup said Tuesday at a news conference.

"While they are focused on distractions, the people of Sussex are deeply concerned about issues like flood adaptation and whether our hospital is adequately equipped to care for the people in the riding."

Northrup was first elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

The riding was called Kings East when Northrup was first elected and was later renamed Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins. It was most recently redrawn and will be known as Sussex-Three Rivers in the coming election.

Protests were held outside some of the affected hospitals, including the Sussex Health Centre, pictured above.
Protests were held outside some of the affected hospitals, including the Sussex Health Centre, in response to a proposal by Premier Blaine Higgs to close emergency departments in smaller hospitals. (Graham Thompson/CBC)

Northrup was named minister of natural resources in former premier David Alward's government in 2010, then shuffled out of the job in 2013 and made minister of public safety.

He later said his shuffle was a result of a letter Jim Irving, then co-CEO of J.D. Irving Ltd., wrote to Alward complaining about Northrup's refusal to increase the amount of Crown land available to industry.

Northrup also rocked the party's boat in February 2020, when he openly opposed a controversial plan by Higgs to close emergency departments in several smaller, rural hospitals across the province.

Higgs ultimately backed down from that plan, and Northrup remained loyal to the party before announcing later that year he'd be retiring from politics to spend more time with family.

Northrup said Tuesday that he's been living in Nova Scotia to be close to his grandchildren but has already secured a place to live in Sussex and intends to live there from now until the election.

He said he hasn't been living in the Sussex area for the past three years, but he's been following issues in the riding and believes Scott-Wallace hasn't done enough to advocate for constituents on issues such as flood mitigation and hospital service levels.

Tourism minister Tammy Scott-Wallace responded to CUPE local 1190's plea during a scrum at the legislature Thursday. She said only two parks will be affected by reduced workers' hours this season.
Sussex-Fundy-St. Martins MLA Tammy Scott-Wallace, the tourism minister, was first elected in 2020 and will be running again for the Progressive Conservatives in this fall's provincial election. (Jacques Poitras/CBC News )

Rather than addressing those issues, he said, the Higgs government has been focused on "distractions," such as reforms to a government policy regarding the use of pronouns and chosen names of students in schools, as well as Higgs's hinting about a snap election last year, which ultimately cost taxpayers $1.7 million.

Asked why not run again for the PCs, Northrup said he likely wouldn't be welcomed back, and he likes the direction from Liberal Leader Susan Holt.

"We talked a lot over the last few months or so, and I know that the Liberal Party is the best alternative for me at this time," he said.

CBC News has asked PC campaign manager Steve Outhouse for an interview with Scott-Wallace and is waiting for a response.