Kevin Vickers declared Liberal leader, effective April 24

New Brunswick Liberals are cancelling their June leadership convention and are declaring Kevin Vickers the new leader of the party effective April 24.

The party's board of directors met Tuesday night to officially approve Vickers's acclamation.

He became the sole candidate in the race after René Ephestion of Moncton, the only other party member to file paperwork by the March 29 deadline, took himself out of the race.

Vickers will replace former premier Brian Gallant as Liberal leader. Gallant resigned after his government lost its majority in the legislature in last September's election and then lost a confidence vote in November.

Vickers was not available for interviews Wednesday.

The party said he'll hold a news conference when he becomes leader April 24.

The 62-year-old newcomer to electoral politics announced his candidacy last month after retiring as Canada's ambassador to Ireland. Vickers was sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons for almost a decade after a career in the RCMP.

Policy convention next spring

Vickers does not have a seat in the legislature. Longtime Bathurst East-Nepisiguit-Saint-Isidore MLA Denis Landry has been serving as interim leader and leader of the Official Opposition in the house.

The party had scheduled a leadership convention in Saint John in part because it needs to rebuild support in the city if it hopes to take back power in the next election.

Caraquet MLA Isabelle Thériault/Twitter

With the convention cancelled, the party will instead hold a policy convention there next spring.

That could coincide with the next election campaign. The People's Alliance promised last fall to support the Progressive Conservative minority government on confidence votes for 18 months.

Ephestion said in a Facebook post on April 8 that he was out of the race and wished Vickers luck. A spokesperson for Ephestion later said he had not been approved during a vetting by a party committee.