Once touted as possible health minister, politician says he's quitting

A rookie New Brunswick politician who had been touted by some Liberals as the next health or social development minister says he won't run in the next provincial election.

Richard Losier, the MLA who won the Dieppe riding in a by-election only 13 months ago, said this week he was stepping down for personal reasons.

The married father of three told reporters at the legislature his decision had nothing to do with his family.

"You have to be a certain way to be in politics and to me, now when I look at it, I probably don't fit that all that well," said the social development critic, as Liberal Opposition Leader Susan Holt looked on. "I'm not saying I hated it. Not at all. There were a lot of things I liked about it but there was some stuff I didn't like."

Losier was vague about what he didn't like, only mentioning that it was "personal" and complaining that "there were politics within politics."

"It's a different world. You're in the spotlight all the time."

Losier said he had no job offers and no immediate plans.

Once a registered nurse who worked in a high-stressed intensive care unit, Losier also served for more than 10 years as the executive director of the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton and five years as CEO of Extra-Mural and Ambulance New Brunswick.

Fluently bilingual, he took over the Dieppe riding from former interim Liberal Opposition Leader Roger Melanson. He was considered a star candidate in a safe Liberal seat.

Losier told Holt of his decision 12 days before divulging the news on his social media feed and in the house on Tuesday.

His leader had boasted in recent months that all the Liberal MLAs were reoffering in the election, which must be held by Oct. 21. The governing Progressive Conservatives hold 26 of 49 seats after more than five years in power, the Liberals 16.

Holt said she was saddened by Losier's departure and would miss his invaluable experience. However, Holt added she had plenty of other candidates who were strong in the all-important health portfolio, including health critic Rob McKee (Moncton Centre), former Horizon Health Network CEO John Dornan (running in Portland-Simonds) and dietitian and Université de Moncton professor Claire Johnson (offering in Moncton South).

Losier's speech in the house to announce he would only serve as an MLA until the next election included an impassioned plea for politicians to have respectful, civilized debates, rather than the name calling and partisan diatribes that have become the norm.

"We believe climate change is a big issue, and it is," Losier said. "But the most concerning issue that I believe faces our young generation is how we forgot the definition of the word respect, within this province, within this country, within North America, within the world. And if we're not careful with that, our future generations will hurt."

He said he had a grandson and wanted to make sure that he was raised in a province that was proud and respectful.

"As leaders of our communities, we must take a step back and think that through," Losier said. "We are better people than that. We need to accept our differences and live as human beings and do the right thing."

His words won a standing ovation from the governing Progressive Conservatives and opposition Liberals and Greens.

John Chilibeck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Gleaner