MONCTON, N.B. – Moncton lawyer Monica Barley has become the third candidate seeking the leadership of New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservatives, vowing to make tough decisions to stop the province’s decline.
The 38-year-old Barley said she decided to enter politics about a year ago because she saw the province going further into debt and shedding jobs as companies cut back or shuttered altogether.
READ MORE: Hard-hit Alberta and Atlantic Canada pessimistic about economy: Ipsos poll
“But what really propelled me to act is that people close to me have accepted this situation as unfixable. They’ve accepted that their children will leave the province upon graduation,” she said as she made the announcement in Moncton Friday.
Barley – a partner at Actus Law and a former federal prosecutor – said she can’t accept that, and told the gathered crowd that it’s time to do things differently.
“We need a leader who is prepared to do things that have never been done before, who will have the courage to make those tough decisions that are required to ensure that we succeed. We deserve to have a province that thrives,” she said.
However, when questioned later by reporters, Barley couldn’t give any examples of things she would do differently.
She said she would not reverse changes giving New Brunswick women greater access to abortion, but declined comment on the issue of separate buses for French and English school students – noting that the issue is before the courts.
New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives have only had one woman as leader. Barbara Baird Filliter led the party between 1989 and 1991. At that time the party had no members in the legislature.
READ MORE: New Brunswick government announces free tuition for low income students
Barley joins former finance minister Blaine Higgs and Fredericton West-Hanwell member Brian MacDonald in the running for the party’s top job.
Bruce Fitch has been serving as interim leader since David Alward stepped aside after the party lost to the Liberals in the 2014 provincial election.
A leadership convention will be held in Fredericton on Oct. 22.