After a weekend of reflection, MLA Robert Gauvin, now sitting as an Independent, said he might retire from politics.
The former deputy premier in the Blaine Higgs Progressive Conservative government told Radio Acadie Sunday he is considering his next step.
“It’s mainly because of the past two years, it’s been terribly exhausting,” Gauvin said in French.
Gauvin, who represents the riding of Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou, said he needs “much healthier” circumstances than those he had experienced in the past two years for him to embark on an electoral campaign as an Independent.
“It may be fatigue that speaks. … but, for me and for my family, [the first option] is political retirement, Gauvin said.
Gauvin quit the Higgs government Friday over recently announced health reforms, including the nighttime closure of six hospital emergency rooms.
One of the closures is at the Enfant-Jésus Hospital in Caraquet, where Gauvin was born.
“This reform is an attack on rural New Brunswick,” he said at the announcement, describing calls he received from people in other affected communities, including Sackville and Sussex.
Gauvin has been invited to join the Green Party by leader David Coon, but he said he hasn’t spoken to him. He added he did not hear from Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers.
Coon said Gauvin would be a great candidate, adding he was impressed by Gauvin’s courage and believed Gauvin’s father would be proud of him.
Gauvin is a first-term MLA for the riding of Shippagan-Lamèque-Miscou and had been the only francophone member of the provincial cabinet and of the PC caucus.
His departure puts in question the survival of the minority government of Blaine Higgs.
Assuming Speaker Daniel Guitard, a Liberal, steps down and rejoins his party’s caucus, the combined strength of the Liberals, Greens and Gauvin would be 24 seats.
Gauvin is not the only PC MLA to oppose the health reforms. While he didn’t quit, Bruce Northrup, whose Sussex-Fundy-St. Martin’s riding has another affected hospital, said Thursday he “cannot support” the changes.
Northrup said he plans to remain a PC member and support the government’s overall agenda but has left the door open to voting for the Liberal motion or against the budget.
Gauvin said he will think about his future in politics over the next few weeks before making a decision.
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