Kevin Vickers officially acclaimed as leader of New Brunswick Liberals

FREDERICTON — Former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers has been acclaimed as New Brunswick's Liberal leader.

The party announced Wednesday the political rookie's ascension was made official during a board of directors meeting Tuesday night.

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"I am incredibly humbled to become the next leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party," Vickers said in a statement released by the party.

"My life has been shaped by so many people that have helped to build this province. I’m thrilled to do my part in the months and years ahead to ensure that New Brunswick’s future is one that is filled with hope and opportunity."

He will take over from interim leader Denis Landry next Wednesday.

Vickers was the only candidate left in the race after his lone rival, Rene Ephestion, withdrew earlier this month.

The party has decided to forgo a leadership convention planned for June.

Vickers was hailed as a hero for helping to end the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill, and has also served as Canada's ambassador to Ireland.

Vickers, who in his early 60s, has drafted a five-point plan that calls for growing the province's economy and population, improving health care, "transforming" education, ensuring environmental protection and making sure provincial finances are well managed.

Vickers has acknowledged spending many years away from the province, but he has also focused on his deep roots in New Brunswick.

Vickers had a long career of public service, including 29 years in the RCMP. He also served as aide-de-camp for the lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick. He served as sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons between 2006 and 2015.

On Oct. 22, 2014, Vickers was serving as sergeant-at-arms of the Commons when he shot and helped take down a man armed with a .30-30 rifle. Michael Zihaf Bibeau had barged into Centre Block on Parliament Hill after killing honour guard reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial.

The provincial Liberals under then-premier Brian Gallant won just 21 seats in an election last fall - one fewer than the Tories - and they relinquished their hold on power in November after losing a confidence vote in the legislature.

Premier Blaine Higgs' minority government is relying on support from a third party - the right-leaning People's Alliance, led by Kris Austin.

That arrangement is set to expire next year.

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