New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives have chosen Etienne Gaudet, a 48-year-old retired military police officer to contest the riding of Memramcook-Tantramar in the September 24th provincial election.
“It’s not very often that we run into a retired military person who’s offered his services,” former provincial cabinet minister Mike Olscamp said as he introduced Gaudet during a PC meeting in Memramcook on Tuesday.
Olscamp said that during Gaudet’s 21 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, he served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, one in the Central African Republic and another in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Gaudet also served as deputy commanding officer of the military police unit in Halifax.
He retired from the military on June 13 and now operates Chapeau Rouge Farm Ltd., a small operation that grows and sells fruits and vegetables in the Memramcook area.
In his acceptance speech, Gaudet portrayed himself as a fighter with deep passion and energy.
“If you want an MLA that will be present in the riding and represent all corners of the riding and not just some, I’m your guy,” he said.
He also said he wanted to be elected as part of the PC team led by Blaine Higgs.
“A team that understands that government has a spending problem and not a revenue problem,” he said, adding that New Brunswickers need to be allowed to keep more of their hard-earned money.
“A team that understands to its core that you can run an effective and efficient government for all New Brunswickers without borrowing, borrowing and borrowing money that our children and their children and their children will need to pay back,” Gaudet said.
When his turn came, PC leader Blaine Higgs told the meeting that this election campaign is going to be different.
“The Premier, Brian Gallant, is out there promising everything to everybody [in] typical fashion,” he said, “and you know what sets our province behind so much is the election cycle.”
Higgs said the PCs themselves “promised everything to everybody” when they got elected in 2010 and then “had this great big hole to fill.”
He added that the Conservatives limited their spending promises to less than $200 million in the 2014 election campaign with $56 million of that for catastrophic drug coverage while the Gallant Liberals, on the other hand, promised $300 million per year for six years, a total of $1.8 billion in new investments in health, education, social services and roads.
“We’ve heard all about the investments,” Higgs added, “but we’ve heard nothing about the return on investments.”
He said 70,000 people who had no doctors, still have no doctors and New Brunswickers still face the longest wait times in Canada for referrals to medical specialists.
“I don’t think last place is good enough,” he said returning to his main theme.
Get the job done
“Here’s the big question,” Higgs said as he began his speech, “are you better off now than you were four years ago?”
He said the Liberal government is costing taxpayers a billion dollars more per year than it was four years ago, the equivalent of $2,000 more from every taxpayer.
“Last place is nothing new for Brian Gallant. We’re last place in economic growth, seventh, eighth place in education, we even got voted worst roads in the province and since the election in Ontario, Premier Gallant is last place in popularity, so he is no newcomer to last place,” Higgs said.
Throughout his speech, the PC leader portrayed his party as one that could work with the private sector to create growth so that young people aren’t forced to seek jobs elsewhere.
“I’m not here to buy your vote,” Higgs said. “This team that I’m so proud of being part of are here to earn your vote, earn your vote for results for this province,” he added.
“I’m not here because I need a job. I’m here to do a job. And that’s our goal, to get the job done and see our province turn around.”