On October 13, 2022, minister for education and early childhood development, Dominic Cardy announced he was stepping down from the position which he has held for four years.
In his Twitter announcement, Cardy notes that he looks forward to continuing his role as a Progressive Conservative (PC) MLA for Fredericton West-Hanwell and that more information will be available soon.
Cardy’s resignation letter
The ‘more soon’ comment was later determined to be referring to the unveiling of his resignation letter, which slammed Premier Blaine Higgs’s leadership style, stating, “…change requires care, not a wrecking ball.”
The rest of the letter includes how important reforms to the French second-language program would be stalled due to Higgs “micromanagement” and that Higgs “…cannot change deadlines on large systems based on [his] emotional state, without undermining the quality of the work, or the morale of [his] team.”
When asked by reporters about the resignation letter, Higgs expressed that he was ‘disappointed” with the letter and it’s “hurtful comments.” In addition to these comments, he defended the letter’s other statements, disputing the claim that he bases decisions on emotions.
One thing that Higgs did agree with in the letter by Cardy was that he did yell “data my ass” when Cardy and his department presented what he believed to be “irrelevant” numbers on French second-language education.
“The numbers did not reflect any real value in information we were trying to understand: ‘are we getting better.’”
PC cabinet shuffle
Higgs also says he met with Cardy on Thursday morning. At this meeting, Higgs told him that he would be “shuffled out of the cabinet because of a lack of progress in improving the education system.” It was at that meeting that Cardy produced his resignation letter to Higgs. Which Higgs believes was “part of an orchestrated plan.”
Premier Higgs also included that he wants, “…people who are going to bring ideas, and are going to bring action, into the group.” As such, he appointed Carleton MLA Bill Hogan as New Brunswick’s new education minister.
Card was expelled from the Progressive Conservative caucus following his resignation. Alongside Hogan, Kris Austin – the former leader of the People’s Alliance who crossed the floor to the PC caucus earlier this year was awarded the public safety portfolio. Jill Green is now Minister of housing, and Jeff Carr has returned to Cabinet as Minister Transportation and Infrastructure.
The future for the PCs
Cardy’s resignation came at a time of unpopularity for Premier Higgs. Higgs’ approval rating sits at 32 per cent. Moreover, it exposed the cracks in the French Immersion program from the Government of New Brunswick. Higgs’ popularity with the Francophone population of the province was low from the start, but with this news it sparks a conversation of how long Higgs and his government can last.