Jennifer McKenzie confirmed as NDP's new leader

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The New Brunswick NDP has named former federal NDP candidate Jennifer McKenzie as its new leader.

The party, which has no seats in the legislature, made the official announcement Thursday morning in Fredericton.

McKenzie, of St. Martins, was the only person who met the Aug. 4 deadline and criteria for seeking the leadership, but the party had declined to confirm until today that she was acclaimed.

McKenzie, a tech entrepreneur, engineer and mother of three, had also declined earlier this week to confirm her status.

She will take over from Rosaire L’Italien, who has been serving as interim leader since former leader Dominic Cardy stepped down on Jan. 1.

‘In talking to thousands of people across this province, I find values that are entirely consistent with those of the NDP.’– Jennifer McKenzie, NDP leader

In April, when McKenzie announced her intentions to seek the top job, she pledged to bring the NDP back to its roots of social, environmental and economic justice.

“In talking to thousands of people across this province, I find values that are entirely consistent with those of the NDP,” she said Thursday in a statement.

“I ask everyone to join us and build a party based on our vision and build a province in which we can all be proud. A province where our youth will want to stay and return. A province that supports quality public services for all. A province that tackles poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. A province that values ​​the environment and supports decent wages for workers.”

McKenzie grew up in Fredericton and moved to Ontario to pursue her career as an engineer, which she says gave her “experience and perspective.”

“I learned business acumen and how to grow from a small operation to an enterprise,” she said.

She was also twice elected chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, where she oversaw an $800 million budget and 70,000 students.

Party ‘excited, happy and united’

Rosaire L'Italien, NDP interim leader

Outgoing interim NDP leader Rosaire L’Italien says Jennifer McKenzie will stand up for New Brunswickers as the party’s new leader. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

“We are really excited, happy and united as a party to have an outstanding permanent leader of the calibre and experience as Jennifer McKenzie,” L’Italien said in a statement.

“Jennifer McKenzie will stand up for New Brunswickers and be a voice for change in the face of the failed Liberal and PC polices that have held our province back for too long.”

Cardy had moved the NDP to the centre by embracing fiscal conservatism, distancing himself from public-sector unions and declaring his support for the controversial Energy East pipeline.

He blamed his departure on hard-left factions in the party and has since joined the Progressive Conservative Party.

McKenzie previously ran for the federal NDP in Fundy Royal in 2015.

People interested in the provincial leadership had to submit certain documents, including a form signed by 100 members of the NDP.

The party executive met on Wednesday night to discuss the matter.

A provincial election is slated for next September.

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