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Progressive Conservative MLA Dorothy Shephard speaks in the legislature on Nov. 25, 2022. Image: New Brunswick Legislature video capture

‘It was a big decision’: MLA discusses cabinet resignation

By Brad Perry Jun 19, 2023 | 6:21 AM

A former New Brunswick cabinet minister says she felt it was time to step away.

Dorothy Shephard unexpectedly resigned as social development minister on Thursday.

“It was a big decision,” Shephard said in an interview. “I’m a little sad, but I’m very OK.”

Shephard said she felt there were several significant files that were not being handled well publicly.

Most recently, that included controversial changes to the province’s LGBTQ+ policy in schools.

“I develop relationships with people and the kind of relationship I didn’t want with the public was one that was adversarial and certainly lacked empathy,” said Shephard. “I couldn’t have that any longer.”

Shephard was among six Tory MLAs, including four cabinet ministers, who sided with a Liberal motion passed in the legislature on Thursday related to Policy 713.

The motion urged the government to ask the child and youth advocate to conduct a consultation on changes to the policy and their impact.

Shephard said she has “no doubt” the premier would have removed her from cabinet anyway due to her vote.

“Even when I handed him my letter of resignation, his response was ‘well, it’s good to get it in early,'” she said.

“I can only say that whatever is in his mind, we didn’t really have a relationship any longer and so it was time.”

Over the past couple of years, Shephard said it had been difficult as a cabinet minister to try and move things forward.

She said there were many times when she felt as though she had done all she could do, but her friends and colleagues kept her motivated.

“I put my head down, I worked as hard as I could and I got done as much as I could,” said Shephard.

“I just really felt that I had reached a point where accomplishing anything was not going to be manageable.”

While Shephard is no longer part of Higgs’ cabinet, she has no intention to leave the Progressive Conservative caucus.

The MLA said she has many friends and colleagues in caucus that she wants to continue supporting.

But her future plans for running in the next election — currently scheduled for late 2024 — are less clear.

“It has been always my intent,” said Shephard. “At this time, I don’t know if I can do so under Premier Higgs, but time will tell.”


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