Former Ottawa school board chair ac­claimed as N.B.’s NDP leader

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

A Fred­er­ic­ton-born tech en­tre­pre­neur who has spent much of her life in On­tario has been ac­claimed leader of the New Brunswick NDP.

The party an­nounced Jennifer McKen­zie, a former chair of Ottawa’s pub­lic school board and one-time vice-pres­i­dent of tech man­u­fac­turer In­stan­tel Inc., as its new leader Thurs­day.

McKen­zie launched her can­di­dacy for the lead­er­ship in April; no other can­di­dates came for­ward be­fore nom­i­na­tions closed on Tues­day.

She re­places Do­minic Cardy, who re­signed New Year’s Day af­ter blam­ing party in­fight­ing and who now works for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives.

The party has no seats in the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture, with an elec­tion com­ing next fall.

McKen­zie, who turns 55 next week, is an en­gi­neer who worked in On­tario be­fore re­turn­ing to the prov­ince.

She said in an in­ter­view she en­joyed work­ing at small firms and help­ing them grow.

“I got very used to be­ing the only woman in the room ... and learn­ing how to be suc­cess­ful in that en­vi­ron­ment,” McKen­zie said.

She said it doesn’t feel like an up­hill battle for the NDP, say­ing the base has been “flock­ing back” to the party since Cardy left.

“We’re go­ing back to our roots and who we are, based on the found­ing prin­ci­ples that Tommy Dou­glas brought to the party, but we’re tak­ing those into the fu­ture.”

The NDP failed to win a seat un­der Cardy, but won 13 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote - its best show­ing in the prov­ince to date.

McKen­zie said she has her eye on sev­eral po­ten­tial seats but hasn’t yet de­cided where she will run.

She fin­ished third when she ran for the New Democrats in New Brunswick’s Fundy-Royal rid­ing in the 2015 fed­eral elec­tion, and also made a failed bid as an NDP can­di­date in On­tario’s 2014 pro­vin­cial elec­tion while she was liv­ing in Ottawa.

McKen­zie, who has three adult chil­dren, lives in a house pur­chased in St. Martin, N.B., a decade ago.

FILE PHOTO

Jennifer McKen­zie

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