Acadie Nouvelle editorial writer François Gravel agreed to take stock of the year 2022 in a short interview with Bernadette Landry for the NB Media Co-op.
What were the three most significant events of 2022 in New Brunswick?
F. Gravel: 2022 was a very bad year for francophones in New Brunswick and for New Brunswickers in general. We had to deal with three major crises: first, a serious shortage of healthcare workers, with all the consequences this may have had, such as emergency room closures, staff burnout and lack of access to care. The second crisis we’ve had to deal with is inflation, which affects everyone but especially low-income people. The third crisis is housing, the lack of affordable housing and the rising cost of housing. It hasn’t been easy for a lot of people this year, and in all three cases, the government has chosen not to act.
What do you think was the most important news of the year?
F. Gravel: Without a doubt, THE news of the year was the resignation of Dominic Cardy, who took the opportunity to settle his score with Blaine Higgs, and his denunciation of the famous “Data my ass” to show how the premier’s decisions were based on his ideology rather than on evidence. In 20 years of covering politics, I have never seen such a powerful letter.
The second major news item in 2022 was the appointment of Kris Austin as Minister of Public Safety and as a member of the committee reviewing the Official Languages Act. In appointing him, Blaine Higgs took off his mask and showed his true face. He said to francophones: “I don’t care what you think.”
I would say the third major news item is the arrival of Susan Holt as leader of the Liberal Party. She is a breath of fresh air for the party, but while her appointment was exciting, she has yet to prove that she can handle the task ahead.
Given all this, do you think 2023 will be better or worse than 2022?
F. Gravel: It all depends on what happens on February 9, 2023. That’s the date of Blaine Higgs’ state of the province speech, but it won’t be a state of the province speech, it will be a state of Blaine Higgs speech. Will he stay on as premier despite his declining popularity, or will he step aside for someone else? He has already hinted that he will step down before the end of his term. If so, who will replace him? We see two potential candidates: Kris Austin and Daniel Allain. What happens on February 9, 2023 will set the tone for the rest of the year, unless Mr. Higgs drags out the fun and postpones the announcement of his decision for a few months, as he suggested he would in his year-end interviews.
Note: The original French version of this article is here.
Bernadette Landry has been a social justice activist for decades. She is a member of the Dieppe-Moncton Regional Committee of the Association francophone des aîné·es du Nouveau-Brunswick and is co-chair of New Brunswick Health Coalition.