Holder quits cabinet citing ‘lack of empathy’ from Higgs

Another member of New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs’s cabinet has resigned over a “lack of empathy” from the premier.

Trevor Holder, the MLA representing Portland Simone and has been serving as minister of post secondary education, training and labour, submitted his resignation letter Friday.

“After long, careful consideration this week, I have arrived at the decision that I can no longer serve in a Cabinet under Blaine Higgs,” he said.

Holder is the second cabinet minister to resign after former Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard submitted her resignation last week in the middle of question period.

Both come as the premier faces scrutiny from New Brunswickers and politicians in the wake of changes to Policy 713, which aims to protect LGBTQ students in the classroom.

One major change, set to take effect on July 1, requires teachers to seek parental consent to address transgender and non-binary students younger than 16 by their preferred name or pronouns.

Holder and Shephard were two of seven caucus members who refrained from routine business in the legislature earlier this month to express their “extreme disappointment in a lack of process and transparency” from government.

Holder wrote in Friday’s letter that his 24-year political career has focused on understanding and fighting for his constituents to find common ground.

“My respect for that process has led to better results for my community and my province – until recently,” he said.

Under the leadership of Premier Higgs, Holder said caucus has been less about consensus and “more about him getting his own way.”

He’s tried to maintain the integrity of caucus, but Holder believes this is no longer possible, noting several conversations with Higgs to discuss better collaboration with caucus.

Those offers have gone unheeded, he said.

“His lack of empathy as well as his inability to listen to valid concerns of all members of his caucus demonstrates a further inability to lead the citizens of New Brunswick,” said Holder.

He said he now finds himself in a position where he needs to do some significant soul searching — he encouraged the Progressive Conservative party to do the same.

“We need to build a thoughtful, conservative movement in this province that brings people together rather than divide them,” he said.

“I hope and pray that this is possible.”

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