Kevin Vickers considers a run for N.B. Liberal leadership
Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers receives a standing ovation as he enters the House of Commons, on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Alex Cooke, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, December 31, 2018 4:18PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 31, 2018 5:08PM EST
TROUT BROOK, N.B. -- Kevin Vickers, who became Canada's ambassador to Ireland after being hailed as a hero for helping to end the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill, is considering a move into politics.
The former sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons said Monday he's considering a run for the Liberal leadership in his native New Brunswick.
Vickers has already met with at least one potential supporter in caucus.
"He has a great array of experience from all of his different careers that he's held, and he understands what's happening in this world," said Lisa Harris, Liberal MLA for Miramichi Bay-Neguac, who has met with Vickers.
On Oct. 22, 2014, Vickers fired the shots that killed gunman Michael Zihaf Bibeau, who had stormed into Centre Block on Parliament Hill after killing a soldier at the National War Memorial.
Harris said Vickers would be an exciting candidate for the party's leadership. Their meeting came about after she had heard "rumblings" that Vickers was considering a political run a few weeks ago, and she said the two had a chat about current issues in the province and her experiences as an MLA.
Former premier Brian Gallant announced recently that he'll be stepping down as Liberal leader earlier than planned, saying the party needs to move on.
Vickers said he's a "long ways from making a decision," noting that he's been in public service for nearly 43 years, and there's much to consider before making another four-year commitment.
"It's a long haul," he said in an interview from Trout Brook, N.B.
Vickers said that if he decides to run, he would hope to heal relations between the province's English and French-speaking residents -- a contentious issue during the recent provincial election.
"I don't think there's a linguistic divide; I think there may be a divide based on misunderstandings, misinformation," said Vickers.
"There's so much negativity, there's so much misinformation that's used for promotion of agendas that are based not on fact."
Vickers also said he sees a lot of misinformation about the province's economic state, saying New Brunswick holds a lower debt-to-resident ratio than Quebec, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Vickers said he wants to carry on the legacy of his father, Bill, who began the Northumberland co-op dairy in the province decades ago.
He said the business, along with a credit union run by his father's friend, Martin Legere, gave the province a much-needed boost.
"They brought a lot of jobs, a lot of great times ... (their) story became a success story all across the province of New Brunswick," he said. "There's that legacy that I look at."
He added that he'd like to see a better province for his three grandchildren.
While he said his wealth of experience in public service would help him for a potential run for Liberal leadership, he still needs some time to think it over.
The next Liberal leader could have a shot at power within 18 months.
The Liberals handed power to Blaine Higgs' Tories in November after losing a confidence vote in the legislature. But the Tories are dependent on the People's Alliance, which agreed to support them during confidence votes for at least 18 months.
The Liberals won just 21 seats in September's election -- one fewer than the Tories -- while the Greens and People's Alliance each won three seats.
Vickers had a lengthy RCMP career before joining the House of Commons security staff in 2005.
According to an Ontario Provincial Police investigation of the 2014 shooting, Vickers found himself that morning on the opposite side of Zehaf Bibeau, a pillar between them.
Vickers peeked around and saw what he thought was a double-barreled shotgun and dove to his left and fired up at Zehaf Bibeau, who fell to his knees. Vickers rolled into a sitting position one metre from Zehaf Bibeau and kept firing until his magazine was empty. RCMP officers fired as well.
In a 2015 convocation address to students at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., he said he found himself in tears the morning after the shooting in what he called "the loneliest moment of my life."
Vickers was appointed ambassador to Ireland by then-prime minister Stephen Harper in 2015.
In 2016, Vickers tackled protester Brian Murphy during a centenary ceremony to remember British soldiers killed in the 1916 Easter Rising.
Vickers' son, Const. Andrew Vickers, has been commended for saving the lives of two women as a police officer in Miramichi, N.B. -- rescuing a woman from the icy Miramichi River following a 2011 car crash, and preventing a 2016 suicide.