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Cardi resigns as NB education minister, sends burning letter to prime minister

Dominic Cardi has resigned as Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development in New Brunswick.

Cardi announced in a tweet that she will resign from Prime Minister Blaine Higgs’ cabinet, but will remain as the Progressive Conservative MLA of Fredericton West Hanwell.

In a scathing letter of resignation to Mr Higgs, Cardi denounced his leadership style, saying that “change is cautious and not a wrecking ball”, and that French is part of second language teaching. ‘s reform “will stall because of your micromanagement.”

“We cannot change deadlines in large systems based on emotional states without compromising work quality and team morale,” the letter said.

“Government is not the same as building oil tankers,” Curdi wrote, apparently referring to the prime minister’s previous career at Irving Oil.

He also accuses Higgs of “choosing to yell ‘data my ass’ to senior civil servants” because he didn’t like what the department’s numbers showed.

A man in a blue suit is talking to reporters outside.
Prime Minister Blaine Higgs told reporters on Thursday following the sudden resignation of Education Minister Dominic Cardi. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

“In my eyes, that was the end of your political project. If you reject evidence because you hate it, you don’t believe the evidence,” he wrote.

Curdy also notes that Higgs’ abolishment of the partially-elected committees of local health authorities represented a “steady consolidation of power in your hands”, and that he noted the relationship between language communities and indigenous peoples. He said he was trying to delay or weaken the settlement.

Higgs told reporters he was “disappointed” by the letter and what he called “hurtful” comments.

However, when Cardi and his department presented him with “irrelevant” figures on second-language education in France, he admitted to saying “ass data.”

“Yes, I did,” he said. “This number did not reflect the true value of the information we were trying to understand: ‘Are we doing better?'”

He objected to making decisions based on emotion.

The prime minister said he met with Cardi on Thursday morning and told him that he would be removed from the Cabinet as no progress was made in improving the education system.

A man smiling at the camera.
Dominic Cardi’s resignation letter to Blaine Higgs criticizes his leadership style and some decisions. (Jack Poitras/CBC)

At that point, Cardi submitted her resignation letter. The fact that it’s already been drafted suggests it’s “part of a coordinated plan,” Higgs said.

Cardi did not respond to interview requests.

The resignation letter said Higgs had plans to “ditch” French Immersion by September 2023.

Cardi said the abolition of the program was not included in the government’s election platform or speech to the throne, nor was it endorsed by the PC Cabinet or caucuses.

Eliminating it “would put a great deal of stress on the education system and damage the education of our state’s English-speaking youth,” he wrote.

Higgs has confirmed that he intends to move on that next fall.

He said he was likely to ask the PC Caucus to expel him, given Cardi’s letter, which he called a “pretty long list” of criticism.

Higgs said the next caucuses will be held soon.

A man in a blue suit surrounded by cameras and reporters.
Prime Minister Blaine Higgs tells reporters about Dominic Cardi’s resignation and cabinet reshuffle. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

“I don’t want to drag this out. I feel like I have only one decision to make and I would recommend getting him out of the caucuses.”

Higgs made the comments after shuffling the cabinet on Thursday afternoon. He appointed Carlton MLA’s Bill Hogan as Minister of Education to replace Cardi.

Former People’s Alliance leader Chris Austin, who moved to PC in March, will take over Hogan’s role as Minister of Public Safety.

Jill Greene became Minister of Services for the New Brunswick and Housing Department, replacing Mary Wilson, who was dismissed from the Cabinet.

Jeff Kerr replaced Green as Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, and Regent Sabois, who was elected in June’s by-election, became Minister of Regional Development Corporation.

Liberal Party leader Susan Holt said the criticism in Cardi’s letter “seems to reflect what we’ve heard from others, and how we feel about this government and its approach to leadership.” It seems to reflect some of the concerns I had about it,” he said.

A former leader of the New Brunswick NDP, Cardi joined the PC in 2017 as an advisor to Higgs and ran for the Tory Party in the 2018 election.

When Cardi switched parties, Higgs said they were “directly aligned on so many issues,” but admitted they didn’t agree on everything.

Two men in suits stand side by side.
Chris Austin and Regent Savoy have been appointed to the cabinet as part of a Cabinet reshuffle announced Thursday. (Jack Poitras/CBC)

“We want people in the group who are willing to bring ideas and take action,” Higgs said.

“Since I work with everyone every day, I can solve any trivial problem.”

In 2020, Cardi failed to get enough support from the PC caucus to pass legislation removing philosophical and religious exemptions from mandatory vaccination policies for school children.

And last year, he criticized the government’s ban on recognizing indigenous lands at public events, saying it “added needless conflict to create confusion and justifiable outrage against the government.”

Cardi was also a vocal supporter of Center Ice Canadians, a group of moderate conservatives who criticize Federal Conservative Party leader Pierre Polivre.

Six Wollastokee chiefs in New Brunswick released a statement on Thursday urging other PC ministers to join Mr. Curdi’s resignation.

“It is more evident than ever that your leaders are not acting within the core principles of good governance and the aims and principles of the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick.

“Please do not sit back and allow one person to engage in such harmful practices. Indigenous peoples and New Brunswickers are watching and applauding the winds of change.”