POLITICS
02/01/2019 11:48 EST | Updated 02/01/2019 12:00 EST

Kevin Vickers Stepping Down As Envoy To Ireland Amid Talk Of Run For New Brunswick Liberal Leader

The former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms was hailed as a hero after the 2014 Parliament Hill attack.

Sean Kilpatrick/CP
Kevin Vickers, ambassador to Ireland and former sergeant-at-arms, salutes as he is recognized in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill on March 30, 2015.

FREDERICTON — Former House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers says he is retiring next month as Canada's ambassador to Ireland, potentially setting himself up for a bid to become New Brunswick Liberal leader.

Vickers, hailed as a hero for helping to end the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill, said in a bilingual Facebook post Friday he'll retire from the position effective March 2 and return to his home in Trout Brook, Miramichi, N.B.

"To all my friends and to the people of Ireland I wanted to say a special thank you. You received me with open arms and the warmest of welcomes. I shall not ever forget your kindness, affection and grace," he wrote.

Earlier: Trudeau reacts to Vickers grappling with protester

Vickers has been touted as a possible candidate for the leadership of the New Brunswick Liberal party to replace Brian Gallant.

In December, Vickers indicated an interest in the job but at the time said he was a "long ways from making a decision."

The New Brunswick Liberals will choose a new leader on June 22 in Saint John.

Vickers, born and raised in Newcastle, N.B., has held the ambassador post since January 2015.

"Ireland is the home of my ancestors. Serving Canada as ambassador has been a special privilege. I have worked hard often working seven days a week for months at a time but not without results," he said on Facebook.

He said multi-lateral trade between Canada and Ireland grew 31 per cent last year alone, and there has been seven new direct flights announced between Canada and Ireland since his arrival.

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Photo gallery Ottawa Parliament Hill shooting See Gallery

Vickers has a long career of public service including 29 years in the RCMP. He also served as aide-de-camp for the lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick. He served as sergeant-at-arms for the House of Commons between 2006 and 2015.

On Oct. 22, 2014, Vickers shot and helped take down a man armed with a .30-30 rifle. Michael Zihaf Bibeau had barged into Centre Block on Parliament Hill after killing honour guard reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial.

The Liberal party won just 21 seats in last fall's provincial election - one fewer than the Tories. The Liberals relinquished their hold on power in November after losing a confidence vote in the legislature.

Tory Premier Blaine Higgs' minority government is relying on support from a third party - the right-leaning People's Alliance, led by Kris Austin.

But that arrangement is set to expire in less than 18 months. That means an election could be less than two years away.

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