Region mourns the passing of MLA Greg Thompson

Krisi Marples/Courier file photo Greg Thompson and wife Linda on the evening of his election to the position of MLA for the riding of Saint Croix in late September 2018. Thompson passed away on Tuesday at the age of 72.

Charlotte County – On Tuesday, MLA for Saint Croix, Greg Thompson, passed away at the age of 72.

On Wednesday morning, politicians and former colleagues paid tribute to Thompson and his long years of service to the people of New Brunswick.

Thompson began his career in politics in 1988, when he was elected to the House of Commons to represent the Carleton-Charlotte riding. Following a defeat in the 1993 Federal election, Thompson was again elected to represent the newly restructured riding of New Brunswick Southwest in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, and 2008.

During his time in the House he served as the critic of Human Resources Development, the Treasury Board, Regional Development, Health, and Public Accounts, as well as critic of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

On February 6, 2006, Thompson was appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which he held until January of 2010, when he resigned his post due to the travel requirements, telling CBC news at the time that he wanted to spend more time at home with his family. After serving six terms in Parliament, he resigned from federal politics in 2011.

In 2018, Thompson returned to politics, this time running provincially for the Progressive Conservatives, defeating Liberal incumbent John Ames in the riding of Saint Croix. In November of 2018 he was named the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in the newly formed cabinet of NB Premier Blaine Higgs.

Before he entered politics, Thompson, who grew up on a small dairy farm in New Brunswick, was a businessman and financial planner, in addition to teaching history at Fundy High School.

“Greg exuded a stubborn determination to do what was right for his constituents, and their concerns were always at the top of his mind. Defending his community was priority number one,” said Higgs in a statement.

Thompson’s death reduces the PC minority government’s seats in the legislature to 21 out of a possible 49, but it’ll likely be business as usual due to former premier Brian Gallant’s announcement last week he’ll resign as MLA for Shediac Bay-Dieppe on or before Oct. 7, bringing the Liberal held seats in the legislature to 19.

Member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, Karen Ludwig, expressed her sincere condolences to Thompson’s family. “Greg will be dearly missed by many,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

John Williamson, who was elected to Parliament representing NB Southwest after Thompson’s retirement, wrote in a post on Facebook about how their professional relationship quickly became a friendship. “Greg was my mentor but more than that he was my dear friend. As I write this, I realize Greg had become one of my dearest friends. I made few important personal or political decisions without first discussing them with him. We’d talk about life, family, the future or whatever else was happening,” he wrote.

St Stephen Mayor Allan MacEachern, who was related to Thompson, remembers him as a dedicated politician who served New Brunswick well during his career, and who over his long years of service earned the respect of the people he represented and his colleagues.

“It was in his blood to help people,” said MacEachern. “He had a way of talking to you that let you know that he really cared. That wasn’t political – it was sincere. And when Greg walked into a room, you knew he was there. He had a presence which carried a lot of hard earned respect.”

MacEachern said when he heard the news of Thompson’s passing he called St. Stephen’s Chief Administrative Officer, Jeff Renaud, to ask him to lower the flags downtown to half mast. According to MacEachern, the flags will remain at half mast until Thompson is laid to rest.

Thompson is survived by his wife Linda and his two sons.

andrewsutton@stcroixcourier.ca