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Former New Brunswick premier Brian Gallant announces his resignation as leader of the Liberal Party at the New Brunswick Legislature on Nov. 15, 2018, in Fredericton.James West/The Canadian Press

Brian Gallant has resigned as leader of New Brunswick’s Liberal Party.

The announcement, made Thursday morning in Fredericton, came less than two weeks after Mr. Gallant, as premier, lost a confidence vote over the Throne Speech that would have enabled his provincial Liberals to form a minority government.

The loss paved the way for Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs to take his turn at the helm of New Brunswick’s government. Mr. Higgs was sworn in as Premier last week; his government’s Throne Speech is scheduled for next Tuesday.

The legislative shakeup comes less than two months after the incumbent Liberals placed second in a nail-biting election with just 21 of the legislature’s 49 seats. The Progressive Conservatives took 22 seats. It was not enough to give the party a majority but the Tories were able to find common ground with three members of the populist People’s Alliance party to topple Mr. Gallant.

No premier has managed to win a second consecutive term in the province since 2003.

Mr. Gallant, who represents the riding of Shediac Bay-Dieppe, said he intends to remain as Liberal leader until his replacement is elected.

“In these uncharted waters of a minority government I will stay at the helm of the party to provide some stability while the party chooses its next leader,” he said.

He said the decision to step down as leader was made “with a heavy heart.”

“It is the most incredible privilege to wake up every single day and literally have your job description be ‘make the province better,’” Mr. Gallant said.

“I really have struggled with the decision,” Mr. Gallant said of stepping aside. “I do think it is crucial for the future of our province that there be a strong Liberal Party. A leadership race will reinvigorate some new ideas into the discussion,” he said, adding: “It’s the toughest decision I’ve made in a long time.”

Mr. Gallant, 36, has led his party for six years and spent one term as premier. Trained as a lawyer, he has spent most of his career in politics.

He stepped into the provincial political spotlight more than a decade ago, in his mid-20s, when he ran against then-Progressive Conservative premier Bernard Lord in the premier’s riding and lost. Of Acadian and Dutch descent, he speaks often of his blue-collar upbringing and the challenges that inspired him to go into the public service.

“Being the Leader of the Opposition is an immense honour and I’ll do the best I can with the time I have in the position to make New Brunswickers proud,” Mr. Gallant told a news conference Thursday. He also made light of how much he will miss having the authority associated with being premier.

“The thing that I will probably miss the most is really the ability to know that when somebody comes to you with a problem … that you can actually have the power to enact an idea or to address their challenge.”

Mr. Gallant has not named anyone he will support to replace him. He did say the new Liberal leader should be bilingual and “somebody that is going to work hard and somebody that is going to be progressive.”