Jennifer McKenzie named leader of New Brunswick NDP

A former federal NDP candidate has been acclaimed as the new leader of the New Brunswick NDP.

The party announced Thursday morning that Jennifer McKenzie will lead them into next September's provincial election.

McKenzie grew up in Fredericton and moved to Ontario to make her career as an engineer before returning to New Brunswick.

The mother of three was twice elected chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, where she oversaw an $800-million budget and 70,000 students.

"Like many New Brunswickers, I have lived away for work," McKenzie said in a statement. "It has brought me both experience and perspective."

"As Chair of the Ottawa school board, I governed the turnaround of an organization of similar size to New Brunswick's Ministry of Education."

McKenzie came in third when she ran for NDP in Fundy-Royal in the 2015 federal election and also made a failed bid as an NDP candidate in the Ontario election in 2014 when she was living in Ottawa.

She has campaigned on taking the party back to its roots of social, environmental and economic justice.

"In talking to thousands of people across this province, I find values that are entirely consistent with those of the NDP," she said.

"I ask everyone to join us and build a party based on our vision and build a province in which we can all be proud. A province where our youth will want to stay and return. A province that supports quality public services for all. A province that tackles poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. A province that values the environment and supports decent wages for workers."

During a news conference on Thursday morning, McKenzie said she expects to have a full slate of candidates for next year's election.

Former New Brunswick NDP leader Dominic Cardy stepped down in January because of what he said was too much infighting; he now works for the province's Conservative party as a strategist.

Rosaire L'Italien was named interim leader of the party a week after Cardy's resignation.

With files from CTV Atlantic, The Canadian Press