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N.B. names legislative secretary for agriculture

An insurance broker turned northwestern New Brunswick MP has been named as the new legislative secretary to the province’s agriculture minister.

Yvon Bonenfant, the new MLA for Madawaska-les-Lacs, was named Friday as one of two legislative secretaries to Mike Olscamp, who was sworn in last month as the new Tory government’s minister of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries.

In New Brunswick, legislative secretaries are MLAs appointed to help cabinet ministers carry out their duties. There is no extra compensation involved in the added duties, the province noted.

Bonenfant will handle the ag file, while Serge Robichaud, the MLA for Miramichi Bay-Neguac, will serve as Olscamp’s legislative secretary for aquaculture and fisheries.

Among their responsibilities, legislative secretaries are expected to consult with stakeholders in the ministry file; contribute to the “citizen engagement” process; provide “regional and linguistic balance” to the government team; and represent the minister if need be in the legislature, during debate on government bills and in question period, Premier David Alward said.

Bonenfant, an insurance broker by profession, has a resume largely devoted to politics at the provincial and federal levels.

Before his election to the legislature in September, he served as chief of staff and constituency assistant to the Madawaska riding’s previous MLA (1995-2010), Jeannot Volpe, a natural resources and finance minister in previous Tory governments.

Bonenfant, originally from the Lac Baker area, has also worked as director of regional programs at the federal level and headed the Madawaska-les-Lacs riding association.

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