T. J. Burke

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Thomas Jack Burke
Member of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly
for Fredericton-Nashwaaksis
Fredericton North (2003-2006)
In office
June 9, 2003 – September 27, 2010
Preceded by D. Peter Forbes
Succeeded by Troy Lifford
Personal details
Born (1972-02-19) February 19, 1972 (age 45)
Los Angeles, California
Political party Liberal
Occupation Lawyer

Thomas James "T.J." Burke QC (born 1972) is a New Brunswick lawyer and politician. Burke was the first Aboriginal who hails from Tobique First Nation selected to a legislature anywhere in Atlantic Canada. He has served in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick since 2003 and was a member of the cabinet from 2006 to 2009.[1]

Burke was born in Los Angeles, California.[2] His family returned to Canada in 1978, and he was raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He graduated from Fredericton High School in 1990. After high school, Burke enlisted in the United States Marine Corps where he served from 1990 to 1995.[2] Following his stint in the U.S. military, Burke again returned to Canada and completed a Bachelor of Arts at St. Thomas University and a law degree at Dalhousie University.[2] He practiced law in Fredericton from being called to the bar until he was named to the cabinet.

Burke became active in New Brunswick Liberal politics in 2002 when he was recruited by Greg Byrne to assist in Shawn Graham's leadership campaign. He ran for and won the Liberal nomination for Fredericton North in 2003 and was elected to the legislature in June of that year defeating incumbent Progressive Conservative D. Peter Forbes.

He became the member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick for the riding of Fredericton North following the 2003 election and served in the shadow cabinet. He served until September 26, 2005, as critic for both Justice and Aboriginal Affairs when he left those portfolios for the Department of Energy.

Burke received national attention on December 15, 2005, when the legislature unanimously passed his motion declaring 2006 the "year of the war bride".[3] Still practicing law as an MLA, Burke argued his first case before the Supreme Court of Canada on May 17, 2006.

He was re-elected to the legislature in the 2006 election to the new district of Fredericton-Nashwaaksis.[4] He joined the cabinet as Attorney General.[5] In June 2009, he was shuffled to become Environment Minister, but he left the cabinet a month later to return to the practice of law to tend to "an old legal case which emerged as active again."[1]

On January 22, 2010, Burke performed a rendition of Larry Platt's "Pants on the Ground" when criticizing conservative opposition leader David Alward during a session of the New Brunswick provincial legislature, garnering international attention.[6]

On September 28, 2010, Burke was defeated by Progressive Conservative candidate Troy Lifford and lost his seat in the Legislature.

He is married, with three daughters.[2]


  1. ^ a b Nick Moore. "T.J. Burke resigns from environment post," Moncton Times & Transcript, July 24, 2009, page A3.
  2. ^ a b c d "Hon. Thomas J. Burke , Q.C.". Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. Government of New Brunswick. 2007-05-14. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  3. ^ "Opening of New Brunswick war brides exhibit (06/11/10)" (Press release). Communications New Brunswick. 2006-11-10. Retrieved 2007-11-23. Nearly one year ago, Burke introduced a motion in the New Brunswick Legislature declaring 2006 the Year of the War Bride, making New Brunswick the first province to do so. 
  4. ^ "NEW BRUNSWICK VOTES 2006: Fredericton-Nashwaaksis". CBC.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  5. ^ "N.B. Liberals cut gas tax on first day in power". CBCnews New Brunswick. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2006-10-03. Retrieved 2014-04-20. T.J. Burke was named minister of justice and attorney general, the first aboriginal member of a New Brunswick cabinet. 
  6. ^ "Rapping MLA an Internet sensation". CBC News, January 26, 2010.
Provincial Government of Shawn Graham
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Roland Haché Minister of Environment
Rick Miles
Brad Green Attorney General of New Brunswick
Mike Murphy
Bruce Fitch Minister of Justice and Consumer Affairs
Mike Murphy