Former senior Tory cabinet minister Bernard Valcourt is hoping to return to federal politics after an 18-year absence, opting to seek the nomination in the northwestern New Brunswick riding of Madawaska-Restigouche.


Bernard Valcourt, left, shakes hands with Senator Percy Mockler after announcing he plans to seek the Conservative nomination in a northwestern N.B. riding. ((CBC))

Valcourt was to announce his intention to vie for the nomination in his old federal riding during a news conference in Edmundston on Monday.

The Tories will know by mid-week whether a major rally planned for Edmundston on Saturday will turn into a contested nomination or a coronation celebration for Valcourt.

Valcourt's announcement gives Stephen Harper's Conservative Party a new high-profile name on the slate, only days after former premier Bernard Lord once again chose to remain on the sidelines of federal politics.

Harper's Conservatives hold six of the 10 New Brunswick seats compared, with three Liberals and a sole New Democrat.

The Tories are hoping Valcourt's name recognition in the region can push Madawaska-Restigouche into their win column.

Valcourt's sister, Martine Coulombe, is a cabinet minister in David Alward's provincial government and holds a seat that is included in the large federal riding of Madawaska-Restigouche riding.

Valcourt would be running against Liberal incumbent Jean-Claude D'Amours, who was first elected in 2004. D'Amours won the seat by almost 5,000 votes in 2008.

Valcourt served as a senior federal cabinet minister in both the Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell governments before being swamped in the 1993 Liberal landslide victory.

Valcourt's tenure in provincial politics was not as successful. While he won his seat in the legislative assembly, Valcourt's Progressive Conservatives managed to pick up only six seats compared to the 48 Liberals elected with Frank McKenna.

Valcourt is often remembered for a serious motorcycle accident, in which he lost the sight in his right eye. Valcourt was found to be impaired at the time of the accident.

After the accident, Valcourt spent a short time outside of cabinet during his recovery. He was eventually welcomed back into cabinet and finished his federal career as the minister of Employment and Immigration.

More political comebacks


Fabian Manning, seen speaking in St. John's in mid-March, is expected to announce on Monday that he will run in the riding of Avalon in the federal election. ((CBC))

Valcourt isn't the only Conservative hoping to make a political comeback in the federal election. Harper may see his electoral hopes in Atlantic Canada buoyed by other high-profile names returning to politics.

Senator Fabian Manning is expected to announce Monday evening that he is surrendering his Senate seat so he can run again in the riding of Avalon.

Manning was appointed to the Senate in 2009 after losing the riding in 2008 to Liberal Scott Andrews.

Loyola Sullivan, a former Newfoundland and Labrador finance minister, is also expected to return to politics.

Sullivan, who was appointed as Canada's ambassador for fisheries conservation four years ago, is expected to run for the Conservatives in St. John's South-Mount Pearl.