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Bernard Lord wins majority

The Story

The tide in New Brunswick is blue again. After 12 years of Liberal rule, the Progressive Conservatives are back in power. The new premier is Bernard Lord, a young lawyer who has been the party's leader since 1997. When the election was called, Lord's party was behind in the polls. But the bilingual leader campaigned hard to pull off an impressive win for his party, taking 44 of 55 seats. In this CBC news clip, Lord tells cheering supporters he's ready to serve the people. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: June 7, 1999
: Laurie Graham
Duration: 1:43

Did You know?

• Heading into the 1999 election, the Liberals held 45 seats, the Tories had nine, and the NDP held one. After the votes were counted, the totals had almost reversed: the Tories had 44 seats, the Liberals had 10, and the NDP held onto its one seat.
• NDP leader Elizabeth Weir was battling her third election as NDP leader.
• Liberal leader Camille Thériault resigned two years later, in 2001, and was replaced by Shawn Graham.

• Bernard Lord was interested in politics from a young age, preferring to watch the news over hockey when he was as young as six. The son of an anglophone father and a francophone mother, he was president of the student association while studying law at the Université de Moncton. He first ran for the New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives in the 1995 election, but was defeated.

• Lord was elected leader of the Progressive Conservatives in 1997. His predecessor, Bernard Valcourt, had stepped down after receiving 62 per cent support at a party convention.
• Lord won on the second ballot by 235 votes, and one of his priorities as leader was to win a seat in the legislature. In a byelection, he defeated his highly touted Liberal opponent, former NHLer Charlie Bourgeois.

• During the election campaign, Lord took advantage of the Liberals' upbeat campaign to paint a picture of an arrogant government that "ran out of Frank McKenna's gas."
• Among the issues in the campaign was proposed toll highway from Fredericton to Moncton. A portion of the highway had already been built with federal dollars, and the Liberal government had begun charging tolls on it. Lord's Tories promised to cancel the tolls.

• "It's absolutely impossible for him to do everything he says he's going to do," said voter Gisele Duguay about Lord's campaign promises of tax cuts and spending increases. "But I'm willing to take a chance on him."
• At 33, Lord was the youngest premier in New Brunswick's history.

• In 2002, Lord was wooed by the federal Progressive Conservatives to replace Joe Clark as the party's leader. At a convention in Edmonton, Lord delivered a galvanizing speech that, along with his youth, bilingualism and demonstrated leadership abilities, convinced many members he'd be ideal for the job. In the end, however, he chose to stay on in New Brunswick.


N.B. Elections: Colourful Characters, Pivotal Points more