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Brian Peckford vs. the teachers in Newfoundland

The Story

1985: Conservatives have ruled Newfoundland and Labrador for 13 years and show no signs of yielding as Brian Peckford enters his third election. His combative stance against Ottawa over the province's promising natural resources is well received, and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians envision a more prosperous future. But, as shown in this CBC Television clip, Peckford has his critics. The loudest are the province's civil servants, spearheaded by teachers who have suffered two years of wage freezes at Peckford's hands. From Lewisporte to Port aux Basques, at hotels, town halls and in parking lots, the premier is beset by angry throngs of teachers who are out to make his campaign trail a living hell. It is one of the most acrimonious campaigns the province has seen since the Smallwood years.

Medium: Television
Program: Remember When
Broadcast Date: April 7, 1993
Guest(s): Brian Peckford, Joe Rousseau
Reporter: Fred Greening, Ken Meeker, Rick Seaward
Duration: 5:13

Did You know?

• Brian Peckford, an energy minister under Frank Moores, won the party leadership when Moores retired in 1979. Peckford led the Tories to an easy victory in the provincial election two months later. He swept the subsequent 1982 election 44 seats to the Liberals' eight.

• Despite confirming the existence of the Hibernia oil field off the coast of Newfoundland and reviving several major industrial projects, the economy of Peckford's Newfoundland and Labrador remained weak throughout the 1980s. The Churchill Falls power contract with Quebec turned out to be a bad deal, and the Come By Chance oil refinery went bankrupt. (It has since been sold and reopened.)

• Newfoundland and Labrador was one of many provinces that opted to reduce its annual deficit by enacting wage restraints for public servants in the 1980s. (British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick also implemented wage freezes, guidelines or rollbacks of labour settlements.) Fishers were also included in the restraint program. Newfoundland and Labrador's teachers fought against these restraints for years, picketing Clyde Wells' Liberals in much the same fashion in the 1990s.

• Brian Peckford took the 1985 election, but his party saw a decrease of 13 per cent of the popular vote and eight fewer seats than in 1982.

• Peckford resigned in 1989. His exit may have been assisted by embarrassing reports of the failure of the giant Sprung greenhouse project, an unsuccessful hydroponic cucumber farm.


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