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Robichaud’s out, Hatfield’s in

The Story

Louis Robichaud is disappointed, but not upset. He has just lost the 1970 election, but the gracious politician is philosophical about it: "I believe strongly that we had given good government for 10 years, but that no government stays in power indefinitely." New Brunswick's new premier is PC Richard Hatfield, who declares that he was quite confident he would win. He does, however, admit to CBC's Harry Brown in this radio clip that he has a "king-sized job" ahead of him to cure the province's economic ills. 

Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Oct. 26, 1970
Guests: Richard Hatfield, Louis Robichaud
Host: Harry Brown, William Ronald
Duration: 8:49

Did You know?

• In the Oct. 26, 1970, election, Richard Hatfield's Progressive Conservatives won 32 seats while Robichaud's Liberals won 26.

• In terms of popular vote, the Liberals actually achieved a slightly higher percentage than Conservatives. The Liberals had 48.6 per cent and the PCs had 48.4 per cent, while the NDP (which won no seats) had 2.8 per cent.

• The PC campaign of 1970 was mainly fought on economic grounds. According to Robichaud biographer Della Stanley, when Hatfield talked about needing a change in New Brunswick, he wasn't referring to bilingualism or the Equal Opportunity Program - he supported both those Robichaud initiatives. Instead, his campaign "pointed to the increase in sales tax, in the provincial debt and to industrial failures during the Robichaud decades," wrote Stanley.

• The day after the election, the Globe and Mail featured an article on Hatfield saying his "low-key image masks a skilful organizer and tactician." It also pointed out that although Hatfield wasn't bilingual, the new premier described himself as "bilingual 'in spirit and in mind,' and he is continually trying to master the French language."

• Hatfield was born in Woodstock, N.B., on April 9, 1931. He was educated as a lawyer and practiced law for six months before entering the world of politics in 1957. His first political job was as executive assistant to Gordon Churchill, the federal Minister of Trade and Commerce in Ottawa. In 1961, he was elected to New Brunswick's legislative assembly in a by-election.
• In June of 1969, Hatfield was chosen Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick.

• After the 1970 election, Hatfield was re-elected three times: 1974, 1978 and 1982. With a total of 17 years in power, he is the longest-running premier of New Brunswick.

• Throughout his time in office, Hatfield worked hard to continue many of the efforts initiated by Robichaud. As a champion of equal rights between French and English-speaking New Brunswickers, Hatfield consolidated the Program of Equal Opportunity and implemented Robichaud's Official Languages Act.  For more on Hatfield, see the clip 'Disco Dick' loses support


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