New Brunswick

Bernard Lord's name surfaces as possible Stephen Harper successor

Former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord’s name is ascending in the speculation as a possible leader to replace Stephen Harper, who stepped down as Conservative leader following Monday night’s election defeat.

Stephen Harper is stepping down as Conservative leader, prompting names for possible replacements to circulate

Former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord is the president of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. His name is circulating as a possible successor to Stephen Harper as federal Tory leader. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord's name is ascending in the speculation as a possible leader to replace Stephen Harper, who stepped down as Conservative leader following Monday night's election defeat.

The discussion over the next Conservative leader began as the election results made it clear that the Liberals were sweeping back to power.

There is a growing list of former federal cabinet ministers and prominent Conservative politicians who are rumoured to be interested in the spot or could be a good fit for the rebuilding party.

Donald Savoie, a Canada research chair in public administration and governance at the University of Moncton, said he believes Lord will be tempted to test the waters of a federal run.

"I think if Lord is thinking about going to federal politics, now is the time to do it," Savoie said.

"Ten years from now is too late. There will not be another opportunity after this."

If Lord does consider a run for the federal leadership, one political analyst said the former New Brunswick premier has many positive attributes.

Tom Bateman, a political scientist at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, said Lord would be an ideal checklist candidate for the Tories.

"In some ways, Mr. Lord's biography is very good for national political office, bilingual, born in Quebec," he said.

"He's got political experience, he's very intelligent and photogenic."

Lord did not respond to a request for an interview about any possible leadership ambitions.

Lord has been working as the president and chief executive officer for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association in the years following his own defeat to the Liberals in the 2006 provincial election.

This is hardly the first time Lord's name has been floated as a possible national leader.

There were draft movements started to lure him to replace Joe Clark as leader of the Progressive Conservatives, a race that was ultimately won by Peter MacKay.

Federal Tories again tried to convince Lord to enter the leadership race when the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives merged. He skipped that race, too, and Harper eventually won.

Bateman said Lord does come with some potential liabilities, for instance, he had a reputation of being indecisive as New Brunswick premier.

The political scientist also said Lord's absence from the national stage for nearly a decade could cut both ways as some voters may have forgotten him. But Bateman said it could carry some sway with other voters.

"Not being associated with the last nine years of federal government is no liability," he said.


Daniel McHardie

Digital senior producer

Daniel McHardie is the digital senior producer for CBC New Brunswick. He joined in 2008. He also co-hosts the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.


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