The Six N.B. Premiers Who Took Office Before They Turned 40

Image: The Canadian Press.

FREDERICTON — When New Brunswick’s Liberal government was defeated Friday in a confidence vote, 36-year-old Premier Brian Gallant was set to transform from Canada’s youngest premier to Canada’s youngest ex-premier.

The province has an unusual penchant for choosing young premiers. In the past 60 years, no fewer than six premiers were elected to govern before they turned 40 years old:

1. Brian Gallant was 32 when the Liberals were elected to govern with a slim majority in September 2014.

The lawyer from Shediac Bridge, who once won a Mr. New Brunswick competition, remained in office for a single, four-year term.

2. Shawn Graham was 38 when the Liberals were elected to govern in September 2006.

The province’s 31st premier won a majority government, but the Liberals lost the next election when voters took exception to Graham’s plan to sell the province’s Crown−owned electric utility, NB Power.

3. Bernard Lord was 33 when the Progressive Conservatives were elected to govern with a majority in June 1999.

Lord served as premier for two  terms. The lawyer and former businessman is credited with introducing measures to improve bilingual services, but his government was narrowly defeated in 2006 amid criticism over his health−care policies. He left politics three months later.

4. Frank McKenna was 39 when the Liberals were elected to govern in October 1987.

McKenna, once described as the “tiny, perfect premier,” cemented his place in history by winning all 58 seats in the legislature in 1987. Under McKenna, the Liberals won two more landslide victories, in 1991 and 1995. He is now deputy chairman of TD Bank.

5. Richard Hatfield was 39 when the Progressive Conservatives were elected to govern with a majority in October 1970.

Hatfield was New Brunswick’s longest−serving premier. He helped keep the Tories in power for almost 17 years. In September 1984, he was charged with possession of marijuana after a routine baggage inspection during a royal visit. He was later acquitted.

6. Louis Robichaud was 34 when the Liberals were elected to govern with a majority in June 1960.

Robichaud remained premier for 10 years. He is best known for introducing the province’s Official Languages Act, which established New Brunswick as Canada’s only officially bilingual province.


The Canadian Press