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Encyclopedia > New Brunswick general election, 1987

In the 1987 election in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, the Liberal Party swept to victory, for the first time since 1970, in a massive landslide by winning all 58 seats in the legislature.

Richard Hatfield, who had served as a popular premier from 1970 through the 1982 election, had seen his popularity fall sharply due to scandals in his last term. In 1984, during an official visit to New Brunswick by Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers found marijuana in Hatfield's luggage. Hatfield was later acquited of marijuana possession charges. He was also widely criticized by opposition parties and by the media for extravagant use of the government plane, which he often used to travel to New York City where he was seen partying. It was more quietly alledged that Hatfield, who had never married, was a homosexual, that he was taking teenaged boys on these travels with him and using illegal drugs. These allegations were never proved.

In 1985, three Saint John-area Progressive Conservative members of the legislature (MLAs) challenged Hatfield's leadership and led a brief caucus revolt after the Liberals won two by-elections in previously Tory seats. Hatfield managed to appease them, and pressed on to lead the party through a fifth election.

Hoping to boost his popularity enough to avoid defeat, Hatfield delayed calling the election as long as possible. It was finally held on October 13, 1987, five years and a day since the last election -- the longest allowed by the Constitution of Canada. Hatfield lost every seat, including his own. He took full responsibility for the defeat. He anounced his resignation the night of the election while being interviewed by media outside of his Hartland home, where he had been abandoned by his supporters early in the evening as the returns began to come in.

Frank McKenna's Liberals were virtually assured victory from day one, thanks to Hatfield's scandals, but ran a very successful campaign allowing them to sweep the province. The New Democrats also suffered a moral defeat, losing their one seat -- something they had won for the first time in 1982.


1987 New Brunswick Election Results
Party Leader Results
Seats % of votes cast
Liberal Frank McKenna 58 60.39%
Progressive Conservative Richard Hatfield 0 28.59%
New Democratic George Little 0 10.55%
Independents   0 0.47%
Total   58 100.0%

Preceded by:
1982 NB election

List of New Brunswick elections

Followed by:
1991 NB election



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