The Canadian Press
National general news, Wednesday, June 6, 2001
Lord sees bright horizons for N.B. and himself after two years in office
The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON (CP) - Premier Bernard Lord feels he has found his groove. Halfway through his first term in office, the boyish-looking, 36-year-old Conservative premier said Wednesday he feels more confident about himself, his government and New Brunswick's future as a possible "have" province.
"I love my life," he said in his quiet, unassuming way.
Thursday will be the second anniversary of Lord's upset election win when his Tory team routed the once-mighty Liberals and romped to victory with a huge majority.
In the past few months, the Tory majority has grown with a series of byelection wins, all at the expense of the Liberals. Lord now governs with 47 of the province's 55 legislative seats, leaving only seven seats for the struggling Opposition Liberals and one for the New Democrats.
"Life has been very good to me," Lord said as he reflected on his status from his office in downtown Fredericton.
"I have great parents who taught me values and principles and who still guide me every day. I have a wonderful wife and great children. I just feel fortunate. This is a way for me to contribute. I see so much potential for ourselves, our communities, our province and our country."
Lord, who has been dubbed the Puppy Premier because of his age, said he's flattered by the national and international attention he has received over the past two years.
He was recently invited to hobnob with international movers and shakers at a conference held by the secretive Bilderberg Group in Sweden. Other invited guests included media baron Conrad Black and former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
"The fact that I'm young probably fuels some of the speculation about my political interests," Lord said. "I can't control that and I'm certainly flattered by the attention. But I'm focused on my responsibilities here in New Brunswick."
Don Desserud, a political scientist at the University of New Brunswick, said it's not surprising that people are asking questions about Lord's future on the national stage.
As Canadians look for up-and-coming politicians to replace today's aging leaders, Desserud said Lord appears to have a lot to offer.
A fluently bilingual, small-C conservative who has embraced the popular principles of lower taxes and less government, Lord is becoming more polished and relaxed in the public spotlight.
"It doesn't surprise me that people are looking at him as a possible national politician," Desserud said.
"He's totally and fluently bilingual in a way few politicians can match and he has done well in those forums where he has had to deal with the other premiers and the national media. If he's not thinking it himself, people are probably dropping hints to him that he should consider where to go from here."
Lord's political opponents in New Brunswick would be happy to see the young premier spread his wings and move to a wider stage.
NDP Leader Elizabeth Weir, who has fired political shots at several New Brunswick premiers in her decade-long career, finds Lord a particularly frustrating target.
"He gives a whole new meaning to the term vacuous," Weir said.
"At night, I can wake up reciting the one speech the premier gives. I know all the key words. I know all the applause pauses. Things like 'managing smarter' and 'it's about choices.' You want to scream."
Liberal Leader Bernard Richard has the same complaint.
"He's like a trained seal," he said.
Lord is smart enough not to fall into the trap of publicly admitting to any national ambitions.
One of his predecessors in New Brunswick, former Liberal premier Frank McKenna, is still hounded by people wanting to know when he's going to make his dash for federal politics.
McKenna has been retired from public life for almost five years.
Lord said he has no idea how long he will be involved in politics but he acknowledged that, given his youth, it could be a long time. And he does leave the door open to the possibility of something other than provincial politics.
"I'm sure there will come a time when I'll say there are other ways for me to contribute. But right now I see this as the best way to serve my province and my country."
Uniform subject(s): Political parties
Subject(s) - The Canadian Press : Politics
Hour of publication: 16:56
Length: Medium, 575 words
© 2001 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
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