Richard Bennett Hatfield, a prominent New Brunswick politician, served as the Premier of the province from 1970 to 1987.
The Honourable Richard Bennett Hatfield was born in Woodstock on April 9, 1931. He was named after Richard Bedford Bennett, a New Brunswick native and friend of the Hatfield family, who was the only New Brunswick-born Canadian Prime Minister.
Richard was the sixth child of Heber and Dora Hatfield and grew up in the town of Hartland, where his father was a leading potato merchant. Heber Hatfield not only served as the Mayor of Hartland but also represented the riding of Victoria-Carleton in the House of Commons from 1940 until his passing on January 3, 1952.
Richard Hatfield was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick in 1961. After the 1967 general election, he became Leader of the Opposition and interim leader of the Progressive Conservatives, later being elected as the party leader in 1969. He led the party to victory in the 1970 provincial election.
During Hatfield’s extended tenure, he gained prominence on the national stage, forming an alliance with federal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau during the constitutional negotiations that led to the 1982 patriation of the Canadian constitution and the creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Hatfield also played a crucial role in fostering equality between the province’s Acadian minority and English Canadian majority.
Richard Hatfield’s childhood home was located on Hartland’s main street. Sadly, since the time of this post, the homestead has been demolished.
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