New Brunswick general election, 1967
The governing Liberal Party, under Premier Louis Robichaud, had just completed implementing its landmark Equal Opportunity program, which drastically improved government services in poorer and francophone regions of the province. Several Liberal cabinet ministers had quit politics during the previous term, including some who were uncomfortable with Robichaud's policies. Education minister Henry Irwin was fired after having an extramarital affair.
The Progressive Conservatives had selected Charlie Van Horne as leader in November 1966. Van Horne, whose cowboy hat had become his trademark to voters, had faced several lawsuits over his personal financial matters during the 1960s which caused him to sell his hotel in Campbellton, but claimed they had all been settled. Liberals claimed that industrialist K.C. Irving, who was in his own personal battle with Robichaud, was funding Van Horne's campaign. Conservatives were hopeful that Van Horne's charisma and speaking skills could surpass those of Robichaud.
During the campaign, critics accused Van Horne of being vague on his promises for "a new tomorrow". He had pledged to increase health care and education funding while reducing taxes, with no answer as to how it would be accomplished.
Questions arose as to the Conservative campaign's funding. He campaigned across the province in a Cadillac, while Don Messer, one of the most popular musicians in Atlantic Canada at the time, accompanied Van Horne at several campaign stops. However, Equal Opportunity was wildly unpopular in many Conservative strongholds and the Liberals had been perceived as arrogant. Polls showed a close race.
Robichaud campaigned under the slogan of "a responsible government". With the entire campaign focused on attacking Van Horne, he used a dramatic effect of listing all of the Conservatives' promises on paper and unfurling it across a room. In the final days of the campaign, two Toronto newspapers ran unflattering articles about Van Horne, to which he threatened to sue the authors. The Conservative reaction is believed to have turned the results decidedly in Robichaud's favour.
|New Brunswick general election, 1967|
|New Brunswick Liberal Association||Louis Robichaud||32||52.8%|
|Progressive Conservative Party of New Brunswick||Charles Van Horne||26||47.1%|
|Other / Non-Partisan||0||0.1%|
- Louis J. Robichaud: A Not So Quiet Revolution by Michel Cormier, translated by Jonathan Kaplansky. Faye Editions, 2004.