10 July 2005

Frank Duff Moores (1933-2005)

The second premier of Newfoundland and Labrador after Confederation and successful businessman, Frank Moores died today in Perth, Ontario of complications from liver cancer.

Gregarious and affable in his public and personal life, Moores won three general elections as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party (plurality, 1971; majority, 1972 and 1975) before retiring in 1979. His term as premier saw the completion of Smallwood-era megaprojects, purchase of the Upper Churcill project and the development of oil and gas policy by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He later helped organize the successful campaign of Brian Mulroney for national progressive Conservative leader and later prime minister. Moores started a powerful and influential consulting business in Ottawa shortly afterward.

Moores began working with the family fish business, becoming president of the company before entering politics in 1968 as the member of parliament for Bonavista-Trinity-Conception. Moores became provincial Progressive Conservative leader in 1970 and set about rebuilding the party for an anticipated provincial general election. His coalition of disaffected Liberals like John Crosbie, T Alex Hickman and Val Earle and lifelong Conservatives like Anthony J. (Ank) Murphy, Gerry Ottenheimer and Tom Hickey won 21 seats in the 1971 general election compared to 20 seats for the Liberals under Joe Smallwood and one seat held by the New Labrador Party candidate Tom Burgess.

After much political manoeuvering by Smallwood, the lieutenant governor invited Moores to form an administration in January 1972. Political uncertainty caused by shifting political allegiances and resignations led Moores to seek issuance of a writ of election. Under the slogan "The time has come", Moores won a majority over the Liberal Party led by Edward Roberts.

In his first term as premier, Moores completed several of the projects begun by Smallwood including a crude oil refinery at Come by Chance and the Upper Churchill hydro electric development, which Moores' administration later purchased from the private developers Brinco along with that company's mineral and timber rights throughout the province.

In his second term, Moores' administration started a major fisheries initiative in which the province extended loans to fishing businesses. Discussions with Quebec over recall of upper Churchill power proved fruitless and Moores began talks to develop the Lower Churchill's hydroelectric potential.

Moores may be remembered as the premier under whom the provincial government began seriously to establish provincial regulations for offshore oil exploration and development under energy ministers Leo Barry and later Brian Peckford. During Peckford's term as energy minister in the second Moores administration, the provincial government released a position paper which laid out the provincial government's claim for ownership of the offshore resources.