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Richard first entered politics as a young man, running unsuccessfully in Shediac for the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick as a Parti Acadien candidate in the 1974 election. He went on to be involved in municipal politics in the village of Cap-Pélé .
He was named to cabinet in 1995 and left in 1998 to contest the leadership of the Liberal Party. He was unsuccessful in his leadership bid and was returned to cabinet by Camille Thériault who was the victor in the contest. Richard managed to be re-election by the largest margin of any candidate in the 1999 election, despite his party suffering a massive defeat.
When Thériault resigned as leader in 2001, Richard briefly considered another run but instead became interim leader. When Shawn Graham became leader in 2002, Richard was made house leader and finance critic, two key roles in opposition. Richard maintained these roles after the 2003 election.
The Progressive Conservative government of Bernard Lord had won a bare majority in 2003, winning 28 of 55 seats and were anxious to strengthen their position. After first attempting to convince a Liberal to sit as speaker and then offering cabinet positions and other appointments to several Liberals, Richard accepted the post of provincial ombudsman, thus resiging his seat and increasing the Tory majority to 28/54 for the ensuing year before a by-election was held.
| Leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick
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