Roberts, Edward Moxon
Edward Moxon Roberts, lawyer, politician, lieutenant-governor of NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR (b at St John's, Nfld 1 September 1940). Roberts became Newfoundland's lieutenant-governor after balancing a nearly 30-year career in both private practice and public service. He grew up and attended school in St John's before obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1960 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1964, both from the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO.
Roberts's legal career began in 1965 when he articled with the attorney general after being called to the Newfoundland Bar. He began private practice in 1978 with the firm Halley, Hickman, Hunt, and Adams (now Patterson Palmer) in St John's, trying cases at the SUPREME COURT OF CANADA. In his first year of private practice, he was appointed Queen's Counsel, and in 1989 he advanced to the level of Master of the Supreme Court. It was also during this time that Roberts developed an interest in provincial politics, maintaining a seat in the House of Assembly for the duration of his law career.
Roberts's interest in political life began as a teenager and young university student, participating in various "young Liberal" associations. In 1961 and 1962, he was elected president of the Canadian University Liberal Federation, the only Newfoundlander to hold the position nationally. Roberts joined provincial politics in 1964, when he was appointed the first executive assistant to Newfoundland's then-premier Joseph SMALLWOOD. Just 24 years old, Roberts decided to run for a seat in the Assembly in 1966, winning as the Liberal member for White Bay North. Roberts was appointed as first parliamentary assistant to Smallwood and minister of public welfare in July 1968, and minister of health in 1969.
Roberts became leader of the Liberal Party in 1972, the Opposition in Newfoundland at the time, and, ironically, his leadership was unsuccessfully challenged in 1974 by his former mentor, Smallwood. Roberts's Liberal Party was defeated in the 1975 general election as the result of Smallwood creating the Liberal Reform Party, which split the Liberal vote. Roberts then lost the Liberal leadership to William Rowe in 1977. Although he was re-elected in the House of Assembly in 1979 under the leadership of Don Jamieson, remaining until 1985, he never again ran as leader of the party, choosing to focus solely on his law practice. Still, he remained a staunch supporter of the provincial Liberals and returned to political life seven years later, as attorney general, minister of justice and House Leader in Premier Clyde WELLS's cabinet from 1992 to1996.
Roberts had been practicing with his former firm, Patterson Palmer, when he was invited by then-prime minister Jean CHRÉTIEN to assume the position of the province's lieutenant-governor, replacing Arthur Maxwell HOUSE. On 1 November 2002, Roberts was sworn in as the 11th lieutenant governor. He completed his term on 4 February 2008 and was succeeded by John CROSBIE.
In 2003 the MEMORIAL UNIVERSITY OF NEWFOUNDLAND recognized his contributions to political and community life by awarding him and honourary Doctor of Laws degree. He currently maintains non-practising status with the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, and continues his community contributions on various hospital boards and in charitable organizations throughout the province.