2013 Speaker's list
Clyde Wells is a former judge and former politician who now practices as Counsel with the St. John's office of Cox & Palmer. Born in Buchans Junction, Newfoundland, he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a B.A. in 1959, and received his from Dalhousie University Law School in 1962. From 1962-64, ne served with the Canadian Army, Judge Advocate General's Office, with the rank of Captain.
Mr. Wells was called to the Bar of Nova Scotia in 1963, and the Bar of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1964. He started his private practice legal career in Corner Brook and, with former Justice Kevin Barry, established Barry and Wells in 1964. He continued with successor firms in Corner Brook until 1981 when, because of his extensive litigation practice and the location of the courts, he moved to St. John's where he continued his practice as Wells and Company until 1987. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1977.
He was first elected to the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly in 1966, and became Minister of Labour at that time. As a result of policy differences with the then premier he resigned from Cabinet in 1968 and from the House of Assembly in 1971. He returned to politics in 1987 when, in June, he was elected Leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and, in December, MHA for Windsor Buchans. He served as Leader of the Opposition from June 1987 to May 1989. Despite not winning his own seat, he led the Liberal Party to victory in the general election of April 1989 and as its Leader, Mr.Wells became the fifth Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador as a province of Canada, and the twenty fourth first minister in the history of Newfoundland. ln a by-election the next month he was acclaimed MHA for Bay of islands. During his first term he dealt with major challenges, including the provìnce's stressed financial circumstances, the Meech Lake constitutional controversy, the closure of the codfish fishery and negotiation of the Hibernia offshore oil development agreement. Under his leadership the Liberal Party won the 1993 general election with en increased majority. He resigned as Premier and member of the House of Assembly in 1996.
Upon his departure from politics, Mr. Wells joined one of Cox & Palmers predecessor firms, practicing for two and a half years before being appointed a justice of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador (Court of Appeal) in 1998. He was appointed Chief Justice of the province in 1999, a position he held for 10 years until he chose to step down in 2009. He remained as a supernumerary justice of the appellate court until his full retirement from the bench in November 2012.
In 2013, he returned to private legal practice as Counsel with Cox & Palmer where he practices in the areas of Construction, Corporate & Commercial, Corporate Governance, Energy & Natural Resources, Financial Services, and Banking &Insolvency.
Mr. Wells has also served as a Director of several Newfoundland and Labrador corporations, including Newfoundland Light & Power Co. Ltd. (now Fortis) from 1978-87 and as its Board Chairman from 1985-87.
He has presented talks on judicial and constitutional issues on numerous occasions and at various universities, including Memorial University, Dalhousie University, University of New Brunswick, Harvard University, McGill University, University of Toronto, University of Saskatchewan and University of Calgary. He received an Honorary LL.D from Memorial University of Newfoundland in 1996.
He is married to Eleanor (nee Bishop), and they have three children, and nine grandchildren. Mr. Wells has occupied his spare time, with golf, skiing, sailing, and hiking.