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Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Beaton Tulk dead at 75

In this January 2002 photo, former federal Industry Minister Brian Tobin (left) chats with Beaton Tulk, Newfoundland and Labrador’s then Minister of Development and Rural Renewal in St. John’s following Tobin’s announcement of his resignation from federal politics for the second time. Tulk, who succeeded Tobin as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in October 2000, died Thursday. He was 75. — Telegram file photo
In this January 2002 photo, former federal Industry Minister Brian Tobin (left) chats with Beaton Tulk, Newfoundland and Labrador’s then Minister of Development and Rural Renewal in St. John’s following Tobin’s announcement of his resignation from federal politics for the second time. Tulk, who succeeded Tobin as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in October 2000, died Thursday. He was 75. — Telegram file photo - Joe Gibbons

Tulk was premier for four months after Brian Tobin’s resignation

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Beaton Tulk, the province’s seventh premier, has died at age 75, the day after his birthday.

Born on May 22, 1944 in Ladle Cove, near Musgrave Harbour in Bonavista Bay, Tulk became premier of the province for four months, following the return of then-premier Brian Tobin to his federal political career.

Beaton Tulk died early Thursday morning following a length battle with cancer. He was 75.
Beaton Tulk died early Thursday morning following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 75.

In a statement, Premier Dwight Ball says Tulk was a “political giant.”
"His unwavering devotion to this province will live on, not only in our memories, but in his many contributions through his service to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
"For younger people who may not be familiar with Beaton, his memoir is a great reflection of the man who wrote it — entertaining, honest and larger than life. It reveals how Beaton’s tremendous sense of humour, his passion for his province, and his loyalty helped him deal with diverse challenges, famous figures and unique circumstances."
Flags at government buildings across the province flew at half-mast on Thursday in memory of Tulk.
A visitation with Tulk’s cremated remains and members of his family will take place Friday from 2-6 p.m. Those unable to attend, but wishing to send tribute to the Tulk family, can send emails to messages@gov.nl.ca.
Tulk’s successor as premier, Roger Grimes, says Tulk was a brilliant political strategist.
Grimes recalled that in 1985, before he had any thoughts of entering politics, he got a call from Tulk.
“Beaton came up to see me. His scheme was that they needed to get the Liberal party in the news, while they were waiting for the big news, which was that Clyde Wells was going to come back and lead the party,” said Grimes.
“He comes to the office and he says, ‘Roger, I need you to announce that you’re interested in being leader of the Liberal party.’ I said, ‘Beaton, you know I’m not interested in that.’ He said, ‘That’s beside the point.’”
Grimes says Tulk put out a statement to media that Grimes had expressed his interest, which made the evening newscasts.
The next morning, when reporters showed up at Grimes’ office at the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association – where Grimes was serving as president – Grimes denied the claim, which gave another news cycle to the speculation.
“The third night, the night after that, Clyde Wells announced that, yes, he was going to seek the leadership. Beaton’s plan was to use his good buddy Roger Grimes, who was in a position that could forward the cause of the Liberal party – never mind what it was going to do to make teachers mad at me,” said Grimes.
“It was all good in the plan that he saw. I said yes, I’ll do that for you, no problem. It worked like a charm, as far as Beaton was concerned. It got me in a bit of trouble, but that’s the way it was.”
Before entering politics, Tulk was an educator, serving as principal of the Carmanville school system.
In 1979 he became a politician, first elected as a Liberal for the district of Fogo.
After suffering his first electoral defeat in 1989, he served as assistant deputy minister before being re-elected in 1993.
Tulk was deputy premier when Tobin ran again for federal politics, and was unanimously accepted as premier until Tobin’s successor was elected.
Tulk did not run to succeed Tobin as Liberal leader, but did try his hand at federal politics in 2002. He resigned his provincial seat, lost his bid to become MP for Gander-Grand Falls, then lost his re-election bid in the byelection triggered by his own resignation. He was later appointed by then-prime minister Jean Chretien to the Canadian Transportation Agency.
Last year, Tulk released his autobiography “A Man of My Word.”
Tulk is survived by his wife, Dora.
Former premier Danny Williams also issued a statement on Tulk's death, remembering him "as a passionate and tireless advocate for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."
"While we may have been on opposite sides of the political aisle, he was someone I very much admired and respected," Williams stated.
"We become (sic) good friends over the years and I will personally remember him as someone whose public service had a great impact on our province; his legacy will be a lasting one."

Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, a former colleague of Tulk’s in the Liberal cabinet, says the province has lost one of its “respected and admired sons.”
“Beaton believed in our province and our people. Newfoundland and Labrador is a better place because of his leadership. Today is a sad one for the province. Howard and I offer our deepest sympathies to his family and large circle of friends. He will be missed,” Foote said in a statement.
Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie issued a statement to recognize Tulk’s contribution to the province.
“On behalf of the entire Progressive Conservative party, I wish to express our condolences to the family of the former premier. Mr. Beaton Tulk served the people of the province with integrity and humility while always maintaining a sense of humour. His legacy is one of public service while never forgetting one's roots,” Crosbie stated.

A public visitation will be held in the lobby of the Confederation Building from 2-6 p.m. Friday. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Salvation Army Islandview Citadel in Musgravetown, with Majors Austin and Lillian Randell officiating, and on Sunday, May 26 at 2 p.m. at St. Stephen’s United Church in Ladle Cove, with Rev. Boyce Parsons officiating. In Lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Kids Eat Smart Foundation. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Fewer’s Funeral Home in Clarenville.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Meanwhile, many individuals and organizations took to social media to pay tribute to Tulk.


Earlier story:

Beaton Tulk, the province’s seventh premier, has died at age 75, the day after his birthday.

Born on May 22, 1944 in Ladle Cove, near Musgrave Harbour in Bonavista Bay, Tulk became premier of the province for four months, following the return of Brian Tobin to his federal political career.

In a statement, Premier Dwight Ball says Tulk was a “political giant.”

"His unwavering devotion to this province will live on, not only in our memories, but in his many contributions through his service to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

"For younger people who may not be familiar with Beaton, his memoir is a great reflection of the man who wrote it — entertaining, honest, and larger than life. It reveals how Beaton’s tremendous sense of humour, his passion for his province, and his loyalty helped him deal with diverse challenges, famous figures, and unique circumstances."

The premier says flags at Confederation Building in St. John's will fly at half-mast today in Tulk's honour. 

Before entering politics, Tulk was an educator, serving as principal of the Carmanville school system.

In 1979 he became a politician, first elected as a Liberal for the district of Fogo.

After suffering his first electoral defeat in 1989, he served as assistant deputy minister before re-election in 1993.

Tulk was deputy premier when Tobin ran again for federal politics and was unanimously accepted as premier until Tobin’s successor was elected.

Tulk did not run to succeed Tobin as Liberal leader, but did try his own hand at federal politics in 2002. He resigned his provincial seat, lost his bid to become MP for Gander-Grand Falls, then lost his re-election bid in the byelection triggered by his own resignation. He was later appointed by then-prime minister Jean Chretien to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Last year, Tulk released his autobiography A Man of My Word.

Tulk is survived by his wife, Dora.

Former Premier Danny Williams also issued a statement on Tulk's passing, remembering him "as a passionate and tireless advocate for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."

"While we may have been on opposite sides of the political aisle, he was someone I very much admired and respected," Williams stated. "We become (sic) good friends over the years and I will personally remember him as someone whose public service had a great impact on our province; his legacy will be a lasting one."

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