Wells first entered politics in 1966 when he was elected to the House of Assembly as a Liberal serving in the cabinet of Premier Joey Smallwood until 1968 when he resigned in protest of Smallwood's political authoritarianism. Wells left politics in 1971 and returned to his legal practice developing an expertise in constiutional law. In 1987 he re-entered the political scene to be elected leader of the Liberals who had been on the opposition benches for more than a decade. In 1989 he led the party to power ending 17 years of Tory rule. As Premier, Wells opposed the Meech Lake Accord opposing its distinct society provisions for Quebec. Wells agreed to allow the House of Assembly to vote on the accord, but when Elijah Harper's opposition in Manitoba prevented that province's ratification, Wells cancelled the planned vote.
Wells brought a more businesslike approach to government compared to the passion of Smallwood or Brian Peckford. Wells implemented cutbacks and attempted to privatize the provincially owned hydro utility, backing down in the face of strong public opposition. Wells retired as Premier in 1996. In 1998, he was appointed to the Newfoundland Court of Appeal serving as Chief Justice since 1999.
|Premier of Newfoundland