Bernard Richard is a lawyer and a former social worker. He obtained a bachelor of arts in psychology at the University of Moncton and a bachelor's in law from the University of New Brunswick. He was the secretary general of the Société Nationale de l'Acadie from 1980 to 1984.
After practicing law privately for several years, Mr. Richard was elected to the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, where he served from 1991 to 2003. During this time, he held several Cabinet positions (minister of intergovernmental and Aboriginal affairs, acting minister of justice and attorney general, minister of education and minister responsible for social policy renewal). He was also leader of the Official Opposition and interim leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick. He was the Opposition House leader and chair of the Official Opposition caucus.
On 3 January 2004, Mr. Richard was the sixth person to be named ombudsman of New Brunswick. In November 2006, he was named New Brunswick's first child and youth advocate. Mr. Richard presided the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman, the Canadian Council of Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Association des Ombudsmans et Médiateurs de la Francophonie, the latter of which named him honorary member in November 2011.
In May 2011, M. Richard conducted a review of the officers of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. In August 2011, Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board asked Mr. Richard to conduct an independent review of the proposed drilling of a large exploration well in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and to plan public audiences on the project.
Mr. Richard is the recipient of the Léger-Comeau Medal of the Société Nationale de l'Acadie and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He is also a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, a member of the Order of Merit of the University of Moncton, and was granted an award of merit by the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick. He has been named Queen's counsel.
Mr. Richard is actively involved in numerous organizations. He chairs the Board of Directors of Plan Canada (formerly known as Foster Parent Plan), one of Canada's major nongovernmental organizations, which supports children in the developing world. He is also a member of the Members Assembly of Plan International. He currently also chairs a working group on children's rights in countries that are members of the Francophonie, and is the founder and the first chair of the First Nations Children's Futures Fund, which supports the development of play spaces, culture, language, and leadership opportunities for First Nations children in New Brunswick. Mr. Bernard is also a member of the Board of Directors of Dots NB, a non-profit organization advocating for improved mental health services for children and youth. Additionally, he is a member of Board of Directors of the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute. Finally, he has recently agreed to chair the newly created Fondation Nationale de l'Acadie, whose mandate is to promote the Acadian people.