Introduction to the MacEachen Lecture Series


30 January 2008

Welcome to the 10th Allan J. MacEachen lecture series in Politics. As most of you know MacEachen was a very distinguished politician who served our region and our country very well for many years, actually for 38, 8 months and 9 days. (The kind of information you can find on the net these days is just completely amazing.) He was the very first Deputy Prime Minister, held numerous key cabinet portfolios such as Labour, National Health and Welfare, Manpower, Immigration, President of the Privy Council, External Affairs and of course, Minister of Finance. He became Leader of the Opposition when Mr. Trudeau briefly stepped down in 1979, and served as Leader of the Government in the Senate and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I'm just saying all this because I want to introduce you, very briefly, to this lecture series. This lecture series was established in 1996; it coincided with Mr. MacEachen's retirement from the Senate. And the idea was really to honour his contribution but also, I think most importantly, to signal his ongoing commitment to fostering informed discussions and debate about politics and governance in Canada. And so, we are very, very pleased to have him with us tonight for this lecture.

The great Prussian statesman Otto Van Bismarck once said (and don't be worried, I won't lecture) that legislations are a little bit like sausages in the sense that you don't really want to know how they are made. Well, actually you do. And that's the idea of the lecture series. And really, over the past years we've invited distinguished former politicians (or 'recovering politicians' as Bob Rae once put it) precisely to get an inside perspective on how policies are made in Canada. And our distinguished speaker tonight, I'm tempted to say, is like the cherry on the sundae of this lecture series. If only because for more than a decade, very often when we were discussing, having questions and answers about political issues, we were talking about what he was doing as head of government; that is to say, talking about issues that, of course, were shaped and influenced by his government's policies. So it is a great pleasure, an honour and a privilege for us to have him with us here tonight.

To formally introduce our distinguished guest tonight, I'd like to call upon the President of St. Francis Xavier University, a man who has not YET served for 38 years, 8 months and 9 days as president of the Xavierian republic, but I think he's working on it. So please join me in welcoming Dr. Sean Riley.


Political Science Department

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