Introduction to MacEachen Lecture Series (2009)


22 October 2009

Good evening. I am Steven Holloway, Chair of the Department of Political Science. And I would like to welcome you to the annual Allan J. MacEachen Lecture in Politics. St. Francis Xavier University is once again pleased to host this prestigious lecture. The establishment of the lecture series was announced on June 11th 1996, at a dinner held at the parliament buildings marking Mr. MacEachen's retirement from Parliament. Born in Inverness, Cape Breton to a coal mining family, Allan J. MacEachen went on to lead an extraordinary life of public duty. One of this university's most illustrious graduates, he went on to earn higher degrees at several Canadian and American universities, before returning to teach economics at StFX. He represented the people of Cape Breton and Northeastern Nova Scotia in the House of Commons from 1953 to 1984. During this long and distinguished political career, he held senior cabinet portfolios in the governments of Pearson and Trudeau, including service as Deputy Prime Minister. In 1984 he became Leader of the Opposition and later Leader of the Government in the Senate, a post which he held upon his retirement at age 75, an eventuality dictated by the Canadian constitution. But of course this gives him, I understand, more time for the things that really matter and presently that is kayaking on Lake Ainslie. We have been fortunate that Mr. MacEachen himself has taken a keen interest in the lecture series and has been an active member of the lecture committee since its inception. And, as usual, he is here with us tonight.

This lecture will be the 12th in the series. The first ten have been published in two volumes entitled Reflections on Canadian Politics. I understand by the way, copies are available at the University Bookstore and in the foyer at a very reasonable special price. The lecture has offered a unique opportunity for active practitioners of the art of politics in Canada to reflect back on their time in the political arena. To share with the university and a community audience the insights they have gained and their musing about what might lie ahead. An insightful passage on the practice of politics was written by our own Dr. John B. Stewart, former professor of political science, former senator, Distinguished University Fellow at StFX, and also, an active member of the lecture committee who is here with us tonight. Dr. Stewart said, "Politics as the management of our common affairs, clearly is important. But it isn't easy. To rank as good, a politician must be able to see what is best for the people and have the will to work to achieve it. But at the same time, in a democracy, he or she must be able to get elected and re-elected. A requirement which tends to emphasize the short run demands of local and particular interests."

As a practitioner of this kind of political balancing, Allan J. MacEachen has long been rated as a truly outstanding player in the realm of politics by political friends and foes alike. And the lecture which bears his name has featured many former politicians of the first rank. Previous speakers have included Bob Rae, Frank McKenna, Roy Romanow, Preston Manning, Flora MacDonald, as well as two former Prime Ministers: the Right Honourable John Turner and the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. Tonight we will have our third former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Joe Clark, who was elected to parliament eight times by his constituents. Besides acting as Prime Minister, he held many of the highest political offices in the Canadian government including Minister of External Affairs with responsibility for Canada's foreign policy. Through his distinguished public service, he came to know about the higher purposes as well as the more mundane considerations that go along with political leadership and the practice of politics in this country.

Now, to properly introduce tonight's speaker, please join me in welcoming my colleague in the Political Science department, an avid analyst of the Canadian political scene, Dr. Doug Brown.


Political Science Department

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