Introduction to Mr. Allan Gregg (2015)


3 November 2015

Well, the pleasure of introducing our speaker tonight was not meant for me originally. It was going to be Lowell Murray, former Progressive Conservative senator, Mulroney government cabinet minister, St. F. X. alumna, and currently a member of the MacEachen Lecture committee. That really would have been quite fitting since Allan Gregg served as the Progressive Conservative pollster during many of those years when Lowell was very deeply involved with federal politics. Unfortunately, Lowell is travelling. Mr. Gregg told me he is in Ireland at the moment, so he is not able to give that introduction as planned. So, I am happy to do it for him instead, but this is not his introduction; these are not his remarks I assure you. They would have been much more fulsome than my own and full of anecdote no doubt. I will give you a barebones introduction but it is still impressive nonetheless.

Allan Gregg is among Canada's most recognized and respected public opinion analysts, political strategists and commenters on public affairs. He has played a very important role in dozens of election campaigns over the past 30 years. And he was the leading pollster of the Progressive Conservative Party in the 1980s, an era which was pretty jam packed with fascinating and important political events. Personally, I became familiar with Mr. Gregg's work in 1979 when he founded Decima Research. I had just arrived at Carleton University as a graduate student to study Canadian politics. He was beginning to make appearances on television as the new whiz kid pollster. At that time he was, I would say, both in terms of his age and his appearance, a rather unorthodox yet quite brilliant political commenter and pollster. I think he is still recognized as such today. In a recent article in The Hill Times, on the latest whiz kid pollster Dan Arnold - who happens to be the Liberal Party chief research strategist in the past campaign which was so successful for the Liberals – Arnold is quoted as saying "some boys want to grow up to be Prime Minister, I wanted to grow up to be Allan Gregg."

It should also be noted that besides his career in the polling industry for which he is best known in political circles, Mr. Gregg has been a significant presence in the Canadian entertainment and broadcasting industries, involved in the management of leading rock bands, instrumental in YTV and a long-serving host and panelist on both TVOntario and the CBC. He is a native of Edmonton and a graduate of the University of Alberta. He was also a PhD candidate at Carleton University (I hope he will say something about that before he begins his remarks because he had an incredible start to his career as a pollster and political strategist which could never happen today.) He co-founded Strategic Council in 1995 and was Chair of Harris-Decima, the successor to Decima Research, from 2007-2014. He is currently a principal in the leading Canadian public affairs firm Earnscliffe Strategy Group. He has served on the boards of Public Policy Forum, the Writers Trust, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Mr. Gregg is recipient of the Public Affairs Association Award of Distinction, and an inductee in the Canadian Marketing Hall of Legends. In 2012, he joined my alma mater as Adjunct Professor at Carleton University's School of Public Administration and Political Management. Please welcome to St. Francis Xavier University, to deliver the 2015 MacEachen Lecture in Politics, Mr. Allan Gregg.


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