Welcome & Introduction to MacEachen Lecture Series (2015)


3 November 2015

Good evening everyone. Thank you for coming, students, friends of St. F. X., alumni, special guest. But before I provide my opening comments in contextualizing this event tonight, a member of the class of 1981 sent me a note, just last week, after that very famous October 19th election. You may remember it. And he reminded me, as a member of the class of 81, what a remarkable place St. F. X. is and the power and impact it has had on making a difference in the community. And so he shared with me an article from 1989 that I would like to share just a couple of thoughts from it, before I do my opening comments. It is from Harry Bruce, when he moved into this region. It was written in Atlantic Insight, and this is what he wrote:

"Few politicians have influenced the modern history of Canada more profoundly than Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the former Deputy Prime Minister Allan J. MacEachen. (Now let me say, from the class of 1944, what an honour it is to have Allan J. back on campus, sitting with us today. So, welcome back sir.) They don't seem to have much in common. Mulroney is a Conservative as the ocean is blue, while MacEachen is as Liberal as roses are red. Moreover, since MacEachen is now the Liberal leader in the senate, he's no more eager to celebrate the little known background they share, then he is to make Mulroney's political life run smoothly. Making Mulroney's life run smoothly in the upper house is Lowell Murray's job. He's the Conservative leader in the senate and knows all about what Mulroney and MacEachen have in common. He shares it too, and so does Premier Frank McKenna of New Brunswick along with dozens of other MPs, MLAs, cabinet ministers, ex-cabinet ministers, senators and labour leaders. All of them graduated from little old St. Francis Xavier University in little old Antigonish, Nova Scotia. And though millions of Canadians west of Atlantic Canada scarcely know St. F. X. exists, its graduates have exerted an extraordinary influence on the political life of the nation. What draws high school graduates to St. F. X. is the record of its faculty in earning research grants and of its graduates in earning scholarships at the greatest post graduate institutions in the English-speaking world. Its success as a breeder of politicians is harder to explain."

And the writer goes as a proud alumnus of Mount Allison University to conclude this way:

"My own alma mater, Mount Allison, recently gave an honorary degree to Pierre Trudeau. I was at Mt. A in 1952 when it gave one to Louis St. Laurent, and again in 1958 when it handed another to John Diefenbaker. I don't want to sound disloyal but I’m bound to acknowledge that while my beloved Mount Allison honours politicians, St. F. X. makes them."

That is something we can all be proud of, particularly in this recent election where we have added eight more graduates from this great school, seven Liberals, one from Newfoundland and PEI, five from Nova Scotia and a Conservative, Lisa Raitt returning to the House.

And so with that background let me end as I started. Few politicians have influenced the modern history of Canada more profoundly than former Deputy Prime Minister Allan J. MacEachen. The MacEachen Lecture Series was established in 1996 by St. Francis Xavier University in honour of the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen. The lecture series is administered by your faculty and friends and my colleagues in the Department of Political Science with the strong assistance of Advancement and with the continued active involvement of Mr. MacEachen since its inception. The objective of this lecture is to invite to the St. F. X. campus former political practioners, distinguished journalists or academics to present a formal public lecture on a topic related to politics, governance and public affairs. And that is why we are here this evening. A list of past lecturers include the Honourable Bob Rae, the Honourable Frank McKenna, Dalton Camp, the Right Honourable John Turner, Preston Manning, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, the Right Honourable Joe Clark, Senator Lowell Murray and most recently, the Honourable Donald Johnston. The lectureship is well established as one of the most important events, most high profiled and anticipated activities on the St. F. X. calendar. It plays an important role in this university's mission of research and teaching in the areas of governance and public affairs. It is an important link to national and regional political networks. And it is a major opportunity, for us, the entire St. F. X. community, to hear and engage with informed and distinguished commenters on key issues in politics. What a perfect time it is to have our guest lecture with us here today.


Political Science Department

4th Floor Mulroney Hall
2333 Notre Dame Avenue
Antigonish NS B2G 2W5