Allan MacEachen | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Allan MacEachen

Allan Joseph MacEachen, professor, politician (born 6 July 1921 in Inverness, NS; died 12 September 2017 in Antigonish, NS).

Allan Joseph MacEachen, professor, politician (born 6 July 1921 in ​Inverness, NS; died 12 September 2017 in ​Antigonish, NS). After serving as head of the department of economics and social sciences at ​St Francis Xavier University he entered federal politics; from 1953 to 1984, except for 1958-62, he represented Inverness-Richmond (later Cape Breton Highlands-Canso) in the ​Commons, gaining wide recognition for looking after his constituency and for his ability as a political tactician. After 1963 his prestige grew steadily; for two decades he has been recognized as the leading federal ​Liberal in ​Nova Scotia.

He headed a succession of departments including finance and external affairs. During two stints as government leader in the Commons (1967-68 and 1970-74) he proved an able tactician, though his November 1981 budget was highly controversial and evoked considerable criticism. For most of the time from 1977 to 1984 he was deputy prime minister and always a leading party strategist. A close confidant of Pierre Trudeau, he helped devise the strategy that brought down the Joe Clark government in 1979 and he helped plan the 1980 Liberal victory.

He did not run in the 1984 federal election and was appointed to the Senate that year, acting as government leader from June to September, and opposition leader thereafter. He was widely seen as the driving force behind the Liberal-dominated Senate's opposition to the Conservative government's controversial prescription drug legislation in 1987 and its Goods and Services Tax in 1990. He retired as the Senate Opposition leader in September 1991 and was succeeded by Royce Firth.