Eric William Kierans

Eric William Kierans, economist, politician, businessman (b at Montréal 2 Feb 1914).

Kierans, Eric William

Eric William Kierans, economist, politician, businessman (b at Montréal 2 Feb 1914). Educated at Loyola Coll and McGill, Kierans was director of the School of Commerce at McGill 1953-60, president of the Montreal Stock Exchange 1960-63 and then minister of communications and postmaster general of Canada 1968-71. He achieved political prominence despite brief service in only 2 governments, partly because those governments - Jean LESAGE's QUIET REVOLUTION (in which he served as minister of revenue 1963-65 and as minister of health 1965-66) and Pierre TRUDEAU's first Cabinet - made beginnings of significance to Canadian politics and partly because Kierans stirred up controversy outside government.

Examples include his attack on Walter GORDON's 1963 budget; his 1967 challenge to René LÉVESQUE to abandon separatism or quit the Québec Liberal Party; his candidacy for the national Liberal leadership in 1968; and his sustained criticism of Trudeau's economic policies. Although he is often labelled an "economic nationalist," his views are rooted more in his belief in the primacy of politics over economics, his distrust of economic, political and intellectual "monopoly," his insistence that Canada's natural resources belong to the public and his conviction that things do not improve unless somebody speaks out.

After leaving politics Kierans returned to McGill (1978-80) to teach economics and then taught at Dalhousie (1983-84). Kierans has been visiting lecturer and fellow at UBC (1984), Memorial U (1985) and the Institute for Research on Public Policy (1985-90). He was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995.

Further Reading

  • J. Swift, Odd Man Out (1987).