Sharp, Mitchell William

Mitchell William Sharp, public servant, politician (born 11 May 1911 in Winnipeg, MB; died 19 March 2004). He joined the Department of Finance in 1942 and attracted the attention of C.D. HOWE, who had him transferred to the Department of Trade and Commerce in 1951. As associate deputy minister and then deputy minister, Sharp worked closely with Howe, providing economic analysis and writing speeches. It was made plain that the new Conservative government did not want him, and Sharp entered private business, 1958-63.

Elected to Parliament for Eglinton, 1963-74, Sharp became PM PEARSON's minister of trade and commerce and then minister of finance, and was known as the leading antinationalist in the Cabinet, as well as a reformer of federal-provincial financial relations. After running unsuccessfully for the Liberal leadership, he became PM TRUDEAU's minister of external affairs, 1968-74, then president of the Privy Council. While minister of external affairs, Sharp formulated the so-called THIRD OPTION for Canadian cultural and economic independence from the US. He retired from politics in 1978 and then spent 10 years as commissioner for the Northern Pipeline Agency.

Jean CHRÉTIEN considers Sharp a mentor, and since 1993 Sharp has been Chrétien's personal advisor, a duty for which he is paid one dollar a year. Sharp's memoirs, Which Reminds Me, were published in 1994. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983.