- Eugene Forsey
Eugene Alfred Forsey, PC, CC, FRSC (
May 29, 1904– February 20, 1991) served in the Canadian Senatefrom 1970 to 1979. He was considered to be one of Canada's foremost constitutional experts.
Grand Bank, Newfoundland and Labrador, he attended McGill Universityin Montreal, Quebec.
Forsey was a supporter of Conservative Party led by
Arthur Meighenuntil he went to Balliol College, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarshipduring which he was converted to democratic socialism. Upon returning to Canada, he joined the League for Social Reconstruction, and was a delegate at the founding convention of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation(CCF) in 1933 in Regina.
From 1929 to 1941, Forsey served as a lecturer in economics and political science at McGill University. He also taught Canadian government at
Carleton Universityin Ottawa and Canadian government and Canadian labour history at the University of Waterloo. From 1973 to 1977, he served as chancellor of Trent University.
While he had become a social radical, he remained a "Constitutional conservative", and wrote his PhD thesis on the
King-Byng Affair, defending the positions of Arthur Meighen and Governor-General Baron Byng. The thesis was published in 1943 as "The Royal Power of Dissolution of Parliament".
Forsey was president of the CCF in
Quebecin the 1930s. He spent a number of years working for the CCF, and then as research director for the Canadian Congress of Labourand its successor, the Canadian Labour Congress(CLC). He was a candidate for the party in the Ottawa area riding of Carleton in a 1948 by-election, but lost to the new Progressive Conservative Party of Canadaleader George Drew. When asked why he lost he famously quipped that it was because the other candidate received more votes. He ran and lost again in the 1949 election.
In 1958, Forsey, though still a CCF member, was appointed by the government of
John George Diefenbakerto the Board of Broadcast Governors, the predecessor of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. He remained in that position until he resigned in 1962 because of policy differences.
Shortly after the formation of the
New Democratic Partyfrom the alliance of the CLC with the CCF, Forsey resigned from the party because of its constitutional policy which viewed Quebecas a nation within Canada. Later in the 1960s, he was attracted to the views of Pierre Trudeauon the Canadian constitution, and joined the Liberal Party of Canadaupon being appointed to the Senate in 1970. He retired from the Upper House on reaching the age of 75 in 1979, and turned down an offer from the Liberals to run for a seat in the Canadian House of Commons. He subsequently resigned from the Liberal Party in 1982 due to disagreements with the proposed changes to the Constitution of Canada.
In 1968, he was made an Officer of the
Order of Canadaand was promoted to Companion in 1988. He was appointed to the Queen's Privy Council for Canadaon June 10, 1985.
In retirement Forsey published a study of the labour movement in 1982, "Trade Unions in Canada: 1812-1902". His publication "How Canadians Govern Themselves" is perhaps his most enduring legacy, being a simple yet comprehensive guide to Canadian government that is continuously edited and published with posthumous credit.
Eugene Forsey's daughter,
Helen Forseywas a candidate for the New Democratic Party in the 2006 federal election in the riding of Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington. [http://www.ndp.ca/helenforsey/welcome]
Works by Forsey
* "A life on the fringe : the memoirs of Eugene Forsey". Toronto : Oxford University Press, 1990.
* [http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/idb/forsey/PDFs/How_Canadians_Govern_Themselves-6ed.pdf "How Canadians govern themselves"] , 6th ed. (ISBN 0-662-39689-8) Ottawa : Canada, 2005 (1st ed. 1980, 2nd ed. 1988, 3rd ed. 1990).
* "Freedom and order". Toronto : McClelland and Stewart, 1974.
* "The royal power of dissolution in the British Commonwealth". Toronto : Oxford University Press, 1938, reprinted 1968.
Works about Forsey
*Hodgetts, J.E. "The sound of one voice : Eugene Forsey and his letters to the editor". Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2000.
*"Evatt and Forsey on the reserve powers". Sydney : Legal Books, 1990.
* [http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/people/key/bio.asp?lang=E&query=933&s=M Political biography from the Library of Parliament]
* [http://www.gg.ca/honours/search-recherche/honours-desc.asp?lang=e&TypeID=orc&id=2524 Order of Canada Citation]
* [http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/idb/forsey/index-e.asp "How Canadians Govern Themselves"] , current edition from Library of Parliament
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CEED8123BF931A15751C0A967958260 Obituary, "New York Times"]
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