September 13, 2017 5:31 am
Updated: September 13, 2017 12:27 pm

Allan MacEachen, former federal Liberal cabinet minister, dies at age 96

Finance Minister Allan MacEachen in the House of Commons during budget night, Nov 12, 1981. Allan MacEachen, a long-serving Liberal MP and senator from Nova Scotia who was a driving force behind many Canadian social programs, has died at the age of the 96.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Fred Chartrand.
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Allan MacEachen, a long-serving Liberal MP and senator from Nova Scotia who was a driving force behind many Canadian social programs, has died at the age of the 96.

The news was announced on Twitter late Tuesday by former Ontario premier and federal MP Bob Rae.

“Have just learned that my dear friend and mentor Allan J. MacEachen has passed away – he was a magnificent parliamentarian, scholar,” said Rae.

MacEachen was one of Canada’s most powerful cabinet ministers of the postwar era and held a variety of posts, including a term as minister of national health and welfare from 1965-1968 during the creation of medicare.

WATCH: Justin Trudeau remembers Allan MacEachen for work on medicare

As labour minister, MacEachen was also instrumental in reforming the labour code and establishing a new standard for the minimum wage.

His portfolios also included finance and he twice served as Secretary of State for External Affairs.

Born in Inverness on Cape Breton Island in 1921, MacEachen was first elected in 1953 in Nova Scotia’s Inverness-Richmond riding under Liberal prime minister Louis St. Laurent.

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READ MORE: Ex-cabinet minister Warren Allmand dead at 84

MacEachen won again in 1957, but lost his seat in 1958 before winning eight more elections, including the last five while representing Cape Breton-Highlands Canso.

He also served as deputy prime minister and was appointed to the Senate in 1984 where he remained until 1996.

Tributes pour in

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil issued a statement on Wednesday expressing his condolences on behalf of the province.

“Allan J. was a true champion of Nova Scotia, a remarkable Canadian and a fine gentleman,” McNeil said in the statement.

“He was focused on getting things done and making life better for Canadians. His accomplishments as a federal cabinet minister are still benefiting Canadians today.”

Dalhousie’s MacEachen Institute, established under MacEachen’s name in 2015, also issued a statement on Wednesday, offering condolences to their namesake’s family, friends and colleagues.

“Allan MacEachen dedicated his life to serving Nova Scotians and all Canadians, as an educator and a respected parliamentarian,” the institute said in a statement

“His commitment, passion and hard work have left a lasting impact on Canadian social policy.”

MacEachen, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party in 1968, was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

— With files from Alexander Quon, Global News

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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