Eric Kierans

Eric William Kierans PC OC (February 2, 1914 – May 10, 2004) was a Canadian economist and politician.

Eric Kierans

MLA for Montréal–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
In office
Preceded byPaul Earl
Succeeded byRiding abolished
MLA / MNA for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce
In office
Preceded byRiding established
Succeeded byWilliam Tetley
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Duvernay
In office
June 25, 1968  October 29, 1972
Preceded byRiding created
Succeeded byYves Demers
Personal details
Eric William Kierans

(1914-02-02)February 2, 1914
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedMay 10, 2004(2004-05-10) (aged 90)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyLiberal, NDP
Minister of Revenue (1963–1965)
Minister of Health (1965–1966)
Postmaster General (1968–1971)
Minister of Communications (1969–1971)

Life and career

Born in Montreal, Kierans grew up in the working-class Saint-Henri neighbourhood of Montreal; his father worked at Canadian Car and Foundry and his mother came to Canada as a domestic. After serving as director of the school of commerce at McGill University and president of the Montreal Stock Exchange, Kierans entered provincial politics in 1963. Nicknamed the "Socialist Millionaire", he was appointed Minister of Revenue and then Minister of Health in the Quebec Liberal government of Premier Jean Lesage at the time of the Quiet Revolution.

Kierans became president of the Quebec Liberal Party and clashed with former cabinet minister and colleague René Lévesque in 1967, daring him to give up the idea of Quebec separatism or quit the Liberal Party. Lévesque later quit the Liberal Party and established the Mouvement Souveraineté-Association, which became Quebec's leading sovereigntist party as the Parti Québécois.

Initially a critic of Walter L. Gordon's economic nationalism, Kierans' experience in government changed his mind, and he became a believer in the need for state intervention in the economy.

In 1968, Kierans entered federal politics running unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada at its 1968 leadership convention. He was elected to the House of Commons in the 1968 federal election. Kierans served as Postmaster-General and Minister of Communications in the cabinet of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He did not run for re-election in the 1972 election, partly as a result of his criticisms of Trudeau's economic policy.

Kierans called for Canada to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1969. He argued that the organization might have served a useful purpose on its initial formation, but had since become anachronistic.[1] Some others with the Trudeau government agreed with Kierans, while others strongly disagreed. The Trudeau government did not ultimately withdraw Canada from NATO but reduced Canada's troop deployment.

He considered running for the leadership of the New Democratic Party in 1975 but declined in favour of Ed Broadbent.

After leaving politics, Kierans taught at McGill and Dalhousie University. In the 1980s, he became a familiar voice appearing with Dalton Camp and Stephen Lewis as part of a weekly political panel on Peter Gzowski's Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio show, Morningside.

In 1994, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.


  1. Winnipeg Free Press, 27 January 1969, p. 9.
  • Eric Kierans, 90 Globe and Mail obituary
  • Eric Kierans, 90: Politician respected for candour Toronto Star obituary
  • Order of Canada Citation
  • Eric Kierans – Parliament of Canada biography
  • "Biography". Dictionnaire des parlementaires du Québec de 1792 à nos jours (in French). National Assembly of Quebec.
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