Feb 20, 2013

By Jane Brown

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He was one of the most colourful Canadian politicians of the past 40 years.  Former Agriculture Minister EUGENE WHELAN has died of complications of a stroke at the age of 88.  Whelan spent 22 years as a Liberal MP from the Windsor, Ontario area.  He was in Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet from 1972 to 1984 with the exception of Joe Clark’s nine month PC government in 1979.  Longtime friend Kirk Walstedt says Eugene Whelan was a folksy farmer known for his trademark green stetson and for being plain-spoken.  “When he was Minister of Agriculture and when he was a senator, everybody knew him as Gene.  He was really a kind, caring individual that everyone could approach.” He also says Whelan would often tell him he was one of the few cabinet ministers prime minister Pierre Trudeau could send to Western Canada who would be respected and liked.  In 1996, Whelan was named to the Senate. He stayed in the Upper Chamber until 1999 when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.

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