Honorable Paul Hellyer
Honorable Paul Hellyer
Paull Hellyer holds one of the longest and most varied
political career in Canada’s history. He was first elected as
a Liberal in 1949 federal election in the district of
Davenport, he was the youngest person ever elected to
that point in the Canadian House of Commons. He served
a brief stint as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of
National Defence, and made a good impression. He was
then named Associate Minister of National Defence in the
cabinet of Prime Minister Louis Saint-Laurent. He lost his
seat when the Saint-Laurent government lost the 1957
election a few months later.
Hellyer returned to parliament in a 1958 by-election in the neighboring district of Trinity, and became an
effective opposition critic of the John Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservative government.
Hellyer became Minister of National Defence in 1963 in the cabinet of Lester B. Pearson. As Minister of
Defence, he oversaw the controversial integration and unification of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian
Army, the and the Royal Canadian Air Force into a single organization, the Canadian Forces.
Hellyer contested the 1968 Liberal leadership convention, placing second on the first ballot, but slipping
to third on the second and third ballots, and withdrawing to support Robert Winters on the fourth ballot, in
which Pierre Trudeau won the leadership. He then served as Trudeau’s Transport Minister, and was
Senior Minister in the Cabinet, a position similar to the current position of Deputy Prime Minister.
Hellyer resigned from cabinet and the Liberal caucus in 1969 over a dispute with Trudeau. He sat as an
independent for several years. After his 1971 attempt to form a new political party, Action Canada, failed,
Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield invited him to join the PC caucus. He returned to
prominence as an opposition critic and was re-elected in the 1972 election as a Progressive Conservative.
He lost his seat, however, in the 1974 election. He contested in the PC leadership convention of 1976,
rejoined the Liberal Party in 1982, and contested a Toronto district Liberal nomination in 1988.
In 1997 Hellyer formed the Canadian Action Party (CAP) to provide voters with an economic nationalist
option following the collapse of the National Party of Canada. He was concerned both the Progressive
Conservative and Liberal parties were embracing globalization, and that the New Democratic Party was
no longer able to provide a credible alternative. While CAP also embraced Hellyer’s proposals for
monetary reform, Hellyer lost Canadian House of Commons bid in 1997 and 2000.
Following the 2000 election resurgence for the New Democratic Party, Hellyer approached NDP leadership
to discuss the possibility of merging the two parties. In early 2004, after several extensions of the merger
deadline, the NDP rejected Hellyer’s merger proposal which would have required the NDP to change its
name. Hellyer resigned as CAP leader, but remains a member of the party.
Hellyer has published numerous books, his last being Light at the End of the Tunnel (2010).