Paul MacEwan

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Paul MacEwan
MLA for Cape Breton Nova
In office
October 13, 1970 – August 5, 2003
Preceded by Percy Gaum
Succeeded by Gordie Gosse
Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly
In office
June 28, 1993 – November 18, 1996
Preceded by Ron Russell
Succeeded by Wayne Gaudet
Personal details
Born (1943-04-08)April 8, 1943
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island[1]
Died May 2, 2017(2017-05-02) (aged 74)
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Political party Liberal, NDP, Cape Breton Labour Party, Independent
Residence Whitney Pier, Nova Scotia
Occupation teacher

Paul MacEwan (April 8, 1943 – May 2, 2017) was a politician in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, and long-time member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly (MLA).

Early life and education

He was the son of Horace Frederick MacEwan and was educated at the Sydney Academy, the Nova Scotia Teachers College, Saint Francis Xavier University, Mount Allison University, and Cape Breton University, from which he held a B.A. degree. He then worked as a teacher in Sydney.[1]

Political career

As an NDP member

MacEwan was elected first as a candidate of the social democratic Nova Scotia New Democratic Party in the 1970 provincial election. He ran in Cape Breton Nova, a heavily blue collar riding (electoral district) that was home to the Sydney Steel plant and many coal miners. During his first term as MLA, MacEwan wrote Miners and Steelworkers: Labour in Cape Breton, a history of union activities and political activism in the area, published in 1976.[2] He was also the author of Confederation and the Maritimes which came out later in 1976, and The Akerman Years: Jeremy Akerman and the Nova Scotia NDP, 1965-1980, published in 1980.[3]

MacEwan was closely associated with the work of Jeremy Akerman, who served as Leader of the Nova Scotia NDP from 1968 to 1980. Akerman had won the party leadership by four votes in 1968, at a convention at which MacEwan persuaded eight uncommitted youth delegates to support Alkerman. He and Akerman were the first two NDP MLAs elected in the history of Nova Scotia, in the provincial election of October 13, 1970, in which the PCs were defeated after 14 years in power, and replaced by the Liberals headed by Gerald Regan. During the years of Akerman and MacEwan, the NDP advanced by one seat in each election contested, and had four MLAs elected by 1978.[4]

Expulsion from the NDP

In 1980, shortly after Akerman resigned from the Nova Scotia NDP leadership, the provincial executive expelled MacEwan from the party[5] after he criticised party executive member Dennis Theman for having written an article advocating the reading of "Forward for the NDP and Socialism", a publication MacEwan considered Trotskyite.

Cape Breton Labour Party

After MacEwan left the NDP, he established the Cape Breton Labour Party, which presented itself as a rival political party to the others participating in the 1984 provincial election. The main issue separating the Labor Party from the NDP was freedom of speech, which MacEwan maintained the NDP no longer practised, as shown by the party's response to his criticism of Theman's reading recommendations. The party ran three candidates on the Nova Scotian mainland in addition to the eleven seats on Cape Breton Island.[6]

MacEwan was the only one of the party's fourteen candidates to win election in the 1984 provincial election. The Labour Party was the fourth political party in Nova Scotian history to elect someone to the Legislature.[7] Following the 1984 election, however, the party had to cease operations, due to lack of sufficient revenue to carry on its operations.

As an independent and a Liberal

MacEwan was re-elected as an independent in 1988. After this election, he contested, and won unanimously, the Liberal nomination in Cape Breton Nova, whereupon he was admitted to the Liberal caucus early in 1990. When the Liberals formed the government of Nova Scotia in 1993, he was unanimously elected Speaker of the House, and served in this role until late in 1996. He later served as Government House Leader, Chair of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, Deputy Government House Leader, and Caucus Whip. After the Liberals lost power in 1999, he continued to serve as their Deputy House Leader and Whip, and was critic for the Department of Labour and the Workers Compensation Board.

Declining health and retirement

MacEwan suffered two cerebral aneurisms in 2001[8] and 2002. He retired in 2003,[9] having won nine elections in a row, and having served continuously for 33 years in the Nova Scotia Legislature, the longest record of continuous service ever provided by any MLA.[10]

MacEwan was elected three times as a New Democrat: 1970, 1974, and 1978; then, in 1981, as an independent; in 1984, on the Labour Party ticket; in 1988, again as an independent; and in 1993, 1998, and 1999, as a Liberal. He obtained 80 per cent of the vote cast in 1993 and over 50 per cent in 1998 and in 1999. MacEwan's riding was often considered the safest riding in the province, no matter what banner he ran under.[11]

MacEwan died on May 2, 2017.[12]

Personal life

MacEwan was married to Carol Elizabeth Osborne and married Doreen Elizabeth Corbett in 1987.[1]


  1. ^ a b c O'Handley, Kathryn Canadian Parliamentary Guide, 1994 ISBN 0-921925-54-9
  2. ^ MacEwan, Paul. Miners and Steelworkers: Labour in Cape Breton. Google Books. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  3. ^ "Search results". Catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  4. ^ Heaps, Leo (1976). Our Canada. James Lorimer & Company. p. 164. ISBN 1-55028-353-7. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  5. ^ Stewart, Ian (1994). Roasting chestnuts: the mythology of Maritime political culture. UBC Press. p. 42. ISBN 0-7748-0498-X. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  6. ^ MacEwan, Paul (September 14, 2008). "Letters to the Editor". Cape Breton Post. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  7. ^ "Nova Scotia's 'Wizard of Oz' election". CBC archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. November 1, 1984. Retrieved 2015-07-25. 
  8. ^ "Paul MacEwan on the mend". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. March 16, 2001. Retrieved 2018-05-05. 
  9. ^ "LeBlanc, Holm, MacEwan leaving politics". The Chronicle Herald. January 16, 2003. Archived from the original on November 7, 2003. Retrieved 2014-11-24. 
  10. ^ "MacEwan's service as MLA not longest". The Chronicle Herald. January 17, 2003. Archived from the original on November 10, 2003. Retrieved 2014-11-24. 
  11. ^ "Cape Breton Nova". Nova Scotia Votes. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  12. ^ "Former longtime Cape Breton MLA Paul MacEwan dies". CBC News. May 3, 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-03. 
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