Eugene Whelan, a colourful and outspoken farmer in a green Stetson who spent a dozen years as Canada's flamboyant minister of agriculture, has died at the age of 88. He died at home on Feb. 19 following complications from a stroke he suffered last year.
Mr. Whelan served as the Liberal member of Parliament for Essex-Windsor in Southwestern Ontario from 1962 until 1984. In 1996 he was appointed by prime minister Jean Chrétien, a former cabinet colleague, to the Senate.
He was agriculture minister from 1972 through 1984, except for nine months in 1979-80 when the Conservatives formed the government.
With his trademark cowboy hat, his generous jowls, his bull-in-a-china-shop bluntness and his fractured grammar, Mr. Whelan became one of Canada's best-known politicians.
In fact, when he ran for the Liberal leadership in 1984, he declared: "I don't think there is any politician that is as well known in the world as I am." Liberal delegates weren't swayed: Mr. Whelan finished last in a field of seven candidates.
A funeral will be held at St. John the Baptist Church, 225 Brock St., Amherstburg, Ont., on Saturday, Feb. 23 at 10:30 a.m.
A full obituary is forthcoming.