Only two months after the death of Allan J. MacEachen, comes the loss of another Strait area political icon.
On November 23, Gerald “Gerry” Joseph Doucet died in Halifax at the age of 80.
Born on May 4, 1937 to Marie Antoinette (Aucoin) and Joseph Doucet, he was the eldest of six sons. He attended StFX and Dalhousie University, receiving degrees from both.
After first being elected in 1963 at the age of 26, upsetting Liberal leader and incumbent Earl Urquhart by 83 votes, Doucet served nine years as Richmond MLA.
In 1971, Doucet lost a hotly contested Progressive Conservative leadership race to John Buchannan despite leading on the first ballot.
During his time in government, Doucet served as Nova Scotia’s first ever Acadian cabinet minister, becoming Minister of Education.
In 1974, Doucet decided not to re-offer. At that time, he was one of the principle partners in Kelly, Doucet, Evans, the Port Hawkesbury legal firm that’s now EMM Law.
That next year, Doucet saw his dream of a radio station in the Strait area realized with the establishment of CIGO 1410 AM in Port Hawkesbury, now 101.5 FM The Hawk.
Doucet owned the radio station until 1985 but remained a champion for the Strait area, working behind the scenes after the closure of the heavy water plant.
In the 1980s and 90s, he was a leading pioneer in the field of government-business relations, consulting for corporate clients with all levels of government
Those who knew him said Doucet left a lasting legacy of class and compassion, treating all constituents and clients the same
Affectionately described by friends and family as a workaholic, Doucet remained very proud of his Acadian heritage and his roots in Grand Etang.
Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie said Doucet encouraged the careers of aspiring business people and politicians from all political parties and backgrounds. “He truly felt joy at the success of others,” the outgoing PC leader said.
Baillie went on to note that Doucet was the driving force behind more political and economic successes in Nova Scotia than people will ever know.
Thankfully, the cat is now out of the bag.
But more than a successful politician, Doucet’s life is a stark example of perseverance.
A young lawyer who did not reside in the riding when he ran against the Leader of the Liberal Party and a well-entrenched MLA at the age of 26, Doucet met the challenge head-on, and won the riding decisively in the 1967 and 1970 elections.
Doucet then broke ground in Nova Scotia as the province’s first ever Acadian cabinet minister, but rather than resting on those laurels, decided to again defy expectations and seek the leadership of the PC Party. Although the odds were stacked against him, Doucet finished first on the first ballot, and was only defeated after his opponents joined forces.
Upon his departure from politics, Doucet again swam against the stream by establishing Port Hawkesbury’s first ever radio station.
Thankfully, Doucet continued to ignore the naysayers, serving the region as a lawyer and business owner, as well as an avid supporter of the local economy, especially in dire times.
Doucet was not discouraged by long odds, and he refused to allow negativity to govern his decisions. He personifies perseverance, and for that, this entire region is richer from his life and his legacy.