Editor’s note: The following was a statement read recently by Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster in the Nova Scotia Legislature.
Allan J. MacEachen was a man of faith who had the wisdom that comes from it; wisdom that created social programs which have endured decades, and will continue to be enjoyed by Canadians well into the future. He was a loyal friend to the clergy, and believed in the dignity of the person: that each person deserves the opportunity of education, healthcare, and the welfare of a guaranteed income as they age.
He came from a place that mattered to him. His upbringing taught him values like generosity and concern for others. While his strength of voice carried him to the second most powerful position in the country, he never forgot his roots. A Gaelic speaker himself, he was a champion of his people, the Gaels. His efforts can be credited with helping to keep the Gaelic language and culture alive through difficult times, and placed on a firmer foundation which will allow their growth and maintenance for generations to come.
Strangely, just a week before he passed, I came across some notes I had taken shortly after my first election, on a visit to Ottawa where I met with him for dinner in 2010. Perhaps it was coincidence, or perhaps it was one of those experiences common to the Gael where we sometimes see or have a connection with something before it actually happens. And so I am able to share with you, some of the advice he shared with me:
“Be kind to your opponents. Respect them and listen to them, for you will learn from them. Never attack another’s personal character.”
If our best measure is how we treat others, Allan J. provided good example.
He will be forever remembered across Canada, and always in his home of Inverness. May he rest in peace.