Eugene Forsey

Eugene Alfred Forsey, PC CC FRSC (May 29, 1904 – February 20, 1991) served in the Senate of Canada from 1970 to 1979. He was considered to be one of Canada's foremost constitutional experts.

Eugene Forsey

Eugene Alfred Forsey
Eugene Alfred Forsey while a professor at McGill University
Senator for Nepean, Ontario
In office
October 7, 1970 – May 29, 1979
Nominated byPierre Trudeau
Appointed byEdward Schreyer
Personal details
Eugene Alfred Forsey

May 29, 1904
Grand Bank, Newfoundland
DiedFebruary 20, 1991 (aged 86)
Political partyLiberal
Other political
Co-operative Commonwealth Federation


Born in Grand Bank in the Newfoundland Colony, he attended McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

Forsey was a supporter of the Conservative Party led by Arthur Meighen until he went to Balliol College, Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship during which he was converted to democratic socialism. Upon returning to Canada, he joined the League for Social Reconstruction, and was a delegate at the founding convention of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1933 in Regina.

In 1924 Forsey was employed by Vincent Massey as a tutor for the two Massey boys at their Batterwood home near Canton, Ontario. This was an old farmhouse and property that the Masseys had bought in 1918 on rising land backed by rolling hills and facing Lake Ontario a few miles to the south.[1] Forsey was free to enjoy Massey's extensive library, and also socialized with the many visitors. These included academics from the University of Toronto and politicians such as the son of Ramsay MacDonald, the British Prime Minister.[2] Massey at this time was about to enter public life, although his more immediate concern was the health of the family business.[3]

From 1929 to 1941, Forsey served as a lecturer in economics and political science at McGill University. He later taught Canadian government at Carleton University in Ottawa and Canadian government and Canadian labour history at the University of Waterloo. From 1973 to 1977, he served as chancellor of Trent University.

While he had become a social progressive, he remained a "Constitutional conservative", and wrote his PhD thesis on the King–Byng Affair, defending the positions of Arthur Meighen and Governor-General Lord Byng. The thesis was published in 1943 as The Royal Power of Dissolution of Parliament. This was one of very few major works on the reserve powers of the Crown in Commonwealth of Nations countries.

Forsey was president of the CCF in Quebec in the 1930s. He spent a number of years working for the CCF, and then as research director for the Canadian Congress of Labour and its successor, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). He was a candidate for the party in the Ottawa area riding of Carleton in a 1948 by-election, but lost to the new Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leader George Drew. When asked why he lost he famously quipped that it was because the other candidate received more votes. He ran and lost again in the 1949 election.

In 1958, Forsey, though still a CCF member, was appointed by the Progressive Conservative government of John George Diefenbaker to the Board of Broadcast Governors, the predecessor of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. He remained in that position until he resigned in 1962 because of policy differences.

Shortly after the formation of the New Democratic Party from the alliance of the CLC with the CCF, Forsey resigned from the party because of its constitutional policy which viewed Quebec as a nation within Canada. Later in the 1960s, he was attracted to the views of Pierre Trudeau on the Canadian constitution, and joined the Liberal Party of Canada upon being appointed to the Senate in 1970. He retired from the Upper House on reaching the age of 75 in 1979, and turned down an offer from the Liberals to run for a seat in the House of Commons of Canada. He subsequently resigned from the Liberal Party in 1982 due to disagreements with the proposed changes to the Constitution of Canada.

In 1968, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1988. He was appointed to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on June 10, 1985.

In his many commentaries on constitutional issues, especially the reserve powers of the Crown, Forsey was a conspicuous supporter of the action of the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, in dismissing the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, in the 1975 constitutional crisis because his government was unable to obtain supply (approval to spend money) from the parliament and refused to call a general election.[4]

In retirement Forsey published a study of the labour movement in 1982, Trade Unions in Canada: 1812-1902. His publication How Canadians Govern Themselves is perhaps his most enduring legacy, being a simple yet comprehensive guide to Canadian government that is continuously edited and published with posthumous credit.

Eugene Forsey's daughter, Helen Forsey, was a candidate for the New Democratic Party in the 2006 federal election in the riding of Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington.[5]

Honours and awards

Honorary degrees
  • Eugene Forsey received many donorary degrees for his political career and his work as a constitutional scholar. These include
Province Date School Degree
 New Brunswick May 1962 University of New Brunswick Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [8]
 Newfoundland and Labrador May 1966 Memorial University of Newfoundland Doctor of Letters (D. Litt) [9]
 Quebec 30 May 1966 McGill University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [10]
 Saskatchewan 4 November 1967 University of Saskatchewan Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [11]
 Nova Scotia 1967 Acadia University [12]
 Ontario 1968 University of Toronto Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [13]
 Ontario 1968 University of Waterloo Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [14]
 Nova Scotia 1971 Dalhousie University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [15]
 Ontario Fall 1972 York University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [16]
 New Brunswick 1973 Mount Allison University Doctor of Civil Law (DCL) [17]
 Ontario 1976 Carleton University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [18]
 Ontario Fall 1978 Trent University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [19]
 Ontario May 1984 McMaster University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [20]

Selected bibliography

Works by Forsey

  • A Life on the Fringe: The Memoirs of Eugene Forsey. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • How Canadians Govern Themselves, 8th ed. (ISBN 978-1-100-20078-1) Ottawa: Canada, 2009 (1st ed. 1980, 2nd ed. 1988, 3rd ed. 1990).
  • Freedom and Order. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974.
  • The Royal Power of Dissolution in the British Commonwealth. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1938; reprinted 1968; reprinted with a new introduction by Eugene Forsey in 1990 in Evatt and Forsey on the Reserve Powers, (ed. by George Winterton).
  • Our Present Discontents (The George C. Nowlan Lectures). Wolfville: Acadia University, 1968.

Works about Forsey

  • Forsey, Helen. Eugene Forsey, Canada's Maverick Sage. Toronto: Dundurn, 2012.
  • Hodgetts, J.E. The Sound of One Voice: Eugene Forsey and His Letters to the Editor. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000.
  • Evatt and Forsey on the Reserve Powers: Legal Books, 1990.
  • Donald Markwell, "Canada's Best", The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, 1990/1991.
  • Markwell, Donald (2016). Constitutional Conventions and the Headship of State: Australian Experience. Connor Court. ISBN 9781925501155. Appendix 3: Two Constitutional Scholars: Sir Kenneth Wheare and Dr Eugene Forsey.
  • Milligan, Frank (2004). Eugene A. Forsey: An Intellectual Biography. University of Calgary Press. ISBN 978-1-55238-118-2. Retrieved 2014-07-11.


  1. ^ Milligan 2004, p. 19.
  2. ^ Milligan 2004, p. 20.
  3. ^ Milligan 2004, p. 21.
  4. ^ Evatt and Forsey on the Reserve Powers. Sydney: Legal Books, 1990. Sir John Kerr, Matters for Judgment, Macmillan, 1978.
  5. ^ "Canada's New Democrats". Archived from the original on 2016-05-06. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  6. ^ Services, Government of Canada, Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, Information and Media. "Order of Canada".
  7. ^ Office, Privy Council; privé, Bureau du Conseil. "Privy Council Office".
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2015-10-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Honorary Degrees - University of Saskatchewan".
  12. ^ "Honorary Degrees - Acadia University".
  13. ^
  14. ^ "1960 - 1969 - Secretariat". 22 May 2012.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2017-06-17.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients - University Secretariat".
  17. ^ "Mount Allison University". Mount Allison University.
  18. ^ "Honorary Degrees Awarded Since 1954 - Senate".
  19. ^
  20. ^

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Leslie Frost
Chancellor of Trent University
Succeeded by
William L. Morton
1904 in Canada

Events from the year 1904 in Canada.

1990 Governor General's Awards

Each winner of the 1990 Governor General's Awards for Literary Merit received $10000 and a specially bound edition of his or her book. The winners were selected by a panel of judges administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.

1991 in Canada

Events from the year 1991 in Canada.

Canadian Forum

The Canadian Forum was a left-wing literary, cultural and political publication and Canada's longest running continually published political magazine (1920–2000).

Canadian Political Science Association

The Canadian Political Science Association (Association canadienne de science politique) is an organization of political scientists in Canada. It is a bilingual organization and publishes the bilingual journal Canadian Journal of Political Science (Revue canadienne de science politique). The organization is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario and has an annual convention in conjunction with the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Carleton (Ontario electoral district)

Carleton is a federal electoral district in Ontario, Canada, represented in the House of Commons of Canada from 1867 to 1968 and since 2015. It was represented in the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada from 1821 to 1840 and in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1841 until 1866.

The original riding was created by the British North America Act of 1867. However, the riding had existed since 1821 in the Parliament of Upper Canada and the Parliament of the Province of Canada. It originally consisted of Carleton County. In 1966, it was redistributed into the new electoral districts of Grenville—Carleton, Lanark and Renfrew, Ottawa Centre, Ottawa West and Ottawa—Carleton.

This riding was re-created by the 2012 electoral redistribution from parts of Nepean—Carleton (59%), Carleton—Mississippi Mills (41%) and a small portion of Ottawa South. It was contested in the 2015 federal election.

Constitution Act, 1886

The Constitution Act, 1886 (UK), 58 & 59 Vict, c 35, (the Act) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and forms part of the Constitution of Canada. It was originally known as the British North America Act, 1886, but it was renamed by the Constitution Act, 1982.Section 1 of the Constitution Act, 1886 provides that "the Parliament of Canada may...make provision for the representation in the Senate and House of Commons, or in either of them, of any territories which for the time being form part of the Dominion of Canada, but are not included in any Province thereof."

Section 2 of the Act clarifies that Parliament can by providing for the representation of the territories in the Senate increases the normal and maximum total number of Senators under the Constitution Act, 1867, and increases the number of members of the House of Commons.There are currently three territories which are part of Canada, but which are not part of any province: the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.


Forsey is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Brock Forsey (born 1980), American football running back of the National Football League

Clayton Forsey (born 1953), politician in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Dave Forsey British businessman, former CEO of Sports Direct

Eugene Forsey (1904–1991), served in the Canadian Senate from 1970 to 1979

Jack Forsey (1913–1998), Canadian ice hockey player

Keith Forsey (born 1948), English soundtrack composer, drummer, songwriter and record producer

Fusion of powers

Fusion of powers is a feature of some parliamentary forms of government, especially those following the Westminster system, where the executive and legislative branches of government are intermingled. It is contrasted with the more rigorous separation of powers found in presidential and semi-presidential forms of government where the legislative and executive powers are in origin separated by popular vote. Fusion of powers exists in many, if not a majority of, parliamentary democracies, and does so by design. However, in all modern democratic polities the judicial branch of government is independent of the legislative and executive branches.

The system first arose as a result of political evolution in the United Kingdom over many centuries, as the powers of the monarch became constrained by Parliament. The term fusion of powers itself is believed to have been coined by the British constitutional expert Walter Bagehot.

Governor General's Award for English-language non-fiction

The Governor General's Award for English-language non-fiction is a Canadian literary award that annually recognizes one Canadian writer for a non-fiction book written in English. Since 1987 it is one of fourteen Governor General's Awards for Literary Merit, seven each for creators of English- and French-language books. Originally presented by the Canadian Authors Association, the Governor General's Awards program became a project of the Canada Council for the Arts in 1959.The program was created in 1937 and inaugurated that November for 1936 publications in two English-language categories, conventionally called the 1936 Governor General's Awards. Beginning in 1942 there were two winners annually, with separate awards presented for creative non-fiction and academic non-fiction; however, this was discontinued after the 1958 awards, and then returned to a single non-fiction category.

The winners alone were announced until 1979, when Canada Council released in advance a shortlist of three nominees. Since then, the advance shortlist has numbered three to five.

Intellectual freedom

Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas without restriction. Viewed as an integral component of a democratic society, intellectual freedom protects an individual's right to access, explore, consider, and express ideas and information as the basis for a self-governing, well-informed citizenry. Intellectual freedom comprises the bedrock for freedoms of expression, speech, and the press and relates to freedoms of information and privacy.

The United Nations upholds intellectual freedom as a basic human right through Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which asserts:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.The institution of libraries in particular values intellectual freedom as part of their mission to provide and protect access to information and ideas. The American Library Association (ALA) defines intellectual freedom as "the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement can be explored."The modern concept of intellectual freedom developed out of an opposition to book censorship. It is promoted by several professions and movements. These entities include, among others, librarianship, education, and the Free Software Movement.

List of senators in the 28th Parliament of Canada

This is a list of members of the Senate of Canada in the 28th Parliament of Canada.

The province of Quebec has 24 Senate divisions which are constitutionally mandated. In all other provinces, a Senate division is strictly an optional designation of the senator's own choosing, and has no real constitutional or legal standing. A senator who does not choose a special senate division is designated a senator for the province at large.Names in bold indicate senators in the 20th Canadian Ministry.

List of senators in the 29th Parliament of Canada

This is a list of members of the Senate of Canada in the 29th Parliament of Canada.

The province of Quebec has 24 Senate divisions which are constitutionally mandated. In all other provinces, a Senate division is strictly an optional designation of the senator's own choosing, and has no real constitutional or legal standing. A senator who does not choose a special senate division is designated a senator for the province at large.Names in bold indicate senators in the 20th Canadian Ministry.

List of senators in the 31st Parliament of Canada

This is a list of members of the Senate of Canada in the 31st Parliament of Canada.

The province of Quebec has 24 Senate divisions which are constitutionally mandated. In all other provinces, a Senate division is strictly an optional designation of the senator's own choosing, and has no real constitutional or legal standing. A senator who does not choose a special senate division is designated a senator for the province at large.Names in bold indicate senators in the 21st Canadian Ministry.

Official bilingualism in the public service of Canada

Because Canada has, for over two centuries, contained both English- and French-speakers, the question of the language used in the administration of public affairs has always been a sensitive issue.

Among the aspect of this issue that have excited public attention from time to time are:

the perception of fairness or unfairness in hiring and promoting speakers of one official language over speakers of the other;

the choice of one language over the other for meetings, documents, and internal memoranda (which are sometimes collectively characterized as the work “environment”);

the promotion of bilingual job candidates over people who only speak only one or the other of the two official languages;

the availability (or lack of availability) of language training for public servants, who cannot advance without the ability to speak both languages;

the costs associated with language-based hiring and promotion practices, including the practice of paying a “bilingual bonus” to public servants capable of speaking both official languages;

the need to provide government services to some Canadians in English, and to others in French.

Reserve power

In a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government, a reserve power is a power that may be exercised by the head of state without the approval of another branch of the government. Unlike in a presidential system of government, the head of state is generally constrained by the cabinet or the legislature in a parliamentary system, and most reserve powers are usable only in certain exceptional circumstances. In some countries, reserve powers go by another name; for instance, the reserve powers of the President of Ireland are called discretionary powers.

The Dalhousie Review

The Dalhousie Review is a Canadian literary magazine, founded in 1921 and associated with Dalhousie University. It publishes three times a year, in the spring, summer, and fall. Content includes fiction, poetry, literary essays and book reviews.

William Horace Temple

William Horace (Bill) Temple (28 November 1898 – 9 April 1988), nicknamed "Temperance Bill" or "Temperance Willie", was a Canadian democratic socialist politician, trade union activist, businessman and temperance crusader. As a youth he worked for the railway. During World War I, and World War II he was a soldier in the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Between the wars, he was a salesman, and then he started a clothing import business. He became a socialist during this period, and joined the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) when it was formed. He ran for political office many times for the CCF, both federally and provincially. The highlight of his political career was in 1948, when he defeated the incumbent premier of Ontario George Drew in his own legislative seat, in the electoral district of High Park, even though the premier's party won the general election with a majority government. His tenure was relatively short, serving only one term, and was defeated in the 1951 provincial election, and went back into the clothing import business. In his later years, he successfully led the political fight to maintain the prohibition on selling alcohol in a section of Toronto's west end, winning three referenda in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He died in the spring of 1988, a few months before another referendum on lifting the restrictions on alcohol in the area was again defeated, his "last" victory.

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