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Hazen Argue

Hazen Robert Argue, PC (January 6, 1921 ' October 2, 1991) was a Canadian politician based in Saskatchewan who served in Ottawa for 43 years at various levels of Canada's federal government. He was first elected as a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) Member of Parliament (MP) in 1945 and ended his career as a Liberal Party Senator. He was the last leader of the democratic socialist CCF, from 1960 to 1961. He was briefly a member of the CCF's follow-on organization, the New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP), before crossing the floor in the House of Commons to become a Liberal MP in 1962 until his defeat in 1963. He was appointed, by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, as a federal senator in 1966. As an unelected senator, he entered federal cabinet in 1980, as the only western-Canadian representative, with responsibilities for the Wheat Pool. He became the first senator to have ever been charged with fraud, in 1989. The charges were eventually dropped, for health reasons, due to his year-long battle with cancer. He died shortly thereafter in 1991.


[edit] CCF/NDP MP

Born in Kayville, Saskatchewan. His family owned a farm, which he worked until he entered the House of Commons.[1] He was first elected to Parliament in 1945 representing the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF).[1] He was, at the time, the youngest MP, at the age of 24.[1] When the party was nearly wiped out in the Diefenbaker sweep of 1958, Argue managed to hold on to his seat, and remained the only CCF MP from Saskatchewan. Party leader M.J. Coldwell lost his seat, and the CCF parliamentary caucus elected Argue as their House Leader.[1] When Coldwell resigned as the national CCF leader in 1960, Argue succeeded him when he was elected leader at the party's last convention in the summer of 1960.[1]

At the time, the CCF was engaged in a three-year plan to create a new party from the union between itself and organized labour forces as represented by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). Both the CCF and CLC executives approved going down this route starting in April 1958. Argue, like many grassroot CCFers, were not convinced that this merger was necessarily the best route to revitalizing the party.[2] As an organizing tool during this period, the organization was called the New Party.[2] New Party clubs sprung up around the country during 1958-1961. On October 31, 1960, Walter Pitman won a stunning by-election victory in Peterborough running as a New Party candidate.[3] This gave credibility to the forces organizing to remodel the CCF along the British Labour Party model.[2] Argue became a candidate in the race to be the first leader of the newly formed NDP at their August 3, 1961 leadership convention. He was up against long-time Saskatchewan Premier, and CCF favourite-son, Tommy Douglas.[4] Douglas had the support of the CLC, its president Claude Jodoin and CCF president David Lewis.[2] Douglas easily defeated him 1,391 votes to 380 votes on the first and only ballot.[4] In his concession speech, Argue stated that, "No matter what my role is in the years ahead, I shall speak for you. I shall work for you, I shall never let you down."[2] He remained in the party's caucus, in the House of Commons, for the rest of the year, having little contact with Douglas in those months.[2]

[edit] Liberal Party MP and Senator

Argue crossed the floor six months later to join the Liberal Party arguing that divisions were rife in the NDP and that farmers' interests were overwhelmed by those of labour.[1] He was re-elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) in 1962 but was defeated in 1963 and again in 1965.[1]

In 1966, Argue was appointed to the Senate as a Liberal.[1]

When the Liberal Party failed to win any seats in the House of Commons from ridings west of Winnipeg in the 1980 election, Argue was appointed to Pierre Trudeau's Cabinet from 1980 to 1984 as Minister of State (Canada Wheat Board).[1]

In 1989, he became the first senator ever charged with misuse of public funds and fraud.[1] The RCMP alleged that he used public funds to help his wife's bid to obtain the Liberal Party nomination in their Ottawa-area riding, for the 1988 Canadian federal election.[1] The charges were dropped in 1991 by the crown prosecuter, because it became apparent that Argue was near death, as he was bedridden for most of the year with cancer.[1] He died three months later in Regina, on October 2, 1991.[1]

Argue is the only former leader of the CCF or NDP whose portrait is not on the walls of NDP headquarters.

[edit] References and notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Downey, Donn (1991-10-03). "Liberal senator spoke for Prairie farmers". The Globe and Mail (Toronto: CTVglobemedia): pp. E6. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Morton, Desmond (1986). The New Democrats, 1961-1986 : the politics of change (3 ed.). Toronto: Copp Clark Pitman. pp. 39'44. ISBN 0773046186. 
  3. ^ MacDonald, Donald C. (1998). The Happy Warrior: Political Memoirs (2 ed.). Toronto, ON, Canada: Dundurn Press. pp. 109'111. ISBN 1-55002-307-1. 
  4. ^ a b Sears, Val (1961-08-04). "NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAILS DOUGLAS AS LEADER". The Toronto Star (Toronto: Torstar): pp. 1, 4. 

[edit] External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
M.J. Coldwell
Cooperative Commonwealth Federation/New Democratic Party of Canada leaders
Succeeded by
Tommy Douglas
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Thomas F. Donnelly
Member of Parliament for Wood Mountain
Succeeded by
The electoral district was abolished in 1947.
Preceded by
Edward George McCullough
Member of Parliament for Assiniboia
Succeeded by
Lawrence Watson

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