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Biography & Autobiography Political

Politics on Edge

The Remarkable Career of Paul MacEwan

by (author) Ian Stewart

Publisher
Nimbus Publishing
Initial publish date
May 2022
Category
Political
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781774710487
    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price
    $34.95

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Description

Paul MacEwan (1943-2017) was a singular politician, an outlier who successfully pushed the limits of Nova Scotia's political norms over the longest continuous service record in the history of the legislature. Yet he never achieved the sort of prominence such a record might command — though serving as Speaker (1993-1996), he was never made a cabinet minister.

MacEwan's brand of constituent-centred politics saw him victorious in nine consecutive general elections over thirty-three years, a record unlikely to fall anytime soon. At the same time, he didn't fit into the club-like atmosphere of the legislature. Obsessive, at times bombastic, few politicians have been as polarizing as MacEwan. He made few friends and rarely socialized with other legislators; instead he was always "on-call" for his constituents.

His electoral victories came under four different partisan labels — first as a New Democrat (1970, 1974, 1978), twice as an independent (1981, 1988) once as leader of his own short-lived Cape Breton Labour Party (1984), and finally as a Liberal (1993, 1998, 1999) — before retiring from politics in 2003. For a Canadian politician to change their electoral colours successfully even once is rare—MacEwan ran under four, a peripatetic record unparalleled in modern Canadian politics.

Author Ian Stewart recounts Paul MacEwan's life, his austere home environment, his social convictions and electoral prowess, unorthodox style and, particularly, his singular dedication to constituents.

From his longevity to his checkered partisanship to his obsessive personality, Paul MacEwan cut a remarkably distinctive profile. In all ways, MacEwan personified politics on the edge.

 

About the author

Ian Stewart PhD, taught at both Queen's and UBC before joining the department of political science at Acadia University for 32 years. He is now retired after authoring 30 articles on Canadian politics. He also wrote or co-wrote Roasting Chestnuts: The Mythology of Maritime Political Culture (UBC Press, 1995), The Savage Years: The Perils of Reinventing Politics in Nova Scotia (with Peter Clancy, James Bickerton and Rodney Haddow, Lorimer, 2000), Conventional Choices: Maritime Leadership Politics (UBC Press, 2007) and Just One Vote: From Jim Walding's Nomination to Constitutional Defeat (University of Manitoba Press, 2009). Conventional Choices was short-listed for the Donald Smiley Prize for the best book on Canadian politics in 2008, and Just One Vote was short-listed for the Margaret McWilliams for best book on Manitoba history and for the Donald Smiley Prize for the best book in Canadian politics in 2010. Ian Stewart and his wife Audrey live in Greenwich, Nova Scotia.

Ian Stewart's profile page

Editorial Reviews

[This is] the story of a man, who at first glance, you would think would not get elected once, let alone nine times. He was described by one of his schoolteachers as one of the most intelligent students he ever taught. That teacher could not foresee that his student would go on to live one of the most chaotic lives imaginable. This book is remarkably written and highlights every feature and event in the life of this fascinating man. It is notably extremely well researched and brings to light other prominent Nova Scotian's lives and contributions. It is our history at its best and reading it will play with many different emotions.
Hon. Russell MacLellan

Author Ian Stewart was given access to McEwan's private notes and granted interviews with the man himself. He draws Nova Scotia's most successful politician as a man obsessed with power, with only a fleeting relationship with the truth....
CBC Journalist (ret.) Phonse Jessome

Other titles by Ian Stewart