I have been mildly dismayed by the paucity of public recognition and outpouring for Donald Stovel MacDonald on his death this past Sunday October 14th, at the age of 86.
Donald Macdonald exemplified a certain code of public service which used to animate the upper reaches of Canadian society. He had been Minister of many important portfolios in the first Trudeau governments. He was a modest, accomplished, self-effacing, and highly capable man.
I think his most important accomplishment was his chairing of the Macdonald Royal Commission on the Economic Union and the Prospects for Canada. Its conclusions reversed a century of Canadian protectionism and opened the door for Prime Minister Mulroney to advance the negotiations that led to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has led to a vast increase in Canadian prosperity, and opened Canada’s conception of itself. I think it took a Liberal of his status to point out that the nation had been following the wrong path and to recommend the necessary change. He did not fail to encourage necessary reforms.
We do not appreciate these sorts of people enough. They are the backbone of the nation.