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Political Ideologies

Grant MacEwan's parents, Alex and Bertha, were political opposites. His mother's side of the family were staunch conservatives while his father supported the Liberal Party. Thus, Grant MacEwan grew up a political hybrid. Bertha acknowledged the importance of politics but did not want her son to become actively involved. Meanwhile, Alex believed his son should become a farmer and politician. From a young age, Grant adopted the interests of his father and joined the Liberal youth party. He was captivated by some of the impressive men organizing the party yet remained skeptical about the partisan nature of politics. Young MacEwan was not convinced of the political superiority of one party over the other. Malcolm McLean, Member of Parliament for Melfort, Saskatchewan, encouraged Grant MacEwan to remain actively involved and reminded him that politics can be an honourable calling. "There is nothing," McLean added, "to prevent good men from entering politics.

In a rather short period of time, Grant MacEwan became one of Canada's leading agriculturalists. He worked at both the universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba as an Associate Professor and Dean of Agriculture respectively. Universities were adamant in keeping politics and academics separate, strongly discouraging their staff from meddling in politics. A university should always remain neutral and never align itself with a particular party. Professor MacEwan kept his political ideologies at bay until he was finally convinced to run for federal office.

MacEwan no doubt found party politics challenging and often confusing. As a Member of Alberta's Legislative Assembly, for example, MacEwan found the work steady but tedious.  Party politics was filled with animosity, contempt, and intense rivalry. He once compared politics to jail in that it was relatively easy to get in but difficult to escape. Party loyalty was of utmost importance. When discussing MacEwan's political ideologies it is very important to realize that MacEwan was a Liberal politician working in Alberta, Canada's most conservative provinces. As a Liberal in Alberta he was always in a minority and genuinely disliked by many. On his way back to Edmonton from a trip to Grande Prairie, MacEwan's vehicle broke down. Fortunately, he was able to hitch a ride with a local pig farmer. When MacEwan introduced himself as a Liberal MLA the driver scowled and suggested he should ride in the back with the other swine.

Controlling only a handful of seats in the legislative assembly was no easy task. Often times, his ideas and suggestions were largely ignored. He pleaded with the government to conduct scientific surveys on soil erosion, wildlife sustainability, and non-renewable resources. He urged the government to consider the environmental impact of some of their decisions, specifically related to forestry and oil extraction. As the leader of Alberta's Liberal Party his office was frequently inundated with support and advice. However, not everyone sent him best wishes. One newspaper with conservative ties described MacEwan as "a mean and cranky westerner."

MacEwan's ideologies were not always accepted by the general public. However, those who knew MacEwan respected him for his knowledge and dedication to the province whether they shared the same beliefs with him or not.


MacEwan, Grant. Poking into Politics. Edmonton: Institute of Applied Art, 1966.

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