Renowned Former Agriculture Minister, Eugene Whelan, Passes Away

The simple farmer who wore a green Stetson and served as the Canada’s minister of agriculture for more than a dozen years, Eugene Whelan, has passed away at the age of 88. Whelan will be highly remembered by his symbolizing green Stetson cowboy hat. He died on Tuesday evening while still at his home in Amherstburg, southwest of Windsor, due to complications following a stroke.

Whelan had previously suffered from an emergency surgery in February 1997, when he had to replace a part of his aorta for repairing his heart valve. Soon after that incident, Whelan’s longtime friend and former colleague, Kirk Walstedt, informed The Canadian Press that his friend has “recovered quite nicely from that.” Walstedt explained that “his health was pretty good up until last summer when he had a stroke.” Whelan was elected as a Liberal MP for Essex-Windsor in southwestern Ontario from 1962 until 1984, while he also served as the agriculture minister under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau from 1972 through 1984. Walstedt recently mentioned during a phone interview with Canadian Press by “he (Whelan) also said that a farmer could get a good return on his investment, the consumer could get a good quality product at a reasonable price … everybody won.”

For an average Canadian, Whelan will be remembered as a completely generous man, with his bull-in-a-china-shop bluntness and his fractured grammar. Walstedt added that “he was a very grassroots type of individual. He was very down to earth and everyone respected him, right from the top on down. Everyone could identify with him,” and that “he knew how to make a point or address an issue that everybody could understand — he often said he spoke in ‘Whelanese.”‘

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