John Buchanan (Canadian politician)

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John Buchanan
20th Premier of Nova Scotia
In office
October 5, 1978 – September 12, 1990
MonarchElizabeth II
Lieutenant GovernorClarence Gosse
John E. Shaffner
Alan Abraham
Lloyd Crouse
Preceded byGerald Regan
Succeeded byRoger Bacon
MLA for Halifax Atlantic
In office
May 30, 1967 – September 11, 1990
Preceded byRiding established
Succeeded byRobert Chisholm
Senator for Halifax, Nova Scotia
In office
September 11, 1990 – April 22, 2006
Appointed byBrian Mulroney
Personal details
John MacLennan Buchanan

(1931-04-22)April 22, 1931
Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
DiedOctober 3, 2019(2019-10-03) (aged 88)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative
Other political
Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
SpouseMavis Buchanan

John MacLennan Buchanan PC QC (April 22, 1931 – October 3, 2019) was a Canadian lawyer and former politician who served as the 20th premier of Nova Scotia from 1978 to 1990 and as a member of the Senate of Canada from 1990 to 2006.

Early life[edit]

Buchanan was born in Sydney, Nova Scotia, the son of Flora Isabel Campbell and Murdoch William Buchanan.[1] He graduated from Mount Allison University in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree and a Certificate in Engineering. He then went on to study at Dalhousie Law School and after graduating in 1958 entered the practice of law where he was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1972 and awarded Doctorates from Nova Scotia Technical College, Mount Allison University, Saint Mary's University, St. Francis Xavier University, and Université Saint Anne.

Political career[edit]

Buchanan was elected as a Member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly in 1967, re-elected in 1970, 1974, 1978, 1981, 1984 and 1988. He was appointed to the Executive Council of Nova Scotia as Minister of Public Works and Fisheries in 1969. He was elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia in 1971.[2] Buchanan was elected as Premier of Nova Scotia in 1978.[3] He was re-elected in 1981, 1984 and 1988, becoming the third Premier in Nova Scotia to be elected to four consecutive terms (following George Henry Murray and Robert Stanfield), and the fourth longest serving premier in the history of the province. On April 17, 1982, Buchanan was made a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council. His biggest majority came in the 1984 election, when he led his party to victory, capturing 42 of the 52 seats in the legislature.[4]

Buchanan resigned as Premier when he was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Brian Mulroney on September 12, 1990.[5] Buchanan sat as a Progressive Conservative senator until 2004, when the party merged with the Canadian Alliance. He sat as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada from 2004 until his retirement at age 75 on April 22, 2006.[6]

After Buchanan resigned as premier, it was revealed that he had secretly received $431,290 in funds in addition to his salary. A subsequent RCMP investigation concluded that there was no evidence to support criminal charges.[7][8][9]

Political views[edit]

In 1990, Buchanan stated that if Quebec were to secede from Canada, separating English-speaking Canada into two parts, the Atlantic provinces would be "absurd" to try to form their own country, and there would be "no choice" but to seek to join the United States. He retracted his statement after criticism.[10] However, an American author, Donald Nuechterlein, similarly stated in 2001 that as the Maritime provinces require substantial transfer payments from Ottawa, they would not be a viable independent country. He speculated that they might combine, with or without Newfoundland, to make themselves more attractive for admission into the United States as a single state.[11]

Personal life[edit]

He married Mavis Forsyth in September 1954, and they had five children. Buchanan died on October 3, 2019, at the age of 88.[12]


  1. ^ McDonell, James K.; Campbell, Robert Bennett (1997). Lords of the North. ISBN 9781896182711.
  2. ^ "N.S. Tories swing to right with election of Buchanan as leader". The Globe and Mail, March 8, 1971.
  3. ^ "Conservatives sweep Liberals in Nova Scotia". The Globe and Mail, September 20, 1978.
  4. ^ "Buchanan Tories crush opponents in N.S. election". The Globe and Mail, November 7, 1984.
  5. ^ "Buchanan resigns to enter Senate". The Globe and Mail, September 13, 1990.
  6. ^ "Nova Scotia Tory Senator Buchanan retires". The Hill Times, May 1, 2006.
  7. ^ "Secret fund held bonanza for Buchanan, reports say". Toronto Star, April 30, 1991.
  8. ^ "Payments made to Buchanan since 1978". Kitchener-Waterloo Record, April 16, 1991.
  9. ^ "Buchanan cleared in kickbacks case after 'vicious year'". Toronto Star, September 17, 1991.
  11. ^ Donald Nuechterlein (2001). America Recommitted: A Superpower Assesses Its Role in a Turbulent World. University Press of Kentucky. p. 133. ISBN 0813127491.
  12. ^ "Former N.S. premier and senator John Buchanan dead at 88 | CBC News".

Further reading[edit]

  • Kavanagh, Peter. John Buchanan: The Art of Political Survival (1988). Formac Publishing Company Limited. ISBN 978-0887800696

External links[edit]