Eugene "Gene" Francis Whelan, PC OC ( /ˈhwiːlən/; born July 11, 1924) is a retired Canadian politician. Whelan, a farmer, first won a seat in the Canadian House of Commons in the 1962 election representing the southwestern Ontario riding of Essex. He sat continuously in the House of Commons until his retirement in 1984 and was later a Senator.
Born in Amherstburg, Ontario, the son of Charles B. Whelan and Frances L. Kelly, he was educated in Windsor and Walkerville. In 1960, Whelan married Elizabeth Pollinger. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Ontario assembly in 1959. Whelan served as warden of Essex County in 1962. He was also reeve for Anderdon Township.
In 1972, Whelan became Minister of Agriculture in the cabinet of Pierre Trudeau, and held the position until Trudeau's retirement in 1984 except during the 1979-1980 Joe Clark government. He became a well-known figure due to his plain-spokenness (which occasionally got him in trouble) and his green stetson hat.
Whelan ran to succeed Trudeau at the 1984 Liberal leadership convention, but came in last.
He served as president of the United Nations World Food Council from 1983 to 1985.
Eugene Whelan was appointed as Canadian ambassador to the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, prompting Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leader Brian Mulroney to promise to rescind the appointment if he became Prime Minister. Mulroney won the 1984 election, and recalled Whelan as one of his first acts of office.
In 1987, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
In 1996, Whelan was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Jean Chrétien, and served in the chamber until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 1999.
Whelan's daughter, Susan Whelan was elected to the House of Commons in 1993 in her father's old riding and, in 2002, became Minister of International Trade in Chrétien's cabinet. She was dropped from Cabinet when Paul Martin became prime minister.
Whelan was the author with Rick Archbold of Whelan: The Man in the Green Stetson, ISBN 0-7725-1621-9, published in 1986.
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