Author, publisher, and prominent Albertan political voice Mel Hurtig has died at age 84.
Hurtig is best known as the driving force behind the Canadian Encyclopedia.
Hurtig’s daughter Leslie told the Globe and Mail her father died surrounded by family in a Vancouver hospital today from complications of pneumonia.
Hurtig was born in Edmonton, where he served for a time as the president Edmonton Art Gallery. He also wrote a number of books on Canadian government and policy.
He was a recipient of the Order of Canada (1980) and the Lester B Pearson Man of the Year Peace Award (1988), along with six honourary degrees.
Hurtig is remembered by many as a strong willed Canadian nationalist.
He began his career in politics with a failed bid as a Liberal candidate in Edmonton West in 1972, before breaking with the party to form the Committee for an Independent Canada in 1973, advocating against foreign ownership.
In 1985 he formed the Council of Canadians, which survives to this day with a mandate to “advocate for clean water, fair trade, green energy, public health care, and a vibrant democracy.”
In 1992 he formed the National Party of Canada, which fought hard against the Canada U.S. free trade agreement, heading it in the 1993 election and earning 12% of the vote in Edmonton Northwest. The party fragmented the next year after failing to win any seats.