Paul Hellyer

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The Honourable
Paul Hellyer
Paul Hellyer-c1969.jpg
Paul Hellyer, circa 1969
Minister of Transport
In office
September 19, 1967 – April 30, 1969
Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson
Pierre Trudeau
Preceded by Jack Pickersgill
Succeeded by James Armstrong Richardson
Minister of National Defence
In office
April 22, 1963 – September 18, 1967
Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson
Preceded by Gordon Churchill
Succeeded by Léo Cadieux
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Trinity
In office
Preceded by Edward Lockyer
Succeeded by Aideen Nicholson
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Davenport
In office
Preceded by John Ritchie MacNicol
Succeeded by Douglas Morton
Personal details
Born Paul Theodore Hellyer
(1923-08-06) 6 August 1923 (age 95)
Waterford, Ontario
Political party LiberalCanadian Action
Spouse(s) Ellen Jean Hellyer (deceased)
Children 2 sons, 1 daughter
Residence Toronto
Profession Engineer

Paul Theodore Hellyer, PC (born 6 August 1923) is a Canadian engineer, politician, writer and commentator who has had a long and varied career. He is the longest serving current member of the Privy Council of Canada, just ahead of Prince Philip.[1]

Early life

Hellyer was born and raised on a farm near Waterford, Ontario. Upon completion of high school he studied aeronautical engineering at the Curtiss-Wright Technical Institute of Aeronautics in Glendale, California, graduating in 1941. While studying he also obtained a private pilot's licence.[2]

After graduation, Hellyer was employed at Fleet Aircraft in Fort Erie, Ontario, which was then making training craft for the Royal Canadian Air Force as part of Canada's war effort in World War II. He attempted to become an RCAF pilot himself, but was told no more pilots were necessary, after which he joined the Royal Canadian Artillery and served as a gunner for the duration of the war.[2]

Hellyer earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto in 1949.[2]

Early political career

Hellyer in the 1940s.

First elected as a Liberal in 1949 federal election in the riding of Davenport, he was the youngest person ever elected to that point in the Canadian House of Commons. He served a brief stint as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Defence, and made a good impression. He was then named Associate Minister of National Defence in the cabinet of Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent. This post was short-lived, though, as Hellyer lost his seat when the St. Laurent government lost the 1957 election two months later.

Hellyer returned to parliament in a 1958 by-election in the neighbouring riding of Trinity, and became an effective opposition critic of John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservative government.

Cabinet minister and Liberal leadership candidate

When the Liberals returned to power in the 1963 election, Hellyer became Minister of National Defence in the cabinet of Lester B. Pearson. This was the most significant period in Hellyer's political career. As Minister of Defence, he oversaw the drastic and controversial integration and unification of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force into a single organization, the Canadian Forces.

Hellyer contested the 1968 Liberal leadership election, placing second on the first ballot, but slipped to third on the second and third ballots, and withdrew to support Robert Winters on the fourth ballot, in which Pierre Trudeau won the leadership. He served as Trudeau's Transport Minister, and was Senior Minister in the Cabinet, a position similar to the current position of Deputy Prime Minister.

Politics 1969–1988

In 1969, Hellyer issued a major report on housing and urban renewal in which he advocated incremental reforms rather than new government programs. He called for greater flexibility in Canada's mortgage loan system, and encouraged corporate pension funds to invest more money in housing programs.[3] His approach did not meet with universal acceptance. Some provincial and municipal governments were openly skeptical,[4] and Heward Grafftey, a left-leaning Progressive Conservative with an interest in housing, called for a more radical approach.[3]

Hellyer's report also called for the suspension of the "wholesale destruction of older housing" and for "greater selectivity... in the demolition of existing houses".[5] Grand urban renewal projects would come to an end as a result of his Task Force. Hellyer resigned from cabinet and the Liberal caucus in 1969 over a dispute with Trudeau over the implementation of the housing program.

Hellyer sat in Parliament as an independent for several years. After his 1971 attempt to form a new political party, Action Canada, failed, Progressive Conservative leader Robert Stanfield invited him to join the PC caucus. He returned to prominence as an opposition critic and was re-elected in the 1972 election as a Progressive Conservative. He lost his seat, however, in the 1974 election.

Despite this loss, Hellyer contested the PC leadership election of 1976. His views were too right wing for most delegates, and alienated many Tories with a speech attacking Red Tories as not being "true conservatives". He finished a distant sixth of eight contestants on the second ballot; Joe Clark won the leadership.

Hellyer rejoined the Liberal Party in 1982, but remained mostly silent in politics. In 1988, he contested the Liberal nomination in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's, losing to Aideen Nicholson, who had defeated Hellyer 14 years previously when he was a Tory MP in the adjacent riding of Trinity.

Canadian Action Party

In 1997, Hellyer formed the Canadian Action Party (CAP) to provide voters with an economic nationalist option following the collapse of the National Party of Canada.[6] Hellyer believed that both the Progressive Conservative and Liberal parties were embracing globalization, and that the New Democratic Party was no longer able to provide a credible alternative. CAP also embraced Hellyer's proposals for monetary reform: that the government should become more involved in the direction of the economy by gradually reducing the creation of private money and increasing the creation of public money from the current ratio of 5% public / 95% private back to 50% public and 50% private.[7][8]

His party remained a little-noticed minor party, and Hellyer lost bids for a seat in the Canadian House of Commons in the 1997 and 2000 elections.

Following the 2000 election, and a resurgence for the New Democratic Party, Hellyer approached NDP leadership to discuss the possibility of merging the two parties into 'One Big Party'. This process was furthered by the passage of a unanimous motion at the CAP's convention in 2003.

In early 2004, after several extensions of the merger deadline, the NDP rejected Hellyer's merger proposal which would have required the NDP to change its name. Hellyer resigned as CAP leader, but remains a member of the party. Rumours that he might run for the NDP in the 2004 election proved to be unfounded.

Extraterrestrial issues

On 3 June 1967, Hellyer flew in by helicopter to officially inaugurate an unidentified flying object landing pad in St. Paul, Alberta. The town had built it as its Canadian Centennial celebration project, and as a symbol of keeping space free from human warfare. The sign beside the pad reads:

"The area under the World's First UFO Landing Pad was designated international by the Town of St. Paul as a symbol of our faith that mankind will maintain the outer universe free from national wars and strife. That future travel in space will be safe for all intergalactic beings, all visitors from earth or otherwise are welcome to this territory and to the Town of St. Paul.[9]

In early September 2005, Hellyer made headlines by publicly announcing that he believed in the existence of UFOs. On 25 September 2005, he was an invited speaker at an exopolitics conference in Toronto, where he told the audience that he had seen a UFO one night with his late wife and some friends. He said that, although he had discounted the experience at the time, he had kept an open mind to it. He said that he started taking the issue much more seriously after watching ABC's Peter Jennings' UFO special in February 2005.[citation needed]

Watching Jennings' UFO special prompted Hellyer to read U.S. Army Colonel Philip J. Corso's book The Day After Roswell, about the Roswell UFO Incident, which had been sitting on his shelf for some time. Hellyer told the Toronto audience that he later spoke to a retired U.S. Air Force general, who confirmed the accuracy of the information in the book. In November 2005, he accused U.S. President George W. Bush of plotting an "Intergalactic War". The former defence minister told an audience at the University of Toronto:

"The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning...The Bush Administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."[10]

In 2007, the Ottawa Citizen reported that Hellyer is demanding that world governments disclose alien technology that could be used to solve the problem of climate change:

"I would like to see what (alien) technology there might be that could eliminate the burning of fossil fuels within a generation...that could be a way to save our planet...We need to persuade governments to come clean on what they know. Some of us suspect they know quite a lot, and it might be enough to save our planet if applied quickly enough."[11]

In an interview with RT (formerly Russia Today) in 2014, Hellyer said that at least four species of aliens have been visiting Earth for thousands of years, with most of them coming from other star systems, although there are some living on Venus, Mars and Saturn’s moon. According to him, they "don't think we are good stewards of our planet."[12]

Writings, and personal life

Hellyer has written several books on Canada and globalization, including One Big Party: To Keep Canada Independent, in which he promoted the merger of the CAP, NDP and various left-wing activists to save Canada from the effects of globalization, and possible annexation by the United States.

He was an early investor in the Toronto Sun, and for a time a columnist for the newspaper.

Paul Hellyer currently resides in Toronto. He has three children and five grandchildren.


  • Agenda, a Plan for Action (1971)
  • Exit Inflation (1981)
  • Jobs for All: Capitalism on Trial (1984)
  • Damn the Torpedoes (1990)
  • Funny Money: A common sense alternative to mainline economics (1994)
  • Surviving the Global Financial Crisis: The Economics of Hope for Generation X (1996)
  • Evil Empire : Globalization's Darker Side (1997)
  • Stop: Think (1999)
  • Goodbye Canada (2001)
  • One Big Party: To Keep Canada Independent (2003)
  • A Miracle in Waiting (2010), update of Surviving the Global Financial Crisis
  • Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Survival Plan for the Human Species (2010)
  • The Money Mafia: A World in Crisis (2014)

See also


  1. "Current Chronological List of Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada". Privy Council Office. Retrieved 17 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hellyer, Paul (20 February 1958). Inflation vs. Unemployment (Speech). The Empire Club of Canada.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Winnipeg Free Press, 25 January 1969, p. 11.
  4. Winnipeg Free Press, 30 January 1969, p. 6. It was noted that Toronto councillor David Rotenberg was a supporter of Hellyer's proposals.
  5. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  6. Canadian Action Party: Our History at the Wayback Machine (archived October 9, 2006)
  7. Canadian Action Party:Policies (2006) at the Wayback Machine (archived October 9, 2006)
  8. Canadian Action Party:Policies (2005) at the Wayback Machine (archived December 1, 2005)
  10. "Former Canadian Minister of Defence Asks Canadian Parliament Asked To Hold Hearings on Relations With Alien "Et" Civilizations". UFO Digest. 24 November 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Ottawa Citizen (28 February 2007). Alien technology the best hope to 'save our planet': ex-defence boss. Ottawa Citizen, 28 February 2007. Retrieved on 2008-04-30 from
  12. "Aliens miffed at Earth's warmongering ways, former Canadian defence minister says". 7 January 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Canadian Action Party leaders
Succeeded by
Connie Fogal