Erik Nielsen


Erik Nielsen

Infobox CanadianMP
name=Erik Hersholt Nielsen


term_start=1957
term_end=1987
birth_date= birth date|1924|2|24|df=yes
birth_place=Regina, Saskatchewan
death_date=death date and age|2008|9|4|1924|2|24|df=yes
death_place=Kelowna, British Columbia
profession=
party=Progressive Conservative
party colour=PC
residence=
riding=Yukon
predecessor=James Aubrey Simmons
successor=Audrey McLaughlin
footnotes=
term_start2=
term_end2=
predecessor2=
successor2=
spouse= Pamela June Nielsen (-1969)
Shelley Nielsen (1983-2008)
religion=Anglicanism|

Erik Hersholt Nielsen, DFC, QC, PC (February 24 1924 – September 4, 2008) was a Canadian politician, and longtime Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for Yukon.

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, he was Minister of Public Works in the short-lived government of Prime Minister Joe Clark. After the Tories were defeated in the 1980 election, he served as Opposition House Leader from 1981 until 1983, and engineered the "Bell Ringing Affair" to protest the Liberal government's omnibus energy bill. The business of the Canadian House of Commons ground to a halt for three weeks because the Opposition refused to respond to the bell summoning Members of Parliament to come to the chamber to vote.

Nielsen served as Leader of the Opposition in 1983 between the resignation of Joe Clark and the election of Brian Mulroney as PC leader, and continued to lead the party in the House until Mulroney won a seat in a by-election, at which point Nielsen returned to his previous position as House Leader.

When Mulroney became prime minister, he made Nielsen his deputy prime minister from 1984 to 1986, and President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada from 1984 to 1985. Nielsen was effectively the senior Government House Leader in all but name. He also served as Minister of National Defence from 1985 to 1986.

Nielsen has been called "Yukon Erik," [Jim Lotz, Prime Ministers of Canada, Bison Books, 1987, p. 154] but he has also been called "Velcro lips" for a tight-lipped reticence during his time in office. [Lotz, 150.] The tenaciousness and aggressiveness that made Nielsen a successful Opposition MP made him a liability as a Cabinet minister as he gave the impression of being secretive and disdainful of criticism by the Opposition and the media. His habit of stonewalling questions had the effect of prolonging the shelf life of political scandals in Parliament, and thus hurt the government's reputation. This became most apparent during the Sinclair Stevens conflict-of-interest scandal, in which Mulroney was out of Parliament for two weeks while the opposition barraged Nielsen with questions. Shortly after Mulroney returned, Nielsen and Sinclair were both forced to resign from cabinet in June 1986.

Years afterward, Sheila Copps would remark that the sacking of Nielsen made Mulroney "look decisive", when pointing out the importance of a deputy prime minister in protecting the prime minister from political damage during question period. [http://torontosun.canoe.ca/News/Columnists/Copps_Sheila/2006/02/07/1429427.html]

Nielsen resigned his seat in Parliament in January 1987 when he was given the position of chairman of the National Transportation Agency. He withdrew from the public service in 1992 to become president of Solar Engineering, Hawaii Inc. and Solar Electric Engineering Distributors Canada.

One of Nielsen's brothers is actor Leslie Nielsen. The relationship informed the premise of an HBO mockumentary titled "The Canadian Conspiracy", comically alleging a Canadian subversion of the United States through its media.

He wrote a memoir, "The House Is Not a Home" (1989, ISBN 0-7715-9426-7), noted for its bracing directness both about his colleagues and about his own personal life.

He died at his home in Kelowna, BC on September 4, 2008 from a massive heart attack. [ [http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080905.wobitnielsen0905/BNStory/National/home Erik Nielsen dies in B.C. at 84] , The Globe and Mail, September 5, 2008.]

References

External links

*
* [http://archives.cbc.ca/society/family/clips/15497/ Leslie and Erik Nielsen laugh it up] (audio) 1991 Peter Gzowski interview with Leslie and Erik Nielsen


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  • Erik Nielsen — Erik Hersholt Nielsen, DFC, QC, PC (* 24. Februar 1924 in Regina, Saskatchewan; † 4. September 2008 in Kelowna, British Columbia) war ein kanadischer Politiker. Leben Nielsen war ab 1957 Mitglied des Parlamentes von Yukon und gewann alle… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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