Former Nova Scotia premier and federal cabinet minister Gerald Regan has died. He was 91.
The premier’s office offered its condolences in a news release Wednesday morning. According to the province, Regan died Tuesday night.
“Gerald Regan believed in the potential of Nova Scotia, with a vision for our future prosperity. He governed with a true sense of liberal values — investing in people, creating economic development and ensuring fiscal responsibility,” said Stephen McNeil in Wednesday’s release.
“He was a dedicated public servant to his constituents, all Nova Scotians and Canadians. I extend my sincerest condolences to his wife Carole, children Jerry, Geoff, Miriam, Nancy, David, Laura and loved ones.”
Regan, who was from Windsor, N.S., was first elected to office as a member of Parliament for Halifax in 1963.
He stepped down two years later to make the move to provincial politics, becoming the leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party. He was elected as MLA for Halifax Needham in 1967 and became premier in 1970.
He served as premier until 1978, when the Liberals were defeated by the Progressive Conservatives, led by John Buchanan.
In an interview with CBC News in 1980, Regan blamed his loss on soaring electricity prices.
“We pretty well knew it was hopeless, but still you battle away and you hope for some miracle,” he said.
Voters returned Regan to federal politics in the 1980 election and he served until 1984, holding several senior portfolios in Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s cabinet.
Allegations of sexual offences
But for many, Regan’s political legacy was overshadowed by allegations by dozens of women of sexual offences dating back to 1956.
In 1995, Regan was charged with more than a dozen counts of sexual offences, and eventually went to trial on what were deemed the eight most serious charges, including rape, attempted rape, indecent assault and unlawful confinement.
A jury eventually acquitted him of all eight charges.
Other charges later went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, but ultimately, they did not proceed. The Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service decided in 2002 not to prosecute due to the age of the allegations, the willingness of complainants to go to trial, the probability of a jail sentence and the expense of a trial.
In an interview with CBC in 1980, Regan described “the joy of public service, the fun being involved in exciting projects and the tremendous feeling of satisfaction when you get something done.”
Regan, who was also a lawyer, said it was the same thing that got him into both politics and law: “You’re not doing the same thing every day, that when you walk in here in the morning there’s a half a dozen screaming challenges that you didn’t know were going to be here when you left last night.”
In the interview, he said his government’s legacies included seeing the expansion of Michelin and Northern Telecom and building the agricultural economy.
Regan and his wife, Carole, had six children, including Geoff Regan, who is currently the Speaker of the House of Commons, former broadcaster Nancy Regan, actress Laura Regan, Miriam, Gerald and David. His daughter-in-law, Kelly Regan, is the MLA for Bedford and the minister of community services.