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Eugene Forsey combined vision with protest and erudition with wit.

A legacy for the common good: Eugene Forsey’s wit and wisdom.

Feisty and erudite, Eugene Alfred Forsey (1904-1991) was an activist scholar, labour researcher, constitutional expert, and senator who fought all his life for the common good. His speeches, articles, and letters informed and provoked Canadians for more than 60 years, and now his daughter brings that legacy back to life in this fascinating and relevant book.

One of Canada’s foremost constitutional experts, Forsey was also a provocative voice for social justice. Legendary for his sharp wit and high principle, he brought encyclopedic knowledge, irascible tenacity, and common sense to the causes of democracy, justice, and equality for all. Those themes resound through this book and resonate strongly in the Canada of today.

Forsey never managed to toe a party line obediently. Raised a Conservative, he converted to social democracy as a young academic in the 1930s. He spent the following decades working for the labour movement and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF, now the New Democratic Party) and calling governments to account in speeches, articles, and pithy letters-to-the-editor. From 1970 to 1979, he sat in the Senate as a Trudeau Liberal, but soon afterward resumed his more natural role as non-partisan critic and gadfly.

In labour halls, university classrooms, broadcasting studios, and the Senate chamber, Forsey entertained even as he educated. So, too, does this account of his works and life, which blends the personal and the political to provide a rich resource for Canadians facing the challenges of the 21st century.

Helen Forsey, like her father, Eugene, is a social activist and writer, who worked overseas with CUSO and other international voluntary organizations. An ardent feminist and environmentalist, she winters in Ompah, Ontario, and summers at Pouch Cove, Newfoundland.

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