James Armstrong Richardson
Richardson was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and attended St. John's-Ravenscourt School. After attending Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He served as an anti-submarine pilot based in Iceland and Labrador during World War II. He finished his War service with the rank of pilot officer.
He left the company to enter politics, winning a seat in the Canadian House of Commons in the 1968 election as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South. Richardson easily defeated future provincial cabinet minister Bud Sherman, his Progressive Conservative opponent.
Richardson was appointed to the cabinet of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as a minister without portfolio on June 6, 1968. He also served as acting Minister of Transport for five days in early 1969, and was promoted to Minister of Supply and Services on June 5 of the same year. From November 27, 1972, until October 12, 1976, he was Minister of National Defence.
Richardson was known as a "business Liberal", on the right wing of the party. He clashed with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau over his plans to patriate the Canadian Constitution and resigned from Cabinet in 1976 to protest the government's implementation of official bilingualism. In 1978, he left the Liberal caucus entirely and crossed the floor (by actually physically crossing it) to sit as an Independent MP for the remainder of his term. He unsuccessfully attempted to form a new political party, the One Canada Party, but that floundered and he was not a candidate in the 1979 election. Richardson endorsed Joe Clark's Progressive Conservative Party in the 1980 federal election.
After leaving elected politics, Richardson helped found the Canada West Council and served on a number of corporate boards. He also created James Richardson International, the successor company to James Richardson & Sons.
In 1987, Richardson announced his support for the newly created Reform Party of Canada. He was the brother of Agnes Benidickson, former Chancellor of Queen's University and brother-in-law of former Liberal MP and Cabinet minister William Moore Benidickson.
- "James Richardson dead at 82" by Aldo Santin, CanWest News Service, May 18, 2004
- "Rival trying to steal his men, Socred says", by Mary Trueman, Globe and Mail, January 24, 1979
- Former cabinet minister James Richardson dies CBC News report