Walter L. Gordon

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Walter L. Gordon

Minister of Finance
In office
April 22, 1963 – November 10, 1965
Prime MinisterLester Pearson
Preceded byGeorge Nowlan
Succeeded byMitchell Sharp
Member of Parliament
for Davenport
In office
Preceded byMurray Douglas Morton
Succeeded byCharles Caccia
Personal details
Walter Lockhart Gordon

(1906-01-27)January 27, 1906
Toronto, Ontario
DiedMarch 21, 1987(1987-03-21) (aged 81)
Toronto, Ontario
Political partyLiberal
ProfessionLawyer, accountant

Walter Lockhart Gordon PC CC CBE (January 27, 1906 – March 21, 1987) was a Canadian accountant, businessman, politician, and writer.


Born in Toronto, he was educated at Upper Canada College and the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario.

Early business career[edit]

Upon graduation, he joined the family accounting firm of Clarkson, Gordon and Company, in January 1927.[1] He was a student there for four years, became a chartered accountant in early 1931, and was promoted to partner in 1935.[2]

During World War II, Gordon served in the Bank of Canada and the federal Ministry of Finance. In 1946, he chaired the Royal Commission on Administrative Classifications in the Public Service.

The beginnings of economic nationalism[edit]

From 1955 to 1957, Gordon chaired the Royal Commission on Canada's Economic Prospects. The Commission's reports, issued in 1956 and 1957, expressed concern about growing foreign ownership in the Canadian economy, particularly in the resource sector, and made recommendations to redress the problem. The themes raised in the reports were revisited by Gordon in his government career.[3]

Political career[edit]

In the 1962 federal election, he was elected to the House of Commons of Canada as a Liberal. He was Minister of Finance from 1963 to 1965, during Prime Minister Lester Pearson's first minority government. Gordon's 1965 budget, which included an 11% tax on construction materials and manufacturing equipment, as well as the expansion of social programs, was attacked by the Opposition parties. Gordon persuaded Pearson to call the 1965 federal election and co-chaired the Liberal campaign. When the election failed to return a Liberal majority, Gordon, taking responsibility for giving the prime minister poor advice, resigned from Cabinet and returned to the backbench.[4] In 1967, he returned to Cabinet as President of the Privy Council from 1967 to 1968. He was noted for his economic nationalism and his support for new social programs.

Gordon disagreed, often sharply, with Pearson over the significant expansion in federal expenditures and the decline of sound financial management in Pearson's second administration, which began in 1965. The long friendship between the two men, which had begun in the mid-1930s, gradually unravelled.[5]

Gordon supported Pierre Trudeau's winning 1968 bid for the Liberal leadership, after Pearson announced his retirement in late 1967. Trudeau, after he became prime minister, invited Gordon to join his Cabinet in April 1968. However, Gordon declined over some misgivings about being able to work successfully with Trudeau and decided not to run again for office in the June 1968 general election.[6]

Returns to business[edit]

After leaving politics in 1968, he returned to business. He continued to argue for economic nationalist causes and in 1970, along with Peter C. Newman of the Toronto Star, economist Abraham Rotstein, and University of Toronto professor Mel Watkins, founded the Committee for an Independent Canada.[7] Canadian historian Jack Granatstein argues in Yankee Go Home? that the CIC "helped to create the atmosphere in which Trudeau's government established the Canada Development Corporation in 1971 to 'buy back' Canada."[3]

Later years[edit]

Gordon was the Chancellor of York University from 1973 to 1977. According to Dr. Stephen Azzi, Walter Gordon is responsible for "New Nationalism" in Canada. This is the idea of supporting stronger ties with Great Britain, to prevent Canada being absorbed by United States. He published his political memoirs in 1977. He died in 1987.

Honours and awards[edit]

Wall of Honour, Royal Military College of Canada

In 1976, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1946 for his war services. In 2009, 1681 Honourable Walter L. Gordon, PC, CC, CBE, FCA, LLD (1906–1987) was added to the wall of honour at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario.


There is a Walter Lockhart Gordon fonds at Library and Archives Canada.[8]


  1. ^ A Political Memoir, by Walter Gordon, Toronto 1977, McClelland & Stewart publishers, p. 13.
  2. ^ A Political Memoir, by Walter Gordon, Toronto 1977, McClelland & Stewart publishers, p. 16.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Denis. "Walter Lockhart Gordon". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  4. ^
  5. ^ A Political Memoir, by Walter Gordon, Toronto 1977, McClelland & Stewart, pp. 300–301 and 314.
  6. ^ A Political Memoir, by Walter Gordon, Toronto 1977, McClelland & Stewart, pp. 313–314.
  7. ^ Davis, Stephen Spencer (April 28, 2015). "Abraham Rotstein, economist who battled free trade, dead at 86". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  8. ^ "Walter Lockhart Gordon fonds, Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved September 3, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Azzi, Stephen. Walter Gordon and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism (McGill-Queen's Press-MQUP, 1999).
  • Smith, Denis. Gentle Patriot: A Political Biography of Walter Gordon, Edmonton 1973, Hurtig Publishers.


  • Troubled Canada: The Need for New Domestic Policies, by Walter Gordon, 1961.
  • A Choice for Canada: Independence or Colonial Status, by Walter Gordon, 1966.
  • Storm Signals: New Economic Policies for Canada, by Walter Gordon, 1975.
  • A Political Memoir, by Walter Gordon, Toronto 1977, McClelland & Stewart publishers, ISBN 0-7710-3440-7.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Floyd Chalmers
Chancellor of York University
Succeeded by
John Robarts