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The Honourable
John McCallum
37th Minister of National Revenue

In office
Prime Minister Paul Martin
Preceded by Stan Keyes
Succeeded by Carol Skelton
23rd Minister of Veterans Affairs

In office
Prime Minister Paul Martin
Preceded by Rey Pagtakhan
Succeeded by Albina Guarnieri
35th Minister of National Defence

In office
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Preceded by Art Eggleton
Succeeded by David Pratt
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Markham—Unionville
Assumed office
Preceded by new riding
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Markham

In office
Preceded by Jim Jones
Succeeded by riding abolished
Personal details
Born April 9, 1950( 1950-04-09) (age 72)
Montreal, Quebec
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Nancy Lim
Residence Oakville, Ontario
Alma mater Queens' College, Cambridge
Université de Paris
McGill University
Profession Author, economist, professor

John McCallum, PC, MP (born April 9, 1950) is a Liberal Canadian politician, economist and university professor. Following the 2006 Federal Election, he became the Liberal Finance Critic in the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet. Before the election, he was the 37th Minister of National Revenue and was also the Minister responsible for Canada Post Corporation, the Royal Canadian Mint, from 2004 to 2006 and acting Minister of Natural Resources from 2005 to 2006.


Born in Montreal, Quebec, he has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens' College, Cambridge University, a diplôme d'études supérieures from Université de Paris and a Doctorate in economics from McGill University. He was a professor of economics at the University of Manitoba from 1976 until 1978, Simon Fraser University from 1978 until 1982, the Université du Québec à Montréal from 1982 until 1987, and McGill University from 1987 until 1994. He is an honorary member of the Royal Military College of Canada, student #S139. He was also Dean of the Faculty of Arts at McGill University. He then became Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist of the Royal Bank of Canada.

He is the author of 1980 book, Unequal Beginnings: Agriculture and Economic Development in Quebec and Ontario until 1870. He is also the co-author (with Clarence Barber) of Unemployment and Inflation: The Canadian Experience and Controlling Inflation: Learning from Experience in Canada, Europe and Japan. He also co-wrote Parting as friends: the economic consequences for Quebec in 1991 and Global Disequilibrium in the World Economy in 1992.

A Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) since the 2000 election, he currently represents Markham—Unionville. McCallum has previously filled the posts of Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions), Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs in the Cabinet of Canada under prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, respectively. He is a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.

Academic career (1976-94)

One of his most influential academic contributions[1] was a seven-page article in the American Economic Review entitled "National Borders Matter." The article has spawned an ongoing international debate[citation needed] on whether trade within a nation state is greater than trade among nations, as compared with the predictions of standard economic models.

As McGill University’s Dean of Arts, McCallum secured a $10 million contribution from Charles Bronfman for the establishment of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.[2]

He also participated in the national unity debates of the early 1990s, editing the Canada Round Series of the C. D. Howe Institute and engaging in debate with then Opposition Leader Jacques Parizeau at Quebec's National Assembly.[3]

Private sector career (1994-2000)

McCallum was the Royal Bank of Canada’s chief economist for six years. While consistently achieving the highest media coverage of bank chief economists, he also engaged in social issues, notably a 1997 Royal Bank conference designed to align the business community with the recommendations of the 1996 Report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The tenth anniversary of his paper at that conference, "The Cost of Doing Nothing," was recently highlighted in Aboriginal Times Magazine.[4]

Political career (2000-present)

Backbencher and social issues

McCallum successfully nominated Nelson Mandela as the second honorary citizen in Canadian history.[5]

McCallum was quite vocal in Canada's debate on Same-Sex marriage. He told the Edmonton Sun in August 2003, "If people want to do something and it doesn’t hurt other people, doesn’t reduce other people’s rights, we should let them do it. Why not?"[6] He also significantly contributed to the final debate before the vote on same-sex marriage on 21 March 2005[7] saying:

I believe we should always seek to expand the rights of our fellow citizens as long as we do not thereby reduce the rights of others. We should seek to ensure that no group is denied full participation in society. As members of Parliament, we should not ask the question, why should we extend this right? Rather our question should be, why should we not extend the right? Let the burden of proof be on those who wish to limit fundamental rights.


Many Canadians will want to accept both of these principles: protect the traditional definition of marriage and protect the rights of minorities. The essence of my message today is that we cannot do both. We cannot have it both ways. We must make a choice between traditional marriage and the protection of minority rights.

Defence Minister

As Defence Minister, McCallum achieved what was then the largest increase in the annual defence budget ($1 billion) in more than a decade in return for offering up $200 million in savings from reducing low priority spending.[8] He also retroactively reversed a gross inequity which awarded up to $250,000 to military personnel who lost their eyesight or a limb while on active service - but only to those with the rank of colonel or above. Now all Canadian Forces members are covered by the plan regardless of rank.[9] Working with Germany, he successfully persuaded NATO to take control over the security mission in Kabul, Afghanistan, while also ensuring that the mission was led by Canada.[10] He also determined that the army, rather than the navy or air force, was to be the top priority in budget allocations.[11]

He became widely known and criticized in 2002 when he admitted, while serving as the Minister of National Defence, that he had never heard of the 1942 Dieppe raid, a fateful and nationally significant operation for Canadian Forces during the Second World War.[12] Ironically, he wrote a letter to the editor of the National Post in response, but committed a further gaffe, confusing Canadian participation in the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge in France with Vichy France from 1940 to 1944. Response at the continued historical ignorance prompted outrage and humour among the press.

In November 2002, while still serving as Defence Minister, McCallum encountered further controversy when officials refused to allow him to board an Air Canada flight because his breath smelt heavily of alcohol.[13] McCallum announced soon thereafter that the incident prompted him to abstain completely from alcohol consumption. He reportedly also intended to lose weight and give up smoking.

In January 2003, McCallum prompted both indignation and gales of laughter in the House of Commons when he mocked Conservative MP Elsie Wayne's flamboyant attire.[14] When asked by Wayne about proper identification markers for Canadian military vehicles (to prevent friendly fire incidents), McCallum responded: "if our soldiers were to wear the dress of the honourable member over there, they would be very well identified." McCallum later apologized both inside and outside the House of Commons for using inappropriate language, blaming the excitement of the moment.

Veterans Affairs Minister

McCallum introduced a new charter for younger, postwar veterans who have been physically or mentally injured while serving in the Canadian Forces. This charter, which became law in 2005, is modeled on the range of services provided for returning veterans after World War II. This "new model" stripped veterans of a monthly pension opting for a lump some payment that does not properly compensate veterans.[15]

Expenditure Review Committee

As Chair of Expenditure Review Committee, McCallum achieved expenditure reductions of $11 billion over five years.[16]

Personal life

He is married to Nancy Lim and has three sons.


  1. Research Papers in Economics
  2. McGill gets $10 million for studies on Canada. Montreal Gazette 16 June 1993, pg A4
  3. Anti-Quebec vitriol aids PQ: economist McGill professor, Pequiste chief Parizeau wage war of charts. Montreal Gazette 5 December 1991 pg A9
  4. Aboriginal Times Magazine. Vol 12, Issue 4, May–June 2007
  5. Nelson Mandela, Citizen. Toronto Star, 14 June 2001 pg A32
  6. Edmonton Sun, 13 August 2003
  7. Hansard - Civil Marriage Act (C-38) debate - John McCallum (Lib)
  8. The Budget Plan 2003, page 163
  9. Bill C-44, An Act to compensate military members injured during service, 37th Parliament, 2nd session
  10. Canadian troops to be deployed to Afghanistan: 2,000 soldiers to join NATO force in Kabul; National Post 6 May 2003, pg A4
  11. McCallum sets top priorities; Hill Times, 8 September 2003 pg 1
  12. "MQUP prank". 
  13. "Canadian defence minister gives up alcohol after being barred from Air Canada flight". Airline Industry Information. 29 November 2002. 
  14. "Defence minister apologizes twice for insensitive remarks". CBC News. 29 January 2003. 
  15. Boost in benefits for veterans promised; Toronto Star 5 May 2004 pg A4
  16. McCallum on the hunt for $1-billion more in savings. Hill Times 5 March 2005, pg 56

External links

Cabinet Posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Stan Keyes Minister of National Revenue
Carol Skelton
Rey Pagtakhan Minister of Veterans Affairs
Albina Guarnieri
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence
David Pratt
Sub-Cabinet Post
Predecessor Title Successor
Jim Peterson Secretary of State (International Financial Institutions)
Maurizio Bevilacqua

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