Al Graham, former Liberal senator in Nova Scotia, dies at 85

Al Graham, the former Canadian senator, Liberal party president and political insider who was pressed into the limelight when made a federal cabinet minister in 1997, died Thursday morning. He was 85.

Political insider became cabinet minister in 1997 when federal Liberals won no seats in Nova Scotia

Al Graham, the former Canadian senator, Liberal party president and political insider who was pressed into the limelight when made a federal cabinet minister in 1997, died Thursday morning. He was 85.

Graham was born in Dominion, N.S. He studied at St. Francis Xavier University before playing a significant role in the early days of DEVCO, the federal Crown corporation tasked with helping economic development in Cape Breton.

He ran in the 1958 federal election for the Liberals, but was defeated.

In 1972, he was named to the Senate by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and later made president of the Liberal Party of Canada. He served as president from 1975 to 1980, following a three-year stint as president of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.

When the Liberal Party was swept from Nova Scotia in the 1997 federal election, Prime Minister Jean Chretien plucked Graham from the Senate and appointed him to cabinet, making him regional minister for Nova Scotia until 1999.

Graham travelled during the course of his career. Through the National Democratic Institute he went on observer missions to countries such as Nicaragua, Hungary and Pakistan.

Graham left the senate in 2004. His son is former Nova Scotia Liberal Party leader Danny Graham.