McLellan, Anne

Anne McLellan, lawyer, professor, politician (b at Hants County, NS 31 Aug 1950). Anne McLellan grew up in the Annapolis Valley on a dairy farm that her family has owned for 200 years. Both her parents were politically active, her father in the local Liberal Party organization and her mother in municipal politics.

McLellan soon became involved in the Liberal Party, both at home and at Dalhousie University, where she received degrees in political science and law. After earning a master's degree at King's College, London, England, she returned to Canada to teach law at the University of New Brunswick. In 1980, McLellan accepted a position in the law faculty at the University of Alberta, where she specialized in constitutional law, civil liberties, and human rights. She served in a variety of administrative roles, including Acting Dean 1991-92.

McLellan was elected to the House of Commons in 1993, winning the riding of Edmonton Northwest, a traditionally Conservative area, by 12 votes. Re-elected in 1997, 2000, and 2004, always by slim margins, she was the face of the federal Liberal party in Alberta for more than a decade.

She held a variety of posts in the cabinet of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. As minister of natural resources from 1993 to 1997, she won the respect of the energy industry, long hostile to her party in part because of tax changes that encouraged the development of the Alberta tar sands. Some environmental activists, however, were critical of her emphasis on voluntary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

From 1997 to 2002 McLellan was minister of justice and attorney general, a post fraught with difficult issues including the Supreme Court reference on the right of provinces to secede from Canada, the firearms registry, and benefits for same-sex couples. She was one of the stronger members of cabinet, but she was not able to prevent the continuing cost overruns of the gun registry. Following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, McLellan was responsible for introducing controversial anti-terrorism legislation. As minister of health 2002-3, McLellan worked to create the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, an organization to promote safer healthcare, and the Health Council of Canada, an independent body to monitor the health system.

When Paul Martin became prime minister in 2003, he appointed McLellan to the posts of deputy prime minister and minister of public safety and emergency preparedness. In the latter role, she was responsible for domestic security. McLellan lost her seat in the general election of 2006, in which the Martin government was defeated.