IDRC mourns the loss of Donald Macdonald

October 19, 2018

IDRC mourns the passing of Donald Macdonald, whose service as chair of IDRC’s Board of Governors was but one of many significant contributions to his public life in Canada. 

Macdonald passed away at his home in Toronto on October 14, 2018, at the age of 86.

A lawyer by training, the long-time Liberal Member of Parliament was elected to the House of Commons in 1962. Throughout his career he served as minister of national defence, minister of energy, mines and resources, minister of finance, and president of the Privy Council. In 1977 he resigned from Cabinet to return to his law practice. 

Macdonald was appointed Chair of IDRC’s Board of Governors in May 1981. At a time when funding to foreign affairs and international assistance was stagnant, Macdonald managed to increase IDRC’s annual grant during his three-year tenure as Chairperson.

Later he headed the Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada. Among the Commission’s recommendations was that Canada enter into a free trade agreement with the United States — a policy later pursued in what became the Canada–US Free Trade Agreement.

For his many contributions to trade and social policy development, Macdonald was named a companion of the Order of Canada in 1994.

His legacy will live on through the work of the people and institutions, like IDRC, that he led and inspired.