Nielsen, Erik Hersholt
Erik Hersholt Nielsen, politician (b at Regina, Sask 24 Feb 1924; d at Kelowna, BC 4 Sept 2008). Erik Nielsen flew in 101 Squadron in WWII, winning the DFC for "courage and devotion to duty," and rejoined the RCAF, 1946-51, as a legal officer while earning a law degree at Dalhousie. He opened a law practice in Whitehorse in 1952 and was elected Conservative MP for the Yukon in 1957. Tenacious and combative in the House, he built a reputation based upon tough cross-examination of Liberal ministers, knowledge of parliamentary practice and loyalty to party and leader. He was minister of public works in the CLARK government 1979-80, deputy Opposition House leader 1980-81 and Opposition House leader 1981-83.
After Clark's resignation as party leader, Erik Nielsen was interim national head of the PCs, 2 Feb-11 June 1983. Brian MULRONEY named him deputy leader of the national PC Party in 1983, deputy prime minister and president of the Privy Council in 1984, and minister of national defence in 1985. He became a target of Opposition attacks in the House for his alleged stonewalling tactics and penchant for secrecy and was dropped from Cabinet in June 1986.