Book tells story of Brandon-born cabinet minister

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The son of a prominent Brandon-born economist and federal cabinet minister has written a biography in honour of his late father.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/01/2021 (693 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The son of a prominent Brandon-born economist and federal cabinet minister has written a biography in honour of his late father.

Douglas Peters was a longtime chief economist for the Toronto-Dominion Bank for 26 years and secretary of state for international financial institutions under former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien from 1993-97.

Released just a couple of weeks ago, “Doug Peters: Bay Street Economist on Parliament Hill” by David Peters tells the story of his father’s life from his 1930 birth in the Wheat City and attending Brandon College for a year to his career as an economist and cabinet minister.

Submitted Doug and David Peters get their photo taken together after Doug delivered a guest lecture at Western University in 2005.

“He was probably the most-quoted business economist during those few decades,” David said about Doug’s time at Toronto-Dominion.

Speaking to the Sun on Thursday from Toronto, David said that the book’s origins come from an unfinished memoir left on his father’s computer when he died in 2016 at the age of 86.

Those notes have been supplemented with his own recollections, library research and interviews with those who worked with him. The book even has an introduction from former prime minister Paul Martin.

In the foreword, of which a copy was provided to the Sun, Martin said that “no one could have been more prepared” for taking on his role in government and “an unbelievable asset.”

He said that about three years ago, his friend and retired Senator Jerry Grafstein asked him what he was going to do to honour his father. 

“That sort of drove me to the idea of taking the memoirs that he had left on his computer and converting it into a book,” David said.

Three years later, the book has finally been released. 

“It’s been four years since my father died,” he said. “I’ve always found it very helpful, very therapeutic, to talk to people that knew my father. It sort of gets me over it.”

Anything really shocking from his father’s life had already been told to him by his dad, but there were some stories that he’s quite fond of.

The first chapter of the book describes Doug’s upbringing in Brandon. 

When Doug was a teenager, he and his best friend asked for and received permission from his high school after some cajoling to take a sewing class with the girls instead of the shop class that boys typically took.

“Their motive behind it was they heard rumours that in the sewing class, the girls tried on their outfits during class so they took off their clothes sometimes to try out their outfits,” David said. “They bargained with the school and said ‘maybe you’re stopping some young man from becoming a great tailor.’”

The clothes rumour turned out not to be true, but Doug took the class seriously nonetheless and made a sports jacket good enough to win second place in a Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba contest.

Later in life, father and son worked together on consulting projects and on writing articles. David forged a similar but distinct career path from his dad’s, becoming a finance and accounting professor at several universities before his retirement.

“If I’d tried to follow his path exactly, I would have come out looking second-best,” he said.

As a co-worker and partner, David said Doug was great at breaking down larger issues into smaller things to deal with while his specialty was collecting data and crunching numbers.

“It was very good working with him.”

» cslark@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @ColinSlark

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