Edward Oliver LeBlanc
Former Chief Minister and Premier of Dominica
Edward Oliver Le Blanc (3 October 1923 – October 29, 2004) was a Dominican politician and former Chief Minister and PRemier.
Early life and education
Edward Oliver LeBlanc was born on 3 October 1923, one of 12 children of Anderson LeBlanc and Eunomie LeBlanc (née Mourillon
who lived in the hamlet of Rouillard, north of Vieille Case, Dominica. His siblings were Edmund, Lipson, Alan, Thomas, Valentine, Alick, Gabriel, Alphonso, Linda, Hyacinth and JosephLeBlanc
He attended the Vieille Case government school, where he excelled under the tutelage of school principal Clive Sorhaindo. He then attended the Agricultural School in Roseau and successfully completed the two year course. Thereafter, he was employed by government as an Agricultural Instructor at Portsmouth, La Plaine and Vieille Case. During this period he took a bee-keeping course in agriculture at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture, Trinidad in 1944; and studied, through correspondence courses, for London University’s Matriculation Exam (a precursor to the GCE), which he successfully completed in 1948.
From 1940 - 1945, LeBlanc was Assistant District Agricultural Instructor, Colihaut; and from 1949 - 1951 he worked asan Agricultural Instructor at the One Mile Agricultural Station, Portsmouth, Dominica. In the mid-1950s he was recruited by the Banana Growers Association as its Northern District representative, but he subsequently resigned to contest the 1957 general election as a member of the Dominica Labour Party.
In the late 1940s, he had written articles to the Dominica Chronicle about the difficulties of life in Vieille Case; and in the early 1950s, he was elected to the Vieille Case Village Council.
In 1957, he ran against R.B. Douglas for the Northern District representative in the national elections and scored a tremendous victory. Later that year, LeBlanc scored another victory when he was elected one of Dominica’s representatives to the West Indies Federation. He resigned his Federal post in 1960 to lead the Dominica Labour Party to victory in the January 1961 general elections, , winning the Roseau South constituency, becoming Chief Minister and Minister of Finance.
LeBlanc served as Chief Minister of Dominica from January 1961 to 1 March 1967. In March 1967, when the British granted Dominica more self-government, Le Blanc became premier.
His mass following across the island was clearly shown in his ability to win a seat in the four elections. Indeed, LeBlanc became the island's only political leader to win contested elections in three different constituencies as diverse as Portsmouth, Roseau South and the North Western.
LeBlanc tried to implement socialist policies in Dominica. He was committed to helping poor workers, whom he called "little men", a catchphrase which still remains in Dominican politics. He was very popular with the voters, winning three elections in three different constituencies, and is believed by many to be one of the founders of the Dominican nation.
In the aftermath of the collapse of the WI Federation in May 1962 he participated in all of the conferences in the Caribbean and London attempting to save a federation of "the little eight" islands which were left after Jamaica and Trinidad went independent. Finally, when all else failed, he attended the Lancaster House Conference in London in April of 1966 which agreed on a constitution to make Dominica a self-governing Associated State on 1st March 1967. He became the island's first Premier.
Since 1965 he had established 3rd November as Dominica's National Day. The festivities of Statehood in 1967 were held on that date and when full political independence was achieved in 1978, the 3rd November was the date selected for its inauguration.
By the late 1960s, he faced internal dissension within the Party and strong opposition from vested interests in Roseau. In 1970, he dismissed three of his ministers, who in turn dismissed him from the Dominica Labour Party. Thereafter, LeBlanc formed the LeBlanc Labour Party which defeated the Dominica Labour Party and the Dominica Freedom Party in the 1970 general election, winning eight of eleven constituencies. Four years later, when the island was besieged by social and political unrest, Edward LeBlanc took the unprecedented step of voluntarily resigning from office on 27 July 1974 before the expiration of his five-year mandate, exasperated by the turmoil and duplicity of politics, and concluding also that the time had come for leadership change. He also retired from politics and public life. He did not explain his retirement, and refused to give interviews, but it is believed that he was tired of the opposition to his policies by many in the government.
He emerged in 1977 to be a delegate at the Constitutional Conference at Marlborough House, London, to chart the way for Dominica's political Independence. He appeared at his last National Day parade in Roseau in 1980 where he presented the Le Blanc Trophy that he had donated to be awarded to groups and organisations. In 1983 he served on the Constitutional Review Commission. He then withdrew completely from public life and concentrated on farming and being with his family.
In 1949, LeBlanc married Ethel Patrick of Coton, a hamlet outside Vieille Case. They had five children - Ewart, Erin, Einstar, Earlsworth and Eustace.
In his spare time he wrote poetry, two of which (Fragments of the Dawn and Vade Mecum) were published in an anthology in the Young American Poets & Song Writers Magazine in 1947.
Death and legacy
LeBlanc returned to Vieille Case, where he died peacefully at his home at Au Parc, Vieille Case, on the morning of 29 October 2004. He was 81. He was buried at the Vieille Case Roman Catholic Cemetery,
Saint Andrew, Dominica
In respect of his work towards the achievement of self-government, he is now increasingly referred to as 'The Father of The Nation'. It was perhaps fitting that he died on Creole Day, an event that grew out of his original ideas of National Day.
In April 2012, the Roseau to Portsmouth road once referred to as the West Coast Road has been renamed the Edward Oliver Le Blanc Highway after the former Premier.
On 4 October 2012, the University of the West Indies Open Campus Dominica launched the Edward Oliver LeBlanc Distinguished Lecture Series.
|28 October 2014
Third Annual E.O. LeBlanc Memorial Lecture 2014: E. O. Leblanc: A Rendezvous with History. Delivered by
Justice Dr. Irving Andre.
|3 October 2013
Second Annual E.O. LeBlanc Memorial Lecture 2013: Edward Oliver Leblanc and the Creation of Nationalist History. Delivered byDr. Lennox Honychurch.
|4 October 2012
First Annual E.O. LeBlanc Memorial Lecture 2012: The Gilded Mango:
Culture, Livelihoods and
Development in Dominica,
1950–2012. Delivered by
Dr. Alwin Bully.