Safarian, A. Edward

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Safarian, A. Edward

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Prof. Albert Edward Safarian (19 April 1924 – 29 January 2016) was a University of Toronto Professor of Economics in the Dept. of Political Economy (1966-1989) and Professor Emeritus of Business Economics in the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management (1989-2016). He is best known for his contributions in the study of Canadian public policy, especially in the areas of foreign direct investment, federalism, free trade, and governance of multinational corporations.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Prof. Safarian was raised by Armenian immigrant parents in the Cabbagetown district of Toronto during the Great Depression. He entered University College, University of Toronto in 1942 and graduated with a B.A. (hons.) degree in 1946. He went on to graduate studies at the University of California Berkley, where he received a Ph.D. in economics in 1956.

Between 1950 and 1955, Prof. Safarian worked in the International Trade Division of the Dominion Bureau of Statistics in Ottawa. He then became Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and Political Science at the University of Saskatchewan in 1956. In 1962, Prof. Safarian was promoted to Full Professor and Head of the Department. Later, in 1966 he joined the University of Toronto's Department of Political Economy and served as the Department's last Head from 1976 to 1982 before its reorganisation. Between 1971 and 1976, he was also Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. Following his retirement and appointment as Professor Emeritus in 1989, he became a Professor of Business Economics at the Rotman School of Management.

In addition to his academic activities at the University of Toronto and Saskatchewan, Prof. Safarian taught courses at the Banff School of Management and in the Faculty of Law and Economics at the University of Nice. He held various research positions, most notably Associate Director of the Program on Economic Growth at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Studies. He also served as a consultant to various federal and provincial governments, including for the Task Force on the Structure of Canadian Industry.

Prof. Safarian’s major publications include Canadian Economy in the Great Depression (1958), Foreign Ownership of Canadian Industry (1966), Canadian Federalism and Economic Interpretation (1973), Governments and Multinationals: Policies in the Developed Countries (1983), and Multinational Enterprise and Public Policy: A Study of the Industrial Countries (1993). Prof. Safarian’s contributions to the social sciences were recognized in various appointments and awards, including as Senior Fellow at Trinity College and Massey College, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Member of the Order of Canada, and as a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Award.

Aside from his accomplishments in the academic arena, Prof. Safarian was also active in numerous other areas. Music and dance were a part of his life from a young age, which eventually led to his becoming director of the Danny Grossman Dance Company. He was an avid fisherman and belonged to the exclusive Tadenac Fishing Club, and was also a collector of art and Oriental rugs. He had strong ties with the Armenian-Canadian business community and in his later years served on the Board of a Canadian “think and do tank” the Mosaic Institute.

Prof. Safarian died in Toronto on 29 January 2016 at the age of 91.

Sources: Obituary for Edward Safarian. The Globe and Mail, 15 February 2016 and Address given by David Safarian (son) at the Safarian Conference, April 2004.


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