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Richard Allen is an educator, author and politician. He was born in Vancouver, B.C. on 10 February 1929 and educated at the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, the University of Saskatchewan and Duke University. He joined McMaster University in 1974 and held the rank of Professor in the History Department from 1976 to 1987.
He was first elected as a New Democratic Party (NDP) member of the Ontario Legislature for Hamilton West in 1982. Successful re-elections followed in 1985, 1987, and 1990. He assumed responsibility for many portfolios when the NDP was in opposition: 1982-1987, critic for Colleges and Universities; 1983-1985, critic for Cultural Affairs; 1983-1987, critic for Education; 1985-1987, critic for Skills Development; 1987-1990, critic for Community and Social Services and the Office of Disabled Persons as well as Francophone Affairs. When the NDP formed the government in 1990 he became the Minister of Colleges and Universities, Minister of Skills Development, and Minister Responsible for International Trade, and, then in 1994, he became Minister of Housing, a post he held until the government was defeated in 1995.