Former Senator, the Hon. Michael Kirby, O.C., has been named as this year’s recipient of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians (CAFP) Distinguished Service Award to be presented in Ottawa on Monday, June 9 by the Speakers of the Senate and House of Commons.
Born in Montréal and educated at Dalhousie and Northwestern University where he earned a PhD in mathematics, Michael Kirby has had a long and distinguished career in government and in public service. He was Chief of Staff to the Premier of Nova Scotia in 1970 and then became Deputy Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Trudeau in 1974. Mike was Secretary to the Cabinet for Federal-Provincial Relations and Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council during the pivotal years 1980 – 83.
Michael Kirby served in the Senate of Canada from 1984 – 2006. He was chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce for five years and then from 1999 – 2006, he chaired the Senate Committee on Social affairs, Science and Technology. Under his leadership, the Committee produced 11 healthcare reports including the first ever national report on mental health and addiction issues. In 2007, Mr. Harper asked Mike to create the Mental Health Commission of Canada and become its first chair. He stepped down as head of the Commission in 2012 to become the first chair of Partners for Mental Health, created to mobilize Canadians in support of improving mental health services.
Michael Kirby has held other important positions including President of the Institute for Research and Public Policy and Chair of the Task Force on Atlantic Fisheries. He has also received honorary doctorates from several Canadian universities.