User Tools (skip):
The Honourable Donald James Johnston, PC, QC, BCL (McGill '58), BA (McGill '60), receives an Honorary Doctorate of Law today, October 23, at McGill's fall convocation ceremony.
Raised on a small farm in the Ottawa Valley, Johnston began his early education in a traditional one-room schoolhouse. As a student, Johnston directed the university's annual Red & White Revue in 1955 and shared a flat with fellow McGill student, Leonard Cohen.
In 1973, Johnston co-founded the law firm Johnston, Heenan & Blaikie (now Heenan Blaikie).
Johnston ran for public office in 1978, serving as the Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Westmount (now St-Henri-Westmount). He held several powerful positions as a federal cabinet minister in the governments of Pierre Trudeau and John Turner. Johnston was, at various points, President of the Treasury Board, Minister of State for Economic and Regional Development, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Minister of Justice, and Attorney General of Canada.
After the 1984 federal election, he was appointed Opposition Critic for Finance, and later, for External Affairs.
Early in 1994, Johnston was invited to be the Canadian candidate for the prestigious role of Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), based in Paris. The OECD is composed of 30 member countries that share a common commitment to democratic government and the market economy.
In 1996, he became Secretary-General and the first non-European to lead the OECD. In 2001 he was re-elected by all the member countries to a second five-year term. Johnston is credited with broadening the OECD's approach -- holding OECD Council meetings outside of Paris for the first time, and including such non-member countries as China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, Indonesia, Slovakia, and South Africa in discussions.