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On this page:
Canadian Prime Ministers | Political Leaders | Judges and Public Servants
Activists and Advocates | University Presidents

Canadian Prime Ministers

  • Wilfrid Laurier, Canada's 7th Prime MinisterSir John Abbott, BCL1854, was the third Prime Minister of Canada (1891-1892). He also served as the Mayor of Montreal from 1887 to 1888.
  • A legendary orator and master of political compromise, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, BCL1864, was Canada's seventh Prime Minister (1896-1911).
  • Justin Trudeau, BA’94, became Canada’s 23rd prime minister in 2015 after steering the Liberals to a majority victory in his first election as the party’s leader. The Liberals won 150 more parliamentary seats than they had in the previous election.

Political Leaders

  • Jim Carr, BA’79, is Canada’s minister of natural resources. He was the founding CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba and is a former deputy leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party.
  • Brian Gallant, LLM’11, is the premier of New Brunswick.
  • Carlos Leitao, BA’79, is Quebec’s finance minister.
  • John McCallum, PhD’77, is Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. He has previously served as Canada’s minister of national defence and as its minister of veteran affairs. He is a former dean of arts at McGill, where he was also an economics professor.
  • Thomas d'Arcy McGee, BCL1861, a Father of Canadian confederation, bears the distinction of being the only Canadian political figure ever assassinated while in office.
  • Catherine McKenna, LLB’99, is Canada’s minister of environment and climate change. She was the executive director and co-founder of Canadian Lawyers Abroad and a legal adviser with the UN peacekeeping mission in East Timor.
  • A New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for the electoral district of Outremont since 2007, in 2012 Thomas Mulcair, BCL'76, LLB'77, was chosen to succeed Jack Layton as leader of the NDP, Canada's Official Opposition at the time.
  • Alexander Cameron Rutherford, BA1881, LLB1881, was the first Premier of Alberta and the founder of the University of Alberta.
  • Marie-Claire Kirkland Strover, BCL'50, LLD’97, is the first woman elected to the Quebec National Assembly, where she served from 1966 to 1973. She was also the first woman to plead before the Quebec Private Bills Committee, the first female cabinet minister, and the first female acting Premier of Quebec.
  • Brian Topp, BA’83, is the former national president of the NDP and the current chief of staff to Albertan premier Rachel Notley.
  • Vaira Vîke-Freiberga, PhD'65, DSc’02, served as president of the Republic of Latvia from 1999-2007, becoming the first woman to hold such a post in Eastern Europe. She is President of the World Leadership Alliance Club of Madrid.

Judges and Public Servants

  • Justice Clément Gascon, BCL’81, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014.
  • Suzanne Legault, BCL’88, LLB’88, is Canada’s information commissioner.
  • Jean-Pierre Blais, BCL’84, LLB’84, chairs the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission which oversees the country’s broadcast and telecom regulations.

Activists and Advocates

  • John Humphrey, author of the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human RightsFrançois Crépeau, BCL’82, LLB’82, is a professor of law at McGill and the special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants for the United Nations.
  • Maria Eitel, BA’84, is the founding CEO and president of the Nike Foundation and the driving force behind its The Girl Effect, an initiative aimed at improving the lives of girls around the world who live in poverty.
  • In 1948, John Humphrey, BCom'25, BA'27, BCL'29, PhD'45, LLD'76, was a young law professor on leave from McGill. It was during this time away that he wrote the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Joanne Liu, MDCM'91, IMHL'14, is the international president of Médecins Sans Frontières, a non-governmental organization that supplies emergency medical aid and experts to war-torn regions and countries in crisis. In 2015, Fortune magazine named her as one of the world’s great leaders, while Time included her on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
  • Tamar Oppenheimer, BA'46, LLD'94, was the former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations. She was the first Canadian woman to serve as Assistant Secretary-General of the UN.
  • A pioneering social activist, Madeleine Parent, BA'40, LLD'02, played a key role in the textile strikes in 1940s Quebec and in establishing Canadian unions. She was a founding member of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, where she represented Quebec for eight years.

University Presidents

  • Suzanne Fortier, BSc’72, PhD’76, is the principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University. She was the president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) from 2006 to 2013. In 2016, she was appointed to the Canadian Federal Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth as well as the World Economic Forum’s Global University Leaders Forum (GULF).
  • Santa Ono, PhD’91, is the president of the University of British Columbia and a medical researcher whose work focuses on the immune system and eye disease. He served as the president of the University of Cincinnati from 2012 to 2016.
  • Marc Tessier-Lavigne, BSc’80, DSc’11, is a neuroscientist and the president of Stanford University. He was the president of Rockefeller University from 2011 to 2016.
  • Stephen Toope, BCL’82, LLB’83, is the director of the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and will become the University of Cambridge’s vice-chancellor in October, 2018. An expert on human rights law, he is a former president of the University of British Columbia, a former president of the Trudeau Foundation and a former dean of law at McGill.