The Honourable Michael A. Meighen, QC (BA’60, LLD’12) began his association with McGill as a student half a century ago, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1960. Raised in a family with a long history in both law and politics, he followed the path of his father and grandfather (Arthur Meighen, Canada’s ninth Prime Minister). In 1963, he earned his LLL from Université Laval and began a distinguished law career, practising in both Ontario and Quebec.
His career reached one of its highest points in 1985, when he served as legal co-counsel to the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, under the direction of Chief Justice Jules Deschênes of the Quebec Superior Court. Dr. Meighen became active in politics in 1972, and was elected National President of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Subsequent to his participation in the Deschênes Commission, he was appointed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to the Senate of Canada in September 1990, and remained there until his retirement in February 2012.
The same year as his Senate appointment, Dr. Meighen became Counsel at the law firm of Meighen Demers, which merged in 2001 with Ogilvy Renault. Today, he continues to practise alongside such figures as the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney and former Chief Justice of Quebec, Mr. Pierre A. Michaud. As well, he has has served on the boards of numerous public companies and not-for-profit organizations.
Established by his father in 1969, Dr. Meighen is the present chair of the T.R. Meighen Family Foundation, and has used his position to direct more than $31 million in philanthropic gifts to such organizations as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Child Development Institute and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. There have been significant gifts to a number of universities and the Foundation also supports scholarships at the University of New Brunswick, the University of Western Ontario and, of course, McGill University.
Over the years, he has never forgotten his alma mater, and as a member of the Board of Governors he also chaired the McGill Fund Council and the Campaign Steering Committee. As co-chair of Campaign McGill: History in the Making, he encouraged alumni and friends to support the University, having set a remarkable example with a $5-million gift to help launch the Campaign.
Michael Meighen is among the most accomplished alumni ever to receive a degree from McGill University. In his career as a lawyer, politician and philanthropist, he has consistently provided an image of principled dedication and achievement. His devotion to the public is exemplary – whether he is providing the framework for prosecuting war criminals, chairing Senate committees, or sitting on the boards of universities, arts organizations, charities and conservancies.