Honorary Degree Citation - Joe Clark

by Donald L. Boisvert, November 1994

Mr. Chancellor, I am honoured to present to you The Right Honourable Joe Clark, eminent Canadian statesman, an individual who embodies, in many respects, the essence of the Canadian character, both for his fellow citizens and on the world scene.

Mr. Clark was born and raised in High River, Alberta. A graduate of the University of Alberta, he came early to politics, having served as special assistant to Opposition Leader Robert Stanfield in the late 1960s. In 1972, he was elected a member of the House of Commons, a seat he held for twenty-one consecutive years. Chosen national leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 1976, he assumed the title of Leader of the Official Opposition. In 1979, he became Prime Minister of Canada, at the head of a minority government. He was the youngest person to hold this position, and the first native born Western Canadian. It has been said of the Clark Cabinet that it was the most promising of any Canadian cabinet in this century.

En tant que Chef de l'opposition à deux reprises, et aussi Premier ministre du pays, M. Clark a acquis un réputation fort enviable - et sûrement bien méritée - de politicien consciencieux et engagé, et de négociateur habile. C'est en 1984 qu'il est nommé Secrétaire d'état aux affaires extérieures, un poste qu'il occupera pendant sept ans, jusqu'en 1991. Pendant cette période, M. Clark sera l'architecte de la politique étrangère canadienne suite à la fin de la guerre froide, et il jouera un rôle de premier plan dans les questions internationales sur le désarmement et la sécurité mondiale. Pendant la crise du Golfe, M. Clark veille à ce que la réaction de la communauté internationale se déroule sous les auspices des Nations-Unies. Ses efforts pendant cette période lui méritent le premier Prix de Vimy, en 1992, de la part du Congrès canadien des associations de défense.

As Secretary of State for External Affairs, Mr. Clark will be especially remembered for the leadership role he played in the efforts of Canada, and those of the world community, to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. It was as Chairman of the Commonwealth's Committee of Foreign Ministers on Southern Africa that he assumed this critical task. He was the first western foreign minister to meet with Nelson Mandela, following Mr. Mandela's release from prison. Since April 1993, Mr. Clark has served as Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Cyprus, further testimony to his diplomatic accomplishments and abilities.

En avril 1992, M. Clark est nommé Président du Conseil privé du Canada et Ministre responsable des affaires constitutionnelles. Dans ces fonctions, il dirige une vaste consultation constitutionnelle publique, ainsi qu'une série de rencontres multilatérales, qui seront couronnées par l'Accord de Charlottetown. En reconnaissance de ses efforts pour la cause autochtone, M. Clark reçoit le titre de Chef Mikso de la Nation crie Samson, en mai 1992, puis se voit décerner l'Ordre autochtone du Canada par le Conseil canadien des autochtones, en février 1993.

In addition, Mr. Clark is no stranger to academe. He has taught at the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of California at Berkeley. He holds honorary degrees from the University of New Brunswick and the University of Alberta, among others. He is also the recipient of the Alberta Order of Excellence.

In honouring Mr. Clark today, the University pays tribute to a Canadian political and diplomatic figure of considerable stature and achievement, an individual who is highly-regarded for his sense of decency and honour, and for an unflinching commitment to the Canadian ideal. If politics is the art of the possible, then Mr. Clark is one of its most accomplished practitioners and respected artists. He has sought national and international consensus and achieved it; he has set the stage for a Canadian future, and it may yet come to pass.

Mr. Chancellor, I am indeed grateful for the opportunity to present to you, on behalf of the Senate, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, The Right Honourable Joe Clark, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.