2014 Honorary Doctorate Citations

Carol Anne Charlebois

Domine Cancellari; praesento vobis Carolam Annam Charlebois ut admittatur ad gradum doctoris in jure canonico (honoris causa).

The “King’s experience” is the opportunity for gifted young people to excel intellectually and artistically so as to meet the urgent political and social challenges of the twenty-first century. The proximity of the College to Halifax’s inner city, where its most vulnerable and marginalized population is located, has allowed many students to develop a keen awareness of myriad social ills, including homelessness.

For twenty-five years, Dr. Carol Charlebois, Executive Director of the Metro Non-Profit Housing Association, has successfully channelled the disparate resources of all levels of government and diverse community advocacy groups to provide homes, supports and services for the most needy in Halifax.  Carol has championed the innovative recovery-oriented approach to homelessness called “Housing First,” arguing that supports for physical and mental health, education, employment and substance abuse will work only if those who need them are adequately housed. More than 100 people each day find a warm place of community at the MNPH support centre, and those living in extreme poverty have found a healing and creative voice as member of the inspiring Shining Lights Choir, now directed by a recent King’s graduate.

Dr. Charlebois is, in fact, a model for King’s students: she earned a PhD in the liberal arts and then gave herself to a life of social action that has made a huge difference in the lives of the impoverished. Her humane leadership and deep connection to community reflect the highest goals of the relevant, holistic education King’s seeks to provide. In the Foundation Year, our students encounter heroes who overcome nature and monstrous inhumanity in order to find themselves a home. Perhaps one of the greatest surprises to those young readers is that the hero’s home is never merely a personal possession or solitary retreat, but one found in and for solidarity with others. For the ancient heroes, sharing the humanizing comforts of home was also a divine office—for who could know if Zeus was the stranger at the door? In her heroic struggle to bring once marginalized individuals to embrace their humanity, to recognize their giftedness, and to dwell as fellow citizens in our community, Dr. Charlebois has proven the timelessness of ancient wisdom, but also recognized the urgency of timely action. Mr. Chancellor, because she has answered so effectively the call to share her bread with the hungry and to bring the homeless poor into her house[1] I ask you, in the name of King’s College, to welcome Carol Ann Charlebois into our domus convocationis, our “house of convocation,” conferring upon her the degree of Doctor of Canon Law (honoris causa).

John Frederick Hamm

Domine Cancellari; praesento vobis Johannem Fridericum Hamm ut admittatur ad gradum doctoris in jure civili (honoris causa).

In 2005, when Dr. John Hamm announced his retirement from politics after twelve years as a Member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly and six years as the province’s 25th Premier, voices from all parties not only lauded his record of service, but praised his personal integrity with rare warmth and concord. It is just possible that King’s can claim some role in shaping the respected man of integrity he would become, for Dr. Hamm took his undergraduate degree here in 1958, and King’s remained his home through four subsequent years of medical training at Dalhousie. Without doubt, King’s can claim to have drawn strength and direction from that integrity fully formed, for he came back to his alma mater as Chair of our Board of Governors,  in 2007, serving ably for two terms until stepping down last fall.

Loyalty to home has been a theme of John Hamm’s life. Born and raised in Pictou County, he returned there after his studies and there with his wife Genesta brought up three boys. It was there too that he enjoyed his first career, for it was only after 32 years as a family physician that Dr. Hamm began to apply his healing art wholly to the body politic. Within two years of his first election in 1993 he was made chief of his Progressive Conservative Party and then Leader of her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Heading one majority and one minority government as Premier, Dr. Hamm captained the ship of state though squalls and tempests, and near the end of his tenure helped to achieve implementation of the Atlantic Accord with the federal government, ensuring his home province a more secure financial standing for decades to come. In his post-political life he has chaired several corporate and public boards, including that of the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada and “Democracy 250,” marking a quarter millennium of elected parliamentary government in Nova Scotia. In 2009, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Dr. Hamm may have stepped down from his role as Chair of our Board, but we note with reassurance that he has a proven history of coming back. For the time being, we can gratefully recall (with Shakespeare’s help) “The king’s physician, as he passed along, / how earnestly he cast his eyes upon [us].”[2] Mr. Chancellor, for his leadership with integrity over all of Nova Scotia, but especially at our University, I ask you, in the name of King’s College, to confer on the Honourable John Frederick Hamm the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa).

David Lloyd Johnston

Domine Cancellari; praesento vobis David Lloyd Johnston ut admittatur ad gradum doctoris in jure civili (honoris causa).

When he was installed as Canada’s 28th Governor General in 2010, David Johnston announced that his term would have “a call to service” as its theme. Last year His Excellency amplified that call in “My Giving Moment,” a multimedia nation building campaign. “My Giving Moment” encourages Canadians both to discover and to act upon their desires to share time, talent, or treasure with the wider community. Those who knew something of David Johnston before 2010 could hardly be surprised by this edifying initiative, for his life comprises an unbroken series of giving moments, and his career describes a momentous history of giving.

His Excellency’s journey to Rideau Hall began in Sudbury Ontario, where he first showcased the scholarly flair and athletic prowess that would gain him an AB magna cum laude and captaincy of the varsity hockey team at Harvard University. Legal studies at Cambridge and Queen’s followed; he then embarked on a long and productive academic career in teaching, research, and administration, culminating in leadership roles at McGill University, where he was Principal, and at the University of Waterloo, where he served as President.  All through his time in the academy,  David Johnston not only inspired his students, but also strove to bolster the public good through his expertise in securities regulation, public policy, and corporate and information technology law. In addition to serving on various corporate boards, he chaired numerous scientific and public policy commissions. He came most obviously into the public eye as the moderator of televised leaders’ debates during the federal elections of 1979 and 1984, and for the Ontario provincial election of 1987. He also moderated panel discussions for well-known public affairs programmes on the CBC and PBS.

Indeed, moderation, the act of standing between and above the parties of vigorous democratic debate, is the essential duty of the Governor General in our constitutional monarchy: he or she acts as a non-partisan guarantor of stable and continuous governance; a safeguard against abuse of power. It is fitting that King’s, with its long institutional connection to the Canadian Monarch, should honour the current holder of the vice-regal office. It is more fitting still that we should recognize a citizen who has personally demonstrated how public service flows naturally and freely from academic study, and how universities help to build strong community. On David Johnston’s official coat of arms, set under books of law and learning, a motto proclaims contemplare meliora, “to contemplate better things.” An apt addendum, provided by the record of his giving moments, might well be et facere, “and put them into action.”

Mr. Chancellor, in the name of King’s College, I ask you to confer upon His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Lloyd Johnston, the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa).

Michael Arthur Meighen

Domine Cancellari; praesento vobis Michaelem Arturum Meighen ut admittatur ad gradum doctoris in jure civili (honoris causa).

The convocation tableau you see before you is exceedingly familiar to Michael Meighen. Yet he knows it best from the position immediately opposite the one he occupies right now. As our Chancellor between 2001 and 2013, Mr. Meighen presided over this very ceremony some 15 times, arriving with the birds of spring or the falling leaves of autumn, dispensing degrees with a grace, good humour, and impeccable Latin that made him a beloved fixture of College life.

Often during these years, Mr. Meighen journeyed to us from Ottawa, where from 1990 until 2012 he served as a member of the Senate of Canada. His political career followed successful law practices in his native province of Quebec, where he received his education in English at McGill and in French at l’Université Laval, and in Ontario, where he makes his home today. The deep roots of Mr. Meighen’s patriotism, however, extend westward into the Prairies and eastward into the Maritimes. His grandfather, Prime Minister Arthur Meighen, was first elected to Parliament from Manitoba, and Michael Meighen has for many years maintained a family home in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick. Indeed, the T.R. Meighen Family Foundation, which Michael Meighen chairs, is headquartered in St. Andrew’s. For over forty-five years, this Foundation has benefited various community-based activities in the fields of health, social welfare, social entrepreneurship, culture, environmental conservation and education. We at King’s are among those grateful for and proud of the Foundation’s support. Along with his wife Kelly, a partner in life as well as philanthropy, and President of the Family Foundation, Mr. Meighen has helped to guide and sustain numerous other organizations, notably the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. In January of this year, McGill University, recognizing its alumnus’ wisdom in service and giving, named Mr. Meighen its own 19th Chancellor. With no aspersions on our great and younger sister institution in Montreal, we at King’s shall always remember that Michael Meighen was our Chancellor first. What better memento of this than to enrol him, along with his son Ted, a King’s graduate of 10 years’ standing, in our matricula alumnorum?

Mr. Chancellor, for his service to our University and to Canada, I ask you, in the name of King’s College, to confer upon the Honourable Michael Arthur Meighen the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa).

Malala Yousafzai

Domine Cancellari; praesento vobis Malalam Yousafzai ut admittatur ad gradum doctoris in jure civili (honoris causa).

The following fragment of conversation comes to us from ancient Athens. A question is posed: “Should we have one kind of education to produce women citizens, then, and another to produce men, especially if they have the same natures to begin with?” An emphatic answer is given: “No, Socrates.”[3]

Although that question was asked nearly twenty five centuries ago, its assumption of equality between the sexes and identical education for boys and girls was as problematic then as it still is for some today.  At King’s, students begin to pursue Socrates’ question and others like it from their first Foundation Year. They enjoy the opportunity to observe the long evolution of thought on what constitutes human nature, how the sexes relate to one another, and what the form and goals of education should be. At times they are encouraged to debate uncomfortable questions, yet they do so within the safe embrace of an institution formed by generations of enriching collegial argument. In both the humanities and journalism, King’s educates its students towards an engaged citizenship, one that knows not only why what is salubrious in society should be saved and why what is not should be changed, but also how to communicate this knowledge with clarity and freedom.

For Malala Yousafzai, though not yet of university age, Socrates’ ancient query has been as present a challenge as it ever was or could be, demanding from her not just the response of intellect and voice, but indeed of flesh and blood. Malala grew up in Pakistan’s Swat valley with her two brothers, mother and father, an educator and activist. At the age of ten, Malala began a vocal and visible campaign for the rights of girls to receive an education, attracting world-wide support, but also the enmity of those in her region who oppose the very idea. In October, 2012, at the age of fifteen, Malala was shot and nearly killed by Taliban assailants while on her way home from school. Following a remarkable and courageous recovery, she has relocated to Birmingham, England, where she continues her own studies and pursues an ever more ardent advocacy for education and girls’ and women’s rights. She has established the Malala Fund to support her causes, and written the international bestseller I AM MALALA, a poignant account of her life and a compelling defence of her cause. From the beginning of her public life Malala has been recognised with numerous awards and honours, culminating with her nomination for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. Later this year, she will be granted honourary Canadian citizenship, only the sixth individual in history to receive this distinction, and the youngest.

Mr. Chancellor, Ms. Yousafzai is not able to be with us today to receive her first honorary degree. The reason is that she is in the middle of examinations in England. Perhaps her teachers thought it premature that she should interrupt her high-school studies to claim a doctorate. Then again, perhaps Malala herself, aware as she is of the soul-turning effects of real education for individual and community, was unwilling to give up for even a moment the right she has paid so high a cost to enjoy. For “the girl who refused to be silenced,” surely absence is only apparent, for in this community of learning, we love her thirst for knowledge and feel her teacherly example. For her service to education and human rights, Mr. Chancellor, I ask you, in the name of King’s College, to confer upon Ms. Malala Yousafzai the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa).

Photo credit: Edleman

[1]     Cf. Is 58:7

[2]              Henry VIII, v.2.3016-17

[3]     Plato, Resp. 456c-d, trans. Grube (adapted).