Home Interviews Exclusive Interview With Canadian Honourable Senator Oliver LL.D
Exclusive Interview With Canadian Honourable Senator Oliver LL.D PDF Print E-mail
Written by Patricia Turnier   
Monday, 05 March 2012 23:41

Honourable Dr. -Senator Oliver was born in 1938 in Wolfville (Nova Scotia), Canada. He is the son of the late Helena and Clifford H. Oliver. Senator Oliver is a descendant of African-American slave refugees who came to Canada during the War of 1812. Nova Scotia is home to (Canadian) descendants of U.S. slavery.  For more than 400 years, Blacks have been an integral part of the warp and weave of Canadian society and economy. Some were refugees from the United States, others were Black Loyalists (inhabitants of British America of African descent who joined British colonial forces during the American Revolutionary War) and so on. For instance, as an interpreter for the French and Natives in the early 1600s, Mathieu da Costa, a free man, undoubtedly played a role in the development of the fur trade industry along the Atlantic seacoast. Today, there are more than 800,000 Blacks in Canada and Statistics Canada projects that number will be more than double by 2031.

With long and deep ties to Canadian culture and history, Sen. Oliver is the nephew of Canadian opera singer Portia White and labor union activist Jack White; he is also the cousin of political strategist Shelia White and a descendant of politician Bill White. The latter, his maternal grandfather William A. White was born in 1874 to ex-slave parents in Virginia. He migrated to Canada in 1900, after a Canadian teacher of his in the U.S. state of Maryland impressed him so much that he perceived Canada as a land of opportunity for Blacks. He would later become Canada's first Black military officer and a chaplain.

Sen. Oliver's family is one of Canada’s most prominent Black families.  Sen. Oliver is currently one of two Black Conservative politicians in the Canadian Senate and has been active in politics for decades. Hence, he served as Director, Legal Affairs for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) in six consecutive general elections, 1972-88; he also held many Executive Offices with the CPC - as National Vice President (Atlantic region), Director of the PCP Canada Fund, and a member of the Audit Committee of this Fund. Furthermore, Hon. -Sen. -Oliver served for years as Constitution Chairman and was a member of the Finance Committee for the Progressive Conservative Association of Nova Scotia. He is a former Vice-President of that Party.

On September 7th, 1990, Sen. Oliver was summoned to the Senate for Nova Scotia upon the recommendation of then Prime Minister of Canada the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. He became the first Afro-Canadian man appointed to the Senate. In the Red Chamber, he was Chairman of many standing committees, such as Transport and Communications; Banking, Trade and Commerce; Agriculture and Forestry and Human Rights. Senator Oliver was also Co-chair of the Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct for Parliamentarians. He has worked on a number of Private Members’ Bills, including one to amend sections of the criminal code dealing with stalking and, more recently, a bill to address the issue of SPAM.  Since his appointment to the Red Chamber, Senator Oliver has fought tirelessly for the rights and interests of minority groups in Canada, and has been an active member of over a dozen Senate committees. Prior to his appointment to the Senate, he was a barrister, professor, entrepreneur and social advocate.

Regarding more specifically his law career, he practised law in Halifax between 1965 and 1990 in civil litigation with Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales as a partner. Subsequently, he worked at two other law firms for a total of 36 years. He taught at the Law School of the University of Dalhousie for 14 years as well as at Technical University of Nova Scotia and St. Mary’s University. In addition, he was a Consultant, Advisor and Director of several companies. He is a former member of the Canada Council Investment Committee and ex-Director on the Advisory Board, AT&T.

Throughout his career, Hon. Sen. Oliver has demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, his commitment to guaranteeing equality for all Canadians. Most recently, he raised $500,000 to lead the first national study conducted in Canada that proves the business case for diversity. Senator Oliver continues to do great work inside and outside the Senate. Moreover, he became the first African-Canadian to hold the position of Speaker pro tempore of the Senate. The Deputy Speaker acts and presides over the Senate Chamber when the Speaker, the Honourable Noël Kinsella, is not present.

Senator Oliver has been featured in several publications such as Sway Magazine, Who’s who in Black Canada, Journey: African Canadian History, Some Black Men. Moreover, he wrote for The Nova Scotia Black Community & Diaspora: Models of Upward Mobility.   In February 2008, Senator Donald Oliver introduced a motion to have the Senate officially recognize February as Black History Month which received unanimous approval and was adopted on March 4, 2008. His contribution to the Black community has been recognized. Thus, on January 15, 2011, Senator Oliver received the Martin Luther King Life Achievement Award from DreamKEEPERs.

To summarize, Mr. Oliver has advanced public policy in areas ranging from finance, agriculture, forestry, communications and transportation to banking, trade, and commerce, but is most notably recognized as an advocate for human rights, employment equity and corporate responsibility. Senator Oliver wears many hats: lawyer, farmer, politician, author, teacher, a developer and businessman. On March 4, 2010, Oliver was named Speaker pro tempore of the Senate of Canada. In addition, Senator Donald Oliver is an honorary patron with Canadian Crossroads International and a Queen’s Counsel. With a political life spanning over 50 years, Sen. Oliver has served as Director, Legal Affairs in six general federal election campaigns with the CPC - 1972, 1974, 1979, 1980, 1984, and 1988.

On a personal level, Senator Oliver is married to Mrs. Linda Oliver (née MacLellan) – a telecommunications consultant. The couple has one daughter, Carolynn Oliver. When not in Ottawa, Sen. Oliver resides on his farm in Queens County, Nova Scotia. The family enjoys Alpine skiing, golf, travel and gardening. On October 3rd 2011, Mega Diversities had the pleasure to speak to Hon. Senator Oliver.


P.T. You are the proud nephew of the late Portia White, the international singer considered as Canada’s Marian Anderson. If a biopic were to be made about her life, which actress would you like to portray her and why?

Hon. Sen. O. I would like it to be Oprah Winfrey because I believe she is the one who can deliver an excellent and compelling performance regarding my late aunt. She is established, a very professional and high caliber actress. I strongly believe that her portrayal of Portia would do her justice. Both women became trailblazers in their own right. Furthermore, Oprah has a global reach, so it would be a wonderful way to pay tribute to my aunt on an international level. This would give an opportunity to the world to know more about Portia. I definitely think that Oprah would be the classic and right choice to play the role.

P.T. Growing up who inspired you to become the man that you are today?

Hon. Sen. O. That’s really an interesting question. I think that there are a number of people. However, it starts with my parents. They had a huge impact on me. From my father, I learned everything about work ethic. He always believed in work and thought there was dignity in labor. He taught me that you always have to do your best in any tasks you undertake. You can’t succeed by being idler. You need to have integrity by delivering the work you say you will do, avoiding white lies and so on. Moreover, he told me that while you are doing a task always keep in mind that someone is watching, so always make sure that you stand out.

My mother was more artistic. She was an accomplished pianist and a great singer like her sister. So, she taught me a lot about discipline and determination. This is how you become a great musician or you excel in any other spheres. In addition, my brother Rev. Dr. William P. Oliver is a Baptist preacher who inspired me. He has a church in Halifax. He taught me about giving back to the community. He devoted his life to his church.

He got involved in activism regarding systemic discrimination and racism. It always has been important for him to improve the quality of life of people. It never was only about preaching with him. He managed to be out there to break down barriers and to be unafraid to challenge the status quo. During my youth, I personally devoted a lot of time in the Baptist church.

From a political point of view, the late Robert Stanfield, the 17th Premier of Nova Scotia (who brought the first form of Medicare among other accomplishments) and who later became leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada , inspired me. He is considered one of Canada's most distinguished and respected statesmen. He gave me guidance in my political career. Also, the fact that my uncle Bill White was a politician, the first Black Canadian to run for federal office in Canada definitely shaped me. It was instrumental having people in my environment worthy of emulation.

To conclude, I got the drive and diligence from my parents in terms of work ethic. Other members of my family such as Jack White, a labour union activist and a pioneer as the first Afro-Canadian to run for election to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, also influenced me. Having uprightness and high standards as guides, I dedicated my life by adhering to my commitment to serve others. My brother’s spirituality and activism have really been an important part of my life. These components shaped, molded and influenced me to become the man that I am today.

P.T. What does it mean to you to be the first Afro-Canadian male Senator, Queen Counsel and Speaker pro tempore in the country’s history?

Hon. Sen. O. It is a huge honor. I have to pinch myself from time to time to make sure that it is not a dream [Laughs]. For me, it is also a great opportunity to serve the Canadian citizens and the global community. It is an opportunity to be an agent of change by promoting diversity and other important issues, such as fairness in terms of human rights. My roles as a Senator and Deputy Speaker are instrumental in advancing these causes.

P.T. Is it in your plans to pen your memoir in the future?

Hon. Sen. O. I am thinking seriously about it for the last four months. I have many ideas on my mind. I am wondering if it should be biographical, didactical with a mix of specific points, or a collection of quotes of people who communicated with me via e-mails and so on. I will have to decide if it will be just about me or a larger piece where people can learn from my life’s journey. Now, it is the moment to think seriously about it because I will be soon 73, and like judges age 75 is the mandatory retirement age for senators. Working on my memoir during my retirement would be the ideal moment because I will be exempt from political duties. So now, I am in the process of thinking about the form the book will take.

P.T. You are an honorary patron with Canadian Crossroads International. In 1962, you were a Crossroads volunteer to Ethiopia, an experience which changed you forever. Can you share with us how this experienced was pivotal for you?

Hon. Sen. O. It really was a huge change for me to be in the Horn of Africa. We flew over and when I landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I saw Africa for the first time in my life. This continent is the cradle of civilization and it is home to the world, where humankind was created. Ethiopia is one of the oldest sites of human existence. Going to Africa was like coming home. I went to Haile Selassie University (in the capital of Ethiopia) and met students there. We went up north afterwards and I really enjoyed the fact that we lived like ordinary people. We slept in a hut on the floor and we didn’t have any electrical power, etc. I really got back to nature. It was a great awakening for me to remember the most essential things in life.

P.T. What I think is amazing about Ethiopia is the fact that it is the only African country which was not colonized like the others.

Hon. Sen. O. That’s right. I learned about the wealth of their religion, traditions, foods, languages, etc. It was an amazing experience to be in the second most populous country of the continent. Ethiopians were able to keep their culture for thousands of years and have not been assimilated. Their roots are authentic. When I was there, for some citizens it was their first contact with people from America. The majority of the population didn’t have access in those days to television. So, they discovered through us our culture. It was a sharing and learning experience on both sides.

P.T. What bill did you vote for during your career that you are the most proud of and why? What bill(s) would you like to become a law and what public policies would you like to see come to fruition?

Hon. Sen. O. This is another excellent question. One of the bills that I introduced, among others that I am proud of, is about combatting stalking. More specifically, it concerns people of both genders who are being harassed or chased by some civilians. At the time, I thought that the Canadian legislation was weak for this matter while citizens from coast to coast were being regularly harassed. These people were practically confined to their homes because if they went out, their safety was endangered by these “harassers” who were pursuing them almost in a psychotic way. Most stalking victims are women. I drew up a private members’ bill against stalking. We introduced it and it went through all the regular procedures - reading debates and so on. After, it was merged by a government on the first bill, it became the law of the land. I was very happy to vote for this and it is definitely one of my greatest achievements in my legislative career.

Moreover, I introduced proposed laws to have private elected speakers. Bringing in the Anti-Spam Bill is something else that I did. At some point, spams were costing Canada almost 9 billion dollars a year. A new bill was needed to change this policy. Finally, I voted for that proposed law with great pride because the intent of the legislation is to deter the most damaging and deceptive forms of spam, such as identity theft from occurring in Canada and to help drive out spammers. Our government studied successful legislative models in other countries and, based on their experiences, we developed a focused plan to address spam and related online threats.

The second question is more difficult to answer because there are a number of issues that I observe as an Afro-Canadian Senator which cannot be legislated. For instance, you cannot legislate people’s behavior. I would like to see more done in terms of diversity and equality. It is important to see more people of color advancing. You cannot put these issues in a piece of legislation, go to the process in the House of Commons and the Senate to pass it as a law afterward.

P.T. Don’t you think it is possible to find a way to enact a law on systemic discrimination?

Hon. Sen. O. It is not that simple to make it a subject matter for consideration by the legislature. It is a complex process to create laws which aim to create social cohesion and equality of opportunities. Systemic discrimination is very hard to prove and it is an abstract concept. In other words, there is a big subjective part in this issue even if we know it is real. By definition, discrimination is the concept of harming other people based on their membership in a protected class that the Canadian Charter recognizes. Systemic discrimination can be described as patterns of behaviour, policies or practices that are part of the structures of an organization which create or perpetuate disadvantage for a marginalized group or individual. The law cannot cover subjectivity. However, in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the concept of discrimination is included. Furthermore, we find it in some human rights’ codes. Maybe we should look more into strengthening these laws, amending or modernizing them. I believe for the most part, the first step is to continue giving speeches to educate people or raise awareness among the population. Also, mechanisms and measures can be created to change the numerical data, the practices and decision-making processes, the organizational structure in institutions to bring concrete solutions to systemic discrimination.

P.T. Diversity is a very important issue to you. When you became a Senator you wanted to be involved by trying to assure a more equitable society for all Canadians. What changes have you observed since your appointment to the Canadian Senate regarding diversity, and what other contributions do you wish to make in the future?

Hon. Sen. O. You are right, I strongly believe in the wealth that diversity can bring to the workforce. With a diverse workforce, companies for example are more efficient to develop and market their products and services. Cultural bridges are important for global communication.  When I came to the Senate in 1990, there was a scarcity of minorities among the constituents of the parliament. It was important for me to be a change agent in my capacity because the national legislative body of our country needed to be more representative of the population. Canada is composed of about 16% visible minorities. The Natives, the disabled and women also have to be more represented, and it was an additional preoccupation of mine. Throughout the years I advocated for this. I spoke at least twice at deputy ministers’ breakfasts and let them know that they had an obligation as the heads of these major government departments to make sure that diversity becomes more a reality by creating greater advancement of opportunities. I instructed them that the mosaic of Canada needed to be palpable. I spoke before groups and individuals. I backed what I had to say with statistics and figures related to diversity by explaining the changes which needed to be made.

When I started to speak at deputies’ meetings there were mostly men present. Now, I would say that almost 50% of the members are women. So, I saw improvement throughout the years. I observed barriers being broken in the Senate, the House of Commons and in the Library of Parliament. There are some visible minorities around the tables, but it could be more. For the Natives and disabled we also have work to do. Historically, for many things, change has been slow. It is not easy to change mentalities. Deeply rooted barriers still exist which impede the progress, or finding of a fair place for the four groups that I mentioned: visible minorities, women, disabled and the Natives in the upper echelons of major institutions.

P.T. As a Senator, education is another very important issue to you. What special measures are needed in the future to have fewer disparities in education between social classes?

Hon. Sen. O. This is another great question. First of all, you have to find a way to reduce the cost of education at every level. Secondly, it has to begin at a very early age. It can be as early as 3-years-old. We need more funding for preschools with its equalization and additional daycares. The first five years kids are in school have to be intensified. Reading, writing and science skills are fundamental and have to be emphasized. There are kids as young as four-years-old who are starting to use computers, so every Canadian kid should have access to a computer. These tools will definitely bring change in the educational system. Children need to be stimulated as early as possible.

P.T. I think that you are making a very interesting point. You named Oprah earlier. She learned how to read when she was three-years-old and look where she is right now.

Hon. Sen. O. Absolutely! She is an exceptional woman.

P.T. In the last federal election (May 2nd 2011), for the first time in Canada’s history, females were elected in 1 out of every 4 seats in the Parliament. What is your opinion of this breakthrough?

Hon. Sen. Oliver: I was incredibly excited. I said to myself it is about time [Laughs]. I had served in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s on the Lortie Royal Commission (The Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing or RCERPF) where we were studying structural barriers to females entering the political system. We analysed why they were not joining political parties, why it was difficult for them to get nominations to run provincially and federally. Moreover, we assessed the financial aspects of political nominations and participation. A final report (which recommended the creation of the National Register of Electors) came out of our analysis and was instrumental in changing some Canadian election laws defined in the Canada Elections Act. In other words, it leveled the electoral playing field between genders. What was exciting about May 2011 is the fact that we observed some of that work being recognized. When the system is more leveled for all players, women can get elected easier. Look what happened last night in Alberta. Everyone thought that a man would win the leadership of the government and a female won, Alison Redford, the first female premier in Alberta. She is our country’s eighth female premier, and for the first time in Canadian history, four provinces or territories simultaneously have female premiers. This is wonderful. Things are changing in Canada for the better.

P.T. What message do you have for young people who want to follow in your footsteps? Also, how can minorities, the handicapped and females break through the glass ceiling to be in more executive or high-level positions?

Hon. Sen. O.: As I said before these issues cannot be legislated. The first step is to get excellent marks. You need to have great values (integrity…) and ethics. You have to work hard, and be prepared to do more than 9 to 5 at a job to get ahead. Rigor and discipline are important. To advance professionally, it is important very early to reach out to others and do pro bono work for the poor, elderlies, etc. For those interested in a political career, they can volunteer for political candidates. This will be an invaluable learning experience.

Also, it is important that people of color support more each other by giving a helping hand. They can be a coach, a mentor to their own people. Never put down your own people especially if they work in the same office or company; promote them, be proud of their success and assist them. Those who are on the top have to stick their hand out and lend a hand when their own are in need.  Moreover, don’t be afraid to advocate for diversity. It has been proven that a diverse workforce creates innovative products, the company rises to the top where the profit margin is improved. It is definitely effective and everybody will gain from it. This is what each group that you named have to promote. Finally, you have to be firmly against any kind of injustice, inequality and discrimination. You can’t just turn your back or be silent. You have to speak up if you observe any wrongdoing. It is not always popular to take a stand, but it is the kind of integrity that I was referring to earlier. Also, respect others regardless of their social and economic position. People will notice your goodness if you do these things. This is how you crash the glass ceiling and move up the ladder. In other words, it is the prerequisite to upward mobility.

To conclude, success is the result of unceasing efforts and hard work. You always have to go that extra mile. Accept nothing less from yourself than your best, whatever your occupation. Dr. MLK used to say: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or as Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well”.

P.T. Thanks Hon. Sen. Oliver for this great interview. It was an honor and privilege to speak with you!


Famous Relatives :

— He is the nephew of Portia White (1911-1968), a trailblazer and famous Canadian classical contralto singer.

— His uncle, Bill White (1915-1981), was a Canadian composer and the first black Canadian to run for political office in Canada.  He stood as a candidate for the socialist Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in the 1949 election. In 1971, Bill White was appointed to the Order of Canada (Canada's second highest honor).

— Sen. Oliver is the cousin of George Elliott Clarke, a prominent Canadian poet and playwright. He is considered the August Wilson of Canada, focusing his works on the Black communities of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

— Sheila White, a well-known leftist Canadian political activist and commentator in Toronto, is his cousin.


A. Graduated from Wolfville High School in 1956
B. Graduated from Acadia University, B.A. (Honours), History, in 1960
a. Class Valedictorian
b. Received the Ralph M. Hunt Prize in Political Science
c. President, History Club
d. President, Philosophy Club
e. B.A. (Honours) Thesis: “Wesleyanism as a Vehicle of Social and Political Criticism in the Century Before 1848”
C. Graduated from Dalhousie University Law School, LL.B., in 1964
a. Sir James Dunn Scholarship in Law
b. Awarded the G.O. Forsythe Prize for Scholarship and Character
c. Faculty of Law Scholarship


A. Practiced Law in Halifax with Stewart McKelvey Stirling and Scales from (1965 to 1990) and subsequently at two other Law Firms for a total of 36 years, primarily in Civil Litigation

B. Taught at Dalhousie University Law School as a part-time professor for 14 years 

C. Taught a course in Law at the Technical University of Nova Scotia and Saint Mary’s University 

D. Lecturer in Pre-retirement Seminars in Wills and Estate Planning for the Provincial Department of Education from (1976-1990)


A. Member, Canadian Bar Association
B. Member, Nova Scotia Barrister's Society
C. Bar Society Committee work:
a. Member, Unauthorized Practices Committee
b. Member, Professional Standards Committee
c. Member, Reimbursement Fund Committee
d. Member, Inter-Provincial/Inter-Jurisdictional Law Practice
e. Co-chairman, Annual Meeting Committee (2 terms)
f. Panelist and lecturer at Nova Scotia Bar Society Refresher Courses
D. Director, Law Foundation of Nova Scotia

Federal Political Experience

Years of Service: over 7689 Days (over 21 years)


Senatorial Division Political                                  Affilitation at Nomination                                Term (yyyy.mm.dd)                                   Appointed on the advice of

South Shore, Nova Scotia Maiden speech.       Progressive Conservative                              1990.09.07 -                                              Mulroney, Martin Brian 

Parliamentary Group (Caucus)

Party                                                                          Term (yyyy.mm.dd)

Conservative                                                            2004.02.02 - 

Progressive Conservative                                     1990.09.07 - 2004.02.01


A. Speaker pro tempore of the Senate of Canada (2010-present)
B. President, Canadian Group of the Inter-parliamentary Union (2006-present) and Member of the Inter-parliamentary Union’s Executive Committee
C. Member, Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce (2009-present)
D. Member, Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (2011-present)
E. Former Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (2009)
F. Former Vice-Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications (2007-2008)
G. Former Chair, Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (2006 -2007)
H. Former Chairman, Senate Standing Committee on National Finance (2004 – 2005)
I. Former Chairman, Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (2002 – 2004)
J. Former Chairman, Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications (1992-1996)
K. Former Co-Chairman, Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on a Code of Conduct (1995-1997)
L. Former Member, Senate Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (2010-2011)
M. Former Member, Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights (2006-2008-, 2004-2005, 2001-2002)
N. Former Member, Standing Joint Committee on Library of Parliament (2006-2008, 2001-2002)
O. Former Member, Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (1999-2008)
P. Former Member, Senate Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (2004-2008, 1994-1996)
Q. Former Member, Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on a Renewed Canada (1991-1993)


A. Member, Nova Scotia Board of Regents of the Nova Scotia Council for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
B. Lifetime Honorary Governor, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia’s Board of Governors
C. Former Governor, Technical University of Nova Scotia and Chairman of the Personnel Committee
D. Former President and Chairman, Halifax Children's Aid Society
E. Former Atlantic Provinces Co-Chairman, Canadian Council of Christians and Jews Chairman (now the Canadian Centre for Diversity)
F. Former President and Director, Neptune Theatre Foundation (Appointed Honourary Life Director)
G. Founding Chairman, the Metro Volunteer Resource Centre
H. Former Director, Hearing and Speech Clinic
I. Former Chairman, Board of Directors, Halifax Neighbourhood Centre
J. Former Director, Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Council
K. Former Director, Halifax Youth Communication Society
L. Former Member, Executive Committee, N.S. Leadership Prayer Breakfast
M. Former Director, Community Business Initiative Advisory Board - Federal Business Development Bank
N. Former Director, Nova Scotia Election Commission
O. Former Member, Special Advisory Council, Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs


A. Committee Chair, African Diaspora Scholarship Empowerment Fund at the University of Windsor
B. Member, Advisory Committee for the Black Business and Professional Association, Toronto, Ontario
C. Member, National Advisory Board of the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University
D. Patron, Association for Higher Education and Development (AHEAD)
E. Founding President, First Chairman of the Board and Patron of the Society for the Protection and Preservation of Black Culture in Nova Scotia
F. Former Vice President, Nova Scotia Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NSAACP)
G. Founding Director, Black United Front
H. Atlantic Provinces Representative to the Honourable Robert de Cotret for the Advisory Committee on the Employment of Visible Minorities in the Public Service
I. National Co-Chair, President’s Advisory Group to fund a Chair on Canadian Black Studies at Dalhousie University
J. Member and Co-Chairman, Advisory Board for the Indigenous Black and MicMac Program at Dalhousie Law School
K. Atlantic Provinces Representative in Ethiopia with Operation Crossroads Africa Incorporated
L. Governor, National Council of Black Educators of Canada
M. Director, Atlantic Branch Operation Crossroads Africa Inc.


A. President, Pleasant River Farms Limited
B. President, Dolin Fisheries Limited
C. President, Glen Moir Holdings Limited
D. Director, Advisory Board AT&T Canada Inc.
E. AT&T Committee Chairman: Moving to the New Millennium
F. Director and Vice-President, S.O.M. Holdings Inc., a development company
G. Member, Canada Council Investment Committee
H. Speaker/lecturer on topics such as Corporate Governance, Political Ethics, Pluralism and Diversity, Canadian Constitution and Election Law
I. Consultant, Advisor and Director of a number of other national and international companies


A. Honorary Degrees:

a. Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa) from Acadia University, May 2007
b. Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from the University of Guelph, June 2006
c. Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from Dalhousie University, May 2003

B. Diversity and Human Rights:

a. 2011 DreamKEEPERS Life Achievement Award from the Canadian Martin Luther King Day Coalition, Ottawa, January 2011
b. Freedom Award from The Black Cultural Centre For Nova Scotia, Halifax, April 2010
c. Distinguished Men of Honour Award from the Black Business & Professional Association, Toronto, March 2010
d. Special recognition for Achievement by a Notable Black Canadian from the Black Business & Professional Association and the Toronto Raptors, Toronto, February 2010
e. Leadership Award from Planet Africa, Toronto, October 2009
f. Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Council of Visible Minorities in the Federal Public Service, Toronto, September 2009
g. Human Rights Award from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Halifax, 2006

C. Community Service:

a. Harry Jerome Award for Community Services from the Black Business & Professional Association, Toronto, 1996



“The Proliferation of New Information and Communication Technologies: How Parliaments Need to Adopt to their Rapid Expansion”: 3rd World Speakers Conference, Geneva, Switzerland – July 19-20th, 2010
“Diversity and the Digital Divide: the Challenge for Universities”: The 11th Distinguished Canadian Annual Address at Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, Massachusetts – October 29th, 2009
“Pragmatic Optimism: Benefits of Technology in a Changing World”: Microsoft Government Leaders Forum, Redmond, Washington – May 17th, 2004

Business and Economy

“Financial Sector Reform: The Road to Stable Credit Markets”: Parliamentary Hearing at the United Nations, New York, USA – December 2nd, 2010
“Atlantic Canada is Open for Business: Business and Investment Opportunities”: Global Economic Summit, Mumbai, India – January 22nd, 2010
“Regional Trade Agreements: How They Play a Role in Advancing Multilateral Negotiations”: 15th Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, Moscow, Russia – January 21-26th, 2007
“Advancing Multilateral Negotiations Through Regional and Bilateral Trade Agreements: Canada’s Commitment to Liberalized Trade”: Parliamentary WTO Conference, Geneva, Switzerland – December 2nd, 2006
“Improving the Economy of Nova Scotia: Avenues to Follow”: Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Nova Scotia – March 28th, 2002

Governance and Parliament

“Enhancing Parliamentary Accountability”: 9th Workshop of Parliamentary Scholars and Parliamentarians, Oxfordshire, England – July 24-25th, 2010
“Adopting the U.K. Accounting Officer Model in Canada”: 8th Workshop of Parliamentary Scholars and Parliamentarians, Oxfordshire, England – July 26-27th, 2008
“Canada’s Commitment to Climate Change: The Creation of a Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development”. 116th IPU Assembly, Bali, Indonesia – April 10th, 2007
“The Federal Accountability Act: Strengthening the Rules and Institutions that Ensure Transparency and Accountability to Canadians”: First Annual Commonwealth Caribbean Parliamentary Workshop, Trinidad and Tobago – January 9-11th, 2007
“Civil Society and Good Governance”: Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, Jakarta, Indonesia – January 15-20th, 2006
“Institutional Investors and Corporate Governance Issues”: 11th Annual Investor Relations Conference, Toronto, Ontario – May 26th, 1998
“The ‘New Conservatism’ in the 1990’s”: International Young Democrat Union Foundation Meeting, Washington, District of Columbia – March 4th, 1991


“Institutional Activism”: Association of Canadian Pension Management Annual Conference, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec – September 20th, 2000

Diversity and Human Rights

“Engaging Visible Minorities and Aboriginal Peoples in the Political Process: A Canadian Model”: International Parliamentary Conference on “Parliaments, minorities and indigenous peoples: Effective participation in politics”, Chiapas, Mexico – November 1st, 2010

“A Look at the Contributions of Black Canadians: Racism Then and Now”: Employment Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario – February 25th, 2010

“A Parliamentary View on Pluralism”: Panel on Managing Diversity, 120th General Assembly of the International Parliamentary Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – April 8th, 2009

“60 Years after the Declaration of Human Rights: The Canadian Experience with respect to Minority Rights”: UNESCO and Canada Council for the Arts joint ceremony, Ottawa, Ontario – December 18th, 2009

“Integration and Respect for Diversity: A Canadian Perspective”: Council of Europe “Human Rights in Culturally Diverse Societies: Challenges and Perspectives”, The Hague, Netherlands – November 12th, 2008

“Fostering a Vibrant Culture of Diversity”: Canadian Security Intelligence Services Executive Meeting, Montebello, Québec – October 28th, 2008

“Making the Case for Diversity Today – A Canadian Perspective”: Conference on Diversity through Equality: In Public Administration in Europe, Copenhagen, Denmark – October 18th, 2007

“People Mix and Mingle: Capturing the Promise of Diversity”: Canada-Norway Business Association, Oslo, Norway – October 10th, 2006

“Canadian Multiculturalism in Theory and Practice: Individual and Group Rights”: University of Aarhus, Copenhagen, Denmark – October 13th, 2006

“Diversity and Integration in Education, Skills and Business; the Canadian Experience and Challenges for Europe”: Copenhagen School of Business, Copenhagen, Denmark – October 2006

“Creating a Culture of Inclusion”: Human Resources Management Group World Event Canada, Stockholm, Sweden – April 27th, 2006

“Diversity in Government: Capturing the Full Promise of Pluralism”: World Event Canada, Stockholm, Sweden – April 26th, 2006

“Corporate Canada and the Diversity Challenge”: HP Canada, Toronto, Ontario – November 25th, 2005

“Canadian Perspective on the Integration of Visible Minority Groups”: International Seminar on Advancing Equity and Racial Inclusion, Brasilia, Brazil – April 13th, 2005

“The Black Man’s Passion for Equality and Freedom: Nova Scotia’s Black History”: The Barton Lecture to the Faculty and Students of Upper Canada College, Toronto, Ontario – May 15th, 1995


A. Author of a gourmet cookbook
B. Member, Saraguay Club and Halifax Club
C. Grand Pilier Général, Commanderie du Canada of the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin
D. Member, Chester Golf and Country Club

A great speech of Honorable Senator Oliver on Harry Jerome:



Board of Governors: Art Gallery of NS
Special Advisory Council: Couchiching Inst. On Public Affairs
Past Governor: Technical University of Nova Scotia
Past Chair: Halifax Children’s Aid Society
Founding Chair: Metro Volunteer Resource Centre
Founding President and first Chair of Board: Society for the Protection and Preservation of Black Culture/Nova Scotia
Founding Director: Black United Front
Founding Chair: Canadian Association/Visible Minorities
Patron: National Council/Black Educators Association

Official Website : www.senatordonaldoliver.ca