Cape Breton University is honoured to recognize the accomplishments and distinguished career of Lowell Murray, a retired Senator and well-respected leader who has made a significant impact on the Canadian social and political landscape, while never forgetting his Cape Breton roots.
Lowell Murray was born in New Waterford in 1936. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a Master of Public Administration degree from Queen’s University.
On September 26, 2011, his 75th birthday, Mr. Murray retired as the longest-serving member of Canada’s Senate, having served in the Upper House for 32 years, following his 1979 appointment by the Right Honourable Joe Clark. He became a Privy Councillor in 1986 and was, for many years, a minister in various governments, including service as Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. A key figure in most of the major government initiatives of the period, Senator Murray was a leading participant in the federal-provincial-aboriginal constitutional process of 1986-87.
His appointment to the Senate in 1979 followed almost 20 active years in Canadian politics and government. During the 1960s and 1970s, he served as assistant to Justice Minister E.D. Fulton and Senator Wallace McCutcheon in the Diefenbaker government and to Progressive Conservative leader Robert L. Stanfield. Senator Murray has been a Trustee of the Institute for Research in Public Policy and a member of the Council of the Federation’s expert panel on Fiscal Imbalance (2004-06).
Lowell Murray earned the respect and admiration of colleagues throughout his lengthy career. Former Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Joe Clark notes that, “By any reckoning Lowell Murray has been one of the most respected and effective members of Senate in its recent history, chairing its most challenging committees, setting and exemplifying the highest standards of serious and informed debate, leading the Government in the Senate, and consistently reflecting both integrity and good humour.”
Well known Canadian broadcaster, Don Newman, sums up how those who get to know Sen. Murray feel about him, “He is a man of intellect, integrity, compassion, and thoughtful moderation. He has at all times stood for inclusiveness and accommodation. In short, he represents the best of what Canada is, and what Canadians are.”
Senator Murray has returned home to Cape Breton after his decades spent in Ottawa. He resides in Margaree with his wife, Colleen.
Today, Cape Breton University confers the degree Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, on a man who has a gift for inspiring others, a passion for the public good and a remarkable legacy of serving his country, Lowell Murray.