N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: October 25, 1986
Discipline / contribution: International affairs
Citation / biographical information:
Madame Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you Stephen Lewis, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Mr. Lewis was born in Ottawa in 1937 and following University education at Toronto and British Columbia he followed his inclination toward international experience with a two year teaching assignment in Africa. Those two years of 1959 and 1960, experiencing the reality of Africa with its new freedoms at the end of the colonial period but juxtaposed against the agony of continuing apartheid in South Africa, had a powerful influence on Mr. Lewis's subsequent career.
After returning to Canada he embarked on a political career, first as a director of organisation for the Federal New Democratic Party. His natural brilliance as an orator, no doubt honed in arguments across the dinner table with his father David Lewis, led to his election in 1963 as MLA for Scarborough at the young age of 25. His involvement with Africa also increased with several visits to Biafra during the secession crises in 1969. In 1970 he became leader of the provincial New Democratic party of Ontario.
For the next seven years much of Mr. Lewis' energy was committed to the affairs of Provincial politics in Ontario ending with his resignation from the leadership of the NDP in 1977. During the same period he gained prominence in Canada as an advocate of International Justice, particularly for the black people of South Africa, and as an opponent of the escalating international arms race between the superpowers. Between 1978 and 1984 he became well known throughout Canada as a labour arbitrator, journalist and broadcaster. In 1982 he won the Gordon Sinclair ACTRA award for "outspoken opinion and integrity" in broadcasting and in 1983 he received a special human rights award for his CBC radio documentaries on the holocaust theme in literature and film. On September 15, 1984 Mr. Lewis was confirmed as one of Canada's most able diplomats through his appointment as our permanent Canadian Ambassador to the United nations. A mark of the high respect for Mr. Lewis' talent in diplomacy was his appointment by the Prime Minister of Canada Mr. Mulroney; a considerable achievement for a New Democrat!
Mr. Lewis has ably represented Canada at the United Nations and has strongly defended that association from the partisan politics of the superpowers. In this United Nations International Year of Peace he has been one of the major speakers in international forums on the subject of peace and disarmament. Through his often courageous stands on matters of international peace and security, made on behalf of all Canadians, Mr Lewis has helped create a new international role for Canada as a country interested in achieving peaceful solutions to global problems.
Madame Chancellor, I present to you Stephen Lewis and ask that you confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: Graham Simpson
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