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: May 25, 1988
Discipline / contribution: public service ; environment
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you James William MacNeill, from Ottawa.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
James MacNeill was born in Saskatchewan, and received bachelor degrees in mathematics and physics in 1949, and in mechanical engineering in 1958, from the University of Saskatchewan, and managed in between, to obtain a graduate diploma in economics and political science from the University of Stockholm (Sweden) in 1951, all with very high standing.
Mr. MacNeill began his public service career in Saskatchewan as a research economist in the Provincial Cabinet's Economic Advisory and Planning Board. As early as 1959, his true calling started to emerge, when he became Executive Director of the South Saskatchewan River Development Commission, with responsibility for coordinating the planning and implementation of the power, irrigation, recreation, wildlife, river diversion and municipal and industrial water supply aspects of the South Saskatchewan River Development Project. Later (in 1964), his responsibilities were broadened to include management of all the Province's water resources.
Mr. MacNeill then moved into the Federal scene and rose to become Assistant Deputy Minister in the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources where he was responsible for the management of Canada's water and marine resources.
After a few more "stops" such as holding the post of Director General of Intergovernmental Affairs of the Department of Environment Canada, then Deputy Minister in the Ministry of State for Urban Affairs, he moved to Paris (France) in 1978 as Director of Environment (and Urban Affairs) in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He directed OECD's chemical control programmes, led the successful negotiation of international principles and guidelines for pre-market testing of new chemicals, and undertook comparative reviews of national environmental policies at the request of member countries (e.g., Japan, New Zealand and Greece).
In 1984, he became Secretary General of the World Commission on Environment and Development, also known under the name Brundtland Commission, an independent body headquartered in Geneva. The sole purpose of that Commission was to review the environmental status of the world, to make proposals on how to deal with the world's environmental/ecological problems, and to report to the United Nations. The report was published last year under the title, "Our Common Future," and is a very sobering, if not frightening account of the effects of misuse, chemical or otherwise, of Planet Earth. In a nutshell, the report argues that every nation of the world must integrate environmental considerations into economic decisions.
How James MacNeill also found time to write and edit numerous books, reports, articles, addresses, and other publications, is probably only known to himself and his immediate family.
The Toxicology Group at the University of Saskatchewan has been watching the numerous achievements of James MacNeill for some time, and felt it was appropriate to honour Mr. MacNeill in some suitable way when he finished his task with the Brundtland Commission last fall. The Toxicology Group is delighted that the University has chosen to honour James MacNeill at this Convocation.
Mr. MacNeill, a son of Saskatchewan, is now with the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Ottawa, which means he will be a bit closer to Saskatchewan than he was in Paris or Geneva.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you James William MacNeill, and ask that you confer on him the Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: H.B. Schiefer
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