Paul Martin, a U of T alumnus and former prime minister, was named a Companion of the Order of Canada at the annual ceremony on December 30.
The title of Companion is the Order’s highest honour, and Martin, 73, was the only person granted the title this year. The Order recognized Martin “for his distinguished contributions to Canadian politics and for his active involvement in promoting opportunities for Aboriginal Canadians”.
Martin graduated from U of T after transferring from the University of Ottawa with a BA in history and philosophy in 1961. Martin continued at the U of T Faculty of Law, from which he received his LLB in 1964. Martin started his political career in 1988 when he was elected the Liberal MP for LaSalle—Émard, a riding in Québec.
Martin served under Jean Chrétien as finance minister from 1993 to 2002 before running for Prime Minister. As finance minister, Martin balanced the Canadian debt within four years. Martin was elected prime minister in December 2003 and served until February 2006. His term in cabinet was highlighted by his leading Canada into the war in Afghanistan.
After he lost the 2006 election to Stephen Harper, Martin retired from the Liberal party, but continued to act as Member of Parliament for the LaSalle—Émard riding until 2008.
In 2008, Martin founded the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative to support aboriginal students in elementary and secondary schools. The MAEI is founded on the hope that improved education will lead to an improved standard of living. It provides entrepreneurship opportunities, mentorships, funding for business startups, and tutoring for Canadian Aboriginal youth. It is for his work done through MAEI that Martin was nominated for the Order of Canada.
Each year the Governor General considers up to 600 nominations for 150 appointments. The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize lifetime achievements of merit or service. Companion is the highest of three levels in the Order of Canada, followed by Officer and Member.
Inducted into the Order as Officers this year are U of T undergraduate alumnus Gordon Guyatt for his work in evidence-based medicine and graduate alumnus Tom Jenkins for his contributions to Canadian high technology. The Order appointed alumnae Ana Lopes and Mair Verthuy as members. Lopes, a philanthropist and humanitarian, was recognized for her work in healthcare in Toronto, and Verthuy, a French literature professor, for her work in feminist causes in Canada.
Martin and the other appointees will formally receive their badges from the Governor General at a ceremony in Ottawa later this year.