As a barrister, professor, entrepreneur, statesman and advocate, Donald Oliver has served the people of Canada and Nova Scotia with honour, distinction and achievement for five decades. Throughout his career, Donald Oliver has also fought hard to eliminate racism and advance opportunities for Black Canadians and other visible minorities.
Born in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Donald Oliver earned his BA in History with honours from Acadia University in 1960 and graduated from Dalhousie University with his law degree three years later. In 1965, Donald Oliver was called to the Bar of Nova Scotia and for the next 36 years, he practiced law and taught law at three universities. Early on in his legal career, he also worked with members of his family to bring about provincial legislation to end racial discrimination in Nova Scotia.
Called to the Senate of Canada in 1990, Donald Oliver retired in November 2013 after serving to shape laws and policy at both the national and international levels. He chaired several Standing Committees in the Senate, including Rules, Procedures and Rights of Parliament; Legal and Constitutional Affairs; National Finance; Agriculture and Forestry; and Transport and Communications. As a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), he also presided over several international events, including the 2012 Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva and the 127th Assembly of the IPU held in Quebec City in 2013.
In 2004, Donald Oliver raised $500,000 to lead a comprehensive national study that definitively proved the business case for diversity. He has since spoken to dozens of audiences throughout Canada, South America, the United Kingdom and Europe about the urgency of fostering diverse and inclusive organizational cultures.
In recognition of his dedication and service, Donald Oliver has received five honorary doctorates and many other awards and distinctions. He continues to advocate for visible minorities and to volunteer his time and talents to several community and cultural organizations. He is also actively pursuing his entrepreneurial interests in Nova Scotia as the founder and owner of several companies.
Notes for an Address by the Honorable Donald H. Oliver, Q.C. at the 80th Anniversary Dinner Rotary Club of Amherst