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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Thomas Vien
P.C., Q.C., B.A., LL.L. (1943–1945)

Thomas Vien spent over 40 years in the House of Commons and the Senate. Although he was never a Cabinet minister, his skills and temperament were recognized in both chambers, where he was appointed as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons (1940–1942) and Speaker of the Senate (1943–1945).

Educated at Laval University and the Royal Military College, he was elected to the House of Commons in 1917 and 1921. This period saw him serve after the First World War as an officer in the 6th (Québec and Lévis) Regiment, Canadian Garrison Artillery, a unit that had been formed by his father. After Vien chose not to run for re-election in 1925, he accepted an appointment as Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Board of Railway Commissioners for Canada for six years, and then returned to his private law practice.

In 1935, he again won a seat in the House of Commons, which he retained until 1942. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King appointed Vien to the Senate in order to free up a seat for a Cabinet appointee. After the sudden death of Senate Speaker Georges Parent in mid-December 1942, Vien’s experience in the House of Commons as Deputy Speaker made him a natural choice to replace Parent.

As Speaker, Vien hosted an unprecedented conference between delegations from the Parliaments of the British Commonwealth and both Houses of the American Congress. The event occurred during the June 1943 Empire Parliamentary Conference, and included delegations from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Bermuda. Following three days of private sessions on issues concerning the Second World War and the peace to come, the conference was joined by a delegation from the United States Congress, marking the first time these delegations had ever met in a formal setting. The participants agreed that the off-the-record discussions of problems arising from the pressures and dangers of the war were extremely useful.

Vien was named to the Privy Council a month before he resigned the Speakership in August 1945.

Vien was made a Commander of the French Légion d’honneur, and also received honours from the governments of Greece, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Next Speaker: Hon. James Horace King

Previous Speaker: Hon. Georges Parent

Portrait of the Honourable Thomas Vien

Born: Lauzon, Quebec, 1881

Died: Montréal, Quebec, 1972

Professional Background: Law

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: