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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Jean-Paul Deschatelets
P.C., Q.C., B.A., LL.B. (1968–1972)

J ean-Paul Deschatelets received his law degree from the University of Montréal. As a younger student, he had enlisted for Militia training with the Régiment de Châteauguay, an infantry unit. He was 27 years old at the outbreak of the Second World War, but was not eligible for active service for medical reasons. Instead, he joined the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, where he worked until 1951. He then worked with a professional association of Quebec architects and with the RCMP in black market investigations.

Deschatelets entered federal politics in 1953, as a Liberal candidate in the Maisonneuve–Rosemont riding that had become available when long-time MP Sarto Fournier was appointed to the Senate. Deschatelets was elected with 42% of the vote and would be re-elected four more times. In 1963, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson appointed him to the Cabinet as Minister of Public Works, a portfolio he held for less than two years before resigning from the Cabinet.

In February 1966, Pearson nominated Deschatelets for appointment to the Senate, and nine months later he became Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed him Speaker in 1968, and he served in this post until 1972. In 1981, he strongly opposed Trudeau’s plans to patriate the Canadian Constitution, on the grounds that Trudeau was proceeding without the consent of all the provinces.

Known among his colleagues for voting his conscience, Deschatelets sat in the Senate with a small group of senators dubbed the “Independents.”

Next Speaker: Hon. Muriel McQueen Fergusson

Previous Speaker: Hon. Sydney John Smith

Portrait of the Hon. Jean-Paul Deschatelets

Born: Montréal, Quebec, 1912

Died: Montréal, Quebec, 1986

Professional Background:

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: