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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Louise Marguerite Renaude Lapointe
P.C., C.C., L.Mus. (1974–1979)

R enaude Lapointe – the second woman and first French-Canadian woman to be appointed Speaker of the Senate – was a Quebec journalist for more than three decades and a long-time friend of Pierre Trudeau, himself an occasional journalist. As a young woman, she earned a Licentiate in Music from the Collège de musique Dominion, and at the age of 27 began work for a newspaper as a music and drama critic, at a time when Quebec newspapers rarely hired women.

A reporter for newspapers in Montréal and the City of Québec, and a radio and magazine correspondent, she received a Bowater Award and distinction as Journalist of the Year in 1965. A Liberal, she gained a reputation as a federalist during Quebec’s Quiet Revolution of the 1960s and early 1970s.

Unexpectedly, in 1971, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed Lapointe to the Senate, reportedly because she had never asked him for anything. During her tenure in the Senate, Lapointe was an active member of many standing committees and parliamentary associations.

In 1974, Trudeau appointed her as Speaker, although she initially declined. As Speaker, she championed the role of the Senate as the institution “truly preoccupied with the subject before it,” unlike the House of Commons which “is more like a theatre.” She suggested that the Senate should examine legislation to see whether it had an “unhappy impact on a particular region” of the country. At one point during her Speakership, there were three Cabinet ministers in the Senate, prompting her to suggest that the Senate should adopt a fixed time for Question Period right after that of the House of Commons, to raise the chamber’s public profile.

Lapointe was the target of threats during the Quiet Revolution in Quebec because of her federalist views.

Next Speaker: Hon. Allister Grosart

Previous Speaker: Hon. Muriel McQueen Fergusson

Portrait of the Hon. Louise Marguerite Renaude Lapointe

Born: Disraeli, Quebec, 1912

Died: Ottawa, Ontario, 2002

Professional Background:

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: