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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Allister Grosart
P.C., B.A. (1979–1980)

A llister Grosart, one of the shrewdest political organizers in
20th-century Canadian politics, was Irish-born, educated in China, and a graduate of the University of Toronto. As a young man he chose journalism as a career, but soon saw the greater possibilities of public relations, a new field in the 1930s. It would be his profession from 1934 to 1957, except for a brief period during the Second World War, when he served with the 2nd Battalion, the Irish Regiment of Canada.

Grosart’s connection with the Progressive Conservative Party began in 1948, when he worked on Ontario Premier George Drew’s election campaign. Grosart consolidated his reputation as a political strategist by running John Diefenbaker’s successful national leadership campaign in 1956. He then managed the Progressive Conservatives’ 1957 general election campaign, which ended 22 years of Liberal governments and made Diefenbaker Prime Minister. He also directed the 1958 general election campaign that won Diefenbaker the largest majority in Canadian history up to that point. He was National Director of the Progressive Conservative Party from 1957 to 1963.

Diefenbaker nominated Grosart for appointment to the Senate in 1962. As a senator, Grosart focused on science policy and Canada–United States relations, especially free trade, which he strongly supported.

In 1979, Prime Minister Joe Clark appointed Grosart as Speaker. Although Grosart’s tenure in the chair lasted only five months before the government was defeated, he was already known as an “expert and sensitive” parliamentarian. In the chair, he often reminded senators of the Rules they themselves had established.

As their chief political strategist, Grosart masterminded the Progressive Conservatives’ electoral success under John Diefenbaker in the 1950s.

Next Speaker: Hon. Jean Marchand

Previous Speaker: Hon. Louise Marguerite Renaude Lapointe

Portrait of the Hon. Allister Grosart

Born: Dublin, Ireland, 1906

Died: Toronto, Ontario, 1984

Professional Background:
Journalism, Military, Public Relations

Political Affiliation: Conservative

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: