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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Maurice Riel
P.C., Q.C., B.A., LL.B. (1983–1984)

A successful international lawyer and businessman, Maurice Riel had been involved with the Liberal Party since his mid-20s, when he became President of the Montréal Young Liberals. He was a personal advisor to the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party from 1950 to 1958, and became the chief fundraiser in Quebec for the national Liberal Party for more than a decade. In a gesture of bipartisanship, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker appointed him as one of 16 directors of the Canadian Corporation for the 1967 World Exhibition (Expo 67). He also served as President of the Montréal Metropolitan Corporation, the regional government for the City of Montréal and adjoining suburban municipalities, from 1965 to 1969.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed Riel to the Senate in 1973. While in the Senate, Riel was a member of several standing and special committees, and, as Senator David Angus recalled later, he “had great respect for the Senate as an institution and firmly believed that the upper house was a useful and necessary part of the democratic system in Canada.” Riel believed that if the Senate were to be reformed, it could only be as part of wider constitutional changes.

Trudeau appointed Riel as Speaker in December 1983. Riel held the position for only 11 months, as Trudeau’s successor, John Turner, was defeated in the general election of November 1984.

At the end of his tenure as Speaker, Riel took the unprecedented step of tabling a report on his Speakership.

Next Speaker: Hon. Guy Charbonneau

Previous Speaker: Hon. Jean Marchand

Portrait of the Hon. Maurice Riel

Born: St-Constant, Quebec, 1922

Died: Montréal, Quebec, 2007

Professional Background:

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Ministers During Speakership: