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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Hon. Gildas L. Molgat
B.Comm. (1994–2001)

Gildas Molgat’s exposure to military events occurred earlier than for most. When he was 12, his Montréal-bound liner, the Athenia, was torpedoed and sunk by a German Navy submarine less than nine hours after the United Kingdom declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. He survived, though 117 people did not. At 19, he began two decades of service with the Reserve Force of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles (the Little Black Devils).

Molgat embarked on his political career when he was elected to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly as a Liberal Progressive at the age of 26. He was re-elected in five more general elections, and became both Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and Leader of the Opposition.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed Molgat to the Senate in 1970. In the Senate, he was closely involved with constitutional issues and Senate reform. He served as Deputy Leader of the Opposition for two years, and as Deputy Leader of the Government for a year.

In 1983 and again in 1988, he was selected as Speaker pro tempore. Molgat was appointed Speaker in 1994 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. He came to the post with a sound knowledge of parliamentary rules and procedure, and he was completely bilingual in French, his mother tongue, and English. On his appointment, Molgat expressed the hope that the Senate might be run by consensus rather than by rigid rules.

Molgat died suddenly, only a month after his Speakership ended.

Throughout his Senate career, Molgat was intimately involved with constitutional and Senate reform, including the patriation of the Constitution and the Meech Lake Accord.

Next Speaker: Hon. Daniel Hays

Previous Speaker: Right Hon. Roméo LeBlanc

Portrait of the Hon. Gildas L. Molgat

Born: Ste-Rose-du-Lac, Manitoba, 1927

Died: Ottawa, Ontario, 2001

Professional Background:
Business, Military

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: