Don Oliver retired as a member of the Senate of Canada in 2013 after 22 years of service. He now resides at his beloved farm in Pleasant River, Queens County, Nova Scotia, reading, writing and meeting with friends.
Honourable Dr. Donald H. Oliver, Q.C. rose to serve with distinction as Speaker Pro Tempore (Deputy Speaker) in the Senate of Canada in Ottawa; as Chairman of six Standing Committees of Parliament; as Chairman or Deputy Chairman of seven Inter-parliamentary Associations; and as an ubiquitous spokesperson for Diversity, Pluralism, fairness and equality, for which he was awarded five Honorary Doctorate degrees from Canadian Universities.
Ever since he graduated from Acadia University in 1960 with a Bachelor Degree with Honours in History and a Law Degree as a Sir James Dunn Scholar from Dalhousie Law School in 1963, he excelled in many other activities including practicing and teaching Law. He was also a highly sought after lecturer and speaker throughout Scandinavia, London, South America, Canada and the United States on aspects of Diversity and Inclusiveness, stressing the urgency in their fostering diverse and inclusive cultures. With an appetite for the challenges of business, he was active in starting and running a variety of enterprises from Real Estate to farming Christmas Trees.
One of the crowning achievements of his career as an outspoken social activist for the four employment equity target groups in Canada (women, the disabled, Aboriginal and Visible Minorities) was his seminal work in 2004 on systemic barriers to the advancement of minorities in both the Public and Private sectors in Canada. He personally raised $500,000.00 to privately fund a research project he designed, in conjunction with the Conference Board of Canada, which final report comprised the most detailed, scientific and comprehensive study ever conducted in Canada on employment equity in the workplace. The Conference Board report was used as a model around the globe and throughout Canada on “how to” institute the business case for diversity in the workplace.
A shy, often private person, he strongly believed in giving back to the community and helping those not as fortunate as he was in life. This included raising money and giving generously to various Canadian universities to fund Bursaries, Scholarships and prizes. Throughout his career, he served on more than 30 major charitable Canadian organizations and Boards, having risen to be the Chairman or President of many of them. He continues, even in retirement, to reach out on a regular basis to the African-Canadian Community to provide encouragement, advice, guidance and mentoring particularly to African youth, to help them overcome the ravages of racism in Canada today. He loves Canada and is a proud, passionate third-generation Canadian who devoted his life to do all he could to make it a better place to live.
Shortly after retirement, he was diagnosed with a rare, debilitating heart disease for which there is no known cure. It is called cardiac Amyloidosis that produced Congestive Heart Failure and, notwithstanding treatment by participating in a Clinical Trial at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, he later developed polyneuropathy in his feet, legs and hands making any form of mobility possible only with the aid of a cane, walker or wheelchair.
But this fatal disease has not prevented him from continuing to give back to the community, where he still provides private assistance and encouragement to young students to continue their post-secondary education. He and his wife continue to provide financial and other assistance to various local Church and community organizations, and health institutions by, for example, purchasing much-needed equipment to assist elderly disabled people.
During his years as a practicing lawyer, and as an active politician, which took him to dozens of countries around the globe, he established countless invaluable personal contacts, which he cherishes even in retirement. As a former financial consultant to corporations, individuals and countries, Don continues, often with the help of his global contacts in Europe, Africa and the United States, to provide strategic advice and open doors to help a variety of start-up enterprises mature to the next stage.
But his was certainly not only a life of work and community contribution. He loved billiards, international travel and skiing. As a former jazz musician (trumpeter), whenever possible he sought out the great jazz clubs in Paris and New York for an evening of enjoyment and inspiration. He had a lifelong love of great food and wine, building an enviable wine cellar, which was sold in New York shortly after the diagnosis of the fatal heart disease.
He loved great food so much that he studied cooking techniques with private instructors, chefs, and friends, and attended the Cordon Bleu School in London, England, studied at aTuscany cooking school outside Florence, and published a successful cookbook. But most of all, he loved cooking and entertaining friends at his farm in the 700 sq foot kitchen he and his wife specially designed for such occasions.
His CV, (available here), outlines in more detail some of his activities and achievements that produced such an interesting life.
And Don will be posting a personal regular update on this site, with perhaps a blog site on Word Press. He also has plans to post a number of photos to illustrate several of the points in this introduction. There will likely be some pictures of his flower and vegetable gardens and there may even be a peak at some of the Xmas trees.