This speech was delivered on January 24, 2021 for the launch of the Conservative Black Congress of Canada (CBCC). At this event, the CBCC unveiled the “Senator Donald Oliver Internship Program,” which offers parliamentary training to Black Conservatives.
Good evening distinguished guests and friends.
Thank you for that kind introduction. I am delighted to be here today.
First of all I wish to congratulate and thank Dr. Leslyn Lewis for being the architect in the formation of The Conservative Black Congress of Canada. We are lucky to have her in the Conservative party. This is a great idea. We cannot afford to pass up any opportunity to encourage Blacks to caucus and particularly in a conservative context. The Congress can become the seminal organization for Conservative Black voices. It can be the key to directly reaching out to our community. I also congratulate and thank Dr. Lewis and her team for decided upon an internship program with my name on it. I am humbled and deeply honored. Thank You. I lost want to thank those who have given such glowing tributes today.
I have been a active Conservative for 65 years, joining as a Young P.C in 1956. I have held most jobs it is possible to in a political party and then some. I have canvassed for candidates in dozens and dozens of ridings across Canada. I have served on Provincial and National executives and even been on the Fund on the audit committee. But there were always too few, if any, black youth in our constituency associations to form a critical mass so we could work and vote for one another. Ways had to be found to attract more and the party had to be welcoming. Through the 60’s and 70’s I was often the lone Black face working on the party side of things. But now you have found the secret to reaching and working with our community with The Conservative Black Caucus of Canada.
I trained as a lawyer and gave my services to the party voluntarily without any payment. I served as the Director of legal affairs for the National Party in the elections of 72, 74, 79,80,84 and 88. I would leave my law office in Nova Scotia for three months or so to work in Ottawa for our Conservative party to ensure that our National Campaign and each nominated candidates’s campaign knew and understood exactly how the election law was to be interpreted, particularly the sections on election expenses.
In 1990 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney appointed me to the Senate of Canada. It changed my life. It opened up doors and new windows for me to preach that there must be an end to anti black system racism and that the business case for Diversity—accepting difference was a good place to start. I was the first man in Canadian history to have been so appointed and later I was unanimously elected Speaker Pro Tempore, the first Black man to hold that important post. Right Honorable Prime Minister Mulroney also appointed Julius Isaac to be Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Canada and Linc Alexander to be the Queens representative as Lieutenant Governor in Canada’s largest province. Those three appointments changed the way white Canada viewed the black man and began to have a serious look at systemic black racism. A Conservative Black Congress can push the current government to make similar major constructive appointments.
They were epoch-making. The Conservative Black Congress is going to help open the tent for the Conservative party, it is going to broaden the base with, bright, smart youth who can help steer the ship to insure it does not stray too far to the left or too far to the right. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was also quite supportive of the idea of a Conservative Black Congress. An Internship will provide each student an opportunity to see up close how parliament works; how committees work and the type of meaningful dialogue that can take place over lunch.
I see Erin O’Toole and his conservative candidates forming a majority government following the next general election, whenever it is called, and it can be done by each day holding the PM to account for an extremely poor roll out of vaccines, fighting to get QP and Parliament back and promoting smaller governments. His teams should not let Canadians forget about the Prime Minister’s long list of serious ethical lapses! It can be done and it will be done.
Well my time is up. Thank you again for this enormous honor. I am honored and happy. It’s a great day for me to be a conservative. The conservative Black Congress is exactly what is needed in Canada today.