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Jack Austin (politician)

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Jack Austin
Austin in 2017
Leader of the Government in the Senate
In office
December 12, 2003 – February 5, 2006
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
DeputyFernand Robichaud
Bill Rompkey
WhipBill Rompkey
Rose-Marie Losier-Cool
Preceded bySharon Carstairs
Succeeded byMarjory LeBreton
Minister of State for Social Development
In office
September 10, 1982 – June 29, 1984
Prime MinisterPierre Trudeau
MinisterLloyd Axworthy
John Roberts
Preceded byJean Chrétien
Succeeded byJudy Erola
Minister of State (Without Portfolio)
In office
September 22, 1981 – September 9, 1982
Prime MinisterPierre Trudeau
Preceded byBryce Mackasey (1974)
Succeeded byRoch La Salle (1984)
Canadian Senator
from Vancouver South
In office
August 19, 1975 – March 2, 2007
Nominated byPierre Trudeau
Appointed byJules Léger
Preceded byArthur Laing
Succeeded byMulti-member district
Personal details
Jacob Austin

(1932-03-02) March 2, 1932 (age 92)
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Political partyLiberal
OBC ribbon

Jacob Austin PC CM OBC (born March 2, 1932) is a former Canadian politician and former member of the Senate of Canada. He was appointed to the upper house by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on August 8, 1975 and represented British Columbia. At the time of his retirement he was the longest-serving senator.

Life and career[edit]

Austin was born in Calgary, Alberta. Prior to entering the Senate, Austin had careers as a lawyer and as a senior civil servant. He graduated from the University of British Columbia (BA, LLB) and Harvard Law School (LLM).[1] In the 1950s, Austin was a legal partner of Nathan Nemetz, who later served as chief justice of the British Columbia Court of Appeal. Nemetz recruited Austin to join the Liberal Party.[2]

In the early 1960s, Austin's political career began when he served as executive assistant to Arthur Laing while he was Minister of Northern Affairs and National Resources. While he was in Ottawa, Paul Martin Sr. asked him to serve on the legal team that negotiated the Columbia River Treaty on behalf of the government.[2]

Austin's only attempt to win an election was as the Liberal candidate in Vancouver Kingsway in the 1965 federal election, at which time it was an open seat. He came second to Grace MacInnis, who held the constituency on behalf of the New Democratic Party.[2]

In 1970, he was appointed deputy minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and was part of the first Canadian trade mission sent to the People's Republic of China. He also played a key role in the establishment of Petro-Canada and Expo 86 in Vancouver.[2]

In 1974, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed Austin to be his chief of staff. In 1975, on Trudeau's recommendation, Governor General Jules Léger appointed him to the Senate. During Pierre Trudeau's final mandate as prime minister, Austin served as a Minister of State in the cabinet from 1981 to 1982 and then Minister of State for Social Development until Trudeau's retirement in 1984. He returned to the Cabinet of Canada in 2003 when Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed him Leader of the Government in the Senate, in which capacity he served until the Liberal defeat in the 2006 election. He took mandatory retirement from the Senate on March 2, 2007, his seventy-fifth birthday.

He received the Order of the Aztec Eagle from the Government of Mexico in 2000.[3] He was also inducted into the Order of British Columbia in 2010.

He has three daughters: Barbara, Edith and Sharon.


  1. ^ https://historyproject.allard.ubc.ca/law-history-project/profile/honourable-jack-austin-pc-cm-obc-qc-lld-hon
  2. ^ a b c d Kelly Korbin, "A lifetime in the public eye: Retiring senator shares high points; his hopes for Canada", Jewish Independent Online, February 10, 2007 "Welcome to the Jewish Independent Online". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-04-04.
  3. ^ Canada Gazette Part I, Vol. 135, No. 8 Archived 2012-03-06 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]

27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Sharon Carstairs Leader of the Government in the Senate
Marjory LeBreton
22nd Ministry – Second cabinet of Pierre Trudeau
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
  Minister of State for Social Development