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Hon. Jacob (Jack) Austin, P.C., C.M., O.B.C., Q.C.

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Hon. Jacob (Jack) Austin, P.C., C.M., O.B.C., Q.C.

Award Received

Honorary Degree

Convocation Ceremony

Spring 2016 Convocation

The Honourable Jack Austin is a man of vision whose contributions have left an unforgettable mark on our country. He has had three diverse and successful careers, in politics, as a practitioner and teacher of law and as a corporate executive and director.

Austin’s long interest in Canada and the world compelled him to study international law and international trade law. His interest in governance and public policy led him to serve in the cabinets of former prime ministers Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Paul Martin. In 1975, he was appointed to the Senate, where he served for 32 years. Austin has played a key role in building Canada’s relationship with the Asia-Pacific region. In 1971, he was a member of the Trudeau government’s first official visit to China and as a member of cabinet, Austin developed legislation to establish the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada which came into law in June 1984. He served as president of the Canada China Business Council from 1993 to 2000, and for the following three years as vice-chairman. As the creator of Team Canada trade missions, he revolutionized Canada’s relationship with China, and founded the Canada China Legislative Association. Closer to home, Mexico awarded its highest honour for a non-citizen, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, to Austin in recognition of his role in trade negotiations. Austin’s efforts to secure federal funding for Expo ’86 started a transformation of the city of Vancouver. His work helped make way for landmark sites such as Canada Place, the Convention Centre and the cruise ship terminal, all of which laid the foundation for Vancouver’s successful 2010 Olympic bid.

Numerous major initiatives in B.C. benefited from Austin’s expertise, including the northeast coal development, the Nisga’a treaty negotiations and the Pacific Gateway Strategy. In 2010, Austin was awarded the Order of British Columbia, the province’s highest recognition. In 2014, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. Over a 20-year career practicing law, Austin assisted provincial and federal governments with issues such as labour relations on major dam construction projects, and negotiations with the U.S. on the Columbia River Treaty. He served as legal counsel, and later as president and CEO, to several senior mining companies. Since retiring from the Senate in 2007, Austin has acted as a senior advisor for a Vancouver private capital investment firm, and is an honorary professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian Research. A former member of UBC’s Faculty of Law, Austin received his B.A. and LL.B. from UBC, and the LL.M. from Harvard Law School. He is member of the Fellows Council of Royal Roads University.