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Honorary degree citation - Mary Eberts

By: Rose Sheinin, November 1993

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Mary Eberts, constitutional lawyer and advocate of civil liberties and human rights.

Mary Eberts' curriculum vitae speaks eloquently and forcefully to the breadth and depth of her experience and brilliance in life, in Canada and the law. It is consonant with, and emerges from her life. Mary Eberts est née en milieu ouvrier en Ontario où elle a passé son enfance dans de petites villes comme St. Thomas et London. Sa mère était une « mariée de la guerre » du pays de Galles, ce qui l'a particulièrement rendue sensible aux problèmes des immigrants du Canada. Mary a été la première de la famille à faire des études universitaires, qu'elle a poursuivies tout en travaillant à temps partiel. But not only that, she managed to edit the school newspaper, get an athletic letter, act and organize conferences all at the same time! Her commitment to community continues to the present. One can see the breadth of community leadership she's taken over the years from Brownie leader to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Mary is one of a few senior constitutional lawyers in Canada practising outside of government. Her approach is essentially conservative, based on respect for all legal and social institutions, and a commitment to orderly positive transformation of society. This makes it possible for Mary to act for a broad spectrum of clients; eg. universities, corporations and unions, for associations on both sides of a matter and on issues as diverse as taxation, insurance and environmental law. Her professional activities are national in scope. She has acted, spoken or appeared throughout Canada, in English and in French. She is a federalist who speaks to a bright and collective future of Quebec and Canada. J'ai l'intime conviction que cette très grande spécialiste du droit qu'est Me Eberts laissera sa marque dans notre pays bien au-delà du XXe siècle.

Mary's curriculum vitae attests to her outstanding achievements as a lawyer and as a legal scholar, with major interest in and contribution to the development and implementation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part II of Schedule A of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982. It is generally agreed throughout the legal community in Canada, that Ms. Eberts was instrumental in ensuring that the Charter was part of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982, and in particular with respect to those clauses which enshrine in our constitution the equality rights of women as individuals and as groups. Mary Eberts a été membre fondateur, en 1982, du Legal Education and Action Fund, connu sous le sigle de LEAF, dont l'action a amené à modifier la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés eu égard aux femmes en soi, membres des minorités visibles, femmes autochtones ou ayant un handicap. Toutes ces activités menées par Me Eberts ont permis d'actualiser le concept de l'égalité constitutionnelle des femmes et de l'ensemble des Canadiens, et de lui donner encore plus d'ampleur.

Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Mary Eberts, so that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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