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Honorary degree citation - George Springate

By: Rae Staseson, June 2012

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Mr. George Springate, Canada’s Senior Citizenship Judge and honoured Montrealer.

George Springate was last on this stage forty seven years ago, when he crossed the platform, earning his BA in Psychology from Sir George Williams University – and since that time, he has not stopped surpassing his own goals, taking on new challenges and following his passions. Police officer, full time student, lawyer, politician, broadcaster, actor, professional athlete, citizenship court judge, George has been an exemplary model for having more than one career in a lifetime and he epitomizes “multi-tasking”. Before his psychology degree he had begun working with the Montreal Police Department, working the beat on The Main – and by his own account this work showed him a side of life he had never witnessed, and while it had its challenges, it wasn’t enough for George – he then began his studies at Sir George, studying full time while also working for the Police full time. With a powerful combination of towering authority and a knack for telling a story, he was a natural fit for communicating on behalf of the Montreal Police, and he began appearing daily on Montreal radio and television, including as a host of the award winning CFCF series, Police in Action.

He also wrote two thought-provoking feature investigative articles in the Canada-wide major newspaper insert, Weekend Magazine, entitled “Would You Want to be a Cop?” and “The Mafia in Canada.” He later directed and produced the award-winning police documentary film “A Brighter Shade of Blue.” As an actor, he played the role of Canada’s Minister of Defense in the National Film Board’s “The Last Straw.”

The law drew him back in from a different angle and he completed two law degrees at McGill University – and was Captain of the McGill Redmen football team. He then began his political career in 1970 as an elected member of Quebec’s National Assembly, sitting mainly on the Justice, Education, and Sports and Recreation Committees. Seemingly never at rest, George donned his helmet and padding, playing for the Montreal Alouettes while he was a member of Quebec’s National Assembly – he played with the team at their Grey Cup win in 1970.

In 1973, while sitting as a member of the National Assembly, he co-founded the Police Technology Department at John Abbott College. A tenured professor, he taught criminal law and criminal evidence for 33 years. In 1981, he left active politics, and he continued to teach as well as returning to television, hosting a daily 25-minute interview show (Midday), and doing late-night sports on CBC-TV. He is presently serving his seventh mandate as a Canadian Citizenship Judge and was named Canada’s Senior Citizenship Judge in 2008

George Springate is a force of will, great character and uncommon integrity. When asked what among his varied career paths he enjoyed the most, he says simply that he liked best whatever he was doing at the time.

An acclaimed public speaker and author, George Springate remains an inspired communicator, expressing a love for his hometown Montreal, and more recently a champion for Canadian citizenship. Recipient of numerous awards and honours including Member of the Order of Canada, he continues to use the astute observation and sharp communication skills that made him the Montreal Police Department’s voice. He now devotes himself to his Citizenship duties but previously assisted in fundraising for such organizations as the Quebec Society for Disabled Children, the Foundation for Quebec University Athletes, West Island Community Shares, Sun Youth, Concordia University, and shelters for battered women and children.

He is an inspired Canadian, dedicated public servant, dynamic character and man of great honesty and strong principles. Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and honour to present to you Mr. George Springate, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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