Bill Graham (Canadian politician)

William Carvel "Bill" Graham PC CM QC (born March 17, 1939) is a Canadian lawyer, law professor, former politician, and Chancellor of Trinity College. Graham served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of National Defence, Leader of the Opposition and interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He was recently a member of the Minister's Advisory Panel for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, providing expertise and advice for the Government of Canada's Defence Review. Graham has recently authored an autobiography, titled Call of the World: A Political Memoir.

Bill Graham

Leader of the Opposition
In office
February 7, 2006  December 2, 2006
MonarchElizabeth II
Preceded byStephen Harper
Succeeded byStéphane Dion
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
In office
March 18, 2006  December 2, 2006
Preceded byPaul Martin
Succeeded byStéphane Dion
37th Minister of National Defence
In office
July 20, 2004  February 6, 2006
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Preceded by David Pratt
Succeeded byGordon O'Connor
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Toronto Centre
In office
October 25, 1993  July 2, 2007
Preceded byDavid MacDonald
Succeeded byBob Rae
Personal details
William Carvel Graham

(1939-03-17) March 17, 1939
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyLiberal Party of Canada
Spouse(s)Catherine Curry (m. 1962)
ResidenceToronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materUniversity of Toronto
University of Toronto Faculty of Law
University of Paris
ProfessionLaw professor, lawyer, politician

Personal life

Graham grew up in Montreal, Quebec and Vancouver, British Columbia, in a wealthy family; his father, F.R. Graham, was a business magnate, and Bill is a product of the second marriages of both parents.[1] He was educated at Upper Canada College, Trinity College at the University of Toronto, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (where he was an editor of the Law Review and the gold medalist of 1964,[2] and the University of Paris. As a student, he traveled in the Middle East and Europe. While at University, he served in the University Naval Training Division (UNTD), obtaining his commission as a Sub-Lieutenant in 1960.

He married the former Catherine Curry in 1962, and they have a daughter, Katherine ("Katy", born in 1964) and a son, the freelance writer Patrick Graham (born in 1965).

Early career

After his graduation from law school, Graham went to Paris to pursue a doctorate of laws, with a focus on international law, as well as to improve his French. He received his Docteur de l"universite (DU) in 1970.[3] He also represented a Toronto law firm, Fasken and Calvin (known as Faskens) (where he had articled), in Europe. Upon returning to Toronto in 1968, Graham remained at Faskens until 1982 working with Walter Williston in litigation and on his own in an international trade and commercial law practice.[4]

He also became active in civic affairs, particularly the promotion of bilingualism. He served as a Director and, from 1979 to 1987, President of Alliance Francaise de Toronto. In 1975, Graham was appointed by Ontario Attorney General Roy McMurtry to an advisory committee on the implementation of bilingualism in Provincial courts.


He moved from the practice of law to academia in 1981, when he took a faculty position at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, teaching EEC law, public international law, and international trade law until 1993. Graham also held visiting lectureships at McGill University and the Université de Montréal. In 1999, he endowed a chair in international law at the law school.[3]

Political career

Graham twice sought election unsuccessfully to the House of Commons as a Liberal in the riding of Toronto Centre-Rosedale, losing in 1984 to the Progressive Conservative incumbent, former Toronto Mayor David Crombie, and very narrowly (by 80 votes) in 1988 to Progressive Conservative candidate David MacDonald. He defeated MacDonald in the 1993 federal election, and was reelected in 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2006.

He served as a member, and for six years as Chair, of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Law (SCFAIT). Under his chairmanship, SCFAIT produced public reports on the role of nuclear weapons in world politics, Canada and the circumpolar world, the future of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), hemispheric free trade, and Canadian relations with Europe and the Muslim world. Graham also promoted "parliamentary diplomacy" and was active in the creation or operation of many international fora for parliamentarians, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which he was Treasurer, and the Canada-US Parliamentary Association. He was also the Liberal Party of Canada's representative to Liberal International (of which he was Treasurer) and the first elected Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas.

While his attention as an MP was directed largely to foreign affairs, in domestic politics he strongly promoted same-sex rights. This issue was of considerable importance in his riding, which contains Canada's largest gay neighbourhood. He supported same-sex pensions and the admission to Canada of gay refugees facing persecution for their sexual identity, and he was an early proponent of legal recognition of same-sex marriage.[3] He was voted Toronto's best MP several times by the readers of the city's 'Now' Magazine, and he was the recipient of Pride Toronto's lifetime achievement award in 2007.[5]

Joins Cabinet, Minister of Foreign Affairs

In January 2002, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed Graham as Minister of Foreign Affairs. His tenure was largely dominated by the changes to world affairs flowing from the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the increased unilateralism of American foreign policy. In the months leading up to the 2003 American-led invasion of Iraq, Chrétien and Graham articulated a position of opposition to military action without either an unambiguous authorizing resolution by the United Nations Security Council or clear evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime was in violation of the obligations to disarm that it had accepted after the 1991 Gulf War. A Canadian compromise allowing additional time for weapons inspections, but with a firm deadline for Iraqi compliance, elicited strong American opposition and little enthusiasm from other Security Council members. After a resolution (sponsored by the US, the UK, and Spain) that explicitly authorized military action was withdrawn in the face of likely failure, Canada declined to take part in the subsequent invasion.

Canada did support important elements of the US-led War on Terror, and Canadian troops participated in the UN-sanctioned invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime in October 2001. In the summer of 2003, Chrétien and Graham committed Canada to assume the lead role in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the NATO mission in Afghanistan. ISAF was initially responsible for securing Kabul and its environs, but an October 2003 Security Council resolution authorized its extension through much of the country.[6]:285–286

Some aspects of Canadian-American cooperation in the War on Terror worked smoothly, but there were instances of misunderstanding or miscommunication. Perhaps the most widely noticed came after American authorities deported a Canadian citizen, Maher Arar, to Syria, where he was imprisoned for a year and tortured, apparently on the basis of intelligence quietly relayed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Unable to get RCMP support for Arar's release, Graham urged Prime Minister Chrétien to intervene. Following Chrétien's representations, Arar was released and a judicial inquiry conducted into his case. Graham testified that he was unaware at the time that the RCMP had passed information to the American authorities.[7] Graham also unsuccessfully urged his American counterpart, Colin Powell, to consent to the release of Omar Khadr, a Canadian national taken prisoner by American forces in Afghanistan while a minor and held at the US Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[8] Despite these differences, Graham and Powell had good relations and cooperated effectively on a number of issues, including the despatch of 500 Canadian Forces personnel to Haiti as a short-term stabilization force after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Minister of National Defence

When Graham's former law school classmate Paul Martin succeeded Chrétien as Prime Minister in December 2003, Martin left Graham at Foreign Affairs, but after an election in June 2004 reduced the Liberals to a minority, Martin moved him to National Defence. This would normally be regarded as a demotion, but Martin had promised during the election campaign to increase defence spending, and he indicated to Graham that he would enjoy prime ministerial backing in his efforts to rebuild the Canadian military after the economies resulting from the deficit-reduction program that Martin had implemented in the early 1990s as Minister of Finance.[6]:129–131

In Graham's first months as Defence Minister, one of the most pressing issues was the Canadian response to the George W. Bush administration's invitation to take part in its Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) program. Graham offered qualified support to Canadian participation, in part because he feared that nonparticipation would marginalize the North American Air Defence Command (NORAD) within continental defence arrangements. But opposition to BMD and Bush administration policies generally was strong in Canada, and Martin did not provide energetic backing for Graham's efforts to convince his Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. In February 2005, Graham informed his American counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld, that Canadian participation was politically impossible.[6]:152–177

In July 2005, as part of a tour of Canada's arctic defense installations, Graham visited Hans Island, the sovereignty of which was disputed by Canada and Denmark. Denmark publicly protested the visit, but subsequently entered into negotiations to settle the island's status.[9]

Perhaps Graham's biggest success as Defence Minister was implementing a new doctrinal and budgetary framework for Canadian defence policy. He persuaded Martin and Finance Minister Ralph Goodale to accept a $13 billion increase in defence spending, the largest in a generation, as part of the 2005 budget. This entailed significant capital expenditures, including the acquisition of Hercules aircraft to provide the Canadian Forces (CF) with tactical airlift capability.[10] In addition, the CF command structure was overhauled to improve the capacity to respond to either domestic disaster or terrorist threat, including the creation of a new Canada Command.[6]:130–151[11]

Graham and General Rick Hillier, whose 2005 appointment as Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) he recommended, sought to transform the CF into a more mobile force, capable of conducting armed "peacemaking" and humanitarian interventions. This broke with both the Cold War emphasis on preparation for large-scale conventional hostilities across defined international borders, and the recent Canadian tradition of lightly armed peacekeeping under UN auspices. Restoring security and order to the failed or failing states that served as bases for terrorists was placed at the centre of CF doctrine. This conception of the CF's future role was set out in a Defence Policy Statement that fed into the Martin government's broader review of Canadian foreign policy.[6]:130–151

Graham and Hillier persuaded Martin to make Afghanistan a laboratory for the new doctrine; in the spring of 2005 the Canadian government announced that the 1,200 Canadian troops in Kabul would be transferred to Kandahar province. Canada assumed a major role in Southern Afghanistan, with 2,300 personnel there by early 2006. Graham and Hillier supported a "3D" or "whole of government" approach, based on the concept of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), in which diplomats, military, police, development and reconstruction specialists work together to provide security and rebuild societal institutions. During Graham's tenure as Defence Minister, Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) provided emergency relief to Sri Lanka after the 2005 tsunami.

In the weeks leading up to the January 2006 federal election, Graham oversaw the negotiations of an agreement, signed by Hiller and the Afghan Defence Minister, governing the treatment of Afghan detainees captured by Canadian personnel and turned over to Afghan authorities. After revelations in 2010 that some detainees had been tortured, Graham appeared before a parliamentary committee investigating the matter. He conceded that the agreement had been imperfect, lacking as it did a mechanism for monitoring the treatment of prisoners after they were placed in Afghan custody, but pointed out that its omissions were more readily apparent in retrospect than they were at the time, and that it had been developed on the best available advice to meet unprecedented circumstances.[12]

Interim Liberal leader

After the Liberals were defeated in the 2006 election, and the Conservatives formed a minority government under Stephen Harper, Graham served as interim Leader of the Liberal Party and Leader of the Opposition, until the December 2006 leadership convention that elected Stéphane Dion as Leader. Two highly charged issues debated in the House of Commons during his leadership were the recognition of Quebec as a "nation" and the extension of the mission in Afghanistan until 2011. Graham was neutral in the race to choose a new leader. On February 22, 2007, he announced he would not be a candidate for reelection in the next federal election. On June 19, he announced that he was stepping down as an MP, effective July 2. This freed up the seat for former Ontario Premier and leadership contender Bob Rae (who, like Graham, would later become interim Liberal leader) to run as the Liberal candidate in the resulting by-election.

Electoral history

2006 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalBill Graham30,87452.23-4.30
New DemocraticMichael Shapcott14,03623.74-0.01
ConservativeLewis Reford10,76318.21+3.42
GreenChris Tindal3,0805.21+1.30
CommunistJohan Boyden1200.20.00
IndependentMichel Prairie1010.20.00
Animal AllianceLiz White720.12
Marxist–LeninistPhilip Fernandez660.11-0.01
Total valid votes 59,112100.00
     Liberal hold Swing -2.1
2004 Canadian federal election: Toronto Centre
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalBill Graham30,33656.53+1.26
New DemocraticMichael Shapcott12,74723.75+12.39
ConservativeMegan Harris7,93614.79−13.00
GreenGabriel Draven2,0973.91
MarijuanaJay Wagner3130.58−0.94
CommunistDan Goldstick1060.20−0.05
Marxist–LeninistPhilip Fernandez650.12−0.12
Canadian ActionKevin Peck630.12−2.97
Total valid votes 53,663100.00
Conservative vote is compared to the total of the Canadian Alliance vote and Progressive Conservative vote in 2000 election.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale, 1996–2003

2000 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalBill Graham26,26455.27+6.08
Progressive ConservativeRandall Pearce8,15017.15-2.13
New DemocraticDavid Berlin5,39811.36-9.22
AllianceRichard Walker5,05710.64+2.83
Canadian ActionPaul Hellyer1,4663.09+2.44
MarijuanaNeev Tapiero7221.52
Natural LawDavid Gordon2240.47-0.11
CommunistDan Goldstick1210.25
Marxist–LeninistPhilip Fernandez1160.24-0.11
Total valid votes 47,518 100.00

Note: Canadian Alliance vote is compared to the Reform vote in 1997 election.

1997 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalBill Graham22,94549.19-0.80
New DemocraticDavid MacDonald9,59720.58+9.80
Progressive ConservativeStephen Probyn8,99319.28-1.96
ReformJohn Stewart3,6467.82-4.65
GreenJim Harris5771.24+0.30
Canadian ActionAnthony Robert Pedrette3030.65
Natural LawRon Parker2700.58-1.01
Marxist–LeninistSteve Rutchinski1660.36+0.25
IndependentTed W. Culp1450.31
Total valid votes 46,642 100.00

Rosedale, 1993–1996

1993 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalBill Graham25,72650.00+8.78
Progressive ConservativeDavid MacDonald10,93021.24-20.12
ReformDaniel Jovkovic6,41312.46
New DemocraticJack Layton5,54710.78-4.28
NationalMartin Lanigan1,0912.12
Natural LawDoug Henning8171.59
GreenLeslie Hunter4830.94+0.22
IndependentLinda Dale Gibbons3500.68
Marxist–LeninistSteve Rutchinski570.11
AbolitionistYann Patrice D'Audibert Garcien400.08
Total valid votes 51,454 100.00
1988 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Progressive ConservativeDavid MacDonald22,70441.36-11.44
LiberalBill Graham22,62441.21+15.08
New DemocraticDoug Wilson8,26615.06-2.77
LibertarianChris Blatchly4110.75+0.09
GreenFrank de Jong3970.72-1.14
RhinocerosLiane McLarty2650.48
IndependentMike Constable1020.19
IndependentHarry Margel910.17
Commonwealth of CanadaPaul Therrien330.06-0.27
Total valid votes 54,893 100.00
1984 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes%±%
Progressive ConservativeDavid Crombie23,21152.80+8.84
LiberalBill Graham11,48826.13-12.95
New DemocraticDell Wolfson7,83617.82+2.97
GreenShirley Ruth Farlinger8211.87
LibertarianClarke Slemon2910.66+0.30
CommunistSylvie Baillargeon1720.39+0.17
Commonwealth of CanadaDavid Dube1440.33
Total valid votes 43,963 100.00

After politics

Since his departure from electoral politics, Graham has been active in a number of organizations and business concerns. In 2007, he was elected Chancellor at Trinity College, Toronto. He is Visitor at Green College, where he is also an Honorary Life Fellow. He was also the Chair of the Atlantic Council of Canada from 2007-2012, is Chair of the Canadian International Council, and a member of the Trilateral Commission.[13] He was the Honorary Colonel of the Governor General's Horse Guards from 2009-2018, and received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Military College of Canada in 2010. In 2018, he was appointed Honorary Colonel of Canadian Special Forces Operations Command. From 2012-2018, he was Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the Creative Destruction Lab. As a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada since 2002, Graham is entitled to use the style of "The Honourable" and the post-nominal "PC" for life. He has received various honours for his services to the French language and culture in Ontario, including appointment by the French government as Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and Chevalier of the Order of the Pleiade. He is a recipient of the Jean-Baptiste Rousseau Prize, and the Doctoral Ring of Siena, and a Patron of Liberal International. In 2015, he was made a member of the Order of Canada. In 2014 he received the St. Laurent Award from the NATO Association of Canada, and 2016 the Global Citizen Award from the United Nations Association of Canada. In 2017, he was awarded the Vimy Award by the Conference of Defence Associations. In 2011, he endowed the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History, and sits on its Advisory Board. The Centre is associated with Trinity College and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. It seeks to promote the study of contemporary events from a historical perspective, and to bring together the worlds of the policymaker and the scholar.[14]

Graham participated in the Government of Canada's Defence Review, as one of four members of a Minister's Advisory Panel, providing input for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. The review aimed to consult with Canadians across the country in order to develop a future road map for Canada's defence policy. In June 2017, it was released as "Strong, Secure, Engaged." [15]

In 2016 Graham published an autobiography, Call of the World: A Political Memoir, reprinted in paperback in 2018.[16]


Order of Canada (CM)
  • Member
  • 8 May 2015
  • [17]
Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2002
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • Canadian Version of this Medal
Legion of Honour
  • Chevalier
Order of La Pléiade
  • Chevalier


University Degrees
 OntarioUpper Canada College
 Ontario1961Trinity College, TorontoBachelor of Arts (BA) in Modern History
 Ontario1964University of TorontoBachelor of Laws (LL.B)
 FranceUniversity of Paris
Chancellor, visitor, governor, rector and fellowships
 Ontario2007  Trinity College, TorontoChancellor [18]
 Ontario  Massey CollegeSenior Fellow
 British Columbia  Green CollegeHonorary Life Fellow
Honorary Degrees
 Ontario1 June 2010Royal Military College of CanadaDoctor of Laws (LL.D) [19]
 Ontario15 June 2018University of TorontoDoctor of Laws (LL.D) [18][20]


 Canada16 January 2002  Queen's Privy Council for CanadaMember (PC)
 Canada  Government of CanadaQueen's Counsel (QC)

Honorary military appointments

See also


  1. "Call of the World: A Political Memoir", chapter one
  2. "The William C. Graham Chair in International Law and Development: Honouring a Life of Public Service and International Vision". Nexus. University of Toronto - Faculty of Law. Spring 2000. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  3. Sylvia Fraser, "The Private Life of Bill Graham", Toronto Life, May 2003, pp. 83-92. (Article mentioned)
  4. Kyer, C. Ian, 'Lawyers, Families and Businesses: The Shaping of a Bay Street Law Firm, Faskens 1863-1963', Irwin Law, 2013, pp. 232, 243.
  5. "Pride Gala and Awards: Highlights and Photos".
  6. Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar (Toronto: Penguin, 2007).
  7. Tonda McCharles, "Mistakes kept from Martin", "Toronto Star". October 5, 2006, A1.
  8. Michelle Shephard, "Ottawa played down Khadr concerns", "Toronto Star", August 20, 2007.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-05. Retrieved 2013-01-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. David Bercuson, "Liberals, lay down your arms", Toronto "Globe and Mail", May 18, 2010; citation for honorary doctorate, Royal Military College of Canada.
  11. General Rick Hillier, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War (Toronto: Harper Collins, 2010), pp. 350-351.
  12. Graham testimony to parliamentary committee on Afghan detainees, May 12, 2010.
  13. "The Trilateral Commission: Executive Committee" (PDF). The Trilateral Commission. May 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 26, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  14. "Bill Graham Centre". Bill Graham Centre. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  15. ""Strong, Secure, Engaged" – A new defence policy for Canada (Speech)". Minister of National Defence. Government of Canada. Retrieved September 7, 2019.
  16. "The Call of the World an inside look at the Liberal party". Toronto Star, May 8, 2016.
  17. General, Office of the Secretary to the Governor (June 11, 2018). "Recipients". The Governor General of Canada.
  18. "Chancellor Bill Graham to Receive an Honorary Doctorate from U of T". Trinity College News. February 28, 2018.
  19. Bennett, Pete (July 19, 2016). "Royal Military College of Canada Honorary Degree Recipients". Royal Military College of Canada.
  20. "Hon. William C. Graham, Convocation 2018 Honorary Degree Recipient" via
  21. Virey, MCpl Anthony (Spring 2019). "OP DISTINCTION 2018: 100th Anniversary of the Armistice". Regimental Lines. GGHG Association: 18.


26th Ministry – Cabinet of Jean Chrétien
Cabinet post
Preceded by
John Manley
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
cont'd into 27th Min.
27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet posts (2)
Preceded by
David Pratt
Minister of National Defence
Succeeded by
Gordon O'Connor
cont'd from 26th Min. Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Pierre Pettigrew
Party political offices
Preceded by
Paul Martin
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

March 18, 2006 – December 2, 2006
Succeeded by
Stéphane Dion
Academic offices
Preceded by
Michael Wilson
Chancellor of the University of Trinity College
Succeeded by
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