James S. Cowan
Liberal Party of Canada
Senator James S. Cowan, appointed on the recommendation of Prime Minister Paul Martin on March 24, 2005, currently holds the position of Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He is a native and resident of Halifax.
Senator Cowan was educated at Dalhousie University where he obtained his Arts and Law degrees. He then attended the London School of Economics where he was granted a Master of Laws degree. In 2009, Dalhousie University awarded him the degree Doctor of Laws (honoris causa).
Senator Cowan has practiced law in Halifax since 1967 and is a partner at Stewart McKelvey, the largest law firm in Atlantic Canada. In 1983, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel.
For many years he was actively engaged in the life of Dalhousie University, where he was a member of the University’s Board of Governors and chair of a wide array of committees. From 2000 to 2008, he was Chair of the University’s Board of Governors.
He is also well-known in the field of business and public policy. Mr. Cowan is Secretary and a former director of the Halifax International Airport Authority, the former Vice-Chair and Chair of the Planning Committee of the Waterfront Development Corporation Ltd., a former director of the Federal Business Development Bank, and a former director and trustee of the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
Senator Cowan was director, Chair and Vice-President of both Camp Hill and Abbie J. Lane Hospitals, and Vice-Chair of the Metropolitan Mental Health Planning Board. He was also director of the Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Cancer Society and a founding director of Landmark East School, a school for children with learning disabilities in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
He sits in the Senate as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada. He was named Opposition Whip in the Senate on January 18, 2007 and was appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Senate on November 3, 2008.
Mr. Cowan and his wife Shelagh have three sons, Robert, David and Peter, a daughter Suzanne, and eleven grandchildren.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate are members ex officio in addition to the number of appointed members, of the Committee of Selection and all select committees of the Senate.