Serge Joyal

Senator Serge Joyal, P.C.


The Honourable Serge Joyal, PC, OC, OQ, FRSC, Ad. E., is a lawyer and legal expert. He has represented the Senatorial Division of Kennebec, Quebec, since he was appointed to the Senate in 1997.

Senator Joyal’s areas of interest and specialization include legal and constitutional issues, as well as parliamentary law.

Senator Joyal completed his university education both in Canada and abroad: Bachelor of Arts (1964) and Licentiate in Laws (1968) from the University of Montreal, Master in Administrative Law (1970) from the University of Sheffield and Master of Philosophy in Constitutional Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (1971) in England. He also holds a graduate diploma in Comparative Law (1972) from the Faculté internationale de droit comparé in Strasbourg, France.

Senator Joyal began his public service career in 1974 as a member of Parliament. He was subsequently appointed parliamentary secretary to the President of the Treasury Board (1980), minister of state (1981) and secretary of state of Canada (1982–84). He founded the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages (1980) and was co‑chair of the Special Joint Committee on the Constitution of Canada, which studied the draft Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1980–81). He was also vice‑president of the Liberal Party of Canada (Quebec) and chair of the LPC‑Q Policy Committee from 1985 to 2009.

Since 1997, Senator Joyal has been a member of the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. He is also Deputy Chair of the Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators, which he chaired for seven years. He was deputy chair of the Special Senate Committee on Anti‑terrorism.

Since the beginning of his involvement in public life, Senator Joyal has intervened before the highest Canadian courts six times, in his personal capacity, on cases that were directly related to the definition of rights and freedoms or that challenged the fundamental nature of parliamentary institutions.

Senator Joyal is the author and editor of numerous articles and works on parliamentary and constitutional law, including Protecting Canadian Democracy: The Senate You Never Knew (2003). He is also the author and editor of many articles and works on history. In 2008, he co‑edited the book France‑Canada‑Québec. 400 ans de relations d’exception with historian P.‑A. Linteau. In 2013, he published “Le Mythe de Napoléon au Canada français,” a historical essay that became the subject of a documentary by Daniel Bertolino. He will soon be publishing Le Canada et la France dans la Grande guerre, with original contributions from Canadian and French historians.

For many years, Senator Joyal has been interested in issues relating to the monarchy. He is a member of The Friends of the Canadian Crown/Les Amis de la Couronne au Canada, a group of Canadian academics.

Since 1966, he has acquired a number of old and threatened buildings and has had them restored and designated as heritage buildings. He regularly publishes articles advocating for the protection and repair of heritage buildings in Montreal and elsewhere in Quebec.

He is Director Emeritus of the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), having sat on its first board of trustees for 10 years. In 1972, he was the director of Sauvons Montréal, a group of residents working to preserve built heritage and green spaces. In addition, Senator Joyal has made a singular contribution to increasing appreciation of built heritage, particularly religious buildings. In 2010, he helped establish the Fondation Lafontaine-Cormier (of which he is a director), which works to protect and showcase Quebec’s legal heritage.

A collector of art and historical artifacts, Senator Joyal is a patron of a number of Canadian museums. In 1972, he became the first francophone president of the Société des musées québécois and director of the Canadian Museums Association. Senator Joyal was co‑founder of the Musée d’art de Joliette in 1968 and was its vice‑chairman for over 15 years. Since 2009, he has been on the board of trustees of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and has also been one of its major benefactors for a number of years.

Senator Joyal has contributed and provided financial support to a number of significant cultural events and exhibitions that have toured Canada.

He has enriched the collections of many Canadian museums with historical artifacts and works of art, including a significant contribution to the Canadian Museum of History. This gift included some artifacts related to Her Majesty’s reign as Queen of Canada.

On a volunteer basis, Senator Joyal has conducted many charity auctions benefiting a large number of charitable organizations and foundations.

Senator Joyal holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Moncton (1984). He is Knight (1995) and Officer (2008) of the National Order of the Legion of Honor of the Republic of France, and is also Officer of the Order of Canada (1997) and Officer of the Ordre national du Québec (2004). In 2015, he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada as a special fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He received the honorary distinction of Emeritus Lawyer (Ad. E.) in July 2016 from the Quebec Bar for his exceptional contribution to the profession throughout his career.

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