Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor

[Principal and Vice Chancellor]
[Principal and Vice Chancellor]

Principal's Forum

Remarks to welcome and introduce the Rt. Hon. Tricia Marwick, Principal's Forum

Where: Grant Hall, Queen's University
When: January 10, 2015

Check against delivery.


Good afternoon, everyone.

Welcome to the Principal’s Forum.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Daniel Woolf, 20th Principal of Queen’s University.

One of the wonderful things about working at a university is the opportunity to be in an environment where critical thinking, research and innovation are a way of life.  

The other is that we do get our share of distinguished visitors – which is always a pleasure and very often a real inspiration, particularly for our students.

This forum is my opportunity to invite members of our community to hear from some of those visitors...and maybe even to feel similarly inspired.

I am very pleased that so many of you were able to join me this afternoon.

Before I introduce today’s speaker, I want to first recognize some of our honoured guests.

First and foremost, it is a great pleasure to welcome the Right Honourable John Turner to Queen’s.

Not only is he the country’s 17th Prime Minister – he is only of only two Canadians, the other being William Lyon Mackenzie King, to have represented three ridings from three different provinces – British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec – in the House of Commons.

I can’t help but note that he is also the father of two Queen’s alumni.

Also with us this afternoon is the Honourable Peter Milliken, a Queen’s graduate and former MP for Kingston and the Islands…who went on to become the longest-serving Speaker of the House in Canadian history.

He now serves as a Fellow in our School of Policy Studies – and was just appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.  

On this Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial weekend, it is fitting that we have gathered to hear from the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.

After all, our first Prime Minister was born in Scotland.

Throughout his career, he took a keen interest in this university…one modeled and founded on Scottish Presbyterian principles…which is why at Queen’s I am called the Principal and not the President, as I might be at another university.

Sir John A. Macdonald played a particularly important role in the founding of our medical school.

In 1854, he hosted one of the initial meetings between college trustees and two doctors who were interested in establishing a medical faculty.

He provided legal advice in the university’s early days – which is why it is fitting that the building that houses the Faculty of Law is named in his honour.

I want to point out that the next few years will be significant ones for a number of reasons: this year we are celebrating Sir John A’s 200th birthday, next year we celebrate Queen’s University’s 175th anniversary, and in 2017, we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

The three events back-to-back not only draw a line between Kingston, Queen’s and Canada…it is a chance to highlight the fact that this university really is older than our country!

While Queen’s is a far more diverse place than it was in Sir John A.’s days, many of our most colourful traditions have a decidedly Scottish flavor – from the bagpipes and kilts of the Queen’s bands, to our distinctive tams, to the Gaelic chorus of our song, the Oil Thigh.

We hope that our distinguished visitor, the Right Honourable Tricia Marwick, will feel at home at this most Scottish of Canadian universities.

Mrs. Marwick was elected as the Presiding Officer – a non-partisan position equivalent to our Speaker of the House – for the fourth session of the Scottish Parliament in 2011.

She is the first woman to hold the title.

She also chairs the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and the Parliamentary Bureau, while representing the Parliament at home and abroad.

Mrs. Marwick is Member of the Scottish Parliament for Mid Fife and Glenrothes.

Before being elected to parliament in 1999, she worked as a public affairs officer for Shelter Scotland, a housing and homelessness charity.

Today she is going to speak about “Scotland’s Constitutional Journey” – a topic that I must admit I find most interesting, both personally and academically.

As we know, the relationship between England and Scotland has been up and down for two millennia… it was fascinating to see the same debates being rehashed again around last September’s referendum. 

I can only imagine what it was like to be right in the thick of things.

Please join me in welcoming the Right Honourable Tricia Marwick to the stage.