McRoberts receives honorary doctorate from Laval University

This article was submitted to YFile by Marika Kemeny, communications officer for Glendon College.

Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts received an honorary doctorate from Laval University on Sept. 30 during a conference titled Penser le politique au 21e siècle (Political Thought in the 21st Century).

During the awarding ceremony, Michel Pigeon, rector of Laval, praised McRoberts’ “very significant contribution to the subject of political science” for the benefit of all Canadians and “in particular for the people of Quebec.”

Right: from left, Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts accepts congratulations from Michel Pigeon, rector of Laval University

Pigeon noted that McRoberts, a specialist in Quebec-Canada relations, has been successful in conveying and sharing his passion for the two cultures, which are destined to co-exist. “This eminent political scientist,” said Pigeon, “has emerged over the years as an emissary who is carefully listened to by both of the cultures which he knows so well.” In awarding the honorary doctorate, Pigeon called McRoberts “an ambassador who is deeply respected in his own country.”

McRoberts holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MA and PhD in political science from the University of Chicago. A faculty member of York’s Political Science Department since 1969, he was appointed principal of Glendon in 1999. He is a past-president of the Canadian Political Science Association and a former director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies. He also served for six years as editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Canadian Studies.

McRoberts has written extensively on Quebec politics, Canadian federalism, language policy, constitutional questions, and comparative nationalist movements. He has published numerous articles on these topics, including “The Charlottetown Accord, the Referendum and the Future of Canada” (co-authored with Patrick J. Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School), and “Beyond Quebec: Taking Stock of Canada”. He is the author of several books enjoying popular acclaim and translated into French and other languages. These include Quebec: Social Change and Political Crisis; Misconceiving Canada: the struggle for national unity; and most recently, Catalonia: Nation-building without a State.

Earlier this year, the French government named McRoberts an Officer of the Order of the Palmes Académiques. At the award ceremony, M. Hugues Goisbault, consul general of France in Toronto, stated that McRoberts is “one of the best specialists of Canadian politics, in particular on the topic of federalism and the relations between Quebec and the rest of Canada, which continues to be the defining question in Canadian politics.”

In accepting his honorary doctorate, McRoberts traced the development of his deep and continued interest in Canadian politics and bilingualism. He gave an overview of the political scene in the 1960s – at the start of his career – and his assessment of the current situation relating to the two cultures.

To conclude, McRoberts said, “The question of nationhood continues to haunt us in spite of the attempts of a leader who is supremely equipped to eliminate it from the Canadian political scene. We continue to witness the impact of the social fragmentation which was so clearly identified by the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission and by the pioneers of political science we are here [at this conference] to honour. No other title could reward me more than that of ‘ambassador respected in his own country’.”