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Thomas Kent

Pages >> Biography | Address to Convocation | Oration

{Thomas Kent}
Thomas Kent
Photo by Christo Doulou

For his long-term and continuing contribution to the shaping of Canadian social and political policy, Thomas Kent was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree at the 3 p.m. session of convocation on May 29.

Mr. Kent was born in England and was educated at Oxford, graduating with first-class honours in philosophy, politics and economics. After war-time intelligence service in a junior role in the now-famous "ultra secret" of cipher-breaking, he entered journalism with the Manchester Guardian and in 1948 became its chief editorial writer. In 1950 he moved to be assistant editor of The Economist. He was also the London editorial correspondent for the Winnipeg Free Press, becoming editor-in-chief when he moved to Canada in 1954.

Mr. Kent left journalism for corporate business in 1959, becoming a vice-president of the transnational Chemcell Limited. He was also at that time closely associated with Lester B. Pearson in the development of Liberal policies and when the Pearson government took office in 1963, Mr. Kent was made co-ordinator of government programming and policy secretary to the prime minister, becoming involved in the establishment of many new programs, including Medicare and the Canada Pension Plan.

He rose to become the founding deputy minister of two government departments and president of the Cape Breton Development Corporation until 1977. In Nova Scotia Mr. Kent was president of Sydney Steel Corporation (1977-79) and dean of Administrative Studies at Dalhousie University (1980-83). He served as chairman of the Royal Commission on Newspapers (1980-81). From 1980 to 1987 Mr. Kent was also the founding editor of Policy Options and until 1991 a fellow of the Institute for Research on Public Policy; he is now one of its four life-time fellows.

Mr. Kent has written extensively on economic, social, constitutional and political affairs. His best-known book, A Public Purpose, was published by McGill-Queen's University Press in 1988. He has contributed to numerous other books and many journals, magazines and newspapers and a visiting fellow in the School of Policy Studies of Queen's University. Mr. Kent was made a companion in the Order of Canada in 1979.

Pages >> Biography | Address to Convocation | Oration