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Biography

Senator Anne Clare Cools is an Ontario Senator representing Toronto-Centre-York.  She was summoned to the Senate in January 1984 by His Excellency Governor General Edward Schreyer on the recommendation of the Rt. Hon. Pierre Trudeau.  She is the first black person appointed to the Senate of Canada and the first black female senator in North America.  Born August 12, 1943 in Barbados, British West Indies, at age 13 she moved to Montreal with her family.  Senator Cools was educated at Queen’s College Girls School, Barbados, Thomas D’Arcy McGee High School, Montreal, and Montreal’s McGill University from which she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree.  In the 1979 and 1980 federal general elections, Anne Cools was a candidate for the Liberal party in Toronto’s Rosedale riding.  For twenty years, from 1984 to 2004, Senator Cools sat as a Liberal Senator and then briefly joined the Conservative Caucus.  Presently, Senator Cools sits as an Independent Senator.  She has no party affiliation.  In October 2004, in CBC’s The Greatest Canadian contest, Senator Cools was chosen one of the 100 greatest Canadians of all time, and also one of CBC’s Top 20 Canadian Women.

Social Services: Prior to the Senate, Senator Cools was a social worker in innovative social services in Toronto.  In 1974, as a pioneer in curbing domestic and family violence, she founded one of Canada’s first women’s shelters, Women in Transition Inc., serving as its Executive Director.  She assisted in the establishment of several other women’s shelters in Ontario, and Canada.  In 1977, she co-organized Canada’s first domestic violence conference, called Couples in Conflict.  Senator Cools has conducted extensive work, advancing the plight of women, men and families in conflict throughout her public life.  She presents the evidence that men and women are equally capable of good and bad, and that violence and aggression are not gendered characteristics, but are human ones, and often are a pathology of intimacy.

Field Supervisor, Field Advisor: During the 1970s, in the forefront of social services in family violence, Senator Cools acted as a field supervisor for students from community colleges, Ryerson University, Seneca College, and the University of Toronto Faculty of Social work.  She was the field advisor to the York University doctoral student who wrote one of Canada’s first doctoral thesis on domestic violence.  More recently, in the late 1990s, Senator Cools also acted as field advisor to doctoral students from the McGill University Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology.

Electoral Politics: In 1978, Senator Cools entered federal politics seeking the Liberal Party nomination in Toronto’s Rosedale Riding.  This became the largest party nomination battle in Canadian history, with only two candidates.  The National Film Board documented this nomination contest in its film The Right Candidate for Rosedale, which showed Senator Cools’ innovativeness, hard work and tenacity in her campaign.  Though defeated in 1978, Senator Cools won the Rosedale nomination and was the Liberal Party’s candidate in both the 1979 and 1980 federal general elections, under the leadership of Pierre Elliot Trudeau.  Though Senator Cools was a formidable candidate in both elections, the Progressive Conservatives managed to hold on to the seat in Rosedale.

National Parole Board: By four Order-in-Council appointments under Prime Minister Trudeau, Senator Cools served from 1980 to 1984 as a Member (Temp.) of the National Parole Board of Canada, the parole authority for inmates in federal correctional institutions.

Senate Activities:
On Divorce law, Child Custody and Child Support: Senator Cools has always worked for families and children. She was instrumental in the creation of the Special Senate-House of Commons Joint Committee on child custody and access after divorce.  This Joint Committee’s 1998 report For the Sake of the Children recommended shared parenting.  The Joint Committee Report held that after divorce, children should have continuing relationships with both parents, both mothers and fathers.  Senator Cools has long upheld the importance of fathers’ meaningful involvement in their children’s lives.

On Marriage Law: Senator Cools upheld marriage as a voluntary union between one man and one woman.  She was central in the national debate on marriage.  In fact, she and Roger Gallaway, MP (Sarnia - Lambton) were interveners in the 2004 marriage reference case in the Supreme Court of Canada.

On Governance & Constitutionalism: Senator Cools is deeply committed to the constitutional system of responsible government.  She is a student of constitutional history and of parliament.  She has worked tirelessly as a Senator to protect the institutions of our Westminster styled Parliament.  A diligent reader, she is known for her focused approach to the study of legislation and parliament.

Media Surveys and Media Polls: Several media surveys and polls reveal that Senator Cools has widespread national public support.  They include:

2006 These 50 Made a Difference, Toronto Sun, February 15, Senator Cools was chosen as one of the 50 Canadians who made a difference in 2006;
   
2004 The Greatest Canadian, CBC, October, Senator Cools was chosen one of the 100 greatest Canadians of all time, and ranked number 72;
Top 20 Canadian Women, CBC, October, as part of the same competition, Senator Cools was recognized as one of Canada’s top 20 women of all time;
10 Top Women, Toronto Sun, October 25, Toronto overwhelmingly chose Senator Cools as number 1 of the 10 Top Women in Canada.


Awards: Senator Cools has received a number of awards in recognition of her efforts over the years.  These awards include:

2004 Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, Canada Christian College, Toronto, ON;
Woman of Excellence Leadership Award, the National Centre for Strategic Nonprofit Planning and Community Leadership, Washington D.C.;
   
2001 Certificate of Recognition, Howard University’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, Washington D.C. for being Canada’s first black senator;
Toronto Bob Marley Day Award, in recognition of Canada’s multicultural heritage and her continuing struggle to promote equality, peace and harmony;
   
1999 Person of the Year, REAL Women of Canada, for her support and work with families;
   
1997 Spiritual Mother of the Year, NA’AMAT, the International Jewish Women’s Organization which supports battered women’s shelters in Israel;
Outstanding Achievement Award in Politics, Pride news magazine, Toronto, ON.


Personal: Senator Cools is married.  She is a member of the Anglican Church of Canada.  She is an insatiable reader and writer.  Her other interests include classical music, cooking, piano, her dog and her garden with her many rose bushes.  She is also an eager student of Tai Chi.