Anne C. Cools
|Senator from Ontario
January 13, 1984
|Appointed by||Pierre Trudeau|
August 12, 1943 |
Barbados, British West Indies
|Political party||Liberal (1984–2004)
Anne Clare Cools (born August 12, 1943) is a member of the Canadian Senate. Born in Barbados, she became with her appointment the first Black Canadian to be appointed to Canada's upper house. Having been appointed in 1984, she is, since the retirement of Lowell Murray on September 26, 2011, the longest-serving member of the Senate. She is the first female Black woman Senator in North America.
Early life and education
Cools' family immigrated to Canada in 1957 from the Caribbean island country of Barbados when Cools was 14 years old, and settled in Montreal. Cools attended Queen’s College Girls School in Barbados and Thomas D’Arcy McGee High School in Montreal. She has a B.A. in Social Sciences, Sociology and Psychology from McGill University.
Attending McGill University to study social work in the 1960s, she became involved in radical campus politics. In 1969, she was a participant in a 10-day sit-in at Sir George Williams University (later Concordia University), protesting alleged racism at the school. The action ended with $2 million worth of damage to computer equipment. Although not accused of damaging property herself, Cools was sentenced to four months imprisonment for participating in the sit-in.
In 1974, Cools moved to Toronto where she founded one of the first shelters for abused women in Canada, Women in Transition Inc., and served as its Executive Director.
Canadian House of Commons
She twice sought election to the Canadian House of Commons as a candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada. She lost the Liberal nomination in a highly contested race against John Evans for the 1978 by-election in Rosedale. She ran again in 1979, and won the nomination but was defeated in both the 1979 and 1980 elections by Progressive Conservative candidate David Crombie. On her second attempt, she lost by fewer than 2,000 votes.
In the 1990s, Cools served on the Senate/House of Commons Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access, which in December 1998 issued its report, For the Sake of the Children. A principal recommendation of this report was that, following a relationship breakdown, shared parenting should be presumed to be in the best interests of the child. Her extensive work on the Committee, and its wide investigations, saw her become increasingly outspoken on the issues of fathers' rights, divorce and family values. She was candid in her criticism of the Liberal government of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien when proposed legislation to be introduced in the House of Commons was shelved after intense lobbying by women's groups.
Crossing the floor
Cools also became increasingly critical of the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, and of same-sex marriage. On June 8, 2004, she announced that she was crossing the floor to join the Conservative Party of Canada.
Cools was vocal in criticizing Martin after the passing of a motion of non-confidence against his government in 2005. She openly called for Martin to resign rather than dissolving Parliament, stating that the motion of non-confidence was expressing no-confidence in the Prime Minister, and not directly in the government. Rather than calling for a general election, Cools stated that Martin should have resigned.
She has designated herself as representing the Senate division of Toronto-Centre-York.
In 2005, Cools claimed to have been assaulted by fellow Senators and to have witnessed a Senator hitting a child. Canadian Senators expressed shock after the claims were picked up by the media.
Views on domestic violence
In January 2016, in an audio interview conducted by Desmond Cole of Jesse Brown's Canadaland podcast, Cools supported and cited the work of Erin Pizzey, who believes that women are equally violent as men in domestic violence conflicts.
- Sexton, Kevin (January 4, 2016). "Episode #: 34 A senator on mischief, mutiny and men's rights". Canadaland. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- "Senator Anne C. Cools Toronto - Ontario: Biography". Senator Cools. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- Pearson, The Honourable Landon; Gallaway, M.P., Roger (December 1998). "For the Sake of the Children: Report of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
- Canadian Press (June 7, 2005). "Senator's Assault Claim Prompts Calls for Action". The London Free Press. Retrieved February 24, 2007.