Jim Cowan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named James Cowan, see James Cowan (disambiguation).
The Honourable
Jim Cowan
Leader of the Independent Senate Liberals
Assumed office
January 29, 2014
Preceded by None
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
In office
November 3, 2008 – November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Céline Hervieux-Payette
Succeeded by Claude Carignan
Senator for Nova Scotia
Assumed office
March 24, 2005
Appointed by Paul Martin
Personal details
Born (1942-01-22) January 22, 1942 (age 74)
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nationality Canadian
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Shelagh Cowan
Children Robert, David, Peter and Suzanne
Alma mater Dalhousie University
London School of Economics
Occupation lawyer
Profession politician
Committees Standing Committee of Selection, Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry
Portfolio Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
Religion United [1]

James S. "Jim" Cowan, QC (born January 22, 1942) is a Canadian lawyer and senator from Nova Scotia. He was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Paul Martin on March 24, 2005. He represents the Liberal Party of Canada (though not in its Parliamentary caucus). A lawyer, Cowan has been a partner at the legal firm of Stewart McKelvey since 1967.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree and Bachelor of Law degree from Dalhousie University, and a Master of Laws degree in 1966 from the London School of Economics.

In November 1985, Cowan announced he would seek the leadership of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party,[1] but was defeated by Vince MacLean at the February 1986 leadership convention.[2]

On November 3, 2008 he became the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.

On January 29, 2014, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau announced all Liberal Senators, including Cowan, were removed from the Liberal caucus, and would continue sitting as Independents.[3] According to Cowan, the Senators will still refer to themselves as Liberals even if they are no longer members of the parliamentary Liberal caucus.[4]

Although Liberal senators reaffirmed Cowan as their leader in 2014, his leadership was called into question more recently as a result of his role in the Senate expense scandal.[5]

A good deal of controversy has swirled around Senator Cowan since his appointment as Liberal Senate leader. First, Senator Cowan was criticized for allowing Senator Joyce Fairbairn to continue voting on legislative matters, while he knew she had Alzheimer’s disease and had been declared incompetent. [6] Second, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau removed all senators from the Liberal Caucus as a result of the Senate expenses scandal, in which Senator Cowan was directly involved.[7] Third, a 2015 Auditor General report revealed Senator Cowan’s involvement in the Senate expense scandal, highlighting that he had inappropriately billed the Senate for travel not related to parliamentary business.[8] Fourth, Senator Cowan’s leadership has been called into question as a result of his inappropriate expenses.[9]

Samuel Rettie is his Great-Great Uncle.[10]


  1. ^ "Halifax lawyer seeking N.S. Liberal leadership". The Globe and Mail, November 2, 1985.
  2. ^ "New N.S. Liberal leader expects to get ammunition from Ottawa". The Globe and Mail, February 24, 1986.
  3. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/justin-trudeau-removes-senators-from-liberal-caucus-1.2515273
  4. ^ "Trudeau’s expulsion catches Liberal senators by surprise". Globe and Mail. January 29, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ Senators reaffirm Sen. Cowan as leader of Liberal Senate caucus, to hold formal Senate elections in future, Hill Times; “Senate Liberals to elect new leader and new caucus executive in next session of Parliament,” Hill Times, June 29, 2015.
  6. ^ “Alberta senator allowed to vote four months after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s,” Global News, August 27, 2012.
  7. ^ “Justin Trudeau removes senators from Liberal caucus,” by James Cudmore, CBC News, January 29, 2014.
  8. ^ “Disputed expenses of ‘little over $10K,’ James Cowan says,” Canadian Press (Macleans), June 4, 2015; “Housakos, Cowan repay Senate expenses, deny wrongdoing,” Canadian Press, June 8, 2015.
  9. ^ “Senate Liberals to elect new leader and new caucus executive in next session of Parliament,” Hill Times, June 29, 2015.
  10. ^ Cowan, Mrs. Gordon (1966–1967), Notes on the Rettie family of Truro, Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University Archives, File MS-2-173, SF Box 14, Folder 7, retrieved September 14, 2013 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Céline Hervieux-Payette
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Canada
2008 - 2015
Succeeded by
Claude Carignan