Kirby, Michael J.L.

Michael J.L. Kirby, politician, administrator (b at Montréal 5 Aug 1941). Educated at Dalhousie University and Northwestern University, Kirby was teaching at Dalhousie when he became assistant to Premier Gerald Regan of Nova Scotia in 1970, a post he held for 3 years. He returned to teaching in 1973 but entered the federal service the next year as assistant principal secretary to Prime Minister Trudeau. In 1976 Kirby became a member of the Nova Scotia Commissioners of Public Utilities, and then president of the Institute for Research on Public Policy in 1977. In 1980 he was named secretary to the Cabinet for federal-provincial relations and in 1981 deputy clerk of the Privy Council.

He was a major architect of Ottawa's constitutional patriation strategy, earning a place in the demonology of provincial politicians second only to Trudeau's. In 1982 he became a vice-president of Canadian National Railways, simultaneously chairing Ottawa's task force on the Atlantic fisheries; in 1984, Trudeau made him a senator. With the Liberals in opposition, Kirby was national campaign co-chairman, with Raymond Garneau, of the federal LIBERAL PARTY.

In 2002 Kirby was the principle author of a Senate report on Canada's health care system, dubbed the "Kirby Report," which argued that health care costs and wait times can be stemmed by increased competition, and that in those cases where a patient cannot receive timely care the government has a responsibility to pay for treatment at out-of-province or out-of-country facilities. In 2006 he authored another report which he titled "Out of the Shadows at Last: Transforming Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addiction Services in Canada," outlining the need for a mental health commission in Canada.

Kirby retired from the Senate in 2006 at age 65, 10 years before the mandatory retirement age. In 2007 Prime Minister Stephen HARPER selected Kirby to chair the newly-created Mental Health Commission of Canada, a non-profit corporation similar to that recommended in Kirby's 2006 report.