Senator Mac Harb has a long and distinguished career in public service. A graduate of the University of Ottawa with a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering and a former college professor and engineer for Northern Telecom, he first entered politics as an Ottawa alderman in 1985. He served as deputy mayor of the City of Ottawa before making the leap to federal politics, winning the seat as the Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Centre in the fall of 1988. Mr. Harb held that seat through four consecutive federal elections.
Mr. Harb co-chaired the 1990 Liberal Task Force on Infrastructure, a cross-Canada study into the crisis facing Canada’s cities and transportation systems, which ultimately led to the establishment of the $6 billion National Infrastructure Program. He also chaired the Canadian Liaison and Advisory Group on the reconstruction of Lebanon and has represented the Canadian government at international events around the world.
In 1994, Mr. Harb was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for International Trade where he was instrumental in the passing of Bill C-57, ensuring Canada was able to take its place as a founding member of the new World Trade Organization. As Parliamentary Secretary, he co-chaired the Canadian Provincial Trade Ministers’ Conference and chaired two working sessions on the peace process in the Middle East. In recognition of his contributions to the field of international education, Mr. Harb was awarded the 1997 Innovation in International Education Award by the Canadian Bureau of International Education.
In January 2001, Mac Harb was named Chair of the Subcommittee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He led the committee to produce several key trade studies on issues such as the WTO, Canada-Europe economic relations, Free Trade of the Americas, softwood lumber and the United States, and Canada/Asia-Pacific trade relations.
After almost 15 years as a Member of Parliament, the Honourable Mac Harb was appointed to the Senate of Canada on September 8, 2003 by the Rt. Hon. Jean Chrétien. Since his appointment, Senator Harb has worked extensively with international democratic organizations on global democracy-building initiatives and election monitoring. He has tabled legislation in the Senate calling for an end to the commercial seal hunt in Canada. He has introduced legislation to establish a National Registry for Medical Devices to protect Canadians, called for the creation of a National Emergency Volunteer Service to improve Canada’s emergency response capacity and put forward an electoral reform bill to increase voter participation.
Senator Harb has also called on the government to block the sale of Canada’s flagship space and satellite technology firm to foreign interests, and worked to protect the thousands of current and former Nortel employees affected by its descent into bankruptcy protection. (For text of speech in Senate, please click here.) He has worked to protect Parliament's constitutional power of scrutiny of regulations (for text of speech, click here).
He has been an active member of the Senate Standing Committees on Banking, Trade and Commerce, Scrutiny and Regulations, Fisheries and Oceans and Human Rights.
Senator Harb has spoken out on international issues such as the need to move swiftly to complete the Doha Development Round to give the world’s poorest countries a voice in global trade negotiations. He has represented the interests of Canadians abroad with the InterParliamentary Union and on fact-finding missions with various Senate Committees.