2008 Fredericton Convocation

Hargrove, Basil (Buzz)

Doctor of Laws (LL.D.)

Orator: Mason, Gordon


to be Doctor of Laws

Basil Hargrove, known as Buzz ever since he took his first job, was born into a large family in Bath, New Brunswick. In his autobiography, Labour of Love, Buzz describes the hardships of his childhood in rural New Brunswick in the 1950s. One chapter is called ''More mealtimes than meals'' and he goes on to show how his parents' working conditions influenced him and led to his subsequent commitment to workers rights and social justice.

In grade 10 he left school, eventually finding work on the line at the Chrysler plant in Windsor, Ontario. He became active in the UAW, the United Autoworkers, and held several local executive positions before being appointed to the union's staff in 1975. Three years later he was made assistant to Bob White, the UAW-Canada Director. Thus it was that Buzz was part of the historic events of 1985 when the Canadian division of the UAW broke away to form the CAW, the Canadian Autoworkers union. In 1992 he was elected national President of the CAW and was re-elected every 3 years until this year, when he retired possibly the only time when “retiring'' has been used to describe this dynamic and passionate union leader.

As president of the CAW, he headed Canada's largest private sector trade union, representing over a quarter million workers employed in all sectors of the economy. He has been deeply involved in major restructurings of manufacturing and transportation in Canada. Quite apart from the automotive sector, this includes high profile cases such as Air Canada and Daimler-Chrysler, and, closer to home, Saint John Shipbuilding and Ste. Anne Nackawic.

Throughout his career, Buzz has shown a great commitment to the social as well as the economic issues affecting working people. He has been an articulate and very public spokesman and at the forefront in developing and promoting equity policies, notably women's rights. Through its social justice fund the CAW works in tandem with governments and non-government agencies to establish community kitchens and to build infrastructure projects in the developing world. As head of the CAW, Buzz served as liaison with Canadian-based organizations concerned with civil and trade-union rights and with the trade-union movements themselves around the world.

Because of his vast experience and passionate speaking style, Buzz has been a frequent guest on many television programs and has lectured widely at universities across the country. Four of these institutions have already recognized his accomplishments with honorary degrees. Earlier year he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. The citation stated that this honour was “for his contributions as a labour leader who is respected on both sides of the bargaining table, and for his advocacy for equality and human rights in Canada and abroad.'' It is for these reasons that we are pleased today to honour one of New Brunswick's native sons.

From: Honoris Causa, UA Case 70

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