The Honourable Peter MacKay – Doctor of Civil Laws (’87, ’23)

Portrait photo of the Hon. Peter MacKay


The Honourable Peter MacKay, PC, KC (’87), is a strategic adviser for Deloitte Canada, counsel with the law firm McInnes Cooper in Halifax and a director of Calgary’s Cielo Waste Solutions. Having represented Nova Scotia ridings in Parliament for more than 18 years, he returned to law with the Toronto firm Baker McKenzie in 2015.

Growing up in New Glasgow and Wolfville, he continued a family tradition of attending Acadia, like his parents, the psychologist Macha (Delap) MacKay (’60) and the Honourable Elmer MacKay, PC, KC (’60), as well as his grandfather and his three sisters: Cethlyn (’86), Mary Louise (’89) and Rebecca (’95). When not studying political science and history, he was active in the campus community, playing rugby and intramural hockey. After graduating, he studied law at Dalhousie University.

Once called to the bar, MacKay launched his law career where his story began: in rural Nova Scotia, opening a law practice in New Glasgow above a pizza place. He became a Crown Attorney in 1993.

He then turned to another family tradition by standing for office and was elected to the House of Commons in 1997, representing Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough. He went on to be re-elected five times. Through his lengthy political career, he was chosen leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, was a co-founder of the Conservative Party of Canada, and held a number of high-profile positions in cabinet: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of National Defence, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. He was a candidate for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party in 2020.

Throughout his political and private sector careers, MacKay has worked extensively in the fields of justice and human rights and defence and security. A founder of the Halifax International Security Forum, he has been recognized by the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS), the Foreign Policy Association, the Afghan Government, and the Belgian Government. He continues to work, write and speak on justice and security topics in Canada and internationally.

MacKay is a long-time supporter of a number of volunteer organizations, including Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Special Olympics Canada, Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre, Children’s Aid Society, Covenant House and Wounded Warriors Canada. His dedication to furthering educational and research causes is evident in his involvement with Dalhousie University, the Canada-United States Law Institute, the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government.

A strong advocate for Acadia, MacKay has returned to campus many times since his own convocation. Whether making a government announcement, championing projects like the recent Campaign for Acadia or speaking to a classroom of political science students, he always says that it feels like home.

MacKay and his wife, Nazanin Afshin-Jam, now live in Pictou County with their three children: Kian, Valentia, and Caledon.

The Honourable Peter MacKay will convocate on Sunday, May 14, at 3 p.m.