Hon doc for Al Gore

Barbara Black

Oscar-winner Al Gore, the man many Americans thought should have been their president, will be given an honorary doctorate by Concordia University today.

A short ceremony to honour the politician-turned-environmental-activist is being held following Gore’s speech to a sold-out audience at the Youth Action Summit, which was conceived by Concordia students Mohamed Shuriye and Peter Schiefke. David Suzuki is also featured at the Summit.

President Claude Lajeunesse and Registrar Linda Healey, representing Chancellor David O’Brien, will confer the degree. The event is being held at the Palais des Congrès.

Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., was U.S. vice-president in the Clinton administration (1993 to 2001). He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1985, and a member of the Senate from 1985 to 1993, representing Tennessee. His father was also a senator.

Now 59, Gore is president of Current TV and founding chair of Generation Investment Management, which focuses on environmentally friendly companies. He is on the board of Apple Inc., and advises the senior management of Google.

His involvement in environmental issues goes back decades. In the late 1970s, he co-sponsored congressional hearings on toxic waste, and in the 1980s, hearings on global warming.

In 1989, Al Gore published Earth in the Balance, his book on environmental conservation, which became the first book written by a sitting senator to make the New York Times bestseller list since John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.

In the late 1990s, Gore strongly pushed, and continues to push, for the passage of the Kyoto Treaty, which calls for serious reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. He has defended this position despite strong opposition in the U.S.

For more than two decades he has travelled across North American, mainly to college campuses, to give a presentation on climate change, but it was only when the presentation was filmed as a documentary that his audience expanded into the millions.

The film An Inconvenient Truth, which presents a grim and gripping account of environmental challenges around the world, won the Academy Award for best documentary feature in February.

The book he wrote based on the movie reached number one on the New York Times bestseller lists of July 2 and Aug. 13, 2006, and remained on the list for several months.

Commenting on the doctorate, President Claude Lajeunesse said, “It is very fitting that Concordia made the decision to award the university’s highest honour to Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. in consultation with our student leaders. This honorary doctorate is a message of respect and appreciation for Al Gore’s lifetime of public service.”