“I have to admit it was a little bit of a surprise when the opportunity came,” said Cotter, who graduated from the USask College of Commerce (now the Edwards School of Business) in 1971. “This opportunity was supported by a number of my USask colleagues—like Roy Romanow, Peter MacKinnon and Doug Richardson—and I hope to live up to the confidence being expressed in me.”
Serving as a member of Senate is a role for which Cotter, who has a long history of service to the province of Saskatchewan and its university, is well prepared. From 1992 to 1997 Cotter served as Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General for the Province of Saskatchewan. In July 1997, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs, as well as Deputy Provincial Secretary. In 2004, Cotter was appointed dean of USask’s College of Law, a role he held until 2010.
Prior to that, Cotter, who earned a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Laws from Dalhousie University, was a professor and associate dean at Dalhousie Law School, and as executive director of Dalhousie Legal Aid Service.
“I also have a background in legal ethics,” said Cotter, “and from time to time Senate has needed work on ethics, so I think there is a good fit there.”
Recent changes to Senate, Cotter explained, certainly increased his interest in joining. “When changes were made to appoint people to Senate who are more diverse and less politically aligned, it certainly became something I was interested in.” said Cotter, who is a member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. “I will bring something I would call deliberative thought to the matters before the Senate but in a way that respects the democratic process of our country.”
“This is an exceptional achievement for one of our most accomplished alumni, faculty members, and leaders,” said Peter Stoicheff, USask president and vice-chancellor. “It is a great honour for Brent, and as a long-time colleague and friend, I couldn’t be more pleased for him that he is receiving such a significant appointment. This is recognition of his outstanding contributions to society. Brent is a wonderful example of how members of our university strengthen communities and nations.”
“It is a challenging time for the Parliament of Canada, but as a member of Senate I hope to do good work that helps to build and strengthen Saskatchewan and Canada, for all of its people.” Cotter said.
Cotter joins Lillian Dyck and Denise Batters as the other USask grads currently serving as a member of the Senate of Canada. Dyck earned her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1968, Master of Science in 1970, and a PhD in in 1981, from USask. Batters earned her law degree in 1994.