Joe Clark

Canada |  Professor of Practice for Public-Private Sector Partnerships, McGill University Institute for the Study of International Development

Former Prime Minister of Canada

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Charles Joseph (Joe) Clark was the 16th Prime Minister of Canada, serving from 1979 to 1980. Clark earned a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science from the University of Alberta and lectured in political science there from 1965 to 1967. A member of the Progressive Conservative Party, he was politically active starting in 1957. From 1962 to 1965 he was the national president of the Progressive Conservative Student Federation. In 1967 he directed the campaign organization that brought Peter Lougheed to power as premier of Alberta, and from 1967 to 1970 he served as executive assistant to Robert Stanfield, then the Conservative leader in the House of Commons.

Clark himself was first elected to Parliament in 1972, and he was elected leader of his party in 1976. In 1979 Clark became head of a minority government, the youngest Prime Minister in the history of Canada. After losing to the Liberals headed by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1980, Clark served as the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party in opposition until 1983. Clark served in the Mulroney government as secretary of state for external affairs from 1984 to 1991 and president of the Queen’s Privy Council from 1991 to 1993. He also served briefly as United Nations special representative to Cyprus. In 1998 Clark was again elected leader of the Progressive Conservatives, and in 2000 he won a seat in the House of Commons, which he held until his resignation in 2004. In 2006 Clark became a professor at the Centre for Developing-Area Studies at McGill University, now the Institute for the Study of International Development.


Clark is an Emeritus Member of the Dialogue.

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Joe Clark, prime minister

Member in the News: Joe Clark

Former Prime Minister Joe Clark has been appointed by PM Justin Trudeau as UN special envoy for Canada’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Haiti: Real Progress, Real Fragility

Haiti: Real Progress, Real Fragility

Haitian President René Préval says that his country no longer deserves its “failed state” stigma, and he is right. Haiti’s recent progress is real and profound, but it is jeopardized by continued institutional dysfunction, including the government’s inexperience in working with Parliament.