DUniv. 2016

Honorary Doctorate Recipient

Howard Sapers


A graduate of Simon Fraser University, Howard Sapers has always worked to ensure the wellbeing of all Canadians, both as an elected official and through his major contributions to criminology and corrections. He served two terms in the Alberta legislature as the MLA for Edmonton–Glenora, and in his second term, he served as House Leader and Leader of the Official Opposition.

But worthy as his political contributions have been, they pale in comparison to his long and distinguished career in criminology and corrections, during which he served as Vice-Chairperson for the Prairie Region of the Parole Board of Canada; Director of the Crime Prevention Investment Fund at the National Crime Prevention Centre; and as Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Alberta. This career in criminology culminated in his appointment as Correctional Investigator of Canada.

As Ombudsman for incarcerated individuals, Howard Sapers has sought to balance the rights of offenders with the need to protect the public by adopting a modern, ethical and scientific approach to correctional systems, particularly with regard to mental health.

As Correctional Investigator, he has brought a well-deserved legitimacy and seriousness to this office. He continues to address the issues and challenges of federal correctional services, including mental health issues, the prevention of deaths in custody, and the special needs of Aboriginal offenders, aging offenders and federally sentenced women. 

The University of Ottawa salutes his courage in publically addressing vital issues that are often controversial or unpopular. He is a sought-after public speaker and the author of several journal articles and book chapters on ombudsmanship, human rights and corrections. Whether by following-up on cases brought forward by prisoners, or by issuing recommendations to improve the welfare of those in federal custody, Howard Sapers has contributed significantly to advancing the cause of social justice for individuals whose rights are too often neglected by those in power.

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