Michael Kelway Oliver O.C. was born in North Bay, Ontario, and was raised in Montreal. During the Second World War Oliver served with the 18th battery 2nd Canadian Anti Tank regiment. When the war ended he enrolled in McGill University where he obtained his arts degree in 1948. He won a scholarship to study at the Sorbonne in Paris for a year and returned to McGill for his M.A.in 1950 and his PhD in 1957. He taught at United College in Winnipeg and at Laval University before joining McGill as a political science professor in 1957. When the New Democratic Party was founded Oliver helped shape the party’s policy and in 1961 was unanimously elected the NDP’s first president. Oliver became McGill’s academic vice-president in 1966. In 1972 he was appointed president of Carleton University in Ottawa, a position he held for seven years. Between 1993 and 1996 Oliver was president of the United Nations Association in Canada.