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Welcoming New Colleagues

 

Honourable senators, let me start by saying how nice it is to see all of you in person in this chamber after so many months of limited sittings.

It is my pleasure, honourable senators, on behalf of the Independent Senators Group, to extend a warm welcome to our new colleagues, Senators Arnot, Clement, Quinn and Yussuff. Their arrival on this opening day of the Forty-fourth Parliament, together with four more senators to be sworn in this afternoon, means that the Senate is more diverse than it has ever been and hence more reflective of the Canada of the 21st century.

Senator Arnot has had a distinguished career before his appointment to the Senate. We have heard already that he worked as a federal Treaty Commissioner for the Province of Saskatchewan, as a Crown prosecutor and a director general of Aboriginal Justice at the Department of Justice. He also worked closely with the Poundmaker Cree First Nation to pioneer restorative justice measures. In 2009, he became Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Senator Arnot, you are joining the Senate at a time when awareness of the need for reconciliation with Indigenous peoples is higher than ever. We are so fortunate to have yet another colleague who has been a leader on this national imperative.

Senator Clement joined the Senate after a brilliant career during which she overcame many obstacles.

She was the first woman to be elected Mayor of Cornwall and the first ever Black woman mayor in Ontario. Senator Clement began her legal career at the Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic, a non-profit offering legal services to low-income individuals, eventually serving as executive director of the clinic.

Senator Clement, you join a group of other former mayors who are members of our chamber and who do so much to help educate the rest of us about the vital role of municipalities in addressing some of the country’s biggest challenges, from homelessness to infrastructure development to climate change.

We also welcome Senator Quinn of Saint John, New Brunswick, who has had an illustrious career spanning 32 years with the Canadian Coast Guard and other federal departments, including a stint as the CFO of the Canadian International Development Agency. His experience in marine issues led to his appointment as president and CEO of the Saint John Port Authority. He has also served on the board of directors of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities and of the American Association of Port Authorities. For all of this work and much more, he was awarded the first-ever Award of Excellence for Comptrollership in the Public Sector.

Senator Quinn, your seafaring and financial experience puts you in good stead for the work of the Senate. We will look to you for help in navigating rough legislative waters, and from time to time showing us where to find the life jackets.

Senator Yussuff brings years of public policy experience to his role as a senator. He was the first person of colour to become President of the Canadian Labour Congress. He has worked both nationally and internationally to promote workers’ rights. He was president of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, an organization that represented more than 55 million workers in 21 countries. He was also a member of the Executive Bureau and General Council of the International Trade Union Confederation.

Welcome Senator Yussuff to the toughest bargaining table you have ever been at. We will need all your skills as a thinker, negotiator and conciliator to help the Senate come to wise decisions about laws that are in the best interests of this country. Once again, to Senators Arnot, Clement, Quinn and Yussuff, welcome to the Senate. I very much look forward to working with you.