March 2, 2022

Honourable senators, this week is the last in the chamber for Senator Diane Griffin, who will be retiring from public life following a lifetime of remarkable contributions. As you know, she has asked not to have formal tributes, but reluctantly conceded that I could use my statement slot to this end.

The Honourable Diane Griffin was one of the first to be called to the upper chamber under the non-partisan appointment process introduced by Prime Minister Trudeau. I have known Senator Griffin for much less time than I have known of Diane Griffin. That’s because of her long-standing efforts to preserve our country’s vast natural spaces. Her contributions in the field of conservation began in Alberta and continued with the Island Nature Trust, the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Senator Griffin’s efforts not only increased awareness of our need to protect natural habitats, but she long fought to bring countless areas under permanent protection, including the beautiful Malpeque Bay Salt Marsh Natural Area — a beloved place bequeathed by her late father.

I have personally had my heart warmed by the results of her efforts as I watched 20 years of magnificent sunsets over St. Peter’s Lake Run on the north shore of Prince Edward Island where my wife and I once owned a cottage. It’s a spectacularly rich wetland and a stunning beach overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence, backed by four-storey high sand dunes, now protected in perpetuity.

Given that roughly 90% of Prince Edward Island is privately owned, it is no small feat to secure donations of fragile and sensitive natural areas to either the Island Nature Trust or the Nature Conservancy. This speaks volumes about Senator Griffin’s quiet determination and gives some insight as to why she received the Roland Michener Conservation Award, among other honours. Margaret and Errol Laughlin must look down so proudly on their daughter and her journey from their dairy farm in Travellers Rest, P.E.I., to her position as Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, advocating for sustainable management of farm and forest resources across our country.

Although she will be retiring from the Senate, we know that Senator Griffin’s passion and effort will continue to inform and inspire all those who share her goal of achieving social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Senator Griffin, none of us can match Dolly Parton’s warm “thank you” video that she sent to you when you brought her Imagination Library to P.E.I. Regardless, I hope you will accept this attempt to reflect the gratitude your colleagues have for you. Thank you, Diane, for all you have done and all you will continue to do.

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