opening of first session — New Senators

Congratulations on Appointments

November 22, 2021

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)

Honourable senators, I am very pleased today to rise to welcome our new senators. First, I would like to thank Senator Carignan who, in 2016, did the research necessary to allow me to tell you today that with the installation of 8 new colleagues, we form a club that has sworn in only 998 members in the last 154 years. Each and every one of us brings skills, qualities and experience to our roles, and it is humbling to be surrounded by the depth and breadth of all of your accomplishments.

Beginning today, our new senators’ professional backgrounds and talents will help contribute to continuing this chamber’s role as a representative and thoughtful voice for all Canadians. Our first group of senators joins us from Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. As professionals, community leaders and volunteers, they have already made a tremendous contribution to our country.

From Ontario is Senator Bernadette Clement. In 1991, after having been called to the bar of Ontario, Senator Clement began her legal career with the non-profit corporation Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic. She served as its Deputy Director for 16 years and has been the Executive Director since 2017.

In that role, she practised law and represented injured workers. Senator Clement is a tireless advocate for the most vulnerable members of our society. Before being appointed, she had been serving as the Mayor of Cornwall since 2018, the first woman to do so. She was also the first Black woman to hold that position. She is a member of the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Ontario and of the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Law Association. Senator Clement is a proud Franco-Ontarian.

Senator Jim Quinn hails from New Brunswick. He was appointed President and CEO of Saint John Port Authority in September 2010 after over 30 years of experience in the marine and public sectors to Port Saint John. He began his career on Coast Guard ships, and in 1981 he rejoined the Coast Guard and moved to its headquarters in Ottawa where he was promoted to Regional Director of the Central and Arctic Region and Director General of Marine Programs. Senator Quinn then joined the Privy Council Office’s Machinery of Government Secretariat and Social Development Policy Secretariat as Senior Adviser. He also served as Director General of the Lands branch at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and as Chief Financial Officer at the Canadian International Development Agency. Senator Quinn also serves as honorary lieutenant-colonel for the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 5th Division, Army.

Senator Hassan Yussuff represents Ontario and is one of Canada’s most experienced labour leaders. He was the first person of colour to lead the Canadian Labour Congress. He worked as a truck mechanic with General Motors before getting involved in the labour movement. In 1988, he joined the Canadian Auto Workers union and became their first Director of Human Rights. He was elected Executive Vice-President and then as Secretary-Treasurer for three terms before being elected President in 2014. In 2016, Senator Yussuff was voted in for a second term as President of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, an organization uniting 48 national organizations and representing more than 55 million workers in 21 countries. Senator Yussuff is no stranger to the Senate chamber, albeit not this particular chamber, as he delivered a speech at the Canada 150 Symposium hosted by our colleagues Senator Seidman and former Senator Serge Joyal.

From Saskatchewan is Senator David Arnot. Senator Arnot became the Chief Commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission in 2009. Previously, he worked as the federal Treaty Commissioner for the Province of Saskatchewan, as a provincial court judge, a Crown prosecutor and as Director General of Aboriginal Justice in the Department of Justice Canada. As a judge with the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan, Senator Arnot worked closely with the Poundmaker First Nation to pioneer the use of sentencing circles and restorative justice measures to promote healing in legal proceedings and to give a voice to victims, community members and families in the pursuit of constructive resolutions. Senator Arnot’s work on the Teaching Treaties in the Classroom project was recognized by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism.

On behalf of the Government Representative Office in the Senate, I welcome all of you to the Senate of Canada, and my team and I look forward to working with you.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Honourable senators, I rise with mixed emotions today. I was, as we all were, devastated by the news this weekend of our colleague and friend Josée Forest-Niesing’s sudden passing and, of course, earlier this year of Senator Keating. I would like to convey my sincere condolences to their families, friends and staff. We hold all of you in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Colleagues, as often happens on this journey of life, grief and joy can be found together on the same day, and one does not diminish the other.

Today, on behalf of the Senate Conservative caucus, I am pleased to rise in the chamber and welcome our new colleagues who were sworn in just a few moments ago: Senator Arnot, Senator Clement, Senator Quinn and Senator Yussuff. Welcome to the Senate of Canada. It is an honour to call you our colleagues, and we look forward to working with each one of you. Senator Gold read your biographies, so I will not repeat them.

On days such as this, I am sure that we all find ourselves reflecting upon the day of our swearing in. We all carry the memory of receiving the phone call from the Prime Minister informing us, our family and friends, and preparing for the day we would be led into this chamber for the very first time. I clearly recall mine, and I think in the club that Senator Gold was referring to, I was number 901. I’m not quite sure about that.

Everyone in this chamber has felt the same excitement and anticipation, along with the weight of the responsibility entrusted to us. Colleagues, I still get a lump in my throat every time I walk through those doors and think of the awesome responsibility we have to our country.

It is not uncommon to feel at least a bit apprehensive about what lies ahead and wonder how one will fare in this place. But let me assure you that when we gather in this chamber, although we come from different backgrounds and represent different regions, different political viewpoints and have differing ideas on what the best way forward is, we gather here as colleagues.

You may have just arrived in this chamber, but the simple fact is that your voice and your perspective is needed and is as important as any one of ours. It is by working together through debate and discussion — which will sometimes be cordial and sometimes contentious — that we will determine the best path forward to ensure a better tomorrow for all Canadians.

I see that everyone has determined which group they wish to be associated with, and would note with surprise that none of you has chosen to join the Conservative caucus. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. However, I never want to miss an opportunity to underscore that as the opposition in the Senate, we have an essential role to play in the proper working of Parliament. We ensure that a healthy democracy is maintained by challenging the ideas and policies brought forward by the government.

Our caucus has the tremendous privilege of representing the voices of 6 million Canadians who voted for the ideas, policies and visions brought forward by our party in the last election. If you are ever looking to have a clear mandate and wish to join an effective team, I welcome you to come and join us.

Once again, I want to warmly welcome you as you embark on that journey with us. And on behalf of the Senate Conservative caucus, welcome to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo

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.

Hon. Jane Cordy

Honourable senators, it is always a pleasure to welcome new colleagues to the Senate of Canada. As Senator Plett stated earlier, I’m sure that many senators in the room are reminded of their own swearing-in ceremonies. It’s a day filled with a bit of awe for these wonderful Parliament buildings and the surroundings and of the colleagues you will be joining today. It’s a little bit of, “I sure hope I like this,” and, of course, a whole lot of excitement about starting a brand new career.

On behalf of my colleagues in the Progressive Senate Group, I would like to welcome Senators Clement, Quinn, Yussuff and Arnot. You are all outstanding Canadians whose collective skills and achievements will continue to serve Canadians through your work in the Senate of Canada. Each of you brings a lifetime of diverse experiences and broad knowledge to this chamber.

Senator Bernadette Clement is a lawyer, politician and trailblazer. Prior to joining us, she served the people of Cornwall, Ontario, as mayor. Not only was she the first woman to be elected as Mayor of Cornwall, she was the first Black woman to serve as mayor in Ontario. Bernadette’s experience as a city councillor and then mayor will serve us all well as we reconcile conflicting views on the varied legislation the Senate will debate on behalf of all Canadians.

A fellow Maritimer, Senator Jim Quinn served for 23 years in the Canadian Coast Guard before entering the ranks of the federal government. Senator Quinn brings with him a wealth of experience working within the federal government and invaluable knowledge of the relationship between the federal government and their stakeholders — knowledge that will only benefit all of us as we deliberate legislation in this chamber. Along with these skills, Jim’s time working for the Port of Saint John will be very helpful to him and to us in Senate deliberations.

Another trailblazer, Senator Hassan Yussuff is one of Canada’s most respected labour leaders. He was the first person of colour to be President of the Canadian Labour Congress. His experience and insight of labour relations and labour markets will serve Canadians well, particularly as we plan for the economic recovery from this pandemic. Many of us have had the pleasure of working with Senator Yussuff as he did an excellent job representing the voice of labour to parliamentarians in both houses of Parliament.

Senator David Arnot brings a career’s worth of legal expertise serving the people of Saskatchewan into our chamber. As a provincial judge, his work with the Poundmaker Cree First Nation ushering in sentencing circles and restorative justice measures was particularly groundbreaking. This experience will be invaluable as we — as senators and as a nation — continue on the path toward healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. David, the sharing of your experiences will be most welcome in the Senate.

Honourable senators, I used to be a teacher in my previous life, and teachers love to teach. My wonderful husband might say teachers love to be bossy. But perhaps I will temper my teachings by offering some advice and suggestions to our new colleagues.

My first suggestion is to listen. Remember the saying that maybe your mother said to you, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” You will learn more by listening, especially in the first few months of your time here in the chamber. Be sure to ask questions, whether it’s here in the chamber or to your new colleagues.

And to our new colleagues — and Senator Plett made reference to this in his speech — all senators, no matter which group you are in, want what is best for Canada and for Canadians. We might disagree on what is best or how to go about getting what is best, but working collaboratively will ultimately make legislation, motions and reports better.

Working with senators from across the country and with people from different caucuses or groups only enhances the work we do. The principle of our group, the Progressive Senate Group, is Mamidosewin, which means “meeting place” and “walking together.” So whether you are in our group or not, it is a good policy to follow. It will broaden all of our perspectives.

To our new colleagues, be serious about your work, but never lose your sense of humour, particularly during long days and long nights of debate. It will be helpful.

So, Bernadette, Jim, Hassan, and David, as well as our colleagues being sworn in this afternoon — Senators Michèle Audette, Karen Sorensen, Clément Gignac and Amina Gerba — our team looks forward to working with you during your time here. On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, welcome to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Scott Tannas

Honourable senators, I’m happy to rise today on behalf of the Canadian Senators Group to welcome four distinguished Canadians to our chamber. I would also like to welcome their guests in the gallery who are here to share in this special moment.

Senator Bernadette Clement, with roots in Manitoba and Trinidad, in English and in French, highlights the rich diversity of our great country. Her distinguished legal career was in the service of people in her community who most needed an advocate at the Roy McMurtry Legal Clinic. In addition to her legal service, she has been an active community leader as a volunteer and councillor, and most recently as the mayor of a very vibrant city.

Senator Hassan Yussuff was a mechanic who rose from the shop floor to the highest levels of leadership in the union movement in Canada and internationally. His skills and passion in service of the workers of Canada are an inspiration to many current and future labour leaders. His insights and perspective have guided governments and business organizations throughout Canada and the Americas.

Senator David Arnot is a man with a distinguished career as a lawyer, judge, treaty commissioner, Crown prosecutor and human rights commissioner. His resume and accomplishments highlight a lifelong commitment to compassion and understanding.

We are very proud to welcome Senator Jim Quinn as the newest member of the Canadian Senators Group. Senator Quinn has had a fascinating career. A high-seas mariner, he served in Canada’s Coast Guard, rising to senior leadership rank. He then changed his role to join the federal civil service, where he served in a number of ministries and agencies of government, culminating in positions of chief financial officer and assistant deputy minister. Finally, he returned to Saint John as CEO of one of Canada’s busiest ports, and now a senator. This must be one of the most dynamic and exciting careers of any accountant in history. If there was a CPA hall of fame, Jim, you would surely be in it.

To the four of you, let me say this, as Senator Plett and Senator Cordy have said: Your skills and perspectives are welcome here. They are needed here. Our country faces incredible challenges, unlike any other period in our lifetimes. It will be an honour to work alongside you in the service of the people of Canada. On behalf of the Canadian Senators Group, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

The Hon. the Speaker

As there is no business before the Senate, is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that the sitting be suspended to await the arrival of the Right Honourable Deputy of Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada?

(The sitting of the Senate was suspended.)