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‘It’s difficult for me to leave’: Senator McIntyre reflects on his time in the Senate
November 1, 2019

An accomplished lawyer and community builder, Senator Paul E. McIntyre is saying goodbye to the Senate after serving in the Red Chamber for more than seven years. Senator McIntyre started practising law in northeastern New Brunswick with his brother in 1973 doing criminal, civil, family and real estate law. In addition, he has chaired the New Brunswick Criminal Code Board of Review for 25 years. He was appointed to the Senate in 2012 and served on a number of committees, including Legal and Constitutional Affairs, and National Security and Defence. SenCAplus asked the senator to reflect on his time in the Senate before his retirement in November 2019.

What was it like to receive the phone call summoning you to the Senate?

That moment was very emotional. I remember that call from the prime minister as if it was yesterday. I had never met the prime minister, but we had a nice conversation and he asked me if I would serve in the Senate and, of course, I said yes. After I hung up, I remember I had tears rolling. It was such an honour and privilege to be appointed to the Senate.

It was very emotional because I never expected it. I’ve always been involved with my community and I am the first senator to be appointed from my region of Restigouche County, which is situated in the northeast part of New Brunswick and I’m proud of that.

It’s difficult for me to leave. I love the Senate, but I have no choice.  The mandatory age of retirement is calling.

Senator McIntyre speaks with high school students in Ottawa on September 11, 2017, about the importance of clearing Canada’s backlogged courts and about the role of a senator.

You have been very involved in your community and that continued throughout your tenure as a senator. Why was that so important to you?

I’ve always been involved in community work. I also intend to continue after I leave the Senate. For example, before I became a senator, in 2002, I created a nature park of 150 acres. It was the land of my ancestors. Alfred DesRosiers was my great-grandfather and Victoria being my mother, I called it the Alfred-Victoria DesRosiers Park. The park was built at my own expense without any funds, grants or help from any levels of government, be it federal, provincial or municipal. In 2013, I donated the park to the community, to the village of Balmoral where the land is situated. I’m very proud of that. I was always involved, and still am, in a series of charitable organizations, which I support financially.

Senator McIntyre has asked questions and made speeches and statements on more than 1,700 occasions during his time as a senator.

You’re also known for running in marathons. How many have you run?

When I was first appointed to the Senate, I had run 48 marathons. I now have 60 full marathons under my belt, including Boston and New York a couple of times, as well as a series of national and international marathons. The last one I ran was in January of 2018 in Florida.

Turning to your work in the Senate, you’ve sat on a number of committees over the past several years, including the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Is there something in your committee work that you’re particularly proud of?

Yes, obviously I’m very proud of that and as you rightfully pointed out I sat on the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.  For example, in June of 2017, the committee tabled a report titled Delaying Justice is Denying Justice, which made several recommendations regarding the judicial system. 

When I first set up my practice in New Brunswick, I was quite involved in jury trials. One of the things that bothered me when we were doing the study of the report were the delays in some criminal trials. When I was practising law, we didn’t have that problem. Judges would fix the date and that would be the end of it. But I noticed that in the last 10 years or so, there’s been delay after delay after delay, especially in cases of homicides and sexual assault. There’s no reason for the delays whatsoever and it troubles me deeply when I see some people get off the hook because of delays.

Victims are left stranded, they’re on their own. In the report, the committee made a series of excellent recommendations, especially those regarding victims’ rights.

I also sat on other committees such as the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, the Senate Committee on Official Languages and on the Special Senate Committee on Modernization. I should add that I’m also extremely proud of all the reports that those committees have released.

There are a lot of new senators in the Upper Chamber. What advice would you give to them?

First of all, the essential role of the Senate is to represent and defend minority rights; the other role is to review legislation and make amendments to legislation. My recommendation to them would be to get involved, not only in the Senate Chamber by making speeches and by asking questions, but also at committee level because that’s where the bulk of the senators’ work is done.

My staff kept an eye on all the questions and speeches I made in the Senate, including questions asked at the committee level. They informed me that over my seven-year tenure as a senator, I had asked questions, made speeches and statements on more than 1,700 occasions. I’m proud of that because I wrote my own speeches and prepared my own questions, though my staff did a lot of work in doing research. My advice to the new senators is to get involved, get out there and ask questions. And after you’ve asked those questions, do follow-ups. I would also like to see the Senate get more involved in issues like money laundering and overseas tax evasions.

Senator Paul E. McIntyre’s love of running didn’t end when he became a senator. He has run 12 marathons since being appointed to the Red Chamber.

Why should more Canadians care about what goes on in the Red Chamber?

As I’ve said, the role of the Senate is to represent and defend minority rights and the other is to review legislation and make amendments to bills. For example, on the medical assistance in dying bill, Bill C-14, or the Cannabis Act, Bill C-45, not everyone agreed but I think the Senate did an excellent job in reviewing the legislation by making amendments. We have a bicameral Parliament — on one side the House of Commons and on the other, the Senate. That said, the key role of the Senate is to review legislation and make amendments when necessary.

We did the same with C-75, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act, C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act and then C-69, the Impact Assessment Act. These are some of the bills that I can remember we spent a lot of time on in the last year.

Is it true that you regularly took the train from Ottawa to New Brunswick throughout your tenure as a senator?

Most of the time, yes. I took the plane a couple of times, but I would say that 90% of the time I travelled by train. I enjoyed travelling by train as it reminded me of the old days. The trip would take approximately 14 hours, but I didn’t mind that at all. I would always bring work with me. I didn’t go home every weekend, but I would say every second weekend.

So now that you’re leaving, what are your plans for retirement? Are we going to see more of your work in poetry?

I just launched my first booklet of poetry on July 20 in my home village of Charlo and it went really well. What I do is I pay for the books and then people buy them, with all the money going to charity. For example, in my home community recently one man needed an electric wheelchair so with the sale of the poetry books I was able to help him out. I’m proud of my first booklet of poetry, which is called Survivre aux orages — poèmes, pensées et états d’âme. I’ve already started working on a second book of poetry.

I will also continue promoting physical exercise. I still run four times a week and am looking forward to winter cross-country skiing. I’ve always needed challenges in my life. In addition to promoting physical exercise and writing poetry, it is my intention to also promote, as best as I can, the arts, culture, theatre and so on. I also intend to get involved in combatting climate change.

We have good senators and I’m proud of all of them. Obviously, not only will I be missing the Senate, but will also be missing my Senate colleagues on both sides of the Chamber.