Meet Canada’s newest senators 2018
The following passages are adapted from the new senators’ introductions in the Senate Chamber.
Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson
Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson is a proud Métis whose work has improved the lives of Indigenous families in Alberta and has devoted her career to helping underprivileged people in her province, including youth.
She has won a number of awards throughout her career, including the Aboriginal Role Models of Alberta Award for Education.
Senator Paula Simons
Senator Paula Simons joined the Senate after an extensive career as a journalist whose reporting on a variety of issues touched the lives of Edmontonians. She told stories in print and on film, and co-wrote a best-selling book about her home province, Alberta: 100 Years a Home.
Senator Simons is also a recipient of the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre in recognition of her reporting on LGBTQ rights.
Senator Peter M. Boehm
Senator Peter M. Boehm was a senior Canadian diplomat and a foreign service officer before becoming a senator. Before serving as the prime minister’s representative to the G7 he served Canada during postings in Washington, Cuba, Germany and Costa Rica.
Through his work abroad he has also championed gender issues in the workplace.
His accolades include the Public Service of Canada Outstanding Achievement Award and the Canadian Foreign Service Officer Award for his contribution to advancing peace in Central America.
Senator Josée Forest-Niesing
Senator Josée Forest-Niesing is a proud Franco-Ontarian of Métis heritage who helped people seek justice in both official languages throughout her career as a lawyer in Ontario.
She is the founding member of the Centre canadien de français juridique and was chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s Official Languages Committee.
Note to readers: The Honourable Josée Forest-Niesing passed away on November 20, 2021. Learn more about her work in Parliament.
Senator Brian Francis
Senator Brian Francis has been Chief of the Abegweit Mi’kmaw First Nation for 12 years and has worked in all levels of government in Prince Edward Island to promote social and economic development through infrastructure investments.
Senator Francis, an Eagle Staff Carrier, has been awarded the University of Prince Edward Island Founders Award and the Senate of Canada Sesquicentennial Medal.
Senator Bev Busson, British Columbia
Senator Bev Busson has paved the way for women in the field of policing, marking many Canadian firsts along the way. She was one of the first women to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and is the first woman to be named commissioner of the police force. She was also among the first female officers to work undercover and in plainclothes.
She has received many honours for advancing the role of women in law enforcement during her career, including the Order of Canada.
Senator Marty Klyne, Saskatchewan
Senator Marty Klyne joins the Senate after serving the people of Saskatchewan for many years, dedicating his efforts to economic development in the region, particularly for Indigenous Canadians. He was chair of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board and more recently, the publisher and CEO of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post.
Senator Klyne, a proud Cree Métis, received an eagle feather from a Sun Dancer of the Carry the Kettle Nakoda First Nation, the highest honour one can receive in Indigenous culture.
Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, Quebec
Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne joined the Red Chamber after 25 years at Radio-Canada and a storied career as a writer, documentarian and as a public servant in Quebec.
She holds degrees in political science, journalism and in conflict prevention and resolution. Her work has taken her to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Washington, D.C.
After serving as Radio-Canada’s first female ombudsman, she went on to become president of the Quebec government’s Conseil du statut de la femme, a role in which she advocated for women in the construction industry and addressed issues such as prostitution and honour-based crimes.
Senator Miville-Dêchene represented Quebec at the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO and she has also won awards for her French and for her journalism.
Senator Colin Deacon, Nova Scotia
Senator Colin Deacon is an innovative thinker whose entrepreneurial background will make him a valuable asset in Canada’s Upper Chamber. The Nova Scotian has spent his career turning ideas into products and services that make life better for Canadians.
In 2009, he founded BlueLight Analytics, a company that aimed to improve restorative dentistry. Until 2006, he served as CEO of SpellRead, which improved reading skills among children, adults and seniors, and which was one of Atlantic Canada’s fastest-growing companies. Senator Deacon has also contributed to the charitable sector in Halifax, where he has been an active member on the board of many organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being. He brings to the Senate his passion for civic engagement, creativity and ingenuity.
Senator Donna Dasko, Ontario
Senator Donna Dasko joined the Senate after advocating for gender equality in Canada’s upper house in her role as co-founder of the Campaign for an Equal Senate of Canada in 2015. A respected national pollster and media commentator, Senator Dasko has also championed women’s rights while serving on the board of directors of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund and as former national chair of Equal Voice.
She has served as vice-president of Environics Research Group, one of Canada’s leading research firms. Senator Dasko is currently a fellow at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance and teaches courses in its master’s program.
Senator Pierre Dalphond, Quebec
Senator Pierre Dalphond has devoted more than 30 years of his life to the public service as a lawyer, educator and former senior judge with the Court of Appeal of Quebec. The Oxford University-educated mediator and arbiter has given numerous talks in Canada and abroad on legal issues and has been honoured for his work in educating young lawyers. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
Senator Dalphond brings considerable knowledge of Parliament and the upper chamber to the Senate, as well as his expertise in Canadian law.
Senator Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia, Newfoundland and Labrador
Senator Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia brings a wealth of experience in health policy to the Senate as a long-time family physician from Newfoundland and Labrador.
His journey to Atlantic Canada is a familiar one to many Canadians. He left civil unrest in his native Zimbabwe in 1984 to seek a better life for his family and to continue his career in healthcare. His years of dedicating his life to the well-being of others and educating the next generation of doctors has earned him a number of honourable distinctions, including the Order of Canada in 2015, for his contributions to rural medicine. In 2004, he was also recognized as Family Physician of the Year by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. His areas of expertise include primary care reform and chronic disease management.
Senator Marty Deacon, Ontario
Senator Marty Deacon is keen to work on issues she is passionate about: the environment, international affairs and Indigenous peoples. In her career as an educator, Senator Deacon was a teacher, school principal, consultant, academic and superintendent.
As a badminton athlete, Senator Deacon has what it takes to succeed. She is quick on her feet, has stamina and, most of all, understands the importance of team work. Between her career as an educator and her activities as an athlete and coach, Senator Deacon has also represented Canada on many national and international executive boards.
Senator Yvonne Boyer, Ontario
Senator Yvonne Boyer brings to the Senate a wealth of experience as a lawyer, professor, health-care professional and researcher. She has made her mark fighting inequities to improve the delivery of health-care services to Indigenous peoples.
Senator Boyer has dedicated herself to equality and justice for Indigenous peoples. As a lawyer, she is known for her collaborative approach. In her law practice, Senator Boyer worked to find solutions for clients by striving for a blend of approaches, both Western and Indigenous. She also has the distinction of being Ontario’s first Indigenous senator.
Senator Robert Black, Ontario
Senator Robert Black devoted himself to the public good as a provincial government official, a municipal politician and as the head of and a volunteer at many community organizations.
He has deep roots in the rich agricultural region of southwestern Ontario. He has spent his career ensuring that rural issues get the attention they deserve, from serving on boards to leadership roles with the Ontario Soybean Growers and the Centre for Rural Leadership.
Of special note is the decades-long leadership of Senator Black within 4-H, an organization almost as old as the Senate of Canada, which has championed rural causes and developed leadership amongst children and youth.