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Meet Senator Diane Bellemare
March 23, 2016
PEOPLE

What inspired you to get involved in public life?

Since I was young, I have always wanted to change the world. Canada and Quebec went through a significant recession at the end of the 1950s. My father was suddenly without a job, and my mother became increasingly worried. It was then that I understood what it was to worry about money. I thought the entire situation was unfair; my father was a hard worker. From that moment, I realized the value of full employment. I then went on to study economics.

What do you think are the biggest public policy issues facing Canada today?

I believe the most important issue is, and will always be, the protection of freedom and democracy. As an economist, I believe that to be truly free, an individual should be able to earn a living doing something enjoy.  This is true for everyone. Women, for example, should be economically independent in order to maintain equality with men. To earn one’s living with dignity is a universal goal, one that is inclusive and fosters democracy.

Senator Bellemare in her office.

Why should more Canadians care about what happens in the Senate?

The Senate conducts studies that are very relevant to today’s society.  We need to be able to communicate these studies more efficiently. We’ve succeeded in reaching out to the public with our latest report on obesity, and we need to do the same with future studies and the Senate’s legislative accomplishments.

What legislative or committee work are you working on?

I’m currently working on two major portfolios. The first one is on Senate reform. Briefly, I believe that institutional internal changes are necessary to develop a Senate that is non-partisan and independent. This is why I chose to become an independent senator. The second major portfolio I’m working on focusses on the economy and employment rates of different provinces. Canadians are worried about their future and their ability to respond to change, particularly when they are facing issues related to their work and their retirement.

What is your favourite book and why?

I have many favorite books. I adore distracting myself with a good crime novel. I strongly recommend Anne Hébert’s classic Quebecois novel Les Fous de Bassan, which is a poetic and captivating masterpiece about police work. In terms of public policy, John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice was and still is a revelation. That work is essential for anyone interested in public policy.

Senator Bellemare in her office.

How do you view your role as a Senator representing Quebec?

As a Senator, I must ensure that Quebec’s interests are represented in federal legislation. This is my priority. I must also bring Quebec’s concerns to the Senate and remain accessible to Quebecers.

What do you hope to accomplish in the Senate before your retirement?

I have to emphasize that in the Senate, as in politics, no one can achieve anything alone. That being said, I hope I can help to modernize the Senate and make it an institution that Canadians can be proud of. I also hope to succeed in promoting full employment within the context of the Senate’s work. This issue remains pressing.