Who inspired you to get involved in public life?
More than any one individual, what inspired me to get involved in public life was growing up in Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where people have a generosity of spirit and a great awareness of politics.
What do you think are the biggest public policy issues facing Canada today?
I believe that the economy, jobs and healthcare are the biggest issues facing Canadians today.
Why should more Canadians care about what happens in the Senate?
Canadians should recognize that we have a bicameral parliament and all legislation must pass through both Houses of Parliament before becoming law. Senators represent regions and minorities in Parliament and Canadians can bring their issues and concerns to senators.
What legislative or committee work are you most proud of participating in to date?
I was very honoured to be part of the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee that published Out of the Shadows at Last, a report on mental health, mental illness and addiction. I am also pleased that I could bring forward private members bills on multiple sclerosis and sickle cell disease.
What is a hidden gem in your region that more Canadians need to know about?
There are a lot of hidden gems in Nova Scotia but people may not be aware of the wonderful wine industry we have. Wines from Grand-Pré were recently served at the World Economic Forum Canada Reception in Switzerland. Of course the Celtic Colours Festival on Cape Breton Island is a gem that everyone should experience. http://www.celtic-colours.com/videos/
Can you name a guilty pleasure song / album that always makes you smile and why?
One of my favourite songs is We Are an Island sung by the Barra MacNeils because it always makes me feel nostalgic for Cape Breton — the most beautiful island in the world!
What is the last book you read or movie you saw which you recommended to someone else and why?
I really enjoyed the movie Spotlight because it showed how strong investigative journalism can make a difference.
What sports team (amateur/professional) do you support?
The Halifax Mooseheads and the Pittsburgh Penguins with Nova Scotia hockey star Sidney Crosby.