Who inspired you to get involved in public life?
Hazel McCallion, the former mayor of Mississauga, inspired me to get involved in public life. Her lifelong involvement with charitable work and her deep commitment to the public good was, and continues to be, a true testament of good leadership. I am honoured to count on her support and advice, and hope that I can also have a profound impact on the success and prosperity of Ontario and the entire country.
What do you think are the biggest public policy issues facing Canada today?
The economy, public safety and health care are some of the biggest public issues of the day. However, the current economic downturn is perhaps the most pressing. There are a number of Canadians struggling — most recently because of the drop in oil prices and increased unemployment in Alberta. As a result, it is important that our government take swift action to promote job creation and economic growth. We can do this by supporting the development of small businesses, investing in innovation and infrastructure, and by increasing our competitiveness in international trade.
In addition, I strongly believe that we need to continue to create opportunities for young Canadians so they can acquire the education and skills that will enable them to succeed.
Why should Canadians care about the Senate?
It is important that Canadians understand how Senators help shape our country and our society. I hope that in the future, more Canadians visit Parliament Hill or tune into Senate sittings and committee hearings to see us in action. I am proud to be a part of such a dedicated and hard-working group of individuals, and I think everyone should learn about the important work we are doing inside and outside of the Chamber.
What legislative or committee work are you most proud of?
I am proud of the valuable work that my colleagues and I have undertaken in committees. For instance, last year the Agriculture and Forestry committee heard from 85 witnesses over the course of eight months about the importance of bee health to sustainable food production in Canada. Their testimony provided us with an in-depth understanding of how this issue affects the everyday lives of Canadians.
What is a hidden gem in your region?
When my sons were younger, I really enjoyed taking them camping to Algonquin Provincial Park. Our provincial and national parks truly help showcase the beauty of Canada, and they are a wonderful way of getting to know our diverse landscapes and wonderful people.
Name a guilty pleasure song that always makes you smile?
I enjoy the music of Paul Anka and The Beatles. I particularly like Frank Sinatra’s version of Fly Me to the Moon; it is a song that I sing to my wife.
What is the last book you read or movie you saw that you recommended to someone else?
I’ve recently watched Joy, a biographical film based on the life of Joy Mangano, a millionaire who built her own business empire from the ground up. I found that the film had a strong message about the importance of hard work in achieving success.
What sports teams do you support?
As an avid golfer, I am a strong supporter of the sport. I have recently been following the careers of Canadian players such as Richard T. Lee, Brooke Henderson, Riley Fleming and Maude-Aimée Leblanc.
Living in the Greater Toronto Area, I also cheer for the Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto FC. I think that it is extremely important to be supportive of our local teams as well as promote an active and healthy lifestyle.
Why are you proud to be Canadian?
I love Canada. I am proud to be a citizen of a country that embraces people of different cultures, ethnicities and faiths. I truly believe that among our biggest strengths as Canadians are the values of diversity, inclusiveness and respect.