Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it is such a pleasure to be back with you. I’m coming from Nova Scotia, which, for the past four days, has been the land of snow, wind and delayed and cancelled flights, so I’m really happy to be here. I just arrived a very short while ago, after fully expecting to be here more than 24 hours ago.
I am very pleased, on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, to join the other leaders in offering some welcoming remarks to our newest senators.
Before we adjourned in December, we bid farewell to some of our senators whose retirements became official, so it seems fitting that while we ended our year with some heavy-hearted goodbyes, we will be starting this year by adding some new faces and voices to our chamber.
We have already heard about the impressive and varied backgrounds of our five newest senators, who have already taken their seats. I won’t repeat their incredible accomplishments.
Representing the province of Ontario, we have Senator Marnie McBean, Olympian and champion; Senator Paulette Senior, thought leader and trailblazer; Senator Toni Varone, businessman and philanthropist; Senator Mohammad Al Zaibak, entrepreneur and community leader; and, filling the last vacant seat from Prince Edward Island, we welcome Senator Mary Robinson, a businesswoman and strong agricultural advocate.
Though I share the enthusiasm of my colleagues in welcoming five new senators at once, it’s a shame that it doesn’t allow quite as much time to devote to each of you and the incredible careers you have all had to date. The various experiences that you bring will not only help to shape your work in the Senate but also bring new issues to our attention.
An important part of our work here is to advocate on behalf of our regions and under-represented groups whose concerns may not always be raised in the other place. Senator McBean, Senator Senior, Senator Varone, Senator Al Zaibak and Senator Robinson, we are so glad to have you with us as champions for each of your communities. Having heard a bit about your backgrounds this afternoon, we may already feel we have a sense of who each of you are and what issues you may choose to highlight in the Senate, but it’s important to remember that we are all much more than what can be summed up easily.
Some of you may end up pursuing issues that you or we would not have guessed, and I hope that happens. We are all more than meets the eye, and that is true of this institution as well. The Senate is known as the chamber of sober second thought, but it can be so much more. I don’t know what inspired each of you to apply to join our upper chamber, but I hope that you are all able to keep an open mind as you find your places here in the Senate of Canada.
It may not always be what you expect, but you are each now one of Parliament’s agents of change. We are so glad to have you with us, and we will do our best to help you navigate this transition.
So, Senator McBean, Senator Senior, Senator Varone, Senator Al Zaibak and Senator Robinson, on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, it is my pleasure to officially welcome you to the Senate of Canada. We look forward to working with each of you.