Senator Dalphond pays tribute to the Honourable Mobina S.B. Jaffer

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise to pay tribute to the Honourable Mobina Jaffer, who tomorrow will celebrate the 23rd anniversary of her appointment to the Senate.

In June 2001, the Senate was rather partisan. In choosing Senator Jaffer, prime minister Jean Chrétien appointed a committed woman who had held various positions in the Liberal Party, including chair of the National Women’s Liberal Commission, or NWLC, and who ran in the 1993 and 1997 federal elections. She was also the first African-born senator, the first senator of South Asian descent and the first Muslim senator: three firsts in one day.

She was also an influential member of the Senate Liberal caucus before becoming a non-affiliated senator in 2018 and then joining the Independent Senators Group, or ISG, in 2019.

It was during that transition period, her transition period, that I first met Mobina and discovered how passionate she is about human rights, justice and the fight against all forms of discrimination.

Over the last few years, I have had the pleasure to work closely with her on the steering committee of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. I appreciate her leadership of our committee, her understanding of the law, her commitment to end discrimination, her steady insistence on GBA Plus analysis and her advocacy for greater data to better measure the impact of our laws on various groups and communities.

I also want to acknowledge Senator Jaffer’s sponsorship of Bill C-48, the North Pacific tanker ban, in 2019. This chamber’s close final vote was a milestone in the affirmations of the Salisbury Convention, and an important act of reconciliation with coastal First Nations.

To me, the most striking contributions of Senator Jaffer remain her strong voice for human rights, dialogue and solidarity. In the context of the current rise of hate speech and racism, I conclude by sharing parts of a statement by major religious groups from B.C., which was included in her maiden speech in 2001 after September 11:

We call upon all Canadians to join their prayers and their good will, to guard against prejudice and hatred, to befriend and support each other.

Colleagues, we shall always keep these words in mind.

On behalf of the independent senators of the Progressive Senate Group, I wish you, my friend, all the best in your retirement, and hope you enjoy some time with your family while you rest and plan for your next contribution to Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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