Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I, too, am delighted to join in the tributes to our colleague Senator Dennis Patterson. We know that life often throws us large curveballs and little darts that can change our direction and slightly alter the path we are travelling. In fact, this happens so often that while we are certain to register the large ones, the small day-to-day ones may be so imperceptible that it renders us unaware that our path has been altered at all.
I speak about this to highlight the fact that Senator Patterson’s career in politics began in 1979 when he was encouraged by the community elders to run as MLA to represent Iqaluit, formerly Frobisher Bay, in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Having trained as a lawyer, this undoubtedly shifted his initial career plans to a life in politics.
By the way, Dennis is a graduate of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. He served four terms in the assembly, until 1995. He served as minister of education, minister of justice, and minister of municipal affairs. From 1987 to 1991, he served as the fifth premier of the Northwest Territories.
Senator Dennis Patterson contributed greatly to the creation of Nunavut as a territory. Indeed, it was a long and challenging journey, but one he has pointed to as a highlight of his career.
In a return to his initial path in law, after his time as premier, Senator Patterson established a private consulting firm and was admitted to the Law Society of Nunavut in 2001 and has been a trustee since 2003.
Dennis was appointed to represent Nunavut in the Senate in 2009 by prime minister Stephen Harper. Over his tenure in this place, he has been a strong advocate for the people of Nunavut and has been successful in bringing issues facing the territory to the national forefront. He has brought attention to the need for more marine facilities in the territory, and has seen finished projects such as Iqaluit’s deep-sea port as well as small-craft harbours for fishing boats built in smaller communities.
Dennis, I know you have spoken often about what you would like to see happen for Nunavut going forward. I am certain that you will continue to be active in your promotion of the North and its people once you leave this chamber.
It has been a pleasure working with you and having you as a next-door neighbour in the Victoria Building. On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I wish you all the very best as you forge this new path in your life after the Senate. I hope you will enjoy some well-deserved time with your family and that you will allow yourself some time for rest.
Best wishes to you always, Dennis.