Tribute to the late Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, P.C., C.M.

By: The Hon. Terry Mercer

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Parliament and the Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to my dear friend and former colleague, Senator Joyce Fairbairn.

In thinking about what to say today, I first thought of the fact that Joyce was the first female Leader of the Government in the Senate. But she was so much more than that. She was a trailblazer for women in journalism and communications, culminating in a job in former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s office.

She was a guide to me and others as chair of the Agriculture Committee and others. She brought out the best of us — and especially our clerks — in her Senate work.

She loved to ride horses. She was passionate about literacy and the Paralympic movement in Canada. She was a proud defender of the West.

What struck me the most was that she called herself the girl from Lethbridge, and the people of Lethbridge called her “our senator.” That’s right — in southern Alberta, a Liberal. That was a remarkable testament to how much people loved her and how much she loved and supported them, and all her fellow Albertans and Canadians.

While her career may have ended early, she remained steadfast in her work for as long as possible and she continued to live her life to the fullest. Our sincere condolences to her family and the many friends she leaves behind.

I find it fitting that it was her wish that the celebration of her life be held in the warmth of summer because that is who she always was in everything she did, warm and bright.

We will miss you, Joyce.


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