My Work Over the Years

Senate PortraitIn this section, I wish to detail the many policy initiatives that I have been involved with over the years. From 1990 to 2016, I have had the privilege of serving my home province of Manitoba within the Senate of Canada and this has afforded me the opportunity to advocate for a wide array of issues affecting not only Manitobans, but all Canadians. While carrying out my constitutional duty of practicing sober second thought on legislation, there have been occasions where I could not support Government legislation, including bill brought forward by my own party. From my very first days in Parliament, I believed in and asserted my independence when considering legislation.

Below is a detailed outline of some of the major issues on which I worked on as a Senator and I believe I made a substantive impact within the legislative and policy-making process.

The core areas where I endeavoured to make an impact were:

– Gender Equality
– Sustainable Development and Protecting our Environment
– Strong Arts and Cultural Policies for Canada
– Effective Foreign Policy through Active and Engaged Diplomacy


Here you will find a brief history of some of the major events and studies that I was involved in during my time at the Senate of Canada.

Protecting a Woman’s Right to Choose

On January 31st, 1991, I delivered my maiden speech in the Senate of Canada.  The country had been within an intense and deeply polarizing debate on the issue of abortion and what the appropriate legal framework around access to abortion services would be.

Defending the Arts & Culture in Canada

In 1993, the country was slowly recovering from an intense recession, which had put a considerable strain on public finances.  Governments throughout the Western world were understandably searching for ways to cut costs and downsize their operations.

A Landmark Report on the Digital Revolution

After fastidiously making our case for the necessity of studying the digital revolution taking place in our society, Senators Lise Bacon, Mira Spivak and myself had the Senate Committee on Transport and Communications establish the Subcommittee on Communications.

Starting a Film Festival in My Region

I was inspired to expand the local cultural traditions to also involve the cinematic arts.  As a great admirer of cinema, I had long wished to see the development of this art in all of its forms within my home province.  Indeed, many talented actors, directors, writers and related artists hail from Manitoba…

Ensuring the Path to Aboriginal Self-Government

In recent years, there has been a national awakening regarding Canada’s relationship with its indigenous population. An awakening that recognizes the centrality of living with our fellow indigenous citizens on a nation-to-nations basis, with all of the rights and responsibilities therein.

Saving Lake Winnipeg – A Manitoba Treasure

Canada is also blessed to have the largest freshwater system on earth.  About 60% of our freshwater flows north toward the Arctic, which itself represents roughly two-thirds of our maritime coastline.  As Canadians, we are well aware of our freshwater wealth, yet have for too long taken it for granted.

First Ever Study on Urban Aboriginal Youth

In September 2001, the Senate adopted a motion by Senator Thelma Chalifoux, then chair of the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, to undertake a study into the situation affecting urban Aboriginal youth in Canada. This was prompted by the significant input that the Committee had received…

The New UN Human Rights Council and Canada’s Role

By the early 2000s, it became increasingly evident that world’s primary human rights institution was no longer working.  Established in the aftermath of the Second World War, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was a foundational institution that would serve the international community in facilitating…

Providing Leadership in Canada-US Relations

For 5 years, one of my core responsibilities was serving as Senate Co-Chair of the Canadian Section of the Canada–United States Inter-Parliamentary Group (IPG). The Parliament of Canada has, for many decades, had multi-party inter-parliamentary groups and associations…