Distinguished Senators Canada and Their Notable Contributions

Canada’s Senate is composed of accomplished individuals from diverse backgrounds, each representing their respective provinces and contributing their expertise to the nation’s governance. Here, we introduce you to some of these distinguished Senators, highlighting their names, provinces, and a brief glimpse into their notable careers and achievements.

A Wealth of Experience and Expertise

These Senators bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the table, contributing to the legislative process in Canada. From public service to academic achievements, their backgrounds reflect a commitment to the betterment of their provinces and the nation as a whole. Get to know these Senators as they continue to shape Canadian policy and governance.

distinguished senators canada

Senator George Baker: A Stalwart in Canadian Politics

Senator George BakerSenator George Baker’s illustrious career in Canadian politics began in 2002 when he was appointed to the Senate by Rt. Honourable Jean Chrétien, representing Newfoundland and Labrador. He has played key roles in Senate committees, including Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, Fisheries and Oceans, and Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Before his Senate tenure, Senator Baker served as an MP for the Gander–Grand Falls riding, starting in 1974. He held various important positions, including Parliamentary Secretary roles, and was a diligent Opposition critic.

Notably, from 1999 to 2000, Senator Baker served as Minister of Veterans Affairs and successfully negotiated a $50 million compensation package for Canada’s merchant navy veterans.

Born in 1942, Senator George Baker is a family-oriented public servant who has left an enduring mark on Canadian politics, championing veterans’ rights and contributing to various facets of the nation’s governance.

Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire: A Remarkable Journey

Lieutenant-General Roméo DallaireBorn in Denekamp, Holland, Lieutenant-General Roméo A. Dallaire enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1964 after four years in the Cadets and Reserves. He received his education at the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, Québec, and the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario.

Throughout his military career, Dallaire held key command and staff positions, including commanding the 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada and serving as Director of Land Requirements and Director of Artillery.

In 1993, he took command of the United Nations Observer Mission – Uganda and Rwanda (UNOMUR) and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), earning the Meritorious Service Cross.

After retiring in 2000, he focused on raising awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Canada.

Dallaire’s international contributions include serving as a Fellow at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and advising on war-affected children and non-proliferation of small arms.

Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire’s career exemplifies unwavering dedication, from his military service to his advocacy for vital global causes.

Senator Serge Joyal: A Distinguished Career

Senator Serge Joyal Senator Serge Joyal has represented Quebec in the Canadian Senate since November 26, 1997, actively participating in committees like Legal and Constitutional Affairs and Rules, Procedures, and the Rights of Parliament.

With a background in law and a passion for art, Senator Joyal has excelled in both the public and private sectors. He’s held significant roles in cultural preservation, serving as Director of the Canadian Museum Association and President of the Quebec Museum Association.

As a former Member of Parliament, Senator Joyal played key roles in government and was instrumental in constitutional matters and language policies.

He’s been honored with the Order of Canada and France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Moncton.

Born in Montreal on February 1, 1945, Senator Serge Joyal’s career is a testament to his commitment to law, culture, and public service.

Senator Pierre De Bané

Senator Pierre De BanéSenator Pierre De Bané, appointed by former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, has represented Quebec and the Senatorial Division of De la Vallière since June 29, 1984. In the Senate, he actively participates in various committees, including Foreign Affairs, Internal Economy, Budgets, and Administration.

A lawyer by trade, he served as a Parliamentarian, holding Ministerial roles and making significant contributions to Canada’s governance. His educational background includes institutions like the University of Ottawa and Laval University, and he received recognition as Queen’s Counsel in January 1985.

Born on August 2, 1938, in Haifa, Palestine, Senator De Bané is married to Elisabeth (Nadeau) and has one child, Jean-Manuel. His life’s journey encompasses law, public service, and dedicated representation of Quebec in the Canadian Senate.

Senator Dennis Dawson: A Lifetime in Public Service

Senator Dennis DawsonDennis Dawson holds a Bachelor’s degree in political science from Laval University and the University of Ottawa. He later earned a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Laval University. His journey in public service began as one of the youngest elected school board trustees in Québec and Chairman of Québec’s second-largest School Board. In 1977, he became one of Canada’s youngest Members of Parliament, serving three terms for the Louis-Hébert constituency. He chaired the Québec caucus and held roles as Parliamentary Secretary for Employment and Immigration and Labour.

Afterward, he managed the Québec operation of Hill and Knowlton, a leading government relations firm. Dawson is also known as a political commentator on national television. For more information, you can visit the BA Be Forum, where discussions about Laval MBA and MBA Laval may be found.

Senator Percy E. Downe: A Lifetime of Service

Senator Percy E. DowneSenator Percy E. Downe, appointed to the Senate of Canada on June 26, 2003, resides in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Praised by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for his valuable contributions, he currently holds key roles in the Senate and has served on various committees.

His diverse career spans roles such as Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister of Canada and Executive Assistant to government officials. Senator Percy E. Downe’s service to Canada reflects his commitment to public welfare and governance.

Senator Jane Cordy: A Life of Dedication

Senator Jane CordyAppointed in 2000 by Jean Chrétien, Senator Jane Cordy has devoted her life to service. A Nova Scotia native residing in Dartmouth, Cordy taught elementary school for 30 years and actively participated in her community.

Her political engagement included roles like the past president of the Nova Scotia Women’s Liberal Commission and contributing to Prime Minister Chrétien’s task force on seniors. She was part of the Senate committee’s report on mental health, mental illness, and addiction in Canada, and she served on the Special Senate Committee on Aging.

Internationally, Cordy chaired the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association and is an international vice president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Her areas of interest encompass mental health, seniors and aging, Multiple Sclerosis, NATO and Gender Security, education, and children. Cordy’s life of dedication reflects her commitment to improving the lives of Canadians.

Senator Larry W. Campbell: A Life of Service

Senator Larry W. CampbellLarry W. Campbell, originally from Brantford, Ontario, embarked on a diverse career marked by dedication and various roles.

In the early stages of his career, he worked as a steelworker before joining the RCMP in 1969, eventually specializing in drug enforcement.

Later, he transitioned into death investigation, establishing Vancouver’s first District Coroner’s Office in 1981 and becoming the Chief Coroner for British Columbia in 1996. His work inspired the CBC drama series Da Vinci’s Inquest.

Campbell was a staunch advocate of the Four Pillars approach to ending drug abuse, leading him to run for Mayor of Vancouver in 2002. As Mayor, he championed North America’s first legal safe injection site and supported the Four Pillars Drug strategy. He also played a crucial role in Vancouver’s successful bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In August 2005, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Paul Martin, where he focused on drug policy, mental health, aboriginal issues, and advocacy for Canadian municipalities. He represents the Senate Standing Committees on Aboriginal Peoples and Fisheries and Oceans.

Campbell holds an MBA from City University in Vancouver. His life reflects an unwavering commitment to service and advocacy across diverse fields, leaving a lasting impact.

Senator Charlie Watt: A Life of Dedication

Senator Charlie WattAppointed in 1984 by former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Senator Charlie Watt represents Quebec and the Senatorial Division of Inkerman. His career spans both the public and private sectors, with a focus on Aboriginal issues. He played a pivotal role in creating the Inuit Committee on National Issues.

Recognized for his dedication, he holds the distinction of being an Officer of the National Order of Quebec (1994) and the recipient of the 1997 National Aboriginal Achievement Award. He has also received the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals and has been honored by many indigenous groups.

Senator Watt was born in Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), Quebec, and educated across Canada. He is married to Ida (Epoo) and is a father to Donald, Robert, Lisa, Billy, and Charlene, Charlie Watts’ children. Throughout his life, Senator Charlie Watt has been dedicated to public service and advocacy for Aboriginal issues, leaving a lasting impact on his community and beyond. For more information, you can visit the Watt a Dog Forum.

Senator Tommy Banks: A Life of Public Service

Senator Tommy BanksTommy Banks has dedicated his career to public service and advocacy:

He served on the Canada Council for the Arts and advised on NAFTA negotiations during Brian Mulroney’s administration.

Under Joe Clark, he played a significant role in the campaign for the national referendum on constitutional amendment.

In 2000, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Jean Chretien after a successful international music career.

He has been actively involved in Senate committees, including as Chair of the Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources.

His legislative achievements include The Statutes Repeal Act and sponsoring Government Bills on issues like species at risk and public safety.

Tommy Banks’ life has been marked by a commitment to public service and advocating for important causes in Canada.

Senator Joseph Day: A Remarkable Career in Law and Engineering

Senator Joseph DayAppointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 2001, Senator Joseph Day represents New Brunswick and the Senatorial Division of Saint John-Kennebecasis.

His distinguished career spans both law and engineering. Senator Day is a well-known New Brunswick lawyer with expertise in Patent and Trademark Law and intellectual property. He has been certified as a Specialist in Intellectual Property Matters and is a Fellow of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada.

In addition to his legal career, he has actively contributed to his community by chairing various boards and organizations. He has also held leadership positions in professional associations and served as National President of the Royal Military Colleges Club of Canada.

Senator Day holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the Royal Military College of Canada, an LL.B from Queen’s University, and a Masters of Laws from Osgoode Hall.

Born in Saint John in 1945, he is married to Georgie Fraser Day and has two children: Emilie and Fraser.

Senator Francis Fox: A Remarkable Career

Senator Francis FoxSenator Francis Fox retired in 2011 after a distinguished career in Canadian politics and law. He served as a Member of Parliament from 1972 to 1984, holding various ministerial positions, including Solicitor General of Canada, Secretary of State, Minister of Communications, and Minister for International Trade. Notably, he played a key role in enacting Canada’s first access to information legislation and declaring “O Canada” as the national anthem.

A graduate of the University of Montreal, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University, Fox began his career as a Special Assistant in Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s office. He later practiced law and held senior positions with Rogers Communications. He is involved in Montreal’s cultural and sports communities, serving on the Board of Directors of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Tennis Canada.

Senator Joyce Fairbairn: A Lifelong Advocate for Literacy

Senator Joyce FairbairnSenator Joyce Fairbairn has been a prominent advocate for literacy and public service throughout her career. Appointed to the Senate by former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1984, she represents Alberta and has actively served on several Senate Committees, focusing on issues like agriculture, selection, and social affairs.

Her background in journalism and communications, along with her dedication to literacy, has shaped her distinguished career. Before her Senate role, she held various positions in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Liberal Caucus. She was also the first woman to lead the Government in the Senate and held key roles in literacy initiatives. Senator Fairbairn’s contributions have earned her numerous distinctions and honors, and she continues to make a meaningful impact on her community and the Senate.

Senator Terry M. Mercer

Senator Terry M. MercerSenator Terry M. Mercer, appointed by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in November 2003, represents Nova Scotia’s Northend Halifax in the Senate. He is the Deputy Leader and Chair of the Senate Liberals. Before his political career, he had a notable role in fundraising and philanthropy. Senator Mercer is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and active in the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). His achievements have earned him several honors. Senator Mercer holds a Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s University and an honorary Doctor of Civil Law from SMU. He lives in Halifax with his family.

Senator Willie Adams

Senator Willie AdamsSenator Willie Adams, appointed by the late former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, represented the Territory of Nunavut in the Senate from April 5, 1977, until his retirement on June 22, 2009. His current roles include membership in the Senate Committees on Fisheries and Oceans, and Transport and Communications.

Before his political career, Senator Adams was an electrician and successful businessman. His entrepreneurial ventures included ownership of Kudlik Electric Ltd., Kudlik Construction Ltd., Polar Bear Cave Investments, Nanuq Inn at Rankin Inlet, and Umingmak Expediting Ltd. in Ottawa.

In addition to his Senate duties, he served in the Northwest Territories Council from 1970 to 1974. Senator Adams is married and has ten children.

Born in Fort Chimo, Quebec, on June 22, 1934, he received his education at the Anglican Mission Schools in Fort Chimo.

Senator Sharon Carstairs

Senator Sharon CarstairsSenator Sharon Carstairs retired from the Senate on October 17, 2011, after a remarkable career in Canadian politics. Born into a family deeply engaged in politics and education, with her father, Harold Connolly, serving as Premier of Nova Scotia and later as a senator, Carstairs was exposed to political discourse from a young age.

She pursued higher education, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from Dalhousie University and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Smith College in Massachusetts. Her commitment to education was evident through her teaching career in various public and private school systems across North America.

Carstairs entered the political arena, making history by becoming the first woman to lead the Official Opposition in a Canadian Legislative Assembly when she led the Liberal Party in Manitoba to a significant electoral victory in 1988.

In 1994, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed her to represent Manitoba in the Senate. During her Senate

Senator James S. Cowan

Senator James S. CowanAppointed by Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2005, Senator James S. Cowan serves as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He’s from Halifax, holds law degrees from Dalhousie University and a Master of Laws from the London School of Economics. He’s a partner at Stewart McKelvey, a major Atlantic Canada law firm, and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1983.

Cowan has been actively involved with Dalhousie University since 1972 and has a background in business and public policy. He represents the Liberal Party of Canada in the Senate, where he became Leader of the Opposition in 2008.

Senator Cowan and his wife, Shelagh, have three sons, Robert, David, and Peter, a daughter, Suzanne, and ten grandchildren.

Dr. Lillian Eva Dyck

Dr. Lillian Eva DyckDr. Lillian Eva Dyck is a leading advocate for women and Aboriginals in Canada’s scientific community. She holds a Ph.D. in Biological Psychiatry from the University of Saskatchewan and has made significant contributions to neurochemistry and psychiatry research, leading to the development of new drugs for diseases like Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Dyck has received numerous awards, including a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Science and Technology in 1999 and a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award for Science, Technology, and the Environment in 2003. She retired as a Full Professor in the Neuropsychiatry Research Unit at the University of Saskatchewan.

Senator Joan Fraser, B.A.

Senator Joan Fraser, B.A.Appointed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Senator Joan Fraser has represented Quebec in the Senate since September 17, 1998. She holds roles in the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and the Standing Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures, and the Rights of Parliament. Her expertise includes journalism, communications, the Constitution, and Official Languages.

Senator Fraser started her journalism career at The Gazette in 1965 and later worked at the Financial Times of Canada. In 1993, she became Editor-in-Chief of The Gazette, serving until 1996. Her contributions to journalism have earned her awards and recognition.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages from McGill University and was born on October 12, 1944, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is married to Michel Faure and has two children.

Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, P.C., LL.B.

Senator Céline Hervieux-PayetteCéline Hervieux-Payette is a lawyer at Fasken Martineau, was a Senator since 1995, and the first female Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 2007-2008. Her career includes public service and roles in the private sector, as well as ministerial positions. She actively engages in parliamentary diplomacy and leads various parliamentary groups.

Senator George Furey, Q.C., B.A., B.A. (Ed.), M.Ed., LL.B.

Senator George FureyGeorge Furey was appointed to the Senate by Jean Chrétien in 1999, representing Newfoundland and Labrador. He currently chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and is a member of the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. Before his Senate career, he was a distinguished lawyer and educator, serving as a teacher and in various school leadership roles. Later, he became a partner in a law firm and was named Queen’s Counsel in 1996. Senator Furey is known for his community leadership and has contributed to various voluntary groups and professional boards. He holds multiple Bachelor’s degrees from Memorial University and a law degree from Dalhousie University.

Senator Elizabeth Hubley

Senator Elizabeth HubleyElizabeth Hubley was appointed to the Senate by Jean Chrétien in 2001, representing Prince Edward Island. She currently serves on the Senate Committees for Aboriginal Peoples, Agriculture and Forestry, and Fisheries and Oceans. Prior to her Senate career, Hubley was a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island and a successful entrepreneur, notably founding the Stepping Out Studio, a traditional Island dance studio. Her community service, especially in cultural matters, has been notable, and she has been actively involved in various cultural organizations and societies in Prince Edward Island.

Senator Mobina S.B. Jaffer

Senator Mobina JafferSenator Mobina Jaffer, representing British Columbia in the Canadian Senate since 2001, is a strong advocate for human rights, bilingualism, and community engagement. She chairs the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights and is a member of other committees.

She led a Senate study on child sexual exploitation in Canada and promotes bilingualism nationwide. Prior to her Senate appointment, she served as Canada’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan and chaired the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace, and Security.

Senator Jaffer is an accomplished lawyer, receiving recognition for her work in women’s and children’s rights. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from London University and completed the Executive Development program at Simon Fraser University.

Senator Colin Kenny

Senator Colin KennySenator Colin Kenny, representing Ontario in the Canadian Senate since 1984, has a distinguished career in politics, public service, and private sector roles. He has made significant contributions to defense and national security issues, serving on various committees and chairing the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence from 2001 to 2009. Senator Kenny has also been active in promoting alternative fuels and tobacco control, leading to notable changes in federal anti-smoking programs and government vehicle fuel choices. His extensive publications cover a range of topics, including defense policy, aviation security, and Canadian political issues. In addition to his parliamentary work, he has served as a Commissioner of the Trilateral Commission and as a member of the Johns Hopkins University Atlantic Basin Initiative’s Eminent Persons Group.

Senator Sandra M. Lovelace Nicholas, C.M.

Senator Sandra M. LovelaceSandra Lovelace Nicholas is a prominent advocate for the rights of Aboriginal women in Canada. Her dedication to rectifying injustices resulted in her challenging discriminatory provisions of the Indian Act that stripped Aboriginal women of their status upon marrying non-Aboriginals. Her efforts led to lobbying for legislative changes in 1985, which restored the rights of First Nation women and their children. For her impactful work, she received the Order of Canada in 1990 and the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case in 1992.

Sandra, a Maliseet woman from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, has become a role model for many Aboriginal women, exemplifying pride, strength, and determination. She is a mother of four, holds a degree in residential construction from the Maine Northern Technical College, and continues to reside on the Tobique First Nation. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas serves as a member of the Liberal Party of Canada in the Senate.

Senator Frank W. Mahovlich, C.M.

Senator Frank W. MahovlichSenator Frank Mahovlich, originally from Timmins, is a hockey legend. He graduated from St. Michael’s College School in 1957 and received the Order of St. Michael in 1996.

In 1958, he began his remarkable NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year. Over 22 years, Senator Mahovlich scored 626 goals, made nine All-Star teams, and won six Stanley Cups – four with Toronto and two with the Montreal Canadiens. In 1971, he tied the record for most playoff points.

In addition to his on-ice success, Senator Mahovlich has been a strong hockey ambassador and role model. He’s a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame since 1981, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame since 1990, and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame since 2001. He received the Order of Canada in 1994 and an honorary Doctorate from St. Francis Xavier University in 2002.

Senator Pana Merchant, B.A.

Senator Pana MerchantSenator Pana Papas Merchant is the second woman to represent Saskatchewan in the Senate.

With a background in teaching and business, Ms. Merchant has been actively involved in various cultural, political, and advocacy groups in Saskatchewan. Her extensive charitable and volunteer work includes organizations such as Canadian Parents for French, Immigrant Women, the Greek and other immigrant communities, the CWL, various health sector organizations, and a provincial political fundraising committee. She has also served on the boards of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (1996 – 2002), The Mackenzie Art Gallery Volunteers, and the Regina Volunteer Centre.

Senator James S. Cowan, Q.C., B.A., LL.B., LL.M.

Senator James S. Cowan, appointed in 2005, currently serves as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. He is a practicing lawyer from Halifax, and his significant involvement with Dalhousie University spans several decades. He has also been active in various business and healthcare roles.

Céline Hervieux-Payette (Retired)

Céline Hervieux-Payette, who has retired, was a notable figure in Canadian politics. She served in the Senate of Canada and held various positions, including Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. With a background in law, she also had a successful career in the private sector and was actively involved in various public service roles.

Lise Bacon (Retired)

Lise Bacon, a former Senator who retired on August 25, 2009, was a prominent figure in Canadian politics. Appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, she represented Quebec. Prior to her Senate tenure, she had a successful political career, serving as an MNA in Quebec’s National Assembly. During her time in office, she held significant positions like Deputy Premier and Minister of Cultural Affairs.

Senator Bacon was also active in various community organizations and received several honors for her contributions. Born in Valleyfield, Quebec, on August 25, 1934, she pursued studies in humanities, sociology, political science, and psychology, demonstrating her commitment to public service and learning.

Mac Harb (Retired)

Mac Harb, originally from Lebanon, had a career in Canadian politics. He graduated from the University of Ottawa with an M.A. in Engineering. Before politics, he worked as an engineer for Northern Telecom and as a professor at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

His political journey began as an alderman in Ottawa in 1985, and he later served as Deputy Mayor from 1987 to 1988. In 1988, he became a Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre. During his time in Parliament, he held various roles and participated in committees. He also co-chaired the Liberal Task Force on Infrastructure in 1990.

From December 1993 to 1995, Mr. Harb served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade. His diverse background contributed to his successful political career.