Tribute The Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, P.C. on the occasion of her retiring from the Senate of Canada


from the Senate of Canada February 12th, 2013

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it is indeed a privilege to speak today about our former colleague, Senator Joyce Fairbairn. I join with others today to honour Joyce in the work that she has done.

Joyce started as a journalist on Parliament Hill in the 1960s, when there were not many women journalists around. I remember hearing her tell many stories about those days and what it was like to be a trailblazer for women as a journalist on Parliament Hill. It was not always easy to be the only woman in the press galley. I see Senator LeBreton smiling.

Joyce has a long history of public service. Joyce served as a legislative assistant to Pierre Trudeau and later served as the communications coordinator in his office.

She was the first woman to be named Leader of the Government in the Senate. She was also the minister with special responsibility for literacy. Later, she became a special adviser for literacy to the Minister of Human Resources Canada.

Those of us in the chamber who served for many years on the Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee with Joyce —Senator LeBreton, Senator Callbeck and Senator Eggleton — will remember that the subject of literacy was near and dear to her. She continuously promoted literacy programs in Canada, and she ensured that communication about new government programs could reach those with poor literacy skills. When new legislation or policy was brought in by the government, Joyce would view it by how it affected those with low literacy skills.

I served for many years on the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology with Joyce. I have great respect for the contributions she made to the Senate and to Canada.

Of course, we all know about her love of Alberta and especially Lethbridge, her hometown. We also know how hard Joyce worked on agricultural issues and what an asset she was to our Agriculture and Forestry Committee, where she served as chair and, later, deputy chair.

My best wishes to Joyce, and I want to thank her for always having such a positive outlook on life. She has made a tremendous contribution to public life here in Canada.