10 thoughts on the Canadian Senate, Joyce Fairbairn and public interest

Here's what papers, politicians and pundits are saying

Here’s what papers, politicians and pundits are saying about news that Senator Joyce Fairbairn is suffering from dementia — and that she continued with Senate work after being found incompetent:

“Either the Canadian Senate is important and useful, or it is not. And if it is important and useful, then it demands intellectually competent members — which Ms. Fairbarn, sadly, isn’t anymore. If she is not legally competent to enter into a contract to buy a house or sell stock, why did her fellow Senate Liberals see fit to line her up to vote on legislation affecting 33-million people?”
Jonathan Kay, National Post 

“Dementia in the Senate might sound like the punch line to a thousand bad jokes, but in an institution in which the retirement age is 75, it is both a serious matter and a tragic fact of life. How political parties — and the institution of the Senate itself — deal with an issue that affects the workings and integrity of the Upper Chamber of the House of Commons is a matter of intense public interest.”
Editorial, Ottawa Citizen

“Any story like this certainly calls into question, in some people’s minds, the whole role of the Senate and it does impact on the Senate. There is no doubt about it.”
Government Senate Leader Marjory LeBreton

“It is to the credit of our politicians in Ottawa, not to their detriment, that no one has made a federal case of Fairbairn’s decline into dementia, and of her continued participation in Senate votes despite having been declared legally incompetent earlier this year.”
Editorial, Edmonton Journal 

“She has a tragic disease. To make a front page story of it in a negative way, I don’t just find it disturbing. It makes me angry.”
Former Liberal Senator Sharon Carstairs 

“I know Joyce and I can tell you she wasn’t voting in the Senate to shore up Liberal fortunes; she was just doing the same job she did every single day since she graduated journalism school — she was doing what she was paid by the people of Canada to do.
Giving them value for money. Unlike many Senators I could name who don’t even bother to show up. You know who you are.”
Rose Simpson, blog

“With the help and support of her family, friends and advisers, she is dealing with her situation and in the most appropriate manner. Members of Parliament, like everyone else, have health issues from time to time and deserve the same respect for their privacy as other Canadians.”
Liberal Senate leader James Cowan

“The only realpolitik issue about Senator Fairbairn’s status is to the Liberal caucus as a whole. A senator is allocated a certain amount of funding every year for office staff and for research staff. If Fairbairn resigns, the Liberals lose this money and those resources and that money and resources would surely go to the Conservatives. As the Liberals are the “third party” in the House of Commons, this loss of funding is likely not a trivial matter.”
Sun Media columnist David Akin

“My hope is that the Senate, after this, does a fairly careful study to see what really should be happening, because if it can’t police itself, somebody from outside is going to have to.”
Parliamentary expert Ned Franks 

“Sen. Fairbairn’s illness shouldn’t be open season to score political gain. Has #Ottawa lost all perspective..?”
Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington 

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