Happy New Year to you.
Last year, Canadians read a lot about the Senate, most of which eroded the reputation of individual senators as well as the institution as a whole. In light of all of the criticism we have recently faced, I understand that we will have to work even harder to regain your confidence and trust.
I continued to focus on my goals for the year, as did other Senators, but unfortunately our efforts received very little attention. The Human Rights Committee, which I chair, studied issues of equality. We tabled two reports: the first, Employment Equity in the Federal Public Service: Staying Vigilant for Equality, and the second, Recognising Rights: Strengthening Off-Reserve First Nations Communities. In the next few months I will be speaking on both of these reports and I will also be blogging the summary of the reports.
In 2014, the Human Rights Committee has again set up a very ambitious schedule. We will be studying many issues but as always our focus will mostly be on protecting the rights of the child specifically Syrian refugee children, and how we are implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
Personally, I tabled two bills last year: Bill S-203: An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Criminal Code (mental health treatment), and Bill S-209 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exception to mandatory minimum sentences for manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death) and I will be speaking on these two bills shortly in the Senate Chamber.
I will also be producing material on Resolution 1325 to highlight the challenges faced by women in conflict zones.
In August I plan to go to Africa and continue my work on affordable medicine and work in the villages to help eradicate malaria.
This is my 13th year in the Senate and I know what a privilege it is for me to represent my province of British Columbia. I do not take this honour lightly and will continue to work hard to serve British Columbians and Canadians.
Once again Happy New Year.