When I was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 2001, I remember the moment when I first stood in the Red Chamber and looked around at my colleagues. I was surrounded by former lawyers, judges, activists, ex-military professionals and distinguished journalists. Many of these individuals had given their lives to their professions, and now they were in this chamber, ready to try and make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians.
Today, thirteen years later, the senate has been going through one of the worst periods of scrutiny since its inception. Yet, through all of this, or perhaps despite it, many senators continue to champion their causes with vigor.
Senator Don Meredith and Senator Anne Cools and are two senators who have done tremendous work for equality rights in Canada.
This past month Senator Cools achieved a milestone by reaching thirty years as a sitting senator. She was appointed by Prime Minister Trudeau as the first Afro-Canadian senator to grace the red Chamber. Through her experience working with Afro-Canadian women and youth, and as the founder of Canada’s first women’s shelter, Senator Cools has been an effective champion for the rights of women and children. She has also been a strong advocate for due process and thoughtful debate.
Senator Meredith has been passionate about the causes of justice and equality. As a member of the Senate Human Rights Committee, Senator Meredith’s experience working with underprivileged youth has brought a very essential perspective to the Senate. He has been outspoken about creating a national strategy to reduce violence amongst youth. He has also been very effective at ensuring that those World War heroes of colour, who have long since passed away, are given adequate observance today.
Senator Meredith has used his faith, not as a wedge between communities but as a point of common ground. In a world that is exceptionally divided, whether it is through race, religion, income or ideology, Senator Meredith has been sure to give everyone an equal voice, both in his work as a senator and as a private citizen.
During this year’s Black History Month, I would like to recognize Senator Meredith and Senator Cools for their work towards the betterment of our communities. They are examples of two senators who are truly making a difference in Canada.