Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Acting Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable colleagues, on behalf of the Independent Senate Liberals, I am pleased to welcome the new senators to our brand-new chamber.
Throughout her career, Senator Margaret Anderson has demonstrated dedication to the Northwest Territories and the people who live there. She has been a public servant for more than two decades, working in justice, health and social services. I know that she will be a strong voice for those she represents here in the Senate.
Senator Pat Duncan has a long history of representing the interests of Yukoners. She spent 10 years in the legislature there, with two years not only as the territory’s first female premier but also heading the territory’s first-ever Liberal government. That’s a good thing. She has a long history of community involvement, including as Yukon’s Commissioner for the Girl Guides of Canada.
Representing the province of Ontario is Senator Rosemary Moodie, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine. She has spent years as an advocate for health disparities among children as well as expanding health care access for women and children both at home and abroad.
Last, but certainly not least, I am especially pleased to welcome a fellow Bluenoser to this place, Senator Stan Kutcher. He is an expert in adolescent mental health, a professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie Medical School and the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health. He is a good friend, and I’m sure he will do our province proud.
These four individuals are all exceptional people, and I know they will bring their own skills and experiences to our collective work here in the Senate. This is a new building, and we are all getting used to our new surroundings. Most of us don’t know where the washrooms are yet. Going forward, we are all going to be finding our way around together.
I remind honourable senators that the Senate is always in a constant state of change. Over the past few years, the Prime Minister has appointed senators using a new method, a more transparent method to be sure.
Please keep in mind that we are all independent here in this place. How we assert this independence is up to us. Some have chosen to be members of a party caucus. Some have chosen to be members of a group of senators who style themselves as independents. Some of us are members of a caucus of like-minded senators without a party leader.
Do not be afraid to be political here in this place, for politics has a place in everything we do, even if it is not blatantly obvious. Everyone’s personal opinions can be politically biased, and that is okay. Despite what others may say, you can be part of any caucus or group according to our own beliefs.
You are senators and you alone will decide where you sit and how you do your jobs. Should you find yourself agreeing more with the Conservatives, then explore joining that caucus.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Mercer: You never thought you’d hear that.
Should you want to be part of the Independent Senators Group, then that’s your choice too. Should you be more Liberal-leaning and want to explore joining our caucus, we will help you do that. I can assure you that your application will be reviewed thoroughly and quickly.
Just because you style yourself as an independent does not mean you must join any group that someone, somewhere might have suggested to you. It is your choice and yours alone.
That being said, to the new senators, my Independent Liberal colleagues and I welcome you all to the Senate of Canada.
And welcome back to all of my colleagues.