This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Skip to Content

Tributes - The Honourable Lorna Milne

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, on the occasion of Senator Lorna Milne's retirement, it is with gratitude that I speak about the many contributions she made during her 14 years with the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. She worked on that committee almost without interruption, acting as chair during a large part of her service.

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs generally attracts the interest of senators with a legal background, given the nature of its mandate — the study of legal and constitutional issues — and the fact that up to 80 per cent of the legislation introduced by the government is reviewed by that committee.

However, the committee is not composed exclusively of lawyers or members of the legal community. For senators like Senator Milne who have maintained a committed interest in the various and complex issues studied and debated in this committee, it meant developing the necessary capacity to understand the legal jargon and decipher the specialized concept of law that characterizes studies of legal and constitutional bills.

For instance, an understanding of the ramifications of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Constitution, both from 1867, as interpreted by the courts in numerous decisions, and the Constitution Act of 1982, the principles and abundant case law that constitute common law and even, to a point, the principles of the Civil Code of Quebec and, of course, the immense quantity of the whole body of statute law.

In that task Senator Milne revealed herself to be an assiduous mind, developing a remarkable skill to adapt to any challenge and to contribute in a manner wholly appreciated by the majority of the committee members. During the long hours of committee sittings — hours which increased every year — Senator Milne remained a dedicated advocate, voicing the concerns of those who often bear the brunt of the administration of justice, the conditions of the inmate population of Aboriginal origin, the plight of those who have to resort to Legal Aid to have their claims heard and the particular conditions of women tackling the legal system, whether as victims, those charged with an offence or as inmates.

She brought a human voice that must always be heard for the role of justice to remain true to its challenge.

Quite appropriately, Senator Milne has expressed the need for senators to serve a longer term, both to develop the necessary understanding of the procedures and of the arcane laws of Parliament, and to be able to exercise appropriate judgment and articulate personal advice and consent far beyond simply reordering notes prepared by departments or government agencies.

By being faithful to the Legal Committee's work Lorna Milne has spoken for the institutional memory that provides the quality and perspective needed for the workings of the Senate. It is with warm, heartfelt gratitude that I express to Senator Milne my sincere wishes and thanks on her well-deserved retirement.