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Tributes - The Honourable Joan Fraser

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, if I had my wish, Senator Fraser would serve out her term and continue to sit until the October 2019 election. She has always carried out her duties faithfully and shown herself to be scrupulously professional and unfailingly approachable. I should add that she has always been very independent-minded in fulfilling her duties.


She is her own master, and when she reaches a conclusion, it is always after thorough analysis and review of every argument, as she had always done as an editor of the Montreal Gazette.

After 19 years of dedicated service in this chamber, she leaves with a stellar example of institutional integrity as her legacy. Never having been a member of a provincial or federal party before being recommended to the Senate in 1998, she then became a member of the Liberal group and joined the Liberal Party of Canada. However, she never let partisan interests take over the wider service of the public good.

She is a living example that one can be a member of a political group without being intellectually dominated by it. In fact, she is of the opinion that political parties are essentially institutions for the mediation of persons of different backgrounds, experiences and individual thoughts to converge and to achieve consensus on a certain set of initiatives responding to specific objectives or problems in society.


In Senator Fraser’s opinion, a political caucus in the Senate is not an organization designed to flatten out contrasting visions and take away their originality by assimilating them into the group. Rather, she sees caucuses as structures that enable individuals with distinct experiences and personalities to establish common goals and propose compromises for ultimately achieving practical results while remaining free to vote as they see fit.

Senator Fraser never lost her critical skills, her independence, or her unique perspective on Quebec and Canada just because she was a member of the Liberal caucus. Her take on the status and unique position of the English-speaking community in Quebec is clear, and she expressed it every chance she got. I think this is the greatest contribution she made in all her years in the Senate: cultivating independent thinking while taking part in this process of mediation to foster debate and reflection in order to come up with specific responses to specific problems.

Senator Fraser always respected differences of opinion and was generous with her time and herself. She would not leave the Senate until the sitting was over, and she was always prepared to take on ungrudgingly the work of this chamber. She truly epitomized the requirements associated with the duty and responsibility of the royal commission under which each of us was called to serve and was sworn in.


Senator Fraser, you have contributed to establishing ethical standards that have helped the Senate to improve its work while fully respecting the different viewpoints that enrich the intellectual capacity of this chamber.

We will remain deeply thankful for that legacy.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!