I think the biggest public policy issue facing Canada today is the size of government. I am very concerned that we are ever increasing the national debt through annual budgetary deficits that will eventually negatively impact the Canadian economy and reduce the government’s ability to support future health, education and infrastructure needs. It is distressful to see self-interest organizations continually lobbying for government support. I like to ask the question: “Is it right that these expenditures should be paid by our grandchildren?”
As a federal parliamentarian, I am concerned about the rising rate of obesity in Canada caused by a combination of inactivity and poor nutritional choices. Obesity leads to many chronic diseases that result in rising costs for our health system. Healthy active living needs to be promoted, and it should be part of our education goals. I support government programs to assist vulnerable Canadians; however we will need a strong economy to have good social programs.
I am also very interested in indigenous issues. As a country, we need to come to terms with the injustices they have experienced in the past, and find ways for First Nations to play a meaningful role in our economy, and for indigenous Canadians to have opportunities for personal success. Education will be key, but also moving toward responsible self-government as First Nations develop their capacity.
Pictured, from left: Senator Greene Raine, Senator Kelvin Ogilvie, Senator Art Eggleton and Senator Carolyn Stewart Olsen release a Senate report on Obesity in Canada in March 2016.
3. Why should more Canadians care about what happens in the Senate?
The Senate plays a key role in reviewing the pros and cons of all legislation coming from the House of Commons, looking for oversights or unintended consequences. When the Senate proposes amendments or rejects a bill, it focuses attention on the issue and usually results in better legislation.
Senate committee studies are also a good way to follow issues of national importance, as the committees invite outside experts to testify on the subjects in nonpartisan way. The object of Senate studies is to make recommendations to government ministries on the issue being studied.
4. What legislative or committee work are you most proud of participating in to date?
I have enjoyed the work on all the committees I’ve served on, but perhaps for me the most thought provoking study was the one recently done by the committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology on the rising rates of obesity and its impact on the health of young Canadians and the potential and avoidable impact on future health costs.
Certainly the recent review of the Medical Assistance in Dying legislation (Bill C-14) was the most emotional and intense.
5. What is a hidden gem in your region that more Canadians need to know about?
Sun Peaks, where I make my home, is a real hidden gem. I’ve been here since 1995 and have seen it grow from a collection of ski cabins to become Canada’s second largest ski area with a beautiful village to serve the needs of up to 6,000 visitors. My husband is now the mayor of a thriving community of approximately 550 full time residents. It’s a great place to visit, and to live!
6. What is the last book you read or movie you saw which you recommended to someone else and why?
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander. I found it very interesting and have recommended it to people who have lost loved ones.
7. What sports team (amateur/professional) do you support?
Canada’s National Ski teams — and of course the Canadian Olympic Team!
Pictured: Senator Greene Raine poses with spouse Al Raine and the Olympic torch during the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver.
8. Why are you proud to be Canadian?
I was born in Ottawa, was raised in the West Kootenays, lived in Toronto and later, Montreal, the birthplace of our two sons, and have visited all the provinces and territories. I love the vast beauty of our land, from the lakes and rolling hills of the east to the majestic mountains of the west.Pictured: Senator Greene Raine traveled to British Columbia with the Senate Aboriginal Peoples committee.
I am proud that we care for the environment, and have good schools and universities and an accessible health system. Canadians are free, and our values as outlined in our Charter of Rights and Freedoms are universally respected. People all over the world seek to come to Canada, and it is good that we welcome immigrants and refugees. We do, however, need to stand on guard for our values — to lose them would be a real travesty.
Finally, I am proud that we are coming to terms with the injustices experienced by our original peoples and that all Canadians are learning to respect and value the indigenous cultures that are such a big part of who we are as a country.
The diversity of Canada and the warm hospitality and generosity of our peoples make me so very proud to be a Canadian.
Banner photo credit: Adam Stein