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Joyce Fairbairn’s Common Touch

Posted by Ralph Goodale on August 31, 2012 | No Comments

As we watch our Canadian athletes compete at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, I can’t help thinking of my old friend Joyce Fairbairn, and her current health challenges. As former Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation, she would want to be there cheering our athletes in London.

The first woman to serve as Government Leader in the Senate of Canada, Joyce has been a vigorous member of the Upper House since 1984. Before that, she was a senior advisor to Pierre Trudeau. And before that, a respected journalist. From the days of Pearson, Diefenbaker and Douglas, she’s been a much-loved fixture on Parliament Hill, across all Party lines.

That bright red wardrobe is her trade-mark, together with an infectious smile that lights up any room. But more than that, people on all sides of the partisan divide admire Joyce for what she stands for.

An irrepressible Albertan, she believes in a strong, united Canada – a great Canada – offering unlimited hope and opportunity to all. And for those who carry the burden of some disadvantage, she’s always working to lighten their load.

That’s why she loves the paralympics. She was the biggest fan at the Canada Paralympic Games in Regina in 2005, and at many other competitions before and since, across this country and around the globe. In winter sports, those sledge hockey players are her special favourites.

But Joyce is no mere spectator. She helps organize and inspire. She raises money and profile, and builds a sense of inclusion, dignity and accomplishment on behalf of all Canadians living with disabilities.

The promotion of literacy skills is another of her passions – another example of her work to level-up life’s playing-field. As is her devotion to the local Therapeutic Riding Association in Lethbridge. The list goes on.

Anything touching southern Alberta is a priority for Joyce Fairbairn – her hometown’s annual “Whoop-Up Days”, the sugar beet producers just down the road, the growing Lethbridge university of which she’s so proud, anything to do with agriculture and rural well-being. It all matters to Joyce!

Her career has spanned the high and the mighty, with great distinction. She’s been at the centre of some of the most vital events to shape Canada’s nationhood. But Joyce Fairbairn’s best asset is her boundless humanity which continues to enrich so many lives.

To a great Canadian!

Ralph Goodale

Deputy Leader

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  1. Profile photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace said on

    Great post about a lovely person.

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