VOW Board Director Marilou McPhedran Appointed to Senate
from the Winnipeg Free Press see full article here
McPhedran was heading home to the Exchange District on the #18 Main bus around 5 p.m. Tuesday when her cell phone rang.
“Hello, Marilou — this is the prime minister speaking.”
Trudeau wanted her in Ottawa as soon as possible, but McPhedran was firm that she’ll first finish the human rights course she’s currently teaching at Global College. “I said, ‘I will not let my students down, sir,’,” she told Trudeau.
Her students gave her an ovation Thursday when she arrived for class, and McPhedran cried. “It’s going to be very difficult to give up students,” said McPhedran, who already has checked with the Senate ethics commissioner and says she’s been told she can teach a human rights course in Winnipeg each summer, without pay.
McPhedran is a human rights lawyer and professor, currently the director of the Institute for International Women’s Rights at Global College of the University of Winnipeg, where she was a founding director and has taught for eight years.
In 2012 she was seconded to the Geneva office of the United Nations Population Fund as senior human rights specialist, and has taught in the masters program at the UN-affiliated University for Peace in Costa Rica. Advocating for women’s rights in the Constitution, McPhedran in 1985 was the youngest lawyer ever named to the Order of Canada.
Last year, McPhedran spent almost the entire year co-chairing an Ontario government inquiry into the sexual abuse of patients, flying four or five times a week while still carrying a full teaching load at the U of W.
McPhedran said that the Liberals, New Democrats, Tories and Greens have all asked her to run for office over the years, and she’s at times taken out memberships for several parties while supporting a friend’s candidacy. She’s held a Liberal Party card for two years and donates to the LIberals and NDP.
“I’ve annoyed so many people over the years” and has a “very assertive nature,” laughed McPhedran, so she figured she’d never hold office. “I come out of a fairly combative legal tradition.”
Her family persuaded her to apply to be a senator, said McPhedran, who’s 65. “They were very strong in believing this is something I should do.
“Of course, I want to be on the human rights committee. I have a very strong interest in foreign affairs,” and in implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Senator Murray Sinclair will accompany McPhedran when she’s sworn in as a senator.
“The time of reconciliation that is upon us absolutely requires the full-scale commitment of all of us,” she declared.
The courses she’s taught at the University of Winnipeg for the past eight years all involved working in a collaborative style, she explained. “Dialogue is a very specific skill we teach.”