Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sheila Finestone, 1927-2009. R.I.P.

Sheila Finestone, a former member of Canada's House of Commons, died yesterday of cancer. She was 82.

Finestone was elected to Parliament in 1984 as a Liberal in Mount Royal (Pierre Trudeau's old riding.) In 1993, she would be appointed by Prime Minister Jean Chretien as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women. Chretien would later appoint her to the Senate in 1999 before she took mandatory retirement two years later (Canadian Senators must retire when they reach 75.)

In the summer of 1994 some young fellow at the Department of Canadian Heritage in Hull, Quebec named Aaron Goldstein drafted ministerial correspondence for Sheila Finestone. I never got to meet her but I knew how she wanted to express herself. She had a reputation for plainspokeness and wore her heart on her sleeve. Since she was a Jewish grandmother I wanted those who received her correspondence to feel their cheeks being pinched as they read her letter. I can only hope that I did her justice in this regard.

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