Windsor Pediatrician is now a Canadian Senator
Image source: Senator Sharon Burey (sencanada.ca)
Canada has a new Senator, and she is from Windsor.
Sharon Burey has been a Windsor-based pediatrician for the last 30 years and was fully booked when she received the news of her appointment.
Canada has not had a senator from Windsor in 40 years. Burey described herself as not politically connected but motivated to apply due to a recent push for reform within the senate. Specifically on giving voice to underrepresented groups such as women and visible minorities. This encouraged Burey, who had immigrated to Canada from Jamaica back in 1976, to put herself forward.
Although Burey has not formally been sworn in as a Senator, this is a foregone conclusion, as she has already been appointed.
If you followed the US Midterm Elections last month, you would have heard all about ‘swing states’ and ‘control of the senate’ depending on an election in Pennsylvania or Georgia, with President Biden’s entire agenda being at stake. Political talking heads would analyze whether voters would hold their noses for Candidate X if it meant their preferred party had control of the Senate.
None of that is true in Canada.
In Canada, Senators are not elected; they are appointed. They were created to counterbalance the House of Parliament. A bill must pass three readings in both the House of Commons and the Senate before it is ratified.
The Senate has been described as Parliament’s ‘sober second thought.’ Their role is to scrutinize legislation and suggest improvements. Because any bill must pass through the Senate, the House listens when the Senate speaks. The Canadian Senate does not have the same type of partisan factionalism that currently defines its American counterpart.
Now, Burey will be one of 24 senators from Ontario. There are typically 105 Senate seats in Canada; 12 of them remain vacant. There are five Senate groups in Canada: The Conservative Party, the Independents, the Progressives, the ‘Canadian senators’ group’, and the non-affiliated. Burey is currently one of 14 non-affiliated Senators, stressing she will be an independent senator.
Burey has worked as a pediatrician in Windsor since 1990. In the 2000s, she founded ADHD Windsor , an advocacy group focused on raising awareness of ADHD in children. Their mission states that the current healthcare system is a century behind the needs of the population, and thus we should move from a reactive model (treatment) to a proactive model (prevention).
Professor Geoffrey Callaghan says: “reading her career, she is an extremely impressive individual. Appointing her would seem to be a no-brainer. “
He added that “her experience in healthcare could prove to be an asset, especially given the current state of healthcare across all provinces in Canada.”
Adlynn Louidor, a law student at the University of Windsor and the founder of Bridging Borders with Inmates nonprofit, says, “Sharon Burey being the first black senator in Windsor is a milestone, not just for Windsor but for black residents of Windsor, as she demonstrates our representation. She is also an icon for future generations of African Canadians who want to pursue politics. For people who seek inspiration, she is someone to look up to.”
Jen Spencer, a UWindsor law student and the founder of Black Equestrians says, ‘’as a fellow Jamaican, Jamaicans are all about hard work and community- great values for politics.’’ She echoed Dr. Callaghan’s hopes that her experience and background would be an asset, given Canada’s healthcare crisis. Spencer says Burey was an ‘’all-around fantastic role model and someone who represents what Canada is all about.’’