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The Hon.
 Céline Hervieux-Payette

Assumed office 
March 21, 1995
Appointed by Jean Chrétien
Preceded by Paul David

Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Mercier
In office
1979 – 1984
Preceded by Prosper Boulanger
Succeeded by Carole Jacques

Born April 22, 1941 (1941-04-22) (age 68)
L'Assomption, Quebec
Political party Liberal
Cabinet Minister of State (Fitness and Amateur Sport) (1983-1984)
Minister of State (Youth) (1984)
Portfolio Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada (1980-1982)
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (2007-2008)

Céline Hervieux-Payette, PC (born April 22, 1941, L'Assomption, Quebec) is the former Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian Senate, and the first woman ever to hold this position.

In the 1970s, Hervieux-Payette served as a political aide to the Quebec government of Premier Robert Bourassa. She also served as an administrator, as president and commissioner of the Le Gardeur School Board, and director of public relations for Steinberg Inc., a Quebec grocery and department store business.

Hervieux-Payette was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1979 election as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Mercier. She was re-elected in the 1980 election, and became parliamentary secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada. In 1983, she was appointed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to the Canadian Cabinet as Minister of State (Fitness and Amateur Sport). She then served as Minister of State (Youth) from January to June 1984.

She was not appointed to the Cabinet of John Turner who succeeded Trudeau as Liberal leader and prime minister in June 1984. She stood as a candidate in the 1984 election, but was defeated.

She returned to the private sector and served as vice-president, business ventures at the SNC Group, an engineering and manufacturing firm, from 1985 to 1989. From 1991 to 1995, she was Vice-President, Regulatory and Legal Affairs for Fonorola Inc., a telecommunications firm. She has been counsellor for Fasken Martineau DuMoulin since 1995.

Hervieux-Payette attempted to re-enter the House of Commons in the 1988 and 1993 elections but was defeated in both attempts. In 1995, she returned to Parliament when she was appointed to the Canadian Senate by Jean Chrétien. She is expected to remain in the Senate until she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2016.

As a Senator, Hervieux-Payette has been an outspoken advocate; for example, on May 3, 2006, she asked the Bank of Canada's Governor David A. Dodge how he could sleep at night when he is contemplating raising national interest rates that would increase borrowing costs for the Quebec government.

On 18 January 2007, Hervieux-Payette was appointed Leader of the Opposition in the Senate by Liberal leader Stéphane Dion, whom she had supported during the leadership race. She also became Quebec lieutenant for Stéphane Dion in October 2007.

On November 3, 2008 she was succeeded as Leader of the Opposition by Jim Cowan.


Hervieux-Payette caused a stir in March 2006 when she responded to an American couple's letter to all Canadian Senators protesting the annual seal hunt in Newfoundland. The American, Anne McLellan told CTV that their family cancelled plans to vacation in Canada, describing the seal hunt as "appalling". (McLellan, is not to be confused with the former Liberal cabinet minister.)

In her responding letter, Hervieux-Payette wrote that what she finds horrible is "the daily massacre of innocent people in Iraq, the execution of prisoners - mainly blacks - in American prisons, the massive sale of handguns to Americans, and the destabilization of the entire world by the American government's aggressive foreign policy, etc."

She later clarified her remarks, arguing that Americans should worry about their own country's behaviour before pointing fingers at other nations. Opposition Leader Bill Graham later issued a statement saying that the letter "reflect her personal opinions and not those of the Liberal Party of Canada."[1]

On April 23, 2009, Hervieux-Payette unveiled the Universal Declaration on the Ethical Harvest of Seals, seeking support from countries, NGO's and scientists to establish universal standards on seal harvest.


  1. ^ [1]

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Dan Hays
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate of Canada
Succeeded by
Jim Cowan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Marcel Proulx
Quebec lieutenant for the Leader of the Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Denis Coderre


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