Conservative Senator Janis Johnson retires after 26 years

Manitoba Senator Janis Johnson announced Wednesday she'll step down on Sept. 27, 26 years after being appointed by former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

Janis Johnson announced Wednesday she'll step down on Sept. 27.

Manitoba Senator Janis Johnson announced Wednesday she will retire on Sept. 27. (Janis G. Johnson)

Manitoba Senator Janis Johnson is stepping down this month.

In a statement Wednesday, Johnson announced her plans to retire on Sept. 27, exactly 26 years after former prime minister Brian Mulroney appointed her in 1990.

She's the longest-serving Conservative member of Senate, and was the first woman to serve as the national director of the former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

Her exit adds another entry in the long list of Senate vacancies Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to fill. Including Johnson's, 21 seats will be empty by the end of the month.

"It has been an honour to have served with many outstanding Canadians from all parts of our country and what a privilege it has been to get to know them and work together on groundbreaking studies and perform our duty of legislative oversight," Johnson wrote in her statement.

"From intense debates, to studying legislation and working on vital committee reports, Senator Johnson has stood out in the Senate for her principles, confidence, determination, and diligence," said Senator Claude Carignan, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, in a press release.

Johnson started her career in Winnipeg, attending the University of Manitoba and establishing a public policy and communications firm, Janis Johnson & Associates.

She now has a home in Gimli, Man., where she founded the Gimli Film Festival in 2000.

In 2015, Johnson was named among 30 senators in auditor general Michael Ferguson's audit of Senate expenses. Johnson criticized the report, but later repaid the $22,706 it said she owed in questionable expenses.

Before her retirement announcement, Johnson was slated to retire when she turned 75 in April of 2021.