PEI·Q&A

P.E.I.'s Diane Griffin on her Senate recommendation

Diane Griffin got a phone call Wednesday night from the prime minister telling her she was being recommended for a Senate appointment.

Diane Griffin talks about the phone call from the PM and what she hopes to accomplish as a senator

Diane Griffin has been recommended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to become P.E.I.'s next senator. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Diane Griffin was just finishing up a meeting at Stratford Town Council Wednesday night when her cell phone rang.

It wasn't totally unexpected, she said. The noted environmentalist was given a heads up someone might be calling about her Senate application.

But she didn't expect that person to be Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself, saying he was recommending her to be one of nine new independent senators.

"It was quite an exciting phone call to get last night," Griffin said.

Senators are appointed by the Governor General, on the advice of the prime minister. Griffin stopped by CBC News: Compass on Thursday to talk about the big news.

After your initial surprise, what were your thoughts when you got the phone call from the prime minister?

"I, of course, had some questions. When would the induction be? When would it be a public knowledge kind of thing? And he also wanted to tell me what some of his aspirations were. Senators of course review legislation but they also initiate things so that I found particularly interesting."

And what tweaked your interest there?

"There are some great committees in Ottawa both in the Senate and House of Commons that deal with natural resources like fisheries, forestry, wildlife protection. There's Parks Canada and there's all kinds of things I have interest in. The problem would be to pick my priorities because there's not time to do everything and be involved in everything."

What happens to your seat in Stratford?

"There will be a byelection. There's still two years left in my time so that's too much to leave vacant by the rules and it's not fair to Stratford to be a part time local politician."

How do you want people to see the Senate in a couple years?

"The independent senators will be in the majority in the Senate … so the way the Senate does business is going to change and probably the tone of debate will change as a result. It's going to be a really exciting time to be there."

What excites you the most about being a senator?

"It gives me an opportunity to advance many of the causes and issues that I've devoted all my career to so I see it as a great opportunity and my husband and I are both really excited about this."

How much time will you be spending in Ottawa?

"The Senate doesn't sit as often as the House of Commons. I'll still be back on Prince Edward Island a lot of the time, in fact I'm counting on that. I'm still going to have my golf membership at Fox Meadow!"

With files from CBC News: Compass