Senator Fairbairn’s situation

Don Martin considers Senator Fairbairn’s situation.

Only now is bear-witness evidence surfacing that her sad condition should not have surprised anyone. One Conservative MP confides she found Sen. Fairbairn wandering Ottawa’s downtown Sparks Street in a disoriented haze and had to be guided to her residence. Another found her unescorted in the Ottawa airport, unsure how to get downtown. A political staffer says he found Fairbairn seated in the Senate foyer with no idea what she was doing there … While one insider suggests she might have been declared mentally incompetent later than February, there’s enough anecdotal evidence to suggest Fairbairn was in mental distress last spring.

Stephen Maher adds his perspective.

A year ago Wednesday, the Ottawa Citizen got a tip suggesting that Liberal Senator Joyce Fairbairn was not well enough to do her job. Reporter Glen McGregor asked the Liberals in the Senate, who told him that she was fine. Last week, he learned that she had been diagnosed with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. He informed the Liberals of that, after which they announced that she would go on sick leave for her final two years in the Senate. It is likely that McGregor’s questions prompted the Liberals to take action, months after her tragic condition had become apparent to people who met her casually.

Leslie MacKinnon asks the obvious question.

It’s a question Conservative Senator David Tkachuk asks: why doesn’t Liberal Senator Joyce Fairbairn just retire? … But Fairbairn is resisting resigning, says Marc Roy, a spokesman for Senator Jim Cowan, the Opposition Leader in the Senate. “The next step will be determined by the evolution of Fairbairn’s medical condition.” Fairbairn was at the “Whoop Up Days” parade in her hometown of Lethbridge, Alta., just a week ago and has been at other public events this summer. Fairbairn is aware that she won’t be going back to Ottawa, Roy says, but believes she can still represent the people of Alberta.

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