The Ontario Conservative senator known for her dry humour and public work as a university professor has died at the age of 56.
The senator was known as Senator Josée Forest-Niesing when she was appointed to the upper chamber by Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper in 2013. Heritage minister Pablo Rodriguez said the postgraduate had died following a long battle with the disease that affects blood vessels and killed actor Peter Sellers in 2008.
“Her loss will be felt by all of us in the Conservative movement and in Canadian politics. The Senate family has lost a great senator,” Rodriguez said in a statement.
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“Sen. Forest-Niesing was a witty and insightful constitutionalist who was always ready to share her knowledge and her wit. She will be missed by all of us,” he added.
Prime minister Justin Trudeau added in a tweet: “Sen. Josée Forest-Niesing was a talented and determined civil servant and a superb public servant, who helped many Canadians build better lives for themselves and their families.”
Josée Forest-Niesing (@IJushNiesing) I was never one to seek the limelight. I was never a blustering politician. #Ottawa pic.twitter.com/0hUPhNlszK
Senators issued an emotional statement as well. Céline Hervieux-Payette, president of the Senate and a longtime friend of Forest-Niesing, said she would miss her “beloved friend”.
“Her accomplishments are immense and well known, but with her greatest achievements being yet to come,” Hervieux-Payette said. “We should appreciate her extraordinary talents, her tremendous energy, her courage and her determination, and we should never forget her simple and sublime integrity.”
Forest-Niesing held various positions in the federal public service before leaving to become a professor at McGill University in Montreal. She worked in finance and economic affairs at the Canadian International Development Agency. She also served as a commissioner of the Newfoundland and Labrador financial integrity commission.
Forest-Niesing told the Globe and Mail newspaper before her appointment to the Senate: “I like to be the person who listens to the right person at the right time. That’s the way you build consensus and understanding.”