Sask. senator honoured as a difference-maker
One hundred and fifty fellow Canadians selected
Saskatchewan’s Senator Denise Batters has been recognized for her work on mental health.
Batters, along with 150 fellow Canadians, was named by the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) as a difference-maker.
“I am very honoured to have been recognized by this prestigious national mental health organisation,” Batters said when reached at her office in Ottawa.
The organization solicited nominations from people coast to coast and the senator was one of the people who made the cut. Batters was chosen from a list of 3,700 fellow Canadians. She added that she was also honoured to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the others who ended up making the list.
“To be one of the people in the class with somebody like Clara Hughes, who I think is just an amazing champion for mental health nationwide, is really humbling,” she said.
Being in the Senate has given Batters the ability to work on a variety of fronts in regards to suicide and mental health, which have the potential to affect the whole country. Batters added that the Senate has throughout its history been able to do good work on the mental health front. This includes the first comprehensive national study on the issue in 2007. During her time in the nation’s upper chamber, the senator has been able to use her position to fight against legislation that she felt would have made certain issues around suicide worse. As an example, she cites her opposition to the Liberal government’s first assisted-dying bill, which she said would have given mentally ill people access to the procedure.
“These are treatable conditions, they are not incurable,” she said.
Batters said that in the in terms of studying mental health, the Senate has been ahead of the curve and able to do important work. In part, she credits this to the Senate’s procedures, which allow more time to study issues and do national studies. Batters explained that being a senator has also given her the chance to work with people with whom she would not have otherwise.
“Being a senator allows me to collaborate with some great Canadians outside the political sphere,” she said.
Among the people she counts herself lucky to have come into contact with through her work are broadcaster Michael Landsberg and former Governor General David Johnson. She also explained that her colleagues have helped her along the way.
“There are many senators who have been supportive of my work and they assist me however they can,” she said.
One of her fellow senators who has been especially helpful is Jacques Demers. Batters said that since being appointed to the Senate, she has gotten lots of support from her late husband’s, former Member of Parliament Dave Batters, colleagues, including current Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer and former prime minister Stephen Harper. Batters appreciated the speech he read at her husband’s funeral that was later published in the Globe and Mail.
“It was so important, a speech dealing with, very openly, with the topic of mental illness and suicide but also talking about what a great person and colleague Dave was,” she said.
Batters was complimentary of the fact that Harper did not let the way her husband died define the way in which he was remembered. Batters was also proud of how her late husband publically handled his battle with mental illness, which ultimately claimed his life in 2009. She said it was especially important that he decided to make the reasons for his decision to not seek reelection public.
“When Dave announced he wouldn’t run again in 2008 when the election was called, he put out a release detailing why he was not able to run again, announcing he was suffering with anxiety and depression and that was really ground-breaking,” she said.