Introducing Canada’s New Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

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By Dale Sproule

On January 4, 2007, Canada got a new minister of Citizenship and Immigration when Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved former CIC Minister Monte Solberg to Human Resources and Social Development and appointed the Honourable Diane Finley as Minister for Citizenship and Immigration.

If you have seen any recent photographs of the minister, you may wonder why she’s always wearing sunglasses. This is not because she has “gone Hollywood”, but rather is a result of her Graves’ Disease, which was diagnosed in spring of 2006. This hyperthyroidism condition causes sensitivity of the eyes and requires her to wear tinted lenses full time.

Diane Finley was raised in Port Dover and Charlotteville, Ontario and currently lives in Simcoe, Ontario, with her husband Doug. She has a bachelor’s degree in administrative studies and a master’s in business administration from the University of Western Ontario.

Beginning her professional career as an administrator of the University of Western Ontario’s highly regarded French Immersion School, Diane Finley has held a number of senior positions in both the public and private sectors. Her experience encompasses the fields of health care, transportation, agricultural equipment manufacturing, printing/publishing, and aviation. While working with the Laidlaw group of companies, she built Canada’s largest publicly funded ambulance service company.

In addition to her impressive work history, Finley has been active with many worthy organizations including the Brant Community Care Access Centre, the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, the National Standards Committee of the Paramedic Association of Canada, the Aurora Club, the Canadian Strategic Leadership Forum and the Thyroid Foundation of Canada.

Her awards for activism include the University of Western Ontario’s Coupe du president – as well as being named one of Canada’s future leaders by the Governor-General’s Study Conference 2000.

Diane Finley was originally elected to Parliament in 2004. During that first term, she served as Official Opposition Critic for Agriculture and Agri-Food. She was re-elected in 2006 and appointed Minister Human Resources and Social Development in February of that year.

On March 19th, 2006, while serving as Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Finley delivered a keynote speech at the Public Policy Forum Conference “Integrating Immigrants: Building Partnerships that Work.” During that speech, she said, “I am committed to working with my provincial and territorial colleagues and all stakeholders to ensure foreign-trained professionals get properly trained and meet Canadian standards so they can start working here quickly. ”

We can only assume that she has brought those values with her to her new portfolio and will follow through with her statement during the same speech, where she said, “I am ready to use the levers of our Government to help advance our common cause.”

She said, “In the short term, improving the inclusion of new Canadians will help them start working to their full potential–and enhance our productivity. Their success becomes our legacy. Over the longer term, it will help to strengthen Canadian society.

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