Aug 29, 2012
By Jane Brown
Supporters of a Liberal senator diagnosed with Alzheimer’s say she should be treated with dignity as she goes on sick leave. They also defend her decision to stay on as long as she did in Ottawa’s Upper Chamber.
The departure of 73 year old Joyce Fairbairn had long been expected around Parliament Hill. The senator from Alberta had been declared legally incompetent by a psychiatrist in February, but Fairbairn insisted on attending sittings of the senate regularly until the end of the session in June.
The situation raises questions about someone with her mental capacity being allowed to continue voting on federal legislation and spending public funds. But Senator Jim Munson says Fairbairn was always well briefed and knew what she was doing.
Dementia affects a half-million Canadians, and is expected to afflict 1.1 million by 2038.
Mary Schulz, director of education for the Alzheimer Society of Canada, says the disease means you may be competent in one area and not competent in another.