The Montreal Gazette

Other jobs for Senate no-shows

Althia Raj

Conservative Sen. Jacques Demers tops the list of senators with the worst attendance in 2009, a trend that continues this year as the former hockey coach spends time on the road with the Montreal Canadiens.

Demers and his leader in the Senate, Sen. Marjory Le-Breton, said the Conservativegovernment knew he would be on the road a lot when they appointed him. Demers often travels to Montreal from Ottawa as he finishes the last year of his contract as an on-air commentator with sports station RDS.

“When I missed days, it was because of the Habs,” he said. “This year, it’s because they got into the playoffs and I’ve been travelling with them.”

Demers has showed up in the Senate three times since the playoffs started.

Liberal Sen. Jean Lapointe wasn’t far behind in the rankings, having missed 21 of 83 days of last year’s sittings. Lapointe said he was forced to work on a movie in May and June after production was delayed due to funding problems.

ACTING GIG

Lapointe said he usually works when the Senate isn’t sitting, but this time, he had to honour his contract.

“I may not always be a senator, but I will always be an artist,” said the well-known Quebec actor and songwriter.

Northwest Territories Sen. Nick Sibbeston and Ottawa Sen. Mac Harb, third and fourth on the list, didn’t return calls for comments.

Neither did Conservative Sen. Doug Finley, whose staff said he missed sittingsbecause he was engaged with two other projects last fall.

“When I worked at CTV, I was expected to show up for work. When I worked for the prime minister as director of communications for Mr. Chretien, I was expected to showup for work and the same holds true when you are a senator,” said Liberal Sen. Jim Munson, who had perfect attendance in 2009.

“It’s a privilege to be in the Senate and we should be there doing our jobs.”