I was born and educated in Montreal and for some years in Europe. I graduated in production from Montreal’s National Theatre School. After graduating I worked as a stage manager for l’Opera du Quebec and Theatre Nouveau Monde, moved to Toronto where I worked as a field producer for CFTO television, and took advantage of these roles to begin what would become extensive travels throughout the country. Following my marriage to Thor Eaton, I left television and devoted my time to raising two children and volunteerism in the community
A commitment to volunteerism
I have served as a Trustee of the George R. Gardiner Museum, Director of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Director of the Stratford Festival of Canada and Trustee and Governor of the Royal Ontario Museum, where I helped create the Institute for Contemporary Culture. Today, I am Chair of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies where I recently received a Doctor of Letters in Mediaeval Studies and Director and Vice-Chair of both the St. Michael's Hospital Foundation and the National Ballet of Canada.
A dedication to public life
I grew up in a family both interested and involved in politics. In 1998 I joined the PC Fund of Canada as a Director. When the two heritage parties merged the Prime Minister nominated me as a Director of the Conservative Fund of Canada. I chaired the final Leadership Convention of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in May of 2003 in Toronto. I was Chair of both the 2005 inaugural Policy Convention of the Conservative Party of Canada in Montreal and the 2008 Policy Convention in Winnipeg.
Amongst my many interests is gardening. For three years I co-wrote, with Kelvin Browne, a gardening column in the National Post. I also co-authored two books: At Home in Canada and the best-selling In a Canadian Garden.
A new challenge
I was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on January 2, 2009. I was sworn into that distinguished institution on January 26, 2009, and delivered my maiden speech on February 11, 2009 - an address focused on the profound value generated when Canadians invest themselves fully in their country.
I am a member of three Senate Standing Committees (Human Rights; Foreign Affairs and International Trade; and National Finance), and one Standing Joint Committee (Library of Parliament).
On June 2, 2015, I was elected unanimously by my peers to serve as Speaker pro tempore of the Senate of Canada.