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Senate appointment called ‘an honour’

Nancy Greene Raine was approached by Gary Lunn during Peak 2 Peak opening



That’s “Senator” Nancy to you!

Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Nancy Greene Raine, the 1968 Olympic gold medalist and early pioneer of the Whistler ski resort, to Canada’s Senate just prior to Christmas.

“It’s an honour, really it is,” Raine said in an interview. “I hope I can do a good job.”

Known as “Tiger” for her aggressive skiing style, the Rossland, B.C.-raised Raine started out as “Nice Nancy” and was a golden girl of the downhill skiing circuit in the 1960s. She won the overall World Cup title in its first year, 1967.

She rose to further glory the following year, when she again won the overall World Cup title and won the gold medal in the giant slalom event at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble, France, finishing 2.68 seconds ahead of the silver medalist. She also won the silver medal in the Olympic slalom race.

Raine scored 13 World Cup victories in the first two years of the circuit’s existence — a total still unsurpassed by any Canadian skier — as well as 17 Canadian Championship titles in all skiing disciplines.

Following her career as a skier she played a role in developing the Whistler and Sun Peaks ski resorts.

She and husband Al Raine built their first cabin in Whistler in 1970 and moved to Whistler full time in 1978. They opened Nancy Greene’s Olympic Lodge in Christmas 1985, the first hotel in Whistler that was financed as a hotel — the rest were condominium hotels.

She sold the hotel about four years later but continued to live and work in Whistler until 1994. During her time in Whistler she also served on the Howe Sound School Board

In 1994 the Raines moved to Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops. There she’s served as director of skiing, a public relations position that’s included generating media coverage for Sun Peaks.

Now she’ll be splitting her Sun Peaks role with the big red chamber in Ottawa, where she’ll spend three days a week serving as “sober second thought” to Parliament.

Though new to the political arena, Raine got her first taste of politics in 1958, when John Diefenbaker held a rally in Trail, B.C. while running for Prime Minister. Since then she’s run the gamut from left to right on the political scale.

She was very interested in politics when Pierre Trudeau came on the scene — she called him a “breath of fresh air and excitement” in an interview. Over the years, however, she got disillusioned with the government when she felt it was overspending and running up deficits.

“I’ve sort of, in my life, gone from being a Liberal to a, gradually turning into a Conservative as I got older, and maybe a bit wiser,” she said.

Raine was first tapped for the Senate while in Whistler in mid-December for the opening of the Peak 2 Peak gondola. She met with Gary Lunn, Minister of State for Sport, who asked her permission to put her name forward for a Senate appointment.

“I said, this is a big change in lifestyle and I would need to talk it over with my family,” she said. “I called him the next day and said I would do it.”

Raine will be joining 17 other people who were appointed to the Senate Dec. 22 to serve in the Conservative caucus. Other appointments include CTV broadcasters Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, who has also served as Canada’s consul-general in New York.

Other new Senators who will be representing British Columbia include Richard Neufeld, formerly B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, as well as Yonah Martin, a former Conservative candidate in New Westminster-Coquitlam.

All the newly appointed Senators are said to be committed to Senate reform and eight-year term limits.

The appointments bring the 105-seat Senate to 58 Liberals, 38 Conservatives, six independents and three seats remain vacant. Eight Liberal seats will become vacant due to retirement this year and Harper plans to appoint another 11 Conservative Senators by the end of 2009. The seat totals would then be 49 Conservative, 50 Liberal and six independent, which some observers have said makes passage of Senate reform legislation more likely.

The Prime Minister has previously advocated for an elected Senate. In December 2006 he introduced Bill C-43, an Act that would allow consultations with voters on who they wanted to be Senators.

In 2007 Harper appointed Bert Brown, an advocate for a democratized Senate, who placed first in a 2004 non-binding Senate election held in Alberta.

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