Phillips, Orville Howard

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Phillips, Orville Howard

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Orville Howard Phillips was born in O'Leary Prince Edward Island on 5 April 1924, the son of J. S. Phillips and Maud MacArthur. Following secondary education at Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown, he attended Dalhousie University and graduated as a Doctor of Dental Surgery. Between 1942 and 1945, he served in the "Thunderbird Squadron" of the R.C.A.F. In 1957 he was elected to the House of Commons as the Progressive Conservative member for the federal riding of Prince. He was reelected in 1958 and in 1962 and on 5 February 1963 was appointed to the Senate by then Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker. In September 1984 he was appointed Government Whip in the Senate, a post he held until 1984 to October 1991, a period in which he oversaw extensive renovations to the Senate as well as performing his duties as party whip.

Senator Phillips was a member of various Senate Committees including Agriculture and Forestry; Social Affairs, Science and Technology; Subcommittee on Security and National Defense; Fisheries; Selection; Joint Committee of Parliament; Retirement Age Policies; Standing Rules and Orders; Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration; and Special Committee on Science Policy. His long tenure saw the tabling of various pivotal and controversial pieces of legislation including changes to the Canada Labour Code, private gun control, tobacco products control, the Goods and Services Tax, Employment Insurance, and the Divorce Act, debates in which he often played an active role. From 1994 to 1999 he served as Chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, a position which mirrored his interest in the concerns of his fellow veterans. In this role, and in his earlier membership on this committee, he was an active participant in many Senate inquiries into the health care of veterans, the administration of veterans' pensions and the operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was also involved in Senate hearings into such controversial issues as the production and distribution of the CBC series "The Valour and the Horror" and the proposal to provide space in the Canadian War Museum for a permanent holocaust exhibit.

In addition to his Senate duties, Senator Phillips maintained an active interest in the activities of the Progressive Conservative Party both federally and provincially and his office offered assistance to candidates by way of advertising copy and briefing books. He was tenacious in presenting the concerns of the people of Prince Edward Island and the Maritime Provinces in general. This is reflected in the study The Prince Edward Island fishing industry; a background study: the fishery, the participants, and conservation and protection requisitioned in 1991 by Senator Phillips and his colleague Senator Eileen Rossiter and in the organization by Senator Phillips of special meetings hosted by the Conservative Senators to hear the personal concerns of individuals in the Atlantic Provinces on the proposed Employment Insurance Bill in 1996. He was equally vigilant in pursuing opportunities for his own constituency of Prince County, deploring the closure of the base at Summerside and promoting its use as a GST centre, supporting the building of a regional cultural events centre in Summerside, and supporting local ACOA initiatives.

Mr. Phillips was married in 1945 to Marguerite Woodside and has four children: Brian Orville, Blanche Elizabeth, Robert Mark, and Patricia Ann. He has been a member of the Canadian Legion, the Royal Canadian Air Force Association, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons, the Prince Edward Island Curling Association, and the Board of Trade, PEI.

Although he was summoned to the Senate prior to legislation in 1965 which introduced mandatory retirement at age 75, he agreed to retire at the age of 75 and did so in 1999.


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