Donald Neil Plett (born May 14, 1950) is the Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian Senate, since November 5, 2019.
From 1987 to 2007 Plett, was owner and manager of Landmark Mechanical, a heating and ventilation company in Landmark, Manitoba, that was started by his father Archie Plett in 1957. He stepped down as manager in 2007 and his sons continue in the family business.
According to the Senate website Plett,
“As a Red River College alumnus, Mr. Plett served on the Board of Governors of the College. An active sports enthusiast, he has coached and played hockey, basketball, and golf and was President of the Landmark Minor Hockey Association. Mr. Plett also served as President of the Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Village Council, and Chair of the local Utilities Board.”— Senate of Canada biography
His father Archie, a lifelong Conservative, introduced Plett to the world of politics when he was just fifteen. He mentored and encouraged him and in 1965 Plett worked as a youth volunteer on the Honourable Jake Epp‘s federal campaign.
Plett became interim president of the Conservative Party of Canada at its creation in 2003 from the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and was officially elected to the position in at the party’s first policy convention in 2005, defeating Montreal lawyer Brian Mitchell. He was succeeded by John Walsh in 2009.
On 27 August 2009, the office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Plett was among nine new appointees to the Senate. His is one of many appointments made in thanks to service to the governing Conservative Party. Other appointees include Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, the prime minister’s former press secretary, and Doug Finley, former Conservative Party chair.
Winnipeg Free Press journalist Dan Lett described Plett as one of the “gems” in the series of controversial Senate appointments in 2009. “Conservative party president Don Plett, a plumber from rural Manitoba who, not surprisingly, is known in Tory circles as “the plumber,” is someone who deserves to be in the Senate.” Lett described Plett’s decades of service behind the scenes in party politics in Manitoba.
“He has chaired election campaigns. He has been a king-maker in leadership races. He was a key figure in the negotiations that led to the reuniting of Canada’s right-of-centre political parties…Whether by appointment or election, we should all want the Don Pletts of the world in the Senate.”— source Lett 2008
Senator Plett was appointed Opposition Whip for the Conservative Senate Caucus and serves on the Standing Senate Committee on Legal & Constitutional Affairs and Agriculture & Forestry. He is also Chair of the Advisory Working Group tasked with studying and recommending changes to the Senate’s administrative rules.
Plett serves as Co-Chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association a non-partisan forum established in 1998 for the discussion of bilateral and multilateral issues concerning Canada and the People’s Republic of China. On 1 October 2014 the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) came into force. This date was announced by International Trade Minister Ed Fast in a news release on 12 September 2014.
In a rare move Plett spoke out against the motion into the Senate to suspend Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau without pay before a single charge had been laid. Plett, calling on fairness and justice, argued, “Honourable Senators, just because something is within our rights, does not make it the right thing to do.” National Post journalist observed that Don Plett, the owner of a plumbing business from Landmark, Manitoba, is representative of the base of the Conservative party.
In December 2020, Plett vacationed to Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite government warnings advising against such trips. Plett returned to Canada on December 31 after reconsidering his decision. Earlier that year he’d co-signed a directive barring all MPs and senators from travelling outside Canada as part of interparliamentary delegations.
- Don Plett Official Website nd.
- “Tories elect Don Plett as new Opposition Leader in the Senate”. www.theglobeandmail.com.
- Parliament of Canada ndb.
- Maclean’s 2013.
- Gohier 2010. sfn error: no target: CITEREFGohier2010 (help)
- “Don Plett – Senator – About Don”. www.donplett.ca. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
- Lett 2009.
- Parliament of Canada nda.
- Parliament of Canada nd.
- Lunn 2014.
- Geddes 2013.
- Ivison 2013.
- “Conservative senators come to Lynn Beyak’s defence while others say ‘shame‘“. CBC News. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
- “Conservative Senate leader backs Trump for re-election”. CBC News. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
- “Senator Don Plett vacationed in Mexico over the holidays despite pandemic advisory on travel”. CBC News. Retrieved 2020-01-04.
- Thompson, Elizabeth (January 8, 2021). “Senator co-signed order barring international travel during pandemic — then went to Mexico”. CBC News. Retrieved January 8, 2021.