08/25/2012 02:09 EDT | Updated 10/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Liberal senator Joyce Fairbairn goes on extended sick leave, no word on why

OTTAWA - A Liberal senator is going on extended sick leave and will not be present when proceedings resume this fall.

Sen. Joyce Fairbairn, 73, is only two years away from the mandatory retirement age of 75.

A spokesman for the Opposition leader in the Senate, Sen. James Cowan, says Fairbairn faces health challenges, but wouldn't elaborate on what they are.

The former journalist worked in the office of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau for 14 years before she was appointed to the Senate in 1984.

In addition to her Senate duties, she has been active in supporting the Paralympics and became Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation in 2003.