The Speaker of Canada's Senate, Pierre Claude Nolin, has died after a five-year battle with a rare form of cancer.

A spokeswoman for the Senate said Friday that Nolin died Thursday evening. He was 64.

Nolin was appointed to the Senate in 1993 by former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

He became Speaker last November, the unanimous choice of Conservative, Liberal and independent senators who saw him as a smart, respected, independent-minded man who could steer the upper chamber through the final dramatic chapters of an expenses scandal.

His death comes in the midst of the trial of suspended senator Mike Duffy for allegedly filing fraudulent living and travel expense claims. The trials of two other senators on similar charges will start soon.