- BUSINESS OF THE SENATE
- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker pro tempore in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, before we begin our work, please rise to observe a moment of silence in tribute to our late Speaker, the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, who passed away on April 23, 2015.
Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I know that senators wish to pay tribute to our late Speaker, Senator Nolin. Is it agreed that we call for tributes and suspend the rules regarding the time limits for tributes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, and notwithstanding rule 5-5(j), I move:
That photographers and camera operators be authorized in the Senate Chamber to photograph and videotape the tributes to the late Honourable Senator Nolin, Speaker of the Senate, with the least possible disruption of the proceedings.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, before I start my tribute to the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, I would like to underline that we have a long list of senators who would like to make tributes this afternoon. In fairness to all our colleagues who want an opportunity to speak and make their tribute, we should try to reserve our comments to a time frame of approximately two to three minutes. I will try to be flexible, but, again, in the spirit of fairness to the long list of senators who wish to have a chance to express themselves, I would hope that senators would stay within those guidelines.
Honourable senators, our esteemed Speaker, the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, has lost his lengthy battle with cancer. His loss is felt across our institution and leaves us with an overwhelming sense of sadness and profound grief.
Pierre Claude Nolin was a great man, a hard-working man. Despite his serious illness, he met every challenge with dignity and honour.
In my 30 years of working with Pierre Claude, I always knew him to be a proud Canadian, a proud parliamentarian and a proud Quebecer! His country was Canada; his nation, Quebec. To him, there was no rivalry between the two.
He was very respectful of our institutions. He considered our parliamentary system as fundamental in bringing together all the diversity of this country. He viewed the Canadian Senate as an invaluable component of our government that clearly demonstrates Canada's unique linguistic duality and its abundant regional diversity — what so many consider to be the hallmarks of our great nation.
When Pierre Claude believed in a cause, he was never afraid of taking on the challenge. He showed integrity and a fierce determination in defending it and nothing would stand in his way.
It was with this fierce determination and unwavering commitment that our Speaker fought until his very last breath to develop and implement the Senate reforms that he believed were necessary, not only to improve upon the functioning of a key component of our democracy, but ultimately reforms that would serve the interests of all Canadians.
Speaker Nolin was a principled man with an independent mind, courageous and determined in the face of uncertainty. He was determined and committed to guiding the Senate through its difficult moments.
His generous spirit and mentorship meant the world to all of us who had the privilege of calling him a colleague and a friend. His strength of character and commitment to our parliamentary institutions and traditions always impressed me. Due to his health condition, he knew he was on borrowed time, and he used that time to the maximum to serve the institution and his colleagues in the most selfless manner.
He never lost his sense of humour or his optimistic attitude toward life in Canada. All senators acknowledged his strong commitment to modernizing the institution, which came through in this chamber. It was a true privilege to work alongside this great Canadian!
It was also an honour for me to serve by his side as Speaker pro tempore. He derived so much energy from his love for our institution.
Dear colleagues, I'm sure you will agree with me that our Speaker, in starting the administrative reforms of the institution, has accomplished more in the last five months than anyone could have imagined. What he has done is simply amazing. With what he was going through, he led the way.
His leadership will forever remain his legacy. By continuing his work with the same dignity and passion, we will continue his legacy of being transparent and accountable to the people of Canada.
Honourable senators, things we do for ourselves we take with us when we pass away, but things we do for others remain for years to come.
Mr. Speaker, you will be sorely missed.
Hon. Claude Carignan (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, dear friends, last week we lost a colleague, a friend, a member of our family. The Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin succumbed to his illness. However, I refuse to concede that he lost his battle with cancer, because, quite to the contrary, I believe that cancer lost its battle with Pierre Claude, or P.C., as he was known to us.
Five years ago, our friend Pierre Claude was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Rather than hiding away at home and waiting for the inevitable, he decided instead to live life to the fullest. He often said, "It's not cancer that is going to kill me, but rather idleness." That is why I say, no, honourable senators, Speaker Pierre Claude Nolin did not lose his battle with cancer. He triumphed over it; he conquered it. We all saw him, especially over the past few months, redouble his efforts and his zeal to stay the course through the storm facing him.
Speaker Nolin held a deep appreciation for our institution, and his respect for it never wavered. Appointed to the Senate in 1993 by the Right Honourable Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Pierre Claude immediately fulfilled his role as senator with seriousness, commitment and determination. He dedicated himself to being a full-time senator. He was a member of several committees, including Legal and Constitutional Affairs; Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources; Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration; National Security and Defence; and Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He chaired the Quebec caucus from 2006 to 2009.
In 1995, Senator Nolin became a member of the Cercle des Honoraires of the Régiment de Maisonneuve. On September 4, 2012, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, appointed him Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Régiment de Maisonneuve.
His colleagues unanimously chose him to be the Speaker pro tempore and then, last fall, Senator Nolin was appointed Speaker of the Senate of Canada on the recommendation of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper. That appointment, as you will recall, was very favourably received by all senators, because Pierre Claude had earned everyone's respect thanks to his independence of mind, rigour, great erudition, deference, enormous kindness and, above all, the intrinsic respect he had for the Senate and all senators. He was appointed Speaker of the Senate at a time when our institution was going through a very difficult period. For Pierre Claude, no challenge was too great. In fact, as he confided to some of us, that was his final challenge in the Senate.
He undertook an administrative reform of our institution with vigour, passion, and determination. Using a non-partisan approach, he secured support from colleagues on both sides of this chamber for this exercise in modernizing the Senate of Canada. We can certainly say that in a very short time he left an indelible mark. There is no doubt that he would have liked to take this further and see this historic transition through, but fate had other plans for him.
It is then up to us, dear colleagues, to honour his memory and build on the work he began so that we can steer our institution safely out of this storm. As Françoise Dolto said, "Every trial bears its fruit, it's all in knowing how to harvest it." Speaker Nolin guided us courageously toward that fruit. Now it is up to us to complete the journey.
Last year, Senator Nolin put forward a series of inquiries in the Senate to introduce his vision and understanding of the Senate and its essential role in the Canadian federation. With love, passion and wisdom, he spoke of the determining roles of the Senate, especially the representation of Canada's regions, the disadvantaged and those who can't speak for themselves. As a representative for Quebec, Senator Nolin always thought that this aspect of his role was fundamental.
He had such conviction about this aspect of his role, that at some point every year, he would take it upon himself to invite senators from Quebec to a garden party at his home for non- partisan get-togethers. His message was subliminal: "We are from different parties, but from the same province!"
Many will remember another time when he used to organize his famous "frog" evenings on the Hill, a happy hour for francophones and francophiles on Parliament Hill.
Before he was even appointed to the Senate, Pierre Claude defended Quebec's interests many times, including with former Prime Minister Mulroney, for whom he acted as a special advisor on more than one occasion. Pierre Claude was very active within the Progressive Conservative Party at the time of the party's victory in 1984. He held various positions within the party and in a number of departments, including the Department of Public Works.
He also played an instrumental role in the negotiations leading to the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords. His role, mostly organizational in nature, was to reinforce the relationships between various federal and provincial stakeholders, and to ensure that communications flowed freely between parties.
Pierre Claude firmly believed in the Senate's role of international representation. To that end, he was particularly active in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Senator Nolin held a number of positions with the Assembly from 1994 until his death, and he built a solid reputation on the basis of the quality of his contributions, his in-depth knowledge of the files he was responsible for and, obviously, his dignified and affable nature.
In Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, Canada had a distinguished representative. One day, Senator Rivest was telling me that when he travelled abroad and met parliamentarians from other countries, he was often asked if he was friends with Senator Nolin. That speaks volumes about Senator Nolin's international reputation. You will understand also that, at every turn, Senator Rivest introduced himself as Senator Nolin's great friend.
Previously, I mentioned Speaker Nolin's reputation as an independent, free spirit. As you all know, once in a while Senator Nolin disagreed with one or more measures of the Conservative government, but he was always tactful and respectful. Never did Senator Nolin embarrass his caucus or his government, because he could speak calmly and plainly and give clear explanations, without malice. He was able to present a different point of view without antagonizing the debates. Thanks to this approach, Senator Nolin earned the respect of his peers and of our country's leaders.
Senator Nolin was an exceptional man, a rare breed. I consider myself blessed to have known and worked with Senator Nolin. In 30 years of public life, I can count on one hand the number of times I have met this type of larger-than-life individual.
Dear colleagues, before I agreed to take on the role of Leader of the Government in the Senate, I went out to eat with Pierre Claude at his favourite restaurant in Montreal, Le Mas des Oliviers. I asked for his advice and I wanted to know his thoughts on what a leader of the government in the Senate should be. He gave me sound advice, with his erudition, his wisdom, his extensive knowledge of Parliament and his great generosity, and I will remember that special moment forever. Yes, he paid for lunch. I'm sure you're all familiar with how generous he was.
To all of you, dear colleagues, to his friends, to his employees and coworkers, I offer my deepest condolences.
To his wife, Camille, and to his children, Simon, Louis and Virginie, I say thank you for so generously sharing Pierre Claude with us. Canadians are better for it. I also want to take this opportunity, on behalf of all of my colleagues, to offer you our deepest condolences.
Pierre Claude, wherever you may be, thank you for everything you did here and please watch over us. Thank you.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, it is with deep sadness that I rise to join in paying tribute to our dear friend and Speaker, the truly honourable Pierre Claude Nolin. Senator Nolin was a proud Quebecer, a passionate Canadian and a highly distinguished parliamentarian.
Senator Nolin was summoned to the Senate on the advice of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney at the relatively young age of 42. He described the circumstances in a recent interview with Jordan Press. He said:
It was a Friday morning. I was in Montreal. We spoke and he said, "At three o'clock I'm appointing you to the Senate." That was June 18, 1993. My question was, "Why me?" He said, "That's none of your business!"
Well, clearly the years have shown that Prime Minister Mulroney knew exactly what he was doing, even if he refused to share that knowledge with his newest appointee.
It is no secret that Senator Nolin entered this chamber, as my friend Senator Carignan has said, as a dedicated partisan of the Progressive Conservative Party. He had been active in the party since the age of 16, was an important organizer in Quebec, and went on to become a key player in leadership and general elections. Partisan politics was the central part of his life when he entered the Senate.
But he left the Senate very differently — a statesman. That is why yesterday we saw the full diplomatic corps come here to this chamber to pay their respects to him.
How did that evolution from partisan to statesman happen? Well, I think this place, the Senate, that he loved so deeply, had a lot to do with it.
In an interview he gave some time ago to Senator McCoy's office, one of an excellent series that she has posted on her website, he said this:
. . . when I was appointed, I discovered that I was aware of the institution but I did not know the institution. I've since discovered the great thinking of the fathers of our confederation. Relative independence is what they had in mind. . . Imagine a hybrid between the totally partisan House of Commons and the totally independent judiciary. . . That's the Senate. Should we be totally independent? No, we are part of parliament and cannot avoid being influenced by our friends in the House of Commons.
. . . But sometimes when I really cannot live with or amend what they have done, sometimes I need to show that, in my personal opinion, it's wrong.
Throughout his years here, he not only found but became an exemplar of that balance, never losing sight of the values and convictions that drew him to partisan politics, while insisting on the freedom and independence to sometimes stand apart from his party and partisan colleagues, to do what he believed was right and necessary.
And he did it, quite simply, by doing the job he was appointed to do. I mentioned the interview with Senator McCoy's office. He also spoke there of the critical importance of hard work, what he called "rigour," a value instilled in him by his father that he called ". . . the value that would help me navigate the maze." He said, "Forget about partisanship. First be rigorous, scientifically rigorous, not partisan."
And he was. He meticulously studied legislation, analyzing and assessing their provisions both for the overarching policy implications and for possible unintended consequences of drafting.
He listened with care to witnesses who came before our Senate committees or sent in written submissions. Most especially, he listened to them with an open mind. For him, that is a fundamental duty that a parliamentarian owes to all Canadians, to truly listen.
And then, he engaged in debate, the great open dialogue that is the hallmark of the best that our Parliament can be. In debate, he spoke his mind clearly, thoughtfully and persuasively.
Many Canadians know of Senator Nolin because of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs that he chaired in 2001-02. But his involvement on that issue actually began much earlier, back in 1996, when our Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee was studying a government bill dealing with the control of marijuana and other drugs. Many witnesses came before that committee and argued for a different, better way to address the problem. Senator Nolin and the other members, government and opposition alike, listened, and their preconceived notions were challenged and their thinking evolved. Those hearings led directly to the establishment of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, whose report took the courageous position of arguing for the regulation, not criminal prohibition, of marijuana. The Nolin report, as it became known, has been downloaded over 49,000 times — an important Senate contribution to public debate on an important policy issue.
Senator Nolin also exemplified the best of the Senate in his approach to this chamber. These are difficult, challenging times for the Senate. Pierre Claude never wavered in his absolute conviction in the value of the Senate as an institution, and his determination to address the challenges so that the Senate can emerge stronger and better for Canadians.
Following the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Senate Reference, he launched, as Senator Carignan noted, a series of inquiries to draw attention to the important roles which the Senate has and should play. This was an important reminder of the job we have to do.
His appointment as Speaker just a few short months ago was universally acclaimed not only by his parliamentary colleagues but by all those who had followed his career from outside. His Speakership held so much promise.
He had a vision to raise the level of awareness amongst Canadians of the work of the Senate, and bound to that was his vision of what the work of the Senate can and should be.
He asked me and Senator Carignan to work with him in a non- partisan fashion towards that objective. He set a challenge for us: to bring the Senate out of the shadows and work to demonstrate to Canadians the value that the Senate can have in our federation.
We all need to rise to that challenge.
As we all well know, for the past four years he struggled with a rare form of cancer. He faced this battle with extraordinary courage and dignity.
In concluding, I wish to say to his beloved wife Camille, their three children Simon, Louis and Virginie, and to their grandchildren — his legacy will endure not only in you but in us as well. Our very deepest sympathies.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton: Honourable senators, it is a sad occasion indeed when one is taken well before his time and sadder still when it is realized that he had just embarked on a journey that could have and would have had a profound impact on his personal legacy, on his colleagues in Parliament and, most importantly, on this very institution.
The Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin — Mr. Speaker Nolin — or P.C., as we called him, had a long, rewarding and sometimes eclectic career in the honourable profession of politics. He was a loyal Conservative in his native Quebec. He was a nationalist committed to the distinctiveness and uniqueness of Quebec, but he also was a proud Canadian.
I had known him for years. I believe he first came to my attention during the 1976 leadership convention, where I was responsible for registration and credentials, and he was there as a young Conservative in his twenties and a key supporter of Brian Mulroney.
Party militants, as we all know, are well known to each other, and throughout the years our paths crossed many times. In 1983, he once again was one of Mr. Mulroney's key lieutenants in the convention that resulted in Mr. Mulroney's victory. The year 1984 produced a majority Mulroney government, bolstered by a massive win in Pierre Claude's Quebec. He went on to serve in the government in various senior capacities. We were colleagues together in the Prime Minister's Office.
Honourable senators, Pierre Claude Nolin and I were summoned to the Senate at the same time — June 18, 1993 — and were sworn in on the first day of summer, June 21. Mr. Mulroney appointed us together. While we each brought our own experience and life skills to the Senate, there was an element of intent by the Prime Minister to achieve peace in the family; Pierre Claude had supported Jean Charest, and I had supported Kim Campbell.
That was a magical day. His young children and my younger grandchildren were there to witness the ceremony, he being 10 years younger than me, and, of course, we were seatmates.
Through the years, he contributed mightily to the debate. He took on controversial issues, such as chairing the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs, in which he strongly believed. Even though there was not unanimity on many of these issues, at all times his opinions and work were respected, just as he respected those who did not share his views.
When the Conservative family reunited in late 2003, it should be noted that Pierre Claude Nolin played a key role. Indeed, he was a powerful spokesperson at the party's first policy convention, which was held in Montreal in March of 2005, ensuring that the face of the Conservative Party reflected the view of the vast majority of Canadians and his fellow Quebecers.
One thing is absolute, honourable senators: His caucus colleagues from both the Senate and the House of Commons admired his principled individuality, starting with the Prime Minister, who spoke and wrote so eloquently upon Pierre Claude's death. Speaker Nolin said to the Prime Minister when discussing his appointment as Speaker, "Give me a good fight and I will keep on living."
As I said at the outset of my remarks, it is sad beyond words that he reached the pinnacle of his career that suited him so very well, and then it was cut short, and we all are left to ponder: What if?
To his beloved spouse, Camille, to his children Simon, Virginie and Louis, and to his entire family, I express my deepest and sincerest sympathy. A headline the other day said it all: "A Senator and a Gentleman."
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, today, we are mourning the loss of an exceptional human being.
Personally, I am mourning a very close friend. I had the opportunity to meet him well before he was appointed to the Senate because we were rival political organizers, and yet still friends, during the 1980 election and the 1995 referendum. Our paths crossed again and more regularly at one of his homes away from home in Ottawa, the Clair de Lune restaurant. What happy memories.
We saw each other even more frequently after I was appointed to the Senate 10 years ago. We co-chaired a group of Quebecers who met regularly to share a good meal and good wine in the Quebec City area in a spirit of non-partisanship, friendship and strong convictions as Quebecers.
We may have had different political allegiances, but for me and many others, Pierre Claude represented the best of politics. He was a free and independent man who was true to his values and who practised politics for the common good. Pierre Claude was in politics to serve Canadians and Quebecers, not to serve himself.
Whether we are talking about his fight to decriminalize marijuana, his ongoing efforts to have the right of association recognized for RCMP officers or the many other initiatives he was involved in, such as his work with NATO and his defence of the Canadian Unity Council, Pierre Claude was a great advocate of the value of the role of the Senate and senators. He believed that the Senate can still have a positive impact on our society by improving our laws and working on social issues that affect us all.
Clearly things were getting more and more difficult toward the end as the cancer he had been battling so fiercely for several years changed his appearance. Nevertheless, in November he took on the role of Speaker of the Senate with honour and enthusiasm, as Prime Minister Mulroney stated this week. He presided over this forum and stepped up to his responsibilities under some especially trying circumstances for the Senate. He never complained or abandoned his usual good cheer.
Pierre Claude was a kind man, generous of heart and mind, with a sense of humour as great as his sense of duty and his unwavering loyalty to our institutions.
He was a steadfast federalist who loved his country, Canada, but he was nevertheless deeply attached to his homeland, Quebec.
We all felt the blow inflicted by the news of his death last week. It was not unexpected, but we refused to accept the possibility because we were so close to him and so confident that he would defeat the disease that was eating away at him. Above all, we loved him as a friend and as a brother.
I would like to express my most sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. We were lucky to have him in our lives even though it was not for as long as we would have liked.
Camille, as I said to you in this chamber this week, I can assure you that people will take up and complete the mission that Pierre Claude undertook to reform "his" Senate.
We will miss him so much.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, it is with grief and sadness that I join colleagues in these tributes to our Senate Speaker, the beloved Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, the Quebec senator for De Salaberry, who was taken from us by illness just short days ago.
In these days, in our need for the sacred, I would like to cite the scriptures because I find they speak best. I call it the natural human need for the sacred. I would like to cite the New Testament, King James version, 2 Timothy 4:6. These words are comforting for me:
. . . and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith . . . .
His Honour, Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, this fine man, has run his course. He fought the good fight. In his 22 years of service here and in everything that he did, he kept the faith.
A French Canadian Quebec federalist, this native son, this special human being, was known for his love of his province, its law, its language and its people. He also loved Canada and the Confederation. He was deeply committed to the Confederation.
Honourable senators, in life and in all things living, there is a purpose and a time. As senators, we had Senator Nolin as a colleague and a friend for a time. As human beings, we have our loved ones only for a time. I repeat, only for a time. Senator Nolin deeply loved his dear wife, the lovely Camille. Theirs was a beautiful and wonderful love story. The width and depth of their shared affection was evident to all who knew them.
Pierre Claude was a just man, an independent-thinking and hard-working man. He was sustained by the love of his wife and his children. His contributions to our Senate and Canada were many and vast. I recall his and my 1996 work on Bill C-42, entitled An Act to amend the Judges Act. In debate here on November 7 that year, he said:
The independence of the judicial branch is one of the elements which it is the duty of all Canadian parliamentarians to protect and defend.
He believed that judicial independence is the bulwark of freedoms. Our hard work on that bill, for those of us here who remember, succeeded. The government sponsor moved a motion to amend their own bill, as we had suggested, in our direction. It is as though independence, freedom, justice and the rule of law were written in his heart and inscribed in his very being.
Honourable senators, Senator Nolin's father, Jean Claude Nolin, was a justice in Quebec's Superior Court. Justice Nolin had been called to the bench in 1979 by then Prime Minister Joe Clark's Minister of Justice, Senator Jacques Flynn, who was also the Senate government leader. I served with Jacques Flynn. I knew him well. He was a 1962 Prime Minister John Diefenbaker Senate appointment. En passant, many may not know the connection between these two people. Senator Flynn was a grandson of Edmund James Flynn, who from May 11, 1896 to May 24, 1897 was Quebec's last Conservative premier. Senator Nolin told me much about his father, a French-Canadian Conservative federalist. He told me about the day Senator Flynn telephoned his father to invite him to serve on the bench. The Quebec federalist Conservative cause was his cause.
Honourable senators, I close with the poem Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
All life is for a time. To his beloved and devoted wife Camille, his loving children Simon, Louis and Virginie, and his precious grandchildren Elliot, Théodore and Flavie, I say that their grief is shared by all senators here and by countless others whose lives Senator Nolin touched in a profound and enduring way. My prayer for them is that God will hold him close and hold him in God's time.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I rise here to pay tribute to Senator Nolin by recalling the vast scope of his ideas and his initiatives as Speaker of the Senate.
Just three months ago, on January 27, when Parliament resumed after the break, Speaker Nolin called us to a special sitting during which he shared with us the results of his reflections on how best to envision the future of the Senate. He outlined his plan's broad objectives and informed us of the steps he had taken to further the interests of the Senate with respect to the audit that is currently underway in the Senate.
Speaker Nolin appeared determined, clear-sighted and, above all, sincerely committed to defending the interests of this chamber as an essential component of the Parliament of Canada.
He clearly understood his responsibility, which was, first and foremost, to protect the institution from criticism and attacks from all sides, then to implement the reforms needed to make the Senate more transparent and more accountable in terms of its administrative and constitutional responsibilities, and finally to encourage each and every senator to contribute to achieving these shared goals.
He knew that we would need to work together and move beyond partisanship in order to put the interests of the institution first.
A little over a year ago, after Senator Nolin was appointed Speaker pro tempore, he moved 10 motions to debate various aspects of the Senate, namely its legislative role; its duty with respect to linguistic and cultural minorities and regional or Aboriginal interests; and its impact on parliamentary diplomacy.
His objective was clear: to make all senators reflect on and debate these issues in order to better understand the institution and the scope of the constitutional role of senators. It would then be easier to develop and implement the necessary reforms, and to restore this chamber's credibility in the eyes of the public, so that it may better serve all Canadians.
Over the months that followed, Senator Nolin took the floor a number of times to move each of his motions. Unfortunately, his proposal to form a special senate committee to define the broad policy direction for the reforms did not receive the necessary support from his colleagues.
We discussed it again later and agreed on another avenue in order to break the impasse, namely to ask a university to organize a symposium with leading experts from across Canada to reflect on ways to reform or renew the Senate without having to reopen the Constitution. Senator Nolin personally supported that approach and on January 28, 2015, the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa hosted a symposium, whose report is being finalized. This chamber will eventually consider a motion for debate on the report's content in order to reach a consensus on what path to take in future.
That is where things stand. Rest assured, Senator Nolin, your efforts bore fruit: a consensus is being reached and, on Saturday, was expressed in an editorial in the National Post entitled, "The Senate, like it or not." The National Post article ends with the following, and I quote:
There are alternatives, however [to the status quo or let the Senate wither away]. One is to reform the appointment system. . . A second . . . would ask the Senate to reform itself: . . .
That is the direction Senator Nolin passionately wanted to take as he guided and directed each of our efforts to reach his goal: having the Senate take the initiative to reform itself.
His legacy is his contribution to developing this consensus on a non-partisan foundation. He was adamant about putting the interests of the institution ahead of the interests of the parties. The future Senate, honourable senators, is in our hands. It will become what we have the courage and conviction to build.
I am certain that this chamber has sufficient intellectual resources, wisdom, life experience and reserves of goodwill to help the Senate restore its credibility among Canadians and be better able to serve them in its parliamentary role.
By continuing in this direction, we will ensure that Speaker Nolin's brief term was a complete success and that future generations are deeply indebted to him.
Thank you, honourable senators.
Hon. Diane Bellemare: Dear colleagues, I recently had the opportunity, along with some colleagues, to accompany Speaker Nolin to the House of Lords as part of a mission on Senate reform. That was a few weeks ago, and I never saw him again.
I already miss him.
Today I want to thank Senator Nolin for being a great senator, a model of what a genuine senator is and should be.
On February 16, he shared some of his thoughts about the Senate, in both official languages, in a video that is on my website.
When I watched it again, I realized that his vision of the Senate is not just a theory. In fact, every day Senator Nolin put into practice what he said, believed and thought.
For example, in the chamber, he listened to his colleagues, not just his Conservative colleagues, but his opposition colleagues as well. To my mind, this attentiveness was indicative of his deep belief that the Senate is a place of debate and that debate requires listening to the other side in order to have a constructive conversation that improves our understanding of the issues and, ultimately, fosters change.
Senator Nolin belonged to the Conservative family, but he was also an independent thinker and a free spirit, as he liked to say. He believed that a senator can and must reconcile belonging to a political party with independent thinking.
He encouraged the upper house and senators to be independent from the House of Commons. Senator Nolin did not want to be someone who rubber-stamped everything. He had strong convictions and listened to his conscience, and so he always voted the "right" way, meaning that he voted based on the merits of bills and Canada's best interests. The Honourable Senator Nolin sought to promote this difficult balance between independence, autonomy and partisanship in this chamber, and I agree with him.
Senator Nolin also leaves behind as a legacy a practical approach to guide us in reforming the Senate. He did not have the opportunity to implement it, but one of the important elements of that approach involves breaking down the barriers between the Senate and Canadians.
According to Senator Nolin, Canadians are always right. After all, isn't the Senate's legitimacy dependent on the trust people place in this institution? For that reason, the Senate must always take public criticism seriously and find the right solutions.
In that regard, he encouraged all senators to know their history, the history of the Senate, the history of Canada. He gave several speeches on that subject. It is important for us to reread them because in order to know where we want to go, we need to know where we have been. Most importantly, Speaker Nolin encouraged every one of us to meet with the people we represent, armed with that knowledge, and share that knowledge with them. He was convinced that a knowledge of history and the facts would make it possible to confound demagogues and find practical solutions.
To conclude, Speaker Nolin was an exceptional man, as everyone has pointed out, who was both loyal and independent. He had a deep, intimate understanding of the role that a senator can and should play in Canadian politics. If we all had that same understanding and put it into practice, I truly believe that all Canadians would be proud of their Senate.
I will draw on his ideas to move forward with his desire to reform the Senate. That was his great plan, and it is still alive and well. He can count on me. I offer my sincere condolences to his family.
Hon. David P. Smith: Colleagues, I didn't know Senator Nolin prior to my appointment to the Senate in 2002, 13 years ago. However, we both wound up on the Rules Committee, and we quickly developed a rapport of mutual respect for each other.
Senator Nolin was a gentleman and an astute lawyer with wise and principled political instincts. While Senator Nolin was a committed supporter of his political party, I believe he demonstrated a stronger commitment to making democracy work and strengthening the ability of the Senate to make a contribution to good and principled governance. I have sat in both chambers, and I truly regard Senator Nolin as a role-model parliamentarian.
I'm also a lawyer who has managed quite a few campaigns, but I shared with him a stronger commitment to making our democracy work than to my political party. That's particularly true given our current circumstances. I was an enthusiastic supporter of his becoming the Speaker. My reasons were pretty simple and basic.
His primary commitment was to the Senate and not just his party. On a few occasions, he broke ranks when he felt a question of principle was involved. He was open-minded in trying to ensure that our chamber functions with the recognition of fundamental parliamentary rights. He was open-minded on updating and amending the rules to further enhance parliamentary principles and to try to improve the ability of our chamber to function in an effective, efficient and respectful manner.
When he became Speaker, he convened an informal meeting of all senators in the chamber and invited input on questions such as, "Should he continue to attend meetings of his caucus?" He also invited input on other fundamental aspects of what his modus operandi should be to ensure fairness in the chamber. I hope the next Speaker will convene such a meeting in due course. Senator Nolin was very aware of his health challenges and knew his time was limited, but he wanted to leave a legacy regardless of how brief his time in the Speaker's chair would be. I want to put on the record that he left a very significant legacy, in spite of his brief tenure.
I was very touched when he selected me, along with Senators Bellemare and McCoy, to accompany him to London, England, last month for meetings with the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords, Baroness D'Souza, on issues relating to privilege. I also believe he knew his remaining time was very brief and wanted his lovely wife, Camille, to be with him in that elegant setting in the private dining room of the House of Lords, overlooking the Thames River, with the Baroness. He sat on her right side, and I sat on her left side; and neither Camille nor I will ever forget that very special and lovely day.
On March 20, our last day together in London, when I said goodbye, my eyes were very moist because I sensed I wouldn't see my trusted — and I repeat the word, trusted — colleague again. Sadly, my instincts were right.
Senator Nolin, you left us a wonderful legacy, which we will always remember.
Hon. Larry W. Smith: Mr. Speaker pro tempore, honourable senators, I am deeply honoured to pay tribute to our late Speaker, the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin.
The words that describe Pierre Claude — leader, integrity, passionate.
He was one of a kind.
He truly believed in the Senate and its role in Canada. It was his dream to become Speaker of the Senate and take a leadership role in modernizing the Senate. It was the position of Speaker that, in my mind, kept Pierre Claude alive in recent months. My major regret is that I won't be able to work with Pierre Claude to see his dream of modernizing the Senate come true. However, I will commit to colleagues that I will work tirelessly to do my small part in fulfilling his dream of modernizing the Senate. It is a true honour and a privilege to be a senator in the Parliament of Canada. Long live the memory of Pierre Claude Nolin, our Speaker, notre président.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, because Pierre Claude Nolin was a man of such wide-ranging, diverse interests, experiences and levels of expertise, it is natural that we should each have a slightly different set of memories of him. My first and abiding memory of him comes from the fact that we served together on the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for several years. He was there, as everywhere, a model of what a senator should be.
The first thing you really realized was the depth of his love for and fidelity to the law and the justice system and all that is best about them. He wasn't the kind of committee member, which I often tend to be, who focuses down on the commas and forgets about the big picture. He could focus on the commas, could and did, with the best of them, but always with an abiding sense of the great, wonderful architecture of the law that we were there to serve and, if possible, to make better. He was a true inspiration as well as an excellent teacher in all those matters.
Then for me, as for so many, there is the memory of his equally profound love for and fidelity to this place. He understood the Senate as well, I suspect, as anyone ever has. His dedication to the Senate was clear-eyed. He knew perfectly well that this was an imperfect institution, and, as so many have said, he was dedicated to the concept of making it better. But he also knew and in some ways incarnated what is best about this place: its ability to take a long view, to take a courageous stand, to rise above partisanship and speak for what is best in Canada and for Canadians. There, too, he was an inspiration to all of us.
In his very short time as Speaker, Senator Nolin already made a mark that will be lasting. Had he lived, he would have been one of the great Speakers of either chamber in this country's history. His legacy as Speaker is therefore fragmentary compared to what it should have been, but even so he remains an inspiration to all of us. We have been very fortunate to have him as a colleague and a friend. I think the best way we can serve his memory is to continue on as we know he would have wanted us to do — rising to the better angels of our natures and of the Senate's nature.
Thank you, colleagues.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, on the occasion of the passing of our Speaker, I would like to pay final tribute to him and extend my deepest condolences to his beloved wife, Camille Desjardins, and his children, of whom he was so proud. Joining me is my husband, Maurice, and my children, Jean-Maurice and Claude, who met Pierre Claude at the 1983 leadership convention when the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney was elected. Also joining me are my assistants, Carole Hupé and Amanda Simard, who have always greatly admired our Speaker.
I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Pierre Claude for the confidence he showed in me recently when he entrusted me with organizing a private breakfast with our Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Luigi Bonazzi, or when I co-chaired a reception with the Speaker from the other place for the Polish community, to celebrate the first Pope John Paul II Day. I was also honoured to replace him here, in this chamber, during the Forum for Young Canadians, in order to explain to the young participants how our noble institution works. I admit that I had some extraordinary moments during those three events.
Despite your short term, Pierre Claude, you were a great Speaker who listened to everyone and whose invaluable contribution will have helped the Senate get through the most tumultuous period of its history. Yes, you left us too soon, my dear colleague, but know that you shall remain in our memories forever.
After so much suffering, rest in peace, my friend.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I know this is a sombre occasion, but I think humour is helpful as a coping mechanism to deal with our collective sadness.
He would always laugh when I told him — and I would get him every time when I said this — Pierre Claude, I've always looked up to you. He would stop for a moment and, of course, almost rub the top of my head.
P.C. are the initials for Pierre Claude, but they are more than that. P.C. also stands for Progressive Conservative, and that is what Pierre Claude stood for all his life. He was progressive in everything he did. We have already heard the wonderful examples of that in testimonials today.
My example of listening to his words of wisdom was when we both sat on the National Security and Defence Committee, and that was 10 years ago, with Conservatives such as Michael Meighen, Mike Forrestall, and the very progressive Norman Atkins. On our side there were Colin Kenny, Tommy Banks, Joe Day and me. But, honourable senators, it never felt like we were taking sides, and it was Pierre Claude, with his very independent streak, who made us realize that whatever decision we would make, it was on the side of good public policy.
Speaking of good public policy, Pierre Claude as a senator and then as our Speaker was reminding us with his many motions about rights, in particular minority rights. Whether it was language or the rights of those with intellectual or physical disabilities, P.C. Nolin inspired us to fight for those rights here in the Senate. That is what we are here for. And it's his spirit which will stay with me: a gentleman of courage, a gentleman who never feared death, a gentleman who loved life, a gentleman who loved his family.
His Senate family will also miss him. Pierre Claude was universally respected and well loved on both sides of this chamber.
He had so many plans and so many ideas. To his family: I want to assure you his spirit remains strong in all of us. We will, in our work, work harder to keep that spirit alive.
Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, as Senator Dawson said, we will certainly have many stories to share about our friend.
I first met Pierre Claude Nolin — P.C., as he was called — in 1982-83. Let me tell you that it was quite a meeting. Today, I rise to thank him for all that he did, especially for our region.
But I also believe that people do not care who you are until they know what you care for. And there is no doubt in my mind that collectively, as senators, we all know what P.C. cared for.
He was an extraordinary husband to his wife, Camille, and to his children he was a beacon, a guiding star; to his grandchildren, he will the picture of a wise grandfather; to his father and mother, sister and brothers, he will remain an example to follow with pride thanks to his strong family roots.
To us, senators and Senate staff, in his own way and with an undeniable and distinguished simplicity, he was a force who brought people together, a visionary, a champion of rights and freedoms. Acadians, Quebecers, members of multicultural communities, in fact, all Canadians could always count on P.C. Nolin.
In speaking of Pierre Claude, Canadians will say for years to come: "I remember. I remember a man of courage; I remember a man of character; I remember a man of great loyalty, a committed man, a man of principle." He was always humble and listened to his people.
You left us too soon, Pierre Claude, but you left a great legacy. In Acadia, we will always say this about you: "You earned your stripes as a great parliamentarian." Acadians unanimously believe that you made your country, your province, your corner of the region a better place to live, a better place to work, a better place to raise children, and a better place to give the most vulnerable a helping hand.
In concluding, I dare say that P.C., our Pierre Claude, was a bit like the great Wayne Gretzky. As a parliamentarian, he always skated to where the puck was going.
You were a credit to this institution. I would like to express my sympathy to the Nolin family for their loss. Thank you.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, we are deeply saddened at the loss of our colleague and friend, the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, who for many years demonstrated extraordinary courage in the face of cancer.
Week by week, as he lost more and more weight, his determination to work even harder grew stronger. He was committed both to fighting his disease and to his desire that each and every one of us achieve the full potential of the Senate within the context of our constitutional mission.
A proud federalist and a proud Quebecer, Pierre Claude always understood and expressed the opinion that the Senate, as a complementary component of our parliamentary system, is an asset to all citizens seeking to make their voices heard.
In response to public discontent in recent years, he brought the following seven inquiries for debate and consideration: the history and origin of the Senate, its legislative role, its role in representing the regions, its role in protecting minorities, its investigative role, its parliamentary diplomacy role, and its role in promoting and defending causes that concern the public interest.
He was hoping to review all of the Senate rules this summer to modernize its operations. I could see that he had a plan for the Senate that went well beyond words to meaningful action. In his final months, he often told me: "My little hamster is constantly running. He doesn't have time to rest, and I don't want him to."
In my region, Madawaska, people say that good things come in small packages. I'm sure you will agree that, considering Pierre Claude's size and build, that saying has lost its credibility altogether.
Pierre Claude was a champion for the Senate, as demonstrated by his political independence on the issue of marijuana, his support for the unionization of the RCMP, his refusal to support Bill C-377 and his exercise of parliamentary diplomacy in dealing with parliamentary organizations, as well as the way he presided over our proceedings. I have no doubt that Pierre Claude would have won by a landslide if we had an elected Speaker in the Senate.
We will feel the loss of his leadership during this controversial time. However, honourable senators, we must continue to work together and work hard to restore the Senate's image and promote its essential purpose.
It is now up to each of us to continue following Senator Nolin's plan to modernize the Senate in order to better meet the aspirations of Canadians.
Senator Nolin was always very respectful towards those who work to keep the Senate running smoothly, whether it was the pages, security or administrative staff and others. Obviously, that respect was mutual. Everyone has always had nice things to say about him since he was appointed to the Senate, and not just after his death.
Pierre Claude, we will miss you and your wisdom. We hope that you will still guide our debates. I would like to express my sincere condolences to your wife, Camille, and to your entire family. Thank you.
Hon. Jacques Demers: Honourable senators, the first time I met Pierre Claude Nolin was at a restaurant called Le Mas des Oliviers. We spent some wonderful evenings there. When I spoke to Senator Dawson yesterday, I felt really sad. We did not lose a Conservative senator. We lost a senator for everyone. He was a man of integrity — I think my colleague Larry Smith mentioned that. He was a fair man and a good man.
When I arrived in the Senate on August 27, 2009, I did not feel comfortable here. The jobs I had before were completely different from my job here in the Senate. Pierre Claude met with me to talk about it, and after that, I felt as though I had graduated from the University of Montreal. That shows what kind of man he was.
Pierre Claude was a fair man. He was not a fan of blind partisanship. He loved to talk and he wouldn't always tell you what you wanted to hear, which is very important. He wanted to change the Senate for all of us, with all of us. He succeeded, because there are people on both sides of this chamber who want to change the Senate for the better. Unfortunately, we lost a very fine man at the age of 64.
On Easter Sunday, I called Pierre Claude and spoke to his lovely wife Camille, an extraordinary woman. I spoke to him briefly. When I hung up, I told my spouse that I thought that would be the last time I would speak to him.
I had never been so proud to be a senator as I was yesterday while I waited in line. What Senator Carignan and Senator Cowan said yesterday was inspiring. You came together yesterday to ensure that the day would be beautiful and free from partisanship. We all carried in a rose in honour of Senator Nolin, and as a team we showed how much respect we had for him.
We lost a great man. In a way, I'm relieved that he, his wife and his children are no longer suffering. Now that he is gone, he will watch over us, so we better stay in line. Thank you very much.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I rise today to pay tribute to a great man and a great friend, the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin.
In my time in the Senate I had the opportunity to get to know someone who has served as an inspiration and a model for me. The first memory that comes to mind is of a man who always sought to include and help everyone.
When I was appointed to the Senate in 2001, a special committee was studying the situation of illegal drugs in Canada. Senator Nolin, who chaired that committee, was the first to include me, to encourage me and to give me an opportunity to participate in the debate. He enabled me to find my place here and to understand that the Senate is far more than just a chamber of sober second thought on legislation from the House of Commons.
His convictions led him to always try to fully understand a problem, not by excluding anyone or any facts, but rather by examining both sides of the coin in order to come up with a fair and effective solution. That is an excellent quality in a politician, and it earned him the respect of his peers.
I would also like to point out that Senator Nolin was a man of integrity, who was also just and fair-minded. He thought that the best way to move the debate forward was to be fair and to listen, while respecting differences of opinion. He skillfully expressed his disagreement on matters of principle on many an occasion in this chamber.
Senator Nolin was known for his innovative, positive ideas, which focused on reforming and modernizing our institution. That was, in fact, one of the main reasons he agreed to serve as Speaker. He started from the premise that he had to begin by restoring Canadians' trust in our institution and then make them more familiar with it. He truly believed in this institution and wanted the people of this country to be able to understand its role and its importance in a democratic society like ours.
I would like to conclude this tribute by expressing the wish that we all work together to pursue Senator Nolin's noble objectives.
My friend, now rest in peace. We will miss you.
Hon. Don Meredith: Honourable senators, it is with a heavy heart that I rise to pay tribute to the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, the late Speaker of the Senate.
Over my years in the Senate, I've had a chance to build a friendship with the Speaker. I'm grateful for his encouragement and sage words of advice as it has gone a long way to strengthen and guide me in my role as a Canadian senator.
Senator Nolin was a man of integrity and wisdom. He held the Senate at a high standard and he also reminded us all of our responsibility to be accountable, transparent and to perform our parliamentary duties. His determination to protect the reputation of the Senate was addressed in one of his many inquiries on the relevance of the Senate, when he stated:
We have been discussing the Senate's guiding principles and how we can improve our practices. Our objective is noble: to defend the important role our institution plays in the federal Parliament. Our discussions have led us to reaffirm the purpose of the Senate.
Senator Nolin was a principled man and stated what he believed. He also lived it, as demonstrated by the tears that flowed down the faces of those who watched his coffin being carried out and placed into the hearse. Honourable senators, he had a personal impact on all of us.
To his wife Camille and his family, my thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. I pray that God will comfort and strengthen you, knowing that he is in a better place. May all the joy and love he brought to your lives be memories you will treasure for years to come. Rest assured that as senators, we will carry on the reforms he has introduced as Speaker.
In fact yesterday, as I embraced Camille, she implored us to continue the work of Senator Nolin.
Please accept my heartfelt condolences and sympathy.
Blessings and peace upon you and your family. Thank you.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I, too, wish to speak in tribute of the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker of the Senate of Canada. Our friendship began soon after I came to the Senate, when we spent considerable time together on committee work, particularly the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and National Security and Defence. He always showed up; he was always well prepared. He was engaged in the process. His interventions were learned and his mission was for the greater good and the best interests of Canada.
I should say that he became even more endeared to me when I learned that, like me, he, too, was a devoted Habs fan.
In the Senate Senator Nolin's speeches were always well- founded and well-reasoned. One of my most cherished times in the Senate was a couple of years ago, when Senator Nolin and I debated the provisions of a certain piece of legislation across the aisle, trying to engage and convince colleagues of our respective positions and basically to make the piece of legislation a better document. At that time I truly felt like a senator in the classical sense, and it was he who engendered that decorum. I don't think Pierre Claude ever stopped being a student of the law.
Somebody mentioned earlier today about his work internationally. I don't know if colleagues know this, but a few years ago he was invited to the prestigious U.S. Military Academy at West Point to be the guest speaker and to take the salute as the graduating class paraded past. I assure you that those invitations only go out to leaders of strong character and respect. He certainly was all of that.
As has been said, our late Speaker understood the institutions of Canada's Parliament, especially our Senate, its role and importance in the governing of our beloved country.
His is a most premature passing — just as his leadership was taking root. We shall miss him and what might have been. I extend my sincere sympathy to his family. Adieu, mon ami, adieu.
Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Honourable senators, I would like to add a few words to the tributes we give today to our Speaker, the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin. I remember well, just before I entered the Senate for the first time, that Senator St. Germain of B.C. told me, "You will like Senator Nolin. He is one of best senators ever." It wasn't long afterwards that Senator Nolin came to me and introduced himself and said, "If you need anything, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me for help." He was sincere and it was his way of welcoming me into the Senate. He had a very special love for and appreciation of the Senate and he was sincere in his offer to help me learn the ropes.
Over the past few years, as the Senate has come under attack, no one was more concerned that we change our ways than Senator Nolin. His speeches on the Senate, delivered in a most compelling way, are well worth reading again. Senator Nolin understood the value of the Senate and he was a passionate defender of its role in our bicameral democracy.
We will definitely miss his friendship, his vision and his guidance in this chamber.
Honourable senators, Senator Gerry St. Germain asked me to read a few words of tribute on his behalf:
Honourable senators, I would like to thank Senator Raine for delivering this message of condolence on the loss of the Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin.
The Senate and Parliament of Canada have lost a giant of a man — a giant defined by both physical stature, as well as his caring for humanity and reverence for our parliamentary institutions.
He was known in the federal political world and the Quebec political scene as "P.C.," which became his identity.
P.C. was admired for his political skills, which were reinforced by his good judgment, honesty and integrity.
I met P.C. 32 years ago as he worked the political fields of Quebec, where he was always at the ready to serve in whatever capacity was called to in order to advance the great Conservative cause.
Few, if any, I believe, matched the high honour and respect for our institutions that he held. When it came to these aspects of the public realm, P.C. was truly in a class by himself.
Honourable senators, on behalf of my wife Margaret and me, we offer Camille and the family our deepest sympathy and ask for God's blessing.
Rest in peace, my friend! You did a great job. Your friend, Gerry.
Honourable senators, I, too, offer my sincere condolences to the family. We share your loss.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, we have lost a great friend and an outstanding Canadian.
A few days after I was appointed to the Senate in June of 2000, Pierre Claude asked me when my birthday was. He had been appointed to the Senate in June of 1993 at the age of 42. When Jean Chrétien became Prime Minister in 1993, he believed that senators appointed should be at least 50 years old so that you brought life's experiences to the job. Because of this policy, Pierre Claude was the youngest senator throughout the 1990s. So when I answered Senator Nolin that my fiftieth birthday was in July, and I knew that his was in October, his reply was, "Oh, good. I am still the youngest senator!"
I had the great pleasure of getting to know Pierre Claude Nolin well when we were both members of the executive of the NATO Parliamentary Association. He served as treasurer for the NATO Assembly headquarters in Brussels while I served as vice-president of the assembly. It was actually very special having two Canadians serving on the international executive at the same time.
Honourable senators, I have no doubt that if his health had allowed it, Pierre Claude would have become president of the assembly, which would have made him only the second Canadian president since NATO was formed over 60 years ago. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
Honourable senators, the respect and admiration that we in the Senate hold for Senator Nolin was also evident in members of Parliament from the NATO countries. At NATO meetings, Senators Day, Andreychuk and I were often asked for an update on Senator Nolin's health. This week I received an email from David Hobbs, Secretary General of the NATO Assembly, who spoke about Pierre Claude's remarkable demeanour despite his illness. As a tribute to the high esteem in which Senator Nolin was held, Secretary General Hobbs will be attending Pierre Claude's funeral tomorrow, and he will be an honourary pallbearer. Marc Angel, from Luxembourg, who succeeded Pierre Claude as treasurer of the NATO Assembly, emailed me and spoke of his great admiration for Pierre Claude, and also spoke about how much he will be missed at the assembly. Senator Nolin leaves a legacy not just in the Senate and not just in Canada but internationally, where he was so well respected.
His love of the institution of the Senate was always evident. He knew that the institution of the Senate is far more important than the individual senators and that it is certainly more important than the political parties. I always appreciated the fact that he gave respect not only to the government side but to the opposition side, because he understood how democracy works.
In his short time as Speaker, he had begun a legacy of rebuilding Canadians' trust and faith in the Senate. I am hopeful that his work will continue.
Honourable senators, Pierre Claude's death is a great loss for Canadians, and especially for those of us who work in the Senate of Canada. He will be missed.
Hon. Michel Rivard: Honourable senators, it was with great emotion and sadness that I learned of the passing of our colleague and friend, Pierre Claude Nolin.
When I arrived at the Senate in 2009, Pierre Claude was kind enough to mentor me and show me all the intricacies — and goodness knows there are many — of our institution. I was deeply touched by his generosity.
In his tribute, Senator Carignan told us that our Speaker was held in high regard by those who worked with him at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure, along with other parliamentarians and my colleague, Senator Downe, as part of the Canada-Europe Inter-parliamentary Association, to be received by the cabinet of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. To my great surprise, before he even welcomed us, the head of cabinet asked how his friend Pierre Claude Nolin was doing. We were quite moved. He asked us to send along his best wishes for a speedy recovery, which was not to be.
Pierre Claude was a distinguished parliamentarian, a proud representative of Quebec, and a staunch defender of the French language. I will remember him as a man of unimpeachable integrity. It was a great privilege to serve with him.
His last challenge, the reform and modernization of the Senate, must not remain unfinished. Let us live up to his legacy.
Finally, to you, my great friend Pierre Claude, rest in peace. You deserve it.
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to the honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, whose death has deeply saddened us all.
Senator Nolin was a remarkable parliamentarian, a man of principle who demonstrated dedication, the courage of his convictions, integrity and outstanding compassion throughout his career.
Despite his failing health, he was determined to carry out his important duties as Speaker and to make changes to the institution of the Senate in order to modernize it and help it get through these difficult times.
From the time he was appointed to the Senate in 1993, Senator Nolin enriched our parliamentary institutions through his unwavering commitment and his values of fairness and justice, which he conveyed so well.
I am grateful for his leadership and his enthusiasm in promoting the Senate in our society and for his desire to strengthen the democracy of our country by reflecting on the role of the Senate and its degree of partisanship. As he said so well, "You can be blinded by too much partisanship." I hope that Senator Nolin's efforts and expectations with respect to giving our institution new life will come to fruition.
I was touched by his attention to and understanding of the issues and challenges facing francophone minority communities. He was a proud Quebecer and a proud Canadian with a sincere attachment to linguistic duality and the Francophonie in all its diversity.
As chair of the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association, I appreciated the importance that Senator Nolin placed on diplomatic relations between Canada and France. Senator Nolin was a faithful member of the Association for many years and we are very appreciative of that. The Speaker was scheduled to go to France in May to attend a symposium on the Great War organized by our colleague, Senator Joyal.
Senator Nolin's term as Speaker of the Senate was far too short. However, we will not forget the energy he poured into suggesting changes to our institution. He will be greatly missed by everyone in this place, but we will all cherish the inspiration he provided.
It was an honour for me to serve in this chamber with Senator Nolin for more than 10 years, and I will always have fond memories of and great affection for this wonderful man and great parliamentarian.
I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Camille, to his children, Simon, Louis and Virginie, to his grandchildren and to all of his family members.
Hon. Daniel Lang: Colleagues, the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker of the Senate and senator for the senatorial division of De Salaberry, Québec, was a great Canadian and a proud Quebecer. He committed his life to public service, a united Canada and his political party, the Conservative Party of Canada.
During his time as Speaker, he brought all senators together, including independents, to strengthen accountability, increase transparency and work to educate Canadians about the role of the Senate in many areas, including representing the regions of the Canadian federation and protecting minority rights.
He never forgot that senators in the Senate have an important role to play within our constitutional federation.
His knowledge, passion, commitment and contribution to this venerable institution are unmatched. I admired his willingness to fight for the disadvantaged, to champion views that were not always popular with the majority, and for his strong, unwavering support for Canada's military and our participation in NATO.
At the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, he served for six years at the financial helm, the maximum allowed. When he retired as treasurer last year, NATO Parliamentary Assembly President Hugh Bayley pointed out that Senator Nolin managed the assembly's budget strategy during the worst global financial crisis in living memory. He stressed that Senator Nolin had presented four consecutive budgets that had not even grown with inflation, and noted:
It is a remarkable achievement to have delivered an effective cut in spending while maintaining the full spectrum of activities.
It was noted that, starting in 2005, Senator Nolin chaired the Parliamentary Assembly Reform Working Group, which conducted a wholesale review of the assembly's practices and procedures in order to maximize political and financial efficiency.
On a personal note, PC was a mentor to me since my appointment as a senator and was always there when I needed guidance. When I was asked to assume the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, I went to see him for advice. His counsel served me well, and it continues to guide me today.
To his staff, Ann Charron and Jules Pleau, I want to acknowledge you both. He was blessed to be guided by you for so many years. I know that you are more than trusted advisers and staff. In our business of politics, staff often become like family, and I know that he valued you both, not just as advisers but as family.
To Camille, while we did not get to know each other well, you were often on the receiving end of phone calls from the Yukon asking for Senator Nolin. Your warmth and kindness in receiving my calls into your home, as I no doubt interrupted your private time, was felt all the way across the country. Please accept my deepest condolences.
Colleagues, our Speaker was a giant amongst parliamentarians and will be truly missed. Let us honour him by working to finish his efforts to modernize and improve this chamber so that, generations from now, when history books are written, they will remember Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, our Speaker, as the man who preserved and reinvigorated our institution during some of its most stormy days.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Colleagues, the very moving statements today have captured the great respect that Speaker Nolin earned so well and so richly deserved. I would simply like to underline my respect for him as well, first with a story.
Several months ago, I rose to present a Senator's Statement. I started within the non-provocative, non-political frame for these kinds of statements but, of course, quickly crossed that line, and Senator Nolin saw that. He could have stood and made something of it, but, instead, he subtly caught my attention and, as I looked over, he cocked his head to one side, smiled wryly and pumped his hand up and down a couple of times to tell me to tone it down. I quickly summarized and sat down immediately after that.
What that says to me is that rather than drawing attention at that moment, he showed his respectful approach, why he was so effective in managing debate and how he did it with such great grace in this place.
I know we've all thought about him so much these last number of days, and as I thought about him and tried to find the words to capture what he meant to me, I kept coming up with a single idea — very powerful to me — and that is that he was an elegant person. He was an elegant person in every way you can imagine: He was kind, courageous, just and fair. He was respectful of others, this institution and of all Canadians. And he carried all of that with immense dignity.
Senator Nolin consistently embodied what this institution is at its very best. He raised our game every time he stepped into this institution and every time he spoke, and he reflected it in everything that he did in his comportment and in his comments.
I feel extremely privileged. I think I probably speak for all of us when I say that I feel extremely lucky to have had the years that I had with him — to listen, to watch and to be inspired by Senator Nolin.
Hon. Ghislain Maltais (Acting Speaker): Honourable senators, I would like to add my own tribute. Saying goodbye to someone like Pierre Claude Nolin is always hard. I so wish he could have been here today to hear your tributes to him.
Pierre Claude was, above all, a force of nature and a passionate man. He was passionate about his wife, his family, his work and, I could say, "his Senate." However, he was also passionate about nature. I had the opportunity to get to know Pierre Claude Nolin while fishing in salmon rivers. He was a great fan of the sport and loved to fish with his children and his friends.
He would often say to me, "Ghislain, this is where you recharge, in peace, in nature." He was a force of nature himself, and seeing him take on a 15- or 20-pound salmon in a river was like witnessing a clash of the titans in which he often came out on top. Sometimes he lost, but he always had an appreciation for nature, for the nature that the Creator gave us here in Canada.
He was also passionate about his work. He was a man of conviction, and was orchestrating a reform of the Senate. It is now up to us, the workers, to finish his work. I hope that his family — his wife, Camille, his children and his grandchildren — will remember him as a great Canadian, as a man who left his mark on Canada and Quebec, and as a man who left his mark on the world. He will now take his place among the greatest Canadians.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I rise today to join you in expressing my profound respect and admiration for Pierre Claude Nolin, who sadly passed away last week.
In the 22 years he spent here in the Senate of Canada, he consistently acted as a model of impartiality, transparency and courage, always keeping the best interests of Canadians and Canada in mind.
His illness never stopped him from providing us with his best and dedicating himself to his country. For that, honourable senators, we must salute him.
As a senator, he envisaged a Red Chamber in which senators would be motivated by their will to do what is best and what is right for Canada, no matter their political affiliation. He wanted to strengthen the Senate, reform the administration and improve communications. He dreamed of a less partisan and more effective Red Chamber.
What better way to help us define the Senate than through his legacy of the seven inquiries he initiated shortly after becoming Speaker? He got us all thinking about what it means to be senators and what role the Senate has to play.
Senator Nolin was a strong advocate and supporter of our men and women in uniform. I was privileged to have worked and travelled with him on the National Security and Defence Committee and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on many occasions. As honourable senators know, you tend to get to know someone very well when you're travelling together away from this place. How very appropriate, therefore, it was when he became Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Régiment de Maisonneuve in 2012 in recognition of his contribution to the men and women of the Armed Forces.
Senator Cordy and Senator Lang have both spoken on Senator Nolin's role in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. He joined the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in 1994, shortly after being appointed here, and remained an active member of the Science and Technology Committee until his appointment to Speaker in November 2014. He served as vice-president of the assembly and as treasurer. When Senator Nolin left his position as treasurer after six years, NATO members gave him an unprecedented standing ovation for the work that he had done.
Last week, Canada lost a great man, but I like to think how fortunate we are to have gained from that great man so much that will continue to inspire us and inspire generations to come.
More than his role as Speaker, Senator Nolin was a husband, a father and a brother. I would like to express my condolences to Camille and his family. We will remember him.
Hon. Paul E. McIntyre: Honourable senators, I also wish to pay tribute to our friend and colleague, the Honourable Senator and Speaker of the Senate, Pierre Claude Nolin.
We were all deeply saddened to learn of his passing. Once again, I, personally and in my role as President of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, wish to reiterate my condolences to the bereaved family.
Dear colleagues, I stand here before you, and like you, I feel and breathe Senator Nolin's presence — and what a presence! He was a great man, imposing in every sense, both physically and intellectually. He courageously fought two battles: one for Senate reform and the other against cancer.
Let us never forget, dear colleagues, that he was appointed Speaker just as the institution was shaken by one of the most serious crises it has ever faced. That is why he set off on a crusade to reform the Canadian Senate, to make this institution more transparent, democratic and accountable.
We all have before us the order paper that includes the motion to resume debate on Senator Nolin's inquiry to call the attention of the Senate to its roots, the history of its origins and its evolution, as well as its role in protecting minorities, its importance to parliamentary diplomacy, and so on.
He wanted the institution to be better known for the work it does and for the merits of the people within. Without a doubt, he fulfilled his duties until the very end, demonstrating his passion for political and parliamentary life.
As for his efforts to reform this institution, he unfortunately ran out of time, as others have pointed out. His work to make the Senate a genuine chamber of sober second thought remains unfinished. However, he certainly paved the way and, even in death, he has become one of the greatest defenders of the independence of senators. That was his greatest contribution as a parliamentarian.
It is now up to us, dear colleagues, to take up the torch and continue the fight. Thank you.
Hon. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu: Honourable senators, what more can be said after such heartfelt tributes?
Allow me to once again express my sympathy to Pierre Claude's family, particularly his wife and children. I wish them courage and serenity as they go through the grieving process.
Pierre Claude, I know that you will be with us for a few more days before you undertake a long journey to meet your Creator. I'm absolutely certain that he will give you an even more important mission in your next life.
Pierre Claude was a great leader in the Quebec caucus. Because there are so few of us, we've really had to band together in difficult times. Pierre Claude was there for us. He was the Quebec caucus's institutional memory.
Pierre Claude taught me everything I know about the Senate. He taught me to love it and to stand up for it. He was a senator's senator and a mentor to many of us. We valued the way he played his part with rigour, dignity, intelligence and great sensitivity.
Of course, I didn't always agree with our dear Pierre Claude, particularly with his opinions on the justice and public safety agenda. Clearly this indicates that not all Conservatives are right- wing politicians.
Most of all, what I will remember about our dear Pierre Claude — this is an image that came to me as I was doing a number of radio interviews about his death — is that during the difficult times we experienced within this institution, he was the mortar that held the stones together. He wanted us to emerge from this turmoil stronger, the better to serve Canadians.
In closing, honourable senators, I feel I must also say something about this terrible disease, cancer. I would like to remind Canadians, and especially governments, of the importance of cancer research. I have already lost six family members to this disease. Canada needs to take up the challenge and conquer this horrible disease, which will only happen through research.
My dear Pierre Claude, thank you and Godspeed.
Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, when I came to this chamber five and a half years ago, I knew Senator Nolin only by reputation, and indeed, know him by reputation I did, but it was only a very short period of time before I knew Senator Nolin well personally. I also had the very distinct pleasure of serving with the senator on the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence as well as on the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. As Senator Day has already pointed out, Senator Nolin was indeed a fierce defender of our Armed Forces and our men and women in uniform.
I only had the pleasure of making one trip with the senator, and that was with the Defence Committee, and we travelled to Vancouver Island.
At the end of a rather long day, we, as senators, had our dinner. After dinner, the suggestion was made that maybe we should have a glass or two of wine. Senator Nolin, even though he was already struggling with his health, was the only one of the entire group that had the stamina to join me after ten o'clock for a glass of wine.
We did enjoy a few glasses of wine, and we discussed the reforms of the Senate. We were both in agreement that reforming the Senate meant so much more than reforming how we get there or how long we take to get there. There are indeed reforms needed, and we shared many of the same views.
As Senator Boisvenu said, we did not always share the same views on other issues, but we certainly shared the same views on that issue.
Even on issues we didn't share the same views on, Senator Nolin would be more upset if you didn't express your opinion than the fact that your opinion was different than his.
I appreciated his openness when he was appointed Speaker. He had an open-door policy. And I think we have all heard him say, "If you have an issue, if you want to discuss something, please come and see me."
I sincerely hope, if and when my day comes, I will know ahead of time, as Senator Nolin knew that his days were numbered, and that I will have the courage and dignity to face it the way Senator Nolin did.
To Senator Nolin's wife Camille, his children and his grandchildren, I wish you well. Your husband, your father, your grandfather will be sadly missed, but he will never be forgotten.
Hon. Stephen Greene: Honourable senators, I wish to offer my tribute to Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, our beloved Speaker.
This is the first time I have ever issued a tribute. And while I don't know why that is, I think it's probably because I was waiting for someone as special as Senator Nolin.
What I particularly thank him for, and what I shall never forget, was his persistence and courage in setting out many motions and inquiries on the transformation of this institution into a modern, vital and essential part of Canadian democracy. As we all know, he was prepared to lead a committee charged with working on transforming this place. I believe that we should honour his legacy by establishing such a committee as soon as we can.
Senator Nolin, you were taken from us about 10 years before you would have retired. We shall miss your leadership and wise counsel.
Hon. Elaine McCoy: Honourable senators, I wish to add my voice to others who have spoken. I can't tell you how pleased I think Senator Nolin would be to hear these tributes.
I first met him in 2008, I think, when Norman Atkins and I asked a few senators to join us in an ad hoc committee we called Your Effective Senate, which we abbreviated to YES. We were exploring, at that time, ways and means of modernizing the Senate.
As you might expect, Senator Nolin — "P.C." — was one of those we invited to join, and he did join. He spoke well of the initiative and was very supportive, but he said, "This will not work unless we have all of our colleagues working with us." We said, "We don't have that many inroads into your caucus," and so invited him to do what he could. Indeed, it seemed to me that since that date he had been using every opportunity he possibly could to build a consensus amongst his own caucus members as well as amongst other senators.
I would have been proud to be a member of any caucus in which Senator Nolin was a member.
One of the things that I appreciated about Senator Nolin was that on an issue, he was never bound by party loyalty. If he recognized in me, as an independent, a skill set or a knowledge base that he thought would be beneficial in exploring an issue, then he reached out to include me in that initiative. He did that on a frequent basis.
I think that is another example of what it means to be a fully- fledged senator. He could focus on issues and ideas independently of partisan matters. He had that ability to differentiate.
He also understood what it meant to be a nation builder. I remember in the earlier days, before so many of you became familiar with the oil sands, I was concerned that we had a consensus, a critical mass, in the Senate that understood Alberta's great oil sands resource, and I spoke to him. He had already made sure that he knew something about it and absorbed more, and he was already working with his NATO colleagues to ensure that Europe knew more. He was from Quebec, but he was already reaching out. He had already visited Alberta. He wished to ensure that, as a nation, we were optimizing our talent, our resources. He did that over and over again. He did it here, he did it for our country and he did it for his region. He is truly a role model.
I, too, say publicly that I am dedicated to carrying forward the initiatives that Senator Nolin started. I am very pleased to be a member of that unofficial caucus, modernization of the Senate, and I thoroughly underline Senator Demers's heartfelt pledge that Senator Nolin will be our champion for all time on that initiative.
To Camille and the family I hold you in my heart. Thank you very much.
Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, and notwithstanding rule 5-5(g), I move:
That when the Senate next adjourns after the adoption of this motion, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to.)
(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at 2 p.m.)