Hon. B. Alasdair Graham: Honourable senators, one of Canada's finest
parliamentarians, the gifted Edward Blake, once said over a century ago that
"the privileges of Parliament are the privileges of the people and the rights
of Parliament are the rights of the people." This simple statement is
enormously powerful when one really thinks about it. It reminds all of us who
are privileged to be in the public service of the very great responsibilities
that we bear.
As I think of the many gifted parliamentarians I have had the honour of
working with over the course of my own career, I can think of very few who would
rival the remarkable Senator Sheila Finestone.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Graham: Over the years, Sheila has epitomized, in her
dedication to the people of this country and her province, not only the words
and the spirit of Blake's reflection, but also the very active and disciplined
pursuit of justice, both at home and abroad.
All of us think daily of the new world in which we find ourselves as
Canadians. Never have we needed more the fine personal example and wonderful
dedication to people that Sheila has brought to every road she has travelled.
She has planted and nourished and cultivated the seeds of freedom, both at home
and across this planet, and she has done so with relentless passion and
formidable purpose. She has done so with relentless passion and formidable
purpose, whether as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of
Women, as leader of the Canadian delegation to the Beijing World Conference on
Women, as a popular and admired president of the International Parliamentary
Union, as special advisor on land mines to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or
through her continuing and untiring efforts on behalf of minorities across the
Someone once said that those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must
undergo the fatigue of supporting it. That expression has taken on new meaning
in the aftermath of September 11. Canadians now search for their identity as
never before. Canadians reflect upon the future of their children and their
children's children as never before. Canadians look to government with
increasing hope and a new understanding that public service is indeed of great
importance to the future of this country. I am confident that the year 2002 will
see a continuing growth of Canadian awareness that the pundits who predicted the
death of sovereignty in the new age of globalization were very wrong.
The example that Senator Finestone has set for people at home and abroad —
not to speak of the example she has set as a mother of four, to her extended
family and to all of us — is now more than ever a shining light for a more
sombre and thoughtful Canada. It is an example for all those young people who
are thinking of entering the service of their country with passion, commitment
and courage. Indeed, Blake's simple words possess a value which is increasingly
significant to those of us in this chamber who encourage young Canadians to give
their energy, their hearts and their minds to their country.
The privileges of Parliament are, indeed, the privileges of the people, and
the rights of Parliament are the rights of the people. Honourable senators, the
outstanding, devoted and tireless career of Senator Sheila Finestone is a
brilliant example to all that those words are fundamental to our wonderful
Canadian identity, an identity which she has given all to cherish, to nurture
and to defend. Thank you very much, Sheila. We have all been enriched by your
example, your friendship and your presence in this chamber.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, upon his retirement, Javier Perez de Cuellar, the former
Secretary-General of the United Nations, observed that, now that he was a free
person, he felt free and light as a feather. I reflected upon those words of the
former Secretary-General, but could find no relationship between them and
Senator Finestone. Therefore, I delved further and came across the words of
Virginia Graham who is, as far as I know, no relation to my honourable friend
opposite. Virginia Graham observed, "When some people retire, it's going to be
mighty hard to be able to tell the difference." That, honourable senators,
caught my imagination in that it mirrored our distinguished colleague, Senator
Finestone, so much so that it is my prediction, vis-à-vis her retirement, that
it may be somewhat premature for people to think of Senator Finestone as
completely retiring from this Hill, given that there are six by-elections on the
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Kinsella: Honourable senators, in the event that she enters
the other place and cannot garner support for any bill that she should choose to
sponsor, I would remind you of the great work Senator Finestone put into Bill
S-21, and I am convinced that she will be able to garner the support of this
house. While she is back in that other place, perhaps she could push amendments
to the Broadcasting Act, amended by Bill S-7 which was passed in this chamber
last June under her leadership.
Honourable senators, during her time in the Senate, a short three years, she
has left a clear mark as one of the founding members of the Parliamentary Human
Rights Group, and the first deputy chair of our Standing Senate Committee on
Human Rights. Senator Finestone has worked to place human rights front and
centre in policy decisions.
For many years, I have admired Senator Finestone, particularly her tenacity
to stay the course when she felt strongly on issues, and I was delighted to see
that tenacity continued and maintained as she worked in this house on bills such
as the clarity bill, which seized the country shortly after the senator was
appointed. We all recall her tough questions of the government on Bill C-36.
These files were not easy, as they went to the very core of Senator Finestone's
beliefs in a just society.
I am quite sure that the government will continue to hear from Senator
Finestone in the future. Sheila, you are a true "tzedeket," a truly righteous
person, and a real "mensch." In the Irish tradition, "Sheila" means "one
with great insight," and in the Hebrew tradition, "Shelah" means "asked
for." We will continue to ask for you.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I rise in tribute to a respected
public servant and a dear friend, Sheila Finestone. She has served her country
for over 17 years, and she achieved numerous accomplishments throughout her
career in politics since her first appointment as an MP for Mount Royal in 1984.
Notably, she has been a leading advocate for the eradication of poverty among
the elderly, their lack of protection in the workforce and exclusion from
opportunity, as well as for pension reform.
From 1984 until her appointment to the Senate in 1999, Sheila Finestone has
faced with great courage and determination the burning issues of farm women,
small business entrepreneurs, single parents, the disabled, the Canadian Pension
Plan, and reform and pay equity for women.
Sheila worked locally but thought globally. She continually expressed a deep
interest in universal issues including freedom, equality and justice. It was an
interest she translated into her work in the Canadian Parliament as Secretary of
State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women and as the president of the
Canadian group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
As the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications, I must add that Sheila Finestone will be warmly remembered and
deeply missed as a distinguished member of that committee. As senators, we know
that one of our most important activities and where so much of our value lies is
committee work. One of the major tasks of the committee is to develop awareness
of an issue and help channel that awareness into consensus. Sheila Finestone's
contribution to the Transport and Communications Committee remains remarkable.
She possesses the intrinsic ability to assess competing camps and quickly find
areas of collaboration and compromise. Her speeches were often nobly censorious
and captivated the attention of her audience for their lack of idleness and
their straightforward approach to the issue under discussion.
Her service, however, has often gone above and beyond the legislative content
of a bill. We have seen her at work with Bill S-7, an amendment to the
Broadcasting Act, where she brought to light the principle of public
participation as the necessary and basic element to fulfil our commitment to
Sheila Finestone's remarkable political career, her numerous awards and
recognitions are only part of what makes her so unique. Anyone who has been
close to Sheila knows that above and beyond eloquence, intelligence and dignity,
she remains profoundly a "people's person." Her qualities are not confined to
her intellect but encompass those that are matters of the heart, will and moral
values — qualities she devotedly endorsed and defended throughout her life.
With boundless passion, Sheila Finestone has worked to promote the cause of
women, to protect those children whose voices could not be heard, to ban
anti-personnel land mines, and to bring justice, equity and freedom to the less
fortunate. As she helped reweave and rebuild the fabric of our own nation, she
has been also an ambassador of peace and hope to the world at large. We all owe
a debt of gratitude to Sheila Finestone for her remarkable services.
Honourable senators, the Senate will genuinely miss an extraordinary member.
However, we all know that Sheila does not rest on her laurels. Undoubtedly, she
will continue to devote herself to worthy causes.
In tribute to you, Sheila, I say "À bientôt." I am proud to know you and to
call you my friend.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay
tribute to our dear colleague who sat on our Human Rights Committee. I do not
want to repeat the words that I said there, but I want to note in this house
that the Human Rights Committee could not have successfully concluded its first
report as quickly as it did without the persistence and the loyalty that Sheila
gave to the committee and the support that she gave me, in particular, as the
chair of that committee.
It took us a number of years to plant the seeds that would eventually produce
the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. We seem to be too trammelled by
all the other procedures and emergencies that arise in this place. When Senator
Finestone came to this chamber, she said, "Why does the Senate not have a human
rights committee? This is intolerable! We will get one going." In fact, we did.
The two words that are not in Sheila's vocabulary are "no" and "impossible."
When I attended my first IPU meeting, some people were of the view that there
was a lot of discussion in the IPU but very little action. Again, Sheila would
show up and say, "We have to do something about land mines." The first thing
she would do is say, "Here is a list of parliamentarians that you must
approach. You must get an undertaking of what they will do in their country. I
want results. Please report back at about five o'clock this afternoon." Of
course, we would laugh, but at five o'clock she would come and ask, "What have
you accomplished?" She single-handedly changed the Canadian delegation to an
action-oriented group. More particularly, the IPU noted Sheila's contribution
and began to change. Those senators who attend IPU meetings know that there have
been clear results not only in the area of land mines but also in many other
areas. The IPU is slowly moving forward, a result of the constant and insistent
prodding of Sheila Finestone.
In the human rights field, I have noticed her dedication to the cause of
reclaiming privacy for Canadians. She has insisted on this through inquiries and
bills both in this house and in our committee. What was interesting about her
approach is that she understood, in this country of moderation and compromise,
that words are not just words — we must live them. She would be the one on the
committee who would say, "If we are to get this done, we must do so not only
within the Senate. We must contact the minister and the Prime Minister." We
would all ask, "How will we do that?" She would reply, "Never mind. I will do
it." And she would. She never left the bureaucracy out of the equation. She had
a healthy respect for the Public Service of Canada, and she knew how important
they were in the success of any proposal. She was able to build the coalitions
needed to get the support required for these issues.
Many honourable senators have already stated what Sheila Finestone has done
in the community, so I will not repeat that. I simply want to place on the
record, as I did in committee, that Sheila will not give up the many causes she
has pursued merely because she has left the Senate. She will certainly find
another avenue from which to prod us. She may be one of those interested
witnesses who will come and testify before a particular committee. She will also
ensure that the things in which she believes continue to flourish in the fertile
ground of Canada.
Sheila, I know that this is only one milestone of many more to come. I look
forward to working with you as I did before you were a senator. The Human Rights
Committee is indebted to you for your commitment and for your foresight in
understanding its mandate and in ensuring that it was always action oriented. We
will continue to follow your example. Best wishes in your next endeavour.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Vivienne Poy: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to
Senator Sheila Finestone, a woman who is an experienced and respected
I met Sheila for the first time when she came to the Senate. Since then, I
have watched her and listened to what she had to say. As I listened and learned,
it became clear to me that Senator Finestone is a woman who believes in putting
words into action, as Senator Andreychuk just mentioned. She did not just talk
about social justice issues and human rights; she worked toward bringing about
real and effective change, both as a senator and formerly as a member of
As I got to know her, I realized that we shared many of the same concerns.
Throughout her career, Sheila has been a champion of women's rights, an advocate
for multiculturalism, and she expressed concern about the conditions in
developing countries. She also has very close ties to her community and
continues to work with individuals, community groups and institutions. Sheila
recognizes the importance of her gender and her heritage in shaping the person
she has become.
Whenever Sheila took on a new challenge, whether it was during her tenure as
Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women, or as the
Canadian Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, or, most recently, as Special
Advisor on Land Mines, she left her mark. Part of the reason is Sheila's superb
ability to assess a situation quickly and accurately and to call a spade a
spade. This ability served her well on the Human Rights Committee, on which I
had the good fortune to work with her.
One day, Sheila said to me that I reminded her of herself 20 years ago.
Whatever she meant by that, I accepted it as the greatest of compliments. Little
does she know, though, that I am a lot older than she thinks.
Sheila has now retired from the Senate and will be greatly missed. However, I
have no doubt that she will continue to work in the national and international
community for many years to come.
With your departure, Sheila, I feel that I am losing a valued colleague, a
mentor and a friend. Like everyone here, I will miss you.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, permit me a word to say what
a joy it has been to have worked with Senator Finestone on various occasions
over the years. Those of us who share her passion for adequate protection of the
right to privacy in this country will recognize and honour her leadership in the
best way we know how, which is to keep that issue alive until her efforts are
crowned with the success that they deserve.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, a considerable number of us
have known Sheila Finestone as an MP, a minister or a senator. Having had the
privilege of knowing her before she was in Parliament, I should like to pay
tribute today to her activities before making the leap to politics in 1984. Her
parliamentary career had its foundations established long before she was first
elected to the House of Commons.
It is no exaggeration to describe Sheila Finestone as a born leader. She was
totally committed to her community very early on. A born catalyst, she has
always devoted herself to building bridges between groups of women, such as the
federation of Jewish women and the federation of francophone women, which led to
her presidency of the Fédération des femmes du Québec.
At the time, the federation's membership consisted of both francophones and
anglophones, and I must admit that the atmosphere of collegiality that existed
in her day has not always reigned since her departure. It is no surprise that
her activities on the national and international scenes have focused on building
bridges to promote women and cultural communities. Sheila's commitment also left
its mark on the history of the 1980 referendum.
She was heavily involved in organizing the Yvette movement to lobby for
recognition of the dignity of women, particularly homemakers. We owe part of the
success of the referendum campaign to her and to the other women leaders of the
Before Sheila was elected, she was well known for her involvement in the
Liberal Party of Canada. Many will recall the chicken dinners and spaghetti
suppers she organized throughout all the regions of Quebec, year-round, winter
or summer. Her election, in which I was involved, was one of the crowning
achievements of our party's history in 1984.
A woman of conviction, becoming a member of Parliament was for Sheila an
accomplishment that would enable her to continue to work towards the values she
held so dear: equality, freedom and justice.
My dear Sheila, on behalf of all women, not just those involved in politics,
but all those whom you have motivated to advance their causes, I should like to
express our gratitude. If these women continue to be committed and actively
involved in claiming their rightful place, it is because you and others like you
have led the way. With your degree of commitment, I am absolutely sure that you
will miss the political life. You will always be welcome here on the Hill,
particularly since I am sure you still have some unfinished projects.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, as a Montrealer, I knew Sheila
Finestone by reputation for years before coming here, and I admired her. It was
impossible not to admire a woman who had accomplished so much.
Once I came to the Senate, I got to know her as a friend and colleague. This
turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.
As this is not a funeral but a celebration of Sheila's career so far, I
thought it would be appropriate to utter a few home truths as we wish her well.
I suppose the fundamental one is that Sheila Finestone has been driving people
crazy for years. She drives people crazy for many reasons. First, she just wears
Sheila is what the French call a "force de la nature."
She is a human dynamo. Heaven knows where she gets the energy, but I have
seen people 20 years, 30 years or maybe 40 years younger than Sheila wiped out,
exhausted and taking to their beds while Sheila was still going strong
accomplishing more and more before the day would end. She is absolutely
Honourable senators, she drives people crazy because she is not biddable. You
cannot tell Sheila what to do, unless she believes it is the right thing to do.
We in this chamber have seen her more than once rise to vote against the
government on bills that the government held dear. We know the kinds of
persuasive arguments that are brought to bear on members of a caucus, but
Senator Finestone would not vote in a way that she did not think was right. Even
if I sometimes disagreed with her, I was always profoundly moved by her
dedication to what she thought was right.
She has driven us crazy, perhaps not least because she is never swayed by
logic, law, precedent or custom.
As Senator Andreychuk has noted, the word "no" is not in Senator
Finestone's vocabulary, nor is the word "impossible." If they are used, it
just means that she will work a little harder to get to where she believes we
need to go, and she is so often right in her assessment of where we need to go.
She has been absolutely fearless in representing the values in which she
I will name just a few of those values. Senator Finestone believes in the
advancement of women, justice for women in the work world, in politics and in
their family lives. She particularly believes in justice for children. She also
believes in the advancement of bilingualism and biculturalism in this country,
and the advancement of minority language communities. As others have noted, she
believes in federalism and the preservation of Canadian unity. She believes in
the preservation, health and advancement of the Jewish community of Canada.
Above all, and perhaps wrapping all these things together, she believes in the
cause of human rights. I do not think there has been a more faithful or
dedicated servant of human rights in this Parliament for many years.
Yes, she has driven us crazy, but on the way she has won the affection and
respect of hundreds of people.
Honourable senators, I have been privileged to work with Sheila in the
Inter-Parliamentary Union where, as Senator Andreychuk noted, she has
accomplished great things, particularly for women. The IPU is an organization of
parliaments from around the world. As we all know, many of those parliaments
are, shall we say, male-dominated. Sheila created a role for women. Sheila
created the women's wing of the IPU, and then went around the world to ensure
that it was not just fortunate Western women who could participate. There are
women in countries from Cambodia to Mongolia to Uruguay who have a place and
recognition now in their parliaments that they never would have had had Sheila
Finestone not gone to bat for them and with them. They love her for it, and so
She has fought for the removal of land mines and for human rights. She has
fought for everything of which I can think. I have seen in the councils of the
IPU, how her directness could take issue with hypocrisy and with many evil
elements of human life. In spite of her direct attack on things that were wrong,
even the people she was attacking felt warmth, affection and respect for her.
She would reach out to them, and they would reach back. She would end up
persuading them to her point of view.
She has served Canada well here and around the world. She has helped to give
us stature and respect. I think that it is fair to say we have returned those
sentiments. God speed.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, on occasions such as
this, it is incumbent upon us to be brutally frank and candid about our
departing colleague, the Honourable Sheila Finestone.
Sheila was not always the easiest person with whom to deal. When I first
encountered Sheila, she was explosive, opinionated, feisty and the newly-minted
member of Parliament for that great riding of Mount Royal. We had a barbed and
rather frosty exchange. It is fair to say we even clashed.
I did not know anything about Sheila Finestone at the time, or her
background. Unlike me, she was always very definitive in her views and was not
easy to persuade. Then I discovered that her father was the great Monroe Abbey.
Monroe Abbey was a civic leader in Montreal. He was influential not only in the
Jewish community there, but also as a national leader across Canada. Monroe
Abbey was an activist in the Canadian Jewish Congress. As a 12-year-old
youngster, I had the privilege to hear Monroe Abbey speak at a community
function in the late 1940s in my hometown of London, Ontario. He was impressive,
persuasive and a tireless advocate for lost causes, for immigrants and for
religious freedom. Monroe Abbey stood against racial discrimination. He was in
favour of sports and law reform, and he was a staunch, lifelong Zionist. Monroe
Abbey was a member of the Order of Canada as well as a Q.C. Monroe Abbey was
named after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, the father
of the Monroe Doctrine and a drafter of the American Constitution.
Honourable senators, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Sheila has
left a lasting trace of activities, ranging from women's, children's, privacy
and human rights to international peace and harmony, not only in Canada, but
abroad. When you attend international meetings, more often than not, someone
will come up and say, "Do you know my friend Sheila Finestone?" Sheila has
always had a grand and great range of interests and intensity. Above all, Sheila
has had and still has a fire in her belly for the underdog.
Honourable senators, not only was Sheila Finestone a great member of the
House of Commons, but she was also a great senator. It is not very often that
members of the House of Commons make the transition and become equally important
and potent as a member of this chamber.
I extend these words to Sheila Finestone's family. To Sheila I offer the
traditional blessing that she, like our matriarch, Sarah, live to 127 years and
have a long and fruitful life.
Happily, honourable senators, I learned just a month ago, when Senator
Finestone and I travelled abroad together, that she plans to continue to be a
resident of Ottawa.
Sheila, I have a number of tasks that I intend to talk to you about because
we need your help, creativity and energy. I promise not to clash with you too
often. I will be calling you soon.
You have made us proud and privileged to be your friends. God speed.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: I am very pleased today to join with my
colleagues to pay tribute to a great parliamentarian, Sheila Finestone. However,
I am saddened to do so, because I know she will be sorely missed by all of us
here in the Senate chamber. We have lost one of our most vocal and
During her short three years in the Senate, Sheila accomplished a great deal.
She worked tirelessly and enthusiastically for her province, her country and for
Many of us here will remember Sheila for her contribution in the area of
individual privacy rights. Looking after the rights of individuals always comes
first with Sheila. In her years of political service, both before and during her
Senate appointment, Sheila chaired and served on countless committees. I will
not begin to name these committees, nor the many awards she has received
throughout the years for her diligent work. However, I will say that many of
these awards were given for her lifelong efforts in the defence of cultural,
linguistic and minority rights, speaking up for the rights of those who felt
they could not speak for themselves.
I have very much enjoyed working with Sheila on the Standing Senate Committee
on Transport and Communications. There I had the opportunity to experience her
skills and knowledge first-hand.
I will miss Sheila for her sharp wit and quick remarks, both in the chamber
and around the committee table, for her ability to liven up any discussion and
for her ability to immediately strike at the heart of any piece of legislation.
More important, all Canadians who value equality and individual rights will miss
Sheila Finestone in the Senate.
Sheila, I wish you all the best as you begin the next stage in your
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I have known Sheila
Finestone for her 18 years in the Parliament of Canada. Today we have heard
quite a number of vigorous words used to describe her, all of them quite true.
To balance some of those words, I will add three of my own because they have
endeared her to me throughout all these years, and those are: kindness, laughter
From the beginning, I kept a close eye on the member for Mount Royal in the
other place because she replaced a person in whom I had invested, with great
enthusiasm, a significant amount of time, effort, admiration and friendship, the
Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau. No matter how you looked at that
succession, those were challenging shoes to fill, and I was keen to see how
Sheila would choose to do that.
Well, she used her exceptional background and skills to chart her own course
in her own way, both as a member and later as a senator in this chamber. There
was indeed an element of continuity in that course with her predecessor. She was
actively involved into the constitutional debate during that time and since, and
always with a deep love of Quebec within a united Canada.
Sheila has a passion for human rights, individual and multicultural rights,
and equality rights for women, whatever their life choices might be.
In her farewell speech to this house last December, Sheila noted her role
models in parliamentary life. One was that extraordinary rights activist, the
late Senator Thérèse Casgrain. Another was the former health minister, Monique
Bégin. The third was Mary Two-Axe Early, one of the more courageous and
persistent advocates for the rights of Indian women.
Internationally, Sheila crossed paths early on with women's rights legends:
Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug. These are formidable women, but I
have no doubt whatsoever that our Sheila stood toe to toe with them and gave no
quarter in the history of her own life that brought that passion to the cause.
It is little wonder that Sheila's role in Parliament became focused on those
Canadians who make up more than 50 per cent of our population and who are still
fighting for access to equality, in all its forms, in communities across our
When the first cabinet of this government was formed in 1993, it was
inevitable that it should include Sheila Finestone as Secretary of State for
Multiculturalism and the Status of Women.
Senator Fraser, with great vigour, described the degree to which Sheila drove
us crazy. I do not want to breach the confidentiality of the cabinet room. I was
there with Sheila at that time. I think she drove them crazy as well, and that
was a good thing. I was proud of her, and we supported each other.
As the woman in charge of the status of women in our government, Sheila
Finestone led the Canadian delegation of women senators and members of
Parliament to the Third World Congress on Women in Beijing in 1995, where Canada
made history with its action plan on equity rights for women. That leadership
lives on, not just in memory but in action that is taking place in countries all
over the world where such thoughts could not have been imagined a few short
When Sheila was appointed to the Senate in 1999, she brought that vision and
energy with her. She reconfigured her focus without leaving any of her former
causes behind. However, again, she got herself into vigorous and churning waters
over the issue of privacy under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Her private
bill to guarantee the human right to privacy is still on the Order Paper of the
Senate. I must say that it was an interesting situation to find Sheila sitting
at the head of the table as a witness before our Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology, where vigour certainly is the order of
As Sheila fulfilled her role in the Senate, she always came back to the
fundamentals: children, poverty and all the international concerns. She has
never confined her focus to her own country. This was never as remarkably
evident as when she served as the Special Adviser on Land Mines. Indeed, she is
to be hugely commended, not just by us, but by all of those in the world whom
she has tried to help.
After her appointment to the Senate, Sheila did not hesitate to jump right
into committees with active participation. Others have said that she walked her
own line. About that there is no question. Having come to us from the other
place, I think we all agree that she was generous in her support of initiatives
in this house, as long as they maintained a reasonable partnership with her own
principles. When that was in doubt, that is when we heard from Sheila, again
I admire Sheila Finestone enormously. Only this week, I found her haunting my
thoughts as I prepared to participate in a conference in Moscow on a very
progressive CIDA joint project on women and labour market reform in Russia. Over
the last three years, a key player on the Canadian side of this issue has been
Status of Women Canada. I was searching their records for words that would
convey the essence of the issue. This is what I found:
Though we live in economically challenging times, gender equality is not a
bonus of good times. Equality rights are human rights — a basic principle that
shapes the way we live, in good times and hard times. There is no one answer,
no one action, no one player that can make equality happen. Gender equality is
everybody's business... In the new century, the nations considered the leaders
of the world will be those who have achieved gender equality.
When I turned the page, I discovered that the author was none other than our
former colleague Sheila Finestone. Those words will go to Russia with me.
Sheila, I send you my warmest thanks for your friendship, for your support
and good wishes for all those causes that I know you will continue to champion.
I will miss you. Parliament will miss you. The Senate will miss you. I say, in
conclusion, that Canada would be a much poorer place without your presence.
Hon. Laurier L. LaPierre: Honourable senators, when I think of Sheila
Finestone, I am always reminded of two magnificent women. As a historian, that
is the way one thinks. One of them is Marie Gérin-Lajoie — the daughter of Sir
Alexandre Lacoste — who, in the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th
century, fought five cardinals in Rome, the Pope himself and Henri Bourassa in
order to be able to bring fundamental rights to the women of our country. She
did not succeed very well, but what she found is that, essentially, men were
very weak in the defence of women.
The second person of whom I am reminded is Madame Thérèse Casgrain, whom I
knew very well and who once summoned René Lévesque, after he had moved from one
position to another. I was having tea with her when René arrived, and she said:
Sit down and explain yourself!
She once said that to me when I was on This Hour Has Seven Days and
had said something of which she disapproved. She summoned me and used the exact
Dear Senator Finestone, it is your turn to let us tell you how much we love
you, and this love resonates here in the Senate, in Parliament, on Parliament
Hill and all across our beautiful country.
In the middle of the night, since old men have little to do in bed, I woke up
and I proceeded to contact all my colleagues in this chamber, all 104 of them —
and I created a few as I went along, of course — in order to arrive at the
following conclusion: Should Sheila Finestone intend to stand for re-election
anywhere, we will all come and help her. We will work for her. In the process,
we will achieve two things. We will get her elected with the largest majority in
the history of the world, and we will put the Senate on the map.
Hon. E. Leo Kolber: Honourable senators, dear Sheila, I took a great
deal of time to prepare my remarks. However, I had to tear them up and throw
them away because everything has been said already. This is to tell Sheila that
I concur in all the wonderful things that have been said about her. Not to
unnecessarily disturb the interpreter, to wrap up, I should like to say — "biz
hundert un tsvantsik." For those who are not trilingual, that means, "You should
live to 120."
May you enjoy wonderful health, Sheila, bask in the warmth of your family,
your children and your grandchildren, and truly savour the fruits and results of
a fabulous career.
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, Senator Sheila Finestone
reached out to me many times with support and encouragement, particularly in the
events we held when she chaired the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Canada and I
chaired the Canadian Parliamentarians for Global Action.
Senator Finestone has been an inspiration to me. I reach out to her today
with gratitude in my heart.
Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier: Honourable senators, I met Mrs. Finestone
in 1984 when she arrived on Parliament Hill. At that time, I was the Liberal
Party whip in the other place. I found her to be a person who worked hard, was
devoted, very disciplined, and at times demanding. One of her great strengths
was that she said what she thought, something, incidentally, that a number of
you continue to do. When Sheila Finestone had something on her mind, she never
backed down. In any case, that has been my experience after having spent 16 or
17 years working with her.
I looked at Mrs. Finestone's curriculum vitae in the Canadian Parliamentary
Guide, and there is no mention of her contribution with regard to official
languages. Mrs. Finestone did a fine job of representing the English-speaking
community of Montreal, both in the House of Commons and in the Senate. She even
co-chaired the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages. This should have
been mentioned. Mrs. Finestone represents Canada's duality, our linguistic
duality as I understand it: two official languages, one federation, one united
country. Mrs. Finestone is a staunch defender of her beliefs. I congratulate and
thank her. She lives in the same building as I do, and I expect to see her
again, since she owes me a Scotch.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, I wish to join my colleagues
in paying tribute to Senator Sheila Finestone. A great humanitarian, she has
always spoken with her heart as well as with her head, and has never shied away
from the problems and challenges facing our society. It was Saint-Exupéry who
said that only the heart sees clearly. Recently, Senator Finestone and I had an
opportunity to take part in a debate in this chamber on the Middle East, a
troubled region of the world. We both tried to make our small contribution to
end the suffering of both Israeli and Palestinian families.
During a recent trip she made to the United States, Senator Finestone took
the initiative of passing along to Secretary of State Colin Powell a copy of the
speech I gave in this chamber on this issue. As a Canadian born in Palestine, I
was deeply moved by her gesture. I admire her open-mindedness and hope that she
will continue to be able to make an invaluable contribution to end the suffering
in this part of the world and the terrible situation of the Palestinian people.
I thank her for her many contributions since 1984, in all of which she was
guided by both her heart and her intelligence.
Thank you very much, Sheila.
Senator Finestone, thank you very much. Good luck.
Hon. Jim Tunney: Honourable senators, we have heard some wonderful
tributes, and all of them deserved. I should like to turn our attention for a
moment to another international figure. We have been talking about a person here
whom I would call the Queen of the Canadian Parliament. I would like also at
this time to refer to and pay tribute to another Queen who, 50 years ago this
morning, not by her choice but because of the death of her father, became Queen
of England, Queen of the British Empire and Queen of Canada. We must consider
what her life must be like when her freedom is restricted, when all of her
movements are judged, and not all of them positively. Yet she is willing to
represent her office and her subjects and do so with grace during all these
It is wonderful that, when we enter this place, we pray for her, and we
should never stop that tradition. Throughout the war years, the years after the
war, and through the troubles and turmoils that we have seen since, our one real
figure of stability has been our gracious Queen Elizabeth II.
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, it is with great
sadness that I inform you that the Honourable Pauline McGibbon, Ontario's
twenty-second Lieutenant-Governor, passed away on December 14, 2001.
An inspiring role model, this remarkable woman was known for many firsts. In
1974, when she was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, she was the first
female representative of the Queen in Canada and the Commonwealth. She was the
first female chancellor of the University of Toronto and the University of
Guelph, the first female governor of Upper Canada College, the first female
chairman of the board of trustees for the National Arts Centre, the first female
president of the Canadian Conference of the Arts, and the first woman to serve
as director on not one but four major Canadian corporations: IBM Canada,
Mercedes-Benz Canada, George Weston Limited, and Imasco Limited.
While serving as Lieutenant-Governor from 1974 to 1980, she raised much
public awareness of the vice-regal position, using it to promote the arts and,
in the process, winning the hearts of Ontarians with her gracious style and
personality. She had such a love for people that, in addition to using the funds
allocated for entertainment, she would return most of her annual salary in order
to host more functions open to the public. During her term, she hosted more than
1,000 receptions, gave nearly 500 speeches and had over 92,000 visitors to
Queen's Park, more than any of her predecessors.
A champion of the arts, she established the annual Pauline McGibbon Honorary
Award in Theatre Arts, and through her dedicated service on the boards of many
arts organizations, she continued to enrich the cultural life of Ontario.
As a tribute to her outstanding dedication to public service, she was
presented with numerous awards and honorary degrees. Some of her official
honours include the Centennial Medal in 1967 and the Queen's Jubilee Medal in
1977. She was inducted into the Order of Canada in 1967 and promoted to
Companion Member in 1980. In addition, she was inducted into the Order of
Ontario in 1988 and received the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of
Canada Medal in 1992.
To quote Ontario Lieutenant-Governor Hilary Weston:
Pauline McGibbon opened the way for women, who now hold the majority of
vice-regal positions in Canada. We will always remember her as a great lady —
a proud Ontarian, who served her sovereign and province well.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I wish to compliment
colleagues in this place for their courage and conviction in releasing today "A
Discussion Report on Democratic Reform of Parliament." In particular, I believe
all senators should note the backgrounder, on page 7, pertaining to Senate
Honourable senators, I have been an advocate for elected senators and for a
reformed Senate since day one, as one who supported the elected Senate process
in Meech Lake and later in Charlottetown. When I ran for my seat in the other
place 20 years ago, one of my issues was Senate reform. I now restate my
challenge to the Prime Minister to appoint only elected senators to this place.
Again, if he were to guarantee to the people of Canada that he would only
appoint elected senators to the Senate, then I would challenge all senators to
push for an elected Senate. In so doing, I would challenge them to run for their
respective regions, as I am prepared to do in British Columbia.
The Western provinces, in particular, have been advocating for fairer and
better representation for many years. A couple of provinces have even adopted
their own legislation to do so. I know that the present Leader of the Government
in the Senate spoke to the immediate need for an elected Senate when she was
opposition leader in the Manitoba legislature.
Honourable senators, Canadians eagerly await the commitment of the Prime
Minister to respect the wishes of the people and the parliamentary
representatives that serve here in Parliament.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, last week Canada lost one
of its greatest champions: journalist, author, broadcaster Peter Gzowski. His
gravelly voice, infectious laugh and challenging questions were finally silenced
by the effects of a lifetime of smoking, and he lost the battle with emphysema.
What a send-off he received. His passing triggered an astounding cross-Canada
flood of personal memories and affection, that flowed day after day last week,
particularly on the CBC, his broadcasting home of over three decades.
I knew Peter for a long time. His consistency of daily influence in informing
and entertaining Canadians is legend. In my book, however, his finest gift to
the country he loved was his relentless advocacy for literacy — for all those
millions of citizens who, unlike himself, could not claim an ability to read and
write and use the magic of words to enhance their lives.
Underneath his sometimes gruff and even shy exterior, Peter cared
passionately about finding ways to encourage and help others to share the joy of
literacy, whether it was through his radio programs or his golf tournaments to
raise funds for local learning projects and organizations. Indeed, a lasting
legacy will be the Peter Gzowski Invitationals. Since 1986, with the help of
friends, broadcasters, writers, actors, artists, entertainers, educators,
sponsors and an army of literacy volunteers, a goal of $1 million has now
reached well over $6 million with annual tournaments in every province and
territory, including on the ice in the High Arctic. This was not just a game. It
was a mighty cause for an issue that is desperately in need of attention and
action at every level of our society, including government and this Parliament.
Eventually, Mr. Gzowski's deteriorating health prevented him from playing the
I have a vivid memory of a fairly recent PGI in Ottawa, when a storm rolled
through and there was Peter, on the eighteenth green, soaked to the skin in an
astounding purple shirt, with myself, also drenched, challenging players to pay
out five bucks to putt against the "Great One." The result was zero for Peter
and more dollars for our cause.
Peter and I shared many literacy platforms and cheered each other on. We were
friends. He scolded me once for calling him an icon, but I was right.
Already I feel lonely without him, but I know that he is swinging his golf
club up on a cloud, urging me to keep on marching. In his memory, literacy will
remain my cause until the day I join him on that other course.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, the fallout from the
attack of September 11 on the World Trade Center in New York has been felt
around the world. My province of Nova Scotia is no exception. Our exporters have
incurred increased delays and increased costs of moving goods over the border.
There has been a downturn in retail sales, and small businesses and small
business entrepreneurs have been under enormous pressure just to maintain
positive cash flow in their businesses.
Honourable senators, there is a limit to what various levels of government,
from municipal to provincial and federal, can do to assist small business. As a
senator from Nova Scotia, I am always interested in finding ways in which our
citizens and our businesses can be promoted so that they can compete with the
best in the world. Very often our businesses — the lifeblood of the Canadian
economy — are held back because most of the Toronto-based lending institutions
are oblivious to our needs and activities down East.
It was refreshing, therefore, to read over the Christmas vacation that one of
our largest financial institutions, the Bank of Montreal, started a new program,
called Prime Rate Sale, to assist small business owners during these tough
economic times. This is a rate sale program that enables small business
customers to borrow amounts of between $50,000 and $250,000 for terms of up to
two years at the all-time low prime rate of 3.75 per cent. They could either do
that or take out a new small-business line of credit for up to $50,000 at 3.75
After I read that in the newspaper, I wondered if this would expressly
exclude those business people from Atlantic Canada, so I did a search. I made an
inquiry as to how Nova Scotia businesses were doing and learned that in Atlantic
Canada, of 129 total applications processed as of the middle of January, all had
been approved. This was most encouraging, but what about Nova Scotians? Those
129 applications represented $16.6 million in financing for small businesses in
Atlantic Canada. In Nova Scotia, 45 of those 129 applications were from our
entrepreneurs, representing $6 million.
Honourable senators, in troubled times I feel assured that this endeavour has
helped a great number of small businesses in Nova Scotia, and, accordingly,
helped our provincial economy.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I am very proud to
rise in this chamber today to pay tribute to a team of young women from my home
province who have once again risen to the top of their sport. Prince Edward
Island's Suzanne Gaudet rink, playing before a hometown crowd at Cahill Stadium
in Summerside, won the National Junior Women's Curling Championship. This is the
second straight year this team has won the national title.
Suzanne and her teammates are now preparing once again to take on the world
at the World Junior Curling Championships in Kelowna, British Columbia, in late
March. The team is comprised of lead Kelly Higgins, second Carol Webb, third
Robyn MacPhee, skip Suzanne Gaudet and coach Paul Power. They are to be
congratulated on their success.
Suzanne Gaudet has truly become a force to be reckoned with at the national
and international levels. With her victory in Summerside, she became the first
skip since 1978 to win back-to-back national junior women's titles. She and her
teammates now look to repeat as world champions in Kelowna, following on last
year's world title in Utah.
There has never been a repeat winner at the world championships, but I am
confident that this great Prince Edward Island team will change that next month.
The city of Summerside and the hundreds of volunteers who worked tirelessly
to put on the event should also be commended for hosting a first-rate event.
It is estimated that the week-long championship resulted in $1.5 million in
spinoffs for the local economy, during a time of the year when tourism dollars
are difficult to generate.
Honourable senators, again, congratulations to all the volunteers who staged
such a successful event, and I wish the best of luck to the Suzanne Gaudet rink
at the upcoming world championship competition.
Hon. Lois M. Wilson: Honourable senators, over Christmas I received
the "News Bulletin of the World Council of Churches" with its account of the
celebrations of 1700 years of Christianity in Armenia. A delegation from the
World Council attended the September 21 to 23, 2001, celebrations of the
Armenian Apostolic Church.
Christianity was proclaimed the state religion by the Armenian King Trdat III
in the year 301, making Armenia the world's oldest Christian nation.
The celebrations culminated with a blessing ceremony and the consecration of
a newly built cathedral in honour of Gregory the Illuminator. The presence of
more than 22 representatives of different churches and religious organizations
at the many worship services gave the participants a sense of belonging together
across borders. The short news item was accompanied by a picture of Pope John
Paul II and His Holiness Garegin II, who were, the caption stated, placing roses
on a memorial for the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Thus, there was
visible unity on this point from Protestants, Roman Catholics and Orthodox
Communions at the highest levels, and worldwide.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, there
are only two minutes remaining for this item on the Orders of the Day. I will
allow only one more senator on the list to speak.
Hon. Laurier L. LaPierre: Honourable senators, it is with pleasure
that I announce that Ms Jeanne Milne of Calgary, daughter of Senator Milne, is
one of the four finalists in the Cadillac Fairview ARC Award Competition that
recognizes highly creative innovators in Canadian retail. The award consists of
a $50,000 cash prize. Ms Milne is being recognized for the creative and
innovative hardware store that she developed called, "The Art of Hardware," in
Calgary. I am sure that honourable senators will join with me in congratulating
Ms Milne and wishing her good luck. As well, let us congratulate Senator Milne
for having such a creative daughter and Ms Milne of Calgary for having such a
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cools, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Wiebe, for the second reading of Bill S-9, to remove
certain doubts regarding the meaning of marriage.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Isobel Finnerty: Honourable senators, I have read with interest
the continuing debate on Bill S-9. Senator Cools has presented a thorough and
carefully documented history of the meaning of marriage. This is an impressive
piece of research. I am grateful for the opportunity to have read it.
All around us, our traditional beliefs are challenged. What we were taught as
youngsters is constantly being questioned. I am certain that many of us would
find it much easier to survive if we could pause from time to time to absorb the
Bill S-9 calls on the Parliament of Canada to freeze for all time the
traditional Judeo-Christian definition of "marriage." The term "marriage,"
it is argued, should be exclusive property of two persons of the opposite sex
who, one assumes, are in a loving and long-term relationship. Like most of you,
honourable senators, it would be my predisposition to agree with the sentiments
of Bill S-9.
Honourable senators, I am hopeful that all of you will ask yourselves this
question: Will any Canadian be disadvantaged or greatly insecure if the
traditional definition of "marriage" is not frozen in time?
It is important to have on the record the thorough research of Senator Cools
and the supporting arguments of Senators Wiebe and Banks. Their speeches
eloquently honour and trace the path that has led us here today. I am certain
that there will be speeches against Bill S-9. I understand the frustrations of
those who advocate a more inclusive or broader definition of "marriage." For
the gay and lesbian community, the road to fairness, equity and inclusion has
been long and rough.
Honourable senators, I can also understand that there would be some suspicion
on the part of gays and lesbians regarding the motivations of those who take a
view that traditions must not be altered. The more stridently traditional views
are proclaimed, the more one suspects the motivations of those who express such
underlying loyalty to tradition. Surely this is a natural, although sometimes
However, once we have heard all the arguments on both sides of this issue, I
believe it will be time for us to move on. I do not believe that the path into
the future is a quagmire of sin and evil simply because we do not choose to
freeze in time, by way of legislative actions, definitions that we have
cherished in the past. I believe that the future is resplendent with new
challenges, new relationships and new definitions. Let us pursue this path armed
with a generosity of spirit and determination to promote inclusion and not
Honourable senators, is it scandalous to let the definition of "marriage"
evolve? I think not. Is it sinful to let the definition of "marriage" evolve?
I think not. Therefore, let us not put ourselves in the position of voting for
this bill, and let us not put ourselves in the position of voting against this
I believe that we should simply let Bill S-9 die on the Order Paper. In so
doing, we may freely embrace the future with an open heart.
I truly hope, honourable senators, that everyone who wishes to speak on this
debate has done so. The collective wisdom in this chamber will be to quietly let
the bill die, having been neither approved nor defeated by the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I should like to ask Senator
Finnerty a question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will Senator Finnerty accept
Senator Finnerty: Yes.
Senator Cools: In the past two years the Senate had before it two
bills, which passed, both of which upheld the precise definition of marriage as
contained in Bill S-9. The names of the bills have been long forgotten by most
people. They are now laws. One was Bill C-23, section 1.1 of the Modernization
of Benefits and Obligations Act, and the other one was Bill S-4, section 5 of
the Federal Law-Civil Law Harmonization Act, No. 1. Both of those bills upheld
the government's position, the current state of the law, which is that marriage
is a voluntary union between a man and a woman. Could Senator Finnerty tell us
how she voted on both of those bills?
Senator Finnerty: I was not here at that time.
Senator Cools: One of those bills, Bill S-4, was before the Senate
last April, I believe.
Senator Finnerty: Perhaps I was too new to have started doing my own
research into them.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I shall put the following question
to Senator Finnerty: How could the Senate adopt an alternative position to that
which it had already adopted in previous legislation?
Leave having been given to revert to Tabling of Documents:
Hon. Fernand Robichaud (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the Interim Report
of the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, by Commissioner Roy J.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Oliver, seconded by
the Honourable Senator DeWare:
That the Senate endorse and support the following policy from Liberal Red
Book 1, which recommends the appointment of "an independent Ethics Counsellor
to advise both public officials and lobbyists in the day-to-day application of
the Code of Conduct for Public Officials. The Ethics Counsellor will be
appointed after consultation with the leaders of all parties in the House of
Commons and report directly to Parliament.";
And that this Resolution be sent to the Speaker of the House of Commons so
that he may acquaint the House of Commons with this decision of the Senate.—(Honourable
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, this motion speaks to a matter of not only long-standing interest but
also of current interest, affecting the role of an independent ethics
Honourable senators, as the inquiry by Senator Oliver started, we had
expressed a number of concerns about the fact that the Ethics Counsellor in
place was not independent. This has been a subject of fairly broad debate across
Canada as the government seems to be unmoved by the criticisms of a fairly broad
spectrum of Canadians.
Some of us were of the view that the government did not care about this, and
that there are only so many things the opposition could focus on. We were
tempted to let the matter drop. However, as each government scandal and alleged
wrongdoing by ministers of this government occurs it becomes important in the
view of Canadians to have an ethics counsellor who is a true ethics counsellor,
independent of the Prime Minister and the executive; in other words, an ethics
counsellor who is an Officer of Parliament.
The most recent example of the executive's interference with the work of the
Ethics Counsellor occurred within the last few days. Howard Wilson, the Ethics
Counsellor, has admitted that he approached the Prime Minister and asked whether
he should continue his investigation into recent alleged election offences
committed by members of the House of Commons. In particular, while Maria Minna
was a minister of the Crown, Mr. Wilson is quoted as saying, after speaking with
the Prime Minister, "She is no longer in the cabinet, and I need not
continue." Therefore, the Ethics Counsellor stopped his inquiry.
As the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party said yesterday, it is a
joke to pretend there is an Ethics Counsellor when his mandate is so limited. It
is bad enough that he only reports to the Prime Minister, his boss, but it is
even worse that the code covers only a limited number of persons.
Honourable senators, the groundwork for a code of ethics and an independent
ethics counsellor was laid by the report of a special joint committee of this
house and the other place, jointly chaired by the present Speaker of the House
of Commons and our colleague Senator Donald Oliver. It is my belief that the
public's disillusionment with public life in Canada is due in large measure to
the low esteem in which they hold politicians. We now have the opportunity to
work toward creating an independent ethics counsellor appointed by and
responsible to Parliament. This is absolutely necessary as part of the process
of rehabilitating the role and image of parliamentarians as people who work to
serve all Canadians.
I feel that all honourable members of this house should reflect very
carefully upon the proposition contained in this motion and lend support to it.
Given the fact that our colleagues opposite can be comforted by the fact that it
was a policy from their own Red Book 1 that had recommended the appointment of
an independent ethics counsellor to advise both public officials and lobbyists
in the day-to-day application of the code of conduct for public officials, it
seems to me that we have source or background documents in the political
formulations of members of both sides of this house that would lend support to
this proposition, and I would hope it would be embraced by all members of the
On motion of Senator Milne, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, February 7, 2002, at 1:30 p.m.