The Honourable David Tkachuk

Inquiry--Debate Concluded

February 5, 2020

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)

Rose pursuant to notice of earlier this day:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to the career of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to our dear colleague and a parliamentarian of great distinction, the Honourable David Tkachuk, on the occasion of his retirement from our esteemed Senate chamber after 27 years of steadfast service and leadership.

I have had the distinct honour of working closely with Senator Tkachuk for over a decade. I have seen firsthand his determination, passion and unwavering commitment to represent Saskatchewan and all Canadians. Be it during the fiercest of debates in the chamber or chairing or serving on a range of committees, David Tkachuk is one of the clearest and most convincing of voices for his province, for our party and for Canadians.

As a senator, he has served on a number of committees which others have outlined and as chair or deputy chair or as a member in good standing. His profound influence and contributions to our Conservative caucus, Senate committees and this very chamber, from his maiden speech to his impassioned speech we heard earlier today, are all archived in the annals of Canadian history.

On a personal level, I don’t know a life on Parliament Hill and in Ottawa without you, David. As members of the same caucus but also as sort of housemates in our Ottawa home, along with other members in this chamber, we have in the past decade had a chance to dine together, to talk about the day’s debates even more vigorously outside of the chamber and to hear stories you have shared with us.

You were the first caucus chair when I and other members of the chosen 18 were appointed in 2009, and you always looked out for us, sharing sound advice that can only be gained through experience both in government and opposition. I’ve heard some of the best stories more than once, like the time you defeated a budget bill at committee while you were in opposition, because the government was flat-footed and you took the opportunity that just landed in your hands. Of course, the report was defeated and everything went well.

I sincerely appreciated the encouragement and respect with which you always spoke to me as your house leader and as a colleague and friend. There aren’t enough words to express how much you have given to all of us and how much you will be missed in this chamber. Our Conservative family is losing a true leader, an invincible warrior, a giant in politics, and a mentor to me personally and to many others. Your wisdom, knowledge and determination will continue to inspire us even after you retire from this place.

I want to acknowledge Senator Tkachuk’s family: his wife Sharon, son Brad, daughter Teri, son-in-law Keith, and grandson Brady, and other grandchildren who are not here. Those who are with us today, thank you for your steadfast support and for sharing him with us and all Canadians for so many years — decades.

As he prepares to take his senator’s hat off on February 18, I know the hats he loves to wear above all are those of devoted husband, father and grandfather.

Your love of country and politics that has inspired your long and illustrious political career is second only to your love of your family, which is immeasurable. Thank you for everything. We will miss you, and God bless you.

Hon. Douglas Black

Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to an effective parliamentarian, a proud Western Canadian, and, above all, a good friend.

Senator Tkachuk has become part of the fabric of this institution, and again today we saw why. We’ll all miss his honesty, his political courage and his easy laugh.

I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Senator Tkachuk since I arrived here, particularly during our time together on the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee. I watched him as chair, and I learned from that opportunity. When I had the privilege of serving as chair of that committee, Senator Tkachuk was always generous with his counsel whether I requested it or not.

I want to say something about Senator Tkachuk that many of you already know but which deserves to be reflected in the public record. Everything that David Tkachuk has done, in my experience in the Senate, he did for everyday Canadians, the Canadians that Senator Neufeld used to refer to warmly as “Fred and Martha.”

David Tkachuk never forgot who he works for, and he never forgot that what we do in the Senate affects people’s everyday lives. That is why he has been such a strong supporter of the natural resources industry and stands shoulder to shoulder with the women and men in this country who have been so deeply affected by government policies. That’s why he pushed back on Statistics Canada’s invasive data collection plan during our Senate Banking Committee. That’s why he was motivated to ensure tradespeople in Canada had effective lien protection. That’s why he took the point of view of Canadian consumers during both our bitcoin and our open banking hearings. That’s why he insisted the Transportation and Communications Committee, which he chaired, travel to Western Canada to ensure that Canadians’ voices could be heard on Bill C-48. We owe Senator Tkachuk a debt of gratitude.

While we aligned on many matters, we, like all of us from time to time, didn’t agree on everything, but I would say to you that you always disagreed agreeably.

Finally, Senator Tkachuk is a very skilled practitioner of politics. I know some in this chamber have the view that politics is not a good thing. I disagree. Politics is people and the art of advancing people’s needs while respecting and navigating others’ views. That is what we’re here to do. In my opinion, David Tkachuk was a master at advancing interests while always keeping “Fred and Martha” very firmly in mind.

I thank you, David, for your contribution to the Senate, to Saskatchewan and to your country. I have absolutely no doubt that as you move forward in whatever you choose to do, you will keep these interests firmly in mind. Thank you, my friend, and good luck.

Hon. Paula Simons

Honourable senators, this is wonderful. This is, I think, the first time in all my dealings with Senator Tkachuk when I’m going to get the last word.

Our popular culture is full of stories of odd couples, of two people who meet and clash and argue, and who end up learning to appreciate each other, even if grudgingly: Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rick Blaine and Captain Louis Renault, Rory Gilmore and Paris Geller.

When future historians tell the tangled tale of Paula Simons and David Tkachuk, they may not put it in the same category as Pride and Prejudice or Casablanca or even the “Gilmore Girls,” but today I do want to acknowledge the debt I owe to Senator Tkachuk, my most unexpected and surprising mentor.

Some of you may be surprised to see me standing here today in praise of Senator Tkachuk, and I know why. After all, all Edmonton Oilers fans know — and if you are from Edmonton, you are an Oilers’ fan by default — it is not easy right now for any Edmontonian to say anything nice about anyone named Tkachuk — or T-chuk, as the other guy says it. The senator’s namesake who plays for the Calgary Flames has a reputation for instigating trouble and then running away from a fight. But our Senator Tkachuk is not a man to turtle or one to back down. That is one valuable lesson I have learned from him.

He had lots of other good advice for me. Once when we were stuck together storm-stayed at the Toronto airport, he strongly advised me to start working out at a gym to deal with the senatorial poundage — advice I have taken, by the way, which is why I can now fit back into this suit.

The real lesson I learned from him came one evening when we were in the thick of the debate over Bill C-48. I told him I was being attacked by people on both sides of the debate on social media. I may have even whined a little bit. “Who told you politics is easy?” he asked me with that wicked chuckle. “Politics is hard.” We had our disagreements and sometimes our antagonist is indeed our helper, but not always.

But from him I learned how to stand up for my principles, how not to turn a political disagreement into a personal quarrel, how to maintain a certain sense of humour about the rough-and-tumble game we play here, how to apologize when I make a mistake and how to get back up after being knocked down. Most of all, he taught me how not to turtle.

Senator Tkachuk got his professional start as a teacher, and he certainly taught me some tough lessons. I hope I will be a better senator as a result. I will miss his fierce work ethic, his joy in the cut and thrust of the debate and his passion for the West, the region we both so love.

I wish him well in his retirement, though I doubt he will ever be retiring. You just have to promise me one thing: Don’t let anyone in Edmonton know — and especially don’t let Zack Kassian know — that I said anything good about anyone who spells their name T-k-a-c-h-u-k. They may never let me come home.

Hon. Fabian Manning

Honourable senators, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to join my colleagues in paying tribute to a man who has certainly left a mark not only on this place, but on ourselves.

Shortly after I received the call from the Prime Minister welcoming me to the Senate of Canada in January of 2009, I received a call from Senator Tkachuk welcoming me and telling me if I ever needed any help on anything that he was just a phone call away or to drop by his office. I had never met the man up to that point in person.

I wasn’t here very long before I had to go to his office. That reminded me of, when I was in high school, being called to the principal’s office. I went to him and we had a little situation, and he gave me some good advice that day — advice that is still with me today — that I think has made me a better senator, without a doubt.

We walk on the shoulders of giants here in the Senate, and certainly those of us left here are walking on the shoulders of giants like Senator Tkachuk.

I want to take an opportunity to say thank you for your service and contributions to the Senate of Canada and for your service and contributions to the many committees you have served on over the years, as you have heard here today. I want to thank him for his service and contributions to his home province of Saskatchewan. He wears it on his sleeve. I sat on many committees over the past number of years with Senator Tkachuk, and without a doubt Saskatchewan was where his heart was, and he didn’t mind telling you so if it was going the other way.

I also want to say thank you for your service to Canada and to Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It’s strong voices that we need here in the chamber to bring the concerns of our provinces to this bubble that we call Ottawa, and certainly Senator Tkachuk has done that in fine style over the years.

On a personal note, I want to thank him for his patience. When I was running late for a meeting over in his office, he would always say that it was a half-hour later in Newfoundland anyway so he never worried if I was running late. I want to thank him for his guidance to me as a young senator; certainly, from the experiences he has had, he was always willing to pass on advice and try to set you on that right path.

I also want to thank you, however, for your leadership at the committee level, at the Senate caucus and in the national caucus. As many others have said today, when he went to the mic, people listened to his experience and his leadership.

Most of all, I want to thank the senator for his friendship to me here in the chamber and, certainly, his friendship over the years.

And just to give you a story of how it is the little things that matter — sometimes we forget the little things — I happened to be in Senator Tkachuk’s office last year at a meeting we were having. On his wall there was a collection of Maclean’s magazines that he had collected over the years. One of them had a picture of John Crosbie on the front of the magazine after bringing in the budget in 1979 and the defeat of the Joe Clark government. John Crosbie was a Newfoundland giant of politics and a friend of my family. I said to David, “Whenever you retire, I want that magazine; I want that cover of John Crosbie.” He said, “I’ll take care of that.” I never mentioned it after that and never even thought of it again.

A couple of weeks before Christmas a package arrived in my office in East Block, and here was the magazine with John Crosbie on the cover from Senator Tkachuk. I was very happy with that. I told him yesterday that with the passing of John Crosbie just a few weeks ago, that magazine could be worth a lot of money. We’ll talk about that at a later date.

I certainly wanted to say a heartfelt thank you from me and my colleagues to you, senator, for your work here. I certainly wish you all the best in your future endeavours and hope you enjoy your retirement with your wife, Sharon, and your children and grandchildren. Being a grandfather myself now, I know what that means. As I’ve said to you many times in the last few days, some of the people who have left this place I won’t miss, but you, David, I will.