senators’ statements — Tributes

The Honourable Jim Munson

June 9, 2021


Hon. Jane Cordy
[14:04]

Honourable senators, from the Great Wall of China, to the first Gulf War, to North Korea, to Tiananmen Square, to Prime Minister Chrétien’s office, to the Senate of Canada, with a great deal in between, it has been quite a ride, Jim Munson. Your hard work and your passion for everything you undertake, and your ability to work hard while having fun, have made it a privilege to know you and to be your colleague. The Progressive Senate Group will miss you, but you won’t be too far away.

For the past few weeks, I have been jotting down notes, funny anecdotes and stories of what you have accomplished. But, Jim, that all stopped when I got a call last week from Ginette, your biggest supporter and someone we all love. Ginette asked if I would be willing to make an announcement as part of my tribute to you, to which I readily agreed.

But first I spoke to Margaret Whelan. To those of you who don’t know Margaret, she is a lifelong advocate and leader in the field of autism. She served as an executive director of the Geneva Centre for Autism, and she was a board member of the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance. She has worked with Jim and Ginette for over 14 years, pushing for autistic Canadians to enjoy a more inclusive Canada.

Today in the Senate of Canada, I am delighted to announce a special recognition of Jim’s work and that of his wife, Ginette. As we all know, Jim has dedicated himself to advocacy on behalf of autistic Canadians, their families and the communities in which they live and are loved. In 2007, Jim challenged autism communities to seize the opportunity presented in the Senate report Pay now or pay later: autism families in crisis. In response, those communities banded together to form the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance, or CASDA.

Throughout the intervening years, Jim has been an unwavering supporter of and mentor to CASDA, providing sage advice and reassurance, pressing his colleagues to listen to and understand the importance of the issues facing autistic Canadians. And, yes, Jim has persistently — and I use that term in the most positive way — worked the corridors of power here in Ottawa to advance the call for a national autism strategy. With sheer tenacity, Jim was able to get the World Autism Awareness Act passed in 2012.

He has led autism awareness events on Parliament Hill for many years, and he has brought a wide variety of autism advocates, families and individuals with autism to celebrate and to hold government accountable.

In 2019, the National Autism Strategy finally became a reality. That could not have happened without Jim’s dedication and determination.

In recognition of this unflagging support and perseverance, CASDA is pleased to be creating the “Jim and Ginette Munson Autism Leadership Award.” That award will be presented annually to a Canadian who demonstrates the leadership, determination and values that reflect Jim and Ginette’s commitment to creating a better Canada for autistic Canadians. The recipients of this reward will be recognized at the Canadian Autism Leadership Summit held in October each year.

Jim, on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, congratulations to you and to Ginette. This award is a fitting tribute to your work.

Throughout your Senate career, you have demonstrated a commitment to hard work and advocacy, and it has been a privilege to be your colleague. You will forever be our “kindness senator.” Our love and best wishes always.

And, Jim, I do hope you are wearing your dad’s shoes today. Rest assured, you have more than filled them. He would be very proud.

Thank you.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate)
[14:09]

Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to our friend and colleague Senator Jim Munson.

There are colleagues in this place who have known Jim far longer than I have. In fact, there are those who have known him since his former life. I understand, Jim, that your former life included very long lunches at the National Press Club of Canada. I am told you have stories from those good old early days that, should they be made public, could cause even international incidents. I’m sure they’re just rumours, although we have travelled together with your lovely wife, Ginette, so I guess we will see.

As we all know, Jim is passionate about that which matters to him, and he can eloquently and convincingly guide us to those places he describes and the emotions that he experienced. The most recent was his annual commemoration of those massacred in Tiananmen Square. We all remember the event taking place. We can all recall the iconic photograph — a lone young man, immovable in front of the tank barrelling down on him. But Jim was there. He witnessed the moments following the snapping of that photograph. Through his words and his vivid recollections of those events, year after year, we also experienced what he felt. Every year, we are riveted and we are moved, Jim, by your description of the students and the price that they paid for their persistence in following their dreams.

As Senator Cordy has already mentioned, and as we all know, one of Jim’s long-standing passions is his unending fight for those suffering with autism. He has never let up. He has given voice to the families and to the children, and through sheer resolve and after five attempts he had the World Autism Awareness Day Act passed into law in 2012. Today, the government is continuing Jim’s fight and working on a national autism strategy to provide support for these children and their families. Jim, your work has shone a spotlight on this issue, and as a result, Canadian society has come to understand and accept the need for autism support.

Honourable senators, it is impossible to encapsulate a 17-year career in the Senate in a few short minutes, but the recent passage of Bill S-223, An Act respecting Kindness Week, is perhaps the best way to pay tribute to our friend and colleague. During these turbulent times, and especially after this past exceptionally difficult year, expressing kindness and caring for all of those around us pretty much sums up what Jim Munson’s presence means to us in this chamber. He is always kind, ever cooperative and unfailingly collegial. He truly understands the value of quiet diplomacy, and has never needed to carry a big stick, although I hear he is pretty ferocious on the hockey rink, so I’m not sure which way it goes.

Let me close by quoting the man himself from the third reading speech of Bill S-223: “What a way to start summer, with kindness in our hearts.”

You have made your mark here, Jim, and in Canada. You should be very proud of your legacy. We are going to miss you. Travel safe.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)
[14:12]

Honourable senators, I also rise today to pay tribute to Senator Munson’s retirement. Today we celebrate his time in the Senate of Canada that he has used to make meaningful contributions to our country.

Senator Munson, throughout your life, you have been a proponent of democracy, both globally and nationally. Your experiences, accumulated as a journalist, have consistently gifted the Senate of Canada with anecdotes from your time as a foreign correspondent. I have been especially touched by the way you annually share your time reporting on the Tiananmen Square Massacre on its anniversary. Thank you, Jim, for choosing each year to use your experiences to remind us of the importance of democratic rights.

I’m also repeating what has already been said, but I deeply admire how you have used your position in the Senate to advocate for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Indeed, it was your passion and dedication that led Parliament to pass the World Autism Awareness Day Act in 2012. The 2007 Senate report Pay Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis, that you contributed to, highlighted the gaps in support that autism families faced. You have steadfastly voiced the concerns of individuals and families impacted by autism spectrum disorder in the Red Chamber. This has continually reminded us of the collaboration needed throughout Canada to foster a society that celebrates neurodiversity. We senators will not forget your efforts in this incredibly important cause.

Of course, I will not forget how you and I were poster boys for Kindness Week, as we both acted as sponsors or critics. But truly, it must be a joy for you to see that Kindness Week received Royal Assent just before your retirement. I applaud all of your work on this file, fellow poster boy.

I am also sure that you played a great game of hockey and we would have played a great together. You and I are about the same size, so I have no doubt that in hockey we played a similar game — sticks and elbows high.

From spending time in journalism for nearly 30 years, to your lengthy 18 years in the Senate, you, my friend, are well deserving of retirement. Senator Munson, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. May you thoroughly enjoy your retirement, and may you rest in the fact that your career has had a lasting impact on all of your spheres of influence.

Hon. Ratna Omidvar
[14:15]

Honourable senators, I rise on behalf of the ISG to pay tribute to our colleague, Senator Jim Munson. We all have a great deal of respect, affection and admiration for him, especially as he was always friendly and welcoming to us newcomers. All of us have stories and perspectives we would like to share.

Let me try to give voice to these by starting with a question: How do we truly take the full measure of a man like Senator Munson? Is it through the successes of his professional life? We have already heard of these and there were many, first as a journalist, and then when he brought his formidable communication skills to the government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien. Or do you add up his many, many contributions in his time as a senator? Again, there is a formidable list of these, ranging from his leadership role on the Human Rights Committee, his championing of the seminal study on prisons, and to his latest and most welcome success, the passage of the Kindness Week bill.

I believe that these, significant as they are, miss the true mark of the man we know as Jimmy Munson. That can only be measured by his relationships with people. Not just his peers, but with those who may have no power.

We all know that Senator Munson is a champion for autism. What we may not know is that his initial interest was sparked many years ago from the many sustained conversations that he had with a lone demonstrator on the Hill who stood every day to talk about his son with special needs. I can almost hear this conversation — with Senator Munson asking probing questions and listening with empathy. It was then that Senator Munson decided to make this a front page issue.

For Senator Munson, it is these personal relationships that matter. We have seen in the chamber how he extends his warmth to all of us. More significantly, he pays attention to others who may not have our voice. It is not a surprise for me then that last month we all received an email from Senator Munson to mark the passing of Ismail Ocal, who worked in the Senate on maintenance and cleaning for many years. Senator Munson credited Ismail for teaching him a life lesson that we should all learn: We need to take the time to talk and listen to each other.

I have my own particular bond with Senator Munson, based not just on the fact that we are both vertically challenged, but also on our common engagement with human rights and sponsored refugees. His voice has resonated in this chamber when he talks about introducing the refugee kids and this family to the glories of Canadian winter, ice skating and, of course, hockey.

So how do we take the full measure of a man? Plato must have been thinking of Senator Munson when he wrote that the only way to take this measure is to reflect on how he uses power. If that is our measurement, then tiny, wonderful Senator Munson will go down in history as a giant.

From all of us in the ISG, we wish you all the best and may you continue to spread your glow of kindness wherever you go. Thank you.

Hon. Larry W. Campbell
[14:19]

Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to Senator Jim Munson. As our former Senator Baker from Newfoundland said, I will be brief. I first met Senator Munson 16 years ago when I was appointed to the Senate. I remember looking around that chamber, and the first person I saw was Jim. I recognized him from all of the groundbreaking news coverage from all over the world that I had watched night after night. From the Tiananmen Square protests to the Iran-Iraq War to the Gulf War, Jim was there, easily recognizable to the majority of Canadians.

Since that time, Jim and I have become friends who, on occasion, express different views. Jim Munson is a giant of a man. His interests and passions are seen in all manner of bills, from the Special Olympics to Kindness Week, his tireless work for those suffering from autism and his understanding of how to help those in need of every walk of life. Jim sees injustice and he does something about it. I think his understanding of the world and life in general comes from his vast experiences reporting around the world and working closely with Prime Minister Chrétien but, most importantly, from listening to the counsel of his wife, Ginette.

As I said, Jim is a giant of a man. Nothing demonstrates this more than his love of playing hockey. If you’ve been around enough, you’ve seen the occasional limp, bruised eye, and other artifacts of the game. I got used to being regaled on a daily basis with stories of his scoring prowess, his ability to go into the corner with his elbows up and using his massive size to screen the goalie. These are characteristics that not only work in hockey but, on occasion, in life.

Height does not determine or define courage, tenacity or the ability to care for others. Jim exemplifies this. It has been an honour for me to know Jim. The ability to work with him and learn from his example has been a bonus. I know that Jim and Ginette will soon be sitting on the deck at their home on Galiano Island, having a smart one and watching the sun set.

All the best to you my friend on what is not a retirement, but simply a career change. Thank you.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer
[14:22]

Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to my dear friend Senator Jim Munson on his impending retirement. Jim and I were both appointed in late 2003 but were sworn into the Senate together on February 2, 2004. We were, in fact, seatmates until he was elevated to the position of whip in the leadership of another caucus we belonged to way back when.

There have been some ups and downs, but throughout it all, Jim was a constant guide and a trusted friend. I will miss him here in this place.

Born in New Brunswick, he started his career in radio at CJLS in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Jim tells the story that one day the station manager gave him a list of small businesses in downtown Yarmouth and told him he had to go collect payments for advertising that they had on the radio. Once he collected the money, the boss said, “Okay, that’s your pay.” It is only a story that could happen in small-town Eastern Canada.

We all know that he went on to bigger things, as the ever-intrepid national and international journalist and then as Prime Minister Chrétien’s director of communications. However, what I will most remember is his love of children. Senator Munson has been a champion for many issues affecting children, like his dedicated work on autism in Canada and around the world.

We were asked by former senator Landon Pearson to take over National Child Day, which we did for many years. This event saw hundreds of school children attend the Senate of Canada every year. They were entertained by singers, dancers and spoken-word artists. Most of you will not know this, but at one event, we had the group Barenaked Ladies play on the Senate floor. We had the band set up in front of the Speaker’s chair. National Child Day was one of Jim’s favourite days of the year.

Thank you, Senator Jim Munson, for your dedication to Canadians and your friendship to all.

That dedication will continue, because it was recently announced that Jim will be executive-in-residence at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria and special adviser for the Victoria Forum. Congratulations on that, Jim.

To his partner Ginette and his sons, Claude and James, I hope you can keep Jim busy in his spare time by playing hockey — he always gave a detailed report of his actions on the ice — being the shortest guy on the basketball team, skating on the canal or cycling.

We all hope you get to enjoy some time in your native province of New Brunswick. As you say, Jim: There’s no shore like the north shore, that’s for sure.

Congratulations, Jim.

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)
[14:25]

Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a dear friend and beloved colleague The Honourable Jim Munson as he prepares to take his official retirement from the Senate of Canada on July 14, 2021.

Although we have always sat opposite one another, more often than not, we’ve been on the same page on many issues and initiatives, be it in our shared hope in advocating for human rights in North Korea, co-hosting a National Child Day on the hill as the three musketeers — Munson, Mercer and Martin — or working collaboratively on bills as sponsor and critic or vice versa.

After all, Jim is a caring and loveable person with the biggest smile and an even bigger heart. Anyone who knows him can attest to how much he truly cares for others. I knew from the moment he regaled me with his experiences as a journalist whose assignments took him right into North Korea with a twinkle and clear sincerity in his eyes, I knew we would be friends.

Before beginning his life in the Senate Chamber, Jim was a well-known Canadian journalist and communications adviser. He reported on current affairs for more than 30 years, most notably as a bureau chief and foreign correspondent for CTV News. His reporting touched upon events around the globe — from Belfast to Beijing to Pyongyang — including the Gulf War, the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the Tiananmen Square Massacre. At home, he covered the FLQ October Crisis in Quebec and, in Ottawa, every federal election from 1974 onwards. His work ethic, leadership and dedication earned him two nominations for a Gemini Award for excellence in journalism.

On December 10, 2003, the next chapter of his life began when he was appointed to the Senate of Canada to represent the province of Ontario. As a senator, he has served diligently as Whip of the Senate Liberal Caucus from 2008-16, as a member of the Progressive Senate Group and on most of the committees over the last 18 years. Jim has been a champion for many communities over the years, speaking passionately, in this very chamber, about the issues and the communities and issues that he holds dear to his heart.

During this Forty-third Parliament and especially this current and final sitting for our retiring colleague, it was a privilege for me to support my friend as a friendly critic of Bill S-223, An Act respecting Kindness Week. Kindness Week, along with the many causes that Jim has championed, will remain a part of his legacy in this chamber and in the annals of Canadian history.

Honourable senators, please join me in recognizing Senator Jim Munson for his many accomplishments and wishing him all the best as he begins yet another chapter in his life story, and in thanking his wife Ginette and his family for graciously sharing him with Canada and with us.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette
[14:28]

Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to Senator Munson with some sadness to see him leave this chamber to which he has devoted himself for over 17 years. Many of you will recall, over those years, how many times Senator Munson joked in this chamber about his height. Well, Senator Munson, from my perspective, you are living proof of the French saying dans les petits pots, les meilleurs onguents.

Senator Munson, the proof is clear and, shall I say, defies gravity. Yes, time and again, Senator Munson, you have proven through your actions how tall you are in responding with more than words to the call of compassion on a multitude of issues that we know of, and probably on many more that you have kept to your humble self.

You, Senator Munson, the Baptist son who defied religious belief and married this wonderful French, Acadian, Catholic girl, Ginette.

You, Senator Munson, the journalist who witnessed and recounted the Tiananmen Square massacre with passion, calling on all of us to never forget. You, Senator Munson, the devoted father who worked tirelessly for governments to establish programs for autistic children. You, Senator Munson, the engaged volunteer, are the senator who persuaded this institution, with the inclusive program called Friends of the Senate, to bring citizens with disabilities into our workplace. You, Senator Munson, the small but mighty athlete, still playing hockey and either skating or biking — like you did again yesterday — to work, depending on the season.

You, Senator Munson, an unassuming voice seeking kindness, wanting Canada and its citizens to reflect and be kind. You have managed to have all parliamentarians agree and approve a bill for a national Kindness Week. Yes, you, Senator Munson, may joke about your height, but in my book you are a giant in human compassion and stand tall among us.

May you and your beloved Ginette enjoy the next many seasons of your life in good health, moving to new adventures and travels as you create and spread kindness paths along the way. The “Republique” will always welcome you, so I hope this is just an “au revoir.”

Safe journey, my friend.

Safe journey, my friend. We — and I — will miss you. Thank you.

Hon. Dennis Dawson
[14:32]

I met Jim in 1977, when I was first elected to the other place. By then he had already been covering the Hill for several years. I can confirm for our friend, Senator Gold, that, yes, the National Press Club was one of his favourite places on the Hill. Also, I want to confirm that —

— at that time, Jim was a much-feared journalist on the Hill. Since then, and for all those reasons, he has maintained a fierce reputation. I will make my statement brief, since there are many of you who wish to speak. Instead, in this virtual world, I opted for a virtual tribute. You will find in your email inboxes a few links to some great Munson moments, as they are often called. One is a much-publicized confrontation with Trudeau, the father. Trust me, it was not a moment of great kindness from either one, but I’ll let you judge that when you see it. Another covers his arrival to the dark side of partisan politics when he joined the staff of Mr. Chrétien. I tried to find a video of him when we were both thrown out, with 30 other senators, from the Liberal Caucus, but I decided to pass on that subject.

As I was saying, I met Jim in 1977, and what followed were 44 years of friendship, no matter which hat he was wearing. I will miss Jim’s presence in the Senate, but I don’t doubt for a second that we’ll see him again around here. After all, he’s been a part of Parliament Hill for almost 50 years.

Ginette and Jim, when you’re in the “Republic,” drop by to see me in Quebec. I’ll be happy to do with Jim what I did at the National Press Club almost 45 years ago.

See you soon, Jim and Ginette. Happy retirement.

Additionally, there is a link on the Progressive Senate Group website for those people listening who may want to access those Munson moments.

Hon. Thanh Hai Ngo
[14:34]

Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to a valued colleague and a voice for human rights, Senator Jim Munson. A seasoned journalist, Senator Munson reported on some of the most defining events of our age as bureau chief and foreign correspondent for CTV News. A well-respected and trusted reporter, he provided Canadian audiences with coverage of current affairs around the globe. This includes the first Gulf War, the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the Tiananmen Square massacre. On two occasions, Senator Munson’s outstanding work garnered him the nomination of the Gemini Award in recognition of his excellence in journalism.

Since being called to the Senate on December 10, 2003, Senator Munson has been a tireless advocate for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. He has also continued to be an outspoken critic of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms at home and around the world.

Before becoming his colleague in the Senate, I had heard of him. Known to be a straight shooter, his stellar reputation as a journalist preceded him. I was therefore looking forward to working with this illustrious journalist who courageously covered the horror of Tiananmen Square. Upon meeting Senator Munson, I immediately knew he would be a sympathizer to the plight of the downtrodden and the oppressed. I had the privilege of getting to know the true Jim better back in 2016 when we travelled to Toronto and Montreal to investigate the challenges of Syrian refugees during their resettlement in Canada.

At that time, he was Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. It was during this trip that I discovered that he was indeed a deeply compassionate man. I knew I had met a fellow supporter, and I was right.

He has been a courageous critic against authoritarianism and a relentless defender of fundamental freedoms, human rights, democracy and the rule of law — causes such as the pro‑democracy movement in Hong Kong, the meaningful participation of Taiwan in international fora and the Uighur genocide.

Thank you for your support and dedicated service to Canadians, my friend. Your principled voice will truly be missed. Please accept my sincere congratulations and best wishes on a well-deserved retirement. Thank you.

Hon. Brent Cotter
[14:38]

Honourable senators, other than by reputation, I have only known Senator Munson since early 2020 when I joined the Senate. During that time, I have learned and greatly appreciated his contributions in this chamber and the ways in which he advances issues and concerns in a constructive, considerate, heartfelt and, if I may say so, kind way — a model for us all. I particularly admire his relentless, generous, unselfish efforts on behalf of those who are the most vulnerable in our society, particularly those with intellectual disabilities.

This is an issue that touches many of us in this chamber personally, as it does literally millions of Canadians. I have shared Jim’s commitment with my daughter Kelly, who is herself intellectually disabled. She lives in a wonderful assisted-living community on Vancouver Island — in fact, not far from where Senator Campbell lives.

At their community, Kelly and others weave and put together decorative pillows. Last summer, I had the idea that I might buy one and that she and I might give it to Senator Munson in person on the occasion of his retirement as a small thank you. My daughter, however, thinks big. She said, “How about, so that all the senators will remember him, we make 100 pillows, you buy them and we give one to each senator in Mr. Munson’s honour?” So that is what we did. I ordered them, and over the winter, Kelly and her colleagues made 100 decorative pillows, one for Jim and one for each of us.

This afternoon, and blessed by the Senate Ethics Officer, a decorative pillow made by Kelly and her colleagues — I owe a bit of deference to Senator Seidman here, to be careful, the chair of the Ethics Committee, as we know. A decorative pillow made by Kelly and her colleagues will appear in each of your offices, to honour Senator Munson, but also in the hope that when you set eyes upon it in the months or years to come, you might remember Jim’s work in this chamber and elsewhere and, perhaps in a small way, dedicate yourself to be part of the great commitment to social justice that he has championed and inspired.

Thank you, Senator Munson. When I look at my pillow, I will be reminded of you and will try to do my part.

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard
[14:40]

Honourable senators, Senator Cotter is a hard act to follow, but my tribute is also personal.

I’m pleased to rise today to pay tribute to our honourable colleague, Senator Jim Munson. As many have already said today, Senator Munson is a tireless advocate for persons with disabilities, particularly children with disabilities and those on the autism spectrum.

In December 2016, shortly after I arrived in the Senate, he gave a statement for International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In that statement, he said:

I believe each of us has a role in creating an accessible future for everyone. Whether as policy-makers, community leaders, advocates or neighbours, there is a part for all of us to play.

At the end of that sitting, I immediately went over to thank Senator Munson for his statement and to ask what part I could play in getting a national autism strategy in Canada. That was the beginning of our work together on the autism file and many other issues of advocacy, human rights, and of course, all injected with humour.

Senator Munson became my go-to person for advice, support, wise counsel and a laugh when I needed it. I will always be grateful for the fun-filled guided tour of the tunnels in Centre Block that he organized for my family when they visited Ottawa, and I will never forget the hilarious race between Senator Munson and my two young grandsons, Damon and Gavin. I will leave it to you to guess who won that race.

Senator Munson, the legacy you leave behind is one of inclusion and kindness. I am especially grateful for all of your advocacy on autism initiatives and the priorities outlined in the Pay Now or Pay Later report. Here’s Gavin, who has autism, joining me today.

Thank you, Senator Munson, for elevating the voices of persons with disabilities and for the passion that you poured into every issue you fought for. I wish you well in your retirement, and I look forward to seeing all the amazing things you will do in your next chapter. We will miss you. Asante. Thank you.

Hon. Mary Coyle
[14:43]

Honourable senators, today we sing the praises of our dear friend and esteemed colleague, the Honourable Jim Munson. Captivating maritime storyteller, accomplished journalist, elated Habs fan, hockey player and canal skater extraordinaire, high-level PMO communications guru, dedicated parliamentarian and all-round decent human being — Jim has been such a gift to this chamber and to Canada.

When former prime minister Jean Chrétien tapped Jim Munson to join the Senate of Canada in 2003, he knew Jim’s political savvy would serve him well, as would his experience as a senior CTV correspondent who had reported on so many historical moments, from the FLQ crisis to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, from the assassination of Indira Gandhi to the Iran-Iraq and Gulf Wars. Jim credits his father, a United Church minister, for teaching him the value of service for the greater good, and Timmy, his son with Down’s syndrome who, sadly, died young, with inspiring him to break down barriers for others.

In Jim Munson’s first speech in this chamber, he said:

I consider government to be an agent of good. . . . I plan to work toward building bridges of opportunity for others, particularly children. . . . and the less fortunate.

And work hard he has. We all know Jim for his tenacious and effective work on autism, for championing the Special Olympics, for sponsoring the Accessible Canada Act, and for recently bringing Kindness Week legislation across the finish line. Jim’s desire with the establishment of Kindness Week was, quite simply, to build a culture of kindness in Canada; a culture where we are friendly, generous and considerate towards each other. Senator Munson has an enormous heart — a heart of gold — which we all know he wears in full view right here on his sleeve.

Jim, we wish you a long and healthy retirement, enjoying family and friends, and deep satisfaction in your new role with the Victoria Forum. Jim, I am so happy your beloved staff member Michael Trinque is joining our team. Given he has dubbed you “Boss Dad” and me “Boss Mom,” I just know you won’t ever be too far away.

Senator Jim Munson, for all the relationships you have forged and fostered, for your many Senate accomplishments, for being a model of parliamentary civility and for just being the wonderful scamp, as your mom used to call you, we say to you, thank you so much, kind sir. You are living proof that government can, in fact, be an agent for good. Thank you. Wela’lioq.

Hon. Patricia Bovey
[14:47]

Honourable colleagues, Senator Munson — our conscience of kindness, our senator who skates or cycles to the chamber, a senator whose passion, concern for all Canadians, whose humanity, sense of humour, honesty and justice are the epitome of dedication, service and fun. Senator, you inspire us daily and, for me, have defined a goal to which we all should aspire.

Saying farewell to you from this august chamber is not easy, so I’ll just say thank you. Thank you for your kindness bill. Thank you for all your work and insights on Bill C-81 and the way you have stood up for people with disabilities. Thank you for your determination that you have brought to the chamber’s committees and to the parliamentary associations on whose executives you have served. Your vision and the way in which you have connected so many societal dots have made your years in this chamber admirable.

But now I want to be personal. I so appreciated the warmth with which you welcomed me when I was appointed to the Senate, and particularly when I joined the PSG. I have learned a great deal from you and by watching you work your magic.

Jim, your professional life prior to your time in the Senate was also truly significant. Before we actually met, I have to say you were in our living room almost daily for years, bringing us insights, facts and perspectives from various parts of the world, at home and abroad.

Your annual reminder in this chamber of the horrors and truths of the Tiananmen Square Massacre will be remembered. I can’t imagine being there that day. I do know artists who were there, by those who were mowed down by the tanks. Some fled to Canada. One in particular, who early on came to our house in Victoria, has since become a major Canadian artist. Your tales remind me of one of the hardest walks, or perhaps I should say runs, I have ever done, crossing that square over the new pavers covering the place of the massacre. I wanted to go around it, but the Chinese police wouldn’t hear of it. Feeling sick, I ran across the square with your news stories in my head and those of the artists I came to know, coupled with my visceral, visual memories of the images, sounds, stories and human lives of that day.

Jim, I do thank you for all you gave me and my clan before we met, and the guidance you have given in the years we have worked together. I congratulate you on your many accomplishments and wish you a truly wonderful, rewarding retirement and many years of good health.

I also congratulate you on your appointment to the University of Victoria. You will find it a warm and welcoming community, and I will see you there among friends I know we have in common. You must come for dinner.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer
[14:50]

Honourable senators, I also rise to recognize a remarkable man, Senator Jim Munson.

Jim, I have a formal statement that I was going to give, but I will send you that statement because I cannot get through it.

For those who don’t know, 18 years ago, when Jim came to the Senate, it was a very different place and it was very difficult for me to fit in. Senator Munson and Senator Mercer were there for me. Senator Munson would always look out for me. He would always tell me what I should be doing, how I should be heard. The issues we discuss so freely today were not so much addressed when I first came to the Senate.

Jim, you introduced the kindness bill. I’m not surprised by that. You are “Mr. Kindness.” You showed me so much kindness throughout my years, and you were our whip. My staff warned me, “Please don’t talk about that in your statement.” I knew that sometimes you had to give me some very tough messages, but I think you hurt more than I because you were a real friend.

Jim, you taught me the ropes but, most importantly, you taught me how to survive in the Senate. I could say a lot more about your kindness, but I will not be able to get through it. Jim, I will really miss you.

The Hon. the Speaker
[14:52]

Honourable senators, the time for senators’ tributes has expired. I will now call upon Senator Munson.