Honourable senators, I rise on behalf of the Independent Senators Group to pay tribute to our honourable colleague, Senator Ghislain Maltais, whose tenure in the Senate of Canada has come to an end today.
I would therefore like to take advantage of your final moments in the red chamber, honourable colleague, to thank you for your ongoing commitment to the people of your province and to all Canadians.
Throughout your lengthy career, you have been a businessman, founder of an association and chamber of commerce, president of the North Shore School Board Association, provincial MNA, parliamentary assistant and senator. Above all else, however, you are a good man, a passionate, engaged citizen who loves his region and his constituents.
Over the years, you have done a stellar job of juggling numerous responsibilities, which has earned you many distinctions, including being made Honorary Colonel of the 62nd Regiment of Shawinigan.
Despite these accolades, you have always remained close to the people and involved in your community, always being true to yourself and your loved ones. Whether the topic of debate was agriculture, the fishery, forestry or any other sector, you always focused on the concerns of workers, the women and men you are so happy to serve.
Some of our colleagues in this chamber know you much better than I do, given the years they have spent with you. Having said that, Senator Maltais, I would like to describe the person I met when I became a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, and later its chair. Colleagues, as you are all aware, Senator Maltais is a passionate person, especially when it comes to official languages and his beautiful home region, the North Shore. In the Senate, we have had many opportunities to listen to Senator Maltais defend the language rights of parliamentarians and all Canadians.
Every week at the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, my colleagues and I have observed how your spirited interventions, which can be hard to interrupt, are always inspired by a deep love of the French language and how you keep a watchful and benevolent eye on the needs of official language communities across the country.
As you know, as legislators and representatives of minorities and regions, we senators work in an environment where every word that is uttered is important. It can be intimidating for young senators to speak with ease. That obviously does not apply to you, dear colleague, and in that regard, you are a true inspiration to us all. We all appreciated your outspokenness and honesty, as well as your ability to defend your ideas and ideals without any written notes. Your comments have always been direct and frank, and we appreciate that.
We will certainly miss your great zest for life and your manner of speaking, which you yourself have called a bit bougonneux, or grumpy — and I say this affectionately.
That said, if your love for life and people is any indication, your career path will not end today when you leave the Senate. Honourable senator, on behalf of my colleagues in the Independent Senators Group and all senators in this chamber, I wish you all the best. May you enjoy good health, peace, joie de vivre and love from your fellow Canadians and may you continue to inspire us for years to come.
Happy retirement, senator.