Honourable senators, this is something that I have done too often in the last few years. We were all saddened this morning to hear that our very good friend and colleague, Mark Warawa, passed away early this morning after a brief but valiant battle with cancer.
Mark began his public life as an Abbotsford city councillor, where he served for 14 years. He then moved to federal politics, winning the 2004 election for the riding of Langley.
After being re-elected as a member of Parliament five times, Mark announced in January that he was retiring from politics and was looking forward to spending more time with his family.
It came as a shock to everyone when, on April 14, Mark shared that he was in hospital with what the doctors thought might be pancreatic cancer.
He faced the news bravely, writing:
We have our total trust in God. Yes, there have been lots of tears, but the God who created us has healed me and saved my life before. Most important is I know God loves me and wants me to trust Him. I do!
Less than a week later, there was a flash of hope. Mark sent out an update, saying:
My dear friends, I was preparing to choose between a risky surgery or palliative care, but I just received the miracle that we all have been hoping and praying for. Thank you, Lord Jesus.
The doctors had informed him that his colon cancer was treatable, and the pancreatic mass was just a tumour. The new prognosis was that he would live for years.
But it was not to be. Only a few days later, Mark learned that the cancer had been found in his lungs and lymph nodes. More tests would reveal it was chronic and the doctors were now giving him a maximum of two years.
On May 7, Mark found the strength to come to Ottawa and deliver his farewell speech in the House of Commons. He received a standing ovation from his colleagues, to whom he said:
I may be around for a long time or I may be around for a short time. We do not know.
Through it all, his faith in God was with unshakeable. Mark’s favourite passage from scripture was John 3:16, which happens to be mine as well. It says:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Just a few weeks ago, Mark wrote:
I know that God can immediately heal me, heal me gradually or He can call me home to Heaven.
Colleagues, as you know, this morning Mark was called home.
As his family stated earlier today:
Mark’s new address is in heaven, where he hopes to see you someday.
On behalf of all senators, I offer my deepest condolences to Diane, Mark’s wife of 46 years, along with his five children, Jonathan, Ryan, Nathan, Eric and Kristin, and his 10 grandchildren. Today we hold you close in our hearts and in our prayers, and pray that you will feel the loving arms of God surrounding you. Thank you.
Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition)
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Honourable senators, I don’t think I could give any tribute to Mark that would match the words that were just spoken. It would probably not be proper for me to do that, as I knew Mark, but I didn’t know Mark to the extent that Senator Plett and many people did. Out of respect, I’d like to let it sit where it is.