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Business of the Senate

Expressions of Thanks and Good Wishes

June 23, 2022


The Hon. the Speaker [ + ]

Honourable senators, there has been an agreement between the leaders that they will take a few moments to make brief remarks before we suspend for Royal Assent.

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate) [ + ]

Honourable senators, it seems the older one is, the faster time moves. Here we are at the end of June, after another year of uncertainty. As happened in the previous year and due to the newest variant of COVID-19, 2022 had us working under many of the same constraints. But with experience came some degree of ease of management, and the knowledge acquired from 2020 forward allowed us to plot our course more easily.

Committees were still unable to meet as often as during pre‑pandemic years, and resources and manpower continued to be at a premium. But the work got done and we managed to accomplish much, in no small measure because of our dedicated Senate support staff. Without our pages, table officers and Senate clerks, there would be no business conducted in this chamber. At risk to their own health, they were physically present every sitting day, regardless of how sparsely filled the Senate seats might be. Thank you all for your loyalty and dedication.

While our committee schedule was cut back considerably, our committee clerks and attendants were present at each and every committee meeting, even if only one or two senators were in the room and all others were attending virtually. You also deserve our gratitude.

Thank you to our IT staff, who ensured that witnesses could connect from anywhere on the planet, that we, non-tech savvy senators, could participate in the chamber or in committee from our homes and that all involved could be seen and heard.

I want to offer a special shout-out to the interpreters. Some of us have spoken to those professionals about the unforeseen issues that they’ve suffered. We’ve also read and heard about the physical toll that this situation has taken on them. I want to thank each and every one of you on behalf of the Senate of Canada. Without your expertise and competence, we simply truly could not function.

Thank you as well to the men and women of the Parliamentary Protective Service. For you, this was a year like no other. You have our thanks for all you did and all you experienced.

Senator Furey, the Speaker of the Senate, is charged with all decisions relating to this place. You have navigated these troubled waters with the firm hand of an experienced captain, all the while understanding that the work must never stop. Your guidance during yet another year of operating in a hybrid fashion — or in February, when access to this building was sporadic and when human resources were at a premium — ensured that the business of the Senate on behalf of all Canadians didn’t take a break. Thank you, Your Honour, for taking on these challenges and responsibilities, which I’m quite certain weren’t in your original job description.

Senator Gold [ + ]

Senators Gagné and LaBoucane-Benson are the best Government Representative Office, or GRO, colleagues I could hope for — talented parliamentarians, sounding boards, arbiters of debate, patient voices of reason and wisdom and just good friends to me. Thank you for your professionalism, common good sense and friendship. Of course, we all three admit and know that our jobs are made much easier — in fact, made possible — by the incredible team that we have working with us in the GRO. Teams of professionals who advise us, write for us, do research for us, and if they’re listening — and I hope they’re doing more fun things than listening to me talk at this hour — thank you so much.

To my leadership colleagues, Senator Plett, Senator Saint-Germain, Senator Tannas and Senator Cordy, we may not always agree. Tonight, though, was pretty good. Sometimes we disagree quite passionately, or vehemently on occasion, but I want to thank all of you for all the hours that you have put in and that have we spent together, hammering out how to best do the work for which we were summoned. Sometimes it feels as though we spend more time talking to each other than to any other person in our lives — at least that’s what my wife complains about — but it’s really worth it in the end to accomplish what we’ve accomplished and what we’re expected to accomplish on behalf of Canadians.

And speaking of my wife, to my dear wife, Nancy, thank you for putting up with me, supporting me and being without me, as I am without you, in these long sittings, so I couldn’t do it without you. Thank you, my darling.

In order for us to all come back in good form next September, let me conclude by wishing you all a peaceful summer. Spend it with those who matter most to you. Thank you for everything.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett (Leader of the Opposition)

Honourable senators, the end of the parliamentary session presents us with an opportunity to reflect on the last few months. And you can believe me when I say it has been wonderful to find ourselves face to face in large numbers in person in this chamber. Hybrid Parliament was meant to be a temporary measure in response to unusual circumstances. Sadly, the government moved that our hybrid sittings carry on longer than anticipated. The resulting effects weren’t minimal and meant that our capacities were reduced. Our committee meetings were reduced, which, regrettably, led to less parliamentary oversight and decreased accountability.

I also want to thank our interpreters, who have gone above and beyond in providing exceptional service. Hybrid sittings have taken a toll on them, and we have heard this over and over again. The technical difficulties we faced caused them more grief than anyone else in this chamber. While they were often stretched thin in their personal capacities, when hearing their voices on the audio, no one would have known. Thank you for your perseverance this year.

The last few months, colleagues, have been challenging for Canadians. We’re seeing record-level inflation. Canadian families are having trouble affording day-to-day necessities. News headlines reflect the heaviness of world events. The war waged by Russia in Ukraine has shaken the world and brought about tragedy and uncertainty for many. My heart goes out to those who have found this year particularly demanding.

Colleagues, it is not my intent to take this time to criticize the government, but an honest reflection on this session requires me to at least acknowledge the unique challenges we have faced and continue to face. I sincerely make these comments when I say I am disappointed by steps this government has taken that have restricted freedoms of Canadians, sowed division in our country and reduced the efficiency of our Parliament. We have witnessed — not pointing fingers — one of the most contentious moments in our country’s history, brought about by the culminating frustration of Canadians after rough years caused by the pandemic, not by a government, but by the pandemic. We witnessed the shameful unprecedented use, quite frankly, of the Emergencies Act. My sentiments on this are no secret, colleagues, and I remain deeply concerned about the precedent that was set by an unjustified invocation of the Emergencies Act.

That being said, colleagues, I am proud of our collaboration in this chamber to ensure the respect of Canadians and of the Charter. I am especially proud of my own caucus, the opposition, and the role we have played in this important session. I truly believe that our interventions and lively debates on this matter contributed to the eventual revocation of the Emergencies Act and served the best interests of Canadians.

To be sure, colleagues, some moments were worth celebrating — moments when we have come together and passed legislation that will act to best serve Canadians, including this very evening, colleagues. Although we do not always agree, I know our debates are always conducted in good faith and with the objective of serving this great country to the best of our abilities.

Colleagues, you have all gotten to know me over the last years. I shoot from the hips. But let me be clear: I have the utmost respect for each and every person in this chamber.

Senator Yussuff and I went to dinner, and if you just indulge me for a few minutes — we’re going to be gone until September 20, so I think we can take a few minutes. Senator Yussuff invited me to dinner a week and a half ago. Now here is the former president of Unifor and the former president of the Conservative Party of Canada — not the pair that you would likely normally expect to be sitting and breaking bread. And I thank him for that because we had something in common when he said, “Don, you and I believe in Canada. You and I would do anything for our country.” He said, “We may not agree on the path to get there, but we do agree on the love for our country.” Senator Yussuff, thank you for that.

I want to offer a special thanks to my leadership colleagues as well. Senator Gold, I know you’re already missing the questions that I have been asking and I know you will long for those questions in the next while. Give Nancy my regards, but I know that Nancy will not be of equal substitute to the questions that I have been asking.

As you have the summer, though it was never our goal to be agreeable on government business, it continues to be a pleasure to work with you and, Senator Gold, I look forward to resuming our lively debates and Question Period come September.

Senator Saint-Germain, it has been a pleasure. It really has been. We have collaborated. We have worked together. Senator Saint-Germain, you and I developed what Senator Tannas called a programming motion. I do not agree with the concept, but we have worked well together. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I wish you and all of your colleagues a great summer.

Senator Cordy, what I regret the most is that we have seen too much of each other in here and not enough of one another in Florida. My golf has continued more than yours has. I wish you and Bob a great summer, and hopefully we can play a game of golf this summer.

Senator Tannas, I know that you have lost your way a little bit, but I pray that you will find your way back. It was a pleasure working with you, Senator Tannas, in our caucus and it has been a pleasure working together with you in your caucus. I wish you a great summer as well.

Although we are often on different sides of an issue, all of your discussions and negotiations have been invaluable. I thank you and wish you all a great summer break.

Senator Furey, I do want to play that nine-hole golf course that you were talking about. I wish you and your family well, Senator Furey. I appreciate your fair deliberations and your fair running of this chamber. It is not an easy task. I could say especially with this government, but I will leave that for another day. Senator Furey, thank you for all that you have done, I wish you a great summer break.

I want to echo Senator Gold’s comments about the Speaker pro tempore as well. Senator Ringuette, you have done a remarkable job, especially when we have been in a Committee of the Whole. You have no idea how much I have appreciated your fairness and the way that you have taken ministers to task and cut ministers off. I have appreciated that more than you will ever have imagined. Especially a few ministers that I could name.

A special thank you to the Black Rod, his office and pages. What a great group of pages we have had. Greg Peters, thank you for your work, appreciate that. Your dedication and professionalism to the chamber are remarkable.

To our security and our Parliamentary Protective Service, I feel safe walking into this building. I feel safe walking around this building. The other day when we had a fire alarm, they told me, you go ahead and go back to your office, don’t worry about it. I am not sure whether they hoped that I would get stuck in my office or whether everything was okay, but nevertheless I do appreciate everything that they do for us.

It is perhaps fair to say the following events that have transpired so far, and during these challenging times, there is an increasing appetite among Canadians for competent, transparent and accountable governance. Honourable senators, it is truly an honour to represent these values under the Conservative Party of Canada. I am proud to be a Conservative. I am proud of my team. I am proud of the fights and the best efforts of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. I am lucky to be part of a Conservative caucus who treats the role of the opposition with the respect it deserves. Canadians have full confidence that the Conservative Party will continue to hold the government to account for another year or so.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank our entire caucus — my caucus — for the diligent and excellent work that they have accomplished over the last few months, and continue to accomplish. Our group is getting smaller, but we are getting closer and we are fighting together. Thank you. I appreciate working with you.

I personally want to thank our staff, my staff and all of our staff for everything that they do behind the scenes. We all look in the mirror in the morning and think, “Now there’s someone really good.” We are nothing without our staff. Nothing. I am the first one to admit that I am nothing without my staff.

To my leadership, my deputy leader, Senator Yonah Martin; our whip, Senator Judith Seidman; our caucus chair, Senator Rose-May Poirier; and deputy whip, Senator Leo Housakos, thank you. Thank you to all of you.

I want to mention that our prayers should be with Senator Leo Housakos and his family. Leo is going through some difficult times with his mother, as many of us do as people get older. His mother is struggling with cancer, and that is why he is not here today.

To the Senate Administration, thank you for the crucial support you provide to us as senators and for ensuring smooth functioning of this institution. To all of those who work to keep our building running from security to cleaning, your work does not go unnoticed. It is appreciated by everyone in this chamber.

Honourable senators, it has truly been a pleasure to sit alongside you and serve Canadians with you in this chamber. Whether we agree or disagree, it is a pleasure to work with each and every one of you. I bid you all a safe and restful summer, and look forward to seeing you all again very soon. God bless.

Hon. Raymonde Saint-Germain [ + ]

This evening, it is the fifth year that I am pleased to see at this pre-eminent moment that we are first and foremost an institution of human beings, of people who have much in common, indeed much more than we may let on during our debates.

This evening, it is time to thank people. First, I wish to thank the Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Senator George Furey, who shoulders heavy responsibilities with great dignity and an infallible democratic spirit. Personally, I appreciate your wisdom and excellent guidance when pointing out our misinterpretation of the Senate’s rules and practices, no matter our seniority or place in this chamber. I also want to thank Senator Ringuette, our Speaker pro tempore, who conducts herself with respect for the same values of dignity, justice and fairness.

I also wish to congratulate senators of all groups and caucuses who distinguished themselves during this parliamentary session by receiving honours and accolades from institutions, organizations, civil society groups and even, in some cases, institutions outside Canada. Congratulations to each and every one of you. Your expertise and dedication make you a credit to the Senate.

Like the Speaker, the Speaker pro tempore and all senators, you discreetly challenge us to ensure that our personal conduct does not tarnish the institution or the work we do every day.

I am so appreciative of my colleagues, the leaders of all of the other groups, and the Government Representative, Senator Gold, and his team. Thank you, Marc.

I also thank the illustrious Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Plett. Thank you, Don. I want to thank and congratulate all of them. What Senator Plett said is true. Quite often, with good will and honesty, we’ve been able to find solutions. It’s teamwork, I think, and as they say, opposites attract. It’s interesting to see it from this perspective.

I also want to thank the other woman among the group of Senate leaders, Jane Cordy, who is always open and willing to work together. Jane, I truly appreciate you. I also want to thank Scott Tannas. I’ve found the way for him. I’m not sure if he’s gotten lost, but I’ve found my way. I also enjoyed our conversations and the fact that we often have different opinions but we always want to be effective and work in the best interests of the Senate.

At the end of the day — literally — I’m proud to say that all of us have operated in a way that has allowed the Senate to fulfill its duties in a responsible manner. Despite having to adapt to the challenges of many of us working remotely, hybrid sittings and hybrid committee meetings — which included but were not limited to forgetting to press the “mute” button and being reminded too often to switch channels before speaking — I still believe we delivered a solid performance.

For that, we must also thank the employees of the Senate Administration that have supported us in these challenging times. I will not repeat because my colleagues did it before me, and I’m conscious that we are at the end of the day, but I wish to convey a truly heartfelt thanks to everyone who makes our work in committees and in Parliament possible.

Even if Don highlighted this, a special word in this special time for the Parliamentary Protective Service. With the current cynicism of our political discourse, you have risen up to the task of tackling threats to our parliamentarians and our democratic institutions. Your service is essential not only to us but also to Canadian democracy.

While I believe that we have been up to the task in this period of uncertainty, we always need to strive for the best, as Canadians expect us to do. We must prioritize and always keep in mind the added value we can bring to the work of the other place.

As such, many challenges still lie ahead. I will keep some suspense for the fall. This page is with regard to the many challenges, so in September, I will be back with those.

In the meantime, I wish that we leave today in a positive spirit, with hopes of a return to more normality when we come back in September but also with a duty to remember the Canadians who suffered and are suffering from this pandemic and the colleagues we lost along the way.

Colleagues, myself and all the members of the Independent Senators Group — especially my colleagues in the facilitation team, Senators Dean and Petitclerc and Senator Duncan in the bright Whitehorse, Yukon, today — wish you all a restful summer with your families and friends. Come back in good shape. Challenges await us. Thank you, meegwetch.

Hon. Jane Cordy [ + ]

Honourable senators, on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, I would like to take a moment to offer heartfelt thanks to those who have allowed us to do our jobs despite the challenges of the past few years. The list is a long one. It takes a village to do these hybrid proceedings successfully.

Firstly, there is our tech support at information services and our interpreters who face the real possibility of injury every day doing their job. Interpreters — who would have thought? Our wonderful, talented pages are young people who always make me feel so positive about our future. There is also the Usher of the Black Rod, Greg Peters, our table officers, our clerks, all employees in the Chamber Operations and Procedure Office, Senate communications and broadcasting, protective services and corporate security, maintenance and building staff, all other employees of the Senate Administration as well as the staff in each and every senator’s office. We rely on all of you every single day. For 25 months, you have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Without you, we could not be here. My progressive colleagues and I wish you a restful summer of fun and relaxation. We are blessed to have your experience and wisdom.

I would also like to thank my fellow leaders and facilitators, Senators Gold, Plett and Tannas and, in particular, my newest colleague, Senator Saint-Germain, who helps put us one step closer to gender parity among leadership.

Senator Cordy [ + ]

Together over the last few months, the five of us have had some disagreements and at times some very tense meetings — or as Senator Gold says, “passionate meetings” — but we have always come together in the end with a view as to what is best for serving Canadians no matter which part of the country we call home.

By the way, disagreements are a good thing because you are forced to look at perspectives that are different from your own and that you may not have considered. Thank you, Speaker Furey, for your wisdom and patience in guiding us through our deliberations. Of course, thank you to our Speaker pro tempore, Senator Ringuette, for the job that you do.

Finally, I would like to thank my caucus colleagues for the joy that our small but mighty group gives us. To our leadership team, Pierre Dalphond, Pat Bovey and Brian Francis, thank you for your support, guidance and friendship. To all members of the Progressives, it truly is a pleasure to work with you each and every day. We have frank and serious discussions where all views are shared and heard, and we do it all with a sense of common purpose, with respect for one another and often with a lot of laughter. We truly enjoy working together, and I have no doubt that is evident in everything that we do. I am honoured to be working with you, and I ask that you take time to relax and enjoy time with your families over the next few weeks. Love you, all.

To our Progressive staffers, you are amazing people. You give us support for all our work and even make us look pretty good. So love to all of you, also. I know you work hard. You play hard. Please take some time to relax this summer.

To all honourable senators and to all staff, I wish you a safe and restful summer. I hope you spend more time with your families and with your friends, and, please, take the time to recharge before September. As Senator Gold said, time passes far too quickly. Maybe it is our age, Senator Gold, since we’re pretty close in age.

I look forward to working with all of you and maybe some brand-new senators when we return in the fall. Have a wonderful summer. Best wishes and thank you to each and every one of you.

Hon. Scott Tannas [ + ]

Honourable senators, I too want to extend my very best wishes to all senators, our staff and employees of the Administration who serve us so well. I want to, of course, associate myself with all the expressions of gratitude and respect that were spoken by my leadership colleagues.

I want to thank my leadership colleagues for the work they do and the way in which they conduct themselves in our meetings, deliberations and negotiations. It is a privilege to work with such wonderful people.

A lot has happened this session. A number of kind of unexpected, odd, unusual and significant things have happened. I want to share some highlights that come to mind that I will remember about the last few months.

Work-related, Parliament’s Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying was brought back into existence post-election to continue an important Senate initiative of reviewing the law.

We weren’t back here very long in February before we involuntarily hosted the “Freedom Convoy” in Ottawa. I frankly have never seen anything like it. The enthusiasm of the participants, unusual as they were, was something that I don’t think any of us who were here and walked the streets will ever forget.

We also saw the very first use of the Emergencies Act. That was historic. I think the Senate distinguished itself in the debate just prior to the withdrawal that was watched by hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Senator Patterson [ + ]

During the debate.

Senator Tannas [ + ]

I think we earned a lot of respect that day.

We continue to do what we need to do to support Canadians who are experiencing financial hardship. We have, perhaps, become a little bit inured to the amount of money that we have put in the hands of Canadian families and businesses to see them through these difficult times. I hope that era is over, for everybody’s sake.

One of the most striking memories will be Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and his historic address to our Parliament. He shared his powerful, inspiring words. I was not here; I was at home. But I cried with my wife as we listened to his words, and I felt like I was a part of history.

Some past good work that continues to show itself is in the form of the interim report on the implementation of Bill S-3 that deals with eliminating gender discrimination in the registration provisions of the Indian Act. It will be tabled shortly and it will likely be historic in its impact.

Senator Patterson [ + ]

Hear, hear.

Senator Tannas [ + ]

That was work of the Senate that took something that was largely symbolic and made sure it was real.

We sat for roughly 59 days this session, with more and more senators attending in person as the months went on. This fall, we have bravely decided to come back and take up our work in person.

Senator Tannas [ + ]

It has been an unforgettable session in so many ways.

On behalf of the Canadian Senators Group, I would like to thank senators and all staff for their commitment to fulfilling the nation’s business on behalf of Canadians. It is truly a privilege to work with each and every one of you. Have a good summer.

The Hon. the Speaker [ + ]

Senators, before moving to the adjournment, I would like to take a moment to join our Senate leadership and thank those who have made our work here possible. It goes without saying that behind the vital work of all senators are the extraordinary staff in our offices and in each directorate across the Senate Administration.

Every member of the Senate family brings their expertise and experience to the table and plays a crucial role in ensuring our institution runs smoothly.

I know I speak for all senators as I extend a heartfelt “thank you” to each and every member of the Senate family who support us in our work every day, no matter how long those days tend to be on occasion. I would like to say a special “thank you” to Mr. Greg Peters, the Usher of the Black Rod, and to all our wonderful pages. I wish those pages who are moving on to new challenges the best of success and the best for your futures.

I would also like to thank the staff of the Library of Parliament, the Parliamentary Protective Service, the International and Interparliamentary Affairs Directorate, the stenographers and others in Debates and Publications, Translation Bureau and Mr. Till Heyde and the staff of the Chamber Operations and Procedure Office. Their tireless work keeps our institution running smoothly. Without their professionalism and dedication, I have no doubt we would descend into total chaos. Please know that your hard work does not go unnoticed.

I know I speak for all senators when I say just how much we appreciate your work.

We would also thank — and I would like to thank especially — all of our families and loved ones who make so many sacrifices so that we can do the important work that we do on behalf of all Canadians.

To my colleagues, I wish you all an enjoyable summer in the company of family and loved ones and, for at least some part of the summer, time away from your phones.

I wish everyone a very happy, healthy and safe summer recess.

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