Honourable senators, it is with sadness that I rise today to pay tribute to the Honourable J. Trevor Eyton, who passed away last month. Senator Eyton served almost 19 years as a member of the Senate of Canada, representing the province of Ontario. He was a straight-talking, hardworking and thoughtful man, who served his fellow citizens with dedication. He will be greatly missed.
As a young man, Trevor Eyton exhibited leadership as a captain of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team. He was drafted into the CFL by the Saskatchewan Roughriders and then traded to the Toronto Argonauts. He attended just one day of training camp before deciding that the legal profession was his true calling, but his connection to sport never faded. Trevor Eyton served for many years as governor and chair of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Calgary and as the governor of the Canadian Olympic Foundation helping our athletes reach their full potential.
Upon graduating from the University of Toronto Law School in 1960, Trevor Eyton joined Torys law firm upon the advice of Bora Laskin, who would later become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
From there he went on to make his mark in business. For many years he was a president and CEO of Brookfield Asset Management, and he also served on the board of such corporations as Coca-Cola Enterprises and John Labatt Incorporated.
In 1986 he was invested as an officer of the Order of Canada. The citation noted not just his considerable accomplishments as a businessman and lawyer, but for his charitable and community work as chair of the board of governors of the University of Waterloo and his involvement with Sunnybrook Hospital and the Arthritis Society. Five years later, he was named to the Senate of Canada upon the recommendation of the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney.
Senator Eyton was immediately thrust into political life during the infamous GST debate in the Senate at that time.
Over the years that followed, Trevor Eyton threw himself into his work as a senator with the enthusiasm and dedication he showed in every aspect of his life.
At one point or another, Senator Eyton was a member of most of our standing Senate committees, notably serving as co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations of the Senate and the House of Commons, and as deputy chair of Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Senator Eyton also helped shepherd government legislation through the Senate, including a bill in 2007 to provide greater consumer protection to users of the payday lending industry.
In May 2009, during his last speech in the Senate before retirement, Senator Eyton paid tribute to his family for their love and support, saying:
I recognize they are much of the reason for all the good things that have happened to me. It is something that I keep in mind all the time.
In their time of sorrow, I wish to assure his loved ones that Senator Eyton’s service to Canadians will never be forgotten. On behalf of his friends in the Conservative caucus, and indeed on behalf of all Honourable Senators, I extend sincere condolences to his children Debbie, Susie, Adam, Christopher and Sarah, to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and to his many friends across our great country. Thank you.