This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Skip to Content

Statement: Tribute - Hon. Jean-Robert Gauthier

Honourable senators, my apologies for not having a written text.

As the most junior member in this place, I thought to myself that I did not want to have to say goodbye to any of my colleagues.

But you, Senator Gauthier, are more than a colleague. You are a visionary and I can remember back in 1993, in the House of Commons, when you did for me what you did for my colleague Senator Chaput when she came to the Senate. You took me under your wing, to show me the ropes and advise me in the debates concerning the Francophonie.

I can tell you that I appreciated your help enormously, and I recognize, as you do yourself, that the debate for the equality of the communities and for respect will never be over.

It will never be over because we are well aware that we will never be able to achieve respect for our two linguistic communities, despite the contribution we can make. We have seen a political example of this right here this afternoon.

I am truly disappointed that today we have not been able to properly pay you the honour due to you for all the years you have devoted to achieving that recognition, and that your bill — which has been passed unanimously here on three occasions — did not pass because of pure partisan politics. I wonder whether this does not denote a lack of respect for what you wish to accomplish and what you have worked so hard to achieve.

Senator Gauthier, out of respect for your work in the House of Commons, the Senate and in your community of Ottawa-Vanier, we are prepared to act rather like soldiers. None of us will ever be a general like you, but we can certainly be soldiers, whether we are francophone or anglophone. At the end of the day, this is the key to Canada, its foundation, its cornerstone. Not many people have understood this yet and are prepared to fight. Rest assured, there will be recruiters to carry on your noble cause. I thank you sincerely for everything you have done for us francophones who live in the regions where an education and communication networks have not been easy to come by. You fought the battle well.

I am not good at saying farewell. But you may be sure that your work and your vision will never be abandoned.