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Statement: Tribute - The Late Honourable Louis J. Robichaud

Honourable senators, it is a sad honour and privilege for me to pay tribute to the late Louis Robichaud. I was five years old when Ti-Louis was elected Premier of New Brunswick. I was in my first year of school and the nuns were teaching us to read from Bébé Marie Jean as well as the mandatory Run, Baby, Run.

There I was, crammed with 45 others into the little elementary school. There was scarcely any heat in winter, and the nuns let us wear trousers under our skirts, as well as layers of sweaters to ward off the cold.

At the same time, Ti-Louis was busily engaged in Fredericton in laying the foundations for our quiet revolution. Quiet may not be the right word, considering the vigour with which Ti-Louis defended his vision. My father even told me of one occasion, when Ti-Louis was meeting with forestry workers in a hotel in St-Quentin N.B. and got into a fist fight. Of course he won, thereby proving his determination.

My dad was no bigger than Ti-Louis, so he was pretty proud that Louis Robichaud could defend himself well with his fists and not just win with his words.

A few years later, though of course I did not know why, a new school was built in our village. A lot of new teachers were hired. We were taught physics, biology, chemistry and, my friends, we were taught in French. Our less well off families could get help.

No longer did they have to depend on the goodness of neighbours no better off than themselves.

No longer were we called "petit colons" for speaking French.

No more discriminatory taxes.

No more did New Brunswick francophones feel they were second-class citizens, with no education, no power, no future. His equality of opportunity program may not hold much meaning for some people, but for the people of New Brunswick those words define a liberal philosophy that identifies who we are, where we come from, and most particularly where we are headed.

The vision, strength of character and determination of the Honourable Louis Robichaud are sorely lacking in our political arenas today. Too many debates are devoid of vision and justice, too many politicians practice government by polls.