Mr. Speaker, last week, like all Canadians, I was deeply saddened to hear that Jean-Luc Pepin, who was one of my colleagues here in the House of Commons, had passed away.
He was elected in 1963, at the same time as I was, to represent a riding close to mine, near Drummondville on the other shore of the Saint Lawrence, and we began our career together. We even went back to university together. At that time, we were expected to be in the House in the evening. We both took courses in administrative law, so that we would be able to come to the House if there was a vote. We became good friends. We both had the privilege of studying, if I can use the term, under Mitchell Sharp. Mr. Pepin had been appointed parliamentary secretary to Mr. Sharp when he was at Trade and Commerce; I became Mr. Sharp's parliamentary secretary when he moved to Finance.
Jean-Luc Pepin was an intellectual who was actively involved in public life. One could not have wished for a nicer guy. He was kind to everyone, but at the same time he was extremely hard working. Any issue he was given would be examined in depth, so much so that he sometimes almost made himself ill through his thoroughness. I have rarely seen colleagues read through all the documents that had been prepared for them, but Jean-Luc Pepin certainly did.
Jean-Luc Pepin also had a broad vision of Canada. He always searched for solutions to our problems, and his participation in our very animated discussions, both in caucus and here in the House of Commons, was always followed with great interest. He was always well informed and constantly sought out new solutions.
He was a very good minister. He started as Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce. He was the first among the ministers to visit China right after we recognized China 25 years ago. He led the first businessmen's mission to Latin America. When today as Prime Minister I am involved in visiting the same area, I cannot help but think about the vision and wisdom of Jean-Luc Pepin in doing his work as Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce.
I remember he unfortunately lost an election in 1968, and he came back. It was a very amusing moment, because after-
When he lost the election, everyone deplored his loss and lamented the fact that Jean-Luc Pepin would no longer sit in this House. But suddenly, after a recount, he was back. He showed us all the glowing editorials that he had received and just as he was about to use them in the House in powerful speeches, he was ousted again following a judicial recount. He was absent from this House.
He served in numerous positions. He was a member of the Pepin-Robarts Commission and submitted a very important report which was widely discussed but which was not fully implemented. However, a good loser, he always accepted the decisions that were made, offering new solutions and never giving up. He chaired the commission on price and wage controls, something that was not easy to do at the time. He did so very tactfully and competently. Of necessity we became friends because when you are not from the big city of Montreal, when you come from the country, you tend to join ranks. He was a very good friend but first and foremost, he was an outstanding member of Parliament, an outstanding minister and a great Canadian. With his passing last week, our country has lost a great public servant.