Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the hon. member for Sherbrooke, and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada I would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of the late Tom Bell. His passing is a great loss for New Brunswickers and all Canadians. He suffered for a long time with his debilitating disease and he is now at rest.
Tom Bell was a quiet, gentle, caring man who touched the lives of all those who knew him. He left an indelible mark on the hearts of many of us. He was a personal friend. Tom always had a smile on his face. Tom left us with his distinguished record of service and many fond memories of the times we shared with him. The judge with the big heart will not easily be forgotten.
Tom's career began in my home city of Saint John where he was born in 1923. He grew up in the city, married his wife Patricia, and attended the University of New Brunswick. During the second world war Tom served in the merchant navy and always remained deeply committed to the welfare of our veterans. The merchant navy men had an honour guard for him at his funeral which I had the honour to attend. He was a long time member of the Royal Canadian Legion as well.
Tom was called to the New Brunswick bar in 1951 and began his law practice in Saint John. In 1953 his career took a turn and he decided to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, who had represented Saint John in Parliament for 10 years, from 1925 to 1935.
Tom ran for the Progressive Conservative nomination in 1953 in the federal riding of Saint John-Albert, as it was known then. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1953 and was re-elected seven times, in 1957, 1958, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1968 and 1972. During his distinguished 20 year parliamentary career he served as parliamentary assistant to the minister of trade and commerce, parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, opposition House leader and party whip.
From 1956 to 1958 Tom was president of the Young Progressive Conservatives. His parliamentary career lasted through the terms of four Prime Minister, Louis St-Laurent, John Diefenbaker, Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau.
I remember a conversation I had with a senior Liberal senator last year who talked about Tom Bell. He said: "Politics is not like it used to be during our time, Elsie". The senator said that he and Tom would stand in the House, point fingers and debate, but at the end of the day they would sit down over coffee and discuss together how they could help their people in the region.
In 1974 Tom Bell left federal politics. He was appointed to the provincial court where he presided over the family, youth and traffic courts for 20 years. The people of Saint John lost a great member of Parliament, but gained an honest and fair judge. Despite his career change, he remained as deeply committed to his constituents and to his community as the day he was first elected.
He was a member of the Carleton and York Club and an active member of the Trinity Anglican Church. He was a former member of the Kiwanis Club, the Byng Boys Club of Saint John, the 26th Battalion Overseas Association and chairman of the board of the
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island division of the Canadian Corps of Commissioners.
The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was honoured to be represented by such a great man. Tom Bell set an example not just for our party, but for all politicians, personally and professionally. He was a man of integrity.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tom's family, his wife Patricia, his sons Michael, Andrew and James, his daughter Melanie, his brothers Robert and Lawrence and his many nieces, nephews and cousins.