Mr. Speaker, western Canadians, indeed all Canadians, today mourn the passing of beloved story teller W.O. Mitchell.
Millions of school children who have never been to the west have nonetheless tasted the dust of a prairie road and heard the chattering chirps of grasshoppers through W.O. Mitchell's characters like Jake and the Kid.
The men and women he wrote about were often tough as rawhide and as eccentric as tumbleweeds, but they always had heart and humour and an earthy common sense.
In his latter years W.O. Mitchell received acclaim from everyone, including most of the Canadian establishment, and yet he loved to gently poke fun at people consumed by their own sense of self-importance.
He might well have asked “Why do you accept and relish my prairie characters when you meet them on the pages of a book and regard them as rednecks and eccentrics when you meet the real thing in the flesh?”
Reformers salute W.O. Mitchell, the prairie bard who belongs to all Canadians.