Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to a former member for the riding of St. Paul's, Ian Wahn.
He was born in Herbert, Saskatchewan, schooled in Swift Current and obtained his Bachelor of Law degree at the University of Saskatchewan. After that he obtained a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in England and then his M.A. there in jurisprudence. He was called to the bar from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto in 1943. By that time World War II had broken out and Mr. Wahn served with the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada in both the Netherlands and Germany. He earned the rank of captain by the end of the war.
In 1942 he married Pearl Lychak who died in 1988. They had two children, Ian and Gordon.
Mr. Wahn was first elected to the House of Commons in 1962 having defeated Progressive Conservative Roland Michener who then was Speaker of the House. He was re-elected in 1963, 1965 and 1968. While in the Commons he served on many committees, including banking and finance, justice and legal affairs, industry and energy, privileges and elections. After he was re-elected in 1968, he served as chairman of the national defence and external affairs committees.
As a member he sponsored bills to reform the laws relating to immigration, divorce and birth control. He authored the Wahn report from the committee on Canadian-American relations on Canadian control of the economy and culture.
In 1972 Mr. Wahn lost his seat to Ronald Atkey who had won the seat for the Conservatives under Robert Stanfield. He returned to his law practice afterward working with the firm of Borden and Elliot and in 1961 helped form the firm of Wahn, Mayer, Smith, Creber, Lyons, Torrance & Stephenson, now known as Smith Lyons.
This morning I asked the member for Davenport who had served in his constituency association in 1964 about his remembrances. He felt that Mr. Wahn served a valued role as a parliamentarian. He called him a small l liberal of the first order with a true understanding of democracy. He said that Mr. Wahn had a skill for organizing community meetings and citizen fora and for explaining and obtaining feedback on some of the most complex issues that affected the country. He had regular meetings from November until June each year with invited colleagues from Ottawa.
He was viewed as a first rate bridge between Ottawa and Toronto. He had a highly developed social conscience which resulted in effective representation on behalf of his constituents on issues such as pensions, disability and services for immigrants.
It was in the services for new immigrants that he made a huge impact. The Deputy Prime Minister reminded me that a large number of the constituents in St. Paul's in those days were of Chinese origin. Mr. Wahn would say that some of his constituents thought he was Chinese but when they found out that he was not Chinese they voted for him anyway. I think he had earned his stripes in the way of immigration services and by being an excellent constituency representative.
As we now strive for antidotes to the cynicism and apathy about government, politics and politicians, we must endeavour to look to the example of the true constituency MPs like Ian Wahn. Every day he demonstrated a true respect for the role of the citizen in a working democracy.
As the member for St. Paul's, the success of Ian Wahn in the area of citizen engagement and social justice provides a daily inspiration to me.