Mr. Speaker, today we are paying tribute to all that Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier has accomplished in his 32 years in Parliament.
A man totally dedicated to representing his constituents to the best of his ability, he was elected here six times representing Ottawa East or Ottawa-Vanier, before moving on to that other place.
He will go down in history as a staunch promoter of respect for both official languages and a veteran of numerous battles to defend the French language within the context of linguistic duality.
He was, therefore, the author of many measures to remedy, promote and guarantee the use of French everywhere in Canada.
Francophone seniors in Ontario benefit every day from what yMr. Gauthier has done, as do all those who still speak French. Yet, he met heavy resistance in his tireless efforts to obtain official bilingual status for Canada's capital. We know that, despite his departure from the Hill, he will be continuing to battle for the respect of official languages, and for the bilingual status of the City of Ottawa, in particular.
Since his departure was announced, there has been an outpouring of public tribute and gratitude from his fellow citizens for all his efforts to ensure the continuance of our beautiful French language.
I will paraphrase what was written by one of them. Through his love of the French language, he is extending the life of this legacy which transcends our identity. Through suffering at times and in solitude, he carries the scars of difficult political struggles in his passionate patriotic heart and his embattled body.”
It is our hope that his example will inspire others to take up his torch and continue in the defence of our two official languages.
Have a wonderful retirement, Senator Gauthier.