The parliamentary career of Jean-Robert Gauthier has ended, but his work will endure for many generations. His legacy to the francophones of this country is important for many reasons.
For over 30 years, he has been an ardent defender of the linguistic rights of the French- and English-speaking minorities throughout the country. An experienced and clever parliamentarian, he succeeded in having a positive influence on the government decisions that shaped the development of Canada's francophone communities.
Senator Gauthier is a man unlike others. When I was a young activist in the Liberal Party of Canada, I had the opportunity to observe him in his role as the MP for Ottawa—Vanier, the riding which I now have the privilege of representing in the House of Commons.
I saw then for myself the virtues of the role of a member of Parliament. I saw a man at the heart of his community, a man always available to his constituents. I saw a man working tirelessly to help people overcome obstacles in their lives. Jean-Robert lent considerable nobility to the role of an MP and, later on, to that of a senator. He, better than anyone, exemplified the people's representative. In addition to the courage it took in his fight against sickness in recent years, he remained true to his principles and values.
I want to thank him for his advice and generosity. To me, he was a mentor, a confidant and a friend, and I will always be grateful to him for that.
Since he began his political career in this House, over 32 years ago, I would like to let him have the last word by quoting excerpts from his last speech in the Senate, which he delivered yesterday. He said:
I have tried hard to make life a bit more agreeable for Canadians. I have worked on many issues. I am very proud to say today that the issues I worked on were the people's issues...
Honourable senators, we have a commitment to Canada.
On behalf of the government and all my colleagues, I wish Senator Gauthier and his family a quiet, serene and happy retirement. So long Jean-Robert.