Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada and my leader, I would also like to pay tribute to the Hon. James Jerome who passed away this summer.
Mr. Jerome was born in Kingston in 1933 and studied law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. He later opened a legal practice in Sudbury where he served on that city's council.
Mr. Jerome served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1974 to 1979. The House of Commons at the time obviously felt then, as it does today, that a lawyer born in Kingston would make a pretty good Speaker.
I never met Mr. Jerome although as a House leader I have come to know former Speakers through their various rulings which are very important to the evolution of the rules of the House of Commons.
Mr. Jerome was the first Speaker to serve during the reign of two governments of different political stripes and the first opposition member to preside over the House. This reflected his reputation as an impartial chair, a reputation that was cut at the committee level when he was chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. The committee dealt with highly controversial bills, including abolition of capital punishment and wiretap legislation. He managed to keep the respect of all parties as he stickhandled his way through procedural disputes.
When Prime Minister Trudeau asked James Jerome to become Speaker in 1974, he neglected to consult the leader of the opposition before making his nomination. As a result, the official opposition refused to second the nomination. Mr. Stanfield emphasized, however, his quarrel was with the government and not with the Speaker who he said had his party's full support.
Here we have another similarity to the other Speaker from Kingston. As you may recall, Mr. Speaker, one of your appointments as chair occupant was opposed by the opposition as well. In fact, the government was forced to invoke closure. As with Mr. Jerome, the opposition's quarrel was with the government and not the deputy speaker who also enjoyed their full support.
Mr. Jerome's most significant change to the House of Commons, as we just heard, was bringing in television coverage in 1978, something most of us today take for granted. He had to establish rules for broadcasting and eventually they were copied by other parliaments around the world.
While very few of us get the privilege of presiding over this House, there is one privilege we can all share with Mr. Jerome and that is the privilege of serving our constituents.
Mr. Jerome represented the people of Sudbury, first elected as their member in 1968 and re-elected in subsequent elections, his political career only ending when he decided not to run in 1980.
He went on to be appointed in 1980 to the post of Associate Chief Justice and Head of the Trial Division of the Federal Court where he served for some 18 years.
Mr. Jerome served this House with competence and impartiality. He served his constituents with dedication and his country with commitment.
Mr. Jerome's contributions to the House will be remembered and appreciated for many years to come.
On behalf of the Conservative Party, I extend my heartfelt condolences to Mr. Jerome's family and his many friends.