Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Senate Speaker Pierre Claude Nolin. He was a real gentleman with true character. He was a strong Quebecker who was proud to be Canadian.
Speaker Nolin was a strong and clear voice, dedicated to serving Quebeckers and all Canadians, and he did so as a member of the upper chamber for over 21 distinguished years.
During his time in the Senate, he contributed to numerous committees covering a broad range of issues, including legal and constitutional affairs; foreign affairs and international trade; national security and defence; and banking, trade and commerce.
After having been unanimously elected Speaker pro tempore of the Senate in 2013, he was appointed Speaker of the Senate in 2014. A strong supporter of the military, Senator Nolin was a member of the Cercle des Honoraires of the Régiment de Maisonneuve since 1995, becoming an honorary lieutenant-colonel of the regiment in 2012. In 2014, he was also named a Commander of the Order of Saint Lazarus.
Speaking in a personal vein, I first came to know P.C. Nolin, as we commonly called him, as a political organizer. He was very much an organizer's organizer, the best kind, and by that I mean one who was determined above all to deliver victory. In 1984, he was a key player on the team that did just that for the Conservative Party in Quebec, restoring and reviving the party in a province where it had languished since the First World War. The result was a positive one, which made our country stronger.
As a senator, P.C. Nolin was serious and diligent in what he saw as the important duty of the Senate: to test and scrutinize the legislation we send over there. A Conservative minister heading to the Senate to testify on a bill might have thought that Senator Nolin, as a proud partisan and a good team player, would give that minister an easy ride. Such a minister was in for a surprise.
As I experienced first-hand, friendship and partisan ties were set aside and replaced with a higher duty. Senator Nolin would probe to ensure that a minister was truly master of the legislation presented. Then he would unerringly test the vulnerabilities of a bill and obtain the reasoned assurances that any proposal truly and genuinely reflected the public interest.
He was ensuring through his work that the Senate of Canada performed the diligent task envisioned for it when Sir John A. Macdonald, George-Étienne Cartier, and the other Fathers of Confederation built the structures of our new country and a century and a half old parliamentary democracy that endures successfully today.
We wish to express our sincere condolences to his wife, Camille, to his three children, Simon, Louis and Virginie, and to his grandchildren, as well as to his entire family, friends and colleagues in the Senate.
As the Prime Minister said, Pierre Claude Nolin is now part of that small group of persons whose life and example have enhanced the institution they served while contributing to the common good. His distinguished service to the upper chamber and to our country will be remembered and honoured.