Mr. Speaker, today I rise to join with colleagues in paying tribute to a friend and colleague, Mark Warawa. I think all of us agree that we would have given anything to be talking about something else here today than Mark's passing.
It is such a tribute to Mark that there are so many of us here today, choosing not to head home to our own families, and that all parties are here, and independents, regardless of whether we often or even ever agreed with Mark on his politics and policies. I am including my Conservative colleagues in that. He was a man of such deep faith and conviction, and he held those convictions with such a degree of grace and certainty, which is sometimes too rare in our world.
Today was meant to be a day of ending, as we conclude this Parliament, as we reflect as parliamentarians in our time here, be it these past four years or for some of us many more years. It is also a day, by bad circumstance, that we are talking about a different kind of ending.
It is a privilege to stand in this place. Mark always saw that to be true for him, so much so that even as he was so sick, he was determined to come back and give his farewell address to the House, despite his doctors not necessarily agreeing with that.
I am honoured to speak on behalf of my New Democratic colleagues. Mark was an opponent, yet never an enemy. Our friendship was most unlikely. We come from different generations and opposite ends of the political spectrum on almost every issue, yet we found some common ground in the humanity we could share in this place. I think I can speak for many colleagues who also saw that humanity on display.
I do have to tell one story, though. I was reflecting this morning about one day, in the heat of debate, I said something that really upset Mark. I honestly do not remember what it was. I guess I have one of those memories.
Mark came right up to me in my seat. He got right in my face and was really mad, almost on the edge of asking me to step outside. I was a bit shocked. It seemed out of character for him, yet, within minutes, he was back at my desk, apologizing and wanting to make things right. It is important to consider that I do not remember what we were arguing about, but I do remember the apology. I remember the humanity.
For him, I think politics was very personal but he never made it personal, and that is a rare gift.
I was raised in the church and I do not claim to know definitively what a good Christian is, but Mark strove in every way to be one.
I also think we are talking a lot about family today, political family and Mark's family, Diane, Jonathan, Ryan, Nathan, Eric and Kristen. There are families we are born into and there are families we choose.
Diane and Mark were married for just a little less time than I have been alive. Mark, in his final comments, to me said, “I always thought of you as a son”, again, curious and somewhat unlikely, our friendship.
Today is about an ending. It is about mourning and it is about honouring. I join my colleagues and friends in honouring the memory of Mark and wish Diane and his entire family the very best and peace.