Mr. Speaker, first of all, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to offer our most sincere condolences to the family of the Hon. Jim Carr, to his friends and to his colleagues in the House, especially his colleagues in the Liberal Party.
Some words are harder to speak than others. I wish our colleague Jim could have heard the kind words we had for him today, but life decided otherwise. It is with a heavy heart, but with the greatest pride, that we pay tribute to him.
When I was asked to speak, I gave a great deal of thought about how to do it properly. I could begin by praising his poise, his sincerity and his sense of duty as a parliamentarian. I could highlight his early political career at the provincial level in Manitoba, where it quickly became clear that a formidable leader, proud of his roots and the people he represented, was emerging.
I could highlight his work as the special representative to the Prairies, as minister of international trade diversification or as minister of natural resources, where he undertook extensive work to ensure that our country would develop its resources in a way consistent with our environmental targets and the challenges of climate change.
In fact, he recently saw his own bill pass through third reading in the House and first reading in the Senate. He was determined that “his” prairies, which he held so dear, would become greener.
In politics, we have debates. We see the problems and the challenges facing our society, and we look for solutions. We rarely agree, and that is a good thing. The multiple ideas at play and the different perspectives help us reflect. From time to time, when we listen to one another, when we speak to one another without partisanship and with goodwill, we can come up with good ideas that serve the public interest.
Jim Carr was a politician who knew how to listen and who, as we saw last week in his last speech, respected his political opponents. We, in turn, respected him.
I could have just spoken about his political journey in the House. However, I would have missed what was important. Jim was first and foremost an extraordinary person. He was a good, gentle, generous and brilliant man. He was a man whose heart was in the right place. Jim saw the human being behind the parliamentarian no matter their political stripe.
I met Jim about a year ago. He had just been appointed chair of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and he wanted to get to know the MPs he would be working with. We had a Zoom meeting one Tuesday in January, to talk about this and that, and to get to know one another. We talked about our lives, our backgrounds, our families and our interests.
With how busy our lives are all the time, I found it amazing that this gentleman took the time to do that. I enjoyed that time and all the time we had together. When he stepped down as chair of the committee a few months ago, we became even closer. We were both in the House on Wednesday afternoons, so that became our time to check in with one another. Jim wanted to be in Parliament until the very end, and he was. He was truly passionate, but more importantly, he was a fighter. I see Jim as a model of honesty and kindness. The time I spent with him is etched in my memory, and I will think of him every time I set foot in the House. I will no longer see his focused and caring gaze, but I know he will watch over us.
When we lose a loved one, we always immediately think of the last time we saw them and the last words we said to them. We want to turn back the clock and have more time. I will always cherish one of the last things he said to me.
He said, “You are a rising star in Parliament, and it is fun watching you grow day by day. I will see you in the House.”
To my dear friend Jim, you were a great inspiration to me and I will miss you terribly. Rest in peace.
I will see you in the House.
Once again, I offer my deepest condolences to all those who loved him.