Mr. Speaker, “I am encouraged, excited and optimistic about how we can strengthen our federation in ways we have strived to achieve as a nation for decades.” These were words from the speech delivered just this year on his private member's bill. Jim was a nation builder and a gentleman, but most of all, Jim was a true mensch.
It is not easy for members to get their bills passed around here. It is a rare accomplishment. It is a blessing Jim lived to see his bill pass the House. His bill was the building of a green economy in the Prairies act. It just passed the House last week.
Although it is a rare accomplishment for any MP, for Jim it was one of many great accomplishments in his life. Jim was a husband, a father, a politician, a journalist and an accomplished musician. In fact, he was an oboist who played with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. He would always greet people with a great big smile, and he was always interested in how he could help them. As a politician, he was first elected to the Manitoba legislature in 1988 as the MLA for Fort Rouge and then Crescentwood in Winnipeg, where he served as the deputy leader of the official opposition for the Manitoba Liberals.
Jim left provincial politics in 1992 to become a well-respected editorial writer and columnist. In 1998, he co-founded the Business Council of Manitoba, where he served as its president and CEO until 2015.
It was in 2011 when he and I first met. I had decided to run in the 2011 provincial election, and I asked to meet with him in his capacity as head of the Business Council of Manitoba to discuss its policies. He immediately agreed to the meeting, and I am pretty sure we met for over two hours that day, debating the nuances of the Manitoba economy and the importance of well-developed policy. In fact, I remember a long discussion over whether the provincial sales tax should be increased from 7% to 8%. Of course, as a good Tory, I argued against this increase. In the end, a gentleman throughout, Jim agreed to disagree with me on that one.
During that meeting, Jim and I also discussed his admiration for former Manitoba premier Duff Roblin. Jim admired Roblin for bringing in transformative education reform in the 1960s, and of course everyone admired Premier Roblin for getting the Red River Floodway built, what Manitobans affectionately call “Duff's Ditch.”
During that meeting, Jim told me that he and Premier Roblin were in fact close friends. Premier Roblin had just passed away. Jim also told me he had assisted Premier Roblin in the writing of his memoir and was a close confidant of the former premier. Even then, Jim was building bridges. Premier Roblin was a Progressive Conservative and Jim was a Liberal, but it did not matter what one's political party was for Jim. What mattered was what could be accomplished together.
When Premier Roblin passed away in 2010, Jim gave the eulogy, saying “throughout his long stint in public life, Roblin never had an ill word to say about anybody...Civility and respect were never compromised.” Today, I am saying that about Jim.
In 2015, 23 years after he left the Manitoba legislature, Jim was elected as the member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre, a role he cherished. He loved serving his constituents and he loved solving problems. He served in cabinet as Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of International Trade Diversification and special representative for the Prairies.
It goes without saying that Jim had the respect of all members of the House regardless of their political affiliation. He was a fearless advocate for the interest of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada.
Just three weeks ago, I was with him at the grand opening of The Leaf at Diversity Garden in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, where he spoke optimistically about the future of Winnipeg. Jim was always an insightful and thoughtful speaker, and I always enjoyed very much listening to his words.
Jim was also a strong supporter and well-respected member of Winnipeg's Jewish community. He would regularly attend community events and give remarks. He was a fighter against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, but in true form, always the bridge builder, he joined Winnipeg's Arab Jewish Dialogue, where members of both communities would meet regularly together to discuss and try to solve issues.
In the speech Jim gave about his bill, he started it by talking about how he had won the private member's bill lottery. He said, “one does not plan in life to win the lottery, but when one does, one is left with decisions about how to take advantage of the good fortune.” I think it is safe to say that all Canadians won the lottery for having Jim share his life with us. It was our good fortune.
On behalf of my Conservative colleagues, I want to offer our sincerest condolences to his spouse, Colleen Suche, his children, grandchildren and his extended family.
In Judaism, there is a concept called tikkun olam. It literally means repair the world to make it a better place. There can be no doubt that Jim Carr left this world a far better place.
May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life and may his memory be a blessing.
[Member spoke in Hebrew and provided the following translation:]
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe, the judge of truth.
Jim will be missed.