The Late Honourable Marcel Prud’homme, P.C.Published on 2 February 2017 Hansard and Statements by Senator Joseph Day
Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, I want to echo the remarks of Senator Harder as I rise to pay tribute to the Honourable Marcel Prud’homme.
Our chamber is not only known as that of sober second thought, but also as the institutional memory of Parliament. I can think of few people who embodied that concept like Senator Prud’homme. When he reached mandatory retirement age in 2009, he had become known by that time as the Dean of Parliament, because he had served in our two chambers for more than four decades.
Senator Prud’homme was first elected as a Liberal member for the riding formerly known as Saint-Denis in 1964. He earned the confidence of his constituents and won eight subsequent re-elections. In 1993, he brought his wealth of parliamentary knowledge and experience to the Senate of Canada when he was summoned here on the recommendation of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Like our good friend and colleague Senator Baker, Senator Prud’homme was known for saying, “I will be brief,” and then living up to those words in the same manner as Senator Baker.
Senator Prud’homme genuinely believed in the power of debate, as he told this chamber in his final speech:
The rule in politics and diplomacy is a simple one. When enemies talk, there is a reduction in the intolerance they feel toward each other.
Dialogue and cooperation were things he believed to be important throughout his career. In fact, that was something he mentioned in his maiden speech in the other place. He certainly lived that belief: a lifelong Liberal member of Parliament, appointed to the Senate by a Conservative Prime Minister, and sitting as an independent in this chamber, working with everyone.
In addition to encouraging dialogue amongst political adversaries, Senator Prud’homme also believed in the importance of dialogue with other countries, and he was a passionate supporter of parliamentary associations, many of which he had a responsibility for helping to create.
In 2009, when Senator Prud’homme retired from the Senate of Canada, there was an outpouring of kind words lamenting the loss to our institution. It is now the country that must deal with his departure, but I take heart that we here shall do our part to continue his legacy by valuing engagement, understanding and compromise.