Hon. Jim Munson:
Honourable senators, Gord Brown was such a good guy that even the opponents on the other hockey team loved him. He was so gentle and kind.
I got to know Gord when I first came here 14 and a half years ago. We didn’t meet here; we met on the hockey rink. We actually played together a number of times. We played against Queen’s Park and actually Conservatives and Liberals from the Hill here playing hockey. Gord was always the guy trying to make sure everybody was getting along. One hockey game between the Liberals, when I was part of that national caucus, and Conservatives, and with Prime Minister Harper behind the bench for the Conservatives, was a very — put it this way — “crusty” hockey game, with a lot of hard edges. You could see Gord in his manner. His manner was always, “Come on boys; let’s just keep it all together. We’re doing this because it’s about charity,” and so on and so forth. I also played hockey against Gord, but, if he ever hit you, it would be a very gentle, kind hit.
I also travelled with him with Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group. He built great relationships there.
But I want to tell you a story, honourable senators, that you may not know about Gord Brown. He and I worked together on a number of autism files. Can you imagine, going back to 2014, four years ago? There’s a little group near Gananoque, in a place called Maitland, and they had an autism awareness afternoon. I was surrounded by all kinds of Conservatives. I thought I would be nervous, but, with Gord in the room, you’re not nervous. You’re welcomed. It’s a comforting, family place to be. They were raising awareness for children with autism. There was a woman there by the name of Dee Gordon who had planned, in two months, in the month of January, to walk from Toronto to Ottawa, middle of winter, on behalf of her son Jacob. Gord recognized her right away and asked, “Where are you going to stay?” She said, “I’ll find a place to stay along the way or I’ll sleep in my truck.” Well, you know what Gord did, of course. Quietly and without telling anybody, he made sure that she had accommodation in every spot as she walked to Ottawa. That kind of quiet, gentle compassion was Gord Brown.
At that particular gathering that afternoon, we talked about the challenges of autism. Here’s what he said:
So many things had been happening, and so many things had been done, in dealing with autism and the challenges that these people face. We all hear about how negative things are in Ottawa, but this is an issue that parliamentarians of all stripes have come together for the good of the people facing these challenges.
He assured everyone that afternoon — I have a picture — that there’s a lot more to do, so we’re going to continue working on that. That afternoon, as we continued working with the Conservative government of the day and had a Canadian autism partnership built, Gord Brown was part of the work to make sure it worked with the autism community across the country.
Those lights went on those little trees that afternoon to raise awareness, and I don’t want the lights to turn off because of his passing. He wouldn’t want that.
I know he was still playing hockey. I’m still playing hockey. Sometimes I have a tendency to ask, “Should I stop?” I don’t think we should stop. I think we should keep on living for Gord Brown, his wife and his dear children.
In his memory, I want to say that he said, “There’s a lot more to do,” so we’re going to continue working on that. To Gord Brown, yes, we’re going to continue to work on that, and “that” is autism and any other compassionate group that is doing something good in this country.
Your Honour, I listened more than ever to your prayer this afternoon. There are words in that prayer that sum up who Gord Brown is. Thank you very much.