Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable colleagues, it is with great sadness that I rise today to pay tribute to our friend and former senator, the Honourable Pierre De Bané. His passing on January 9 has caused all of us, and all Canadians, to suffer an irretrievable loss. He was an unparalleled public servant who spoke his mind in Parliament for 45 years.
A refugee to this country, he was a passionate optimist about the future of Canada and what her people could accomplish. His career as a politician was motivated by a personal obligation to help others. He would often say that, as an outsider, he was grateful to Canada for welcoming him here, and that gratitude gave rise to a sincere sense of obligation to his fellow Canadians.
He became the first Member of Parliament of Arab descent in 1968 when he was elected in the riding of Matane, Quebec. During the parliamentary recesses of that first term, he hitched his trailer to his car and travelled across his riding, visiting every village and listening to his constituents. His hard work was rewarded with re-election in four subsequent elections.
Our former colleague served in the cabinet of Pierre Elliott Trudeau as Minister of Supplies and Services, Minister for the Department of Regional Economic Expansion and Minister of State (External Relations). He also served as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, where he was instrumental in establishing l’Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, one of the world’s major francophone marine science centres, with over 300 people working in 70 laboratories and aboard Canadian Coast Guard vessels.
In 1984 he was called to this chamber where he served with the same principles that had served him so well in the other place. Over the next three decades, he remained true to his beliefs and never wavered on his principled approach to public service.
Honourable senators, Pierre loved hard work, cultural nuances and celebrating the achievements of everyone he met. He was a friend to all, because he believed that every human being has intrinsic dignity. For that, we will never forget him.
On behalf of the independent Senate Liberals, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to his wife Élisabeth, his son Jean-Manuel, and all his family and friends.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!