1st Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 149, Issue 181

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

The Honourable Robert Keith “Bob” Rae, P.C., O.C., O. Ont.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, Bob Rae, in his capacity as the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, wrote a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee:

I write to nominate Malala Yusafzai for the Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous work in support of equal rights of women.

A few months later, on February 13 of this year, he stood in the foyer of the House of Commons to call for action on the issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in my province, British Columbia.

Bob Rae spent his career, which spans 35 years in the House of Commons, at Queen’s Park in Toronto and in other public offices, in public life, advocating for the rights of the most vulnerable people in Canada and the world. He became a statesman in the truest sense of those words. He embraced the seriousness and urgency required in the face of human rights violations around the world, from Sri Lanka to the Middle East to Africa to here in Canada, but he never took himself too seriously. His quick wit is well-known.

Through his combination of commitment and good humour, Bob Rae earned the respect of Canadians from all walks of life. When the federal government appointed him to look into whether Ottawa should call a public inquiry over Air India, he recognized the need to engage with the community, to speak directly with the families of the victims. I clearly remember him coming to my Senate office and asking how we could make changes. For the first time, I felt that we Canadian Indians were going to have a voice in our country. He said publicly:

I want to listen to them. I want to hear them. I want to spend time with them. I want to work this through with them.

That was the approach that Mr. Rae took in working with his colleagues from all parties, with his constituents and with people in and around the world.

As the Canadian envoy to the Sudan, I asked him to help me in the Sudan. Everywhere I went in the Sudan, politicians said to me, “Give us Bob Rae, and we will find a way to get peace as he understands our challenges.”

His approach will serve him well in his role as chief negotiator for Matawa First Nations in talks with the Ontario government about the opening of their land to the Ring of Fire mineral development.

Bob, we are grateful for your dedication, leadership and example. You represent the best of Canadian politics. Your commitment to serving others has inspired us.

Honourable senators, please join me in congratulating Bob Rae on the legacy of compassion, caring and commitment to public service that he leaves here on Parliament Hill.


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