Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 61

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

The Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, P.C., C.C., O.M.

Congratulations on Receiving Order of Merit

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, today I rise to speak about an outstanding Canadian, a dedicated public servant and a respected world leader, the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien, and the great honour bestowed upon him. Yesterday, our former prime minister was officially decorated with the Order of Merit at Buckingham Palace in London by Queen Elizabeth II, making him the twenty-fourth member of the order. This is a special honour not only for him, but for all Canadians.

In 1902, King Edward VII established the Order of Merit to honour “those individuals of exceptional distinction in the arts, learning, the sciences and public service.” Members of the Order of Merit are not appointed on the advice of any government or minister; rather, these appointments are made as the Queen’s personal gift.

As an active member of the Liberal Party of Canada for many years, my relationship with Mr. Chrétien is very long. He opened up the Liberal Party to Canadians from all walks of life. He made it possible for my family and I to play many roles in the party, and yet he went further — with the help of Senator Mercer — to ensure that a diversity of people worked for the party and for Canadian institutions.

Today, honourable senators, we know the gender balance of the Senate is much improved because of the many women Mr. Chrétien appointed to this chamber. With the valuable support and advice of his wife Aline, he furthered the dreams of the Famous Five, who have recently been honoured by us.

Mr. Chrétien was also aware that there existed a common evil that haunted humanity equally. He believed that members of Parliament needed to possess these preoccupations in common in order to ensure the world would be a better place in the future. Today, he works in many countries around the world, including my country of origin, Uganda, to improve the lives of the people in these places.

Mr. Chrétien has great respect for this institution of Parliament and urged that its members respect each other the very same, despite their differences.

In his final speech to the House of Commons, he noted:

We try too much to attach the personalities and so on about everything and small things. I urge all members of Parliament not to fall into the trap that sells newspapers, but destroys the institution.

Honourable senators, though I could stand before you today and recite all the milestones Mr. Chrétien has achieved throughout his career, I feel the best way to honour him is to celebrate his passion for the welfare of Canadians and the institution of Parliament.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.