Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 148, Issue 130

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

The Late Honourable John Lynch-Staunton


Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, as we near the end of the year and Christmastime celebrations, we remember and thank people who played an important role in our lives. Today, I want to thank Senator Lynch-Staunton.

Honourable senators, we lost a strong leader and defender of democracy last summer, our former colleague the Honourable John Lynch-Staunton. Senator Lynch-Staunton served Canadians in public office for more than 30 years, including as a city councillor in Montreal from 1960 to 1974, as a senator from 1990 to 2005 and as a municipal councillor in Stanstead, Quebec, from 2009.

I rise today to acknowledge Senator John Lynch-Staunton. When I arrived in the Senate almost 11 years ago, he and I came from different backgrounds. From time to time, we had the opportunity to discuss our different points of view. I have to admit today that we were rarely able to convince the other of our argument, but I always valued those frank discussions. One year, Speaker Dan Hays invited Senator Lynch-Staunton and me to accompany him to Bhopal, India. Before the trip, I gave all of my colleagues a copy of a book written by Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro called Five Past Midnight in Bhopal. The book sets out the events of December 3, 1984, when a terrifying cloud of toxic gas escaped from an American pesticide plant in the heart of Bhopal, killing between 16,000 and 30,000 people and injuring 500,000 more. When we arrived in Bhopal, I was delighted to discover that Senator Lynch-Staunton had actually read the book. We both attempted to go to see the places where the affected people were living. We encountered a lot of resistance from the Indian government, but, due to Senator Lynch-Staunton’s persistence, we were able to visit one evening with the people who had suffered as a result of this terrible tragedy. We visited a number of places and spoke with many people, and I saw another side of Senator Lynch-Staunton, one that only made me admire him more.

Today, honourable senators, I want to reach out to his wife, his five children and his nine grandchildren. I want to let them know that Senator Lynch-Staunton holds a special place in Canadians’ hearts and minds, especially my own. Although we came from different backgrounds and had different opinions, we were able to reach out to one another to find common ground and work together to serve as senators. Senator Lynch-Staunton taught me that you do not have to be partisan on issues that affect humanity. We can always find a way to work together. It is a lesson I will never forget.