2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 59
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
The Late Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Phillips
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on January 20, I attended the memorial ceremony of Beth Phillips in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I would like to take a moment and share the story of her life with you.
For many years, Beth worked in the health industry organizing volunteers for the Winnipeg General Hospital. During her life, she served on the boards of the Canadian Red Cross, Manitoba Division; the Canadian Mental Health Association, Manitoba Division; the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg; the Kidney Foundation of Canada, Manitoba Branch; and the South Winnipeg Seniors Resource Council. She was also the founder of the Peter Pan Club of the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg.
Later in her life, Beth was an organizer for the Liberal Party and the head of the Liberal Women’s Commission for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
In 1993, I ran to become a member of Parliament in North Vancouver, and at the last minute, my campaign manager, whom Beth knew well, was given another opportunity. Beth, without hesitation, offered to be my campaign manager and uprooted herself from Winnipeg and came to stay with me in North Vancouver.
Some North Vancouver constituents at that time had a vision of what type of MP they wanted, and I did not fit that vision, so the constituents would call Beth. They would beat around the bush about my colour, origin, et cetera, and Beth, with a smile on her face, would tell them she was from Winnipeg and did not understand the insinuations. She would ask very innocent questions of them. Some would stop phoning, some she converted, and some were persistent. They would call and be forced to face their own prejudices. Through her patient questioning, I believe Beth made many North Vancouver constituents look within and examine their prejudices.
Those of you who knew Beth would remember her as someone who never gave up on the values of equality, tolerance and inclusion. You would also remember her as someone who put every ounce of effort into making other people’s lives better. Most of all, you would remember her as someone with a sense of humour that could brighten even the darkest days.
Honourable senators, Beth Phillips was an exceptional person who achieved great things well into her old age. She would often turn to me with a twinkle in her eye and smile and say, “Save yourself for your old age. It can be fun, you know.”
Beth, my friend, rest in peace. I know your spirit will always be with me.