Speeches | Tribute to The Late Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker of the Senate

29 April 2015

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Colleagues, the very moving statements today have captured the great respect that Speaker Nolin earned so well and so richly deserved. I would simply like to underline my respect for him as well, first with a story.

Several months ago, I rose to present a Senator's Statement. I started within the non-provocative, non-political frame for these kinds of statements but, of course, quickly crossed that line, and Senator Nolin saw that. He could have stood and made something of it, but, instead, he subtly caught my attention and, as I looked over, he cocked his head to one side, smiled wryly and pumped his hand up and down a couple of times to tell me to tone it down. I quickly summarized and sat down immediately after that.

What that says to me is that rather than drawing attention at that moment, he showed his respectful approach, why he was so effective in managing debate and how he did it with such great grace in this place.

I know we've all thought about him so much these last number of days, and as I thought about him and tried to find the words to capture what he meant to me, I kept coming up with a single idea — very powerful to me — and that is that he was an elegant person. He was an elegant person in every way you can imagine: He was kind, courageous, just and fair. He was respectful of others, this institution and of all Canadians. And he carried all of that with immense dignity.

Senator Nolin consistently embodied what this institution is at its very best. He raised our game every time he stepped into this institution and every time he spoke, and he reflected it in everything that he did in his comportment and in his comments.

I feel extremely privileged. I think I probably speak for all of us when I say that I feel extremely lucky to have had the years that I had with him — to listen, to watch and to be inspired by Senator Nolin.

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