Mamadosewin (meeting place, walking together)

The Honourable Mauril Bélanger

The Honourable Mauril Bélanger

The Honourable Mauril Bélanger

The Honourable Mauril Bélanger

Published on 9 March 2016 Hansard and Statements by Senator Jim Munson

Hon. Jim Munson:

Your Honour, I don’t have any notes because it’s too emotional to sit down and write notes on what I’m going to speak about.

Moments ago in the other house, and in the Hall of Honour, I witnessed history in watching our colleague from the House of Commons, Member of Parliament Mauril Bélanger, walking with the crowds four deep on either side, cheering him as he used his walker to walk into the House of Commons to be the honorary Speaker.

Honourable senators, Mauril Bélanger is a great friend of ours and he’s my friend. I wanted to stand here for a couple of minutes to talk about his strength, determination, bravery and how he lives in the moment with ALS. He is living the moment.

Senator Andreychuk and I, along with other colleagues from the house, were in Africa last week. We went to South Africa. We went to Namibia. That’s 20,000 miles to and from here. Mauril Bélanger, along with Senator Andreychuk, is cofounder of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association. He was determined to go — a man who can’t speak, but he has his own voice. To see him walking through Heathrow Airport and to see him flying from Ottawa to Heathrow, to Johannesburg, to Windhoek, Namibia, to Cape Town, to Johannesburg, to Heathrow and then back here — can you imagine that? When you sometimes feel upset about something, watch this man with his incredible bravery, determination and courage carry out his daily duties as a parliamentarian. He is Member of Parliament for Ottawa—Vanier and it is his constituents that matter the most to him. There are a lot of new African Canadians who live in Vanier, right here, next door to the house that we live in.

I want to reflect on a gentleman who has still so much work to do. He’s still full of hope. That’s what he has, because that’s what you have to have.

If you stop for a moment tonight and you’re watching the news and you see this courageous figure walking through the Hall of Honour, mark my words, it will be a moment you won’t forget. It’s a moment I won’t forget.

I would like to say so much more. He is a fighter for minority rights in Ontario. He is a proud Franco-Ontarian. He was a minister. He fought for co-ops. And, guess what: He would have been Speaker. Today, as I speak here, he is the Speaker in the other chamber. I applaud him, and I wish you would do the same thing.

Thank you very much.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!