The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, P.C.—TributesPublished on 25 February 2015 Hansard and Statements by Senator Claudette Tardif (retired), Joan Fraser (retired), Joseph Day, Marie-P. Charette-Poulin (retired), Mobina Jaffer
Hon. Marie-P. Charette-Poulin:
Honourable senators, I rise today to join in paying tribute to our former colleague, the Honourable Noël Kinsella, who served in this chamber for almost a quarter of a century. He served with grace, dignity and a deep sense of commitment to public service.
I will remember the senator for many things. First and foremost, it will be for his strong defence of the regions. He understood this to be one of the more important duties that he needed to fulfill as a senator — as a senator representing New Brunswick. When he served as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, his hallmark was his respect for the rules and customs of our institution. I recall his remarks as always being thoughtful and insightful.
It is my view that it was during his time as Speaker that Senator Kinsella really made his mark. He displayed an outstanding capacity to adapt to different cultures, whether chairing an event in Canada attended by international guests or when leading a mission abroad, often speaking the language of the country where he was leading the mission.
Senator Kinsella was a gracious host, opening his chambers to Canadians as well as to visitors from beyond our borders, always eager to showcase the Senate.
Honourable senators, I’m sure that his background as a teacher and deputy minister enabled him to explain the Senate’s unique position and key role in parliamentary democracy to his many visitors.
Yes, colleagues, at his invitation, countless people have had the opportunity to come and learn what the Senate represents and what senators do.
Over and above all, a man of deep faith, Senator Kinsella has always been guided by his beliefs and his strong principles. There is no greater evidence of this than in his final act as a senator, symbolically retiring two days before his seventy-fifth birthday to show his life-long opposition to mandatory retirement: in Senator Kinsella’s words, “. . . to make a point that I’ve promoted personal choice in the matter of retirement.”
Senator Kinsella, I wish you and Ann all the very best in your post-Senate lives. Thank you for your friendship, your many kindnesses and your guidance.
Good luck, my friends!
Hon. Claudette Tardif:
Honourable senators, I am very pleased to say a few words in tribute to the Honourable Noël Kinsella, the former Speaker of the Senate, who retired on November 26.
I would like to congratulate you, Senator Kinsella, on your outstanding parliamentary career, during which you made your mark with dignity and honour as a senator and Speaker of the Senate.
In my role as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I observed that as you carried out your duties as Speaker of the Senate, you took care to ensure that procedures were followed correctly. You approached your duties in this seat of parliamentary democracy with honesty, thoroughness and wisdom. I especially appreciated your openness and willingness to listen.
You are no doubt aware, honourable colleagues, that the Honourable Noël Kinsella is a great diplomat who loyally defends the values and interests of our country. I had the honour of accompanying him on a few diplomatic missions, and I can attest to the sincere respect and attention he is given by the world’s senior leaders.
I would like to highlight in particular the Honourable Noël Kinsella’s commitment to and availability for activities involving the Canada-France Interparliamentary Association. I am grateful, Senator Kinsella, for the great interest that you always showed in Canada’s diplomatic relations with France and the development of the francophone community in our country and throughout the world. I sincerely thank you for your commitment and your support.
Senator Kinsella, you deserve our profound respect and gratitude. The Senate was enriched by your generous contributions, your dedication to serve our country, your wisdom and your knowledge. Senator Kinsella, I wish you a happy retirement, dedicating your time to activities that you enjoy in the company of your family and your lovely wife, Ann. My very best wishes for a happy retirement.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Joseph A. Day:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
I would like, first of all, to adopt all of the fine words of my fellow Saint Johner, Senator Wallace, in recognizing another fellow Saint Johner and a great Irishman, Senator Kinsella.
Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to the Honourable Noël Kinsella, the 46th Speaker of the Senate, and to profess my great respect for him.
Senator Kinsella was appointed to this chamber in 1990. I met him a few years following that in St. Andrews at a function that involved Senator Michael Meighen. He may recall my congratulating him at the time. I asked him how he enjoyed his time at the Senate. He said, “I love it. I’ll give you one piece of advice. If they offer it, accept.”
I took his advice and, a few years later, I found myself sitting on that side. Senator Kinsella was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, sitting on this side. I remember one of the debates when I first arrived that is probably very apropos to what’s going on now, but just reversed. He said, “One of the very important pieces of advice that I can give to this institution is that the majority must learn to use its majority powers sparingly.” He was talking about a very small group of Progressive Conservatives sitting on that side and a houseful of Liberals sitting over there. The words apply again, Mr. Speaker.
To be more precise, Senator Kinsella served as a member, chair and deputy chair of various Senate committees. He also served as the Opposition Whip, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition before becoming Speaker of the Senate.
However, honourable senators know that what matters is not how many positions one has filled, but how well one has served his fellow Canadians and the nation in those various positions. Ultimately, what counts is what one is doing to make tomorrow safer, fairer and more peaceful, or, in short, better. Senator Kinsella excelled in doing just that.
Like any good Speaker, Senator Kinsella conducted himself and his duties in this chamber in such a manner that removed any concern that partisanship might affect his responsibilities as the arbiter in this place. He was deliberate, clear and concise. No matter the debate being discussed in this chamber, no matter his political affiliation or views, Senator Kinsella stayed impartial because the rule of law should always be respected in order to protect our democratic values and our institutions. For this, Senator Kinsella is an example to follow.
Today, honourable senators, is Pink Shirt Day. For this occasion, everyone is encouraged to wear pink to express our determination to stop bullying in our schools, in society and online. What a beautiful coincidence that today we will also unveil the official portrait of the Honourable Noël Kinsella, a true advocate against bullying and for human rights.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Day: Senator Kinsella has been a professor for 41 years at St. Thomas University and, following his retirement, he has decided to return to academia. I know that his students are in good hands and that their lives will be enriched just as ours have been here in the Senate.
Senator Kinsella, through your work, you have honoured and will continue to honour those of us here in the Senate, those of us from the province of New Brunswick, and all of Canada.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:
Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to our colleague and dear friend, Speaker Kinsella.
Speaker Kinsella, my respect for your work, as well as on a personal level, is unparalleled. This chamber truly will miss your presence.
Speaker Kinsella has pushed the envelope for what could be done by one person, serving our country in many ways. We know of his long-serving commitment here in the Senate and the various other positions he held, as Chairperson of the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission for 22 years, President of the Human Rights Foundation, and the list goes on.
Speaker Kinsella used his work as a platform to excel the important task of strengthening our democracy. I want to share a story with you about Speaker Kinsella that looks more closely at him as an individual.
In 2009, the Aga Khan Foundation held a public viewing of the Quilt of Belonging. I want to share a few of the Speaker’s own words from this event.
The Quilt of Belonging is a remarkable achievement with 263 blocks representing all of Canada’s main First Nations groupings and every nation of the world. They are all a part of Canada’s complex social fabric, represented here in actual fabric. . . These parts and materials form a bold, integrated, and unified artwork to reflect a bold, integrated, and unified Canada.
Honourable senators, I believe this reflects the core of who Speaker Kinsella is — and this will remain his legacy — a man who focused on people, understands that every individual in our country belongs no matter how different or divergent they are.
All Canadians, from all walks of life, are held in a place very close to Speaker Kinsella’s heart. We have had the privilege to see him act on this sentiment throughout his career.
Speaker Kinsella’s commitment to human rights has personally served as inspiration and guidance for me. Looking at his remarkable work dedicated to human rights encourages me to keep doing the work that needs to be done. Not only has he advocated nationally for human rights, Speaker Kinsella has brought this work to the international stage, most notably when he helped take Sandra Lovelace v. Canada to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Many of us in this chamber have been inspired and humbled by Speaker Kinsella’s work. I believe we should be inspired by his motivations as well. He understands that in order for a diverse nation such as Canada to thrive, each person must find a way to link to the next — a common connection. Speaker Kinsella used this to guide his work.
I would be remiss if I did not, at this time, thank Mrs. Kinsella for her continuing presence around this chamber and also for the support of Mr. Kinsella. Your supporting him has made his work and his tasks lighter. We thank you for that support.
Much like the Quilt of Belonging, Speaker Kinsella, you have worked to connect the fragmented pieces of our country. This is what makes you an exceptional and genuinely just person. It has been a pleasure to serve Canada alongside you.
Speaker Kinsella, though you have left this chamber, your legacy remains strong and intact. We salute you and Mrs. Kinsella and your incomparable contribution to our institution and our nation. We thank you for your service. Canada is better for it.
An Hon. Senator: Hear, hear!
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, everything that has been said so far is deserved. There are a couple of points that I want to add, without repeating all the true and wonderful things that have been said.
First, I would like to pay homage to Senator Kinsella’s extraordinary grasp of the letter but, above all, the spirit of the rules of this place, the conventions that govern us and the authorities who have explicated them to us over the years. You need to have sat in this chair to understand what an extraordinary master of those elements of our life he was and probably still is.
One of the proudest moments I have had in the Senate was one day when Senator Kinsella gazed at me and said reflectively with a kindly smile that I showed “some promise of becoming one day a good deputy leader.”
The other thing I want to note is that this is a man who, on the poet’s phrase “walked with kings,” but he knew where he came from, he never forgot where he came from, and he took it with him wherever he went.
A few years ago Senator Nancy Ruth and I were on a mission Senator Kinsella led to the country of Colombia, where we met from the very highest, from the president on out, an absolutely exhausting array of people. I was taken aback to discover that in the middle of this extraordinary agenda, there was quite a long meeting concerned with the production of potatoes. I was informed that wherever Senator Kinsella went, he made sure that he learned about the local potato business because he knew where he came from.
A little later in the same visit, we were in Cartagena, an extraordinarily interesting port, meeting all kinds of people involved with the navy and shipping. I remember he was wearing his naval uniform at one point, and every single time, Senator Kinsella would find a map in order to explain to the people of Colombia how the Port of St. John was the natural centre of the maritime universe.
He served the Senate so well, but he served New Brunswick well, too. I wanted to put that on the record.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!