The Honourable Murray Sinclair: Tribute from Senator Klyne

Par: L'hon. Marty Klyne

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Hon. Marty Klyne: Honourable senators, I rise in tribute to the great Senator Murray Sinclair. Our friend has now retired to mentor Indigenous lawyers, write a memoir and maybe a book of stories told by him to his granddaughter, and to avoid becoming Governor General.

Murray’s national legacy is well-known. One of Canada’s most respected Indigenous leaders, an admired jurist and a fearless champion for residential school survivors. He is a hero to most Canadians for bringing truth to our history and showing us the path to reconciliation and a better country for everyone. His work outside this Senate is greatly appreciated, well recognized and well documented for generations to come.

I will focus on Murray’s legacy in this chamber. Personally, I will cherish the memory of Murray escorting me into my swearing and the inspiration I gained from observing his approach to his work. I will not be alone in acknowledging Murray’s gift for validating the presence and importance of others. He draws you into the circle, he listens to everyone before he speaks. His words carry weight and often command a pause in the discussion. It sort of reminds me of the 1970s TV commercial, when the restaurant goes silent to hear a stock tip, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

Murray achieved an impressive legislative record. He sponsored Bill C-51 requiring Charter compliance statements for all government bills; Bill C-75 to overhaul the Criminal Code, including banning peremptory jury judges following the death of Colten Boushie; as well as Bill C-91, to protect and revitalize Indigenous languages. He sponsored Bill C-262, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, laying the foundation for government Bill C-15. Murray called the introduction of that legislation “a historic milestone on the path to reconciliation.”

Murray also has a legacy of groundbreaking advocacy for the natural world, establishing laws to protect whales and dolphins from captivity. Last year, he authored the Jane Goodall act. I am deeply honoured to take on the sponsorship of that bill and ask for your help in speaking for the best interests of animals. In addition, Murray always spoke for children, working to repeal the law that authorizes the use of corporal punishment on kids, and helping restore Indigenous jurisdictions over child and family services.

My colleagues have referenced his Ojibway name, which means “the one who speaks of pictures in the sky.” It is fitting, then, that he gives us a vision for Senate reform, seeing this place as the council of elders we will become. Murray, as you enjoy your retirement with your family and the time to pursue passions, I bid you all the very best and say thank you, meegwetch.

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