End of spring session remarks

By: The Hon. Peter Harder

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Hon. Peter Harder: Honourable senators, I hope that you all appreciate how strange this is for me. I look around, and I’m reminded of the Vinyl Café line: “We May Not Be Big But We’re Small.”

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the Progressive Senators Group and our leader Senator Jane Cordy. Many of this group have not been able to participate because of COVID restrictions, but on behalf of everyone in the group, I want to take the opportunity to thank those here and those who are watching.

The last six months have been a great disruption in our personal and our professional lives, and the way in which we work and play. I have a list of specific groups in the Senate that I would like to thank. As I looked at the list and went through it, I thought that every one of these groups and individuals in them have had their workplaces changed as a result of COVID-19 — how they do their work, and how they’re supporting and undertaking new work to keep us safe and to allow us to conduct the work that we are doing in new, different and innovative ways.

Think of the Table Officers, the Black Rod, the clerks, the committee directorates, the pages, the interpreters, the stenographers, Information Services, Parliamentary Protective Services, client services, and the custodial staff — whom I’m sure have wiped these desks more in the last six months than the last seven years — the Senate Administration and the support staff in our offices. The work that is necessary for us to continue has adapted, and we should all be grateful for that.

I’d like to thank the leadership. If you don’t mind, I’d like to especially thank the Government Representative Office. I know something of the job, and I admire how you have conducted yourselves. I’m grateful for the professionalism, the good humour and the wonderful company that you are. I’m particularly glad that I’m not there.

I’d like to thank the other leaders. Listening to a different perspective doesn’t always change my mind, but it is appreciated that the leadership in this place is dedicated to the well-being of the Senate, and that the collaboration we see happening is very much appreciated by all senators.

I would like to end with a few comments in accordance with some comments that were made earlier. Senator Cormier, in his statement at the beginning of this session, referenced the soon-to-depart Senator Lillian Dyck. Senator Woo did so similarly. That is a major loss for the Senate. Senator Dyck, as chair of the Aboriginal Affairs Committee as well as in her work outside of the committee, has been a senator of great distinction, and she will be retiring in the course of the summer. That is a significant loss for the PSG. In fact, it risks the well-being and the continuity of the Progressive Senators Group. This is not my opportunity to do a sales pitch, of course, but I was delighted to hear the positive references for the creation of the group, and I leave it to you to allow that to continue.

Finally, Your Honour, I want to thank you for your ongoing friendship, your wisdom and your ability to see through the arguments that are presented to you and come out with the best judgment available. That is consistent, it is welcomed and it is necessary in a chamber like this.

I wish you all a safe respite from this place. I know your work and dedication to your tasks will continue. I hope that when we meet in September, whatever the disruption of the time might be, that we continue to keep in mind that the purpose behind why we’re here is to serve Canadians and make this institution of Parliament even more effective than it has been. Thank you.

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