Jocelyne Duval

By: The Hon. Clément Gignac

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Hon. Clément Gignac: Honourable senators, on this very special day, I would like to pay tribute to a very special person whom I met for the first time 50 years ago on Valentine’s Day. As you may have guessed, it was my spouse, Jocelyne Duval, who is here in the gallery.

Thanks to my best friend and accomplice at the time, her brother Luc — who is still my best friend to this day — I was introduced to his sister Jocelyne during a snowmobiling weekend at their home in Rivière-à-Pierre. I immediately fell in love with this beautiful 15-year-old girl, who already looked as though she was 18 or 19 years old.

Cupid aimed his arrow, and she agreed to accompany me to my high school prom a few months later. I knew then that I had found the one. After dating for five years, we married, had three beautiful children and are now blessed with five grandchildren.

My wife, Jocelyne, has made a lot of sacrifices for me over the years. Right from the start, while I was still studying for my graduate degree, she was the one who paid for the furniture so that we could get an apartment. Then, since the universal child care program that we have today did not exist back then, she decided to leave the workforce to take care of the kids, so that I could pursue a career in the highly competitive banking sector.

My wife is the love of my life, my confidante and my most trusted adviser. She is involved in every important decision in my career. To paraphrase a well-known former Canadian Prime Minister, she’s the rock of Gibraltar in our relationship. She is a good listener with excellent judgment.

I remember when Premier Charest contacted me to invite me to join his team for a 2009 by-election. She wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of me jumping into politics, but she encouraged me to ask myself the following question, and it was the right one: When you’re 75, will you regret saying yes to Premier Charest, or saying no?

My wife supported my decision, even though it meant once again disrupting our family’s routine, given my busy and constantly changing schedule, not to mention having to develop a thicker skin as the wife of a politician, considering the not-so-nice comments that are sometimes directed at us.

I turned 65 at the beginning of the pandemic, and I started thinking about what I would like to do in the years to come. I didn’t feel ready to retire, but I was keen to move on to something else. I considered being a political commentator, a business reporter or a corporate director.

Over a nice dinner and glass of wine one Sunday evening, Jocelyne said to me, “Why not be a senator? The question came up again. I would have to apply, and she encouraged me to do so.

Thank you, Jocelyne, for your support, your encouragement and your invaluable advice over the years, and for the privilege of being at your side for 50 years.

In closing, honourable senators, please allow me, on Valentine’s Day, to once again recognize and thank my lovely and honourable wife, who is here with us today.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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