Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I am truly delighted to join the other leaders today in welcoming our newest senator, a fellow Cape Bretoner and someone I have had the pleasure of working with for a number of years in service of Nova Scotians.
Senator Cuzner — that’s going to take a while to get used to, but I love it — on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, it’s wonderful to see your public service continue as we welcome you to the upper chamber.
I think we all know about Senator Cuzner’s long career as a member of Parliament, and I thank Senator Gold for putting those highlights on the record. I daresay we also all know he’s a fierce partisan — that is, for his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. But we’ll forgive him for that as the team has caused him to suffer long enough. But maybe this year will be different, Rodger — hope springs eternal.
Senator Cuzner may be best known for his sense of humour, quick wit and good-natured demeanour. As others have said, his colleagues in the other place certainly felt that way, twice voting him the most collegial MP. I have no doubt that you will earn a similar reputation here.
In your farewell speech in the other place, you certainly demonstrated your ability to tell a great story — in fact, you shared several. You reminded your colleagues, “I took my responsibilities seriously but I never took myself seriously.” With that in mind, I will do my best to retell one of my favourite stories: a tale of rescue.
This story takes place back in 2009. Two Nova Scotian MPs, who were also roommates, were on their way home on a Wednesday night when they spotted something unusual. Was it a dog? No. It was a beaver, standing on its hind legs, in the middle of Sparks Street. Obviously, Senator Cuzner and Mark Eyking couldn’t abandon this great symbol of our country, so when they couldn’t get help from emergency services, they decided to tackle this challenge on their own.
It took about an hour of careful wrangling, and holding up traffic, but they finally succeeded in returning the poor beaver to the Ottawa River. Not unlike anyone else who has spent quality time with these two gentlemen, the beaver was reluctant to leave his new friends. But with a final slap of his tail on the water, away he went. I love this story because not only does it make me laugh every time I think of these two trying to coax a beaver to follow them in downtown Ottawa, but I also feel like it describes Senator Cuzner perfectly: always ready to lend a hand, eager to find solutions and able to get along with even the wildest of creatures.
Senator Cuzner, if you’ll forgive me, I’d like to quote you one more time. You once said:
. . . I measure success by how you can improve the lot of Canadians. When we all get together and try to do the right thing, then that’s possible.
Rodger, you have made a career out of working to improve the lot of Canadians, particularly Nova Scotians who are lucky, indeed, to have you continue to work in their service in this new role.
On behalf of the Progressive Senate Group, it’s my pleasure to officially welcome you to the Senate of Canada. We look forward to working with you, Senator Cuzner.