Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to my dear friend Senator Jim Munson on his impending retirement. Jim and I were both appointed in late 2003 but were sworn into the Senate together on February 2, 2004. We were, in fact, seatmates until he was elevated to the position of whip in the leadership of another caucus we belonged to way back when.
There have been some ups and downs, but throughout it all, Jim was a constant guide and a trusted friend. I will miss him here in this place.
Born in New Brunswick, he started his career in radio at CJLS in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Jim tells the story that one day the station manager gave him a list of small businesses in downtown Yarmouth and told him he had to go collect payments for advertising that they had on the radio. Once he collected the money, the boss said, “Okay, that’s your pay.” It is only a story that could happen in small-town Eastern Canada.
We all know that he went on to bigger things, as the ever-intrepid national and international journalist and then as Prime Minister Chrétien’s director of communications. However, what I will most remember is his love of children. Senator Munson has been a champion for many issues affecting children, like his dedicated work on autism in Canada and around the world.
We were asked by former senator Landon Pearson to take over National Child Day, which we did for many years. This event saw hundreds of school children attend the Senate of Canada every year. They were entertained by singers, dancers and spoken-word artists. Most of you will not know this, but at one event, we had the group Barenaked Ladies play on the Senate floor. We had the band set up in front of the Speaker’s chair. National Child Day was one of Jim’s favourite days of the year.
Thank you, Senator Jim Munson, for your dedication to Canadians and your friendship to all.
That dedication will continue, because it was recently announced that Jim will be executive-in-residence at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria and special adviser for the Victoria Forum. Congratulations on that, Jim.
To his partner Ginette and his sons, Claude and James, I hope you can keep Jim busy in his spare time by playing hockey — he always gave a detailed report of his actions on the ice — being the shortest guy on the basketball team, skating on the canal or cycling.
We all hope you get to enjoy some time in your native province of New Brunswick. As you say, Jim: There’s no shore like the north shore, that’s for sure.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.