The Late Honourable Ian Shugart, P.C.—Tribute

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today on behalf of the Progressive Senate Group to join other senators in paying tribute to the late Honourable Ian Shugart. It was only just over a year ago that we rose to welcome him to this place, and it still feels both surreal and unfair that we are now speaking of him in memoriam.

Upon his appointment as Clerk of the Privy Council, it was noted that he “. . . has rarely made headlines during his long tenure in government, and is a careful, thoughtful speaker.” Though he did indeed work admirably and quietly behind the scenes for most of his career, it was certainly headline news when we learned of his passing.

As a man who truly embodied what it means to be a public servant, the outpouring of tributes to him in the past week have had a definite theme, highlighting his devotion to service, his wit and wisdom and certainly his kindness and grace.

I would like to quote from one such tribute:

The fact that few knew that Ian Shugart was a regular gospel preacher in many Ottawa churches leads to a fitting way to describe the man. Ian rose to be the head of Canada’s public service, some 300-thousand people strong. He was a quick mind with steady judgement and an observer of character. He was cautious, wise, and thorough—a model public servant. . . . In the most straightforward way, he got to the heart of things. He had an eye for things that matter to the heart without losing sight of the job at hand.

Honourable colleagues, as we’ve already heard, back in June, we were treated to what seems like a fairly characteristic speech from Senator Shugart — his first and only intervention in this chamber. He chose his words and opportunity wisely, and I dare say he caught our attention and left a lasting impression.

He said:

Honourable senators, whether it is what we say to or about each other, or how we learn again to listen and dialogue with others who don’t share our outlook, or how we guard the health of our institutions — we need to relearn the virtue of restraint.

What a legacy Ian Shugart will have left in his short tenure here if we can all heed those words.

It is a tremendous shame that he did not get the chance to participate more fully in the Senate’s work — a loss we will certainly all feel deeply. Still, I am grateful for the short time that he spent in this chamber.

On behalf of the Progressive senators, I offer my sincere condolences to his wife, Linda; his children, Robin, James and Heather; and all the family and friends who feel this loss so deeply. May he rest in peace.

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