Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about our dearly departed colleague and friend Senator Gustafson, who was a farmer, a businessman and a Tory — and a proud one at that.
First elected to the other place in 1979, he went on to be re‑elected three times, until his appointment to the Senate in 1993. His service to this country was also recognized by his appointment to the Privy Council in 2009, an honour bestowed upon the few and the worthy.
When you are appointed to the Senate, there is a steep learning curve, as many of you know. Back then, there were two caucuses, and Len and I were on opposite sides of the chamber.
It was in committee, though, where those divisions were less pronounced. Len and I still played for different teams, but I saw him as a coach, with me as the rookie, especially on the Agriculture Committee. I knew nothing about agriculture. For a city boy from North End Halifax to serve on the Agriculture Committee, it was an even steeper learning curve than for most. I do not think that Senator Gustafson knew then just how much I was paying attention to him, the only farmer on the committee at the time.
I and many others learned a lot from Len, and we are all the better for it. He was a great teacher and a steadfast mentor. His passion for farming, his home province of Saskatchewan and the country were on display every day.
Honourable senators, my condolences go to his spouse of 70 years, Alice, their children, grandchildren, great‑grandchildren and all his family and friends. May he rest in peace.