The Late John Gomery, Q.C.

By: The Hon. Pierre Dalphond

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Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, I, too, would like to pay tribute to my former colleague on the Superior Court of Quebec, the Honourable John Gomery.

Tuesday night of last week, after having received medical assistance in dying, his daughter Elizabeth posted on Twitter:

He was a giant, an extraordinary man and a superb father and my heart and whole body aches now that he’s gone.

That news saddened me, along with many Canadians who feel the loss of this giant.

I met John for the first time in May 1995, at the ceremony where his wife, the Honourable Pierrette Rayle, and I were sworn in as justices of the Superior Court of Quebec in Montreal. By then, John had been sitting on the bench for 13 years. He was already a leading voice in family law as well as commercial cases.

Over the years, I discovered a charming, witty and bright jurist, and a true gentleman farmer.

In the late 1990s, he opted to become a supernumerary judge, which is normally a sign that an experienced judge wants to slow down. John, however, saw it as an opportunity to take on a new challenge and become President of the Copyright Board of Canada here in Ottawa, which enabled him to make his mark in a new area of law.

Then, in February 2004, at the age of 71, having only barely recovered from leukemia, he agreed to take on one last challenge by heading up the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities of the Government of Canada. It was the role that made him a household name.

Throughout the 10-month-long hearings, he created lasting images with his testy exchanges with prominent politicians, business people and backroom figures who were, until then, unknown. Canadians appreciated his candour and occasional fire.

Canadian democracy is stronger today because he helped establish guidelines regarding what politicians are and are not allowed to do. He alerted us to the potential pitfalls.

On behalf of Canadians, I offer our condolences and thanks to his wife, my friend, the Honourable Pierrette Rayle, and to his children, Geoffrey, Cymry, Sally and Elizabeth. Thank you. Meegwetch.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

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