Tribute to the Honourable David Tkachuk

By: The Hon. Dennis Dawson

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Hon. Dennis Dawson:

When I arrived here 15 years ago, David told me, “Dennis, if you’re patient, one day you’ll make it to the front row.” By the time I made it, which is today, my front row is in the second position. But I was patient, David. I am here.

I plead guilty to my colleagues in my progressive caucus that we always got along even though we didn’t always agree.

When I was asked to volunteer, I said I’d consult my colleagues to see if they had anything nice to say about David. As you can see, that’s a resumé of what happened. I’m not going to read the emails they sent me, Your Honour, because you will call me in line.

I consulted a list of 50 other Liberals who sat with you to show that your partisanship did rub them the wrong way. None of them had very nice things to say about you. But yesterday my leader told me to have a little bit of humour. He told the two new senators, “Have some humour while you’re here.” I’m trying to have it, David.

After consulting my caucus, I asked Siri, Google and Alexa, “What about Tkachuk?” Still not a good source, David. They had things about Liberals being run over and things like that.

So I had to go back to my own experience with you. Also, as dean, which maybe one day I’ll be because I’ve been here a long time, I hope that somebody is going to have something nice to say about me. But in my case, the speeches will probably be shorter.

I must say, we did a lot of work together. I’m a little bit like those who sat with David. When I arrived here, I started sitting with David on the Transport Committee. We shared the chairmanship of that committee over the years. We didn’t always get along, but we did some marvellous work on studies.

We did a serious study on containers. We travelled to the North, we went to Halifax and we presented a very progressive report.

We did another one later on the management and governance of airports, which I was quite proud of having worked on with David — again, not always agreeing but always being sure that this is our commitment.

Obviously, some people say sometimes he goes too far. Comments have been made. We had the experience on Bill C-69 and on the shipping bill on the coast of B.C., where you didn’t enlarge your fan club.

Senator Tkachuk: Bill C-48.

Senator Dawson: Bill C-48. You didn’t enlarge your fan club, but on Bill C-49, you chaired and we had the bill on transport. It was one of the first bills that was sent back to the house repeatedly to get amendments passed. You did it successfully with the cooperation of senators on both sides. But you always did it — yes, with a bit of success sometimes — with commitment to your province. Bill C-69 and Bill C-48 were good examples.

Senator Tkachuk was talking on behalf of his province. I didn’t agree with him and I thought he was wrong, but I encourage everyone here to have that same commitment. It might not make you friends — it might make you a few enemies — but at least you will be respected. David, when I leave here, I hope that I will have the same respect for what I did as I have respect for what you did while you were here.

He’s like Frank Sinatra, he did it his way. I’m not recommending this to everyone else. This place would obviously be very different if everybody was a David Tkachuk. There is only one David Tkachuk, and he is leaving. David, I want to thank you for being a cooperative senator with me. I consider you a friend.

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