Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, I, too, would like to all too briefly pay tribute to the Honourable Jean Lapointe, an important figure in Quebec, known for his songs and for his great talent as a composer, comedian, impersonator and actor.
Though he is dead, he will continue to live on in the hearts and minds of Quebecers through the lasting memories he created and his remarkable philanthropic institution, La Maison Jean Lapointe, which, for 40 years, has been helping men and women escape the clutches of alcoholism as he did himself.
He joined this chamber rather unexpectedly in 2001 and held the position for nine years as “a Liberal in quotation marks,” as he was fond of saying. He never liked political posturing in the Senate and he was not shy about speaking out about the ways time was being wasted, something that still happens all too often today.
As Senator Saint-Germain pointed out, in his maiden speech in the Senate, Senator Lapointe proposed to reduce the time spent on the “tributes occasioned by deaths,” which he described as interminably long. Mr. Lapointe, wherever you are today, we’re listening to you and we allocated only 15 minutes to your tributes when you deserve hours of them.
Even though politics made him “unhappy” and “disappointed,” in 2022, he still saw the Senate as “the guardian angel of the people, of minorities and of the poor.”
He arrived in Ottawa a declared and staunch federalist, and said shortly after his retirement that he understood the realty of the two solitudes, saying about Quebecers, and I quote, “We don’t think the same way, we’re not made the same way.”
In an interview with Patrice Roy from CBC television a few months ago, he said, “One day or another, Quebec will be independent. That’s my wish.”
Those who worked with him unanimously describe him as spirited and tormented, but very compassionate. He sung to Quebecers about things they could relate to.
To his daughter Anne Elizabeth, to his son, Jean-Marie, and to the other members of the Lapointe family, I offer my deepest condolences on the passing of one of our greats.