Tribute to the Late Honourable Joseph A. Day

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Centennial flame, Ottawa

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it has been said:

Every run is a work of art, a drawing on each day’s canvas. Some runs are shouts and some runs are whispers. Some runs are eulogies and others celebrations.

This quote of Dagny Scott Barrios sums up well a runner’s attitude to running, but seems an apt metaphor for life too, particularly the life of my dear friend — and an avid runner — former senator Joe Day. Former Senator Day passed away last week, on May 27, leaving to mourn his wife, Georgie, his children and his grandchildren, plus the many friends he made during his lifetime. If Joe met you, you became a friend.

Honourable senators, Joe loved — and I truly mean loved — being in the Senate. During his time in this place, Joe spent more than a decade as Chair or Deputy Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. His attention to detail was second to none. He gave every bill its proper scrutiny, and on more than one occasion caught errors or inconsistencies, both large and small. And Joe didn’t care whether it was a Liberal budget or a Conservative budget — if there was an error, he found it.

Former Senator Day facilitated and oversaw the formation of the Progressive Senate Group and the continued evolution of the Senate. I had him to look to when I took on the role of leader, and I value deeply the model for leadership that he set forth.

Joe was a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada with a degree in electrical engineering. He went on to graduate from Queen’s University with a Bachelor of Law degree and then earned a Master of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall. He worked in the field of intellectual property, and during his time in the Senate, he volunteered with the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, often hosting events on Parliament Hill. On his last day in office, he walked to the institute to donate a framed patent from 1855. That’s the kind of guy he was.

Honourable senators, cross-country and track and field coach Rod DeHaven said, “I’ve learned that it’s what you do with the miles, rather than how many you’ve run.”

Our friend Joe made the most of his miles. He loved life, and those who knew him know that he had a great sense of humour and a wonderful laugh. He adored his wife and partner, Georgie, his children, Emilie and Fraser and his four grandchildren. Bob and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and many friends.

Honourable senators, it was truly an honour to work with Joe. He will be missed by so many. Thank you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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