Tribute to the Honourable Terry Mercer

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Ottawa River, Gatineau and the Library of the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I didn’t think it would be this hard. It is a difficult task to sum up into words such a fulsome career as that of Senator Terry Mercer. His contributions over his life in politics to the people of Nova Scotia, and indeed to all Canadians through his work in this chamber, are numerous. I have known Terry for a very long time, and I have always appreciated his insights and, more importantly, his friendship. We will certainly miss his voice in our deliberations in this chamber, and what an unmistakable voice it is, but I am confident that he will continue his advocacy as he turns the page on this next chapter.

Senator Mercer was appointed to the Senate in 2003 by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. This appointment came after many years of involvement with the Liberal Party of Canada. He served as Director of Fundraising and National Director of the Liberal Party of Canada. I would have to say that Terry excels when engaging with people. He is what we would call a people person. This is particularly true when engaging with youth. There was no better example than his youth days on the Hill with Senator Munson. These events were a celebration of and for young people, and encouraged them to reach for their highest potential.

No one could accuse Terry of not knowing how to throw a good party, certainly not those of us for whom the annual Mercer Christmas party in his East Block office was a tradition not to be missed. Terry and his staff went above and beyond for these gatherings with plenty of food and live musicians. He always made sure there was a charitable connection too. Whether it was a monetary donation or a gift for those in need, the theme was giving, always giving. Terry is someone who just has a huge heart. I’m sure many of us have stories that highlight this admirable trait.

As Senator Munson wrote to me in reference to you, Terry, and to your retirement, and I’ll quote him, this is from Senator Munson:

Terry, you always brought people together and it didn’t matter to you who they were, or who they represented. Because it wasn’t about politics, it was about people. We lived and worked in a special environment — the Hill — and you understood intuitively, whether someone was working in a cafeteria, or a cleaner in one of our offices who was going home for the night, you stopped and made sure they were recognized.

Senator Mercer was instrumental when we first formed the Progressive Senate Group. As we were figuring out the direction of this new group, Terry took on — without hesitation — the role of caucus chair. When Senator Day retired from the Senate, it was Terry who approached me about leading our group. In fact, as I remember it, he asked me to be the leader saying Senator Dawson had agreed to be deputy leader with the stipulation that I would agree to be leader. Little did I know, Senator Dawson was informed that I would only be the leader if he came on as the deputy leader. It was a crafty ploy, but it worked.

Terry, as I bring my remarks to a close, I would like to personally thank you for your years of friendship. I want to thank you for all that you have contributed to this place, and I want to thank you for your years of service to Canadians. As you listen to the many tributes to you and your accomplishments — and they are many — it is certainly not the end of your story. I invite you to remember not what you are retiring from but what you are retiring to. You can now dedicate your time to your wife Ellen, your son Michael and daughter-in-law Lisa, and perhaps the two people most excited about time with grandpa, Ellie and Oliver.

Terry, I will miss that wonderful, distinctive voice in the chamber, and I will miss your passion for this job. But most of all, I will miss having you in the Progressive Senate Group. You make things exciting. Best wishes always, my friend.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


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