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The Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck, B.Comm., B.Ed. Senator Catherine S. Callbeck was the first woman in Canada to be elected as Premier and was named as one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2006. Appointed to the Senate on September 23, 1997, she represents the province of Prince Edward Island.

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The Honourable Jean Lapointe, O.C.

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Statement made on 30 November 2010 by Senator Jean Lapointe (retired)

Hon. Jean Lapointe:

Your Honour, honourable senators, I feel like a firefighter right now; a firefighter with tears in his eyes.

I will be brief; I do not want to name all the senators I love here, but I do want to acknowledge you, Your Honour, for accomplishing a miracle. In such a short time you have learned French and you have given me many chances. I am not a fool; when I was the last to want to speak and I was not supposed to, you still let me speak.

I would like to apologize to my adversaries for times when I spoke before thinking. I never meant any harm. I did not come here to fight; I came here to try to bring a little peace.

I would like to thank Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette in particular, who guided me through all my years in the Senate. Before making a mistake, I would go to her to suggest what I wanted to say. She would say, "Be quiet!" I would say, "Okay."

I would like to thank Senator Francis Fox, who not only was another guide for me, but who has also been involved in La Maison Jean Lapointe Foundation, youth centres and so on. For the past few years, La Maison Jean Lapointe has been addressing another addiction: gambling. I am proud to say that my daughter, Anne Élizabeth, is the director of educational programs there. She is doing a great job, and is well-liked and admired by her co-workers.

I would like to thank Senator Paul Massicotte, who really helped me get through a difficult period. I would also like to thank Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, a Conservative senator who always supported my efforts on video lottery terminals, in spite of everything. He is someone I like very much and a very respectable lawyer.

I would like to thank one of the greatest senators I have ever met here, Senator George Furey, who has always done, and continues to do, remarkable work.

Of course, I would like to thank the singing senators, Senator Rompkey and Senator Ringuette. We had the pleasure of singing, and I believe we honoured this place by doing so.

I would like to thank Francine Charron, my executive assistant, as well as Pascal Charron, my political advisor, who helped me so much on the video lottery file.

Senator Andrée Champagne referred earlier to my absences. I must say, I was very ill for three years. I can hardly blame him, but my doctor signed a medical certificate to justify my absence from the Senate for an indefinite period. It was my friend Céline Hervieux-Payette who said, "Do not stay at home; you will only get more depressed. Come to the Senate; we love you and we will help you." I appreciate her honesty. I was often absent. I sat at the end of the row, where I had asked to sit because I often felt ill and had to leave the chamber. Nevertheless, I listened to the debates in my office and when there was a vote, I would come down.

I would like to thank the Senate staff. When I first arrived here, I was so overcome by the beauty of the Senate that I asked myself, "What am I doing here?"

I cannot help but feel emotional as I thank my dear friend, Viola Léger. After my tour with Les Jérolas and the film I am currently working on, and God willing, if we are still healthy, I truly hope will all my heart that we will one day find ourselves together on the same stage.

In closing, I would like to thank the members of my family and all those who came some distance to attend the tributes today, among others, my beloved agent.

To all of you and to everyone here, no matter which party you belong to — because I am a Liberal in quotation marks. I did not always vote with the party line. I do not remember ever voting Conservative, except maybe once. It was a youthful indiscretion, something that happens to everyone! — from the first to the last, I truly thank you. I will never forget — I see my friend Demers looking at me. He is very dear to me — the time that I spent in the Senate. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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