Statement made on 13 June 2012 by Senator Claudette Tardif, Senator Maria Chaput, Senator Marie-P. Poulin (Charette), Senator Jim Munson, Senator David Smith, Senator Joan Fraser, Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, Senator Mobina Jaffer, Senator Pierre De Bané and Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool (retired)
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, it is with some emotion that I speak today to pay tribute to our dear colleague and friend, the Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, on the occasion of the end of her outstanding career in the Senate.
Senator Losier-Cool is a remarkable, great and proud Acadian woman who is caring and smart. She is a highly regarded colleague who deserves our respect and our deep gratitude. This great parliamentarian has a deep sense of fairness and humanity, and her accomplishments and innovative ideas have enriched our institution.
Senator Losier-Cool was appointed to the Senate by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien in 1995 and served as the very first female Government Whip from 2004 to 2006, and as Speaker pro tempore of the Senate from 1999 to 2002 and from 2005 to 2010, with much diplomacy and diligence.
She sat on the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, the Standing Committee of Selection, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Standing Committee on Human Rights.
Senator Losier-Cool is a deeply committed woman who courageously defended the causes that are dear to her heart, such as advancing education in French, eliminating poverty in our country, developing bilingualism and achieving better representation of women in all spheres of our society.
I am especially touched, Rose-Marie, by your generous contribution to the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages. You have been a member of the committee since you were appointed to the Senate 17 years ago. As a Franco-Albertan, I sincerely thank you for your invaluable contribution, your conviction and your strong commitment to advancing the language rights of official language minority communities.
Dear Rose-Marie, your career in the Senate is coming to an end. The scope of your actions and your involvement in the Network of Women Parliamentarians of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, among other organizations, have contributed greatly to raising the profile of the Senate, not only here in Canada, but elsewhere in the world. You continue to inspire us all. Through your contribution to our democratic institutions you are leaving a remarkable legacy for generations to come.
Dear Rose-Marie, I wish you much happiness and good health in this next phase of your life and many wonderful years shared with your loved ones.
Hon. Maria Chaput:
Honourable senators, I would like to pay tribute today to an honourable senator, a woman for whom I have a great deal of affection and admiration, Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool.
She is a proud Acadian, a distinguished woman who is a good listener, someone who is always available and never keeps track of the number of hours she works.
I pay tribute to her convictions, her determination, her commitment, her wisdom and her zest for life.
Senator, I have had the privilege of benefitting from your advice, support and collaboration, both in the Senate and in committee. When I arrived in the Senate, you were the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, which had just presented its report, French-Language Education in a Minority Setting: A Continuum from Early Childhood to the Postsecondary Level. You were the driving force behind that report. You carried out your various roles and responsibilities in the Senate with great dignity.
You made a significant contribution to improving Canadian society, at both the national and international levels.
Among other things, you provided unconditional support to the international women's network and to official language minority communities. You never forgot your Acadian roots, and Acadians will always have a special place in your heart.
My dear friend Rose-Marie, I will truly miss you.
But you deserve a wonderful retirement with your husband Will, surrounded by your family and friends. Goodbye and thank you.
Hon. Marie-P. Charette-Poulin:
Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to my seatmate, Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, who is retiring next week.
She and I have come full circle in this chamber. When I was appointed to the Senate in 1995, I sat directly behind her. Rose-Marie already had six months of experience as a senator. Today, I have the pleasure of sitting beside her. Yes, we have been very close for 17 years, but in many ways, our connection goes back much further than that. We are both francophone women who represent a francophone minority in our respective provinces, and although our provinces do not share any geographic borders, we are closely connected by common concerns and interests.
Honourable senators, we know that one of the strengths of the Senate lies in its representation of the regions and of minority groups. Senator Losier-Cool energetically represented New Brunswick, Acadians, francophones and women in the Senate. But first and foremost, she represented children who go to school in minority communities.
A teacher by profession, she taught the senators and thus Canadians about the history of French-language education in New Brunswick and its important contribution to the province's and the country's cultural and economic well-being. I believe that it is important to point out that Rose-Marie's vision for French-language education and bilingualism extends beyond her own region.
As she so aptly put it in a recent speech in this chamber:
I have long believed that all Canadians should speak both of our country's official languages as a way to open twice as many doors and to experience twice as much culture. If the rest of Canada followed New Brunswick's example, all Canadians would be much more engaged with the rest of the country and the whole world.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Rose-Marie, who recently received the New Brunswick Francophone Teachers' Association Award of Merit — the highest honour given by the association — for over 30 years of teaching, her years in the Senate and her regional and international contribution, including the fact that she was the association's first female president in 1983.
Last month in this chamber, she named some remarkable Acadians who had benefitted from French-language education in New Brunswick. The list included the former Governor General, the Right Honourable Roméo Leblanc, as well as the former provincial premier, the Honourable Louis Robichaud, both of whom were also senators. This list of distinguished Acadians would not be complete without the name of Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool.
Bravo, Rose-Marie, and above all, thank you!
Hon. Jim Munson:
Honourable senators, it is with great pleasure and a great deal of emotion that I rise to pay tribute to Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool and to thank her for her enormous contribution to the Senate of Canada and the Canadian people.
Rose-Marie, before your appointment in 1995, you had been a teacher in my home province of New Brunswick for more than 33 years, including 20 years at a French high school in Bathurst, a corner of the country I know and love well. I know your deep connection to Acadians, their interests and the particular challenges they face.
Senator Losier-Cool and her husband, Will, who is in the gallery and is a friend of mine, were very good friends of my in-laws, Claude and Simone Hébert. In 1967, we not only lived in the same neighbourhood and the Holy Family parish in Bathurst, but my wife Ginette and I rented our first apartment in the senator's house. You could say she gave us our first home.
A woman, a teacher, an Acadian — these are the facets of Senator Losier-Cool's identity that have deeply influenced her work and commitment to issues such as language rights for Canadian minorities and the rights of women.
She is a champion of minority rights.
It is no coincidence that she has achieved what she has, or that she has taken the path that she has. She is a quiet and discreet trailblazer who paved the way for others.
Yes, she paved the way for others, from Acadia all the way to the heart of Africa.
For instance, in the early 1980s, she became the first women president of the Association des enseignants francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick, and in 1992 she received New Brunswick's Teacher of the Year award for non-sexist teaching. She is also the former vice-chair of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
Of course, as has been said, Rose-Marie, in recent years in your work here in the state you have applied your skills and insights to your work on the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, the Committee of Selection, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights. There is always something about rights in what you do, and that is so important.
For many years, Senator Losier-Cool was our deputy speaker as well as the first female chief government whip.
Canadians in general, and women and the Acadian people in particular, have benefited from Senator Losier-Cool's integrity and her understanding of the good that can be accomplished within the Senate.
She contributed to the advancement of La Francophonie and the status of women everywhere.
Having had the privilege of working with you, Senator Losier-Cool, I have learned a great deal from your clear-mindedness, your self-knowledge and your unshakeable commitment to people and causes that enrich the character of this country. Ever the educator, you helped me understand through words and activities why issues that matter to you should matter to all of us. In the last few years, you have applied your leadership experience and insight to women and minority issues and carried your ideas to the women of Africa.
I would like to share with you some words from your very close Bathurst friend, to whom Ginette and I spoke this morning, Madame Maryvonne Eddie. These are her words:
To your friends, Rose-Marie, you are an extremely generous woman who has always worked long and hard to promote La Francophonie and this part of your beloved Acadia. We are so proud of your achievements in the Senate and particularly of your commitment to African women, proving that you are a champion of women's rights.
Since you have been away from us for so many years, we are delighted that you will be back with us again for your well-deserved retirement, and we wish you all the best.
Thank you, senator, for what you have taught all of us and for the good work you will no doubt continue to do.
Long live Acadia! Long live Acadia!
There is no shore like the North Shore; that is for sure.
Hon. David P. Smith:
Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to my friend Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool. Most of you have heard about the various positions she has been in involving teaching, the New Brunswick Museum, Bathurst College, and the Senate committees.
Although we never spent time on Senate committees together, I want to talk about you personally. Whenever I see you, you put a smile on my face, and that is because you are a genuine, truly sweet, warm and sincere individual. All the vibes you give off are nice. You are universally respected here and in New Brunswick. I really like the fact that you are so proud of your Acadian, New Brunswick and North Shore roots.
If I had the voice of Nelson Eddy or, for younger people, Plácido Domingo, I would start to sing, "Oh Rose-Marie," but I will not subject you to that. I will simply point out that, as I have been telling you, we will all miss you. I think I can truly say that everyone around here really likes you and quite a few of us really love you. We will see you.
Hon. Joan Fraser:
Honourable senators, so many things have been said about Rose-Marie Losier-Cool and they are all true. All of them. There are not too many people in the world who can inspire so much respect and friendship at the same time, respect for her constant and tireless fight for rights, always for rights — the rights of Acadians, the rights of francophones, the rights of women, back home in Acadia, in New Brunswick, in Canada and around the world.
These are noble battles, but my memories of her go beyond that. First and foremost, what I will remember about Rose-Marie Losier-Cool is her beautiful voice that effortlessly fills this chamber and asserts authority. I think there is only one former teacher who can assert her authority with so much kindness. We sometimes resemble angry children here in this chamber.
I will also always remember Rose-Marie Losier-Cool's gentle and deep kindness. I never heard her speak negatively about anyone, in public or in private. The most negative thing I ever heard her say, one day, when she had obviously been through something very tense, was, "It is not always easy!" That is the most negative thing she would say.
Therein is a lesson we can all take to heart: gentleness and kindness do not imply weakness. Rather, they imply strength — strength that inspires respect and goodwill on the part of all who meet Rose-Marie Losier-Cool.
We will miss her terribly, but we all sincerely wish her many years of happiness.
Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas:
Honourable senators, I join with you today in paying tribute to a colleague in the Senate, a fellow New Brunswicker, the Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool.
Senator Losier-Cool was an educator for 33 years and sat on the board of directors of the Canadian Teachers' Federation. In 1983, she was the first woman to be elected president of the Association des enseignantes et enseignants francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick. She was the vice-president of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women and served on a number of foundations and boards. As well, she was the first woman ever to be appointed government whip in the Senate.
It is with gratitude that I look back to 2005 when I was summoned to the Senate of Canada and Senator Losier-Cool accepted to be my sponsor. I was absolutely honoured that she agreed and, in doing so, she again became the first senator to sponsor the first Aboriginal woman senator born and raised in a First Nations community.
Honourable senator, as we look at the legacy and the path you have travelled, or "been there, done that," and whether you decide to continue pouring your energy and enthusiasm to advocating and promoting issues affecting students, women and francophones, or to rest honourably on your success and knowledge gained during your time in the Senate, I wish you health, pleasure and happiness during the rest of your incredible journey.
In my language, when we part ways from one another, we do not say goodbye. We say "upchich knomewol"— "I will see you again."
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:
Honourable senators, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to pay tribute to our colleague and friend, Senator Losier-Cool, and to celebrate her many contributions to improving the lives of Canadians and people around the world.
I am inspired by Senator Losier-Cool's dedication to promoting the rights and prosperity of women around the world, particularly the women she met in the course of her work with the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie.
Many senators have already spoken eloquently of the senator's achievements and contributions. We know that she was a very active member of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie and that she became a Commander of the Ordre de la Pléiade in 2010. She also chaired the APF Network of Women Parliamentarians from 2007 to 2011.
I would like to share a story with you. In early October 2010, Senator Losier-Cool went to Lomé, the capital of Togo. The APF women's network was holding a training seminar there for local and regional parliamentarians. During the seminar, the senator presided over the opening of a computer room within the Parliament of Togo reserved for her sisters in the Togolese legislature.
This example is emblematic of Senator Losier-Cool's calm and determined support for women parliamentarians and shows her commitment to politics and a society that are more progressive and just.
Honourable senators, when I arrived in the Senate more than 10 years ago, Senator Losier-Cool was the first senator I met. I imagine that many of us have similar memories of our colleagues who have become our friends. She is a unique individual who made every effort to welcome us to this magnificent institution.
I could not have asked for a more welcoming, generous and sincere first friend. Your gentle manner and reassuring smile gave me the confidence and the knowledge that, by following your example, we could make a significant difference in the lives of Canadians, especially women and linguistic minorities.
Thank you very much, Senator Losier-Cool, for your service to our country and your precious friendship.
Hon. Pierre De Bané:
Honourable senators, our colleague, Senator Losier-Cool, joined the Senate after teaching for 33 years and having held such senior positions as the first woman president of the association and various others that she held before joining us.
Born in Tracadie and educated at the Académie Sainte-Famille in Tracadie and then the École Normale in Fredericton, she spent 20 years of her 33-year teaching career at Nepisquit school in Bathurst.
What is remarkable is that when we read the first speech she gave in the Senate in 1995, upon her appointment, we can see just how faithful she has been to her mission:
My first role is to represent my Acadian community in the Senate and to represent the Senate in my community. That is why I will be visiting New Brunswick often . . . I want to visit the schools, where I will teach the students about the Senate so they have a better appreciation of our beautiful country.
She then went on to fulfil the following commitment:
I have always passionately defended all women's issues — pay equity, poverty, domestic violence — and, in order to share my concerns and raise awareness of government programs, I attend different activities across Canada that are dedicated to the advancement of women.
A mission on which we worked closely together, with the president of our Canadian chapter of the APF, the Honourable Senator Champagne, is that of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. You have no idea how grateful the members of the APF, who represent 75 different parliaments, are for the exceptional contribution our colleague, Senator Losier-Cool, has made to the international Francophonie.
Along with all of my colleagues, I would like to tell you how much I admire your faithfulness and your determination to remain true to the mission that you gave yourself. Well done.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool:
Honourable senators, this was much more than I wanted, but I must say that it has been enjoyable. I liked it. As has been mentioned, I am retiring next week. I was very moved by all your kind words. I wrote a little something to say to each of you, but I know that, unfortunately, time is a bit limited.
Senator LeBreton, I have now figured out why you are so good at your job; it is because you have some LeBreton in Tracadie in the family. I thank you for your beautiful words.
Senator Champagne, I was very touched by your words. I am happy that you did not speak about all the cigarettes we smoked in Dakar and the other things that we shared.
I would like to wish you and Sébastien a great deal of courage. I greatly admire you.
Senator Tardif, Senator Chaput, you are true friends, to whom I often said: "It is a good thing we have each other".
Senator Nancy Ruth, I am happy to hear you telling me that I am the voice because for me you are the voice. Your saying that I have such power really moves me.
Senator Poulin, my Franco-Ontarian colleague, thank you.
Senator Munson, that was very special. Only you and Jeanette could find out that I am leaving this place. Being an educator, you stressed that is very important to me.
Senator Smith, who says I am sweet, oh boy, at my age.
To all honourable senators, thank you for your kind words. I am incredibly proud to count myself among the 922 Canadians who have served in the Senate since its creation. I am proud to have been the first Acadian woman appointed to this place and to have spent the past 17 years representing New Brunswick's Acadia and my corner of the province, the Acadian peninsula.
In all these years, I learned a great deal from many people and became a better person as a result. I thank you all.
As a member of the Senate, I have met many men and women of all ages and from all walks of life in Canada. I have also travelled abroad, as was mentioned, to meet parliamentarians and locals from almost every continent, and these many encounters have left me with ever-lasting recollections. I hope to have left good memories in return.
You did me the honour of appointing me as Speaker pro tempore for seven years. I wish to thank the three Speakers whom I have had the honour of working with: the late Senator Molgat, who was loquacious, one might say, and had a way of bringing people together.
Senator Hays, that Albertan gentleman.
And the current Speaker, my colleague from New Brunswick, the Honourable Senator Kinsella, who is a true statesman and cares deeply about decorum in our chamber. Senator Kinsella presides over this chamber in a very respectful manner and even in a "cool" way on occasion. Thank you for giving me the job of co-chair of the Joint Committee on Official Languages and then chair of the brand-new Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, because, as you know, defending the French language in Canada has always been and will forever remain one of my top priorities.
I have gained so much experience here, and I want to briefly talk about Senate reform, which you will be studying over the next few years. We must not forget that the Senate exists to represent and defend the regions and minorities.
I agree that the Senate should be reformed, particularly when it comes to senators' terms. Perhaps 10 years is enough. In 10 years, a senator can become familiar with and effectively accomplish his or her mandate. I must admit that when I arrived here and sat in this corner, I wondered what I was doing here. I was intimidated by this place. I came from a classroom, and instead of having wall-to-wall carpeting, I had wall-to-wall students. I gave myself 10 years. During those 10 years, I served as whip and Speaker pro tempore. So I think that a 10-year term would be appropriate.
But in reforming the Senate, we must ensure that we never compromise the future of the regions and minorities. We are the only voice for these minorities and these regions; we must not take that away from them.
I hope I will be replaced, ideally by another woman, but at least by another Acadian who will fight as I and my Acadian colleagues here have done for the one-third of New Brunswickers who are francophone.
My parting wish for all of us is that the Canadian Senate remain the chamber of sober second thought. Over the past few years, unfortunately, the Senate has strayed more and more from its mission.
Here in this chamber, we have a phenomenal advantage over the other place: We have time. Honourable senators, let us take that time to do things right.
In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to the administrative staff of the Senate; to Garry O'Brien, who was so helpful to me; to Charles Robert, whose infectious laughter I will never forget and who supported me so well over the years; to the clerks, the maintenance staff, the security staff, the senators' support staff, and I cannot forget our dear pages. Never forget that you are the youth here.
Remember the rule of the three Ls: learn, love and laugh.
Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to take a bite out of life before it bites you.
I would especially like to thank my team, beginning with Lise Bouchard, my faithful assistant. Lise, I do not know what I will do without you. You have simplified my life all these years. I would also like to thank my advisor, Richard Maurel, a perfectionist who has become an adopted son of Acadia over the past few years. I wish both of you a very happy retirement.
My husband, Will, I thank you for your unflagging support over the years. Your interest in and knowledge of national and international politics have helped me in so many ways. I should add that Will was married to a teacher for 33 years and a senator for 17 years, which adds up to 50 years in opposition.
Once again, I want to thank all of you. I wish you lots of laughter and good health.
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