Statement made on 11 March 2009 by Senator Michel Biron (retired)
Hon. Michel Biron:
Honourable senators, thank you for saying such kind and thoughtful things about me.
I would like to say a special thanks to the chairs of the committees I was on for their kindness and consideration. The list includes the Honourable Lise Bacon, chair of the Transport and Communications Committee, and the Honourable Len Gustafson and Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, chairs of the Agriculture Committee.
I subsequently sat on the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, chaired by the Honourable Leo Kolber, Richard Kroft, Jerahmiel Grafstein and David Angus, as well as on the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, with the Honourable Lowell Murray, Anne Cools and Joseph Day in the chair.
I also worked with Senators Trevor Eyton, John Bryden and Céline Hervieux-Payette, who served as successive chairs of the Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.
The discussions and debates I took part in were always marked by respect and openness, and it was a privilege for me to contribute to them. Without a doubt, the years I spent here were rewarding in every sense of the word.
I want to point out that committees make a significant contribution to legislation in this country by reviewing bills in order to improve them, a process that very often results in amendments that are valid and necessary, or by examining issues that lead to new bills in the House of Commons.
Senators are appointed so that they will not be influenced by polls or trends. They must not let themselves be intimidated by political pressure, so that they can deliberate calmly. The Senate has taken part in the development of Canada since Confederation. Senators' enormous contribution to advancing our country deserves to be recognized.
The Senate upholds the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and its role in this regard must not be weakened by reforms. The Senate is an institution designed in part to address regional interests and therefore must be subject to consultation with the provinces.
I agree with the arguments made by several provinces about the length of senators' terms of office and their election. Before changes are made that could fundamentally alter how the Senate operates, the provinces and the federal government should enter into a constitutional accord concerning the Senate.
Senate reform is important to our country's future and to all Canadians. I hope that a broader consensus will lead to solutions that are wise and responsible, for the greater welfare of all the people in our beautiful country.
I thank the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien for the honour he bestowed upon me by appointing me to the Senate.
I would also like to thank Senator Sharon Carstairs, then Leader of the Government in the Senate, for welcoming me so warmly upon my arrival, and Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette for her advice and support during my term.
I would like to thank Lise Lefebvre-Campbell for her dedication and her loyalty. My thanks also go out to the entire staff of the Senate and all those I may not have the chance to thank personally before I leave.
I would like to thank my brother, Georges, chairman of the board of Sogetel, for his sound leadership following my appointment, as well as my nephew, Alain Duhaime, who, as president and chief executive officer, has so competently managed the business. He has successfully met the technological challenges currently facing the telecommunications industry.
I would also like to express my heartfelt appreciation to my three daughters for their support. Thank you, Hélène, Julie and Isabelle.
I would also like to recognize my grandsons, Léon and Nicolas, as well as the rest of my family and friends who are here today.
Honourable senators, I hope I will always remember the many friends I am leaving in this place.
Nevertheless, I am happy to be returning to Nicolet, to meet the challenges facing my company and, more importantly, to enjoy spending more time with my family and grandchildren.