Statement made on 10 December 2009 by Senator James Cowan, Senator Joan Fraser, Senator Sharon Carstairs (retired), Senator Vivienne Poy (retired), Senator Serge Joyal, Senator Catherine Callbeck, Senator Mobina Jaffer, Senator David Smith, Senator Elizabeth Hubley, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette and Senator Grant Mitchell
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, we are saying goodbye these days to far too many excellent colleagues. Today, I rise to pay tribute to Senator Lorna Milne who retires from the Senate this weekend. Senator Milne has been a member of this chamber for over 14 years. She was summoned to the Senate on September 21, 1995, on the advice of Prime Minister Chrétien. She brought to this chamber a wealth of experience gained in the service of community organizations such as the Canadian Cancer Society; the Heart and Stroke Foundation; the Association for the Mentally Retarded; Rapport House, a hostel for youth with drug problems; the University of Guelph; the University Women's Club; and the YW/YMCA.
In her time here, she has served on many of our standing committees — the Energy Committee, Agriculture Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, Social Affairs Committee, Transport Committee, Fisheries Committee, Finance Committee, and the list goes on. However, the two committees with which she has been most closely associated are the Rules Committee and, of course, the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, both of which she chaired, steering their proceedings during a number of high-profile studies.
I think of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, which last month was highlighted in an international study, as an example to be emulated and of so many other important pieces of legislation that were studied and, at times, amended by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee under her leadership. It is a record of which she can be proud.
In addition to her excellent committee work, Senator Milne took on a number of other causes, which she championed in the Senate and quietly behind the scenes. I will highlight two today. First, she waged and ultimately won a seven-year battle to preserve historic census records. Our history is so important to who we are and what we hope to become in the future. Senator Milne's contribution helped to ensure that Canadians today and long into the future can access those historical records.
The second cause I want to point to today was her determined work to legalize, and then support, the industrial hemp industry in this country. She spoke in this chamber only a few weeks ago about the challenges she faced and how far the industry has come since hemp growing was legalized. I know many farmers, researchers and others are grateful for what she accomplished.
Senator Milne has also been active with a number of important parliamentary associations. Most recently, she served as vice-president of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association and led the parliamentary delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
I cannot conclude these remarks without thanking her for her work as deputy chair of our own Senate Liberal caucus and as deputy chair of the national Liberal caucus.
Lorna, we will miss you very much. I know you will be happy having more time with Ross, your children and many grandchildren, but we will miss your steady, dogged determination in raising issues with the government, and I will miss you personally as a friend and colleague. Our best wishes go with you as you embark on the next stage of your life.
Hon. Joan Fraser:
Senator Lorna Milne is, among many other things, a historian, and a historian is, among other things, a collector and custodian of memories. Memories are the imprints of our deeds, large and small, on those we meet. They are as varied as the lives we lead, and as Senator Milne heads into her next chapter, I have been thinking about the memories she has already created. A few people who I know already remember her, to start, as Senator Cowan suggested, there are the hemp farmers and producers who owe their very livelihoods to her. Genealogists across the country know Lorna Milne and praise her as a woman beyond price because of the work she undertook with Statistics Canada. She is a genealogist herself. You might ask her one day why the middle name of one of her sons is Wesley.
Statistics Canada, I fear, will remember her for similar reasons but with less warmth. The former chief statistician learned the hard way that you do not pick a fight with Lorna Milne lightly.
In Europe, animal rights activists will remember Lorna Milne who held the dike against the flood for years in defence of Canada's seal hunters. They too may not remember her with warmth but we remember her with warmth for that fight.
In Saudi Arabia, courtiers will remember her because she was, as I understand it, the first woman to greet His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia without a head covering. I believe she even shook his hand, which was also revolutionary and made the front pages of the newspaper, so there are probably Saudi Arabian women who remember her with gratitude as well.
Some members of the Ontario New Democratic Party probably remember her with a bit of chagrin because little Lorna Dennison was raised within the bosom of the NDP. Her father, William Dennison, mayor of Toronto at one time, was also, as was her mother I believe, a pillar of the NDP. Lorna was raised knowing how to run political campaigns, until one day along came Ross Milne who swept her off her feet and into the Liberal Party.
An Hon. Senator: Good job, Ross.
Senator Fraser: She became a Liberal, and it would be an understatement — as I am sure Senator LeBreton will agree — to say she is a passionate Liberal, but we on the Liberal side have benefited from her ever since.
In the Senate, we will remember her as chair and member of committees, and we will remember her because she is indefatigable, loyal anda woman of absolute integrity.
We will remember that she is a good friend. She is a truly good friend of warm and generous heart, a source of support when needed, a source of sustaining libations sometimes, and I shall remember her, above all, for her laughter. If there is a bad day, Lorna can find the source of laughter in it. I shall remember, first of all, the peals of laughter bouncing off the ceilings in the East Block.
Lorna, wherever you go, may peals of laughter bounce off the ceiling.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs:
Honourable colleagues, it is always difficult to rise in this place and say goodbye to a good friend, but the time has come when we must say farewell to the Honourable Senator Lorna Milne.
Thinking back on all of her accomplishments, there is one story of Lorna Milne that took place outside this place that I will always relate fondly to her. In her day, the majority of female students who went to the University of Guelph entered the Macdonald Institute but not Lorna. Lorna took a degree in agriculture.
The Macdonald Institute was a special place, and it is true that the students there took strong academic courses, but they also took courses like sewing and cooking. Lorna had learned to sew because her stature, her height in particular, made it difficult for her to find clothes that would fit so her mother taught her how to sew. A sewing competition was announced at the University of Guelph. It was assumed that only the students at the Macdonald Institute would enter, but lo and behold, who entered but Lorna Milne; and of course, to no one's surprise, Lorna Milne won.
The Dean of the MacDonald Institute was not impressed with this situation. She could not deny Lorna's proficiency but wanted to know why Lorna would enter, and how she could be so skilled at this particular occupation. Lorna's response was, "Well, I can read." The dean was less than amused.
To me, this story absolutely epitomizes Lorna Milne. In the words of Nellie McClung, to which I think Lorna exemplifies, "Just get the job done and let them roar." Lorna has been getting the job done all her life with great results. A devoted mother and wife, a politician, a community activist and a friend, Lorna Milne gives her all to each and every endeavour she pursues, and has been enormously successful in every one of those roles.
As her friend, I have benefited from that friendship and look forward to it continuing after she leaves; because friendship to Lorna Milne is golden and Lorna's friendship, in my view, is not only gold, it is studded with diamonds.
Thank you Lorna for all that you are.
Hon. Vivienne Poy:
Lorna, I will always remember your welcoming smile when I was first appointed to the Senate in 1998. We were sitting on the other side of the chamber then and we were both sitting near the entrance. I must have looked tired one day when you said that I should go out with you for a cup of tea. Until then, I did not even know that we could have tea in the reading room.
Coming from a non-political background as I did, I watched Lorna and learned that patience, passion and persistence are the most important qualities of a successful senator.
As mentioned earlier, Lorna enjoys genealogical research and was the honorary patron of the Ontario Genealogical Society. In 1998, she began her mission to have post-1901 census data released so it would be available for genealogical research across Canada. I still remember not only her speeches, but also the tons of petitions she presented in the Senate.
Seven years later, in 2005, she celebrated as Bill S-18 finally allowed for the release of family records. As she details in her book, Deeply Rooted: The Story of One Senator's Battle to Preserve the Historic Census Results, Lorna overcame the entrenched bureaucratic resistance and persuaded the minister to make it a government bill. Finally, genealogists received the access they needed. Bill S-18 allows disclosure of census records from 1911 to 2001 after 92 years, and asks respondents' consent for the release of future census records.
This spring I was honoured to be asked to take over as honorary patron of the Ontario Genealogical Society from my esteemed colleague.
Lorna, we have always sat close to each other until recently. We can always depend on you to share a joke, and once in while, we also see pictures of your and Ross's lovely grandchildren.
I learned that the entire Milne family will take the train from Ottawa at the end of the week so the grandchildren will experience their first train trip. That is what I would call a thoughtful grandmother.
Lorna, I look forward to working with you on future projects. While you will no longer be a colleague, you will always be a friend. Many of us will miss you in this chamber, especially during Question Period.
Hon. Serge Joyal:
Honourable senators, on the occasion of Senator Lorna Milne's retirement, it is with gratitude that I speak about the many contributions she made during her 14 years with the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. She worked on that committee almost without interruption, acting as chair during a large part of her service.
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs generally attracts the interest of senators with a legal background, given the nature of its mandate — the study of legal and constitutional issues — and the fact that up to 80 per cent of the legislation introduced by the government is reviewed by that committee.
However, the committee is not composed exclusively of lawyers or members of the legal community. For senators like Senator Milne who have maintained a committed interest in the various and complex issues studied and debated in this committee, it meant developing the necessary capacity to understand the legal jargon and decipher the specialized concept of law that characterizes studies of legal and constitutional bills.
For instance, an understanding of the ramifications of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Constitution, both from 1867, as interpreted by the courts in numerous decisions, and the Constitution Act of 1982, the principles and abundant case law that constitute common law and even, to a point, the principles of the Civil Code of Quebec and, of course, the immense quantity of the whole body of statute law.
In that task Senator Milne revealed herself to be an assiduous mind, developing a remarkable skill to adapt to any challenge and to contribute in a manner wholly appreciated by the majority of the committee members. During the long hours of committee sittings — hours which increased every year — Senator Milne remained a dedicated advocate, voicing the concerns of those who often bear the brunt of the administration of justice, the conditions of the inmate population of Aboriginal origin, the plight of those who have to resort to Legal Aid to have their claims heard and the particular conditions of women tackling the legal system, whether as victims, those charged with an offence or as inmates.
She brought a human voice that must always be heard for the role of justice to remain true to its challenge.
Quite appropriately, Senator Milne has expressed the need for senators to serve a longer term, both to develop the necessary understanding of the procedures and of the arcane laws of Parliament, and to be able to exercise appropriate judgment and articulate personal advice and consent far beyond simply reordering notes prepared by departments or government agencies.
By being faithful to the Legal Committee's work Lorna Milne has spoken for the institutional memory that provides the quality and perspective needed for the workings of the Senate. It is with warm, heartfelt gratitude that I express to Senator Milne my sincere wishes and thanks on her well-deserved retirement.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck:
Honourable senators, I can honestly say that my friend and colleague, Senator Lorna Milne, is one of the hardest working senators I know. Wife, mother, author, community activist, educator, businesswoman, genealogist, political organizer — her interests are varied and her passion for her work is remarkable.
As for politics, it could not help but be in her blood. She is the daughter of the former Toronto mayor, William Dennison, and I am told she was actually born during one of her father's election campaigns. It is no wonder she has been involved in politics.
Lorna Milne has accomplished much in her 14 years in the Senate. Other senators have spoken to her great accomplishments. Most notably is her fight to ensure access to census records for research which resulted in the passage of Bill S-18, after seven long years of campaigning. The bill was passed in June 2005 after having been introduced three times. The success of that bill was certainly much appreciated in my home province of Prince Edward Island. We have a great number of genealogists on the Island, and access to those census records is very important to them.
As we all know, Senator Milne has been active in Question Period, rarely missing an opportunity to question the government about those issues that mean so much to her.
I have no doubt, Lorna, that you will continue to work on those issues that mean so much to you in the years ahead. Certainly we will miss you in the Senate. It has been a pleasure to serve with you. I wish you and Ross and your family members in the gallery all the best in the future.
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:
Honourable senators, I rise today to join my colleagues in tribute to a devoted and hard-working public servant, a woman of remarkable accomplishment and a good friend, the Honourable Lorna Milne, on her last sitting day in this chamber.
When Lorna Milne took a healthy interest in agricultural studies and the sciences early in her life, she grew to understand the complex elements involved in the ground beneath her. When she was one of only four women to graduate from the Ontario Agricultural College, she grew to understand the challenges women face around the world and carry with them as they walk the ground beneath their feet. When she came to the Senate, she grew to further understand the challenges Canadians face.
All those who have spoken before me have said what I would have liked to say about Lorna. I join them in our tribute to her.
Today I would like to address Senator Milne's granddaughters, Maddie, Seline and Deniz, and grandson Lachlan. Your grandmother was appointed to the Senate for all she had done in her service to Canadians. She arrived at the Senate and has worked hard to change the lives of Canadians. Your grandmother will continue to serve and change lives of Canadians.
As your grandmother leaves this chamber and will now have more time for you, I ask you to learn as much as you can from her so you can follow in her example to serve and change the lives of Canadians. I say this to you as I have known your grandmother Lorna for a very long time. I have learned from her how to better serve Canada. I have learned from her how to change lives of Canadians. Most of all, I have learned from your grandmother that she is not a fair-weather friend. She is your friend when things are going well for you, and she is your friend when they are not going so well for you. Your grandmother is a great Canadian. I thank you for sharing her with us.
Lorna, for all you have done and will continue to do, I say thank you. I wish you the very best in the next chapter of your life. You will be greatly missed in this chamber by the Leader of the Government in the Senate for the questions you asked of her. You will be greatly missed by all of us. You always reminded us to do the right thing. Most of all, my friend, I will miss you.
Hon. David P. Smith:
I am rising to pay tribute to Senator Lorna Milne, for whom we all have great respect. She will be genuinely missed.
Although she was born in Toronto and, as you have heard, her father was mayor, she is not totally a city person. Her dad came from the Ottawa Valley, and she is also a valley person — they would call her a valley girl. Rankin, Eganville, Cobden, Mink Lake, Lake Dore, Westmeath, Snake River, Micksburg, Douglas, even Pembroke, she knows them all. I will never forget one day she came up to me and told me that she knew where my great-grandfather, Robert Smith, is buried. "I have seen his grave. Did you know his nickname was Injunction Bob?" He had quite a reputation for litigation.
My dad, Campbell Bannerman Smith, was born in Douglas and raised in Eganville, went to high school in Renfrew and then went off to the First World War. Although I was born in Toronto, too, all of my life I have gone back to those places. Those roots are important.
So Senator Milne is not only a Toronto city person. She has a balance. When she has shown interest, expertise and knowledge in rural and agricultural matters, including hemp, it has been genuine. That is to say that there are other Torontonians who are knowledgeable in these areas, but there are not too many.
I referred earlier to Lorna's father, William Dennison. He was a valley boy and a gentleman. I did not know him well, but I knew him to be honest, respected and straight up.
Honourable senators, you have already heard that Lorna was not raised a Liberal. I do not think of her dad so much as an NDPer, but as a CCFer. Political parties and churches have one thing in common: they both have to accept converts.
Ross, I thank you for your missionary work in bringing Lorna into the fold, to which she has made a great contribution.
Lorna, you have been a great supporter of the democratic process, as well as a good small "l" liberal and large "L" Liberal. Most small "l" liberals are also large "L" Liberals. We will continue to work on the few who are not.
Lorna, I and your other Senate colleagues will miss you. You are my favourite valley girl and a good friend. I hope that we continue to see you from time to time. Many thanks for your years of service.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley:
Honourable senators, when I arrived here in 2001, Lorna Milne was already an accomplished senator with over five years' experience. I immediately identified her as a good example and as a friendly colleague who could be relied upon for advice and insight.
Senator Milne is a go-getter. She wasted no time, after being summoned here in September 1995, in becoming chair of the important Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee a mere two years later. She served with distinction in that role for five years, leading the committee through a number of thorny legislative issues.
After her stint with Legal and Constitutional Affairs, she went on to lead our Rules Committee through the difficult and ground-breaking work of developing a code of conduct for the Senate. In her role as chair, Senator Milne took challenges head-on, yet she always managed to maintain her good cheer and sense of humour.
Senator Milne's service on other committees and her accomplishments in diverse areas such as the census and the cultivation of hemp have already been mentioned by others who have spoken before me. It is no wonder, then, that when I was a newcomer to this place, Senator Milne was not only a wonderful role model, but would also come to be a good friend and mentor.
Honourable senators, some of you may know that Senator Milne and her husband Ross share a love of the Model A Ford. In October of last year, they participated in a Maritime tour with a number of other Model A enthusiasts. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with them when their tour came to Prince Edward Island. We had a wonderful time and I was delighted to welcome them to my home province. I will always have fond memories of that visit.
Honourable senators, I have learned a great deal from the example set by Senator Milne in her tireless service to this place, and I am very sorry to see her leave it. However, I take comfort in the certainty that whatever follows life after the Senate, she will thrive as she has done so here for the past 14 years.
I extend to Lorna, her husband Ross and her family my very best wishes.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette:
Honourable senators, I would like to address my remarks to my good friend, my colleague and I was going to say my twin sister, because we were both appointed to the Senate in 1995. That was a time when the then Prime Minister was restoring the balance of power, and especially the balance of minds and ideas, by repeatedly appointing women in order to reach a proportion far more worthy of our gender's representation in Canada.
I would like to introduce the new senators to the woman with a big heart. You heard earlier about all the charitable organizations she has been involved in. Some were left out: she volunteered with the Brampton and District University Women's Club and worked with mental health and heritage protection groups in her community. When you look at her curriculum vitae, you can see that she looked after her family, her extended family and her community, always in not-for-profit occupations.
I also want to talk about the woman of principle, who was a member of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, who championed causes unreservedly and who would have liked to resolve the famous seal hunt issue with all of us. I certainly do not blame her that we were unable to resolve that issue. She did everything she could with the means at her disposal. When she stands up for a cause, she does so with good, solid arguments. We wound up in a rather unprincipled image war.
Another side of Senator Milne that I want to talk about is the committed woman. As Senator Joyal said, on the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, we benefited from her talents, her judgment and her ability to get to the bottom of things. She worked in the best interest of all Canadians, especially children.
I would like to pay tribute to the team player, who co-chaired the election campaign in Ontario in 1997, the year a system of female co-chairs was first introduced across Canada. She did an exemplary job, in addition to helping to recruit female candidates. I know something about this, and I can tell you that it is harder than recruiting men. If all women were to come here, they would see how we can help our country and contribute to its advancement, but they would also see that the system is perhaps not made for family life. I can tell her that she played an outstanding role on the Liberal team.
I would like to warn my colleagues against rejoicing that she is leaving, since she will be available full time during the next election campaign. I warn you that Lorna will dedicate all her energy to the campaign and will not have to split her time between her duties in the Senate and the campaign. I am sure that in a few weeks, her husband Ross will give her permission to work on the campaign.
I would like to thank the grandmother emeritus, who is a wonderful cook. I often heard about her summer activities, which often involved doing a lot of cooking, and preparing preserves in the fall. Obviously, we do not give up our womanly characteristics and talents when we come here. She had an education in agriculture and was a talented horticulturalist. Why not dedicate her time to the environment surrounding her country property? She spent many hours creating beautiful flower beds to beautify this environment for herself and her family.
I would like to say goodbye, and to pass along a message from the people of Quebec, that they love the people of Toronto. Do not believe anything less; I will always cherish our friendship, and I will be forever grateful to a woman I admire. All Quebecers admire the work she has done. Good luck and have fun in the coming years.
Hon. Grant Mitchell:
Honourable senators, this will be the first tribute that I will give in the Senate. Being a relatively new senator, I have always felt that senators who are, unfortunately, departing probably had longer-standing friends and associates here who could better describe and capture the essence of their experience than I. However, I begin today with Senator Milne because I feel that I have had a special relationship with her. That feeling began to dawn on me as I tried to keep up with her in Question Period.
I found myself observing Senator Milne's determination, her work, her professionalism, and her desire to do something right for the country and to do something right generally in a way that has been impressed upon me very much. In fact, we have worked a great deal on committee together. We happen to be on committees that deal with subject matters that we share passionately, particularly on the environment.
I rise today not to repeat what has been said before, because I could not do so better. I just want to leave Senator Milne with a couple impressions that I have. There are two characteristics that she has impressed upon me very much. She is fiercely Liberal and completely fearless. Coming from Alberta, I mean those as fundamentally significant compliments from the bottom of my heart, because, if you are a Liberal in Alberta, you had better be fierce and you had better be fearless. I have seen that in her. When I watch and listen to Senator Milne, I feel that she is capturing for me those values that define Liberalism. I have always felt very much at home in her presence because of that.
I will also take away from my experience with her this enduring image of her standing not behind her desk, but stepping beside it, with putting whatever it is into her posture, as she leans forward to pose her questions so that everyone knows exactly where she stands in a forceful and powerful way.
Senator Milne, I thank you for being my mentor. I reflect on a particular instance. A number of months ago, when I was having trouble getting through a presentation of a motion or two, you gave me that "What are you doing; pay attention" look. You came over and actually told me how to do it. Now that I do it right, I think I am more successful, but a lot more nervous. I will always remember you for that very reason as well.
I wish all the best to you and your family, some of whom are from Alberta. It has been a great pleasure to have had the chance to work with you.
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