As CJPAC looks back at 2009, we would like to recognize two prominent members of Canada’s Jewish community who retired from the Canadian Senate this past year. We hope that their actions/legacy will serve as inspiration for other community members to get engaged and make a difference.
Senator Jerahmiel ‘Jerry’ Grafstein
A lawyer by trade, Senator Grafstein held a long and distinguished career of over 40 years of service within Canadian politics and the Senate.
Senator Grafstein began his political career in 1961 where he held offices in the Liberal Party of Canada and was active in many national and riding campaigns. Between 1966 and 1968 he served in Ottawa as Executive Assistant to John Turner. He also served as an advisor to the Ministry of Transport, the Canadian International Development Agency, and as a member of the Department of Justice Advisory Committee.
Appointed to the Senate in 1984 by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Senator Grafstein’s commitment to public service led him to serve on just about every Senate Standing Committee over his 25 years as a Senator. He chaired the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and is the longest serving member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Senator Grafstein was also an active member of many inter-parliamentary groups and associations in Europe, Latin America and Asia, including the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association. He served as the Co-chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group and was Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the largest governmental human rights organization in the world.
Senator Grafstein also raised several important private member bills. Among many, he introduced a bill to add suicide bombing to the Criminal Code and he co-sponsored a bill to create a Holocaust Memorial Day. Finally, Senator Grafstein introduced motions to support the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people. Senator Grafstein also spearheaded the 2001 ‘Canada Loves New York’ weekend to help New York in the aftermath of September 11th. He was named an honorary commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and an honorary fire chief of New York City.
To read the Senate’s tribute to Senator Grafstein, click here.
Senator Yoine Goldstein
A prominent lawyer and community advocate based in Montreal, Senator Goldstein’s time in the Senate was recognized with the highest regard. During his legal career, Senator Goldstein specialized in bankruptcy and insolvency cases. His expertise in those areas led to his appointment as Chair of the Federal Personal Insolvency Task Force and as special counsel to the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Recognized as one of Canada’s leading legal experts, Senator Goldstein is the only Canadian lawyer to have been elected a fellow of both the American College of Bankruptcy and the American College of Trial Lawyers. He also served prominently in many organizations in the Montreal Jewish Community.
Appointed to the Senate in 2005, Senator Goldstein was an advocate for human rights. He stood in the Senate and continuously raised awareness of the genocide in Darfur and recognized the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide. In addition to adding great insight and analysis to several standing committees, Senator Goldstein also introduced legislation to protect students threatened by bankruptcy. Additionally he also introduced legislation to amend Canada’s Investment Act which sought to include investor relationship to human rights abuses as an additional basis of criteria to determine whether potential investment would be of benefit to Canada. Lastly, Senator Goldstein introduced legislation to amend Canada’s Access to Medicine Regime to provide cheaper medicine to developing countries in great need.
To read the Senate’s tribute to Senator Goldstein, click here.