Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
The Honourable Jerahmiel S. Grafstein, Q.C.

Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to take part in a tribute to my friend Jerry Grafstein. I have known Jerry for much longer than I have been in the Senate. I knew him, obviously, when I was national director of the Liberal Party, and back in the days when I lived in Toronto and was a party activist there.

The description of Jerry being everywhere is absolutely true. We could spend the entire afternoon telling interesting and funny stories about Jerry. Some of them might be embarrassing, so we will leave those out.

I remember one specific day when I was in the Senate. Jerry and I met and talked about what I thought was an important problem. He agreed with me. He said, You know, we have to do something about this. I said, Yes, we will talk about this again.

The next day I came to the chamber ready to talk to Jerry. The Order Paper process was ongoing, and the next thing I knew, Jerry was standing up introducing a bill on the subject that we had discussed. I was still discussing what to do and Jerry was doing it. That, indeed, was Bill S-217, to establish a national philanthropy day, which is now in committee in the other place and hopefully, will eventually become law.

Jerry, you have set such high standards for us, both for your energy and for knowing what to do. Senator Angus and Senator Fairbairn have talked about the standards you have set in the dress code here. The one good thing about your not being here is that we will not be measured against your sartorial standard.

I have been to Washington once with Jerry. I was travelling with the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, under the then chair, Senator Fairbairn. Senator Len Gustafson — a Conservative senator from Saskatchewan, a great guy — and I were there, and Senator Tkachuk might have been there as well. There were two Canadian committees in town, so someone organized a reception for the Canadians with American senators and congressmen.

When we walked into the room, most of us did not know anyone, or we recognized a few faces that we had seen on television. However, when Jerry walked into the room, not only did he know everyone, but everyone knew Jerry. I am told a number of great stories about Jerry’s ability not only to be known on Capitol Hill in Washington but also being known, or at least purporting to be known, in various good restaurants around the city of Washington.

You are a hard act to follow, Jerry. All of us in this chamber, on both sides, will miss your energy on the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group. The work that you have undertaken and the standards you have set, with which others are trying to keep up, will be long lasting. Also, much of the legislation that you have introduced has passed, or is in the process now.

As someone who has been in the Senate only six years, I hope that when my time is finished here, I can accomplish at least 10 per cent of what you have been able to do. Thank you, Jerry.

 

To see the complete text of the Senator’s tribute to Senator Grafstein click here