Honourable senators, I have admired and respected my friend, the Honourable Jerahmiel "Jerry" Grafstein ever since I came to the Senate in the spring of 1993. Indeed, over the intervening years, I have come to regard Jerry as the quintessential senator. I say this, honourable senators, for the following reasons.
First, Jerry has a passionate love for his country, Canada, and a deep and abiding respect for our system of parliamentary democracy. He understands and honours Parliament, and believes truly in responsible government and the rule of law.
Second, he has an impressive knowledge and understanding of our social, economic and cultural history and heritage. This extends to how our rich, pluralistic society has evolved and shaped the tolerant values of our wonderful nation as we know it today and as our Fathers of Confederation hoped it would be. They toiled long and hard to find a balance to the vast regional and cultural disparities facing them as they worked to craft the British North America Act and the related laws and agreements.
Third, Senator Grafstein believes profoundly in the Senate as conceived by Sir John A. Macdonald and his colleagues of the day. Jerry ardently supports the process of sober second thought, the protection of minority rights, and the advancement of regional interests. He has demonstrated this ably and in a most articulate way over the many years he has represented the vast metropolitan city of Toronto and its multicultural populous.
Fourth, Jerry has a unique capacity, believe it or not, to be objective. He has proven time and again that he is able to rise above strict partisan interests and to do what he considers, and indeed is, the correct thing. I personally observed him in this mode in the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce as, together, we dealt with the thorny issues around the new bankruptcy and insolvency legislation three or four years ago. This was repeated more recently with the bill designed to remove excise taxes on watches, jewellery and other similar items.
Fifth, Jerry Grafstein likes the Senate basically the way it is, subject only to certain necessary minor reforms necessitated by the passage of time. Indeed, Jerry is against a triple-E Senate, but he is a triple-E senator. He is educated, energetic and entrepreneurial.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Angus: Sixth, and finally, honourable senators, Jerry is a man of strong character and integrity, true to a fault to his values and principles. As his friends and colleagues, his roasters and toasters, proclaimed the other night, Jerry consistently is a good Liberal. He is faithful to and a practitioner of the principles of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I mention these names in this chamber with trepidation, but I do so out of honour and respect for my friend Jerry and for all of my friends and colleagues on the other side.
At Jerry’s dinner last week, there was also absolute unanimity that Senator Grafstein, given the slightest opportunity, will talk your ear off. He is the wrong man to meet on a street corner when you are rushing to a meeting for which you are a little late. Honourable senators, we all know this about Jerry, but we still love and admire him a lot, not only for what he says, but also for all the great and public spirited things he does — from organizing Rolling Stones concerts in Toronto, to finding housing for Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans, or for supporting 9/11 victims in the Big Apple.
We love him for his belief in the family unit, his wife Carole, brilliant sons Laurence and Michael and his wonderful grandchildren we were able to meet the other night. We also love him for the pungent aromas that he emits while savouring a fine Cohiba cigar or other very special Cuban stogie. Yes, Jerry is a sartorial gentleman, maybe even the Beau Brummell of the Senate, with his beautiful silk shirts and ties that are matching to a fault. What a guy!
I will truly miss my friend Jerry and value the time I spent with him on Canada-U.S. issues and on the Banking Committee, which has already been mentioned.
I learned one hell of a lot from you, Jerry. For that, I will be eternally grateful.
Senator Grafstein is a gentleman. He is a loyal friend, a great Canadian and an outstanding senator. We will miss him a lot here. We wish him much happiness and success as he moves on to his next interesting endeavour, whether it is in business, public service or both, as a broadcaster or a publisher, or even a mayor. Go for it, Jerry. Thank you for making this Senate a better place over the past 26 years.