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

Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to my friend Jerry Grafstein, whom I have known for over 45 years. I even knew him in his twenties, if you can believe it. I was somewhat younger or you would be paying tribute to me today.

Those were the young Liberal days. When we look back on that period, we think of Lester Pearson, Walter Gordon, Keith Davey and the song with the lines, "Those were the days, my friend. We thought they’d never end." However, they did and we moved on.

We worked together on countless campaigns. In fact, I cannot resist mentioning one of them, the 1964 provincial leadership campaign. A man by the name of Andrew Thompson won; some honourable senators may have known him, though maybe not as well as you should have. In any event, those were the days.

Senator Cowan spoke about Senator Grafstein’s legal career and Senate accomplishments. I want to touch on how he helped to make democracy work at the party level. If it does not work at the party level, then it does not work. There are people on both sides of the house, such as Senators Meighen, Finley, Nolin and Angus — whom have I left out? — who have all helped to make the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party work. Those two national parties are a form of glue that helps to keep the country together, and I believe that.

Senator Grafstien has done that work at all levels. At the riding level and then, in the 1968 leadership campaign, we had both been John Turner’s executive assistants. Jerry came before me and then I worked for Turner. Many people do not realize that in the 1968 convention, Turner had the largest portion of the youth vote. Many people assumed that Trudeau did. It was a friendly convention with a good ending and everyone got behind Mr. Trudeau, however we had rounded up most of those young people to support John Turner.

Jerry has also been involved in the Red Leaf group that creates imaging, advertising and things like that.

Jerry gives new meaning to the word "energy." I do not need to explain that. All honourable senators know that. It is just simply there.

Another role I want to reference is the way in which he has somewhat filled the shoes of someone like David Croll, who was a patriarch of the Jewish community. Jerry has represented that community in a fair, balanced and, I think, objective way on lively issues. I fully and totally respect that. Those will be very hard shoes to fill.

Jerry has also been a friend. It is hard to believe now, but when he was appointed to the Senate in January 1984, I was in the other place. I hosted a dinner for him upstairs at Café Henry Burger with a dozen of his friends. We had another dinner for him last week and there were 25 times that number. The place was packed; it was a sell out; it was an extravaganza. You do not see too many shows like that — it was an incredibly tremendous tribute. None of us who were there will forget it.

Jerry, you will be missed. Yes, someone will succeed you and fill the seat, but they will not really fill it because you are irreplaceable. Some of your causes and issues have been addressed but there are still motions and private members’ bills that have not yet come to fruition. The seeds have been planted, watered and will be harvested. As time goes by, your legacy will be even stronger.

It will be on the record that Jerry’s family was snowed out today. Carole will still kick him out of the house most days because he will have many other things to do.

All the best to the family and to you, Jerry. You will be missed. You are irreplaceable.

 

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