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

Honourable senators, it is with both sadness and pride that I say farewell to a longtime friend and colleague, Senator Jerry Grafstein, who has energized the Senate. Certainly, he has energized our caucus ever since he entered this chamber in January 1984. He brought with him his skill as a lawyer and as a longtime political adviser for the Liberal Party in Toronto. He has been an icon in Parliament and in this chamber.

I first met Jerry in 1966 when he came to work with a vigorous new cabinet minister, the Right Honourable John Turner. He was a first-class assistant in helping to set up the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. He was a young Liberal and full of advice. He is still a young Liberal. Not only was he full of advice and a great fundraiser, he was also profoundly admired by all of us. His passion for his city and his country is deeply rooted. His friendship with, and knowledge of our neighbour, the United States, has grown tremendously over the years. He is the longest-serving co-chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, with 15 years in that capacity. He is recognized not only as a senator but as a respected representative of this country, determined to maintain an open door when discussion and help are needed. When he is not deep in politics, he is an invaluable community organizer.

He spearheaded the slogan, "Canada Loves New York." Almost 30,000 Canadians heeded that slogan and went to New York to offer assistance after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He is also well known for his work to bring the Rolling Stones to Toronto on July 30, 2003, as the disaster of SARS moved across our country. The concert had an attendance of about 500,000, including me. It was recognized as the largest outdoor ticketed event in world history. The concert was also noteworthy in my view because I saw, as I rolled in from Lethbridge, Alberta, that they were selling Alberta beef in support of the Canadian beef industry, which had been suffering because of mad cow disease.

All in all, Jerry has had a great life on the Hill. I remember how young we were — and still are — on the other side of this building, as were the Leader of the Government in the Senate and others. We were friends and we are still friends. In every sense, it has been a great opportunity for us to serve with him in Parliament, not to mention all the rest that he has done for the place he cares so much about, Toronto.

I thank you, Jerry, for everything you have contributed in the Senate for the last 26 years. We will miss you. I will miss you. I will miss watching the wonderful shirts that you wear, in particular the pink one. I remember that shirt and will think of you. All of us will miss you.

As you go, I hope that one day there will be a portrait gallery. I will be ready to support you in any way and anything that you wish to do, and to find your special events in the future, because you will have another great future. I tell you, Jerry, your presence here will never be forgotten.

 

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