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

Honourable senators, I hope you will not consider this a prop, but I have in my hand the Order Paper and Notice Paper that is before the house today. With the departure of Senator Grafstein, it is about to become a lot thinner because more than half the pages are taken up with motions introduced by Senator Grafstein. While some honourable senators might welcome that reduction, I think the chamber will be the poorer for not having all these contributions from Senator Grafstein. As is evident by reading this paper, he has done a great deal of research on the issues and commits to them with a great deal of conviction and passion. He has made an outstanding contribution to Canada in doing so.

As was pointed out, he made contributions outside the chamber in many of his organizations where he represented the Senate in Europe and in the United States with the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group. He has contributed outstanding work.

I cannot help but think that he quickly grasped the idea that someone with a title of "senator" would do well in relations with the United States where the title of senator carries much weight and opens many doors. He has been able to open many doors and meet and become acquainted with many people. He has used that strength to the benefit of this country in its relationship with the United States. We are so much better off because of the kind of contribution he has made.

I must mention Toronto, of course. Jerry was a strong supporter and adviser to me during my 11 years as Mayor of Toronto from 1980 to 1991. No mayor could have a better citizen of their city than Jerry Grafstein. No mayor could have a better builder, booster and promoter of a city than Jerry Grafstein. I was pleased to have been a mayor of a city that had him as its citizen.

Of course, his many contributions to Toronto have been cited by some of my colleagues this afternoon. I cannot help but mention, once again, the Rolling Stones concert in July 2003. By that time, of course, I was not mayor; I was here and was chair of the Toronto caucus. I was happy to lend my support. All kinds of people said to me: It cannot be done! They cannot organize a concert in 30 days with stars like that and expect 500,000 people to come. It is impossible.

Never tell Jerry Grafstein that anything is impossible, because he can do the impossible. That was another great contribution to Toronto in helping us to recover from SARS and to tell the world that Toronto was, indeed, a safe place to come.

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Thanks to Jerry Grafstein’s enormous effort, we are in the Guinness Book of World Records, as Senator Fairbairn said, for having the largest ticketed concert ever, and all organized in a short period of time.

Jerry, thank you for all those contributions to Canada, to international affairs and to human rights issues, which I know are close to you. I, above all, thank you for your contribution to Toronto. I look forward to a continuing friendship with you, Carole and your family.

 

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