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Tribute in Senate Chamber: The Late Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin—Speaker of the Senate



The Late Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin—Speaker of the Senate


Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, it is with grief and sadness that I join colleagues in these tributes to our Senate Speaker, the beloved Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, the Quebec senator for De Salaberry, who was taken from us by illness just short days ago.

In these days, in our need for the sacred, I would like to cite the scriptures because I find they speak best. I call it the natural human need for the sacred. I would like to cite the New Testament, King James version, 2 Timothy 4:6. These words are comforting for me:

. . . and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith . . . .

His Honour, Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, this fine man, has run his course. He fought the good fight. In his 22 years of service here and in everything that he did, he kept the faith.

A French Canadian Quebec federalist, this native son, this special human being, was known for his love of his province, its law, its language and its people. He also loved Canada and the Confederation. He was deeply committed to the Confederation.

Honourable senators, in life and in all things living, there is a purpose and a time. As senators, we had Senator Nolin as a colleague and a friend for a time. As human beings, we have our loved ones only for a time. I repeat, only for a time. Senator Nolin deeply loved his dear wife, the lovely Camille. Theirs was a beautiful and wonderful love story. The width and depth of their shared affection was evident to all who knew them.

Pierre Claude was a just man, an independent-thinking and hard-working man. He was sustained by the love of his wife and his children. His contributions to our Senate and Canada were many and vast. I recall his and my 1996 work on Bill C-42, entitled An Act to amend the Judges Act. In debate here on November 7 that year, he said:

The independence of the judicial branch is one of the elements which it is the duty of all Canadian parliamentarians to protect and defend.

He believed that judicial independence is the bulwark of freedoms. Our hard work on that bill, for those of us here who remember, succeeded. The government sponsor moved a motion to amend their own bill, as we had suggested, in our direction. It is as though independence, freedom, justice and the rule of law were written in his heart and inscribed in his very being.

Honourable senators, Senator Nolin's father, Jean Claude Nolin, was a justice in Quebec's Superior Court. Justice Nolin had been called to the bench in 1979 by then Prime Minister Joe Clark's Minister of Justice, Senator Jacques Flynn, who was also the Senate government leader. I served with Jacques Flynn. I knew him well. He was a 1962 Prime Minister John Diefenbaker Senate appointment. En passant, many may not know the connection between these two people. Senator Flynn was a grandson of Edmund James Flynn, who from May 11, 1896 to May 24, 1897 was Quebec's last Conservative premier. Senator Nolin told me much about his father, a French-Canadian Conservative federalist. He told me about the day Senator Flynn telephoned his father to invite him to serve on the bench. The Quebec federalist Conservative cause was his cause.

Honourable senators, I close with the poem Requiem by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill

All life is for a time. To his beloved and devoted wife Camille, his loving children Simon, Louis and Virginie, and his precious grandchildren Elliot, Théodore and Flavie, I say that their grief is shared by all senators here and by countless others whose lives Senator Nolin touched in a profound and enduring way. My prayer for them is that God will hold him close and hold him in God's time.

The remainder of this day's Senate Debates are available here.