The Honourable Lucie Pépin
The Honourable Lucie Pépin
The Honourable Lucie Pépin
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have received a notice from the Leader of the Government in the Senate who requests that, pursuant to rule 22(10), the time for Senators' Statements be extended today for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Senator Lucie Pépin, who will be retiring from the Senate on September 7, 2011.
Is it agreed that the period for tributes to the Honourable Senator Lucie Pépin
be extended, according to the rules?
Once Senator Pépin
has responded, we will proceed with Senators' Statements.
Honourable senators, Lucie Pépin
has been a great Canadian stateswoman.
was written up in a book called Women of Influence, published, interestingly, in 1985, which was the year following Prime Minister Mulroney's
landslide majority government election.
Madam Pépin ran in that 1984 election as a Liberal in the riding of Outremont.
That was not exactly a time when many Liberal MPs would have been written up as "persons of influence."
However, Lucie Pépin
has always forged her
trained as a nurse, never expecting to end up in public life.
I have read that she
grew up expecting to lead a quiet life, raising a family and doing some nursing at the same time.
However, in her
work during the 1960s at the hospital, she
saw women, especially from rural communities, suffering through annual child bearing.
As Senator Pépin
said last March:
almost 14 years here, Senator Pépin
has continued to work to advance the causes of social justice, women's rights and the health of all Canadians.
The committees she has served on are far too numerous to list, but I must single out her work on the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology and especially the Subcommittee on Population Health, for which she served as deputy chair.
That subcommittee recently did an in-depth study of determinants of health that resulted in five reports.
The subcommittee found that Canada
is falling seriously behind other countries like the United Kingdom and Sweden.
It said that it is unacceptable for a wealthy country such as Canada
to continue to tolerate such disparities in health.
They warned that this disparity may widen - wise words that need to be spoken and need to be heard.
Honourable senators, I cannot end without speaking of Senator Pépin's
work on behalf of Canada's military families.
All Canadians are aware of the dedication and sacrifice of our soldiers, especially in these dangerous times.
However, not everyone pauses to reflect upon the contribution made by their families who quietly support them while living with the ever-present fear for their safety.
has dedicated herself to supporting our military families.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Cowan: Senator Pépin
, in so many ways, you epitomize the best of this place.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, it is indeed an honour to pay tribute to Senator Lucie Pépin after more than 14 years of service in the Senate of Canada. Today we say goodbye to our colleague Senator Lucie Pépin, who will be with us until September, but, I suppose, the Senate will not be sitting at that time.
years in the Senate
of Canada, Lucie
has greatly benefited this place by her
great wisdom, her
good nature, her
elegance and her
is a shining example to all women across this country of what can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.
Long before she
came to this chamber, Senator Pépin
time and energy, both at home
and abroad, as a passionate champion for the issues and beliefs close to her
heart, many of which concern women and children - matters of equality, child care, family violence, reproductive health and, of course, political participation.
All honourable senators are undoubtedly aware, as Senator Cowan pointed out, of Senator Pépin's
career in the other place.
As Government Appointments Director at the time, I was pleased to discuss the possibility of this appointment with then Lucie Pépin
, now Senator Pépin
I was pleased that she
agreed to serve on the royal commission, and particularly pleased since she
was the only female voice, and a very practical one at that, thank goodness.
In any event, it was a great commission.
We should go back and some read some of the recommendations.
They would serve us well today.
Senator Pépin leaves Parliament at a time when the House
of Commons has just seen a record number of women elected - 76, a good number and one to build on, but one to which I am sure Lucie
would like to see at least another 30 added.
In April 1997, Lucie Pépin was appointed to the Senate by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
It was my great pleasure to serve for many years with Senator Pépin
on the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.
Her contribution to the committee's work was invaluable, especially her work as a nurse and health care worker, and especially during the committee's honest and comprehensive study of the federal role in our health care system in 2002, and the 2006 report Out of the Shadows at Last, which was an important Senate study on mental health, mental illness and addiction.
long background as a health care professional and her
genuine concern and compassion for her
fellow citizens were a major asset to the committee.
I remember that when we were doing the final rewrite of the report, Lucie
had many practical suggestions to make that absolutely improved the report.
Honourable senators, as Lucie Pépin
takes leave of the Senate
in September, I am of the firm opinion that her
retirement will find her
just as busy as she
ever was and that she
will continue to have a strong influence in public policy matters of importance in Canada
On behalf of myself personally and all Conservative senators, I wish Senator Pépin
a long, healthy and happy retirement.
will definitely be missed in this place.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, over 30 years ago, in 1980, when I was parliamentary secretary to Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who was then responsible for the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, I had the pleasure and privilege of working with my friend Lucie Pépin.
I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of one of her partners in crime from that time, Florence Ievers, who was a member of the executive council and who has since had the opportunity to work with Lucie on many issues.
At the time, Lucie
had already made a name for herself in the area of women's issues in Quebec.
successful stint with the council easily propelled her
to a Liberal Party nomination, and she
was elected in 1984.
One year that the leader remembers well is the year I lost, but that is not why she
Many of you will talk about this period, both in the other place and in this place, and it is true, madam leader, that beginning one's career in politics in opposition is never pleasant.
Many of you will talk about this period as a kind of purgatory.
Instead, I would like to focus more on when Lucie was a member of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
Like many francophone Quebecers, Lucie
and parliamentarians from Quebec must work tirelessly on various fronts: defending federalism in Quebec and promoting the French fact.
Being a feminist never stopped her
from taking on all of these other challenges.
is a Quebec nationalist, a woman who promotes Canada
in Quebec, whether in her
current senatorial designation of Shawinegan, her
former designation of Outremont or in her
beloved Saint-Jean, her
On issues such as the law, the environment, foreign affairs or, most important of all for Lucie
, the status of women, we must always think of the particular interests of Quebecers and especially of defending the French language.
I would also like to emphasize the fact that the promotion of French and respect for the Official Languages Act were not universal in 1980.
colleagues on the council had to fight a major battle at the time: the debate on the Charter of Rights was the debate where, once again, she
also had to defend women's rights, but at the same time, never forget that she
was also a Quebecer and a francophone.
has had to engage in this ongoing debate ever since she
was appointed to the Senate
, just as she
did prior to her