It would not surprise me to hear that the good Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier himself greeted Mauril Bélanger last night with the kind of remark we might expect from him: “I wasn’t expecting you so soon, but good work, old friend.” Good work indeed. Replacing Jean-Robert Gauthier as MP was not going to be a simple task. But before long, through sheer hard work, but most importantly through the force of his own open, straightforward and endearing personality, Mauril’s riding became his own. After his 21 years as the federal member for the riding of Ottawa-Vanier, it had to happen!
And now Mauril Bélanger has left us. Not just as an MP, but as a hero. When he learned of the terrible illness he had, he could very well have left it all behind and simply tried to enjoy the time left to him. No one, absolutely no one, would have had a word to say against him had he done that; everyone would have understood. But because he had been a fighter all his life, he never gave in. He chose to continue in his important role as an MP, and even to travel to Africa, in spite of his illness, because he had made commitments as a parliamentarian and a representative of the Association des parlementaires de la Francophonie.
That kind of dedication, and with such class to boot, is not something we will see again soon.
Mauril was always available and his wise counsel helped me a great deal. He always recommended not wavering from the course and always being open with people. Mauril Bélanger is the real deal. The real Francophone deal, and they don’t make many like him. It is not unusual for politicians to be eulogized when they die. But our own Mauril has left us, and that hurts. There will be others who will stand up and wage the political battles in future. There will be others whose integrity shines uncommon bright. There will be other MPs who are quite simply top-notch. But the thing is, Mauril is all that and much more.
Mauril’s work has been extraordinary, and some projects can still have a follow thru and great impact. It would be great to see our national anthem (English version) become fully inclusive, and also have our nation’s capital become officially bilingual by the celebration of the 150th anniversary of our country’s Confederation.
Our sincerest condolences to his wife Catherine and their children and grandchildren, from all of us at the Office of the French Language Services Commissioner.
Thank you, Mauril; you will be with us always.