Passing of a Great Man
In the coming days and weeks, you will be hearing and reading many accounts of the life of Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier that depict him as larger than life. And indeed he was. It is with great sadness that I write of the passing of a great man who was a tireless champion of the Francophone community here in Ontario and across the country. I would encourage you to read Rolande Faucher’s excellent biography of Senator Gauthier and to “soak up” these wonderful accounts of his life.
With the passing of this great man, it is difficult to take the measure of his accomplishments or to fully grasp how he changed the landscape of Canada’s Francophone community. Jean-Robert Gauthier spent his entire life fighting for what he believed in, and that included the rights of the hearing impaired in the House of Commons!
We owe him a huge debt of gratitude. For example, for all of his work for the establishment and governance of French-language schools in Ontario. I personally remember the incredible energy and determination with which he tabled his bill to amend Part VII of the Official Languages Act. It is important to understand how difficult it is for a member of parliament—and how much more difficult for a senator—to amend a statute by means of a private member’s bill, especially with a minority government. But he succeeded.
I feel great sadness with his passing today, and I wonder who will take his place in our history. Individuals of the stature of Senator Jean-Robert Gauthier are few and far between.
On behalf of the entire Office team, I offer Jean-Robert Gauthier’s family my sincerest condolences.