Elizabeth May pays tribute to the late Jim Carr

Speaker: Ms. May
Time: 14/12/2022 16:19:35
Context: Tribute

Mme Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, PV): Monsieur le Président, je remercie tous mes collègues de tous leurs mots pour rendre hommage à notre collègue et ami Jim Carr; particulièrement les mots du premier ministre, du député de Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, de la députée d’Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia et du député d’Okanagan-Sud—Kootenay-Ouest.

Je pense que tout le monde a partagé les mêmes émotions parce que nous avons perdu quelqu’un de très proche et que tout le monde aime beaucoup.

I had the great honour to know Jim for quite a long time. We got to know each other through an organization that is playing quite a role here at COP15. The International Institute for Sustainable Development is based in Winnipeg. Jim was a member of the board, and I overlapped with him on the board for five years beginning in 2000. He went on to be the vice-chair of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and I saw the influence of that experience in working on sustainable development in his work in Parliament. It bound us together as friends before we met in the chamber as fellow members of Parliament.

There have been many words said about Jim’s enormous depth of character, his range of interests, and none of them superficial. Imagine being interested in music, but being able to play oboe at a symphony orchestra; being concerned with the rights of peoples around the world, and serving to meet those ends in Parliament.

In his work in community, particularly to the member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, I want to mention knowing what a strong advocate for the Jewish community Jim Carr always was with his Russian-Jewish descendants having come to Canada in 1906. He never forgot those roots.

Jim was also, of course a journalist. However, so much has been mentioned, I can only think of one thing that has not been shared yet, but I think a lot of us knew. Jim was really funny. He had a killer sense of humour. He could have perhaps been a professional impersonator. I do not know how many members ever got to see his quite killing imitation of JFK. He had Kennedyesque looks, and he pulled off a Boston accent like nobody’s business. He was enormously gifted, and he shared those talents with us all.

The president of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, Richard Florizone, said on the statement from that organization that Jim was “the rare polymath”. That is a tribute to the ways in which he was able to come into our lives, into policy, into politics, into the arts, into community, into business, and never superficially. He has left an enormous impact throughout his life on so many different facets of our society. No doubt, the Prime Minister is exactly right: He loved this country, every inch of it.

I will cherish the memory, but it is almost impossible to believe it was only seven days ago that I hugged Jim next to his desk when Bill C-235 passed. It was a distinct honour, and one I do not take for granted, that he asked me to be his official seconder. It is rare to ask someone who is not in one’s own party to second one’s bill, but I hold it as a cherished memory. I never would have believed that when I hugged him to congratulate him on Bill C-235, building a green prairie economy act, that it was the last time I would get to hug him.

We knew his days were not many, but each day made a difference, as he said every day he passed my desk to walk down to take his spot in the front row. I would say “Jim, how are you?”. He would say “Every day is a blessing”. Let us remember his words and live our lives to be worthy of that knowledge that every day is a blessing. Let us use each day as a blessing in the service of our Lord, whatever faith we follow. Let us remember that every day is a blessing.

We are honoured to have known Jim, love him, and I will miss him. Deepest condolences and sympathy to Colleen and all the family.