Mr. Speaker, the background of our great country is composed of telluric elements of great resistance. Each one of these elements contributes to the strength and personality of our country. From day to day those elements become more obvious, for it will not always be so. From time to time one is tempted to doubt the vigour of the Canadian identity, but in times of distress or of deep reflection, the powerful ties which unite us as Canadians stand out boldly.
Mr. Speaker, one of those ties is the stature of the men who are dedicated to public life in our country. Another tie is the fact that those in power in Canada have always, each in his own way, dedicated themselves to the welfare and the progress of Canada.
It may be said that Canadians have been well served by the men in their public life and that, when one of them passes away, regardless of what part of the country he comes from, it means a loss for the whole country. When a man of Daniel Johnson's stature leaves us, it is not merely the Canadians of that part of the country who are dealt a blow, but Canada as a whole.
Daniel Johnson exemplified those traits which any political leader, or any man, could well choose as standards of measurement: dedication to his country and his province; pride in the achievements and beauty of his culture and its language; courage in the face of adversities both personal and political; calmness and moderation on occasions when a lesser man would have exhibited neither; loyalty to his party and its convictions; devotion to his family.
All Canadians know that our country is going through a period of capital importance
for our future and that the basic values themselves are those which are sometimes questioned when the future is discussed.
There is no doubt that Mr. Daniel Johnson was one of the distinguished participants and interlocutors in that important dialogue which is now going on between Canadians and through which he was trying to find the common values on which the country could agree and unite. We will not forget that his objective was the recognition and the protection of the rights of French Canadians, since that protection is a matter of conscience for all Canadians and it is also, I think, the objective of all good men in Canada.
The people Mr. Johnson represented in the legislature, those who had elected him, those he had served for many years in his riding, know that they could not have a more conscientious, more energetic and, may I say. gracious spokesman.
On behalf of the government of Canada I express my most heartfelt sympathy to his family, to Quebeckers and to the government of Quebec.
Death could not come, Mr. Speaker, at a more untimely moment for this great Canadian.