Hon. Don Mazankowski (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance):
Madam Speaker, today it is my pleasure to rise to pay tribute to one of our most distinguished colleagues, one of the most distinguished members of the House, our friend and colleague, the hon. member for Vancouver South, the Speaker of the Chamber, the Hon. John Fraser.
Most of us know him simply as Mr. Speaker for that is the role that he has played with great humour and skill over the last seven years. Like many of us, I have also been privileged to know him as a colleague, a friend and as a member of the party of which I am a member.
On behalf of the party and on behalf of the Government of Canada I am therefore happy and proud to salute the remarkable contribution that he has made to the institution of Parliament and in advancing Canadian democracy.
June 16, 1993
The Hon. John Fraser has been a member of the House for almost 21 years and sat for almost 11 years as a member of the opposition. As an opposition member he was a principled individual who pursued the important issues that concerned him most and those which were of concern to the people and the region he represented.
Most notable among these issues was the environment which I suppose stems from the fact that he really is a great outdoorsman. He is an avid hunter and fisherman, an ardent skier. One of his daughters is a world champion.
It is important to note that in his campaign of 1972, long before the environment was a popular issue, it was one of the principal elements of his personal electoral platform.
As Minister of the Environment in the government of the right hon. member for Yellowhead he was the first Canadian minister to begin acid rain treaty negotiations with the United States. It was this vision and groundwork which helped our government to conclude an historic acid rain agreement with the United States some years later, an accord which helps to safeguard our national heritage for future generations. The establishment of a national park on South Moresby Island and the Greening the Hill program are just two more examples of the kind of leadership the hon. member for Vancouver South has shown.
I have every reason to believe that even in his retirement from this place he will continue to speak out publicly in favour of sustainable development, environmental protection and its enhancement.
As the first elected Speaker of the House of Commons, the hon. member from Vancouver felt that it was critical to move immediately to gain the trust and support of his fellow parliamentarians. That he did, and he did it with great flourish, commanding the overwhelming respect of all members of the House in landmark decisions that were seen as fair to all sides.
John Fraser reveres the institution of Parliament and has a profound understanding of the role that it plays in the maintenance of our democratic society and the enrichment of our democratic principles. He more than anyone else in the Chamber has helped to maintain the reputation of the House of Commons as a place for
vigorous but dignified discussions of the nation's business. He was always concerned about the dignity and the decorum of the House.
It is also fair to say, and I am sure that this would be supported by all members of the House, that he was fair-minded and always went the extra distance to give every member the benefit of the doubt, sometimes to the exasperation of members on the government side. However his combined abilities, with his wit, his humour and his keen sense of timing, were very important in the discharge of his difficult task as Speaker of the House.
This is the legacy the Speaker of the House of Commons has left to this institution and all Canadians. As parliamentarians and as Canadians we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Subtopic: HON. JOHN FRASER