Mr. Benno Friesen (Surrey-White Rock-South Langley):
Mr. Speaker, I want to join my colleagues in paying tribute to a man everyone here respected. He was a man of whom it is easy to speak well because he was a good man. He was thought well of in the party, in the entire House of Commons and obviously by his constituents.
I remember my former colleague, the former member from Capilano, told me once that when Alex Patterson was speaking he would come down from his office and listen to him in the House. That says something about the quality of speaker that Alex Patterson was. It was good oratory but it was also good content. He was a good member of Parliament.
I think the members of the opposition also recognized that while he spoke in opposition he did not speak in malice. There is a great deal of difference between the two. We in the House of Commons need to learn lessons like that from a man like Alex Patterson.
Obviously he was also a good member for his constituency. As members who have spoken before me have noted, he was a man who was constantly re-elected. As my hon. friend from Winnipeg Transcona has mentioned, he could also be defeated but was re-elected. That does not happen too often.
He was re-elected under changing circumstances for his riding. If one compares the boundaries of his constituency in 1953 to what they were in 1984 one recognizes that there were many changes in his constituency both in its size and in its constituents. Yet he commanded the respect of the people all through those years. At the outset it was a constituency that was probably entirely
April 19, 1993
agricultural and certainly rural. By the end of his career it was changing and becoming light industry and commercial. Certainly today that constituency is enjoying a different kind of change. Through those changing circumstances he always enjoyed the support and respect of his people.
I guess one could say that with Alex Patterson you could get old and maybe even old-fashioned, in the best way of interpreting that word, but he was never an old fogy. Old-fashioned in the best sense of the word, he maintained the values that have given Canada strength and made it the country that it is today.
We pay respect to him because he could be a pillar but he could also be pliable. That speaks well of him.
I want to join others in that respect. He was always in touch with the people. One could not be re-elected the way he was without being in touch with the people.
In the words of the book of Acts it was said that Barnabas was a good man. The same could be said of Alex Patterson.
I would like to add just one anecdote which does not come from his political career or the Chamber but his family life, which he has passed on to the next generation. He was a man of Scottish descent. As other members have noted, he was a minister in the Nazarene Church. One of his children went into the ministry and decided to go for further training in the United States south of the Mason-Dixon line. The grandchildren were put in public school in kindergarten.
On the first day home from school his grandchild came home all enthusiastic. He came home and said: "Mom, I have a terrific teacher. She looks just like you". The mother was pretty excited about this and could not wait for parent-teacher night to arrive so that she could see this teacher who looked just like her.
The night came and she went to visit the school to see her son's teacher, and she was black. Here is a teacher teaching a child who did not see the colour. That did not happen by accident. That was not a casual incident. That happened because the parents learned from their parents that all men are created equal and they are created with dignity by their creator. They learned that everyone deserves the respect of everyone else regardless of who they are. That is the kind of a heritage that Alex Patterson passed on to his children who then passed it on to their children. That is the lesson all of us need to learn from a man like Alex Patterson.
Topic: ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Subtopic: THE LATE ALEXANDER BELL PATTERSON