Honourable Senators,


As you know, to be called to this chamber is an honour and a privilege.  I am grateful for the year I have spent among you.  But I must be truthful and tell you that the highlights of the last year for me have been as a Senator off Parliament Hill, away from this place of rules and procedures, points of privilege and order.


Last month I experienced a privilege of a different sort.  I had the honour to attend the Special Olympics in Nagano, Japan.  I was proud to be part of Canada’s delegation, to represent our country, to be part of an outstanding team of athletes, families, volunteers, and coaches.


Of the many extraordinary people I have met since being called to this Chamber, I cannot think of any as extraordinary as Raymond Rockburn, a 54 year old figure skater from Ottawa, or Marc Theriault from Gatineau, a Special Olympics world champion, or Alyssa Dawn Hatton from Alberta, a downhill skier.


These are only some of the fine Canadian athletes whom I had the privilege to meet in Nagano.  I also met athletes from more than 70 countries, all Special Olympians.


Senators, the world is a better place thanks to the Special Olympics.  Started in 1968, the Special Olympics celebrates athleticism and sport among intellectually challenged people.


Competitors from around the world have met in such places as Dublin, Toronto and Anchorage.  The next Summer Games will be held in Shanghai, China in 2007.


I have a special place in my heart for the Special Olympics because of my first son, Timothy James Alexander Munson.  He was a Down Syndrome child whose smile filled me with joy for only a very few months.  In the smiles, hugs, and achievements I had the privilege to witness in Nagano, I felt the warmth of Timmy’s long-ago smile.


These moments of privilege are there, Senators, beyond this Chamber.  I challenge you all to engage in your communities, in the many facets of this rich and diverse society we call home.  Go beyond this Chamber to make a contribution.

You will find great satisfaction and even smiles.  You might yourself meet champions like Raymond Rockburn, Marc Theriault, and Alyssa Dawn Hatton.


Thank you.  Merci beaucoup.