NOTES FOR REMARKS IN THE SENATE ON NEGATIVE COMMENTS IN THE MEDIA TOWARD THE RIGHT HONOURABLE MICHAËLLE JEAN

Honourable senators, I rise today to address some of the negative commentary in The Globe and Mailtoward the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean. As honourable senators have no doubt heard, Ms. Jean has decided to lighten her schedule in order to get some well-deserved rest. This announcement has seemingly given some of my former colleagues in the press an opportunity to denigrate any and all work she has done in her vice-regal position.

I understand the media’s role is to shine a light in the darkest corners of our society, but in this situation I believe that the commentary is completely off base. We were all here when Ms. Jean was sworn in to her vice-regal duties. Her charismatic personality actually livened up this wonderful place. Her inspirational story continues to inspire generations of new Canadians.

In her role as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces, she has been welcomed with open arms by our men and women serving overseas, especially those serving in Afghanistan.

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She gave them hope and a sense of purpose. She visited Africa and showed the developing world a side of Canada that sadly is not seen as often as one would like these days, one of compassion. Her caring face says to the world’s poorest, “I understand what you have been experiencing, but you must see that there is hope, that there is a way out of poverty’s crushing grip.”

Honourable senators, it is interesting that upon returning to Haiti, her place of birth, she was welcomed as a national hero. That does not happen very often in this country. Michaëlle Jean is a national treasure, one that should be celebrated as the face of a new Canada and should not be denigrated.