The Late Mark Dunn

Honourable senators, it is with profound sadness that I rise today to honour an old friend. To be honest, he wasn’t that old, and that’s what makes it tougher.

On October 25, Mark Dunn died at the age of 54. Mark Dunn was part of this political play on Parliament Hill in what seems forever. He played a number of major roles, from journalist to adviser to ministers and leaders. It was as a journalist where I got to know Mark. Whether at the Canadian Press or Sun News, you knew when Mark was in the room. You knew when Mark was in a scrum. You knew when Mark was asking a question. I always wondered how you could be so gruff and smiling at the same time.

His last posting was here in Ottawa as the senior national reporter for Sun News. From what I heard in testimony at his celebration of life service on Saturday, he was well loved and well respected at Sun News.

But it was always that way for Mark. In some quarters, many feared him. As the saying goes, he didn’t suffer fools gladly. Many things have been said about Mark — for example, his descriptive language about everything, particularly politicians. But Mark was also a teacher, an editor who would help others make their stories better, a selfless man who shared his knowledge with others.

Mark Dunn had an unusual career path both as a reporter and as an adviser to ministers and leaders. How do you go from Sun News in 2001 to political adviser to former Liberal minister Denis Coderre and then join the team of former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion and then back to Sun News? Not many people could do that. But Mark could, because he was good with people. He cared about the political system, and he got to understand it from both the inside and the outside, always questioning, always probing, always trying to understand what makes the Hill tick.

In his obituary, it is written that as a journalist his stories were fuelled by his intolerance of idiocy and injustice, riddled with wit, fed by his irreverent sense of humour, and elevated by a command of the language that few reporters ever achieve.

It is also written that he was the kind of fearless old-school newspaperman that we desperately need now. One press secretary said he taught him how to swear at journalists and have them like it.

It was the same as an adviser on the campaign trail. The year was 2008. As we travelled together on the Stéphane Dion campaign, it was that wit, that biting humour that kept us reasonably sane. We may have lost the election, but Mark never lost his sense of humanity and caring for those around him.

Honourable senators, isn’t it tough when you lose a friend? But it’s tougher when you lose a spouse. Today I want to wish Gloria Galloway, who is a Globe and Mail journalist, strength, strength in knowing that her husband was a friend to many, a teacher to others, and just a good, old grumpy hack in the press gallery.

This is aging time. To his mother, Eleanor, whom I worked with in the 1970s, I want her to know that it was special to share part of her son’s life on the road and, from time to time, in a bar.

What a companion, what a son, what a husband, what a brother and stepfather. Mark Dunn lived and loved life to the fullest, and, of course, he will be missed.