Tribute to Senator Atkins
Mine is a testimony of friendship with a mentor and it goes back a long time.
It started decades ago when Dalton Camp, Findley MacDonald and Norman Atkins were contributing their formidable talents to many conservative campaigns in different provincial races and the federal arena.
When Norman Atkins was creating the “the big blue” machine in Ontario, I was starting out as a young reporter. It was after I joined the National Press Club that I started hearing Dalton Camp’s stories about Norm Atkins.
Then I heard more from Findlay Macdonald. And the conservative election campaign of 1984 provided me with more opportunities to observe the big blue machine at its best. And Norman was running it.
No one could have predicted all those years ago that this Progressive Conservative would end up being the political mentor of a fledging Liberal Senator. Norm Atkins is my mentor in the Senate. He is my political man of wisdom. He is who I go to for guidance.
When I was offered the position of Opposition Whip I wasn’t sure I wanted it.
I asked Norman what he thought and he said, “It’s an opportunity. Grab it!” (Now I can blame him!) When I needed advice about my Private Members Bill, it was Norman who told me how to proceed.
As true mentors always are, he is a living example and model. His sense of integrity and his generosity of spirit are character traits that inspire others.
Having given advice to future premiers and prime ministers, his dedication to public service and respect for institutions is a source of inspiration to those who will follow in the Senate. Our children would be wise to understand his thinking and his beliefs.
The courage and grace with which he lives his daily life in the face of a difficult physical challenge illustrates his strength of character.
He will continue to be my mentor. Thank you Senator Atkins.