Tribute to the Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool

Honourable senators, it is with great pleasure and a great deal of emotion that I rise to pay tribute to Senator Rose-Marie Losier-Cool and to thank her for her enormous contribution to the Senate of Canada and the Canadian people.

Rose-Marie, before your appointment in 1995, you had been a teacher in my home province of New Brunswick for more than 33 years, including 20 years at a French high school in Bathurst, a corner of the country I know and love well. I know your deep connection to Acadians, their interests and the particular challenges they face.

Senator Losier-Cool and her husband, Will, who is in the gallery and is a friend of mine, were very good friends of my in-laws, Claude and Simone Hébert. In 1967, we not only lived in the same neighbourhood and the Holy Family parish in Bathurst, but my wife Ginette and I rented our first apartment in the senator’s house. You could say she gave us our first home.

A woman, a teacher, an Acadian — these are the facets of Senator Losier-Cool’s identity that have deeply influenced her work and commitment to issues such as language rights for Canadian minorities and the rights of women.

She is a champion of minority rights.

It is no coincidence that she has achieved what she has, or that she has taken the path that she has. She is a quiet and discreet trailblazer who paved the way for others.

Yes, she paved the way for others, from Acadia all the way to the heart of Africa.

For instance, in the early 1980s, she became the first women president of the Association des enseignants francophones du Nouveau-Brunswick, and in 1992 she received New Brunswick’s Teacher of the Year award for non-sexist teaching. She is also the former vice-chair of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Of course, as has been said, Rose-Marie, in recent years in your work here in the state you have applied your skills and insights to your work on the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, the Committee of Selection, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights. There is always something about rights in what you do, and that is so important.

For many years, Senator Losier-Cool was our deputy speaker as well as the first female chief government whip.

Canadians in general, and women and the Acadian people in particular, have benefited from Senator Losier-Cool’s integrity and her understanding of the good that can be accomplished within the Senate.

She contributed to the advancement of La Francophonie and the status of women everywhere.

Having had the privilege of working with you, Senator Losier-Cool, I have learned a great deal from your clear-mindedness, your self-knowledge and your unshakeable commitment to people and causes that enrich the character of this country. Ever the educator, you helped me understand through words and activities why issues that matter to you should matter to all of us. In the last few years, you have applied your leadership experience and insight to women and minority issues and carried your ideas to the women of Africa.

I would like to share with you some words from your very close Bathurst friend, to whom Ginette and I spoke this morning, Madame Maryvonne Eddie. These are her words:

To your friends, Rose-Marie, you are an extremely generous woman who has always worked long and hard to promote La Francophonie and this part of your beloved Acadia. We are so proud of your achievements in the Senate and particularly of your commitment to African women, proving that you are a champion of women’s rights.

Since you have been away from us for so many years, we are delighted that you will be back with us again for your well-deserved retirement, and we wish you all the best.

Thank you, senator, for what you have taught all of us and for the good work you will no doubt continue to do.

Long live Acadia! Long live Acadia!

There is no shore like the North Shore; that is for sure.