In remembrance of Nelson Mandela

Hansard December 9, 2013

Mr. Silver:   I rise on behalf of the Liberal Party to tribute the life of Nelson Mandela. Mr. Speaker, in writing this tribute, I could have stared at the pages for hours. He is a man beyond our comprehension. His courage, his grace and his forgiveness defy parallel in our world.

From a prison cell half a world away, he motivated our leaders to stand tall. He brought titans to disagree with titans on how to find the right side of history. Inevitably, it was those in support of Mandela and an end to apartheid who chose the right path. Today it may seem clear, but when Mandela sat in prison 23 years ago, it was no small feat for Canadian leaders to stand against apartheid.

Mandela appreciated Canada’s stance and we as a nation were forever humbled by the thanks that he showed us. When he spoke to our Parliament before he was able to speak to his own, we were honoured. When he accepted Canadian citizenship, it made us prouder to be Canadian. Three years later, when he was elected President of South Africa, Canadians knew that they had landed on the right side of history.

While our struggles in the Yukon may not be as great, we need to ensure that we also land on the right side of history. Our only hope of this will be by fulfilling our work as honestly, as courageously and as compassionately as possible. We can attempt to honour Mandela by treating our fellow legislators and our fellow citizens with the utmost of respect. We can do him some justice by engaging our First Nation leaders cooperatively and learning from their wisdom. We can make a small start by setting no limits to our efforts to create an equal playing field for women. We can start to honour Mandela’s life by striving to help the economically disadvantaged.

I am one of millions who will salute Mandela this week. My words will fade quickly against the world’s great orators and great leaders visiting South Africa and I am humbled in the comparison. I am honoured, though, to contribute in even the smallest way to the collective tear that the world sheds. If each of the millions who salute him and each of the billions who mourn him can stand a little taller today, then we have a faint hope of replacing the light that the world has lost in the passing of Nelson Mandela.