Condolence motions on the passing of Conrad Santos, Harvey Smith, Clarence Pettersen, Frank Pitura, Stuart Briese and Edward Connery
On March 4th in the afternoon, I joined other MLAs to remember those MLAs who have passed on
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, I speak to pay tribute to Dr. Conrad Santos. He served for a total of 24 years in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly in the constituencies of Burrows, Broadway and Wellington.
Born in the Philippines and educated at Harvard, he received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan and he had taught at the University of Manitoba before being elected as an MLA.
Dr. Santos had a long-running interest in politics and in helping those who were less well off. He was the first MLA with a Philippine background to be elected in Manitoba. He served for a while as Deputy Speaker and he used to entertain members of the Assembly with long speeches which covered a lot of territory.
In common with our present Premier, Dr. Conrad Santos had ties to Costa Rica. He served as a consultant for Costa Rica's Instituto Centroamericano de Administración Pública.
In his maiden speech in the Manitoba Legislature on February 26, 1982, Dr. Santos spoke of how meeting people in Burrows as he campaigned had transformed him. He spoke of the importance in a multicultural society of the Legislature being representative of the diversity of our society. He spoke of life as a long, winding road and the importance of considering all the alternative courses of action along that road.
He spoke specifically about people in Burrows. He said, and I quote: We in the constituency of Burrows consider life like a big grinding stone; it grinds us down or could pulverize us, or it could polish us up, depending on the kind of materials we're made out of. But we're made out of granite rocks, Mr. Speaker; the more life grinds us, the more we come out like shiny pebbles, worthy to be jewels in the crown of this country. And Dr. Conrad Santos was one of those shiny petals, an example to many, many others who have come after him.
Dr. Santos was an optimist but he also warned his colleagues in the NDP party to avoid the tendency to egotism and corruption. And he also spoke as a trained political scientist that he was, of the importance of public morality and making government responsible, something we would all do well to remember.
On behalf of the Manitoba Liberal caucus, I extend condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Conrad Santos and to the Philippine community in Manitoba.
Thank you, merci, miigwech, salamat po. [Thank you.]
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, I rise to speak on the condolence motion for Harvey Smith.
He served for two years as an MLA from 1986 to 1988. He's actually better known for the 22 years he spent as a city councillor from 1980 to 1986 in Sargent Park Ward and from 1998 to 2014 in the Daniel McIntyre Ward.
I met Harvey Smith many times, and we had many talks during his tenure as a city councillor for the Daniel McIntyre Ward from 1998 to 2014. He was very, very active in attending community events, and in particular events put on by diverse ethnocultural groups in his ward.
In his maiden speech in the Manitoba Legislature, on May 9th in 1986, he expressed his concern for those who are unemployed, saying, and I quote, unemployment is a degrading experience and can destroy the dignity of an individual.
He continued, the longer one is unemployed, the more devastating can be the result as door after door is shut in your face. Unemployment scars the individual.
Harvey Smith was concerned–very concerned about those who were less well off. And he was also very concerned about the human rights of individuals in Manitoba. In his maiden speech, he also talked about multiculturalism, and spent quite a section about the need to clean up the rivers in Manitoba, and a program for cleaning that up.
Harvey, in his three years in the Manitoba Legislature, spoke many times. He served as party whip for a while, and he spoke on one occasion about the need for improved decorum in the Manitoba Legislature. This was on August 28th, 1986, in a grievance.
I quote him: When people put on question period on the TV, and hear all that noise, they think they're all acting in a wild fashion, an irresponsible fashion. It was a member who I will not name whose behaviour he picked out, and I quote, Harvey said, his behaviour has been absolutely incredibly bad.
On the other hand, he remarked in that same speech of the Leader of the Liberal Party, that, and I quote, I think she's acted as a responsible person, a responsible member of this House.
I thank Harvey Smith for his fair-minded comments on Sharon Carstairs, who was then the Manitoba Liberal Leader, and I say on behalf of the Manitoba Liberal caucus, condolences to the family and friends of Harvey Smith.
Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.
A teacher for 33 years, Clarence was a graduate of Brandon University with a degree in history and education. He loved travelling and backpacked around the world with his wife Judy when he was younger. He was passionate about education. He taught grades 4 through 12 during those 33 years.
For his last 10 years as a teacher, he was at an alternative high school, Many Faces, helping children who were having difficulty with the traditional educational system. He worked very hard to help young people achieve their full potential. He said in his maiden speech at the Manitoba Legislature that teaching was one of the hardest jobs, but also one of the most important and rewarding.
Clarence was passionate about northern Manitoba. In one of his members' statements, he spoke of this passion as he recognized the 100 years since the North became part of Manitoba in 1912. He loved canoeing and paddled many times up the Churchill River to Pakatawacun. Several times, he took his basketball teams to Pakatawacun to show Flin Flon students what life was like in a First Nations community. His students were invariably impressed by the friendliness of the people and their wonderful hospitality.
Clarence was only too well aware of the issues around the health-care system in northern Manitoba. When his daughter needed a CT scan, it was a long ride in an ambulance to The Pas. When his mother broke her hip, she had to travel to the Boundary Trails hospital.
He was also very concerned about the mining industry, and he praised the mining academy in Flin Flon for the promise it offered. Clarence was at times outspoken in standing up for people in the North, and we honour him for that. In the end, sadly, he was defeated over a rift in his own party.
On behalf of the Manitoba Liberal caucus, I extend our condolences to the family and friends of Clarence Pettersen.
Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to talk about the condolence motion for Frank Pitura.
Frank was the MLA for Morris from 1995 to 2003, born in Winnipeg and educated at Sanford Collegiate. He then went to the University of Manitoba.
From 1967 to 1977, he worked for the government of Manitoba. In 1977, he left to take up farming and farmed until about 1991. He returned to working with the provincial government in 1987 and was there until he entered politics in 1995.
In his maiden speech, Frank Pitura waxed poetic. I will quote as follows: There is something in the air. It is a freshness like a spring prairie sprinkled with the glistening morning dew. It is an energy of light and movement like crisp pure winter's evening with the aurora borealis dancing across the sky. There is some-thing sweet in the air in Manitoba like the waft of fragrant blossoms which seep across the balmy breezes of summer. It's so powerful, you can almost taste it. It is optimism. It is hope. It is a faith in a bright and prosperous future.
Madam Speaker in the Chair
It was a poetic side of Frank Pitura that I didn't often see, but I certainly appreciated his using colourful words to express his feelings.
He was appointed the Minister of Government Services in January 1997, the year of the flood of the century. That spring, when the flood hit, I was the Member of Parliament for Portage-Interlake and was involved with the flood effort at the federal level as the Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, so I remember Frank Pitura well from that time.
His provincial riding and my federal riding overlapped to a small extent. I remember, as an example, during the flood of 1997, visiting with the reeve and council of the RM of Macdonald. It was a critical stage of the flood, and keeping connected with municipalities was really important so that everyone was working together. It was a tough time, and I think particularly tough for Frank Pitura, for his riding was badly affected by the flood. But he worked hard and he did well.
As minister, Frank Pitura also participated in some of the planning for dike reconstructions, announcing in due course the building of the new dike around Ste. Agathe.
I remember sometime after that going to the dike with Herm Martens, the then-reeve of the RM of Morris, after the dike was partly completed. There was some adjustment needed, but when that dike was finished building, it has served the community of Ste. Agathe well for many, many years.
After the election of 1999, though Frank was re-elected, it wasn't the same thing being in opposition as being in government. And in 2003, he stepped back from politics.
On behalf of the Manitoba Liberal caucus, I extend our condolences to the family and the friends of Frank Pitura.
Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, I write–rise to speak on the condolence motion for Stuart Briese.
Stuart served in the Manitoba Legislature as an MLA from 2007 to 2016, representing Ste. Rose for the first four years and Agassiz for the last five. He was a hardworking, community-minded person. He'd previously served for 20 years on the council of the rural municipality of Langford, and had served ably and well as vice-president and then as president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.
He also served for three years on the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, but still was first and foremost a farmer, owning and operating a fourth-generation grain, hog and cattle farm, starting in 1975.
In his comments in the Legislature, he often spoke of agricultural issues and, following the 2007 Throne Speech, he bemoaned the lack of attention to agriculture. He said, and I quote: Any jurisdiction that forgets its agricultural roots is destined to failure.
Stu recognized the need to attract young people into agriculture and advocated the development of mentoring and apprenticeship programs for young people. He was also very concerned about the stewardship of Crown lands. I suspect he might be quite concerned and–about the government's most recent approach to Crown land, which is causing a lot of distress for farmers in the Crane River area, a region that was part of the Ste. Rose constituency when he was the MLA for 2007 to 2011. I wish, actually, he was back in the Legislature to speak to this issue now. We need him.
He was passionate about the people in his constituency. He was a strong advocate for the personal-care home which was eventually built in Neepawa. He criticized the NDP when he was first elected for announcing the construction of the care home many times over an eight-year period without there ever being a shovelful of dirt moved.
He–and, when it was built, it was actually quite interesting because they had a wing which was specially designed for people with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, which was–had quiet music and was carefully positioned to avoid the kind of aggressive behaviour that sometimes happens with those with Alzheimer's.
Stu was very concerned about Indigenous people in Manitoba. He spoke strongly in support of a bill to promote reconciliation following the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and he hoped genuinely that it will lead to a better relationship between all the people of Manitoba.
In the spring of 2015, he brought forward a resolution to support Jordan's Principle and its implementation. In a spirit of generosity in recog-nizing that I'd been trying for a number of years to get the Legislature to support Jordan's Principle, he asked me to second his resolution, which I was proud to do. In his speech on the resolution he emphasized we have children still falling through the cracks today, and that's simply unacceptable. The resolution received unanimous support.
On behalf of the Manitoba Liberal Caucus, I extend condolences to the family and the friends and constituents who Stu Briese represented.
Thank you. Merci. Miigwech.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, I rise to talk to the condolence motion on the passing of Ed Connery.
Ed Connery was the MLA for Portage la Prairie from 1986 to 1992. He was well-known for his farming background and his ability to stand up for the people of Portage la Prairie and region.
With his vegetable farm, Riverdale Farm, just south of Portage la Prairie, he was an industry leader. He adopted and introduced new approaches, mechan-izing and in other areas and got involved with and chaired the root crop marketing board from 1972 to 1981.
He was the vice-president of the Manitoba producers board from 1982 to 1984. He was the director of the Vegetable Growers' Association of Manitoba and a director the Canadian Horticultural Council before he entered politics in 1986. He would later, in 2007, be inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.
I had the opportunity to meet Ed on many occasions. Indeed, he was one of the first people I visited when I ran to become the MLA or the Member of Parliament in Portage-Interlake in 1988. He was very knowledgeable, and impressed upon me that he'd won election in Portage la Prairie because he'd knocked on every door in the constituency.
He was forthright and he didn't hesitate to tackle issues, even if they were difficult ones. He began his maiden speech in the Manitoba Legislature as follows, this being–I quote: This being my maiden speech, I shouldn't have an objection right from the beginning, but I do have one. To the member of Charleswood who suggested I should stand on the books, I'm not that short.
In his speech, he spoke eloquently of the attractions of Portage la Prairie, a beautiful city, well treed, with a beautiful lake and a nice island park in the centre. As a vegetable farmer, he spoke up about Portage being the vegetable capital of the Prairies with the most favorable climate and growing conditions on all the Prairies.
But he bemoaned the lack of a swimming pool in Portage la Prairie and the deterioration of the Delta Marsh.
When I was elected the Member of Parliament for Portage la Prairie in 1993, I was able to help address the lack of a swimming pool. With our federal infrastructure program, the swimming pool at the former Southport base was redone and made into an excellent public swimming pool for the area. But, sadly, little progress has been made in the revital-ization of the famed Delta Marsh.
In a comment in his speech, which connects well today during the COVID-19 pandemic, where there's not been enough advanced planning and training, he said–this was his maiden speech–you cannot quick flip training for community services. He was right.
He also talked of the need for social services in the community, including daycare, a shelter for battered women and the friendship centre. This was notable, for it indicated his broader vision for the community.
In 1988, when he became a part of the Cabinet in Filmon's government, his tone changed. On that occasion when he spoke on the Throne Speech, he was still blunt and not mincing words. His comment in reply to the suggestion that he had changed by becoming in government he said, and I quote, in opposition you throw the bricks and in government you've somewhat ducked them.
On behalf of the Manitoba Liberals, I extend our 'consolences' to the family and friends of Ed Connery.
Merci. Miigwech. Thank you.