A great parliamentarian passes

(Canscene) The following is reprinted from the Gallon Environmental Newsletter, with permission.

“He taught me far more than most cabinet members.” Chrétien

That was one of the many compliments extended by his former colleagues at last week’s celebration of the life of Charles Caccia, a forestry economist who became MP for the Toronto riding of Davenport, and who died on May 4th last.

Charles Caccia was one of Canada’s most stalwart proponents of Sustainable Development. Though environment minister for only a year and a month at the end of the Trudeau government and through the John Turner government in 1983 and 1984, Charles used his 36 years of service as an MP to hammer away at everyone who would listen, and at many of those who wouldn’t, on the need for a more environmentally and socially responsible society. He was for more than 10 years (1994 – 2004) the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and he set up and ran from his office the Parliamentary Centre for Environmentally Sustainable Development.

The celebration of his life attracted former Prime Minister Chrétien, Leader of the Liberal Party Stephane Dion and more past and present Liberal MPs and Senators that have gathered together at anything other than a Liberal caucus meeting in a long time. Reflecting his outreach and effective consensus-building style the event was attended by representatives of many of Canada’s environmental NGOs, as well as by his friends and colleagues from the Institute of the Environment at the University of Ottawa which had become his home following his somewhat forced retirement by Prime Minister Paul Martin, from the House of Commons in 2004.

Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada., delivered one of the many tributes to this outstanding man. Among the approximately 300 people who crammed into the small chapel of an Ottawa funeral home for the entirely secular celebration the only apparent absence was from the government side of the House of Commons, but then perhaps Charles, a dedicated Liberal, would not have wanted participation from a government for which he had little time.

Reprinted, with thanks, from the Gallon Newsletter.

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