Honourable senators, normally we have notes in front of us to describe another senator that we’re going to miss immensely, but I had a hard time trying to put notes together because, as I gaze across at an empty chair, what I see is the human spirit. We saw the human spirit this morning with the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary medal presentation. We saw a child receiving a medal for caring for his mother who passed away of cancer. He is now nine and has been raising money in his mother’s name from the age of five. You had to be here this morning to feel it.
In the other place, there are 125 Special Olympic athletes who will be honoured on the floor of the House of Commons for their sport and play at the Special Olympics in Austria, many of these athletes have Down Syndrome. It’s a day of spirit.
I’m a great believer, honourable senators, in the human spirit, and Tobias had that.
Today, I’m talking about a connection — and a personal connection — I made with Tobias over the last five years, and that has to do with Down Syndrome. There are three of Senator Enverga’s daughters in the gallery, but Rocel, who has Down Syndrome is sitting with her mom as we speak today.
Tobias and I used to talk about a lot of things because Michael, in my office, has Down Syndrome. Rocel knows Michael, and they have such affection for each other. They have affection every time the Canadian Down Syndrome Society comes here and has an annual meeting. We all get together and we hug. And we love, and we share moments. We shared that because I had a son who had Down Syndrome. He was only a year old, but he was here for a reason. It’s his spirit that is instilled in me and in the work that a lot of us do with those with intellectual disabilities. Tobias and I shared that.
So whether you’re 1, 61 or 31, your age doesn’t matter. What matters is why you’re here and what you do with that time. We talk a lot about that subject. Tobias and I had different points of view. But there’s one thing that I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again — you can seek the wisdom of the ages, but you must always look at the world through the eyes of a child, especially a child with Down Syndrome.
I promised Tobias’s wife only moments ago that we will keep what I like to call “Tobias’s torch” alive when it comes to dealing with people with intellectual and other disabilities.
We’re all here for a certain time, and we all have a chance to serve. Tobias Enverga has served his time here, but his spirit will live on.