On Wednesday afternoon I had the honour of remembering my good friend Jim Prentice and delivering a statement of remembrance in the Senate. Here is the full text of my statement:
Honourable senators, I rise today to add my voice to the tributes being paid to my dear friend Jim Prentice.
Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, is nestled in the beautiful, remote and rugged southwest corner of our province. Its location, from cities and commercialization has bred proud, independent and resilient folks: the bedrock of Canada. People who know who they are and don’t need to tell you.
The core of light in the Crowsnest is family: deep, loyal and honest connections to those you love and those who love you. Jim Prentice was a son of the Crowsnest.
We know and have heard so much about Jim’s political life. I hope to share with honourable senators what I have experienced about Jim’s family life and its impact on him.
My family and the Prentice family have been close for 20 years. Like so many families, we became friends through our kids at school. We don’t think of Jim; we think of Jim and Karen. Together, they raised three outstanding daughters and built a meaningful life of contribution to church and community in Calgary.
As we all know in this chamber, nothing in politics can be achieved alone. Family love, support and advice is essential. Karen was Jim’s most ardent and loyal supporter. She was at his side through all his political endeavours, beside him in good days and rough days. She believes, like Jim did, that public service is important, and for those of us who have benefited so tremendously from our communities, we have a responsibility to give back.
It is through Jim and Karen’s daughters Christina, Cassia and Kate, and their two sons‑in‑law and two grandchildren that the real strength of family shines through. It’s fair to say that Jim’s girls moulded him as much as he moulded them. The girls have a deep social awareness and a view of what is best for Canadian communities. They rarely hesitated in sharing their thoughts with their dad, always to Jim’s benefit.
In this regard, I think of the contribution that Jim made to the arts in Canada, something that very few people know of. Jim and Karen’s daughter Kate is a gifted visual artist with a strong view of the role and the importance of arts, arts education and building rich, generous and inclusive communities.
I know that because of this strong influence, Jim and Karen have become influential supporters and advocates for the arts. Jim’s strong push to establish a national portrait gallery of Canada and his key support for the Government of Canada’s fundamental donation of $25 million to the Banff Centre stand as a testament to this family influence.
As well, Jim’s early support for same‑sex marriage and the appointment of many highly qualified women to fill government boards further outlines this connection.
It was Jim’s family who motivated him, supported him and kept his feet firmly on the ground.
My memory of Jim will be bookended by personal images. In 2003, Jim at Cassia and our son’s high school graduation — as our designated photographer — catching lasting images of proud parents and our kids as they set out on bold adventures.
And just three months ago at Jim’s sixtieth birthday celebration, Karen and the girls regaling us with stories filled with love, humour and gentle pokes.
We were all so happy for Jim and Karen, excited to be part of the next great chapter. We all enthusiastically urged Jim to stand and respond, to share some stories. He stood up, dried a tear and told his family and his friends how much he loved them, and he quietly sat down.