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Charles Caccia, RIP

Last weekend, Charles Caccia, a 36-year veteran of the House of Commons and a strong advocate of environmentalism ahead of his time, passed away. Here is a collection of the tributes to him, in chronological order, from Hansard from this week.

Mr. Bernard Bigras (Rosemont--La Petite-Patrie, BQ):

I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a colleague who passed away over the weekend, the former member for Davenport, Charles Caccia. He was the environment minister a few years ago. He first came to the House in 1968 and, as an environmental warrior, he spent 36 years in this House trying to convince as many voters as possible that we need to protect the environment. A real fighter, in 2001, he introduced a bill for mandatory labelling. We must not forget that Charles Caccia, who died this past weekend, had been trying since 2001 to convince parliamentarians here to bring in this mandatory system. Unfortunately, the House rejected his bill, 126 votes to 91. This bill thus has a history.

Hon. Maria Minna (Beaches--East York, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to acknowledge the passing of a dear friend and former Liberal member of Parliament, the Hon. Charles Caccia.

Mr. Caccia was first elected to the House of Commons in 1968 to represent the riding of Davenport and was subsequently re-elected nine times, where he served as minister of labour, minister of the environment and Liberal opposition critic on environmental issues.

After leaving Parliament, he went on to serve as Senior Fellow at the Institute of the Environment at the University of Ottawa.

Mr. Caccia was more than a respected member of Parliament. He co-founded COSTI, Canada's largest immigrant service agency and was cherished and respected by his community. He was a great Liberal who dedicated his life to building a better Canada. His many accomplishments and his longstanding commitment to the people he served as an MP will not be forgotten. His passion for environmental and social justice issues was a great inspiration to all.

On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our caucus, I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to Mr. Caccia's family and friends. He will be missed.

Hon. Jim Abbott (Kootenay--Columbia, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the Hon. Charles Caccia, who passed away this weekend.

In 1993, as a veteran parliamentarian, Charles must have been bemused when 201 rookies, myself included, came to this place. I clearly recall turning up at Charles' environment committee without a starting point of a clue what committee was about.

Charles took me through the steps, always exhibiting the highest sense of respect and patience. He encouraged my participation in parliamentary associations. He emphasized the importance and the significance of members of Parliament attending on the world stage.

Charles Caccia was a man who proudly marched to his own drummer frequently leading the way where others had not gone. Although he and I had little in common politically or philosophically, it is an honour for me to have this opportunity to pay him tribute.

Charles Caccia was a man who made this Chamber a better place in his 36 years and into the future through those of us who remain. In that respect, Charles Caccia lives on in our Parliament today.

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Eglinton--Lawrence, Lib.):

Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to honour Charles Caccia.

[Member spoke in Italian and provided the following translation:]

He was an accomplished Parliamentarian and former Minister of Labour and the Environment. My heartfelt condolences are extended to his family, his friends, but above all to the community.

As a student, I involved myself in his first federal campaigns. At the time, he, like no other, succeeded in personally expressing the collective character and personality of the people he represented, people from other countries, with abundant energy and resources adaptable to the creation of a new and "just society"; as it was defined by the new Prime Minister of the period.

We, Italian Canadians, saw him as a vehicle for change, and integration into a society that emphasized civic responsibility and concerns for one's neighbours.

In Davenport, his dedication became iconic and for new arrivals, a role model. Thanks Charles.

Hon. Bill Blaikie (Elmwood--Transcona, NDP):

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to pay tribute to the life of the Hon. Charles Caccia, a distinguished former colleague and my predecessor as Dean of the House of Commons.

Charles was the member for Toronto--Davenport for 36 years and, while he was here, he established a reputation as one who practised politics with dignity, with principle, with civility, with independence of mind and with a deep, abiding and well-informed concern for the environment.

It is not an exaggeration to say that had Charles Caccia been listened to more often over the years by both Liberal and Conservative governments, many of our ecological problems would be far less difficult than they are today. Unfortunately, he was the minister of the environment for only a very short time.

His concern for the environment was part of a larger ethic of care that made him an advocate for peace and social justice in general and a mentor to many in this place. I worked with him in the mid-eighties when we were our party's respective environment critics, on the environment committee, on the special committee on acid rain and on many issues of mutual concern over the years.

Many others will also gratefully remember the excellent work he did more recently as chair of the environment committee for over a decade, producing critical reports that challenged his own party and government.

Parliament could have used a lot more Charles Caccias. May his memory be instructive now and in Parliaments to come.

Posted at 10:49 on May 09, 2008

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