Members of the Senate paid tribute to their former colleague, Jim Tunney, Tuesday as his family watched from the public gallery in Ottawa.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley, Hon. Joseph A. Day, Hon. Claudette Tardif, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, spoke at length about the Grafton-area resident who served in the Senate between 2001-2001. Tunney died in September 2010 following a lengthy career of public service to the agriculture industry, as a school board trustee and a community leader.
Hubley, who is from Prince Edward Island, was a seatmate of Tunney’s and spoke about his contributions to farming as a director of the Dairy Bureau of Canada and the Ontario Milk Marketing Board. He was also placed in the Qunite Agriculture Wall of Fame.
Day, a Liberal senator from New Brunswick, paid tribute to Tunney’s integrity and personal relationships with other senators. Day recalled a story Tunney told about wanting to buy a particular house. Each day he would walk by it and promise himself one day it would be his. In fact, he would go up and ask the farmer if he could. He was told to come back when Tunney had enough money to purchase it. So he saved and once he had all the money, he went back to the farmer. Sure enough, the farmer sold him the farm. Tunney spent the rest of his life in the house.
The tribute ended with Tardif reading from a letter written by former Senator Eugene Whelan for the occasion.
“Many times Jim would also call our home in Amherstburg, and if I was not there, he would talk with my wife Liz at length, and give her the message. She would relay all of Jim’s messages very carefully to me, and it developed into a long-standing family relationship over many years; sadly our last conversation by phone was only three weeks before Jim left this world. We will always remember Jim Tunney as a great representative of the dairy farmers, and if I was ever thought to be a good Minister of Agriculture for Canada, it was because of people like James Francis Tunney helping me to do my job,” he read from the letter.
“I will never forget,” Whalen wrote.
In attendance were Tunney’s two stepsons, Karol and Ed; their wives, Susan and Karen; his grandchildren, Paul Shaw, Karl Shaw, Dennis Blackburn, Stephanie Shaw and Todd O’Rourke; and his siblings, Patrick and Kathleen Tunney.
For a full transcript click here
Jim truly was a gentle man that studied the facts of an issue intently and objectively before forming a position. He sought out others for input and consultation and was an intent listener. He loved discussion in its truest form – the sharing of ideas to effect change. He was an intent listener who had no problem finding his voice when presenting an issue or a point – often giving voice to not only his own thoughts but more importantly for others who did not have a voice.
He was a passionate supporter of farmers and Aboriginal People and was a good friend of Alderville First Nation.
He was as they say – “the salt of the earth”. A person of great kindness and honesty.