Tribute The Honourable Tommy Banks on the occasion of his retiring from the Senate of Canada


December 13th, 2011

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I also rise to acknowledge Tommy Banks' contribution to Albertans, to Canadians and as a member of the Senate.

We were both appointed to the Senate in the spring of 2000, and we both served for several those early years on the newly reconstituted Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. At that time, under the chair of Senator Kenny, the Defence Committee published some outstanding reports due to no small effort that Senator Banks did on the committee.

The level of the debate is always elevated with Senator Banks in this chamber. Whether you agree with his arguments, Senator Banks always presents reasoned arguments to debate in this chamber in a most articulate way. His intelligent and articulate discourse carried over to his work in the Senate committees, whether questioning witnesses or debating amendments to bills. That is the way the Senate should work.

Tommy, you have a natural curiosity and an inquiring mind, you listen well in the chamber and committees, and you ask in depth questions with a focus on the important aspects of an issue. I feel like I am back in school writing a report card. You were wonderful.

As an advocate for independent thought when examining bills by senators, I know that you view improving and critiquing bills — regardless of your political stripe — as a major role, and indeed the strength of an effective Senate and of an effective senator.

I also know that when the Liberals were in government you often proposed amendments to legislation or voted in favour of others' amendments. While our ministers did not always like it, that did not matter. You did what you believed was right. As you noted recently in an interview, in the last three years, no bill has been sent back to the other place from the Senate with amendments.

Tommy, you are a proud Albertan, and you have spoken of your province and your beloved Edmonton on many occasions. It has been a pleasure working with you over the past 11 years. Like others, I would like to wish you and Ida a happy retirement. As Senator Angus said earlier, musicians do not retire. They will keep on playing.

I think perhaps this will just be another new stage in your life. My best wishes to you and your family.