Tributes in the Senate of Canada

Debates of the Senate

Hansard, 1st Session, 23rd Parliament,
Vol. 130, No. 159, Thursday, July 24, 1986

Hon. Rheal Belisle:

Honourable senators, may I be permitted to make some remarks, to recall some anecdotes and to comment on Senator Paul Yuzyk's role in the Senate. On February 4, 1963, four new and young senators were sworn in to take their seats in this honoured Senate chamber. They were Senator Paul Yuzyk, Senator David Walker, Senator Orville Phillips and your servant. Senator Paul Yuzyk became the longest-serving Ukrainian to be appointed to the Canadian Parliament's Upper Chamber. His maiden speech on March 3, 1963, entitled, "Canada: A Multicultural Nation", was warmly received by his colleagues. He voiced the concern of several ethnic groups that Canadians must accept the fact that they live in a multicultural nation, not a country of two solitudes comprised of the British and the French.

Multiculturalism was a subject of rancorous debate in the Canadian media when the idea was first brought up by Senator Yuzyk. Now, after more than two decades of acceptance, the concept unobtrusively manifests itself on Parliament Hill during Canada Day when ethnocultural performing groups delight crowds; in the precincts of Parliament, such as in this chamber when former Governor General Edward Shreyer delivered a segment of his installation speech in Ukrainian; and in the dozens of schools in western Canada where children take courses in English and in Ukrainian.

Senator Yuzyk's campaign for multiculturalism was capped in 1971 when the then Liberal Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau, told the nation that the government, after extensive deliberations, would introduce an official policy on multiculturalism. The policy, which committed the government to supporting ethnocultural endeavours, was endorsed by all parties.

During the past two decades, Senator Yuzyk served on a variety of national and international bodies. From 1972 on he was active in the North Atlantic Assembly, NATO, particularly in the Committee on Education, Cultural Affairs and Information. In 1977 he was elected the rapporteur of the Subcommittee on the Free Flow of Information and People.

Multiculturalism was just one of the many challenges that attracted the senator. At times his involvement in the fight for human rights at home and abroad consumed a great deal of his time and resources. He was a regular speaker at demonstrations against the abuse of human rights in the Soviet Union.

Additionally, the senator served as Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the World Congress of Free Ukrainians, and as Vice-Chairman of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation at Helsinki. When he returned from Helsinki, he was convinced that the role of Russia was a political stunt and that they had no intention whatsoever of honouring their pledge.

When a Canadian delegation went to Russia in 1975, the leader of the group, the Honourable James Jerome, then Speaker of the House of Commons, selected a delegation of four senators and eight members of the House of Commons. The four senators selected were Senator Raymond Perrault, the then Leader of the Government, Senator Paul Yuzyk, Senator William Petten and myself. The U.S.S.R. ambassador in Ottawa refused to provide a visa to Senator Yuzyk because of his role on the International and Canadian Human Rights Commission. When Senator Yuzyk informed me that he had been refused permission to visit his father's homeland, he was very upset and I am sure that he never forgot that event. At that time I told him that he would be with us in spirit and that I would request permission from them to visit the only Catholic church that was open in Moscow. At a state dinner, I did request Mr. Brezhnev's assistant to take me to church, and the whole Canadian delegation of 12 attended Mass. I had also said to Paul that when we visited Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, I would ask to go to church. I did ask President Nikolai Podgorny, who was a Ukrainian, and they took me to the only Orthodox cathedral open in Kiev.

Senator Yuzyk was a member of the Canadian delegation to the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Madrid Review Conference in 1980 and was a Canadian observer at the 1985 CSCE Human Rights Experts Meeting in Ottawa.

A large number of Ukrainian Canadians revered Senator Yuzyk for his efforts at stimulating the growth of the organized Ukrainian community. He is credited with helping to establish the Ukrainian National Youth Federation, the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood and the Ukrainian Canadian Committee. Senator Yuzyk was also a founder of the Ukrainian Student Union—SUSK—an organization which strongly supported his call for a federal multiculturalism policy.

A true scholar who believed that serious study is a prerequisite to career advancement, Senator Yuzyk seemed as at home in the classroom as he did making a speech on the floor of the' Senate. He was appointed assistant professor of Slavic Studies and History at the University of Manitoba in 1951 and stepped up to associate professor in 1958. From 1966 to 1978 he was a full professor at the University of Ottawa where he taught part-time courses on Central and Eastern Europe, Russian and Soviet history, and Canadian-Soviet relations.

Among his academic achievements were a B.A. in mathematics and physics in 1945; an honours B.A. in history in 1947; an M.A. in history in 1948 and a doctor of philosophy degree in history from the University of Minnesota in 1958.

As you all know, Senator Yuzyk was a member of many committees. He and I both enjoyed working on Senator Croll's Poverty Committee, and on the Science Policy Committee headed by the late Senator Lamontagne. He enjoyed working on the Foreign Affairs Committee, on NATO, on Defence, and, last but not least, Senator Yuzyk was deputy chairman of Senator Hebert's Committee on Youth.

Senator Yuzyk wrote more than half a dozen books and contributed several opinion pieces to Ukrainian and mainstream newspapers. His work: "Ukrainian Canadians: Their Place and Role in Canadian Life" was considered one of the best works on Ukrainians in Canada. His other published works include: "The Ukrainians in Manitoba: A Social History", which was written with a fellowship from the Manitoba Historical Society; "For a Better Canada", and "The Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church in Canada", an edited version of his doctoral thesis.

In 1980 the University of Ottawa Press published a widely discussed work: "A Statistical Compendium on the Ukrainians in Canada—1896-1976", which Senator Yuzyk co-edited with William Darcovich.

It was a rare day that Senator Yuzyk, who lived with his wife in an Ottawa suburb, would not spend at least part of his waking hours engaged in one community cause or another. Perhaps his most notable community role was holding the UNA's top executive office in Canada. He was first elected to that position in 1970, when the title was Vice-President. Later, the title was revised to Supreme Director for Canada to better reflect the UNA's role in Canada. Senator Yuzyk was re-elected to that position for the fourth time at the 31st UNA Convention, held in Dearborn, Michigan, in May of this year.

Senator Yuzyk's last official trip was in May 1986 when he travelled to Europe for a meeting of the North Atlantic Assembly.

Because of his enormous work and contribution to all spheres of our Senate duties, I hope and pray that when the federal government plans an important project or building regarding multiculturalism in Canada, his name will be favoured and considered most seriously. I am convinced that, when historians write about the Senate, Senator Paul Yuzyk will have his name selected for his multiculturism contribution.

Some three years ago, when the senator was informed that they had found positive signs of cancer, he said: "Rheal, don't worry; by a severe diet and by being extremely careful, I will beat it." I said: "Why don't you take life easy and relax? You are not eternal; you will be replaced like every one of us." He said: "Yes, I will be replaced; I do not worry. If I live, I will continue to fight for my people; I will continue to serve Him. If I die, I will see Him and live with Him forever."

Well, as you know, on July 9, at the age of 73, after a brief battle with cancer, he passed away.

His funeral was held at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, and people came from across Canada and the U.S.A. The celebrants were Metropolitan Maxim Hermaniuk of Winnipeg, Bishop Isidore Borecky of Toronto, Reverend Vladimir Shewchuk, his parish priest, and, with other priests, they celebrated one of the nicest and longest religious ceremonies that I have ever attended, while the Ukrainian Choir of Ottawa prayed and sang for two and a half hours. The six honorary pallbearers were the Honourable Don Mazankowski, Deputy Prime Minister, representing The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, myself representing the Senate, the Honourable David Crombie, Minister of Multiculturalism, and three of his close friends, Dr. L. Kawula, General J. Romanow and Colonel B. Yarymovich. I was pleased to see such a large turn out, so many senators and members of the House of Commons and, most of all, so many ethnic organizations.

His son, Theodore, asked me at the funeral home if it would be possible to have the funeral procession pass in front of the Senate, and I said: "Why not?" I contacted our Chief of Security, Mr. R. Gladstone, and, with the co-operation of the RCMP, two Mounted Policemen in red tunics were posted on each side of the Senate door. Chief Gladstone and the Leader of the Government, the Honourable Lowell Murray, took the salute. The Honourable Don Mazankowski, the Honourable Royce Frith, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the two whips, Senator Phillips and Senator Petten, and a group of nine other senators stood at attention while Senator Yuzyk was slowly driven by the Senate door for the last time.

Honourable senators, in concluding I would like to tell Mrs. Mary Yuzyk who is now in the Senate gallery how much my wife and I appreciated their good companionship and friendship, and how much I enjoyed working with Paul.

Not only were we sworn in together, but before Paul moved his family from Winnipeg to Ottawa and I did the same with mine we shared the same apartment and here, for three years, the same office.

Paul's unfailing faith towards his creator, his wife and his children was convincing and enriching. His devotion to Ukrainians and all ethnic groups in this country made him a highly respected champion. His contribution to the progress of our Canadian mosaic made him the cultural witness who helped enormously to promote our multiculturalism. Thus Canadians are the envy and enjoy the respect of all nations.

Hon. Royce Frith (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):

Honourable senators, Senator Belisle has been so thorough in his research and so accurate in his recollection of his long association with Senator Yuzyk that, speaking for my colleagues on this side, I think I can best start by supporting everything he has said and thank him for his thoroughness and scholarship, particularly appropriate when dealing with our scholarly colleague who left us earlier this month

I remember Senator Yuzyk when I was a member of the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, the B and B Commission as it was called, B and B meaning bilingualism and biculturalism. Senator Yuzyk, quite early in the life of that commission, appeared before it and was an active proponent of what he called the "third force." He and I disagreed on that description because I did not think that the force he was referring to could be said to be a "third force" in the sense that it did not have the linguistic homogeneity that the other two major language groups in the country have. However, that was just a technicality because Senator Yuzyk was more concerned with the force that he was speaking of than whether it was the third force or not. He lived to see his ideals and his work reach important fruition because, as Senator Belisle has said, although that commission was concerned with bilingualism and biculturalism, it saw most of its recommendations given effect in legislation concerning bilingualism rather than biculturalism, but Senator Yuzyk lived to see multiculturalism recognized as the partner to bilingualism.

As Senator Belisle has said, the funeral ceremonies that took place earlier this month paid very moving testimony to the impact that Senator Yuzyk had on Canadian life. And I must also reinforce what Senator Belisle has said about what a conscientious and hard-working and effective senator Senator Yuzyk was.

So while I may not have agreed with him on this question of "third force," I have no doubt at all about how strong a force Senator Yuzyk was in Canadian life and how he will be missed as the ideals he worked for are vindicated in the continuing multicultural evolution of Canadian society.

Some Hon. Senators:

Hear, hear.

Hon. Duff Roblin:

Honourable senators, having been born and bred in Manitoba myself, I have a special reason for associating myself with the eloquent testimony Senator Belisle has rendered to the memory and the achievement of our colleague, Senator Paul Yuzyk.

I recall well his first appearance on the stage, if I may put it that way, in my native province where he emerged as man who was establishing for himself an intellectual reputation, an academic reputation and a cultural reputation which served to underline his views of the contribution which the various ethnic groups could make to the development and growth of our nation. In Manitoba we are sensitive, indeed, to the contribution which so many different people from so many different places have made to the growth and development of our province, to say nothing of the Canadian nation itself.

The appointment of Paul Yuzyk to the Senate was one of the most important appointments, I think, that the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker made during his tenure as Prime Minister of Canada. We certainly regarded it as a great compliment to Manitoba. It was more than that because it gave Paul Yuzyk a platform from which he could speak to the people of the various ethnic groups in the nation and from which he could speak to all Canadians about the values he held so dear and so important to life and to growth.

It was not multiculturalism as such, although that was so important to him, but what lay behind it, namely, human rights, the rights of individuals in this somewhat difficult world. It was the devotion he had to democratic, representative and responsible institutions of government that prompted him to lift his eyes from the Canadian scene, where he was indeed a leader, to take part in the international proceedings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other forums where he had an opportunity to express to the world the ideals for which he stood and to speak for those people in other countries who could not speak for themselves and to whom he felt a special obligation.

We will always remember his contribution to the development of democratic, responsible institutions, his fearlessness in calling attention, wherever he was, to what he felt was wrong and unjust in the area of human rights and his dedication to the principle that the various ethnic groups of this country make a special contribution and that it should be recognized for what it is, part of the very web and woof of our nation.

Paul Yuzyk was given a great opportunity and he made the most of it and we, now, have reason to be grateful for his effort and his contribution.

In making these few remarks about our distinguished colleague whose departure we mourn, I should merely conclude by saying that I know I speak for all in this chamber when I offer a word of sympathy to those whom he leaves behind and hope that they will take comfort in the many happy memories they have of our departed colleague.

Hon. Philippe Deane Gigantes:

Honourable senators, I would like to say a few words in tribute to Senator Yuzyk. Perhaps I may speak on behalf of the Committee on Youth of which he was a Member and where he gave expression to his enthusiasm, his tolerant attitude, his kindness and his love for young people. His contribution to the Committee's work was absolutely invaluable. Wherever the Committee met, as soon as he spoke, he immediately made witnesses feel welcome and at ease. With him, we all felt we were in the presence of a holy man.

I also knew him as a teacher. He taught me a number of things. Some of us are wise when we enter the Senate. Some lack that wisdom and are sometimes inclined to talk too much. Senator Yuzyk took me aside and explained, very kindly, how this august Chamber worked and how to go about getting the best possible results. He was the first one to try. I don't know whether he succeeded. But I am deeply grateful to this gentleman who was not a member of my party and who wanted to help me change for the better.

I also want to say a few words about Senator Yuzyk as an immigrant. When people wonder about the contribution made by immigrants to Canada, they should look at Senator Yuzyk's contribution in the area of multiculturalism and the contribution made by the various ethnic groups in this country. Those of us who belong to groups other than the two founding nations cannot but be very proud. He projected an image of these groups that was so grand and beyond the human scale of things that if we have a good name in this country, we can say we owe it to him. He set standards for us to achieve, and few of us will be able to live up to those standards. Honourable senators, thank you very much.

Hon. Stanley Haidasz:

Honourable senators, I would like to join with our colleagues who have just spoken in paying tribute to our friend and colleague, the late Honourable Paul Yuzyk, who served both our country and this institution with dignity and distinction. I shall never forget him. He was a man descended from Ukrainian immigrants, a man who never forgot his roots and who practised and developed further the values of the rich Ukrainian culture and the values of his deep Christian faith.

Having earned a Ph.D. degree in history through hard work and through his talents, he rose in the academic world, not only teaching history as a full professor but, in particular, letting his students know what Canada really is—a country made up of people from various parts of the world who are learning to live in harmony and to share the richness of their cultures with their fellow Canadians.

When I first came to know Senator Yuzyk in the early 1960s, at a time when I served in the other place, I grew to admire and respect him more and more as we took part in the work of many parliamentary committees and associations, especially the North Atlantic Assembly and bodies such as the Canadian Association of Slavists, where he was one of the first to use the word "multiculturalism" to explain what it is and means to Canada.

He was also a great fighter for human rights, always abhorring prejudice and fanaticism. He was able to unite many people to work in harmony toward achieving those aspirations which we as Canadians have before us at all times as a society that lives in harmony and values its roots.

I appreciated in particular Senator Yuzyk's support and advice when as a minister I had the responsibility of implementing the federal government's policy on multiculturalism, which was announced in the other place by the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau on October 8, 1971. Senator Yuzyk was always a voice of reason, moderation and mutual understanding.

In paying tribute to Senator Yuzyk, I wish also to express my appreciation for the work he did in the Parliamentary Sponsoring Committee of the Baltic Nights on Parliament Hill, which not only is a popular event but also one entrenched as a tradition; an event appreciated not only by members of this house and the other place, but also by the other ethno-cultural communities which sponsor this event.

As was said, we shall miss Paul very much, and we promise to take up the challenge which he has left us, a challenge to make Canada an even better place in which to live.

On this occasion I should like to express to his wife Mary and her family our deepest sympathy in their great personal loss and sorrow.

Hon. Lowell Murray (Leader of the Government):

Honourable senators, as several of our colleagues have already indicated and as all those who served with our colleague on various parliamentary committees, on Senate committees and in parliamentary associations can attest, he was an exceptionally devoted senator.

He was, as Senator Roblin has pointed out, zealously devoted to human rights. He represented this Parliament in monitoring the Helsinki Accords, and no parliamentarian was better informed or took a closer interest in that subject.

Senator Yuzyk was a scholar and an historian specializing in Slavic studies and history, and most particularly in the history, culture and language of the Ukrainian people.

Senator Belisle has mentioned the eminent prelates of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and representatives of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, all of whom took part in the religious service at his funeral on July 14 at Notre Dame Basilica. Even more touching, I thought, was the presence of youngsters in the uniforms of the youth groups which Paul Yuzyk had formed, encouraged and led all his life; of members of the Royal Canadian Legion—for he had served with the Canadian Army in the 1940s—and of the host of friends and admirers, many of them of Ukrainian ancestry, who saw in Paul Yuzyk the personification of the multicultural ideal in this country.

Our late colleague knew not only the history and culture of the Ukraine, but the incredible saga of the Ukrainian people in Canada, especially Western Canada. In his own time—and he made reference to this in the last published interview he gave a few days before his death—he had known racial prejudice and discrimination. He had seen the gap between the ideal and the reality in our country, and he laboured all his life to close that gap. To all who came under his influence, his message and his example was one of equality and tolerance, of pride in one's culture and confidence in Canada.

On behalf of the members of the government, I extend our condolences to his wife and family on their personal loss and to the Ukrainian Canadian community on the loss of a distinguished son and leader who will have a special place in their memories and in their history.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore:

Honourable senators, I should also like to tell Mrs. Yuzyk that the Speaker of the Senate joins with all senators to say that the absence of Senator Yuzyk will be deeply felt in this institution. We will keep the fondest memories.