THE BLOG

Our Fathers' Good Names

06/05/2013 06:03 EDT | Updated 08/05/2013 05:12 EDT

What follows is a statement the Honourable Linda Frum made in the Senate on Tuesday.

Honourable senators, I rise today, at the risk of tears, to pay homage to a proud Canadian who died on May 27, 2013. I speak of my father, the late Murray Frum.

The obituaries and tributes that have flowed for my father have all rightly praised his achievements in business and his support for the arts. His greatest gift, a masterwork in bronze by the great baroque sculptor Gian Carlo Bernini, will delight visitors and residents of Toronto for centuries to come, as will the internationally recognized gallery of African art he also donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario. However, it is a different aspect of this great man's legacy to which I wish to speak today.

My father rose from poverty to become one of Toronto's leading real estate developers. At every step of that rise, he lived his life according to the highest ethical standards.

While his sweet nature, his zest for life, and his brilliance of mind were all inspirational to me, it was his unshakeable integrity that I admired most. Last month, when I told him in his final illness that I had been drafted to join the Senate's Ethics Committee, he nodded his approval. He communicated to me his bedrock belief that one was nothing if one was not ethical.

Soon I would watch in horror and helplessness as an aggressive cancer took him away from his family. There was nothing we or medical science could do to save him.

Now, I return back to work, to an institution that is also under siege. But this time, we are not helpless. Honourable senators, the future of this chamber is in our hands. It is up to us to prove to Canadians that we are honourable in fact as well as by title.

We here know how much the Senate has contributed to the good governance and well-being of Canada and to the Canadian people. We know that our colleagues are decent, public-spirited, and hard-working individuals.

However, we can be better: more transparent, more rigorous, and more accountable. For example, I applaud recent actions taken by the Senate, such as posting senators' expense statements online, dating back to 2010. I also support an audit of the Senate by the Auditor General, and I have posted a link to my own expenses onto my personal website.

These are some good first steps to help us reclaim the integrity of the Senate of Canada, but other reforms, of our own making, must follow.

Each of us, when first called upon, brought to this chamber a desire to serve our country and to enhance the good names bequeathed to us by our fathers. As I mourn the loss of my dear father, I pledge to always honour the good name he bestowed upon me -- through my deeds and my actions.