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Rod Zimmer: Justin Bieber Is My Hero, Called Me 'Uncle Rod'

It turns out Liberal Senator Rod Zimmer, who resigned Tuesday amid ongoing health problems, is a Belieber.

In fact, the 70-year-old senator who raised eyebrows in 2011 for marrying a woman more than four decades his junior says he was considered an uncle by one of the biggest stars in music.

In a speech during Senate debates in December 2012, Zimmer opened up about his personal relationship with Justin Bieber, who was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at the time.

The senator, appointed to represent Manitoba in 2005 by former prime minister Paul Martin, said he met Bieber when the singer was living with his father, Jeremy, in Winnipeg, long before stardom.

"I used to take him go-cart racing, paint-balling and waltzing through the Winnipeg malls, where he perfected his Heisman Trophy football pose," Zimmer said.

Apparently Bieber, whom Zimmer called respectful, strong in faith and modest with both his wealth and fame, would pose like a mannequin in store windows, to the apparent delight of girls.

Zimmer said at the time he attended a concert in Ottawa with his wife, Maygan Sensenberger, to give Bieber a hug and present the singer’s dad with his own medal.

"Honourable senators, I would be proud to have a son like him, but I will settle for him calling me 'Uncle Rod,'" Zimmer said. "He is my hero; and his name is Justin Bieber."

The young singer was mocked last November for wearing overalls and a cap to a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, where he was presented the award recognizing Canucks who have "made a significant contribution" to the country or "achievement abroad that brings credit to Canada."

Zimmer’s departure from the upper chamber comes after several stints in the hospital this year, most recently in May with a respiratory ailment. He was also diagnosed with throat cancer in 2003, but bounced back.

While the senator’s marriage to aspiring actress Sensenberger, 23, generated buzz, the couple really made headlines last year when Zimmer’s wife caused a disturbance on board an Air Canada flight bound for Saskatoon.

Sensenberger was arrested after some passengers on the same flight reported that she was arguing with Zimmer and threatening to slit his throat. Others, however, said she became upset after Zimmer began experiencing tightness in his chest and she thought he was having a heart attack.

Sensenberger pleaded guilty in September to causing a disturbance on a flight and was given probation and an order to seek counselling.

Zimmer supported his wife throughout the court proceedings and insisted he never felt threatened by her.

His resignation leaves four vacancies in the Senate, and diminishes the ranks of the Liberal Opposition to 34 seats. The governing Conservatives hold 60 seats and there are seven independents, including the four at the centre of the expense scandal.

One imagines Harper may have a difficult time finding a replacement quite as interesting as Zimmer, but never say never.

With files from The Canadian Press

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