It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Paul Dewar, the long-serving Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre.
Paul represented our community with great passion and dedication for almost ten years. He won three elections — no small achievement — and represented the best of public service. In his time in politics, he remained a reformer at heart. As a champion of his constituents, critic for foreign affairs, and leadership candidate, he was a tireless advocate of change at home and abroad. Until the end, which he faced with courage and grace, he believed in a fairer and more compassionate world.
I knew Paul first as a politician. We had our differences, of course, but they were never personal. He was decent and gracious, in victory and defeat. In the blood sport of politics, Paul was a gentleman.
Paul knew something that is often forgotten in the political world: what matters is not our passage in politics but our principles and values, as well as friends, family, community and country.
I was touched by Paul’s commitment to Youth Action Now, a charity that he and his family founded to shape the leaders of tomorrow. Last December, I was honoured to join Liberals, New Democrats, and Conservatives at a gathering in Ottawa to salute Paul and support this worthy effort.
It was characteristic of Paul that, as his time grew short, he chose to devote himself to others. As a teacher, a traveller, an activist, and a politician, the cause of his full, selfless life making things better for others. As that life slipped away, I saw a quiet heroism in him. He could have been angry and sullen, raging against his fate. Instead, he told thousands of well-wishers who wrote him asking what they could do: “If you can, please consider getting involved in something that will help your neighbourhood. Look for the beauty that exists all around us and share it with each other. Smile. Laugh. Give. Knock on your neighbour’s door and say, ‘Hi.'”
To me, this was Paul Dewar’s greatest gift: his optimism, his empathy, his humanity. I am grateful to have known him.
To Julia, his wife, and Nathaniel and Jordan, his sons, I offer my deepest sympathies.