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A Very Right Honourable Gentleman

He aspired to greatness. He overcame adversity. He won respect.

For a time he occupied the highest position in the land.

He persevered in the face of great odds.

He displayed great courage.

He was betrayed.

Last month he indicated his intention to retire as leader of his political party. And the media rushed to publish their obituaries. Canada was about to lose that rarest of beings, a politician whom even his opponents called a decent man.

Joe Clark withstood derision for exercising poorly timed and ill advised political judgment, but no one questioned his personal integrity. In his many years in public life there was never a whiff of scandal.

His years of service to the people of Canada were marked by a determination to do his best in whatever capacity he was working at any given time. Nowhere was that determination better displayed than in his role as parliamentarian.

The House of Commons was an institution he revered. In it he achieved the ultimate recognition which only the House accords, and then only to a precious few, that of "a House of Commons man".

Whatever the future holds in store for him, and circumstances may demand that he postpone his intended retirement, Canada and Canadians owe a debt of gratitude to Joseph Charles Clark, a very Right Honourable Gentleman.


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