Tributes: The Late Honourable Bert Brown

Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I rise today in tribute to our former colleague from Alberta, the Honourable Bert Brown, who recently passed away.

Over 30 years ago, in 1984, Bert Brown caught the attention of Canadians when he plowed the words “Triple E Senate or Else” into his neighbour’s barley field, which was quite interesting at the time. I do remember pictures throughout the media in Canada. While that action was bold, Bert Brown was also a kind and funny man who cherished his work as a senator. He will be greatly missed.

Before joining the Senate, Bert Brown worked in agriculture and also worked as a real estate development consultant, columnist, and director of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Despite having a diverse professional background, Bert Brown has always been a strong advocate for Senate reform, and was twice elected by his Alberta constituents as a senator-in-waiting. In fact, he came first in Alberta’s 2004 Senate election, earning the support of more than 312,000 voters — an outstanding achievement.

Three hundred and twelve thousand voters voted for Bert Brown to be an elected senator. Following in the footsteps of the late Stan Waters, Bert Brown became just the second individual appointed to the Senate of Canada, subsequent to an election by the people of his province. In announcing Bert Brown’s appointment to the Senate of Canada in 2007, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated:

For more than 20 years, Bert has been a passionate and persuasive advocate for the democratization of the Senate. Selected by those whom he is set to represent, I have no doubt that he will serve Alberta and its interests well.
That he did. Senator Brown was truly dedicated as a member of this place, both in his work here in the chamber and at committee. He used his new position to continue speaking in favour of meaningful Senate reform across our country.

In his final statement upon retiring from the Senate in 2013, Senator Brown once again took the opportunity to make the case for an elected, equal and effective Senate.

Honourable senators here today who have had the honour of serving alongside Senator Brown no doubt will fondly remember both our former colleague and his late wife Alice. They were a great team and were always together.

Today, on behalf of all honourable senators — and I would hope the new senators will join in also because Bert was a true classic — I offer sincere condolences to his family, friends and the people of Alberta who have lost one of their greatest champions.