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FERNAND CADIEUX: EULOGY IN LE DEVOIR (IN THE ORIGINAL ENGLISH) WAS THIS COUNTRY TOO SMALL FOR HIM?
BY JERRY S. GRAFSTEIN
March 8, 1976
How many great minds can we count in Canada or for that matter in the world?
How many great minds, without leaving important or imposing works, have been capable of such an instantaneous and profound influence on the people around them that upon just being in their presence, one is transformed in a manner that is inalterable and forever. Socrates, perhaps Plato, were such minds. Fernand Cadieux was another.
On the 21st of February 1976, at the Saint Charles de Vanier church, a large circle of friends, including Pierre Trudeau, met to say a quiet, peaceful adieu to Fernand Cadieux. Following the simple ceremony with relatively little pomp and speeches, I reflected on how little I actually knew about his history, the roots which shaped his amazing personality, his life. But I also realised how little that mattered. It was enough for me to recall the memories and recollections of the time I spent in his company.
One or two hours spent with Fernand Cadieux was like a month's worth of intellectual challenges. Each time I left a session, I felt completely physically drained, but at the same time strangely invigorated and replenished intellectually.
His method was quite simple. With enormous modesty, he gently managed to take an idea, a thought, a concept and amplify it, develop it, turn it inside out and upside down in all directions until it became stronger, more resilient or subject to his unique method of intellectual discernment, it would fall apart, to be abandoned quickly and thrown out. There was no room for easy answers, emotional reactions, obtuse rhetoric. The scintillating speech and quick-silver brain would quite accurately and cleanly cut through these cumbersome attitudes as a breath of fresh air. He knew how to remove all excess in one's thought process to reveal the simple basic solid foundation or the lack thereof in many cases.
Thanks to an insatiable interest and curiosity, he developed and nurtured a vastknowledge of literature and cultural history which he mined continuously to inform his decisions.
Everything that he read, everything that he thought about, was directed and mastered to be of service to his intellectual and practical needs. Far from becoming prisoner to his research, his studies were a source of liberation. As in the example of Buber, Gluek or Freud, he could make use of the Bible as an instrument of psychological analysis or understanding. When it came to finding a synthesis between two diverse ideas, he could as readily call upon the classics as well as the modern sources.
Whether it was Russian romantic literature, military strategy, sociology, languages, technology, the vast array of current political thought from socialist revisionism to Goldwater conservatism, all disciplines were within his intellectual universe. He could as easily pass from a Jesuit dialectic to that of the Talmud or Marx. He could even make sense of some of the weaker or poorly conceived arguments of the person with whom he was speaking. He succeeded in often taking up or reformulating your own propositions with more clarity than you yourself could. Aron, Illich, Von Neumann, Kahn, Buddha, Tolstoy, Cervantes, Kafka: the ideas of all of these authors were sifted through Cadieux's own reflections.
Fernand Cadieux never ceased to study, explore and discover the fissures and weaknesses of the modern world. He could acutely identify the sources of erosion in our modern institutions, and show how the imminence of a collapse could unblock a potentially beneficial reconstruction if only there was a will to act, a will to lead, at the right moment with the required measure of commitment.
He understood the weakness, but also the incredible power of the media. His every thought, his every commitment was for the betterment of the 'human condition'. With the precision of a computer, but using the more gentle traits of passion, and emotion, he was able to literally captivate your absolute attention with a volcanic flood of ideas emanating from his brain which could completely overpower you. He could reduce your arguments to the barest skeleton that you yourself begin to see how thinly veiled they were in the first place.
"You must write, Fernand!", many would often suggest to give more value to his work.
"Oh I have no time. There is far too much to think about!", he would reply.
He behaved as if we were all beings on reprieve, never taking care of himself but rather totally preoccupied with our future and our society. As much as his analyses were often engraved with pessimism, he continued to speak about the future and his children with great optimism. He worried deeply about whether his children and every one of us were prepared enough to confront the reality of this modern world. Reality! As he understood it, it was a terrible truth!
Few of us give the impression that we really understand the reality of what hides behind the words such as power, change, hope, virtue, evil.
With a gentleness, bathed in the omnipresence of his eternal cigarette smoke, with his lively eyes like coals which glowed from his pale face, deep and sombre, Fernand Cadieux would literally conquer you your mind as would a lover. He would not stop until he succeeded by the sheer force of his words and his perceptions, to transmit into your lesser spirit a fraction of his visions and his energy.
In Canada, we do not give enough value to a Frye, a McLuhan, a Klein or a Selye. But Fernand Cadieux, incarnates in an even rarer fashion, this family of minds. He had a catholic mind in the sense that he conceived all as much in action as in analysis. In the eyes of some, Canada was too small for him given the unique fullness of his mind. Perhaps Cadieux was too big for our times. In the end, the brilliance and keenness of his own visions probably overcharged the circuits of his human system which remained rather fragile.
The simple fact of having been able to travel in his company, even once, to the extreme limits of his mind, has been a great and unforgettable and transformative experience. A light has gone out in this country where much of our days pass in the shadows of the Northern gloom. The death of Fernand Cadieux has diminished this frail light which shines within all of us. Because he helped us to be more honest with ourselves and more engaged intellectually, his brief time in this life has been of indispensible worth.
For him, the supreme joy was to feel that he made us think, really think, if even just once. Whenever that "keg was detonated", he would laugh, lean back in his chair, lift a glass to his lips, inhale deeply the smoke from his cigarette and smile again, beaming with satisfaction. Those of us who have had the privilege of having known Fernand Cadieux, will never again be the same.
WELCOMING SPEECH TO THE SENATE BY HON. ROBERT MUIR TO SENATOR JERRY S. GRAFSTEIN
February 2, 1984
Hon. Robert Muir: Honourable senators, in commencing my remarks in this debate in reply to the Speech from the Throne, I should like to be among the first to welcome those of you who have recently been summoned to the Senate of Canada. I have already congratulated some of you in person, but now, formally, I should like to extend my sincere congratulations en bloc. Those new senators who are not here will read my pearls of wisdom in the Debates of the Senate when they receive their copies.
I wish for all of you good health and every success. Now that you are here I should warn you that you will be the target of all the slings and arrows of the media - as if I had to tell you that. I am sure you are aware that this is the institution that so many criticize and condemn - until they are summoned to it, to use the usual term.
It has been said, "Where but in the Senate of Canada will you find men and women with strength of character enough to lead a life of idleness?" Someone else once said that the motto of this place is, "If anyone said it cannot be done, the hell with it." You will also hear that this is one of the few places on earth where sound travels faster than light, that among people who own windmills we are much in demand as neighbours, and that the air in this place is always full of speeches, and vice versa. To quote another wit, and I am only half correct in referring to him as that, "A man or woman gets up to speak, says nothing, no one listens and then everybody disagrees like crazy with what he or she has said." It's been said that a great many of us have more on our minds than there is room for and that we should have our mouths taped instead of our speeches.
Honourable senators, I spent some 22 years in the House of Commons or, as we refer to it, "the other place", before coming here. During that length of time I used to hear all these things said about members of the Commons - and I still do.
My dear, newly arrived colleagues, you will have to get yourselves a back like a turtle to withstand the attacks of some members of the media - not all, of course. I am happy to say that there are still some who do investigative reporting; then there are others who are a few months out of a school of journalism who are assigned here to the Hill. When you read their articles you will find that they pontificate from the stratosphere. Indeed, they would have you believe that they have forgotten more than any member of this place or the other place ever knew. It would be nice if, on occasion, we would see them in the press gallery in this chamber or at Senate committee hearings.
Yes, my dear friends, you will be accused of being senile, especially those of you in your early forties. You will be accused of being lazy no matter how active you are. You will probably be told that you are as busy as a Swiss admiral. Someone may even say that your insomnia is so bad that you cannot even sleep in the chamber any more.
Of course, I have read these comments before, but they were written about members of the House of Commons.
I mentioned being active, and to those of you who have just arrived, there is plenty of activity here - if you want to indulge in it. There are plenty of committee meetings to attend. You can represent your regions well and to the best of your ability. Frankly, there is plenty to do if you want to do it. The Senate, like the other chamber, is somewhat similar to our churches, fraternal organizations and service clubs: a number of people do a great deal of work and others really do not do an awful lot, human nature being what it is.
I must mention some of the fringe benefits available to you and your guests, such as subsidized meals in the parliamentary restaurant and the parliamentary cafeterias, subsidized haircuts and shoeshines. These privileges are also available to the members of the press gallery and their guests. If you look around - oh boy! - do they have guests. But in their critiques about the members of the Senate, or the Commons, for some strange reason they do not mention that they also participate in these fringe benefits.
In your short time here some of you new senators have already come under the tongue, or pen, of the scribes - and some of it not too flattering. As the old song goes, "You'll get used to it!"
Incidentally, some of you, especially from the Toronto area, should get a copy of the script used by that all-wise, all-knowing soothsayer and seer by the name of Stephen Lewis on station CKO. Yesterday, the same gentleman, and I use the term loosely, indicated on the air that Senator Molgat and his committee on the reform of the Senate had more or less lost their marbles. But, my dear colleagues, is it not great that we live in a country where there is still freedom of the press and freedom of speech and other freedoms? Long may it continue.
I have been in countries, as many of you here have, where no person in the media would dare go on the radio or television and say some of the things that are said in Canada. They would not dare to congregate in groups on corners; they would not dare to protest. The media would not be allowed to write some of the things that are written in Canada. However, I am truly glad that they can do it in Canada and I hope that they will continue to criticize us. In fact, I hope they will continue to do all that they wish any time they want to criticize us. It is a great form of government that we have here in Canada - of course, not the present government. It is a great system and long may it continue in this country.
Let me draw your attention, honourable senators, to an article written by Hugh Segal in the Toronto Star dated January 25. This is an article a wee bit different from the comments of Lewis. It is headed A Good 10 Days for the Senate.
By and large, the past 10 days were good days for Canada's Upper House. In the context both of policy matters laid before the Parliament of Canada and one or two appointments made by the Prime Minister to the Senate, the relevance and potential usefulness of the Senate has been underlined significantly.
The redraft of the government's security legislation incorporates in it almost all of the significant recommendations made by a Senate committee in order to moderate a bill which had been poorly drafted in many respects. Now before Parliament, this is a piece of legislation that can serve to create an appropriate civilian security agency which can serve the interests of the country without in any way subverting the basic elements of our democracy.
I am not quite sure that I agree with all that he has said, but in any event he is making the point and I quote him again:
The original legislation that was put before the Parliament was ham-handed and would have caused far more difficulty than the problems it sought to remedy. The new legislation is a triumph of moderation and, while there may be significant changes yet to be made at the committee stage, it is a far better piece of legislation for the solemn, sober and careful assessment which the Senate committee provided.
Then he goes on to talk about Senator Grafstein, one of the new members summoned to the Senate. He says:
Two of the appointments made to the Senate are also particularly uplifting. Torontonians will know that the appointment of Jerry Grafstein constitutes the appointment of a loyal Liberal who, despite that one fundamental flaw in his reasoning, is an accomplished lawyer in communications, broadcast and entertainment law, and a significant spokesman for different policy and political concerns. He will be an ornament to the Senate and a strong voice for Metropolitan Toronto and, in that sense, the Prime Minister chose well.
The article concludes by saying:
Hugh Segal is a former senior aide to Premier William Davis.
This type of comment coming from someone with his background is important, I think.
He then goes on:
For those who had the opportunity of being part of the constitutional development, the appointment of Michael Kirby from Nova Scotia is of particular significance.
And he then relates all of the attributes of Senator Kirby. Further down, he says:
Moreover, in the case of both Grafstein and Kirby, the Senate was by no means the only option that they had before them in what have been significantly successful and dynamic careers. But because it is an option that they did choose to accept when offered, they have made a commitment to public service and to an enrichment of the legislative and political process from which all Canadians will benefit.
He finishes by saying:
The courage to take a political stand should by no means disqualify those of genuine competence ... I would like to talk a little more about some of our new appointees. I have here an article from the Toronto Sun of January 17, 1984 by Barbara Amiel, and she says:
"In describing Toronto's new Senator Jerry Grafstein, one paper summed up his career with the terse line 'Toronto Liberal communications strategist.' The wire story described him as an advertising executive. The mind boggles."
Jerry Grafstein, in spite of the bizarre fact that he is a Liberal, is the kind of man who sums up the best qualities North America can bring out in a man. To dismiss a life that has been devoted to public service, is to devalue not only the man but the tradition that helped create him.
Excerpted from "Parade"
Copyright © 2017 Jerry S. Grafstein.
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