By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – The Children’s Treatment Centre got the last laugh on MP Guy Lauzon at their 15th annual Dinner and Roast fundraiser.
On Saturday, Sept. 20, Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Senator Jacques Demers, who led the Montreal Canadiens to their most recent Stanley Cup victory in 1993, and Nepean-Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre put their Conservative colleague on the hot seat.
The Best Western Plus Parkway Inn and Conference Centre roared with the laughter of 250 politicians, business and community leaders, CTC supporters, and of course, the guest of honour, who even took a few jabs from his wife, Frances.
After seven years of working as Lauzon’s executive assistant, Eric Duncan, Warden of SDG and Mayor of North Dundas, took full advantage of being the event’s emcee.
He joked about his boss’s age, penny-pinching ways, and his relentless nature when it comes to campaigning.
“To celebrate the occasion we’re going to have a special giveaway. If you look underneath your seats, somebody at each table has a returned Guy Lauzon mailing flyer with foul language written on it from angry constituents,” said Duncan. “I work for Guy and I’m sick of the junk mail as well.”
Demers shifted the tone with a heartfelt speech focused on the centre’s work with abused children. A subject he knows all too well.
Since the centre opened in 1996, over 2,000 children from close to 1,900 families have been served.
“I was given a situation, a very difficult one with an alcoholic father, a man who was violent towards my mom, who’s my hero, and his son,” said Demers. “When I went to school there was so much violence at home, I was not able to sit down and focus on what the teacher was telling me.”
He was bullied for not being able to read and write. Now he champions literacy programs for children and adults.
Demers praised Lauzon for his strong commitment to the SDSG riding, as he likened the thankless pressure cooker of politics to his former career as an NHL coach when his team was on a losing streak.
Keeping with the Montreal Canadiens theme, MacKay reminisced about being in Afghanistan to visit the troops with General Rick Hillier, the Stanley Cup and a large group of NHLers.
MacKay commended Lauzon for spearheading the Private Member’s Motion C-459, a motion to reinstate the executive curl to the Royal Canadian Navy uniform, in the early years of his tenure as Defence Minister. A move that was greatly appreciated by the men and women who wear the uniform.
“Guy, took this upon himself,” said MacKay. “That was part of their original insignia going back to the early 1800s when the navy began. And Guy said, “This is exactly how it looked, I know ’cause I was there.”
The Attorney General of Canada said the opportunity to be in Cornwall to tear strips off Lauzon was extremely enticing, but it was the cause behind the roast that made it worth the trip.
“On a serious note, I want to say how appreciative we all are for the incredible work that’s done by the centre. The legacy of their work is making such a difference in the lives of so many. This is a community that gives and cares. I’m proud of your MP and the work he has done to support them as well.
“Guy, is someone I know will continue to represent the people of this constituency from the heart, which is really what it’s all about,” said MacKay. “So Guy, I congratulate you on your success…on finding Frances.”
Then, it was time for Lauzon to make his rebuttal.
“I want to thank my colleagues for coming down, class acts. All three have very busy schedules and they made time, and as Peter said so eloquently, not for me, but for the centre. That’s true and the centre deserves all the help it can get,” said Lauzon.
He recalled when Duncan’s parents first came to him in fear of their son’s severe addiction to politics. Lauzon enjoyed taking full credit for Duncan becoming one of the youngest mayors in Canada’s history.
He ribbed Poilievre for arriving over an hour late and scarfing down two plates. Lauzon also joked that at $100 ticket the audience were on the short of the stick.
“Now that I see this performance, I think it’s way too much,” he said.
His final words were reserved for the Canadian soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the children served by the centre physical and sexual abuse.
“Can you imagine a little child being abused with nowhere to turn?” Lauzon asked. “Well, here in Cornwall we’re so lucky to have the Children’s Treatment Centre, all the people connected with the centre, Sean, Angelo, and all of you here take these young victims and put them back together again.”