2000 Distinguished Service Award – Stan Darling

During a ceremony in Ottawa on May 16, 2001, the Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Gildas Molgat, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Gilbert Parent, and the Chairman of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians, Barry Turner, presented the Association’s second annual Distinguished Service Award Mr. Stan Darling, who was a Conservative Member of Parliament for Parry Sound—Muskoka, Ontario from 1972 to 1993.

Acceptance Speech

Honourable Speakers, Mesdames et messieurs:

I am deeply honoured to be standing before you this morning and this distinguished group of former Parliamentarians who have served Canada so well.

Many of them could very well be standing in my place.

To say I am very humble at being chosen to receive the second Distinguished Service Award is only too true. I am reminded when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill heard that Clement Attlee, The British Labour Leader and Prime Minister considered himself a very humble person, remarked “I must say he has a lot to be humble about”.

I look back on a career in public life of 52 consecutive years in elected office.

In 1953, I contested Federal Election as a PC candidate but came second. In 1971 I tried for the provincial nomination but lost again.

In 1972, Gordon Aiken, who had been the MP for Parry Sound, Muskoka for 15 years. He announced his retirement because of health problems. I was successful in winning the PC nomination and also the election at age 61 at age 61 I was told I would probably be a one term MP. However, I was able to win six consecutive elections serving 21 years from 1972 to 1993 when I retired voluntarily.

I served on several committees of the House including Defence for many years where I had two special objectives which I kept hammering. One was to have a woman General appointed. This finally took place when Perrin Beatty was minister. The other was to get rid of the Garbage Bag Green Uniforms and have the Distinctive Uniforms brought back. This also was achieved when Bob Coates was Minister of Defence. I was also very much in favour of more money for our armed forces. I served on the defence committee for over 15 years. Coming from a rural riding where jobs and the economy were a serious problem I was on the DREE Committee: The Department of Regional Economic Expansion which provided funding for have not areas. I recall pointing out to the Minister of Finance, Don Mazankowski, that there were actually two Ontario’s, the fat cat Industrial Southern Ontario and Northern Ontario which with many one industry towns. The result was the crown corporation FEDNOR which provided grants and loans and was a great boost for jobs and new industry. I recall this announcement being made in Sudbury. I was there and remember it well. I am delighted that my successor Hon. Andy Mitchell is now the Minister of State for Fednor and Rural Development. Many communities can thank Fednor for much needed assistance.

I have had a great interest in the environment coming from one of Canada’s great tourist areas. Resort owners were telling me their businesses were suffering because of poor fishing which they blamed on acid rain. I became a member of the special committee on acid rain which was chaired by Ron Irwin, MP for Sault Ste. Marie. The minister was John Roberts in 1981. We did out best to publicize the serious problems. We heard witnesses who were experts in their respective fields. We made trips to Washington and met with members of the US Congress. We learned the acid rain problem was the best kept secret in the US. One congressman accused us of just trying to scare the American people so we could sell our surplus Hydro Power from Quebec and Ontario. After many years of lobbying in US and elsewhere we finally made progress. Senator George Mitchell, majority Leader in the US Senate brought in amendments to the Clean Air Act which resulted in the signing of a treaty in Ottawa on March 13, 1991. The treaty was signed by President George Bush and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. I never thought I would live long enough to see the treaty signed.

In June of 1992 I was one of the delegates to attend the Rio De Janiero Summit on the Environment. Under the Mulroney government from 1984 to 1993 I had the honour to serve as Chairman of the special committee on acid rain.

I was a member of the weekly Parliamentary Prayer Group for over 20 years and served as Treasurer for many years until I retired. I recall sitting as a member of the Special Committee on olympics when we were discussing the sale of stamps, coins and the lottery. I told the minister in charge Post Master General, AndrĂ© Ouellet, he was way off base in his predications of the amount of money he would raise. The target was to be 10,000,000 for stamps and $100,000,000 for Olympic coins. I said he would not raise even near that amount. I also pointed out to him he had a target of $30,000,000 for the Olympic lottery. He said “Mr. Daling don’t you think we can raise that amount”. I said no, you will raise $100,000,000 and I was correct.

I have had an interesting, exciting and rewarding career over 50 years. My deepest thanks to my family, my wife Mona who died in 1992, my two sons John and Peter who have carried on the family business since 1972 very successfully.

I would also like to pay tribute to my staff who worked hard and helped in so many ways, on behalf of my constituents which helped me in being elected for 21 years.