May 17, 2016 Honourable senators, I’m delighted today to pay tribute to my father, Glen Patterson, who has been a constant unflagging support and inspiration to me in my career in politics and in life.
From my youngest years, I was exposed to discussions and debate around the kitchen table about politics and business. While in high school, through him I got to know a stellar parliamentary statesman, our MP for Peace River, Ged Baldwin, and I was at the Conservative convention in 1967 with my mother which elected Robert Stanfield as leader of the party and unseated my hero John Diefenbaker. Later, also through my parents, I came to know Peter Lougheed and worked for his election as a progressive new force in Alberta politics.
My father has taken an active interest in politics and my career and to this day sends me a stream of articles from his eclectic Internet research on topics of interest from all over the world asking my opinions and challenging me to look at things from a different angle.
As a lifelong career forester — one of the first professional foresters on the West Coast — he was an early champion of forestry as a renewable resource. He introduced sustainable forestry concepts in forestry on the West Coast, pioneering forest management practices, including tree planting for timber licence and expanding the use of small diameter trees for plywood and lumber in the Peace River country of northern Alberta.
I’ve come to apply the same thinking to the harvest of animals in the Arctic, where we don’t have trees, as another example of a sustainable renewable resource.
My dad’s also a lifelong botanist and gardening enthusiast who has pioneered and promoted the concept of blending Japanese and western gardening values, collected and cultivated plant specimens from all over the world and promoted roof gardens as ecologically sustainable and beautiful additions to the urban concrete and blacktop landscape.
He’s delivered countless spellbinding lectures to garden enthusiasts on new approaches to gardening and has inspired many garden writers to celebrate his unique gardening creations.
For all his 94 years, he has expressed boundless joy and curiosity about the natural world, which he has explored from the far south to north, east and west, with enthusiasm and a spirit of adventure, amassing a superb collection of National Geographic quality photos. He has been to Libya exploring antiquities; Kazakhstan and China to view exotic rhododendrons; the high Sierras to view bristlecone pines; Australia to see a still living stand of the Wollemi pine that is 200 million years old; and to the Atacama Desert in Chile to view Andean flamingos, salt lakes and lava.
More importantly for me, he’s constantly expressed his gratitude for the gift of life and the compelling power of enthusiasm and passion through hard work. He has been and continues to be an inspiration to me and all who know him. I’m grateful to be able to pay tribute to him amidst my colleagues in his presence in this august place. Thank you.