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The Late Honourable David Osborn Braley, O.C.

Excerpt from Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

The Late Honourable David Osborn Braley, O.C.

Hon. Marty Deacon: Honourable senators, I rise today to add my voice to those who have paid their respects and thanks to the late Honourable David Braley. Senator Braley has been rightfully commended for his legacies both in this chamber and the CFL.

But for me, there are two personal memories that spring to mind when I think of him. The first occurred when Senator Braley was serving as the honourary chair of the 2003 World Road Cycling Championships in Hamilton where I was volunteering at the time. Words cannot do justice to just how big a deal this event was for this community. These races are usually held in countries like Italy or France — not our Steeltown, Hamilton.

One day, someone asked me to take Mr. Braley on a course run to give him a sense of the race routes. I said, “Sure, are we doing this by car or by motorbike?” After some conferencing and phone calls — no cellphones — I was told that he would like to do this on bikes like the athletes do. I was a little nervous but agreed, and off we went, nice and easy.

At about the 12-kilometre mark, following some very steep hairpin turns, we pulled over and he said very quietly to me — just sort of over the shoulder— “Do athletes get killed on these routes?”

I told him no, their equipment and training is all at the very highest levels. After some silent contemplation, we both decided that perhaps we should continue the rest of the race by automobile, and we continued our enjoyable afternoon in the relative safety of a car.

The other experience I had was a few years later, and involved Ontario’s successful bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The work for this started in 2007, and while Senator Braley ended up being a staunch advocate for this bid, he was, at first, a little skeptical.

One day, about a month before the bid presentation was to take place in Mexico, he and I were part of a group visiting potential venues for games. This is a big deal, where you’re meeting with architects, the community and the local folks. While we were stepping off a bus, Senator Braley turned to me and just said, “Why?” To which I said, “I beg your pardon? Why what?” He looked at me and said, “I understand football and franchise growth, but why a Pan Am Games? What does it offer the city, the people and this country?”

I responded by saying, “Do I have five minutes to respond?” He said in his true style, “Yes, and only five minutes.” I took a deep breath, and I responded. I tried to cover all facets of what this could mean for the area, for the economy, for our athletes and for our country. After this, he was silent for what felt like a long time, and just said, “Sold. Thank you.” We won this bid, in no small part due to his typical Herculean efforts. In 2010, Mr. Braley resigned from the Pan Am host committee in order to become Senator Braley.

I’m most honoured that we have commonality on our respective paths to this historic institution. When I think back, I consider my good fortune in meeting Senator Braley, a strong man and a big personality, who would challenge the status quo at the end of the day. His support for his community was on a scale so big it was hard to comprehend at the time. He leaves a legacy worth remembering. Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


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