CORNWALL – Admittedly, Guy Lauzon’s resume was, at one time, hardly befitting that of a member of Parliament.
Strike one, to some, would be his failed attempts in education, and strike two, to a great many, would be a years-long dependency on drinking.
Lauzon made no bones about this premise in an autobiography published two years ago.
All of that seemed a lifetime ago Wed., June 5 when the soon to retire politician was celebrated by constituents from throughout Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry, and Cornwall.
Held in one of the salons at the city’s Civic Centre, the send-off came before the House of Commons will rise for a summer break, and in time for Lauzon to get his political affairs in order ahead of the fall’s federal election.
His career in federal politics began with a defeat as an Alliance Party of Canada candidate in 2000. It was an otherwise low key beginning, as Lauzon recalled, with a criss-cross journey across the riding, booking halls, serving coffee and treats, and feeling the political pulse of those around him.
“I went to every community and became known… I worked and worked, and here we are today,” he said.
Though he’d come up short against veteran MP Bob Kilger, Lauzon didn’t retreat to the shadows. Instead, he challenged Kilger again in 2004, this time as a member of the newly created Conservative Party, and won.
Re-election came his way in 2006, 2008, 2011, and in 2015, where her took 51 per cent of the total ballots cast, besting his closest competitor, Liberal Bernadette Clement, mightily.
Now mayor for Cornwall, Clement was nothing but cordial, steering clear of partisanship.
“You are beloved in this community,” she told Lauzon. “Tonight there are no party politics. We are instead united in the respect for the long public service of Guy Lauzon.”
Longtime Senate of Canada member Marjory Lebreton, who was the leader of the government in the senate from 2006 to 2013, retiring on her 75th birthday in 2015, spoke candidly about her friendship with Lauzon.
“I’ve seen some very good MPs, and I can tell you, Guy is one of the very, very best,” she said. “He won this riding 15 years ago this month, and always held up his service and commitment to this community.”
Other speakers on the night included MPP Jim McDonell, and Eric Duncan, a long time Lauzon staffer who is now seeking to replace him on Parliament Hill.
“There is no better way to get the pulse of your community than being in it like Guy has been,” Duncan said.
There were also video messages from current Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and former prime minister Stephen Harper, who Lauzon said is a “man I’d go to war for.”
With his turn at the podium, throughout an address that varied between English and French, Lauzon was tactile in his message.
“The average lifespan of an MP is five years, and here I’ve managed to survive 15. Politics really is a blood sport – it hurts people. But I’ve had some wonderful teammates along the way,” he said. “Though any success I’ve had, it belongs to the constituents of SD&SG.”