Palestinians lose a principled and loyal Canadian friend


Remembered as an ardent defender of the Palestinian cause and the French language, Marcel Prud’homme, Quebec MP and former senator, dead at 82. Read more.

Canadian friends of human rights around the world were sad to learn of the death of Senator Marcel Prud’homme, after a long illness, on January 25 2017. Major papers across Canada published obituaries outlining his long and illustrious career. 

But to those concerned about human rights for Palestinians, the loss of Senator Prud’homme causes special pain. Below is a letter written by Joseph Debanne, a longtime friend of Prud’homme and Chair of the Middle East Discussion Group, an Ottawa organization of former diplomats, ranking public servants and other Canadians focused on human rights in the Middle East.

In the name of the Middle East Discussion Group (MEDG) I convey our most sincere condolences to the family of the late Honorable Marcel Prud’homme; particularly to his nephew Geoffrey Prud’homme of Ottawa and his family.

All members of the MEDG appreciated his eloquent and inspiring interventions during the MEDG meetings that he attended frequently.

The MEDG conveys also its most sincere condolences to the Palestinian people who lost by the death of Marcel Prud’homme, one of the most eloquent and prominent Canadian defenders of the Palestinian people, victim of one of the grave injustices of the 20th century.

Prud’homme was reelected 8 times as Liberal member of the Canadian Parliament, elected in 1987 President of the Liberal caucus in Parliament, headed several times the caucus of Liberal MPs from Quebec and headed from 1982 to 1984 the Canadian group of the Inter-parliamentarian Union (UIP).

But he remained a backbencher in the Canadian Parliament and was never appointed cabinet minister in a Liberal government because of his determined support for the Palestinian cause based on international law and Canadian values of fairness and justice.

A concrete and spectacular example of his outspoken position took place on November 13, 1974 at the 29th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). Prud’homme, a member of the Canadian delegation, stood up and applauded the historic speech of Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in which Arafat declared that the objective of the PLO was the creation of a Palestinian democratic state where Christians, Jews and Muslims will live under justice, equality and fraternity. The rest of the Canadian delegation either remained seated or left the plenary session.

For forty years, Marcel Prud’homme remained a principled and loyal defender of Palestinian human rights despite the fact that he knew that this would hamper his political career.

I convey my condolences to all who knew Marcel Prud’homme and enjoyed his friendship and wisdom.

Joseph Debanné

Chair, Middle East Discussion Group (MEDG)

Betty Neelin, Ida Henderson and Elizabeth Imrie members of the MEDG executive committee.

Friends are invited to visit at the Central Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry located at 315 McLeod Street in Ottawa (613-233-1143) on Friday, February 3, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, February 4, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. at the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica located at 385 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Montfort Hospital Foundation (613-746-4621) or to the Division of Nephrology via the Ottawa Hospital Foundation (613-761-4295).


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One comment

  1. Very sad to lose Marcel. He was a man of principle and a great advocate for Palestinian rights. He also had a wonderful sense of humour and was a great story teller. RIP
    Doug Daniels

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