Mr. Speaker, my dear friend, our dear friend, Mark Warawa, died this morning. He passed away after a brief but valiant battle against cancer. He died peacefully, with his loving wife, Diane, by his side at Langley Hospice.
Members will know that Mark announced his retirement from politics in January of this year, well before his cancer diagnosis in April. He had planned, in his retirement, to continue a community service as chaplain to seniors, something that was very close to his heart. By the way, he was not going to be paid for that service; he was just going to contribute back to his community. Sadly, he did not live long enough to embark upon that new adventure.
On May 7, Mark found enough strength to deliver his farewell speech in this House, which was received with a standing ovation and many tears from his fellow MPs from every party in the House. On May 21, Mark made his last public appearance, waving from his car and greeting well-wishers at the Fort Langley May Day Parade.
For those who do not know, Mark began his public life as an Abbotsford city councillor, serving for 14 years under the tutelage of George Ferguson, Abbotsford's legendary and longest-serving mayor. Mark and I served on city council together. Along with former councillor Simon Gibson, we were called the three horsemen, because of our tendency to vote the same way on many issues. Mark and I thoroughly enjoyed our time on council, and we became lifelong friends, as did our wives, Annette and Diane.
Mark then moved to federal politics, winning the election as a Conservative candidate for the newly formed electoral district of Langley back in June 2004. He was re-elected five times, the last time in October 2015.
As MPs, we love to socialize together. What the public sees in this House is actually quite different from what happens outside of this House. We are all colleagues; we are all friends, and a lot of us socialize together.
On our side, there were five of us who called ourselves the MP5. We are all very interested in music and singing gospel music. As I mentioned in my earlier comments, the MP5 had the chance to sing at the National Arts Centre. That went okay, but members should know that of all our repertoire, there was one song that was Mark's favourite, and it began with the line, “I woke up this morning feeling fine.” This morning, Mark Warawa woke up feeling extra fine.
Mark loved this place and what this place represents, the heart of our democracy and the place where serious national issues are debated without fear of recrimination. He also loved his MP colleagues and respected the role we all play in defending a free and democratic society. Indeed, he loved to promote these values around the world. It was actually only a few months ago that Mark, as a Ukrainian Canadian, served as an official election monitor in the Ukrainian elections. Sadly, he had to return to Canada early because of his illness.
I know he was dearly loved by those who work in this House. In fact, if there was an award for the kindest MP in the House, I am guessing he would have won that award. However, if we had asked Mark what the most important thing in his life was, he would have said it was his deep and abiding faith in God's providence and hand on his life.
Mark embraced his journey with cancer as he did most things, with dignity and grace, with courage and hope, with an open heart and lots of prayer. He was a passionate Christ follower and loved Jesus with all his heart and soul. That is what he would have wanted us to have known and remembered him for.
Mark was a devoted husband to his wife of 46 years, Diane, and father to their five children: Jonathan, Ryan, Nathan, Eric and Kristen. He was a grandparent as well to 10 grandchildren. Together we grieve with all of them, but not as those without hope. Mark knew where he was going and what his final glorious destination would be.
To all of the Warawa family, we say thank you. You shared Mark with us for so many years. Thank you for his service to Canada and for his commitment to promoting the values that all of us hold so dear.
Mark will be missed, but I know he is rejoicing in the presence of his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Mark, from all of us in the House, especially from your Conservative family, Godspeed, till we meet again.