I spent the morning being reminded of the importance of public service. I first met Mauril Bélanger in 1996 the context of the Defence Fund for the Montreal Rally (Rally during the Quebec referendum of 1995), and SOS Montfort. When I moved into his riding in 1997 I wrote him a letter.
This was a point of transition in my life. I wasn't involved in politics until the early 1990's, and at first all I saw in government was corruption. I was very much at what I now call my "smash the state" phase where I felt the whole lot of current politicians needed to go. Mauril was someone who gave me a different impression, of someone who even from within government was visibly trying to do the right thing. While he knew I didn't vote for him or his party, he still listened to me and offered feedback and help. This continued each time we met, where he was always extremely friendly and gave helpful advise on how to move forward on those ares of policy that concerned me the most.
It was with his encouragement and advise that I stepped up in the summer of 2001 and the decade that followed to help defend technology property rights from changes to "copyright" law being proposed. I have met in person with a couple dozen sitting MPs, hope to meet with more in the future, and this was all largely due to my experience with Mauril.
While I moved to Ottawa-South in 2003, this didn't change how he would greet me the remaining times we spoke with each other. He wasn't just an MP for the people who voted for him in his riding, but an MP for everyone. He was a public servant in the most true sense, and I know anyone who knew him will miss him.