Member for

3 years 10 months
Submitted by katrina on Sat, 08/27/2022 - 03:55:PM

Born in Fort Frances on February 8th, 1937, John passed away peacefully in Ottawa on August 25th, 2022. For nearly five years, John battled cholangiocarcinoma with inspiring courage and optimism. He leaves his wife Marie Ellen (Balcaen) and four children: Katherine (Todd); John (Seanna); Arianne (David), and George (Akiko) as well as ten grandchildren: Rachel, Rebekah, Shannon, Sarah, Liam, Paul, Maggie, Robert, Kento, and Mia. From his school days until his retirement, John was an avid student of Canadian politics. John completed his BA (1959) and MA (1961) at the University of Manitoba. After two years of Ph.D. studies at the University of Toronto, John left academia for a political career. From 1965 to 1984, John served as the Member of Parliament for Kenora-Rainy River. John was an altruistic man in his public and his private life. His career demonstrated his commitment to the fundamental principles of democracy and good government. John was passionately committed to government transparency as an essential feature of democratic rights. He received a crash course in good governance as the committee chair investigating cost overruns to build the National Arts Centre. Later in his career, John applied his considerable knowledge of Parliamentary procedure to secure the passage of the “Reid bill,” which unsealed thousands of secret government documents from the Second World War II. John also worked on the bill, which would eventually become the Access to the Information Act. Late in his career, John was appointed the Access to Information Commissioner. John’s tenure as Access to Information Commission included his notorious “report cards” on the government’s compliance with access to information laws and his numerous court challenges to obtain the release of information for the benefit of all Canadians. After the 1984 blue wave, John continued to promote democratic ideals, including free and fair elections. He worked with the United Nations as an Election Observer in Namibia (1989) and as Senior Political Advisor to both the chief Electoral officer of the United Nations Transitional Administration to Eastern Slavonia (UNTAES) and Senior Advisor for the Organization of Security and Cooperation Europe (OSCE) Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. While John left academia for the rough and tumble of Canadian politics, his immense curiosity about the past and education never wavered. John always stressed the importance of education to his children and supported them in their studies. For two years, John was the Executive Director of the Forum for Young Canadians, an organization dedicated to educating Canadian youth on public affairs and political engagement.  The Funeral will take place at Our Lady of Fatima Parish (153 Woodroffe Avenue Ottawa, ON) on Wednesday, August 31st, 2022 at 11am followed by the interment at Beechwood. The family would like to thank the many health professionals who tended to John over his illness, especially Dr. Jonker, Dr. Hacker, the community palliative team, and the staff of May Court Hospice. The family would greatly appreciate donations to May Court Hospice in John’s name.

Digital Guestbook

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/02/2022 - 01:15:PM


David Collenette

Penny and I are very sorry to hear the news of John's passing. I would see him periodically at CAFP events in his role as Hounourary Chair. He was the originator and mainstay of the Association.

We were colleagues in caucus for ten years where he was one of the experts in Parliamentary procedure. His views always commanded attention in caucus and his contribution was recognized by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau asking him to join his cabinet.

John was always good natured and a delight to be with, either in the House of Commons or at the many social occasions we attended along with Marie.

We offer our sincere condolences to Marie and the family

David and Penny Collenette

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/24/2022 - 12:13:PM


Patrick ODonnell

My deepest condolences. John’s inspiring positive attitude will be greatly missed by his Bird Bay golfing buddies. I will especially miss our Venice Ave coffee breaks.Marie our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Sign digital guestbook

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Photo Gallery

Back to upcoming services