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"DIO" 2003 Obituary


DIONNE 

DIONNE o@ca.on.manitoulin.howland.little_current.manitoulin_expositor 2003-01-22 published
Sarah Leanora DIONNE
In loving memory of Sarah Leanora DIONNE at Manitoulin Health Centre on Monday, January 20, 2003 age 72 years. Dear wife of Gerald DIONNE of Little Current. Loving mother of Allan and Phillip, both at home. Will be missed by sisters Lorraine, Sally and Muriel. Predeceased by brother George and parents Alex and Thelma MAHUGH. Please call Island Funeral Home for funeral and visitation details. 368-2490.

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DIONNE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-08-14 published
O'CONNELL, The Honourable Martin, Ph.D. (Privy Councilor)
Born on August 1, 1916 in Victoria, Martin O'CONNELL passed away in Toronto, on Monday, August 11, 2003. He died peacefully with his family at his side after a fight with Parkinson's disease.
Martin believed in serving the public, giving back to his country and advancing the cause of those who where not as fortunate. Throughout his full and varied life the principals of honesty, fairness, justice and humility, treating others with dignity and respect, always guided him as he set about distinguishing himself as a man to be honoured.
He leaves his wife Helen Alice O'CONNELL (born DIONNE) with whom he celebrated 58 years of marriage. Their love and dedication to each other was a model for all who knew them.
He also leaves his daughter Caryn (John JOHNSTON) and their two sons Nicholas and Kyle, his son John Martin (Martine BOUCHARD) and their two children Jean Christophe and Stéphanie. His children, their spouses and grandchildren were the pride of his life.
A brother Monsignor Michael O'CONNELL of Victoria and a sister Ellen RICHERT (widowed) of Saskatoon survive him. A sister Dr. Sheila O'CONNELL of Victoria and a brother Sgt. Johnny O'CONNELL who was killed in the battle for Caen in June 1944 predecease him.
Martin O'CONNELL started his career as a public school teacher in the British Columbia school system then completed a B.A. at Queen's University. As a veteran of the second world war (Captain, Royal Canadian Army Service Corp) he completed his education at the University of Toronto with an M.A. then PhD in political economy. His PhD dissertation studied the nationalism of Henri BOURASSA. He learned French so that he could read the documents and study the Bourassa archives in Ottawa and Montreal. Martin served on the Senate of the University of Toronto.
He left the academic world for the financial one and joined Harris and Partners in the late 1950's. In 1965, while on loan to Walter GORDON then Minister of Finance and as one of the three ''Whiz Kids'', he helped design policies, which ultimately led to the Canada Pension Plan, Medicare, and the Municipal Loan Development Fund.
Throughout the 1960's he served as the President of the Indian and Eskimo Association. During this time, he wrote many policy papers to improve aboriginal conditions and thus helped to bring attention to the difficulty that indigenous peoples where suffering.
In 1965 he ran for Parliament and failed to win a seat in Greenwood, he tried again in the federal riding of Scarborough East in 1968 and was elected. He was appointed Minister of State and later Minister of Labour in the Trudeau cabinet. He was co-chairman of the important hearings that shaped the immigration policies of this country. Defeated in 1972 he served as the Prime Minister's principal secretary throughout the minority years reshaping that office to bring the Party closer to the grass roots of Canadian society.
He was reelected in the 1974 election. He chaired the policy committee of two national conventions of the Liberal party and rejoined the cabinet as Minister of Labour late in that mandate. Defeated in 1979 he retired from politics and became Chairman of the Canadian Center For Occupational Health and Safety an entity he created while Minister of Labour.
In 1993 he was the Co-Founder and first Co-Chairman of The Canadian Foundation for the Preservation of Chinese Cultural and Historical Treasures. He served actively in this role and experienced real pleasure and pride in participating in this extraordinary work.
His many Friends will want to celebrate the life of a man who gave real meaning to the words service, integrity and honourable. He is remembered as one who pursued a life that was full and dedicated to improving the life of all Canadians. May he rest in peace.
A private family funeral will be held. All Friends are welcome to a celebration of Martin's life at the Granite Club on Bayview Avenue, Toronto on Wednesday, August 20, 2003 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Donations can be made to The Honorable Martin and Helen O'Connell Charitable Foundation can be sent in trust to his son John Martin O'CONNELL at 200 Bay Street, Suite 3900, Toronto, Ontario M5J 2J2.

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DIONNE o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-09-22 published
Quiet minister a Trudeau stalwart
Former Bay Street whiz kid helped revamp Canada's social safety net and served as both secretary of state and labour minister
By Ron CSILLAG Special to The Globe and Mail Monday, September 22, 2003 - Page R7
His children possess no qualms about pronouncing Martin O'CONNELL as having been a bit of a policy wonk. "Oh, totally," says his son John.
"My dad wasn't interested in money -- odd, given his Bay Street successes. Just policy, and formulating policy."
"He was a classic workaholic," concurs Mr. O'CONNELL's daughter Caryn. "He was just driven by his work. It's one of the things that kept him going."
Rare is the politician remembered for self-effacing skills and effectiveness rather than bombast. Mr. O'CONNELL was indeed serious and conscientious. He worked hard and achieved much. But of all the cabinet ministers from the Pierre TRUDEAU era, his name probably rings the quietist bell for Canadians old enough to recall names like Don Jamieson, Otto Lang and Marc Lalonde.
Mr. O'CONNELL, who died in Toronto on August 11 at 87 of complications from Parkinson's disease, served as Canada's labour minister on two separate occasions, and was Mr. TRUDEAU's principal secretary for two years when Trudeaumania had been replaced by the infuriation of millions with Canada's philosopher-king.
How does one keep a low profile in federal politics, especially in a contentious cabinet post? Mr. O'CONNELL did it by guiding the country with a steady hand through great labour turbulence in the early 1970s, including convincing his boss to pass emergency legislation that terminated work stoppages at the Vancouver and Montreal dockyards.
"He was an exceptionally low-key guy. He liked it that way," recalls Barney DANSON, who served as Minister of National Defence in the Trudeau cabinet. Doubtless Mr. TRUDEAU saw in Mr. O'CONNELL a kind of kinship. Both men were unflappable philosophers and academics at heart who entered politics relatively late in life, both sacrificing cushier lives to hasten Mr. TRUDEAU's vaunted "just society."
For Mr. O'CONNELL, the bug bit in 1965 when he and two other Bay Street whiz kids were summoned to Ottawa by then finance minister Walter GORDON -- still stinging from a disastrous budget two years earlier -- to help revamp Canada's social safety net. The group ultimately designed policies that led to the Canada Pension Plan, the Municipal Loan Development Fund and medicare.
Martin Patrick O'CONNELL was one of four children born in Victoria to a mother from Ontario and a horticulturist father from County Kerry in Ireland who farmed a few acres and raised livestock. Mr. O'CONNELL taught elementary school for six years and completed a B.A. at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, before beginning a wartime stint in the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps and Infantry Regiment. Haunted perhaps by the death of his brother Johnny, cut down in the battle for Caen, France, in June, 1944, Mr. O'CONNELL volunteered for action in the Pacific just as the fighting ceased.
It was while in uniform that he met his future wife of 58 years, Helen Alice DIONNE. The two met at the Art Gallery of Ontario while Mr. O'CONNELL was on leave from his base, and Ms. DIONNE was volunteering at the museum.
He spent the decade after the war at the University of Toronto, earning graduate degrees in economics and political science and lecturing on Plato, John Stuart Mill and liberal democratic principles. He had learned French for his doctoral thesis on Henri Bourassa, one of the first scholarly studies in English on the fiery Quebec journalist and Canadian nationalist.
Academia gave way to Bay Street, where Mr. O'CONNELL spent 11 years in investing and bond underwriting while heading the volunteer Indian and Eskimo Association of Canada, as it was then called, where he represented aboriginal concerns to governments and encouraged the devolution of federal powers to native groups.
He had run and lost in 1965 in the federal seat of Greenwood in Toronto but was swept up in the 1968 Trudeau whirlwind, winning the seat of Scarborough East. In 1971, he was named Secretary of State, and was appointed Labour Minister the following year, just before Mr. TRUDEAU called an election that ended in a minority Liberal government. Mr. O'CONNELL, like 46 other Grit members of parliament, was defeated.
But he bounced back as Mr. TRUDEAU's principal secretary for those two lean minority years between 1972 and 1974. Mr. O'CONNELL laid the groundwork for Mr. TRUDEAU's first official visit to the People's Republic of China in 1973 and was instrumental in establishing diplomatic relations with Beijing. (His interest in China would later find expression in his role as co-chair of the Canadian Foundation for the Preservation of Chinese Cultural and Historical Treasures.)
Mr. O'CONNELL also reshaped the Prime Minister's Office in an effort to bring the party closer to the grassroots of Canadian society.
The 1974 general election returned a majority Liberal government and Mr. O'CONNELL as the Member of Parliament for Scarborough East. In 1978, he was back as Labour Minister.
Around the cabinet table, "he wasn't terribly assertive," recalls Mr. DANSON. "He only spoke when he knew what he was talking about." During question period, "he was logical and solid. He was never asked the same question twice. He exuded integrity."
Mr. O'CONNELL lost to Tory Gordon GILCHRIST in the 1979 and 1980 elections (the latter by 511 votes) and he took no pleasure in Mr. GILCHRIST's resignation of the seat in 1984 after a tax-evasion conviction.
Mr. O'CONNELL took a stab at the presidency of the Liberal Party, losing by two just votes. Despite the lack of backing by old Friends, he took the losses gracefully, saying they were part of politics. "They all say that," remarked Mr. O'CONNELL's long-time friend David GOLDBERG. "He took it stoically, but hard."
He bid politics farewell and returned to the private sector as a consultant to government agencies and corporations. The only time his name was ever remotely linked to controversy was in 1983. He was acting as a consultant to multinational drug companies when he was hired by the government to consult on legislation the companies wanted repealed. Mr. O'CONNELL disclosed his role with the drug companies immediately, and Ottawa explained he was tapped precisely because he knew his way around the industry.
He was a taciturn man but prescient when he pronounced, in 1984, that tobacco smoke was a legitimate health problem in the workplace. As head of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, Mr. O'CONNELL commented on the recently changed Canada Labour Code: "My own feeling is that the right to refuse work is an essential right, ... personally, I wouldn't think it would be an abuse [of the legislation] to refuse work because of tobacco smoke.''
Mr. O'CONNELL's daughter Caryn recalls somewhat ruefully that as a child she would sometimes hesitate to tell her Friends' parents about what her father did for a living, fearing a typical tirade about Mr. TRUDEAU.
"But my Dad really was different," she recalls. "He may not have been as colourful [as other politicians] but he taught us to play fair and to accept defeat. He taught us the values of honesty, tolerance, patience and the concept of justice. But we never felt pressured. He never force-fed us. I think he was the rare person who entered politics to do good."
Mr. O'CONNELL leaves his wife, children, a brother, sister, four grandchildren and something rare indeed: a good name.

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