I met Senator Kennedy briefly in 1971 at a conference in Washington (also attended by Mother Teresa). At the time I was director of a foundation in Toronto which worked with the Kennedys to promote the Special Olympics, especially floor hockey.
When word of the Senator’s malignant brain tumour broke yesterday, I, along with millions of other people, were both shocked and saddened. His friend and fellow senator, John McCain called Kennedy “the last lion of the Senate.”
It is not, I think, an exaggeration. Ted Kennedy entered the Senate in 1962 and he has been in the midst of virtually every great debate in American politics for more than 40 years. He voted against the Iraq war, he fought to raise the minimum wage, for national health insurance (he praised Canada’s health system), for Aids funding, for the disabled, to regularize illegal immigrants and to fund alternative sources of energy.
Senator Kennedy ran for the Democratic nomination against Jimmy Carter in 1980 but he was derailed by the implications of the accident at Chappaquiddick – a car over a bridge, a young woman drowned and the senior senator from Massachusetts who waited far too long to tell the police.
In conceding defeat to Carter the Senator said to the Democratic convention: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”
Now the work goes on but likely without a Kennedy, two brothers assassinated and the third mortally wounded.
Do you agree that Ted Kennedy was a great Senator, perhaps the greatest in modern times?