The city of Pembroke is honouring Paul Martin Sr. with a day of his own.
During Tuesday's council meeting, Mayor Michael LeMay declared that June 16, 2017 will be Paul Martin Sr. Day. This is the same day Algonquin College will pay tribute to his legacy through the posthumous awarding of an honorary degree to Paul Martin Sr. during graduation ceremonies.
The degree will be accepted by Canada’s 21st Prime Minister Paul Martin Jr., who is reportedly deeply touched by the college’s efforts. He will also address the graduates on a year Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday and the college is marking its 50th anniversary.
“Paul Martin Sr. was raised in the city of Pembroke, maintaining a lifelong family connection to the city,” LeMay said, while serving with distinction under four Prime Ministers, serving as a senior cabinet minister.
He said among his achievements, Martin introduced a widespread vaccination program in Canada which contributed greatly to the reduction of childhood disease, particularly the eradication of polio.
“He is regarded as one of the fathers of universal health care in Canada and, as Secretary of State for External Affairs, he played an important role in international affairs,” LeMay said.
This is the second honour the city has bestowed on Martin. In 1994, the city paid tribute to him by naming the main road into Pembroke from Highway 41 Paul Martin Drive.
Best known for his work as Minister of Health and Wellness, Paul Martin Sr. is widely credited, along with Tommy Douglas, as one of the fathers of universal health care in Canada. He also initiated mandatory polio vaccinations for children, a move that saved thousands of lives. Martin and his son both suffered from polio as children, and he was determined no one else would suffer as they did.