Gary Lunn helped ensured stable and ongoing funding for the Own the Podium program during his tenure. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)
The election of Elizabeth May
in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands on Monday night was a victory for the Green Party, but it was also a loss for amateur sport.
While May will bring a strong voice to the House of Commons on issues surrounding the environment, the man she defeated, Gary Lunn, Canada's Minister of State (Sport), will be greatly missed by those who envision a fitter, more physically aware Canada.
During his tenure, Lunn ensured stable and ongoing funding for the Own the Podium program, which delivered so much to the national landscape during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.
"Gary grasped the opportunity the 2010 Games presented Canada to use sport as a vehicle to unite the country around the values we hold so close to our hearts," reflected Chris Rudge, the former CEO/Secretary General of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
But it was more than cheerleading that allowed Lunn to succeed at his job. He was committed to making Canada a major player in the arena of international sport.
During Lunn's three years in the post, Canada won the right to host the Pan American Games, the FIFA Women's World Cup, and also re-energized its role in the Commonwealth Sports Federation.
"He saw that an investment in high-performance sport, not just for the Olympic Games, but also as a legacy of the Games, would pay dividends far beyond exceptional performance on the field of play," said Rudge.
Gary Lunn helped keep sport on the national agenda and in the public consciousness.
It was refreshing to see his enthusiasm as he traveled the country, and indeed the world, in order to trumpet the message of sport and how it could make Canadians more competitive and perhaps even prouder to wear the Maple Leaf. You'd run into him at Lake Louise for World Cup skiing, or in Kingston at a university basketball game. Lunn always applauded the role sport plays in the country's heritage.
"This is a great loss for the country. I feel certain of this," said Kelly Murumets, the President and CEO of ParticipAction, a national non-profit organization to promote healthy living and physical fitness in Canada.
"Gary genuinely cared about sport, about physical activity, about competition [at grass roots and elite levels], about Canadians."
Unlike some of those who preceded him in the sport portfolio, you get the impression Lunn actually wanted to be there.
Now he's gone and amateur sport is faced with plugging a huge hole in the lineup.
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