Norbert Thériault, former New Brunswick senator, dead at age 95

Former New Brunsick cabinet minister and senator Norbert Thériault has died at the age of 95.

Thériault was a New Brunswick cabinet minister before joining Senate in 1979

Norbert Thériault retired from the Senate in 1996 at the age of 75. (ICI RADIO-CANADA)

Norbert Thériault, a former New Brunswick senator and cabinet minister, was remembered Sunday as "courtesy incarnate."

He was 95.

Thériault was a major political figure in the 1960s.

He always struck me as being a man of great courtesy to everybody.- Robert Pichette

As minister of health under New Brunswick premier Louis J. Robichaud, Thériault was instrumental in transferring responsibility for health-care from the counties to the province.

"He was perfectly courteous and the soul of diplomacy," said historian Robert Pichette, who had fond memories of Thériault. "He was not prone to fights on the floor of the legislature. He was a good diplomat."

Pichette said that courtesy extended beyond the "bear pit" of the legislature.

"He always struck me as being a man of great courtesy to everybody," he said.

In 1970, he served as the provincial Liberal party president. 

Former Premier Frank McKenna said he came to know Thériault when he was a student at the University of New Brunswick. 

McKenna said he was introduced to politics when he became inspired to work on Thériault's campaign. 

"In a small way he reminds me a bit of Bernie Sanders today," McKenna said. 

"He was speaking truth to power, and he was talking about the needs of the forgotten in society. He was really making the case for the social purpose of politics."

Appointed to Senate in 1979

He was appointed to the Red Chamber by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1979. He retired in 1996 at the age of 75.

His son, Camille Thériault, become premier of New Brunswick in the late 1990s.

Current premier Brian Gallant released a statement Sunday expressing sadness at Thériault's passing.

"Rarely will you meet someone who has given as much of themselves to their province as Norbert did," he said.

Pichette said the death did not come as a surprise.

'One of his nephews told me he had received the last rites of the Catholic Church, so that is always a signal that death is imminent," he said.