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Friday September 16, 2016

 

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Written by Alan Hustak for VMO
Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Paul Waters wrote editorials and opinion pieces for The Gazette that were informed by reasoned arguments that were rooted in his Catholic faith.

Waters, who was nominated for a National Newspaper Award for his opinion writing, died  of cancer Tuesday at the Mount Sinai Palliative Care Centre.

He was 67.

"Paul was one of those rare people who live their lives through an understanding that the contradictions and absurdity of life are what make it so fascinating and ultimately meaningful," said Peter Stockland, editor in chief of the Gazette when Waters moved from travel writing to the editorial board. "A signature phrase of his in any discussion was a drawn out 'well, I don't know....' which, in fact, meant he really did know and probably had a very strong opinion to offer, but was eager to know even more.

"During a visit I had with him a few weeks ago, he said candidly he didn't fear death; he was just curious about it. That was the Paul I knew: his faith so informed his knowledge that he was always curious to know more, even about death itself."

Brian Kappler, the paper’s editorial page editor during Waters sojourn in the department recalls that “Paul’s intelligence, experience, crisp writing and quick  humour  made him a pleasure to work with.  And best of all he was wise.”

Kappler recounted one ‘full and frank’ editorial debate over so called Canadian Values. “Several of us agreed that the phrase and the concept had been kidnapped by the left, and Paul summed that up perfectly, saying without a hint of bitterness that for most of our history the real Canadian values could be summed up as 'Fear God and honour the king.'"

Paul Waters was born in Dundee, Scotland  June 8, 1947 and  came to Canada at the age of six with his parents and a brother.    According to family lore, his father, who was a medical doctor, was on his way to take up a teaching position at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. But the Atlantic crossing was so rough that when he disembarked in Halifax, he decided to go no further.

Paul grew up in Little Judique Harbour on the west coast of Cape Breton Island and Sept-Iles, Quebec and in many respects never left the small town.  Both of his parents were Roman Catholic converts  and Paul never wavered in either the truth or the security of the faith.

He attended St. Francis Xavier University, and at 18 landed a job at the Sherbrooke  Daily Record where he stayed  for three years before joining  the the Gazette in 1969.  He spent most the 1970’s in Toronto and Vancouver working for the CBC before returning to the Gazette as a travel editor. He was a natty dresser  –  he  favoured bow-ties and fedoras –  and on special occasions was known to wear a full dress kilt.  He possessed a dueling wit and could swear in Gaelic.

“What struck me about Paul was how he always seemed to be in a good mood,” recalled Ray Brassard, the Gazette’s recenty retired managing editor. “Oh, he could be biting or sarcastic, but always with a mischievous smile. I have seen him express disappointment, but never anger. There is a 19th century quote that goes something like this, ‘life is a grindstone – and whether it grinds a man down or polishes him depends on the stuff he is made of.' Paul was made of damn good stuff.”

Typical of Waters reasoning was an op-ed piece which appeared in 2009 in which he defended the Church's opposition  to condoms in the fight against AIDS.

“Perhaps one of the reasons the Church is so successful in Africa, and its adherents there so fervent,” he wrote, “is that it encourages precisely the kinds of things millions of Africans want – committed marriages, stable families and healthy communities. And in the war against AIDS, that’s a lot more effective than a millimeter of latex."

Waters retired four years ago and  worked briefly in Doha. He and his wife had planned to travel to Spain at the end of September for the beatification  of  Don Alvero, the successor of Saint Josemaria at the head of Opus Dei and its first Prelate, but his illness made the trip impossible.

He resigned himself to his terminal illness with his usual wry sense of humour. In an e mail to me he let me know he didn’t have long to live in a  cryptic message:  “You know, Hustak, one of the corporal works of mercy is to visit the dying…when can we get together?”

And in our last communication he made light of checking into the palliative care unit, saying had “recently improved my lodging arrangement by upgrading to an elite suite at the Mount Sinai hotel.”  

He leaves his wife of 43 years, Julie Cornell and their six children.

 

 

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