Mac Harb: From pauper, to prince, to pariah

Mac Harb is pictured in this file photo.

Mac Harb is pictured in this file photo.

Megan Gillis, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

OTTAWA -- It was the ultimate immigrant success story.

Mac Harb came from Lebanon as young man in 1973, put himself through a masters of engineering with odd jobs then worked at Northern Telecom and taught at Algonquin College.

Just 12 years later, he was an alderman and later deputy mayor of Ottawa.

By 35, he'd wrested the Liberal nomination from the well-known Maude Barlow and was elected MP for Ottawa Centre.

The likable Harb held the seat again and again even as he championed at times off-beat causes. Then the stalwart backer of former prime minister Jean Chretien got the reward he'd long sought „Ÿ a seat in the Senate.

"My love for Canada is larger than my love for life," Harb said when he was appointed in 2003.

"Canada has given me all that I have and all that I need."

Until the Senate scandal broke, 60-year-old Harb "had everything to be proud of," said Penny Collenette, a long-time Liberal who ran in his old seat in 2008 and is now a law professor and commentator on subjects including ethics and whistle blowing.

"That's why I say it's sad."

She first met Harb when he was on city council then remembers him as a "friendly" and "hard-working" MP and proud immigrant.

"At the end of the day, it's a real mystery," she said, stressing that Harb is innocent until proven guilty.


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