I rise today to announce that Krystyna Rudko, my Policy Adviser, died after a short illness last Wednesday. For Krys, life was about others, not about herself. She looked after everyone else but did not look after herself. Her death was shocking, surprising and devastating.
I first met Krystyna at Conservative Party Headquarters in 2008, where she was executive coordinator for the Conservative Party of Canada. To quote a co-worker: ‘‘Because of Krys, everything that was chaos became organized and under control.’’
I was chairing our policy conference, so we started working together for the duration of the conference in Winnipeg. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper named me to the Senate in 2008, I knew nothing about the Red Chamber or Parliament but remembered working at the convention with this marvellous woman, who was energetic, never at a loss as to what to do and always smiling.
Krystyna, in very short order, moved us into the East Block, effortlessly organizing the movement of furniture, hanging of pictures, hiring an additional staff member and very tactfully but firmly steering this Conservative senator around the intricacies of her new job. As Krys never talked about herself, I did not realize how lucky I was to have this overqualified, highly educated woman running my life on Parliament Hill. As I said earlier, life for Krys was about others, not herself.
It was only later that it came out that Krys had spent 20 years working in the field of demographic and trend analysis, that she had led projects for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, the United Nations Department of Technical Cooperation for Development, USAID and the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau. She had also lectured at such prestigious institutions as Queen’s University, the University of Chicago and the Canadian Centre for Management Development.
Throughout her tenure with the Canadian federal government, she held both management and social policy positions at Health Canada. Her experience there taught her how policy is made and how legislation is enacted at all levels of government, something that was enormously useful to me.
In front of her desk, in our office, were two big armchairs. There was often someone sitting in one of them seeking advice or comfort or both, help with their research or writing or just visiting. I used to tease Krystyna by calling her the queen of the East Block, and she was to those of us who knew her.
Krys was passionate, highly partisan, amusing, kindness itself and so very intelligent. I assure her mother, Maria, that Krystyna will be mourned and much missed by all of us who had the good fortune of knowing and working with her.
Krystyna, may you dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Rest in peace.