House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

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Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am very privileged to rise today to pay tribute to a great Canadian, someone who will not be seeking re-election to this place after serving 23 years as the member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands. I am, of course, talking about you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker and I have known each other since I was 19 years old when I was a young Queen's University student. Our first encounter was rather interesting and I think he knows what I am talking about. I was protesting the Speaker when he was running against the Honourable Flora Isabel MacDonald. All judicial matters were cleared up a few months after that first encounter.

Mr. Speaker, for four terms as the Speaker, you have conducted yourself with great integrity, with great professionalism. You are thoughtful. You are intelligent. You have enjoyed the confidence of this House each and every sitting day of those four terms. That is a remarkable accomplishment.

You are aware that you have been elected by majority Liberal governments, by minority Liberal governments, and by minority Conservative governments. I think it speaks to the number of friends and the high esteem in which you are held by each and every member of this place.

After becoming government House leader, I had an opportunity to visit the Palace of Westminster, the mother of all parliaments. The Speaker of the House of Commons there said that he and Speakers in the Commonwealth around the world looked to you as their leader and their inspiration as someone who has conducted himself very professionally. For a Canadian to hear that from a British Speaker is a pretty remarkable conclusion and assessment of your role as Speaker.

Not only are you the longest serving Speaker in Canadian history, you have also been elected, so others who have served at great length did not have that distinction. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, you will go down in history as one of the best Speakers, if not the best Speaker, that the House of Commons has ever had.

On behalf of the Prime Minister, on behalf of the government caucus, on behalf of the people of Canada, and I think especially on behalf of the people of Kingston and the Islands, we want to thank you for your remarkable contribution to Parliament and your remarkable public service to this great country. We want to wish you well.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

March 25th, 2011 / 12:10 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness and emotion that I rise to pay tribute to you today. We are saying goodbye to a wonderful parliamentarian, the member for Kingston and the Islands, and a great Canadian who has left his mark on this institution, which we all hold so dear. We salute you.

You were elected Speaker by your colleagues four times, making you the longest-serving Speaker in the House and only the second one to have been chosen from the opposition benches. Ten deciding votes have been cast by Speakers of the House since 1867 and you have cast five of them, which is extraordinary.

You have been the voice of this House. You have inspired us—sometimes with kindness, sometimes with firmness, sometimes with great conviction and emotion—to better understand the rules governing this House and Canadian democracy. If only for that, the country owes you so very much.

As Parliamentary Secretary to the Government House Leader, as chair of the procedure and House affairs committee, as Deputy Speaker, and now as Speaker, you have built a legacy that will outlast you and that will endure in the annals of this Parliament.

At the end of your tenure, we all regret, if I may add, that another great lover of parliamentary democracy and procedure, our friend and your friend, Jerry Yanover, is not here to celebrate with us your incredible achievement.

With your departure, Mr. Speaker, this place loses a faithful guardian of our best traditions. We also lose a fierce protector of its privileges. Few Canadians have done more to affirm the supremacy of Parliament. Three times in the last year, you have stood in this House to defend our democracy against the abuse of power. Your rulings are the consummation of a career spent in the service of our institutions and they will echo in the history of our Parliament. For your devotion to this place, you have our gratitude and our respect.

Today, the House stands poised to make history of its own and to make an important and historic choice. The irony is that if this House were to find the government in contempt, it would have one consequence, which all of us deeply regret: We would send a great Speaker into retirement.

So farewell, Mr. Speaker. This House will miss you and we will never forget you.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, before paying you a well-deserved tribute, I would like to acknowledge the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, who has announced that she will not be running for office in the next election. I wish to salute her.

It is an immense privilege for me to pay tribute to the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands. Not only are you the longest-serving Speaker in the history of Canada's Parliament, but you managed this feat in a very special context. This has been pointed out, but I believe it deserves to be repeated.

What I would like to say is that, on four occasions, after four consecutive elections, no matter which party was power, no matter whether it was a majority or minority government, the member for Kingston and the Islands was elected by his peers to preside over our deliberations and to be the guardian of the rules of procedure and the traditions of the House of Commons. In my opinion, the confidence the House has expressed in you, four times over, and in a secret ballot, is a great feat, even more than your longevity as the Speaker of the House of Commons.

If I had to describe your work in one sentence, I would say that it is obvious that all your actions have been guided by your profound knowledge of the institution of the House of Commons. This knowledge is the fruit of your hard work and obvious passion for parliamentary business. It is public knowledge that, even as an adolescent, the Speaker of the House was an avid reader of Hansard. Of course.

With this in-depth knowledge of the institution, the member for Kingston and the Islands quickly became the defender of the rules and traditions of the House of Commons at a time when, need we be reminded, these rules and traditions could easily have been diminished. In fact, for more than five years, you have presided over a House of Commons with a minority government. Since 2004, with a number of your decisions, you ensured that the balance between parliamentarians' rights and the government's prerogatives was maintained. It was not always an easy task, I must say.

We will remember you, in your role as the Speaker of the House of Commons, as a man with an engaging personality and whose integrity, intelligence, judgment and knowledge, not to mention sense of humour, have been a source of admiration and inspiration for us all throughout these years.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, allow me to offer, on behalf of the members of the Bloc Québécois and myself, our most sincere congratulations for the quality and longevity of your tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons. Allow me to say, one last time, thank you for everything, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, you have given a decade of service to all members of Parliament as our Speaker. Maybe this day is no different from all those others spent occupying the chair, listening to endless points of order that really are not points of order, making your rulings and seeking order, seeking order, and still more order.

Of course, it is different today, in that this appears to be the last such day. So it is fitting that we pay you tribute, and I do so on behalf of our leader, the member for Toronto—Danforth, and our entire NDP caucus.

Mr. Speaker, you were elected or acclaimed as Speaker on four occasions, and it is no small feat in itself to have earned the respect of the House so many times over. You presided at many critical moments, including being the only Speaker ever to decide a confidence vote in 2005.

Mr. Speaker, we remember you for your fairness, your impartiality and your good humour.

You know this place inside out and all of its strange practices that no one really understands but which, at certain moments, become important, even critical, to how we function and do our work for Canadians.

Most of all, though, Mr. Speaker, you will be remembered for your historic rulings on the disclosure of documents dealing with Afghanistan, other document disclosure and questions of contempt, which bring us here today.

You have been our guardian and the guardian of our Parliament. I think it was best said in an article just yesterday in Maclean's magazine, which concluded:

Amid much gnashing of teeth over the state of our parliamentary democracy, [the Speaker] reasserted the power and preeminence of the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the NDP members, we wish you well. We hope you are not left to muttering “Order” in your sleep. We thank you for your service as an honourable Speaker, and we thank your family for sharing you with us and for the work you have done so well.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I hope the House will allow me a few minutes to speak so that I, too, may pay tribute to you. I will not repeat all that we have already heard about your illustrious career as the Speaker of this historic Chamber.

Mr. Speaker, you have been the voice of the Commons for just over 10 years. I have been very proud to have served with you as a Chair for just about half of that time.

In your speech to the House on the first day of the current Parliament, you told members that in your view:

—in a minority House there are certain circumstances that require expertise, not merely experience.

That, I think, has become clear to all members who have served with you since you first took over the speakership of this House in the 37th Parliament. You have shown a great deal of expertise, and not merely experience.

Mr. Speaker, you have consistently demonstrated your vast knowledge of the rules and procedure that guide our deliberations and the precedents that guide the Speaker's rulings

But what stands out the most is the fact that, not only did you carry out your duties with a great deal of expertise, but you did so with a genuine love for Parliament, a true grasp of the important role this institution plays in Canada, and true commitment to its traditions.

Beauchesne's, citations 167 and 168, tells us that:

The essential ingredient of the speakership is found in the status of the Speaker as a servant of the House. The Presiding Officer, while but a servant of the House, is entitled on all occasions to be treated with the greatest attention and respect by the individual Members because the office embodies the power, dignity and honour of the House itself.

The chief characteristics attached to the office of Speaker in the House of Commons are authority and impartiality.

I think all members will agree that those are two characteristics you have displayed very well over the past several years.

Perhaps many Canadians do not know that the Speaker is often called upon to represent Canada abroad at meetings such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, with the speakers of other G8 countries and on bilateral diplomatic visits.

I can tell the members of the House and, indeed, all Canadians, that Canada was always very well represented when Speaker Milliken represented us.

Members of the next Parliament will no doubt miss your presence in the Chair. They will miss your affable nature in guiding this House through some interesting times, and they will certainly miss your expertise.

However, it is said that it is not what one gets out of something that one is remembered for, but what one leaves behind.

You can be proud of the legacy you are leaving here today. I am not talking only about statistics and numbers, as the longest-serving Speaker, for instance, or the highest number of votes taken, but rather as a Speaker who has left such a mark on the position that it is probably difficult for the members and for Canadians to imagine you no longer occupying the chair.

On behalf of all of those who have worked with you, both in the Chair and as table officers and as the many clerks you have served with over the years, I wish you all the best in whatever your days may bring. I know you will always be welcomed in these corridors.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Before I begin my personal remarks, I would like to join the other hon. members in recognizing the presence here today of the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île. Welcome. It is a pleasure to see you.

I am honoured by the very kind comments that so many colleagues have made today.

I would like to thank you for your remarks. It has always been a pleasure for me to be here in the House. I have been grateful for this opportunity since I was elected by the voters in Kingston and the Islands in 1988.

I have really enjoyed being their representative in this House. I am honoured to have been able to do it for so long and so consistently, in the sense that they kept re-electing me. I have appreciated that support immensely. I am very pleased and honoured to have been the member of Parliament for such a great constituency, which is obviously Canada's first capital. It has been a privilege to serve my community of Kingston. I must say that I look forward to spending a little more time there, if there is a dissolution shortly.

I would also like to express my profound thanks to the Clerk of the House, as well as her predecessor, Bill Corbett, and his staff.

The Speaker must work with the Clerk all the times to arrange things in the House and to receive notices regarding things that happen here. The Clerk also acts as the Speaker's advisor.

Throughout, the Clerk and her officials have been very, very supportive and very, very helpful. Obviously, if I have been getting some credit for some successful decisions in the House, a lot of the credit goes to the table officers who do the work in preparing these things. I do not claim to do all that research myself. It is great.

I also want to say how much I appreciate the support of my fellow Chair occupants.

As Deputy Speakers, I have worked with: Bob Kilger; the current Minister of Transport; and Bill Blaikie. The member for Regina—Qu'Appelle is the current Deputy Speaker. We have had a very interesting association among the whole group of us in a way.

The Deputy Chairs of Committees of the Whole: Réginald Bélair; the hon. members for Hull—Aylmer and Ottawa—Orléans; and, currently, the hon. member for Victoria. I have enjoyed working with all of them.

Finally, the Assistant Deputy Chairs of Committees of the Whole: Eleni Bakopanos; Betty Hinton; Jean Augustine; and, currently, the hon. member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. I thank them all for their assistance. As a team, in each case, I think we have worked very well together.

I would like to also thank all of the dedicated staff in my Kingston office who have worked hard to keep the constituents of Kingston and the Islands happy.

Once I became Speaker, the number of days I could spend there during the week diminished somewhat, so I have not had as many appointments in the last 10 years as I did in the years before that, but they have seen a lot of constituents and dealt with a lot of the issues and helped out.

The staff in the office here in Ottawa have also been very helpful, particularly in the Speaker's office, in assisting me in this role in helping arrange all the trips and the visiting delegations and the meetings with officials that I get to do on behalf of the House. I appreciate their help very, very much.

I thank the Leader of the Opposition for mentioning my old friend, Jerry Yanover. We were in high school together. I am sure he would have loved to be here today if he were still around.

I would like to thank my family, my five sisters, my brother, some of whom are here today, their spouses, their children, all of whom have helped me, and my mother. I am looking forward to again having a little more time to spend with them at the cottage when we get a break this summer. That will work out well.

I want to also thank all of you for having elected me so frequently as Speaker in this House. It has been a singular honour to serve in this position. I am always delighted with the support that I get during the elections, and of course elections are a real pain in the neck for Speakers, you have two every time. However, having been voted in, I do then have the pleasure of working with each one of the members.

It has always been a pleasure for me to have meetings and discussions with you and to receive little messages from time to time. I really appreciate the support you have given me and your good-naturedness. I also really appreciate the remarks you have made today.

Perhaps I could just end by telling a little story.

Toward the end of her long reign, Queen Elizabeth I, in an address to her subjects, said these words:

--though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves.

When you elected me to this job, you raised me high in this House, but what has been the wonderful part about it is the affection and the respect that you have showered upon me since my first election.

Thank you very much, my dear friends.

Speaker of the House of Commons
Oral Questions

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Chief Electoral Officer
Oral Questions

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Before I recognize the minister, I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada on the administration of the Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, Vaughan, and Winnipeg North byelections held on November 29, 2010.

This document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs

Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, with leave of the House and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, regulations entitled Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials (Tunisia and Egypt) Regulations, pursuant to section 7 of the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Kenora
Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the 2008-2009 annual report of the Labrador Inuit land claims agreement implementation coordinating committee.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, before I table the documents with you which will be for the last time, I will make a few very brief remarks, if I may.

I do not profess to be as eloquent as those who spoke before me, but let me say, as one who has dealt with you on a daily basis on procedural matters for the last five years, I know this must be a joyous but also a very difficult day for you. “Mixed emotions” has once been described to me by definition as watching one's mother-in-law drive over a cliff but driving one's own brand new Cadillac. With all due respect to mothers-in-law across Canada, what it means is that you must be viewing this day with a mixture of joy and regret because this place has been such a big part of your life. From my perspective, I have benefited greatly from your rulings, your advice, your guidance and your patience. From the deepest part of my heart, thank you so much for all you have done for me over these past several years and I hope this is not the last time we see you in this place.

For the last time, let me say, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to four petitions.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the parliamentary secretary for his kind remarks.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also want to pay my respect to you in your capacity as Speaker and wish you all the best in the future.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, in relation to its study on the issues surrounding security at the G8 and G20 summits.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women concerning violence against aboriginal women.

This is an interim report.

Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted to congratulate you on your sterling record and to say what a joy it was to know you as a colleague and a friend.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Thank you very much.

The hon. member for Calgary Centre.