I realize that today there have been a few members I have not been able to recognize in standing orders. There are a few reasons for this.
I too wanted to take a minute. There is no single word in French to say goodbye. In French, we use expressions such as “À la prochaine, au revoir, adieu”. Today, it is my turn.
I will take just a few moments to say goodbye to you. I do not know if there will be an election but if there is, most of you will be standing again to come back to this beautiful place, this institution, the House of Commons of Canada.
If I may quote Laurier, he said that this was his home for 40 years. This was my home for 22. It is a home where I have enjoyed working with you and your predecessors. In 22 years it has been an adventure, surely with ups and downs, but for every down day that I have had there have been 100 up days.
You have paid me one of the greatest honours that any member of parliament could receive and that was to choose me on two different occasions to be your Speaker. It is an honour which very few of us could ever aspire to and one which I consider a great gift and a great privilege.
Over the last few days I have thought about how I would say the words in this place that I have spoken a number of times, like you, in my maiden speech and like you, on votes that were particularly interesting and important for me.
During the time I presided over the debates of the House of Commons, I sometimes had to make difficult decisions. I made them. It was my duty to do so.
I thank the people who voted for me over the years and sent me here six times. Once they decided they loved me so much that I should stay with them in the riding for four years. For those other six times I thought they were the most intelligent voters in Canada. Even when they kept me home, I thought, well, there was a reason for that too.
I wish you well, my colleagues, you who have served and you who will serve in the years ahead in this House of Commons.
May I gently remind you of who you are, of who we are. We are the representatives of the people of Canada. When they send us here, they expect from us the best that we have to give. Sometimes in the heat of battle we use words that in hindsight we would have preferred to leave unsaid, but we get through that one way or another.
I am told that there was a scratch on a stone after the battle of Thermopylae, a little saying. If I had anything to ask you to say about me, if indeed you ever do say anything, perhaps you would consider these words. My colleagues, go tell the Canadians that their Speaker, their servant, is leaving his post. His watch is over.
I am ready to pass all of this on, as it should be, from one Speaker to the next.
I hope that you will always cherish this place, as I have. No greater honour could I have received. I thank you for this honour you have given to me.