Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to add my words to those of my colleagues who have spoken before me, all of them reflecting, I believe, what we all feel toward Mr. Marleau, who has left us, or will soon be doing so.
I would, however, like to say, in order to be fair to Mr. Marleau and Mr. Montpetit, who were directly attacked a few moments ago, that I feel otherwise: the work they have produced shows the full importance of the chief whip in that there is more reference to that position than to that of the House leader.
While that position may not have all the visibility and all the deference owing to it, at least in the joint work of Mr. Marleau and Mr. Montpetit we see the full importance, the full essence of the position of chief whip of the various parties.
Joking aside, I wish to express here the great admiration I personally and my fellow Bloc Quebecois members have for the work that has been done by Mr. Marleau, not just as Clerk of the House of Commons, because the Speaker also mentioned his long parliamentary career.
He started here in 1969 as clerk of committee. He then joined the parliamentary relations secretariat. He served as principal clerk, director of committees and private legislation, clerk assistant and, finally, in 1987, was appointed Clerk of the House of Commons.
He therefore has very broad experience, which he has shared with all of us here in the House. We are all indebted to him for his contribution to this Chamber, for what he has done for us individually and as a group.
Earlier the Speaker was saying that he will soon be leaving the House of Commons. On that score, I can say that he will never really leave it, that there will always be a seat for him here, because we have unanimously agreed to reserve for him the distinction of honorary clerk of the House of Commons. He will thus be able to join us and take part in the work of the House when the mood strikes him. I invite him to do so as often as possible.
What is particularly sad is knowing that this House will lose a part of its corporate memory. There is no denying that there have been a number of inroads on that memory in recent years.
In addition to Mr. Marleau, some very capable individuals have left us. There is Mary Anne Griffith, Camille Montpetit and Diane Davidson, who, through a chance administrative reorganization, has moved on to the Department of Justice and is now with the Chief Electoral Officer. She also shared with us her vast experience and considerable professionalism, as did Ms. Griffith and Mr. Montpetit.
Here we have much of our corporate memory leaving us, and we will have to make up for this loss one way or another.
I know that I myself and my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois have given Mr. Marleau, young retiree that he is, a few white hairs.
Nevertheless, since 1987, although the Bloc Quebecois was not around then, Mr. Marleau has weathered some rather stormy situations. However, being a fine helmsman, he always maintained a steady course and captained his ship exceptionally.
If we in fact did give him a few white hairs on occasion, I must say right off that it was not our intention and that we had the highest respect for his person, his duties and his contribution to the House of Commons.
People move on and the institution remains, I think. However, the memory of these people remains and does so for a long time.
Thank you for your contribution to the House of Commons. I think your presence here and your contribution will long remain within these walls. Thank you very much and congratulations. May your well deserved retirement be a good one.
As my friend, the House leader of the official opposition put it, I know full well that you are retiring, but you are not retiring, because you have also told me what you plan to do in your retirement.
I wish you good luck. I have not had the good fortune to golf with you, but you have had the good fortune not to golf with me.