Mr. Speaker, we can wait a few minutes so we can be serious before the fun of the coming weeks.
I want to give a very special welcome to the hon. Leader of the Opposition to this House, and to federal politics. He will soon discover we do things a little differently here on dry land. There are no life jackets in the House of Commons.
It gives me great pleasure again to see new leaders of the opposition. In fact the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla is the sixth leader of opposition to sit across from me. It is a very dangerous occupation.
I had discussions with my caucus and I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that my caucus will work very hard to make sure that he has a long and fruitful career as the Leader of the Opposition.
Seriously, in the House of Commons politics is very important. We may speak in the House from different points of view and have different policies and approaches, but anyone who sits in the House of Commons is here because that person believes that we are working together to make Canada an even better country. That is why I welcome the opposition leader to this House.
I know that the new Leader of the Opposition is arriving here full of good intentions. He will work very hard and put a great deal of energy into promoting his ideas. We will have serious and sometimes heated debates. But in the end, we will both be working to ensure that Canada gets off to a good start in the 21st century.
I wish to welcome the opposition leader in the House of Commons and, as I said earlier, I know that the members on this side of the House wish him a very long career as Leader of the Opposition.
I welcome the new member for Kings—Hants, the leader of the Conservative Party. He has been a servant of this House for a long time. I was a minister in 1972 when this young member of parliament came from Alberta and immediately made his name in this House.
He had a terrific task. He became my critic when I was minister of Indian and northern affairs. I had two critics at that time, the hon. member and the then member from Kingston, Flora MacDonald. I used to call them the flora and the fauna.
However, more seriously he was an extremely good parliamentarian. He was very effective in the opposition, he was always well prepared and he would give it to you very straight. However, he was a soldier because he would take it too.
He became the Leader of Opposition when he was very young. He also became the prime minister when he was very young. After that he served the nation with great distinction as minister of foreign affairs. I am very happy that he is back with us because he is a parliamentarian from the school of Ged Baldwin, Stanley Knowles and Jack Pickersgill, people who made their names here in the House of Commons.
As for me, I am pleased to welcome a soldier with whom I had many battles in my life, but for whom I have the utmost respect. This is a man who is fully dedicated to public life and sincerely committed to making Canada an even better country.
I am sure that the House of Commons has much to gain from the return of the hon. member. I wish him good luck.