Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a couple of moments to put on record the sentiments of my colleagues in response to the news we received today.
I am lacking words to express the feelings of all of my colleagues who so love our leader, the hon. member for Halifax.
Mr. Speaker, you will appreciate how emotional this moment is for me and for my colleagues after hearing the news of the decision of our leader to step aside. She has done so today magnanimously and selflessly, as has been her way in everything she has done politically. As the member for Halifax said herself today, “The work of a great leader, among other things, is knowing when to pass the torch”.
There is great wisdom in those words, a wisdom that I am sure many in the Prime Minister's party feel should be emulated.
Let me just say three things on behalf of my colleagues. First, it is because of our leader, the member for Halifax, that our party is in a position of strength today. Thanks to her good work, we broke through the doldrums after the 1993 election and reclaimed official party status in 1997. Thanks to the member for Halifax, we made an incredible breakthrough in Atlantic Canada, winning eight seats and breaking through that barrier.
We may be down a few but we are on a roll. We will be back up. I want to let all members in the House know that we are coming back.
Also because of our leader, the member for Halifax, we made a breakthrough with respect to women in the country. As the first woman leader of an established, recognized federal and provincial party, we owe a debt of gratitude to her. Thanks to her good work we have almost achieved gender parity in our caucus. Let that also be an example for the Prime Minister.
The member for Halifax personifies all that is good in political life. She shows for all of us the example of a selfless, tireless individual who works steadfastly on behalf of Canadians. Her passion for the country and her compassion for its people are her hallmark and a legacy she leaves all of us.
As the member for Dartmouth has said in the past, the words that can only describe our leader today is that she is the iron angel of Canadian politics.
On behalf of all of my colleagues, I thank the hon. member for being the standard-bearer for social justice and for being the iron angel of Canadian politics.