--and go during his time. In fact it can be said that he helped some of them go.
He has served under the following: Diefenbaker, Pearson, Trudeau, the right hon. gentleman from Calgary Centre, Turner, Mulroney and Campbell.
We are aware of his musing about staying on as a backbencher where all the power will reside when the ancient mariner takes the helm. We would strongly urge it because power is addictive. If he can enjoy as much power on the backbenches as he does now, he will not suffer withdrawal pains.
I am sure that the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard would welcome the thought of having the former Prime Minister sitting behind him and watching his back, and watching it closely, intently, day in and day out, and every day that the House is sitting, just as the member for LaSalle--Émard watched his back very closely, intently, day in and day out over the last 10 years.
If the right hon. gentleman did decide to stay on as an ordinary backbencher, he could assume the role of the conscience of his party. He could remind the House daily that the new Liberal leader has not yet brought the cod back to Newfoundland or raised the average family farm income to a quarter of a million dollars annually. He could ask the new Liberal leader to identify which streets in which cities he plans to pave with gold. He should be there to act as the conscience of his party and to remind the new leader that a promise made is a debt unpaid.
When the new leader falters, as he inevitably will, the little backbencher from Shawinigan would be close by, sitting here in the opposition benches ready to heed the call to return and save the party.
Seriously, we are here to recognize and pay tribute to the right hon. gentleman for his over 40 years of public service.
As I said earlier, he did not do it all on his own. He did not win his first election and subsequent elections all on his own. He had the loving support of a devoted partner and family.
We pay tribute to him but also to those who supported him throughout his political life. The Prime Minister has often paid tribute to Aline and we do as well for her contribution to Canada.
We have sharp differences of opinion in this place. Now, however, at this moment in time, we think it appropriate to offer our best wishes and thanks on behalf of all Canadians to the Prime Minister.
All political differences aside, he did his best and he did it straight from the heart. And he did it with Canada always foremost in his thoughts and his heart.
We have found little common ground in our political relationship but we find common ground on the other side of the curtains. It is our deep abiding love for Canada that is our common ground.
My own leader, who is in Toronto with the leader of the Conservative Party organizing a new party to beat the other guy, has written a personal letter to the Prime Minister, and I am told the letter will be made public in due course. I know my leader joins me and all caucus colleagues in wishing the Prime Minister a long and healthy retirement that will include many good golf days in the sunshine and even birdies on the bluebird days, when the swing is in synchronized rhythm.
Godspeed, good health and contented days ahead is our wish for him and his family.