Mr. Speaker, Major-General Maurice Gaston Cloutier was our longest serving Sergeant-at-Arms. Indeed, he spent the best years of his life in the service of Canada. He was a man of tradition and a man of our time, and he is dearly missed.
Gus Cloutier was the keeper of the rules and customs of this House. He recognized their importance to democratic life in our country, despite the fact that they sometimes seem strange.
Gus Cloutier was able to see beyond the history and ceremony of the House to recognize its humanity. He knew well the duties of his office, and he knew us well too.
He looked after all of us. When we first arrived here, he might raise his eyebrows at the new crop of MPs. He had a sense of humour about us, but he knew what we were here to do. He recognized that he could help us and make us feel at home here. He also recognized all the little ways in which he could assist the members in their duties and which would make a big difference in their lives here.
We appreciated him for that, right from the very first days and weeks we spent here and the many years after, during which we had the privilege of serving under his watch.
It would seem unfair to remember Gus without a story, because he was of course both the source and the subject of some great ones. At one time he was aide-de-camp to the then Minister of National Defence. His rank was Lieutenant-Colonel.
Gus was no doubt the most dashing and the most competent and intelligent aide-de-camp that the minister had ever been blessed with. One evening, as I understand it, they were having a drink, perhaps more than one, and the minister, to his credit, observed how Gus would make a fine general.
Naturally Gus had to agree. In fact, he asked the minister if he would not mind repeating himself on the phone if he could get the Department of National Defence on the line. Sure enough, Gus did, and that was that: Major-General Gus Cloutier came into being.
Needless to say, when the right thing needed to be done, our Sergeant-at-Arms could find a way. He merited his elevation to the post of Major-General. He had a distinguished career, one that all could be proud of, and he had a distinguished career that he left when he came here, one that any man or woman could be proud of.
We could say many things about Major-General Cloutier, but the fact remains that he was quite simply a true gentleman and a friend to us all, a Canadian who served his country in both war and peace.
This House was never better served. He will be forever missed.