No, Mr. Speaker, I did not rise on a point of order.
As I believe we informed you, I am rising to pay tribute to the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie. I thought that was what you said. I will rise on a point of order later, if I may. It is unfortunate that so many people have left, but at least the person I want to honour is still here. I would like to pay tribute to her now.
Those of us in politics do not always put on a very good show. From time to time, some politicians stand out because of the way they practise politics. Typically, they stand out because of their respect for others and the respect they inspire. That is what the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie has done and will continue to do for another month or two. The member inspires respect wherever she goes. I knew her for a short time at the National Assembly. All members, regardless of party affiliation, respected her.
When she engages in debate, she does not attack her opponent. Rather, she discusses her points of view and raises the tenor of the debate. She is the kind of person who makes politics look good and who helps us improve our reputation, which can often use improvement. I have often seen her defend her points of view with vigour and a sense of conviction. She was known for her grasp of the issues she dealt with. She has been described as studious, always well prepared, and, as I said before, always very respectful.
The meanest thing I ever heard her say—actually, I read about it because I was not there at the time—while she was a minister in the National Assembly was this: one of her opponents asked her a question. He was outraged and insisted on his point of view. When he asked the speaker if he had been dreaming, she rose calmly to tell the speaker that if the member had been dreaming, then he must have been asleep. That is one for the books. It should be kept in mind because it may apply to some of my colleagues one day. That is an example of her sense of humour. Her approach to debate was never mean-spirited and was always respectful of others.
She has a number of degrees, including an MBA. Yet she worked as social worker and thus, for her, politics was an extension of her commitment to the public and, as she constantly demonstrates, to people, the poorest members of society and those who deserve to be defended. She also speaks several languages. Not only does she speak excellent French, which is only natural, since she is a former education minister, but she speaks excellent English. She speaks Hebrew as well. I have seen her speak off the cuff in Hebrew, and I did not understand anything, but what she said was very well received.
I am convinced that she will continue to help people. During her long career, she has been responsible for a series of departments. First, in the National Assembly, she was Minister of Cultural Affairs, Minister of Higher Education and Science, Minister of Education for more than two years, and Minister of Health and Social Services. She worked in the departments that were most important both to public service and to the quality of education.
I did not get to know her until the very end of her time in the National Assembly, when I was elected in a byelection. She began sitting here in the House of Commons in 1995. During her 12 years in the federal government, she was responsible for the federal campaign during the Quebec referendum, and she served as Minister of Labour, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Minister of Multiculturalism and Citizenship and Minister of Communications. She was also President of the Treasury Board for four years and Minister responsible for Infrastructure for three years. In addition, she served as Minister responsible for Crown Corporations, Minister of Industry, Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, President of the Privy Council, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.
In fact, she has had an extremely well-rounded career. I know she is leaving, and I do not know what she is going to do from now on. I wish her every success in her future endeavours. I may not know what she plans to do, but I do know one thing: wherever life takes her, she will be serving the public. I extend my best wishes not only to this person whom I respect and who is leaving us, but also to the people she will be helping.