I would like to congratulate all of the returning members of Parliament and a special welcome to the new members of Parliament.
For the new members who do not know me, I was elected to this House in 2000 after practising as a lawyer in the courts of Ontario for 27 years. After I was elected, I spent considerable time serving on the environment, justice and public safety committees, as well as other committees. I was elected deputy leader by my caucus, and I worked a great deal on the rules of this House.
I believe the role of the Speaker is quite clear and quite simple. It is set out in article 10 of our rules of this chamber. It says that the responsibility of the Speaker is to maintain order and decorum in this chamber. Beyond that, it is my belief that the Speaker has the responsibility to protect the rights and privileges of every member in the House.
I have been an advocate for causes and people since I was in elementary school. I propose that I would continue that role in this chamber as Speaker, if elected, and I would insist that those rights and privileges, that we, more than any other Canadian, have a right to, are guaranteed absolutely in this chamber at all times.
There are other roles the Speaker must play and the Speaker has responsibilities. Our security issues as members must be further addressed. Budgetary issues need to be addressed and I pledge to the chamber that I will be reviewing those should I be elected.
I want to go back to the issue of decorum. I do not believe there is anybody who has been in this chamber for any period of time who believes that the decorum, the order in this chamber, has not deteriorated. I ask members to look inside their hearts and minds and say otherwise to me. We all have a responsibility that goes with those rights and privileges to conduct ourselves with decorum in this chamber. We have not done that.
I do not wish to see the Speaker abdicate responsibility but I say to all members in this chamber that they cannot abdicate their individual responsibilities.
In those committees to which I referred I have worked closely with members of all parties and I have done the same in this chamber.
I am absolutely certain that I will continue to work closely with all members. I am absolutely certain that it is possible to change the conduct and decorum in this House.
I have travelled and visited other parliaments, including those in England and Australia. I have seen the reforms they have introduced. We need to do the same thing here, and I am absolutely certain that we can. I invite you to support me and help me make a change. Thank you.