Mr. Speaker, I rise to add a few words from this side of the House, in recognition of your public service and your work as Speaker of the House.
You have commanded the respect and affection of the whole House. Despite the divisions that are obvious in this chamber, I think it is easy for this side of the House to subscribe in its entirety to the kind words offered by the government House leader.
I want to add a few personal notes. One of the things that I noticed about your biography is that you began to subscribe to Hansard at the age of 16. In many other people this would be regarded as an alarming propensity, but that propensity has been only to the good of this House. Your knowledge, love and affection for the traditions of this House have guided you well and you obviously began your understanding of them at a very early age.
You left a very prestigious legal career to enter politics. You entered the House in 1988, defeating Flora MacDonald, the former member for Kingston and the Islands, who also commands universal respect.
You were elected Speaker of the House in 2001, and re-elected in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
As the government House leader said, it is an important fact that you were elected by members of the House, which is a very clear sign of the respect in which you are held.
Last week, you became Canada's longest-serving Speaker of the House.
Ten deciding votes have been cast by Speakers since 1867 and you, sir, have cast five of them, which is an extraordinary historical achievement.
I know that this side of the House would share with you one particular regret that in the gallery today there will not be the presence of one of your oldest friends, a man who loved the House as much as you did, Jerry Yanover. I am sure you will miss his presence in the gallery as much as we do.
You command the universal respect of the House for your rulings, for your judgment, but above all, for your sense of humour. All of us know that you combined a very particular equilibrium, eye-rolling disbelief at the follies and antics of this chamber, combined with a deep respect for its institutions and its traditions.
I salute you, Mr. Speaker; you do us all proud.