House of Commons Hansard #228 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


The House resumed from June 4 consideration of the motion.

Ferry Services to Prince Edward IslandPrivate Members' Business

7 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 591, under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #446

Ferry Services to Prince Edward IslandPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion defeated.

The House resumed from June 3, 2015, consideration of the motion that Bill C-642, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (high profile offender), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Corrections and Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-642, under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #447

Corrections and Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from June 9 consideration of the motion that Bill C-588, An Act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act (Sambro Island Lighthouse), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-588 under private member's business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #448

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

7:20 p.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

I wish to inform the House that because of the delay, there will be no private members' business hour today. Accordingly, the order will be rescheduled for another sitting.

Pursuant to an order made on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, the House shall now resolve itself into committee of the whole to consider Motion No. 21 under government business.

I do now leave the chair for the House to go into committee of the whole.

The House resumed from June 9 consideration of Government Business No. 21 in committee of the whole, Mr. Joe Comartin in the chair.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:25 p.m.


The Chair NDP Joe Comartin

We are in committee of the whole pursuant to a motion that will resume debate on speeches and addresses by members of Parliament who are not seeking re-election in the 42nd Parliament.

I would note that members may sit where they wish in the chamber. All speeches will be 10 minutes, with no questions or comments.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:25 p.m.


Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Chair, I am truly honoured to be here today to give my farewell speech in this wonderful House of Commons that I have been a part of for the past four years.

In the fall of 2008, when my friend Christopher Young asked me if I wanted to be an NDP candidate, I never really expected to be here today, having completed a term in office, saying my goodbyes. It would never have occurred to me.

When the same thing happened in 2011 and I was asked to run, even then I did not think I would be so amazingly lucky as to be part of this wonderful team.

Four years ago, almost to the day, I spoke for the first time in the House of Commons. I had just been made the critic for democratic reform, and of course I asked a question about the Senate. It is crazy how some things in life change and others stay exactly the same.

In my four years as the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, I had the opportunity to be a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. I will cherish wonderful memories of the work we did in that committee, and I would like to say that the committee chair, the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London, did an excellent job and always did his best to be fair.

He always did his best. It was an honour to be his vice-chair and to work with him. I will probably think about him for the rest of my life, especially when I am having an egg sandwich.

I would also like to salute my two NDP colleagues who are also members of the committee. I really enjoyed working with the fiery member for Hamilton Centre, famous for his filibusters, and the member for Toronto—Danforth, whom I worked with on the democratic reform file. It was a privilege to work with such brilliant and dedicated people.

I say thanks to both of my friends. It was really wonderful.

I must also wholeheartedly thank my entire team: Marilyne and Nathalie, who work very hard to meet all the needs of my riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent, as well as Myriam and Jean-François, my dear friends who are here in Ottawa. I also want to salute Yves, Boris and Antonin, who no longer work for me, but who have been a tremendous source of support throughout my term. Thank you to everyone.

I have had the opportunity to form friendships with many people from all the parties over the past four years. Whether it was on parliamentary trips or during our prayer breakfasts, I was able to learn more about my colleagues from all parties. I think it is important to recognize that although we may disagree on many things, we all came here with a desire to make our country a better place. We may not always agree on what path to take to get there, but the only way to get there is by working together.

Speaking of working together, I would like to thank all the members who supported my bill on bilingualism for officers of Parliament. I am very proud to have contributed to the enhancement and promotion of bilingualism and the French fact in this country.

It was a rather extraordinary experience to see my bill go from a draft through each parliamentary stage and to know that that bill is now the Language Skills Act. For that I want to commend and thank my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst for all his support. We will continue to hope that one day, similar legislation can be passed for Supreme Court justices. I know that the hon. member is not seeking re-election either, but I am sure that he will keep working on this cause because he is a caring man. We will all miss him very much.

As hon. members know, I had some wonderful times during my term here. However, to be honest, it was not always easy. I also had to deal with some very dark sides of politics. I went through some very tough times. I saw how complicated being a young female member of Parliament can be. I saw how partisan politics could become harmful and toxic. There were days when things were not really easy. However I was able to remain hopeful and persevere thanks to the love and support of my gang here.

First and foremost there was my leader, who was always there when I needed him and who always gave me his support. I sincerely believe that he is an extraordinary man who has his heart in the right place. I really hope that he will be our prime minister one day.

I am addressing my entire team, each of my colleagues. I have had some truly special moments with many of you, and you know who you are. I have had an extraordinary opportunity to be part of the NDP team and to represent the riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent for the past four years.

I know that we will all continue to do our best to make Canada a better country. We will all continue to give it our all so we can be proud of our work and the country in which we will continue to live.

I would like to say to all my colleagues that I love you. As they say, this is farewell and not goodbye.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.


Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Chair, it was an accident. That will be my defence at the pearly gates when I, a 22-year politician, am making my pitch for entry, but I will not be lying, because it was an accident. I never intended to get into politics. It just kind of happened.

I was not from a political family. My mom and dad always took the responsibility to vote seriously, but other than that, there was no political background, no heavy political involvement. What they did is instill in all of their 17 children, of which I was one, an idea that voting was important. They gave us that.

I first realized the importance of politics when I worked as a farm economist for Alberta Agriculture. One of my duties was to interpret policy changes, and those policy changes included budgets, both provincial and federal. I interpreted what these changes actually meant to farmers and what they meant to their farm operations. I came to realize very quickly that whether one likes politics or not, it is important.

In 1988, when Preston Manning held a meeting in Lloydminster, I attended that meeting. There were about 40 or 50 people there. After listening to Preston, a few of us decided we should build this political party, so about 10 of us came together and started the first constituency association for the Reform Party in the Vegreville constituency. This was a constituency that was represented by the deputy prime minister at the time, Don Mazankowski.

In 1992, when the constituency association was holding its first nomination process, I helped to organize it. Later, when encouraged by quite a number of people, I got involved, and I won the nomination, although it obviously was not for my speaking prowess.

By the way, when I told my wife that I was considering a run in politics, her response was, “You? You're going to be an MP? Who is going to vote for you?” Well it was not quite like that, but I read between the lines. We know how it is with our wives; we can kind of tell. I really appreciate her support. I did then, and I still do.

Then in 1993, I was part of that first wave of Reformers to sweep into Ottawa. Getting elected, we all in this place know, does not just happen. It took a lot of work by a lot of people over a long period of time. Many of those people started by helping to build this new political party from the ground up. From the very start, there was nothing there, and they built it into an organization that actually successfully elected a member of Parliament in its first real try at it.

Many of that first board of directors who started this political party back in 1988 went on to be key players in my first campaign. They were people like Connie Kempton, Dave Clement, Morgan Day, Dave Dibben, Andy Cameron, Les Mitchell, Gordon Kyle, Allan Murray, and Ralph Sorenson, who actually is the father of our current Minister of State for Finance.

This group was led by a great Canadian, Sam Herman. Starting with nothing and starting from nowhere, with a brand new party and no organization at any level, Sam took it on, and he led this group. He was an organizer, he was a leader, and he was a fundraiser, and he taught us all a lot about how to do these things.

Let me tell everyone a little about Sam. Sam led our group from nothing, as I said, a non-existent organization, to being as strong a constituency association as I have ever seen. He organized us and he led by example. He encouraged us, and he reminded us why we were doing all of this work. It cost each of us a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of our own money.

When I won the nomination in June of 1992, Sam went on the road with me for over a year. It was practically a full-time job. He had just sold his farm equipment business and was starting a new personal financial planning business with two other partners. In spite of that, he went on the road with me for over a year.

As I said, campaigning was almost like a full-time job, going to town to town, business to business, having coffee parties and building this organization from the ground up. It was like a full-time job, except there was no pay, and this at a time when Sam could ill afford the time. This incredible commitment and sacrifice is truly something I marvel at to this day. He then became my campaign manager in 1993 when the election was called.

As members know, in 1993 I was one of the first group of 52 Reform MPs who stormed Ottawa. We brought about a lot of positive change. I would argue that we continue to do that through this new Conservative Party of Canada, a brand new party started in 2003. I believe this new party is carrying on down the path that was started by that Reform Party of Canada, and of course down the path of the other parent party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

I am so proud of my colleagues and friends in this place. We are a great team. I also believe that our Prime Minister will go down in history as one of the greatest prime ministers this country has ever known. With his long-term planning, he has led our team to reduce taxes and make an average Canadian family of four more than $6,000 better off than they were when we took office 10 years ago, and this is nothing to sneeze at.

Think of the difference that $6,000 a year can make for an average of family four. They can use it to invest and build for retirement, to spend on something they need or something special or in some cases just to get by, or to pay for education and so on for their children. This does make a real difference, and it is something I am very proud of.

I am proud of the work that this team, my colleagues, have done in the areas of justice, in ending the Wheat Board monopoly, in ending the long gun registry, and in making our streets safer.

I want to recognize that the opposition has played a role in this as well. I am not one—at least not now, after 22 years—to believe that any one party has all the answers, and I respect my colleagues across the floor. I want to thank all of them for their contribution to making this government a better government.

Finally, I want to say how proud I am of my wife and our children and our grandchildren. I cannot express how much I appreciate what Linda has done for me and our family over these very difficult years. I am so much in love with her, and I look forward in the years ahead to spending more time with her. I am hoping we can find a way to make that work, because as all members of parliament know, we really do not get as much time with our spouses and families and we would like, and she has done a great job.

I am so proud of all of my family. I have five children, married, who have produced eight grandchildren. It is just so wonderful to go home and enjoy the grandchildren and see the fruits of the labour that Linda has put in.

I want to end by thanking all of my constituents for allowing me these seven opportunities to represent them. There was stronger support every time. It was over 80% the last time. I want to say what an honour and what a privilege it has been to represent them. Thirty years ago, I could not have imagined that I would be given that incredible honour and privilege. I thank each one of them from the bottom of my heart.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:45 p.m.


Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Chair, I am thankful for this opportunity to make some parting remarks.

When I was a 14-year-old boy travelling with a group of young people on a student exchange program between Saskatchewan and Newcastle, New Brunswick, we stopped to do some sightseeing in Ottawa. We went to the ByWard Market, we went sightseeing on the Ottawa River, and we stopped at the Parliament Hill Centre Block. As a 14-year-old boy, I stood in the foyer entrance in this House and gazed at the magnificence of the chamber, the ceiling, and the interior. I wondered what kind of person it would take to sit in this House and what kind of people the occupants might be. I do not recall if I had any aspirations then. I may have, but 40 years later, I myself was elected to sit in the House.

I thank the constituents of Souris—Moose Mountain for the confidence they have placed in me by electing me not only in 2004 but then again in 2006, 2008, and 2011.

Of course, I first and foremost have to express my deepest thanks and my profound gratitude to my wife, Sally, who shared equally in the joys and triumphs as well as the low points and the difficult times of a decade-long journey. I met this young lady in the small town of Alvena, Saskatchewan. She captured my full attention and my heart. Who would have thought that the two of us would one day find ourselves in Ottawa. She finished raising our family, endured long periods of separation while I was here in Ottawa, and then endured the travel and lengthy stays in Ottawa to be here with me. What a journey. Thank you, Sally.

I would also like to thank our children Jennifer, Jessica, Jodee, Jolene, and JoAnna, who shared a good part of my time in Ottawa, a time when all of us got to know each other far more personally than we otherwise would have. It was a time we will always treasure and share into the future, I am sure.

I would also like to thank my daughter Jamie, who wrote my early press releases, and my sons Bill and Nick, who helped during the campaign and at times were my sign crew. I would also like to thank their spouses and their children. Without them this journey would not have been worthwhile. They have all paid a price of some measure, and I certainly appreciate that and want to thank them.

As I have said many times, if I knew everything I know now, I would not have run for office, yet how could I not have? What an experience. At times it was thrilling, exhilarating, at times it was intimidating, and at times I was wondering what I was doing here. I can say, however, I have met some interesting people, made some friends, had some interesting and satisfying work to do, and had an opportunity to see some interesting places.

I would like to acknowledge some key people who got me here.

My son-in-law, Jason Fleury, worked tirelessly and under a great deal of pressure and stress in rather difficult circumstances during my nomination. My friend Ken Sholter was always there and was a great support and encourager, as was his wife Debbie and their son Doug.

Susan Thompson, at a private meeting in our home, gave herself wholeheartedly to my campaign and proved to be the most valuable person at the times we needed her most. She also proved to be a very valuable and capable employee. Her mother Shirley was an inspiration as well.

Each of these individuals I have noted will know personal details regarding my nomination that I will not go into, but they will always be in our collective memories.

Many on the board were personal friends who made sure I would have this political experience at personal cost to them. I think of Bob Burns, who travelled many miles with me; Al Dougherty, who did my sign work in the southeast part of the riding; president Lyndon Dayman, who had to be persuaded to get involved later to become the president; and, more recently, Calvin Johnson.

I think of Bill Baryluk, who sold many tickets with me; Alydon King, who drove countless miles; Al Larson, Cam Weber, Joe Widdup, Larry and Connie Wingert, Robert Kitchen, Brad Kearns, Marge Young, Ken Stelnicki, Brad Denoulden, James Trobert, and many others.

I also would like to thank Pat Gervais, who ran our office and decorated it during our Christmas election, as well as Evelyn Sandquist and Audrey Meckling. I want to thank our financial agent, Tom Schuck, who stuck it out to the end with me and is now retired.

Also a great help, both during the elections and afterward with EDA filings and much more, was my friend Alf Tide. I thank them all very much.

There were a number of memorable and touching moments that I recall in the House. One was speaking in the definition of marriage debate when I was first elected. That was my first major speech, and I spoke in favour of defining marriage as one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. It was just before the vote when it was my time to speak, and the House was packed. I had a sense of the importance and gravity of that vote and a sense that history was being made, and indeed it was.

Being here during the apologies to the Chinese community for the wrongs endured as a result of the head tax was another moment.

I found it very emotional and touching when we had the aboriginal community on the floor of the House of Commons when the Prime Minister offered an official apology for the damage done by the residential school system through its policy of assimilation and all that it represented. He said:

The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly. We are sorry.

To hear those words was truly a historic moment and was in and of itself therapeutic. It was definitely a time when I felt proud to be a Canadian.

It was a great experience to be the critic for housing and labour, then the parliamentary secretary to the minister of human resources and skills development, to the minister of labour, and to the minister of citizenship and immigration. Having the opportunity to serve with and for ministers was something that I will always remember and cherish. Working with and for the members for Halton, Edmonton—Spruce Grove, Medicine Hat, and Haldimand—Norfolk is something that I will never forget.

I am certain that my grandfather, Nicholas, and in fact both sets of grandparents who immigrated to Canada would have been very proud to know that their grandson would one day be a parliamentary secretary to the minister of immigration. One regret is that both of my parents and my mother and father-in-law passed away before I was elected as a member of Parliament.

I can say, though, that my sister, Elaine, and my two brothers, Alec and Larry, as well as my sister and brother-in-law, Elsie and Lorne Korpen, have more than made up for this by being there to support me and by always being present.

I have met many fine people in the membership of committees, both when I was a parliamentary secretary and chair. I found the analysts and the clerks to be very capable, proficient, and unbiased in their work. Names that come to mind are clerks Evelyn Lukyniuk and Caroline Bosc, as well as analysts from the Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Chantal Collin, Sandra Gruescu and André Léonard. What a fine group of quality people.

There were a host of parliamentary secretary assistants who made my life so much easier: Christine Albee, Denis Laurie, Fred Delorey, Andrea Montenegrino and Anna Curic. All of these individuals moved up in their careers and I want them to know that I appreciated them very much.

I wish to acknowledge and thank my staff who really made a huge difference in my career, many of whom will remain friends. I mention specifically Doug Sholter, Doug Smith and Doug Cryer. It seemed that people could not work in my office unless their first name was Doug.

I give special thanks to Carol Somerville, who has been with me through thick and thin; to a very competent and capable Tracey Schiestel, who has done much of my constituency and immigration work; to Sherri Friess Smith, who made sure that I did not miss any social note or graduation certificate for graduates in Souris—Moose Mountain; and Charlene Easton, who generally takes matters into her own hands and ran the best passport clinics ever.

To my two ladies in Ottawa, Bailey Dennis and Michelle Newman, both very clever, efficient and capable young people, thanks very much for making the work pleasant and enjoyable, notwithstanding the many idiosyncrasies and doing my correspondence, even if they did not always agree with my positions. The same applies to all of my staff in the riding. They have been a pleasure to work with. May they all do well in their future careers. Many thanks.

Having the Prime Minister attend in Estevan and Weyburn in my time, as well as six ministers and one minister of state, is something else that I will remember. In addition to holding a round table with the now Minister of National Defence, we also had the first ever House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources and Skills Development hold a committee meeting in Estevan, which was a first and historic moment for Souris—Moose Mountain for sure.

To the many fine people in this House, my colleagues and members from various parties that I have come to know, thanks for making my time here so special.

Finally, to my constituents and those who have put me here, it has been an honour and a privilege to have represented and served them over the years. Our office and I have done our utmost to represent them and to attempt to resolve issues that they have had to face. This, perhaps, has been the most rewarding part of my stay in Ottawa.

Finally, I finish with Motion No. 590, my private member's motion, that calls for a free vote on matters of conscience and a call to deal with hard moral and conscious decisions on matters like physician-assisted death and protecting the rights of the unborn here in the House of Commons. It is something that everyone, especially parliamentarians, should be free to debate on and legislate. I hope that this motion will debated and voted upon before the House adjourns and before I leave this great and wonderful place.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.


Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Chair, on a point of order, I would first like to thank you for your judicious oversight of all these important and interesting speeches. I was just wondering if you could confirm the allocation of time that the House has tonight to continue to hear all of these amazing tributes and references by our outgoing members.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.


Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB


I am not sure that is a point of order. The member for Yukon will know well that there are strange things done under the midnight sun by the people who moil in politics.

This will go on until midnight or in 10-minute intervals until the speakers list is exhausted.

The hon. member for Mount Royal.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.


Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to participate in this rather bittersweet retrospective. I want to commend my colleagues on all sides of the House for their reflective and, indeed, moving comments.

I recall fondly my first-ever visit to and encounter with this House. It was 1951. I was 11 years old. My late father took me here to visit the House of Commons. He looked up at the House and said, “Son, this is the Parliament of Canada. This is vox populi, the voice of the people”.

Today's sentiments might invite a certain cynical rejoinder, particularly as one observes the sometimes cacophony of question period or the toxicity in the political arena. Certainly and fortunately, I still retain that great respect and reverence for this institution, which I regard as the centrepiece of our democracy, the cradle, the nurturer for the pursuit of justice.

In this, I am reminded and, indeed, inspired by another set of teachings on the pursuit of justice from my late parents, a blessed memory. For it is my father who taught me before I could understand the profundity of his words. As he put it, the pursuit of justice is equal to all the other commandments combined. As he said, “This, you must teach unto your children”.

It was my mother who, when she heard my father say this, would say to me, “If you want to pursue justice, you have to understand, you have to feel the injustice about you. You have to go in and about your community and beyond, and feel the injustice and combat the injustice. Otherwise, the pursuit of justice remains a theoretical construct”.

As a result of my parents' teachings, I got involved in the two great human rights struggles of the second half of the 20th century, the struggle for human rights in the former Soviet Union and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. I got involved with those who were the faces and voices of those struggles, and the defence of the political prisoners, Anatoly Sharansky in the former Soviet Union and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.

I got involved in the struggle for peace in the Middle East because as my mother, an authentic peace advocate, would say, “The struggle for peace is bound up in the pursuit of justice”. That same teaching about justice also underpinned my work as minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, as well as my work as an MP.

Indeed, when I was first sworn in as minister, I said at the time that I would be guided in my work by one overarching principle, the pursuit of justice, and I had my father's teachings in my mind, and within that, the promotion and protection of equality, not just as a centrepiece of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms but as an organizing principle for the building of a just society, and for the promotion and protection of human dignity, for the building of a society that was not only just but one that was also compassionate and humane.

These were my guiding principles during almost 16 years that I spent as the member for Mount Royal, a great riding, a rainbow riding, where I grew up and where I have lived for almost 60 years.

Mount Royal is a riding that I love living in. It has been a privilege and pleasure to represent my constituents while engaged in the multi-layered, multi-faceted role and responsibilities of an MP including: first, the MP as ombudsperson for individuals and groups in the riding, petitioning government and Parliament for redress of grievance on behalf of constituents.

In that regard, I have been the beneficiary of a wonderful set of assistants in the riding, including my first head, Sabina Schmidman, Louise O'Neill, Diane Du Sablon, Isabelle Casanova, and Howard Liebman, a former law student of mine who headed up my office for close to 12 years. All of them have served the people of Mount Royal, and even beyond, with understanding, empathy and wisdom and in the process have transformed the lives of people in the riding and beyond.

Second, the MP as a representative of riding-wide concerns. Here, I have been engaged in the whole gamut of cross-cutting concerns that reflect my riding on the domestic front: health, environment, child care, anti-poverty, veterans' affairs, le devoir de mémoire, and the recognition and respect for our heritage. On the international front, we pursued a humanitarian and human rights based foreign policy, in particular, among others, the responsibility to protect.

Third is the MP as policy maker and legislator. Here are his pleas as minister of justice to introduce Canada's first-ever law against human trafficking, the contemporary global slave trade; to craft a civil marriage act anchored in two fundamental principles, the equality principle and freedom of religion; to initiate with the assistance of colleagues from all parties in the justice committee, including the member for Central Nova, now the Minister of Justice, Canada's first-ever inclusive, representative, transparent and accountable appointment process for the Supreme Court, which led to the most gender-equitable Supreme Court in the world, and the appointment of first-ever aboriginal and visible minority persons to appellate courts; and to review and participate in the reversal of wrongful convictions.

As an MP, again with all-party co-operation, I was able to shepherd through the House Canada's first-ever Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act and, ultimately, as minister, ended up initiating the first-ever prosecution under that act. As an opposition MP, as we have all done, I have sought to make use of the parliamentary instruments at our disposal, such as private members' bills, motions, petitions, order paper questions and the like to help advance the public good.

This leads me to the other several roles of the MP.

The MP as overseer reflects our responsibility as representatives of the public trust and overseers of the public purse to help secure the public good. The MP as public advocate takes up cases and causes and brings them to the attention of Parliament, the government and the people of Canada, for example, to stand in solidarity with political prisoners, to let them know that they are not alone, that we will never relent in our advocacy until we secure their freedom. The MP as communicator participates in press briefings and engages with constituents, stakeholders, NGOs and civil society generally. The MP as educator is when we meet with students from our riding and others and find that we end up learning from these students and they become our teachers. The MP as global ambassador for Canada is in our international representations and delegations.

In all of those capacities, I have found that some of our most important and impactful work is a result of cross-party collaboration and co-operation. It has been my pleasure to work with colleagues from all parties in this chamber and in the Senate on matters such as advocating for the release of political prisoners and holding, as we did recently, human rights violators to account, notably during our annual Iran Accountability Week.

In particular, I must highlight the co-operative and constructive work of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Human Rights, which operates almost exclusively by consensus. I trust that my colleagues on that subcommittee will continue that work in the same collegial and serious manner after the next election.

Of course, none of this parliamentary work would have been possible without the commitment and care of those who headed up and guided my parliamentary office: Judith Abitan, Michael Milech, David Grossman, Jacob Binder, Matt Biderman, as well as Charles Feldman, who headed up my office for seven years and whose expertise became indispensable not only to my work but to the effective functioning of Parliament as a whole.

Moreover, as minister, I was privileged to work with exemplary senior officials and civil servants in the Department of Justice, too numerous to mention.

As well, we have all been the beneficiaries of professional and personable House of Commons personnel, from security guards to technical staff, to pages, to legislative drafters, to House and committee clerks.

In particular, I must also thank my own inspiring party leader, the member for Papineau, the staff in the party leader's office, the party's House leader, the member for Beauséjour, with his irrepressible sense of humour, our exemplary whip, the member for Random—Burin—St. George's, all the people in the House leader and whip's office and, indeed, commend them all for their support, flexibility, patience and good humour, particularly when I am not always onside. I also include my wonderful caucus colleagues.

Finally, a word about family, with which I will close, who are first in my heart and mind. I began by speaking about my parents and I will conclude with speaking about the care, contribution and commitment of my wife Ariela, who is in the chamber this evening, and has been in the political trenches with me all these years, though, admittedly, sometimes not on the same side. I thank my children, Michal, Gila, Tanya and Yoni, who have been the source of many a humbling and healthy riposte, my grandchildren, who seem to have inherited that same quality with an even more mocking humour, and my children's spouses. I thank them all for their support and their love. They certainly have mine in return.

For me, Parliament is not just a place where I went to work; it has been my home. My colleagues have become my family. It has been a privilege to serve in this chamber, to serve alongside all my colleagues, to serve the people of Mount Royal and to help in the best way I can to advance the cause of justice for all.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.


Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on my time as a parliamentarian.

This is not something that I ever aspired to, going through my air force career or during most of my financial services career. I did enjoy writing to cabinet ministers and occasionally poking them in the eye with a sharp stick, primarily over issues like, in my opinion, flawed defence and foreign affairs policy and decisions.

One of my more colourful letters actually earned me a CRA audit, which I am sure was random, when I wrote to the then foreign affairs minister and explained why I thought he was the buns of a jennet. I think what annoyed him most was that he had to go to the dictionary to figure out what a jennet was. A jennet is a small Spanish horse.

I was happy to volunteer for and sit on the board of my then and still MP, the hon. member for Edmonton—Leduc. As I became more frustrated with what I viewed as Canada losing its way in the world, the idea of throwing my hat in the ring was being urged upon me by others, specifically to take on the then deputy prime minister.

My wife was dead set against the idea for all the right reasons, so I had some convincing to do. My clever and very transparent plan was to host a single malt and stinky cheese party, where I would supply the goodies, while friends like the hon. members for Edmonton—Leduc, Edmonton—Spruce Grove, then Edmonton—Strathcona, and others worked on Judy to convince her that the team needed me. She saw through my clever little plan of course, and we had a conversation a couple of days later about how badly did I want to do this.

My response was that if I did not do it soon, it would not happen, but most important, I did not want to look back in 20 years and regret not giving it a shot. She succumbed to my whining and allowed as how we could take one shot at this, but that we were not going to tilt at a windmill forever.

It was game on and through two nominations, one for the Canadian Alliance and one for the Conservative Party of Canada, we fought the campaign in June 2004. We had a terrific team and a great campaign with lots of fun and excitement, and lost very narrowly to the lady who had become affectionately known as "Landslide Annie".

I was prepared for that to be my one shot, but all our volunteers, actually led by my wife, said that we had to do that again. As always, I obeyed my wife and we simply carried on campaigning, knowing that, with a Liberal minority, another election opportunity would present itself. Sure enough, round two happened and on January 23, 2006, after another great campaign effort by a fabulous team, we convinced 25,805 of my closest friends that I deserved their trust.

I am very grateful to every one of those people and to the 46,186 people who sent me back here in 2008 and 2011. I have done my best to serve them, and all those who voted for someone else or, shamefully, did not vote at all.

At this point, I want to thank the many people who helped put me here, and who have helped keep me here.

First and foremost, I have to thank my wife of almost 47 years, the beautiful, brilliant and extremely tolerant Judy. Without her and Jennifer and Robb in my corner, nothing that I may have received credit for could have happened, and I love them all very much.

There are too many to mention by name and I apologize to those I will miss, but I do need to single out a few key people: Richard and Marion Lotnick for my first nomination win; my campaign managers, Vitor Marciano and Peter Watson; and key team leaders like Nancy Strand, William McBeath, William Lo and Marnie Simpson, and a recently deceased very dear friend, Mary Delaney, who was the door knocker at the age of 96. We had complaints from the others door knocking with her who, only in their seventies and eighties, did not want to go out there any more because they could not keep up.

Teams need leaders and foot soldiers, and I want to sincerely thank the hundreds of volunteers who did the myriad things that made for a successful campaign, and three out of four is not bad.

EDA boards are also critical to electing a member of Parliament and keeping him or her there, and I have been blessed with very active and very dedicated boards.

My first experience on Parliament Hill set a very positive tone for my time here. In February 2006, when I walked in under the Peace Tower for the first time, the very first security guard that I met said, and please forgive this small indiscretion, Mr. Chair, "Good morning, Mr. Hawn, welcome to Ottawa". I was very impressed and that impression about the people who work here has not changed. Their dedication and professionalism in everything that they do make it possible for us to do our jobs is incredibly well appreciated.

Regardless of who we are or where we have come from, we all come to this place for the right reason, and that is to make a positive difference for our constituents and for our country. I believe we all want basically the same things, like financial and personal security, good education and health care, a sustainable and healthy environment, a respected place in the world community, and pride in ourselves and pride in our country. What we argue about is the road that we are on to get there. As difficult as it is around here, if we could spend just a bit more time on each other's road, we might all get a little closer to our common destinations. When I have had the opportunity to do that, it has been a very satisfying experience, and I want to cite one example.

I have great respect for Bob Rae as a brilliant parliamentarian, and despite our ideological differences, we could work together behind the scenes on things like the mission extension in Afghanistan. I do not say this with malice at all, but Bob made it clear that if there were political advantage, he would stab me in the heart, and I would stab him in the right circumstances too. However, we would stab each other in the chest, eye to eye, and not in the back. I can certainly respect that.

I want to go back to Landslide Annie for a minute. We had two very hard-fought campaigns, but we never trashed each other personally, and each of us visited the other's successful campaign on election night to offer sincere congratulations. To this day, we still say kind things about each other in public.

We can be political adversaries, but we certainly do not have to be enemies. We should, and we do, take our jobs very seriously, but we should not take ourselves too seriously.

I have been very fortunate in my nine-plus years here and I want to sincerely thank all of my colleagues on all sides of the House for the honour and privilege and, mostly, pleasure of working with them.

I want to especially thank the Prime Minister for his strong and principled leadership at home and abroad, many times taking some unpopular decisions if that was what needed to be done.

I want to thank him for the confidence he showed in me and the assignments that he gave me. My favourite position was as parliamentary secretary for three and a half years, under someone whom I consider to be the hands down best minister of national defence of the 27 ministers of national defence that I have known since I enrolled in the air force 51 years ago, and whose helicopter flight, by the way, did not actually cost the taxpayer a single penny.

I am grateful for the honour of being called “Honourable” as a Privy Councillor for the rest of my life and for the roles on cabinet committees such as Treasury Board and the deficit reduction action plan subcommittee.

I do joke about the Prime Minister being a very practical man for giving me cabinet-level duties without cabinet-level pay, but it has been a great honour and I would not have missed it. However, I did spend several months being secluded with the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, poring over 20,000 pages of Taliban detainee documents looking for a smoking gun that did not exist.

There have been some memorable moments in this place, and I want to highlight only two.

I believe that the most critical challenge that we need to solve nationally and rationally is the future of Canada's aboriginal peoples as full participants in the great opportunity that is Canada. That will take work on all sides, and one of the great moments here was the Prime Minister's apology for the tragedy that was residential schools.

The other great moment for me was last October 23, when this House sat the day after the terrorist attack on this place. We cannot and will not allow our democracy and its institutions to be threatened in any way.

I have certainly enjoyed working in this place on many issues, such as military and veterans affairs and as Canadian co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board on Defence, but some of my favourite moments as an MP have been spent away from this place.

Probably at the top of that list would be the opportunity to spend time in Afghanistan on seven occasions. There was something very special about serving Christmas dinner to troops in the field, and especially about waking up five Christmas mornings in a row at a forward operating base in the Panjwai with the exceptional Canadians who were there serving and sacrificing.

Colleagues, we are part of a very exclusive club. According to the Library of Parliament, there have been 4,216 members of Parliament in Canada's history. According to Don Cherry, there have been over 7,000 players in the history of the NHL.

We all work hard to get here and we all work hard to stay here. Public service is honourable and we all play an important role, so if someone sneers that any of us are mere backbenchers, ask them which bench they have sat on and how many years of their life have they devoted to the welfare of others.

It has been a slice, and I am grateful to my staff for their tremendous work in trying their best to make me look good. I could do nothing without such people as Oula Sanduga, Lindo Lo, Jen Gray, Jordan Fraser, Rachel Petrenko, Averil Grant, and all my earlier staff and interns.

So why am I leaving now? There are several reasons.

When we got into this, my wife and I said we wanted to serve for eight to ten years. It will have been nine years and nine months, and that is in the window. Not to ever compare myself to the Great One, but 99 is always a good Edmonton number.

Together my wife and I have worked for more than a century, and 100 years is certainly a big enough round number.

People often stop me and say that they are sorry I am leaving. My reply is that that is why I am leaving, because people will not say that forever, and I do not want to be there when that happens.

My final reason for leaving is that I want a life back. To use a football analogy, I know that I am in the fourth quarter and that I cannot count on overtime, and I want to get some stuff done before the two-minute warning. We all have something ticking inside us, and we do not know when the two-minute warning or the final whistle will sound.

Jim Flaherty's situation did not drive my decision, because it was already made, but it certainly reinforced my decision. Whatever may be any of our reasons, my sincere wish and advice to colleagues is to not leave it too late.

I plan to stay busy in retirement and continue to serve my community in a variety of ways, or I may just wear my pants up around my nipples and complain about the government full time.

I think it was either our colleague Chuck Strahl or Stockwell Day who said that if you can leave this place with your reputation and integrity intact and with the same family that you arrived with, you have been successful.

It is time to bid adieu to this place and get my life back in 130 days, but who is counting? Judy will get a husband back. Jennifer and Robb will get a dad back. Jeff and Kiran will get a father-in-law back, and most importantly, for Tyler and Raiya Lily, Grampa will be all theirs.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.


Massimo Pacetti Independent Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Chair, over 13 years ago, I answered the call and agreed to run in the byelection in the riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel. With the support of my family, friends and constituents, I managed to get elected and then re-elected for five consecutive terms.

As one of the rare MPs who was born in his riding and has always lived there, I was very proud and humbled to agree to represent my riding here in Ottawa. I was very touched that my peers would entrust me with this great responsibility.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel is one of the most diverse ridings in Canada. Although that diversity presents some challenges, I have always considered it to be a great source of strength and vitality. Since I was first elected in 2002, I have sought to advance the issues that are important to our community, but always with a view to improving our country.

It would be hard to list every single thing that I accomplished in these 13 years. However, having served under two Liberal prime ministers, I had the opportunity to support a number of very important decisions—both national and international ones—that benefited Canada. In this time I also had the opportunity to help my community more directly by playing a role in ensuring that the Canadian Grand Prix would remain in Montreal, under the right hon. Jean Chrétien. Then, under the right hon. Paul Martin, I am proud to have helped the Italian channel RAI International obtain a broadcasting licence in Canada.

Other moments in my career as a member of Parliament that come to mind are when I was elected chair of the Standing Committee on Finance in 2004, after less than two years as a member of Parliament; when the House of Commons passed my private member's bill, Bill C-302, the Italian-Canadian Recognition and Restitution Act, on April 28, 2010; and when I worked with representatives from the Department of Finance to amend the regulations to make it easier for the people who need it most to access the registered disability savings plan.

However, the most rewarding part of my work here was when I was able to help people deal with issues that did not fall under my direct mandate. What I will remember most about my time as a member of Parliament is the opportunity to have a direct impact on another person's life, since the main reason I decided to run for public office was to help others.

Meeting Canadians from all over our great country and visiting their communities has also been an extraordinary experience for me. We live in a big, beautiful, eclectic country. I had opportunities before being a member of Parliament to travel this country, but as MPs, we are inspired by how amazing Canada is, which is why I was motivated to introduce a private member's bill called the discover your Canada act. The goal was to facilitate and encourage all Canadians to travel in Canada to get to know this country. Unfortunately, the House was not as enthusiastic about my idea as I was, and the bill did not pass, which is one of the disappointments of being a member of Parliament.

We all come here thinking we are going to change the world, and sometimes we succeed, even if it is in a small way. There are also times when we come up short, and for one reason or another, moments like that can be frustrating. In those times, I have always remembered that the most important thing is to never stop listening and to never stop trying to help people.

As many members know, being a member of Parliament is an extraordinary experience and privilege that gives us an opportunity to take action that can improve the lives of our fellow Canadians. When we see something that needs to be changed, that is a priceless gift I have appreciated immensely.

As well, I am grateful that this job has allowed me to cultivate a closer relationship with my community. Whether as a school trustee, a volunteer soccer coach for my daughter or hockey coach for my son, or a member of various community-based organizations, I have always been active in my community, before and during my tenure as a member of Parliament. As an MP, I have learned to be much more, because my constituents shared their concerns, their hopes, their frustrations, and their opinions with me on a daily basis in one way or another. This job has given me a perspective few people have the privilege to experience, and that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank all the people who have walked this journey with me or simply made doing this job possible. I salute the staff of the House of Commons and the Parliament of Canada for their dedication and professionalism. This place could not function without the support of clerks, librarians, assistants, pages, support staff, maintenance workers, IT specialists, shuttle bus drivers, and of course, security staff, and many who are the engine of our democracy.

I thank my own staff, past and present, for giving 120% when I needed them to go above and beyond, and for not giving less than 80% even on those long summer days when Montrealers are more interested in spending time on terraces than in calling their local MP.

I say a special thanks to my employees who spent more than five years working for me. I actually have more employees who have worked more than five years than who have worked less: Sylvie Vogels, five years; Adele Cifelli, six years; Ben Niro, seven years; Pina Frangella, 12 years; and Suzanne Bertrand, more than 12 years.

To my constituents, it was an absolute honour to serve them. We come from a very special place, where in spite of all our differences, we never forget that we are all in this together and that our ability to show compassion and understanding is the truest measure of our community's success.

This kindness we have in Saint-Léonard Saint—Michel has sustained me during these last few months, which have been the most trying of my career. I can wish no person what I have gone through over this trying time, but good and bad things happen, especially in politics, and we must always be ready to deal with them. I remain positive and look forward to the future with my head held high, knowing that I have done no wrong and have represented my constituents honourably.

To my friends, who are too many to name, I thank them so much for their unwavering support. Of course, I thank my family for their love—my wife, Danielle; my son, Carlo; my daughter, Briana; my parents, Alessandro and Filomena; and my sister, Silvana, and brother, Franco, and their families. Without them, these last 13 years would not have been possible. I got to live out a dream because I had them all backing me up, and words cannot begin to express the depth of my gratitude to all of them.

I leave here with a sense of accomplishment.

[Member spoke in Italian as follows:]

Grazie. Buonasera.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

June 10th, 2015 / 8:25 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Chair, I have not prepared a speech. I was walking down the aisle for our votes yesterday and it struck me how much I am going to miss the people that I am working with. I want to stand and thank them so much for the wonderful opportunities they have given me, the colleagues on my side, the colleagues on the other side that I have worked with. It has been just a tremendous experience.

I see some of my good friends sitting over on the other side and I appreciate some of the fond memories I have of being with them. I will have huge withdrawal symptoms. It is going to be a very difficult adjustment for me after 22 years to leave this place because I have so many memories. I have listened to the speeches here and they bring back so many memories, I cannot recount them all.

I will give members an idea of what has moulded my career here. I became a Christian when I was in university. It was a huge struggle for me. I was challenged to scratch below the surface on issues and I dabbled in many faiths. Finally, I had to make a decision. Scratching below the surface has defined my career here.

I was challenged shortly after I was elected by my constituents on the gun control issue. Some know my nickname is “Mr. Gun”, but I was challenged to scratch below the surface on that issue and the rest is history. I had never planned on that. I know very little about firearms and yet by scratching below the surface, I realized that $2 billion would be much better spent by putting 10,000 more policemen on the street if we are going to improve public safety. That is just the bird's-eye view of what has become almost a defining part of my career here.

I worked a lot on the abortion issue and again, I had to scratch below the surface. What is it that is in the womb of a woman? I had to look at that very carefully. There are so many other things that I have worked on and I always tried to take a principled approach. Many people have helped me in that and I want to thank them very, very much.

The opposition members are a key part of that because they challenge our thinking.

When I sat with the Prime Minister from 1993-97, we would be on duty and duty was not his favourite time, I must say. He was also one of those people who would really scratch below the surface. He is very intellectual. When he was trying to determine whether to run for the leadership of the party, he called me. I did not know what to advise him because, I have to be careful what I say here, but I did not know that he would be that good a Prime Minister at that point. He has turned out to be phenomenal from the person I did duty with way back then.

I want to conclude by thanking so many people. I thanked all of my colleagues here and all of the staff. I already rose on a statement a while back and thanked them. But I must emphasize that my wife, Lydia, needs so much thanks, and sympathy as well. I have been in almost every constituency in the country speaking on that issue and some constituencies on the east and west coasts more than once. She has been a political widow. For her to stay with me, I appreciate that more than she will probably ever know.

My family were all teenagers when I first started and we have one perk. That perk was free telephone calls home. I became closer to my children by that 10-minute call every evening. It was a huge commitment on my part, but it actually was a good thing. My wife has suggested that when I retire we should put a phone on her side of the bed and one on my side of the bed because we have talked more than we normally would have. I probably would not have talked to my children either as much as I did once I became an MP.

I have had terrific staff. The right people came and sought a job with me. Dennis Young and Elizabeth Nye were the first, but Sandy is one of the last ones now. They have made me look good and I really appreciate that. There was tremendous support there.

I must also thank my constituents and all the people who have worked on my campaigns over the years. Some of them are no longer on this earth, but they really have given me strong support. With every election my plurality has increased and after seven elections that is quite amazing, so I want to thank them for the wonderful faith they have shown in me.

I am starting to break up, so I think maybe that is a good time to conclude. I thank everyone so very much.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.


Marc-André Morin NDP Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Chair, I thank all of my colleagues in the House for giving me this opportunity to share my experience and explain my motivations.

I do not want to talk too much about the friendships I have built and the admiration I have developed for my colleagues, because I am a little too emotional and I have a hard time with that. I have discovered that I have a second family in my caucus. I found myself admiring people who are young enough to be my children. I realized that they were surpassing me, in terms of capabilities. I will now return to my prepared text, which is a little more pragmatic.

First of all, I want to thank the people of Laurentides—Labelle for giving me this honour and choosing me to represent them for the past four years. I also thank my staff, who helped me accomplish this work and who were dedicated to me and the people of our riding. I want to thank my wife, my family and my friends, whose support allowed me to carry out my duties.

I also want to take this opportunity to express my admiration for the Parliament Hill staff, and particularly for our security staff, who make us feel safe and secure when we come to work.

The day after the 2011 election, everyone wondered what had happened. We need to go back a bit for the answer to that. For several decades, Quebec and Canada were at a constitutional and political dead end. Throughout that dark period of history, much of the political class exploited that divide, some to stay in power and others simply to prove that Canada was dysfunctional and that they were right. In the meantime, we longed for better days and the situation continued to get worse for everyone. Like most Quebeckers, I was fed up with that impasse. Listening to Jack Layton, we believed it was possible to unite the progressive forces across the country and make Canada a more just country where no one is left behind.

Locally, I tried to perform my duties with as much dignity and professionalism as possible to show people the usefulness and value of my role. My colleagues were faced with the same challenge: replace incumbents who, with the help of the old parties, wanted to prove that the institution they were part of was dysfunctional. We succeeded in proving our relevance, and people showed us a great deal of respect and offered us a great deal of encouragement

I really enjoyed my parliamentary experience. For all those who are passionate about politics, it is a privilege and an achievement to represent the people of a riding and others across the country with similar interests. No matter where they live in Canada, workers, retirees and families have more in common than the differences that separate them. To build a better world, that is what we should focus on.

The negative aspect of the experience—we cannot ignore it if we want to move forward as a nation—is the extreme partisanship. Partisanship leads us to make assumptions about our adversaries' opinions. It makes debate sterile, and the value of the individual is lost. We end up by looking at one another through the lens of prejudice. One side sees people wearing cowboy hats who enjoy shooting at coyotes on the prairies; the other side sees the granola crowd sitting on a patio in a big city, criticizing the oil industry.

My knowledge of Canada prevents me from seeing the world like that. I like the member for Prince Albert. I actually think that if we were sitting in a boat on Baker Lake with our fishing rods, we could even have an intelligent conversation.

The biggest challenge for Canada is to overcome its prejudices. I am very proud of my Algonquin ancestors who hunted on the other side of the river, not far from here. Having lived on a reserve for a few years, I am all too familiar with the meaning of the word “prejudice”. The aboriginal values of solidarity, sharing and the constant desire to come to a consensus before making a decision are part of who I am. If we do not manage to overcome these prejudices, we will never be able to correct past injustices, and that does not bode well for how we will handle mistakes that we may make in the future.

We all share a passion for history. We are here to try to humbly change the course of that history. The thing we need to remember is that we cannot change the past, only the future.

Thank you all for this unique experience.

Members not seeking re-election to the 42nd ParliamentGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.


Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Chair, two weeks ago, I made my last member's statement. I admit that I was very emotional. I did not think that I would have another chance to rise in the House to speak. I would therefore like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to have more than one minute to thank everyone properly.

I rise today with a voice filled with emotion. I do not want to talk about everything I have done during my time here; I would rather remember how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to be a member of Parliament for four years, four years in which I found extraordinary colleagues with whom I shared good times and some not so good times.

Together, we were elected in 2011. Together, we dealt with the death of our leader, the late Jack Layton. Together, with party members, we chose the member for Outremont as the leader of our party, and I know that we made the right choice. Together, we stood up to the government, which—let us be honest—was not always easy. All joking aside, it is important to mention the cordiality that exists here in this Parliament between the members of all parties.

Over the past four years I have gotten to know all of the dedicated people who work in the House of Commons.

The Speaker and deputy speakers do not have an easy job, and I commend them. The clerks are procedural wizards, and we could not do without their expertise. The analysts make our research much easier.

The members of the security team and the RCMP are always smiling. I must also point out that they did an excellent job during the tragic events of October 22, 2014. The pages make our lives in the House much easier.

Despite my loquaciousness, the translators have always rendered me so well in English.

Although we truly appreciate the bus drivers in the middle of January or in the driving rain, we appreciate them every day of the year.

The food service team brightens my mornings and ensures that my day ends well. The maintenance team ensures that our work environment is always clean and pleasant.

The mail team always gives me my mail with a big smile, no matter how many times I forget my keys.

I am sure that I am missing some, but I hope everyone knows that life on Parliament Hill would be quite dull and dysfunctional if not for you.

I would also like to thank everyone in the whip's office, the house leader's office and the leader's office. Your work is essential to ours. Thank you.

I also feel it is important to salute my team's work. In all humility, an MP cannot do much without a team.

Thanks to Yvon for making sure that people who come to my office with a problem leave with a solution. Thanks to Vicky for warmly welcoming all of the people who come to our office. Thanks to Pierre for doing such a great job of representing me in my riding while I am in Ottawa. Thanks to Yanéric for all of the research and answers you give me.

Garanké, Stéphanie, Geneviève, Sarah and Philippe, you spent some time in my office, and you certainly left your mark. My work would not have been the same without the work you did for the people of Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot.

I am proud of the work I did during my term. Being the housing critic gave me a chance to raise awareness of certain problems and talk about them with local and national stakeholders.

I also had an opportunity to introduce a bill on a national housing strategy. It was not passed, but I believe there is always next time.

I also had the opportunity to chair the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. It was an enriching experience where I learned to work effectively with several parties.

I was also a member of a few committees of the House, including the Standing Committee on Official Languages and the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

In my riding, I had the honour of being named the honorary patron of various causes, including homelessness and mental health.

I also had the chance to work on various files with top-notch people in my riding, including in agriculture. We did an agricultural tour where we met a number of stakeholders.

During my term, we also did two tours of municipalities during which we discussed infrastructure, local development and other very interesting topics, and everything that goes on in the municipalities in my riding.

I had the chance to work in immigration, by providing help and information. I had the chance to tour businesses to discuss employment insurance. I had the chance to raise awareness about homelessness and mental health and to hold public consultations.

I attended a number of diverse activities in my region from Saint-Hyacinthe and Acton Vale to Saint-Jude and Sainte-Christine, and I am delighted. I was always happy to meet my constituents and listen to their concerns, and hear about their interests and passions. It is often said that a region can be judged by the people who live there. Well, I am here to say that Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot is a great riding. The people there are welcoming, kind, vibrant, innovative and lively.

“Welcoming” is exemplified by Acton Vale, which is part of the Villages-relais tourism route and which, I have to say, is a town that is growing and where young families want to live. The term “innovative” applies to Saint-Hyacinthe. Its Cité de la biotechnologie agroalimentaire, vétérinaire et agroenvironnementale was deemed the top emerging technology park in the world. And how about “lively”? There is no time to be bored in Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot with the Show de la rentrée Desjardins in Acton Vale, the Expo de Saint-Hyacinthe, the Festival de musique traditionnelle in St-Bernard-de-Michaudville, the Festival de l'accordéon et du folklore québécois in Saint-Marcel, the Festival du porc in Saint-Nazaire and the Festival du maïs in Saint-Damase.

Dear constituents, I cannot thank you enough for having me serve as the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot for the past four years. As I already said, I worked for you and with you. Thank you for your trust. You can be sure of one thing: I put my heart and soul into my work and I was always mindful of my values. It was a great privilege to serve you.

I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous work done by the people of the Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot Federal NDP Riding Association. They are among the builders that our country needs so much. It is thanks to people like them that the NDP continues to grow in Quebec.

I would also like to talk about someone very important, Brigitte Sansoucy, whom I have had the privilege of knowing for many years. Brigitte, I am especially excited that you are going to be an NDP candidate in the next election. You have my full support, and I would be honoured to see you as a member of the first NDP government in Canada's history. I wish you the best of luck.

I want to conclude with one very important point. As members of Parliament, we sometimes make work the most important part of our lives, even at the risk of neglecting other areas. I became quite ill during my mandate, and I managed to get through it thanks to the love of my partner, my family and my friends. It is important for me to underscore everything they have done.

J-F, thank you for being by my side over the past four years. I am so happy to be sharing my life with you. Mom, thank you for always believing in me and for instilling in me the values that I espoused as an MP. You were never far from my thoughts. Michel, thank you for taking care of my mother during my many absences, and above all, thank you for making me feel like part of your family. Dad, thank you for all the wonderful discussions we shared, and thank you for teaching me to walk with my head held high, in spite of everything.

To my in-laws, thank you for accepting me and always making me feel at home. Hélène and Gilbert, my second parents, thank you for being in my life for so long and always being there for me. Seb and Alex, I love you like brothers. Thank you for always accepting me as I am. Sarah, Jacinthe and Marie-Claude, thank you for always treating my like a friend, and not like an MP. Thanks, also, for your sweet and silly side, one of the things I love most about our friendship.

As we can see, MPs are never alone. If not, it would be impossible for them to do their job. I was lucky to have a lot of support during my time here, and I still have a lot of support as I leave my position with no regrets and with peace of mind. I have a lot of plans, but the first thing I want to do is to take care of the people that took care of me over the past four years. They certainly deserve it.