Mr. Chair, I am grateful to be allowed to speak tonight on the eve of my departure from the House. Before I leave the House of Commons, I want to talk about some ideals that have guided me in politics.
Interestingly, I was never involved in politics before age 40, and I was never asked to join a party. Nor was I recruited to run for office. I chose to do these things on my own when I had to face the importance of politics in dealing with the problems of the world. I knew enough to know that politics and government should not be idealized. However, I also believed that politicians should not be without ideals, so I would like to share some of my ideals today.
First, I have always felt that everything I have ever accomplished in life is only partially attributable to my own efforts. My accomplishments must also be attributed to good fortune. I am fortunate to have had health, a strong and supportive family, friends and a solid education. Most of all, I am fortunate to have grown up in Canada. Therefore, while I believe in promoting individual liberty and the social and economic advantages that result from it, I also believe in communal responsibility, in caring for fellow Canadians, in making the sacrifices needed to ensure equality of opportunity to achieve an enduring and shared prosperity.
Second, as a scientist, I believe in the value of individual and independent thought, rigour, empiricism and in intellectual humility: think for ourselves; collect, observe and discern the facts; be open to criticism; defend our point of view; never believe that we understand everything or have a complete picture of things; and, change our opinion when the facts change. History has shown that science has succeeded beyond all expectation by working in that way, and I sincerely believed five years ago, and still believe now, that one can succeed in politics with the same approach. These ideals and beliefs are what led me, before I sought election as a member of Parliament, to choose the Liberal Party of Canada.
I want to encourage all Canadians, and especially young Canadians, to consider participating in a political party, something which has, unfortunately, become less popular these days. Choosing a political party should not be about shopping until one finds a set of policies that one agrees with. One will never be able to find a party where one agrees with every single policy put forward because we have a diversity of views across Canada.
Political parties have the purpose of taking that diversity, sorting through policies and priorities in order to build a broad consensus within the party, and then translating that into an electoral mandate to actually implement the consensus. This essential part of democracy is a messy and unpredictable process, and everyone will disagree with his or her party some of the time.
However, for each person there will be a party where he or she will be most comfortable with the process, its results, and the kindred spirits who inhabit that party. I encourage young Canadians to not give up hope in our democratic institutions, like Parliament and political parties. Instead, I encourage young Canadians to articulate their ideals, to join parties, to work with kindred spirits, and to respectfully oppose others when appropriate in order to build a better future today.
I would now like to express my gratitude to a host of people who have made my time as a parliamentarian a success.
I thank the people of Kingston and the Islands who chose me as their federal representative. I have been proud to be Kingston's representative in Ottawa. I have tried to do my work in a way that ensured other MPs would know who I represented.
In 2013, I was delighted to be voted by MPs from all parties as the Parliamentarian of the Year who best represented his constituents. It has been a great privilege and honour to serve the people of Kingston and the Islands, and to serve Canada. After my announcement to not seek re-election, many constituents have thanked me for my service. However, I want them to know that everything I have accomplished has been accomplished through the efforts of hundreds of others around me.
I wish to first thank the people who are most responsible for making it possible for me to do the work of a member of Parliament, my family: my immediate family in Kingston, my wife Tara, my daughters Ella and Vera-Claire, my parents James and Marjorie, my uncle Ta-Fang and my aunts Linda and Josephine, my extended family, my brothers Bobby and Leon, and others who live elsewhere. These are the ones who deserve the most thanks for being a source of values, strength, help and motivation.
I want to also thank the many people who gave me their unwavering support throughout the past five years: friends; neighbours; campaign workers John Clements, Catherine Milks, and Adrian Brett; benefactors; kindred spirits; supporters from across the nation; and the strongest Liberal riding association in the country. I thank Ron Hartling, Ann Hutka, Hans Vorster, Alice Gazeley, and many others.
Special recognition should go to all of my dedicated staff and volunteers who have worked so hard, with care, discretion, and loyalty. Let me try to mention some of their names: Emily Trogen, Beth Palmer, Sophie Kiwala, Mary Davis Little, Dianne Johnston, David Yateman, Fred Faust, Ruth McKinney, Brian Evoy, Nicole Honderich, Ann Parker, Jenn Strychasz, Jane Latimer, and many students and volunteers and past staff members.
What I will miss most on Parliament Hill are my Liberal Party colleagues and their encouragement, their sharing of experience and perspective, their criticism, and their advice, mentorship, and generosity of spirit. I have felt part of, and supported by, a strong team.
During my tenure here, I have always loved working as an MP, but as a husband and father of two young daughters, I am especially sensitive to the sacrifices my own family would be making if I were to pursue another four years of political life at this time, so I have chosen not to run for re-election this year. In so doing, my desire is to remain faithful to my original reason for seeking elected office. It is what I said when I launched my nomination campaign in 2010: our children deserve to inherit our world without the troubles we have created.
When my children are older, and if there is a good reason to do so, I would happily seek elected office again. In the meantime, I will continue to work on many of the concerns that inspired me to enter politics. I will just do it closer to home for now.