Mr. Speaker, today we are paying tribute to Audrey O'Brien, an iconic figure in the House of Commons for more than 35 years. She became Clerk in 2005, and was the first woman appointed to the position. She guided the Table through minority governments and the terms of two prime ministers.
Audrey O'Brien has been described as someone who has a deep respect for anything parliamentary. She has helped modernize the very institutions we operate in every day and has been a fierce defender of the independence of the institution from the executive branch. For that, we thank her.
Among her most tangible achievements is this great green procedural tome.
The second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice is a precious resource for any assistant who has some interest in the parliamentary process.
Known very well as simply O'Brien and Bosc, the book makes the rules of the House and Parliament clear and digestible, and available to all who wish to know more about the cornerstone of our democratic institutions. It makes great reading. It is better than an evening of Netflix.
Madam O'Brien's contribution goes well beyond interpreting the rules of the House. Her legacy includes an amazing ability to strike the delicate balance between respecting the rules of Parliament and the centuries of Westminster parliamentary precedence, and the ability to deliver practical results.
As we all know, the last government agreed to address the historical wrong of the residential schools policy that still stands as one of the great black marks on the history of our country. The House was faced with the practical problem of how to allow indigenous leaders onto the floor of the House for the ceremony. The presence of those for whom the apology would mean the most was absolutely crucial. As we all know, non-MPs, or strangers of the House as they are known, are not permitted in our chamber for our daily sittings.
It was Madam O'Brien who suggested the solution, to convene the House instead as the committee of the whole. This proved a solution that was both perfectly practical and perfectly parliamentary. That is trademark Audrey O'Brien.
Not only was Ms. O'Brien a master of procedure, but she also mentored many women who were elected to Parliament. In her years of service, she took many new female MPs under her wing, gave them valuable advice, and lent them an attentive ear.
The honour of being recognized as clerk emerita is one that is very rarely bestowed. One of the rare honourees was former NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre and parliamentary procedural legend, Stanley Knowles. Stanley took very seriously the honour of being allowed into the House after his retirement as an MP, almost as a duty one might say. He would regularly be found making use of his right to be seated at the table here in the chamber. Stanley was often a procedural thorn in the side of the government of the day. It may be the case that if the members of the House knew how much of Stanley they would continue to see and hear, they might have thought of another way to honour him.
Having said that, I sincerely hope that we will see Ms. O'Brien in her place, at the Table, a place that is well deserved.
On behalf of the New Democrats here in the House, and the entire NDP family, I wish her a happy, healthy, and long retirement.
If Madam O'Brien were to sit back and put her feet up on the table, even the table here in the chamber, we should seek the consent of the House that we look the other way because that would be so richly deserved after so many gifts to our country and for her work.