Mr. Speaker, as the New Democratic Party Whip, Mr. Speaker, it is my honour, Mr. Speaker, to pay tribute today, Mr. Speaker, to the member for Lac-Saint-Jean, Mr. Speaker, whom I will call by name if you do not mind, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Denis Lebel, Mr. Speaker.
I am sure you noticed how many times I mentioned your title in my introduction, and I hope you realize I was just having a little fun at the member for Lac-Saint-Jean's expense by imitating his speaking style. Please believe me when I say that I kid because I care. Despite our political differences, I am very fond of the member for Lac-Saint-Jean. I thought I knew him, but it turns out I did not know him as well as I thought.
I recently found out that the member for Lac-Saint-Jean is an accomplished cyclist who rides at least 3,000 kilometres every summer. That is really impressive. I also learned that he was a badminton champion at the age of 18. That would explain his aggressive style on behalf of the former Conservative government.
I was less surprised to discover that he was once the director of the Village historique de Val-Jalbert. I can definitely picture him sporting a bowler hat and suspenders at the general store in that company town, busy pulling a fast one on a bunch of his fellow villagers.
Although he is self-taught, he has verve, our Denis. Not only has he been a very eloquent speaker in the House of Commons for 10 years, but he has remained close to the people, despite all the years and the increased importance of his duties.
When I was infrastructure critic for the official opposition and he was the minister of infrastructure, of course, I had to question him regularly. He answered with such assurance and conviction that he almost believed it. No, I am exaggerating. However, his talents as a communicator always impressed me, even when he used them against me.
A few years later, when he returned after dealing with some health problems, I realized just how nice and kind he was when I asked him about his health, and he told me that he appreciated my concern very much.
As everyone knows, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean was mayor of Roberval before entering federal politics for the Conservative Party. Well-placed sources in Lac-Saint-Jean tell me that he could have run for any party because people voted for the popular man involved in his community rather than for the party he represented.
Now that he is leaving to set sail for other horizons, my colleagues from the New Democratic Party and I would like to thank him for the considerable amount of work he has done over the years.
Two days after Father's Day, I hope that before setting sail on a new adventure, he will take a little time to be a dad and granddad again, because I know he misses it very much.
I would like to conclude this statement with two quotations. The first is from the leader of the NDP, the hon. member for Outremont, who used the words “kind and high road all the way” in speaking to me about Denis Lebel, when I told him that I was the one who would pay tribute to Denis today. He added that Denis made things very difficult for his adversaries because he is such a good guy.
My second quotation comes from the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean himself. In the fall of 2015, when replying to a reporter, after Mr. Lebel moved to the opposition side for the first time in his career in federal politics, he said: “I always treated our political opponents with a lot of respect and dignity when I was a minister. They are certainly repaying me for that today.”
I hope to have done so too. Thank you, Denis.