Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my leader and all members of the New Democratic Party, I also rise in the House today to pay tribute to the member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, who is leaving public life to spend more quality time with her family.
I am sure it is a decision that many of us struggle with from time to time, but as we hear today about this member's journey through her public and professional life, we know that she has made a decision that is in her best interests and those of her family.
Truly, this was not something arrived at lightly, given that the member has been involved in public life for more than 28 years. We know that people are often called in service of their communities, provinces, or country.
When someone manages to build as fine and impressive a political reputation over the years as the hon. member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity has, it is easy to see why the people put their trust in her so many times.
She was a member in our provincial and federal legislatures and a cabinet minister, but above all she was a very popular political personality who dedicated a very large part of her life to representing her constituents.
Those who are most familiar with her record and work, her constituents, have consistently supported her efforts on their behalf. It is no small testament to her good work that the voters returned her with 82% of the vote, the largest percentage of votes in Canada during the last election. In that respect, she will go out at the very top. That is something we can all congratulate her for.
The member talked about her constituency and how many communities she represented. It is only an honour for me to be able to speak today and honour her, given the large constituency that I represent of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing. I fully understand when she said, “Even though you're home, you're not home.” I have not been home for two weeks now. I really enjoy what I do, but I know there will come a time as well when I will decide at some point that it is time.
The people in our constituency understand that as well. Sometimes we feel extremely sad that we cannot be there for birthdays or anniversaries. However, it is those people who keep us going. Therefore, none of us are able to hold these posts without a lot of help. We ask for the goodwill of our constituents, but we rely on the teams we are a part of to help us along the way: the like-minded individuals, in truth an army of volunteers, who help us get elected; staff members who support us in Parliament and in our constituencies; community contacts who keep us grounded and help focus many of our efforts; and, of course, our families who carry us through the roughest patches and help us celebrate the very best moments too.
Perhaps it is the family who pay the highest price when someone is called to public service. While we can speak of the commitment, dedication, and sacrifice of the individuals who decide to embark on this path, we understand that those who make the greatest sacrifice are often the ones at home. The path of political success can be a hindrance to the goals and desires we have for our homes and lives. In that respect, we are borrowing the politician from his or her family. Therefore, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the member's husband Howard; her children Carla, Jason, and Heidi; and her grandchildren for their generosity in sharing the member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity with us.
I became an MP in the same election that brought the member to this place. Although we did not have an opportunity to work together much while she was in opposition, I did have occasion to work with her once she became a minister. In that capacity, she was always approachable and understanding. It was clear that she understood that although we can be partisan players, the work we do on behalf of our constituencies and the people who trust us to represent them must cut above that fray. I am sure that many of us would echo these sentiments, and I would like to thank the member for her kindness and work on behalf of all people of Canada.
The member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity is leaving us so she can spend more quality time with her family. That is entirely understandable, but few of us would be surprised if we see her adding her voice to the issues of the day from time to time. It would be too much to ask someone who is so obviously driven to disconnect in every way.
I want to wish the member for Bonavista—Burin—Trinity farewell but not goodbye. On behalf of the New Democratic Party, we wish you the very best as you begin the next chapter in your life. Good luck.