Mr. Speaker, this is my first time calling you that, and I want to congratulate you.
I would also like to congratulate all my colleagues.
It is an honour for me to have the opportunity to speak in the beginning of our first hours in the 43rd Parliament. I want to begin by acknowledging that every single day we will meet on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin peoples. To them, we all say meegwetch for patience and tolerance and hospitality and let us hope that is one of the issues on which we can agree and make progress in this Parliament toward true reconciliation.
I also want to thank the voters of Saanich—Gulf Islands. It is indeed an honour to stand here representing such an extraordinary place and such deeply engaged citizens as live in Saanich—Gulf Islands. Permit me as well specifically to thank the voters of Fredericton and the voters of Nanaimo—Ladysmith that I no longer sit alone in a corner over there, but with three in a corner over here. It is extremely exciting progress.
Now I would like to talk about respect, about discipline in the House of Commons, about our dignity and about the rights that the Speaker of the House must safeguard for us.
As the hon. leader of the official opposition has pointed out, the job of the Speaker is to protect the rights of every single member of Parliament. In this place, in Westminster parliamentary democracy, all members of Parliament are equal. The Prime Minister is seen as first among equals. We turn to the Speaker to protect those rights and protect our essential equality.
The biggest threat to our equality as individual members of Parliament is the political party system, which increasingly imposes itself on the traditions of Westminister parliamentary democracy. Some members may know this and for those new members of Parliament who may not know, we are the only parliament in the Westminister democratic tradition where the choice of who speaks has been voluntarily ceded by many Speakers to party whips. In every other Westminister parliamentary tradition and House, it is the Speaker only who decides which member of Parliament may be acknowledged to have the floor of this place.
I would hope that we could work together to ensure that we push back the partisanship that gets in our way and find ways, human to human, each to each, with respect and dignity and may I say, love, and find ways to work together. We do it always recognizing that it is you, Mr. Speaker, who protects our right to speak, to speak our minds and to speak on behalf of our ridings and our constituents, not with pre-prepared messages from party whips behind the doors. We are here as equals. We have a right to speak.
I ask all parties to join in an effort to recognize that the problem of heckling, lack of discipline and lack of respect does not come because we cannot control ourselves.
We, as individuals, are not the source of the problem. The problem arises from the fact that politics is ruled by partisanship. I would love to see all my colleagues urge their caucus and their whip to let us behave the way we ought to behave.
As the Speaker has already said, let us act in this place in the way we want our children, our nieces, our nephews and our grandchildren to see us on television.
To you, Mr. Speaker, my most sincere congratulations. Thank you.
Again to my friend from Halifax West, I thank him for the years he has put in as Speaker. He did a wonderful job.
Let us hope for the best in the 43rd Parliament, that we find ways to work together.