Mr. Speaker, this is a great opportunity for me to thank the member for Sydney—Victoria. We served together for 19 years, we lived together for 13 years and I have taken lessons from him out of both experiences.
The greatest lesson in perseverance I have learned would be in the energy, effort and tenacity he showed on the project that was the Sydney tar ponds. North America's toughest and biggest environmental tragedy was the Sydney tar ponds. When he came to this place, he was seized with making sure that the people in our community were able to deal with that. It was not easy.
He was like Diana Ross and with Senator Al Graham, I was like one of the Supremes, but he pushed that through Nova Scotia caucus and Atlantic caucus and through Ontario and national caucus to the finance minister and the Prime Minister's Office to get $280 million to clean up North America's worst toxic site. The people in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia should always be very thankful. I am very proud of the job he did on that particular file.
Of course, as I said, I lived with him for 13 years. As far as cleaning up goes, he was much better as an MP than he was as a roommate.
I had the great opportunity to spend a bunch of time with his great family, Pam and Mieka and Josh and Jonah. Josh and Jonah moved in with us for a little bit, and in the Eykings, they were like earwigs: They were everywhere. I said that I had to get out of that place.
However, it was beautiful because his boys were older than mine. When we first started, the member had sort of a curly Afro. Then Josh hit his teens, and it disappeared soon after. He used to always say, “Listen, bulldog, don't worry; your time will come” as my boys got older, and they did. He was able to mentor me on how to deal with problem children. He has turned out to be a loving husband and a great father.
We did have a great deal of fun, but one of the first things we had to do as rookie members of Parliament was get on a flight to Cape Breton to deliver the message that the federal government was getting out of the coal mining business. That was a tough one. For friends, family and the whole community, there was a nervousness and a fear coming out of that. It was a tough one for us to deliver.
The current Minister of Public Safety was in natural resources at the time, and with Prime Minister Chrétien and finance minister Paul Martin, we were able to put the supports and transition measures in place that allowed the community to shoulder the impact of that tough decision.
We went through a lot of stuff together, and the Harper Conservatives gave us a lot of stuff to work with. It was sort of a veritable buffet when they closed the Veterans Affairs office and made cuts to CBC. We were able to stand together with our communities and take those things on.
Through all this, know that there is no finer family man and no greater gentleman in this chamber. There is no greater guy in this place. There have been all kinds of good people who have come through here and provided us with the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people.
I know that the member for Sydney—Victoria is retiring only from Parliament and that he will lead an active life in his retirement. I know he will enjoy it, and he deserves it. It has been fabulous getting to know him. I consider him a friend.
All the best.