Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today during private members' hour to join in the debate on Bill C-331, and underscore our government's strong position on this bill.
Canadian companies have always had the ability to hold their heads up high when doing business around the world based on our reputation as a country, not only including our credibility from a financial standpoint but also given our strong record on human rights.
This government is a strong proponent of upholding strong human rights all around the world and is willing to work collaboratively with parties on all sides of the House to put strong legislation in place over the years to come to help strengthen those laws as well.
I am going to use this time to speak briefly about my riding as this will most likely be my last opportunity to speak in the House.
As my constituents and a lot of my colleagues are aware, I decided not to re-offer in the upcoming federal election. However, my feet remain firmly planted in my riding and I will be forever rooted in New Brunswick, my home and my future.
When I originally decided to run, I remember stating in my nomination speech that I was committed to building a great future for Tobique—Mactaquac and to work collaboratively with members on all sides of the House and all parties to do whatever was possible to help New Brunswickers, specifically those people in my riding. My willingness to work toward that goal has never wavered and I feel as committed to my riding today as I ever have.
My constituents are exemplary people who have shown time and time again to have the ability to not only perform but lead on the world stage. I am so incredibly proud of my province and very proud of my country.
I quickly realized as I took office the immense opportunities that ridings like Tobique—Mactaquac and other rural ridings across the country hold and continue to hold today. Not only in my riding, but from coast to coast to coast, the opportunities are endless.
It was once said that the reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is that it goes around wearing overalls and it looks like hard work. Believe me, I recognize opportunity. I have had immense opportunities in my life working in the private sector and it has been an immense privilege to have the opportunity to sit on behalf of the people of Tobique—Mactaquac here in the House of Commons over the last four years. Whether it involves wearing overalls or a three-piece suit, I certainly do not plan to stop seeing opportunities develop for all New Brunswickers and for those in Tobique—Mactaquac. It has been an immense privilege to have had the opportunity to work and be of service.
Over the past four years, we have made great strides in the right direction and yet there are so many opportunities left to come and so many people that have still been left behind. We all know those people: veterans struggling with PTSD; hard-working folks facing unemployment; young people burdened by student loans; seniors struggling on fixed incomes; sole-support mothers trying to make ends meet; aboriginal peoples facing discrimination and the legacy of residential schools abuse; persons with disabilities facing isolation and accessibility barriers in their own homes and communities; and new Canadians working hard to build their new lives. The list goes on. These people are our neighbours, our friends and our family. I am proud, along with my office staff, to have worked hard on their behalf but there is so much more that can be done and we need to continue to be mindful of these issues.
I personally ran to make a difference, to ensure that all kids have the opportunities here at home that truly reflect our amazing region, so that children in every family can excel and reach for their dreams, and to achieve true fiscal responsibility for big and small businesses alike, while recognizing that opportunities country-wide require federal leadership, especially when it comes to infrastructure renewal and new infrastructure. Our government has proven that it is capable of leading that charge. I am very proud of the developments that we have made as a federal government in terms of infrastructure over the last four years.
That is why I have worked hard as a member of Parliament over the past four years serving as chair of the all-party agricultural caucus and chairing the national Liberal rural caucus for a year. In the past, I sat as regional director for provincial ridings in Carleton—York, Carleton—Victoria and Victoria—La Vallée. I worked with the Rotary Club in my local riding. I think that self-service is one of the greatest gifts that we can give to this place. All this and more has made me passionate about public service and about representing my constituents.
As the member of Parliament for Tobique—Mactaquac, I have strongly advocated for continued supply management and investment in agricultural robotics; safe and responsible natural resource development; rural economic development; investment in rural infrastructure; accessibility and visitability, and I am very proud to have worked collaboratively with my colleagues in the House on this; a healthy local economy; improved stewardship of our environment; better, more affordable education; open, fair and strong democratic representation; and the list goes on. I have never pretended to have all the answers. I believe it is more important to ask the right questions and then work to find solutions.
I would like to cite one of my favourite quotes that first came to me from an agricultural producer in my riding. He used to say that we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. I believe that public service means giving one's time and talents and providing the resources necessary to improve the lives of others. This approach was adopted by my office from the outset and as the member of Parliament for Tobique—Mactaquac, I have always strived to meet this as a public servant.
I hear what people want and need from their representatives: public engagement, a voice that understands and truly reflects them and a willingness to work across the aisle with those who oppose or are different from us on certain issues. Partisan, divisive politics drives us apart, distracting us from the real priorities and the real work ahead. In New Brunswick, our communities are often close-knit and small, sometimes isolated and struggling. As politicians, our focus should always be on the kind of service that starts in our own homes and grows to embrace our communities and strengthen the general public good.
Serving as the member of Parliament for Tobique—Mactaquac has been so much more than a job. It has been one of the greatest privileges of my life and I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to provide a strong, independent New Brunswick voice on behalf of my constituents. I cannot express enough thanks to the residents of my riding for placing their trust in me. I am fortunate to have been part of policy changes and legislation which will leave a lasting, positive impact in the lives of so many constituents and Canadians, in general.
It has been said that there is no bad seat in the House of Commons and I honestly believe that to be true. I would like to acknowledge the friendships and dedication of the members from all sides of the House and the Senate as we worked together on the important issues facing Canadians. We may have had a few disagreements regarding process and policy, but I never had cause to question our collective objective of providing responsible and compassionate governance.
New Brunswick is my home and the place that I love most. I have always dedicated so much of my service advocating for rural economic development, small business growth, rural infrastructure, accessibility and a host of other issues that are important to New Brunswickers. I am proud of our accomplishments. I look forward to continuing to work with and advocate on behalf of New Brunswick businesses and the growth of our local economy. Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the economy and I know I can continue to play a role in their success and contribute to economic development for the benefit of those not only in my community but for New Brunswick as a whole.
I would like to thank all of the volunteers and those who have shared their time, concerns and advice with me and those who attended events and reached out to my office with their concerns around the issues that are important to them. I thank them for their support and encouragement. It is my intention to continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the people of New Brunswick and my constituents until the federal election. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead and thank all of the people of Tobique—Mactaquac for placing their trust in me. I would like to thank my family, my friends, my colleagues and all of the people who have made this journey possible for me, a worthwhile journey, indeed.
I would like to close by citing an old Gaelic blessing, one that my grandfather used often:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.