Mr. Chair, I would like to point out that, as dean, your remarkable 37 years of uninterrupted service to Parliament is equal to the amount of time it has been since a woman has occupied the chair, and we must admit that is a significant number of years. I am sure you will agree, Mr. Chair, that it is starting to feel like a long time.
The fact that I am a woman is not the only thing I would bring to the table. What I hope to bring to this position is a unique vision of this House. I am not here to oppose anyone. I am here because I hold certain beliefs that I think could provide another way of approaching our responsibilities as parliamentarians.
Of the 30 million people in Canada, we are the 338 who have been chosen to pass legislation for the present and, more than ever, the future of Canadians. Since I was elected the first time, I have been acutely aware of the incredible honour bestowed upon me by my constituents in Brossard—Saint‑Lambert and of the responsibility that I have undertaken to fulfill.
Some of those responsibilities include, and depend on, the constant quest for truthfulness and common good.
As we start this 44th Parliament since Confederation, after close to two years of a public health emergency that changed so much of what we took for granted, I also believe one of our responsibilities is to find joy in the work we do. Loving what we do, this place where we do it and the people who help us do it, for me, are fundamental aspects of a successful parliamentary life.
I associate some of the more meaningful hours I have experienced in this House with debates where members strove to find shared goals. From emergency legislation to support and sustain Canadians through the pandemic, from reconciliation to the right to repair, and from climate change to the Uighur genocide, the 43rd Parliament did allow us to engage in lively and constructive debates.
It cannot and should not be all about insults and accusations, about “gotcha” moments and questionable statements.
What I take from these moments is that we are perfectly capable of rising above partisan bickering when the situation calls for it and that the sense of humour of some members can spice up dry conversations that are sometimes too technical. The ability to find the right words is an art that I admire, and many of my colleagues are experts in that art. Our debates should always exemplify the art of public speaking, and should therefore be conducted with mutual respect and follow the basic rules of courtesy.
First and foremost, we are here to pass good laws. Although we all do essential work in our ridings, our primary role is that of legislator, and it takes a team effort to keep our discussions courteous, especially when there are dissenting opinions.
Holding the government to account is the essential element of parliamentary democracy. No government is immune from the necessary scrutiny of its proposed legislation and its management of the public accounts. However, Canadians have told us time and time again that they expect us to do this with far more civility than they see in this place most days.
It is often said that teachers feel a certain dread when bringing students to Parliament or showing them snippets of parliamentary debate. It is also said that our behaviour in this House is so abhorrent that the message it sends to students is exactly the opposite of what teachers would like to convey.
I will go a step further with this. Sometimes, and I am hardly blameless, I listen to the heckling and the insults that fly around the House, particularly during question period, and I ask myself if this how we want to be remembered, or if this is the legacy we would like to leave behind once our time here comes to an end. I have concluded that, for me, the answer to those questions is a resounding no.
Members can reject me if they must, but should I be given the honour of being elected to the Chair, I would strive with all my might to bring dignity to our debates.
Dignity is a principle that is very important to me. No one in this House, whether a parliamentarian or someone else, should be deprived of their dignity as a human being. Let us humbly thank the pages who bring us a glass of water or a lectern. Let us be aware and respectful of the tremendous work done by the interpreters. Let us recognize the sensitive nature of the task that falls to the table officers. Finally, let us remember that, despite our differences, we are all here for one purpose: to pass good legislation.
Joy is also a principle that is extremely important to me, and the joy of music is an endless source of wonder. I dream of creating a parliamentary choir, a goal I have had ever since I learned that several European parliaments have one and that they visit one another.
Over my many years in this place, I have heard people, including journalists, staff and sometimes new members, suggest that some of the traditions and rituals we observe here are silly, arcane or outdated. I tend to disagree, but it does not mean we should not try to create new rituals that, in turn, will become traditions. This is the people's House and we are only temporary occupants and guardians of it.