I humbly thank all hon. members in this House for the great honour they have bestowed upon me in selecting me as Speaker.
[The Speaker spoke in aboriginal language]
Thank you again for the confidence that you have placed in me as Speaker for a second term. I am very honoured to be up here, both politically and personally. This is something I know I will treasure for the rest of my life. I guess one of the good things about being Speaker is that I probably upset both sides equally, so I appreciate you working this out.
I would also like to thank the dean of the House, the hon. member for Bécancour—Nicolet—Saurel, who gets a real kick out of sitting here. He did a great job. Just like the other two times I was elected, I was very happy to see him in the chair and to hear his announcements. I must say that he made a very good choice.
I want to congratulate the other members who let their names stand.
It is not always easy for someone to put their name on a ballot and get votes. Having the courage to do so and the desire to change things is, in my view, very important. We all recently put our names on a ballot and participated in an election. This is not always easy, because even though someone thinks they are the best candidate, they are not always chosen.
That is why I would like to thank the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques‑Cartier for standing for Speaker.
The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
The hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing.
The hon. member for West Nova.
The hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.
The hon. member for Brossard—Saint-Lambert.
Thank you for expressing your interest in this position, and for showing that you care about how business is done in the chamber and on the Hill.
I really want to thank a group that often gets overlooked, which is the staff and the clerks. They worked hard to make sure that we could be here today, and that we did it in an orderly and safe manner.
I thank all members for putting their trust in me to serve them during this 44th Parliament. I promise to be fair and respectful.
Once again, I thank the clerks and the staff on Parliament Hill whose hard work made it possible for us to be here today. Let us give them a round of applause.
I want to point out to all members that Canadians are always able to follow what is happening in the House. They can watch us on television or their computer, or they can see us on the news.
I would like to remind members of a verse of one of my favourite songs, L'escalier by Paul Piché. I see that the members of the Bloc Québécois and the hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage are pleased with my choice.
A framed copy of that verse hangs on the wall of my office. I will refrain from singing it because I do not want to everyone to clear out.
The chorus says, and I quote:
Children are not truly bad,
Though they may misbehave from time to time.
They may spit or lie or steal,
Because they can do anything that they are taught.
When I do my work as an MP or as Speaker, I think about those words. I invite all members to think about them too, because children see what we are doing in the House. We need to make sure that we teach those children and all Canadians the right way to do things.
I want to also thank all the members who took the time to speak with me over the last few weeks. I want to thank all of you who took the time to call me back. I got to know many of you and I encourage you to reach out to members not only in your own party, but in other parties, because you would be surprised at what you find out about each other. We have a lot in common even if we are on different sides of the floor. Sometimes when we are on the same side of the floor we have differences, but it does not mean we cannot be friends and we cannot work together.
I found out something that was very interesting and that kind of came as a surprise. The hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo and I have common roots. We are not directly related, but our ancestors, his parents and my grandparents, come from the same little town in the mountains of southern Italy. I just want to say to everyone here and to the folks back in the old country:
[The Speaker spoke in Italian]
Someone who is extremely important to me is my wife, as I am sure every member of Parliament who has a spouse would agree. As I look up into the gallery, I see Chantal, who has always been there for me.
Our spouses go through things that most Canadians and most people never experience, yet they always support us and stand by us. We are most grateful to our spouses for that. I thank all the spouses, and especially Chantal.
One of the things that I know the leaders of both the government and the opposition feel very strongly about is children, so I want to reach out to my daughter who is studying on the other side of the pond. She cannot be here today, but I know she is watching on CPAC, so I say to Samantha that I love her dearly.
There are a lot of benefits to being the Speaker, but there are also some things that I cannot do as Speaker during a regular session. One is that I cannot do an S. O. 31 and recognize special people in my riding. If I could do an S. O. 31, what I would do is thank the constituents who elected me in September. I am very honoured that they would choose me to represent them here in the House. To the people of Nipissing—Timiskaming, if I could do an S. O. 31 I would tell them “thank you”. I would then thank all the volunteers who were there, who showed up every day and who helped on a regular basis. If I could do an S. O. 31, I would say “thank you” to all the volunteers.
Sometimes we get to this place and we look back and wonder, “How did we get here?” I remember back in 2004 trying to get in as a candidate. I have this history of having more than one person get on by acclamation. I kind of look to them and think, “That would be great.” I had four the first time. In an S. O. 31, I would point out three people who have been there with me right from the beginning of my nomination. Peter and Barb have been there. They are great organizers and have done an amazing job. Garth, one of the elder statesmen, as I call him, in North Bay, is in his 80s now. I know he is watching, and he is going to love this. I say that I love him and I thank him very much for everything he has done. Without the three of them working together, and the whole team coming together, I am not sure I would have gotten the nomination on my own or who would be up here giving a speech right now. I want to thank them.
As I said, as the Speaker I will not be able to do S. O. 31s and would not be able to deliver these messages. I want to remind members that one rule in the House is that one cannot do indirectly what one cannot do directly, so I just want to make sure we will be enforcing that in the coming months.
I have been told that my minute is up. I am glad somebody is watching the timer.
Now that we have a Speaker, it is time to get back to work.
Once again I thank you. Meegwetch.
We will go to the Right Hon. Prime Minister.