Mr. Speaker, I am gratefully sharing my time with the member for Ottawa Centre.
For me the coming moments will be filled with deep emotion, as I rise to present my farewell remarks in the House of Commons. I thank my colleagues across all parties for the opportunity today to share my profound gratitude.
The opportunity to serve the residents of Mississauga—Lakeshore as a member of Parliament since 2015 has been a lesson in humility and the most transformative experience of my career. I am extremely grateful to the Prime Minister of Canada and to our community for the trust they have placed in me during this period.
I will back up briefly to the beginning of my journey to our magnificent country that I have come to call home.
I was born in Cold-War West Berlin and then lived just outside Hamburg, Germany until my mid-teens when one day my mom and dad, Jutta Spengemann and Michael Spengemann, announced to my sisters, Lily and Maya, and me that we would be moving to Canada to a city called Mississauga. If anyone had, at that time, told me that I would one day represent a district of that city in our Parliament, I would have laughed or perhaps shuddered in disbelief.
However, my parents created wonderful and cherished opportunities for us. There were opportunities to study, explore, travel and become involved in the community. Membership in the 845 Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron created an appreciation of service. Student government led to an interest in politics on my part and to volunteer positions within our party. The seed was planted.
I am enormously grateful to my mom and dad for the courageous, bold decision they made to leave our previous home in Germany to come here. I thank them today and every day. It was the best decision they made for us, and there were many excellent decisions. Their love and encouragement along a series of twists and turns in my path ultimately led me to an opportunity to serve with the United Nations in Iraq from 2005 until 2012. It was from that position that I entered Canadian politics.
This will be about as partisan as I will ever get, but it was at the moment when the Liberal Party, my party, had been pushed up against the wall after the 2011 election, and when there were whispers that there may no longer be a space for the Liberal vision in the tapestry of Canadian politics. It was then that I decided to come home and get into the political trenches.
Along with my parents and my sisters, who strongly and quietly supported my journey into politics, I would like to thank all of my family and loved ones in Canada and in Europe, and my friends and teammates for their tireless encouragement and support over the course of three elections and the much more important time in between.
I have a very special and particular word of thanks to the members of my constituency team, who have served the people of Mississauga—Lakeshore with incredible compassion, patience and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic: Dulce Santos, Hanan Harb, Kassandra Fiore, Brenda Armstrong, Adam Larouche, Yaseen Abdulhai, Zelia Bukhari and Rafeef Kilani. I thank them for their extraordinary and tireless service in unprecedented times. They have the deep gratitude of our entire community.
To our amazing volunteer teams, including the Mississauga-Lakeshore Constituency Youth Council, the Mississauga-Lakeshore Council for Seniors, the faith leaders' dialogue, the Mississauga-Lakeshore Federal Liberal Association, and groups of environmental leaders, including shoreline cleanup crews and youth advocates against plastic pollution, such as the 1st Port Credit Sea Scouts, and so many others, I send my sincere thanks for their leadership and for everything they have done and will do for our community.
Alongside them are leaders in many other extraordinary organizations and initiatives in our community doing their part to build a better tomorrow. There are indigenous organizations, such as the Eagle Spirits of the Great Waters. In the BIAs, there are heritage sites such as the Small Arms Inspection Building; farmers' markets; The Compass food bank; Armagh house and Interim Place, which are working tirelessly to protect women and children at risk of violence. There are also sports organizations, such as the Mississauga Canoe Club and PCYC's learn to sail program; faith-based organizations and places of worship; ratepayer groups; environmental organizations, such as Credit Valley Conservation. There is also Epilepsy South Central Ontario, as well as our many festivals and cultural organizations, and countless others.
To each and every one of these extraordinary leaders, I send my profound thanks for contributing so much to the spirit, strength and resilience of our community. It has been an absolute joy to work with them, and I know that their exemplary service will continue in the times to come.
I would like to thank my colleagues in every party in the House. I thank them for their service. I thank them for their camaraderie, their friendship and the extraordinary opportunity to work with them in committee on important bills and during times of celebration and remembrance. I have learned a great deal from all of them, directly and indirectly, individually and collectively. I will bring this experience with me to my new role.
I will also give a word of thanks to fellow parliamentarians who belong to the Inter-Parliamentary Union for their service in tackling important challenges.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union, or IPU, is well known to many members in the House, and it is one of the oldest international organizations in the world. Founded in 1889, it now comprises 179 member parliaments.
It was an extraordinary experience to meet and work with many parliamentary colleagues in the IPU and its committees, in particular the Committee on Democracy and Human Rights and the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.
Parliamentary diplomacy and international advocacy have become very important in many respects, and I am grateful for the work we have been able to do together.
Let me offer a word of thanks to the extraordinary diplomatic community here in Ottawa. I thank the ambassadors, high commissioners, chargés d'affaires and embassy personnel from over 120 countries for being here, working closely with us, promoting strong relationships and alliances, communicating important priorities and tackling new challenges.
Never before have these friendships and relationships mattered more than they do now in these times of unprecedented crisis. They will endure as important foundations for building a much better tomorrow.
Canada is an extraordinary country, and if we get it right, our brightest days are still very much ahead of us. We have the world's longest coastline, the world's second-largest land mass, abundant natural resources, rich and diverse histories, important ecosystems, the world's top talent, cutting-edge technologies, a compassionate society and staunchly defended values and institutions that support our democracy, including the House of Commons.
There is still much to do in the areas of reconciliation, climate action, diversity and inclusion, social and economic investments, energy diversification, security and defence, international development and peace building, to mention but a few.
I am deeply honoured to have had the opportunity to work on each of these issues and others in the House of Commons, and I wish each and every one of my colleagues the best of luck as they continue to serve our country and move us forward.
I look forward to serving once again with the United Nations, reconnecting with former colleagues, meeting new teams and remaining connected with each and every member. Our country is in good hands.
Chi-meegwetch. Thanks from the bottom of my heart. Much love.