Mr. Speaker, I am truly honoured to rise today to say a few words in the House about our leader, the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and leader of the official opposition.
The Winnipeg Free Press has described her as, “Arguably one of the hardest-working MPs in Canada”. Without a doubt, she is one of the hardest-working MPs in Canada. That is exactly why the member for Portage—Lisgar successfully rose to the challenge of interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, as the short leadership race began that will allow members to choose a new leader on September 10.
The member for Portage—Lisgar has shown us that she is not only a hard worker, but that she is a principled woman of values who knows how to listen to others and, above all, knows how to make decisions while respecting the differences of each of the other members of the team.
It was no accident that Candice was able to take up the responsibilities of leader of the official opposition with such ease. Over the years, she has gained experience that few of us on either side of the House will ever get the chance to match, no matter how much we want it or how skilled we are.
Candice was elected as the member for Portage—Lisgar in 2008, after being a Conservative Party supporter for years. She is a principled woman, as I mentioned earlier. One thing that made her get into politics as a supporter was the then Liberal government's spending spree. It is funny how times never change. She chose to take the bull by the horns and became the Manitoba campaign manager for the leadership bid of the man who would become Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Hon. Stephen Harper.
She did not want to sit on the sidelines. She had a desire to serve the people in her riding and all Canadians. As I mentioned, she was elected in Portage—Lisgar in 2008 by an overwhelming majority. Not only did her constituents and the people of Manitoba choose a strong voice to defend their interests, but Canadians quickly came to know her and, more importantly, to recognize her as a woman with an infinite amount of love for the great Canadian family.
In 2011, she was appointed as the parliamentary secretary to the then minister of public safety, the Hon. Vic Toews. In her role as parliamentary secretary, she had the opportunity to work alongside the minister of public safety, notably on Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act, which came into force the following year, 2012.
In 2013, the Right Hon. Stephen Harper recognized the undeniable talent of the member for Portage—Lisgar and, most importantly, her immense compassion for Canadians who were suffering and needed a strong voice to represent them. Candice became the hon. member of Parliament for Portage—Lisgar and entered cabinet as minister of state for social development. During her tenure, she worked hard to improve Canada's efforts to combat homelessness, as well as provide better support for people with disabilities.
In September 2016, Candice broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first woman in the history of the Conservative Party of Canada to hold the role of House leader. Conservative leader Rona Ambrose recognized her as a strong woman who could make quick decisions and a team player who could organize the work of the official opposition to ensure that the voices of all Canadians would continue to be heard and relayed in the House of Commons.
She does her job brilliantly. The Liberal government's first years were not a walk in the park, far from it. Candice was able to use all parliamentary options to make the government understand that it did not have carte blanche to turn the House into a tool to do its bidding.
The new party leader, the hon. member for Regina—Qu'Appelle, also recognized the spirit and talent of the member for Portage—Lisgar, and asked her to continue serving the country as the House leader of the official opposition. With all this experience, it is no surprise that she became the deputy leader for the member for Durham, the leader of the Conservative Party. All our party leaders under whom she served her country as an MP entrusted her with important responsibilities because she is a woman who can be trusted.
In February, the Conservative caucus also recognized her ability to bring people together. We knew she was a true-blue Conservative. Most importantly, we knew she was capable of taking the helm following what had certainly been a tumultuous time.
Having watched her work so hard for so long, her peers elected her to serve as official opposition leader. Let us not think of her as a temporary or interim leader. She is the interim Conservative leader, but she has never, ever taken the job for granted. From day one, she set to work fulfilling her mandate, which is to lead the Conservatives during a leadership race, present a strong and united opposition to the Liberal government and speak on behalf of every single Canadian.
On behalf of all my colleagues, I am confident in saying that she has succeeded across the board. She really is the leader of all Conservatives and she has made us all forget her interim status.
Now I would like to talk about Candice as the woman who rallied Conservatives during tough times. I have to admit that, before I began spending time with her on a daily basis, when she gave me the tremendous privilege of serving alongside her as deputy leader, I was aware of her talent as a politician and her skill as a parliamentarian, but I did not really know the reasons for her success.
I have been in politics for almost 25 years, and I was intrigued by the path of my colleague from Manitoba. Today, I will share a secret with Canadians. The secret to the success of the MP for Portage—Lisgar, the leader of the official opposition and the Conservative Party, can be summed up in three words: respect, values and principles.
Candice is a woman of faith and the youngest of eight children. She grew up in a family with Mennonite roots.
As the baby of the family, she surely had to learn at an early age to listen to others. She has applied the lessons her family taught her throughout her life, both personal and professional. She believes that every member of the caucus deserves to be heard and that all points of view deserve to be considered.
I truly believe that she sees the caucus as her family. She understands and accepts differences. She may tolerate some misbehaviour, but she will do everything she can to keep the family together at all times. Where conflicts may arise, she will build bridges. She will push each member of her caucus to use their skills for the good of the team. Like the family values within her, she wants to instill in each of us the conservative values that unite us and make us who we are.
She does not give in to every little whim. She will defend her principles and her convictions tooth and nail, while recognizing that her colleagues might have opinions that differ from her own, and that is one of her greatest qualities. She is not afraid to take a stand, even though that can be hard at times, because she relies on her convictions and values in doing so. She will work to find whatever unites people, rather than trying to be right at all costs. She asked us, her leadership team, to demonstrate the same openness and to listen to our colleagues, and she did so with an iron will.
She is a strong and proud mother who wants the best for everyone in her family. I truly believe that she considers each of us as part of her extended family. I think I speak on behalf of all my colleagues and all members of our party when I say this: Thank you for accepting us as we are. Yes, we do have some faults, but we also have all our good qualities.
Before I conclude, I have to mention one important part of our leader's life. She is very proud of the family values that were instilled in her by her parents, including her mother Anne, whom she regularly visits in Morden. Her children are a big source of inspiration for her and will always come first. Luke, Delaney, who is here in Ottawa, and Parker can be unbelievably proud of their mother. She is unbelievably proud of them.
I do not think that Candice, the mother, would mind my saying that she is also the proud grandmother to two grandchildren, Arcaydia and Lance, whom she loves a lot. There is also her husband, Michael, her partner on this great political adventure, who sometimes joins her in singing and playing music as a form of relaxation and, perhaps, to offer an occasional reprieve from the little squabbles that can come up within our political family.
I thank Michael and Candice's children and grandchildren for sharing her with us.
I think I speak for all members in the House when I say that the leader of the official opposition is an extraordinary person.
She is respected. She has devoted much of her life to public service, to defending the people of her riding of Portage—Lisgar and to wanting to improve the future for all Canadians.
On behalf of all my fellow Conservatives, I want to thank Candice for leading our party and caucus in a strong yet gentle way, showcasing everyone's strengths and respecting everyone's opinions. Candice showed us that we can be proud of who we are. She gave us back the pride of being united as a team. She taught us the pride of being Conservative in 2022.
The House will soon rise for the summer, but I would like to tell the Liberals one thing: Candice is still our leader until September 10, so they should not expect to have a quiet little holiday before Parliament resumes this fall.
Thank you, Candice, for having trusted us.
Thank you for your hard work on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada.