Mr. Speaker, my notes tell me I am to say that it is with considerable regret and some emotion, but I think the emotion has betrayed me.
Mr. Speaker, I have advised you, Sir, that I will be standing down as member of Parliament for Toronto Centre, effective July 2. I do not wish to take a lot of time of the House to share that notice with you, but I did want a chance to say thank you to my electors.
The electors of Toronto Centre, known as Rosedale when I first ran, had perhaps the good sense to turn me down the first two times I ran. So, I learned something about democracy. They subsequently elected me five times. There will be members of the House who will think they were right the first time. Others will think they were right the second time. That is what makes a great democracy. I want to thank them for having had the chance to represent one of the great ridings and diverse ridings of our country.
I would like to thank my wife, Cathy, my children and my family and friends who have supported me. We all know we would not be here without that support.
I would like to say that it is a privilege to be elected to one of the best Parliaments in the world. It is a great privilege to sit in this House, It is very hard for me to imagine that I will no longer have access to this place that is so sacred to us all.
I would like to extend many thanks to the Clerk of the House and all the parliamentary staff. Far too often we go about our business without recognizing the work they do for us here and in committees.
Our capacity to do our jobs and represent our constituents is enormously enhanced by their work, and I thank them. I know from their applause, members thank them from their hearts as well.
I had the opportunity of serving as foreign affairs minister and defence minister. I could not leave this place without being thankful for the extraordinary efforts of the representatives of our foreign service who do us so proud as they work for us around the world, tirelessly and selflessly. I also could not step down without recognizing the fantastic privilege to have been the defence minister and to work with our young men and women in uniform, who every day risk their lives for us and their country and do it so well.
It is the Prime Minister's privilege to call a byelection. The people of my riding, I hope, will understand why I believe it is important that they be represented by a future voice rather than someone from the past. All parties in the House have representatives now nominated to run in that riding. I would ask that they have the opportunity to be represented in this place as early as possible for the sake of our democracy and our future.
In closing, I want to say one thing about the civility of this place. There has been a lot in the press recently about the lack of civility in the House. It may be attributable to the minority situation we are in and it may be attributable to a lot of causes, but surely we owe it to ourselves to disagree without being disagreeable. We do not need to do that.
I believe everyone in the House carries within him or her the desire to serve our country and, whether one has that desire or not, the capacity to affect the future lives of every citizen of this great land, and to some extent others around the globe. Let us treat each other with the respect that thought brings. In what we bring to this place, let us respect one another and, in so doing, I believe our fellow countrymen will respect this institution and respect us for the work we do.