Mr. Speaker, I begin by saying how much I wish we could have done this while Major-General Cloutier was still with us, but as we all know, he requested that we not do so and we respected his humility in this regard.
Now we are free to say in public what I presume many of us said to him in private and certainly what I had an opportunity to say to him when I wrote him a letter during his illness.
As one who was elected to this place barely a year after Major-General Cloutier was appointed Sergeant-at-Arms, I count myself fortunate to have had the honour of knowing him and working with him for well over 25 years, and for seven of those years as a colleague on the Board of Internal Economy.
The chamber does not seem the same place without the elegant, discerning and humble presence of this special person who served the House with dignity, with distinction and with discretion.
He had a rare understanding of the unique institution that Parliament is and the unique vocation that members of Parliament embrace when they come to this place.
Major-General Cloutier, or Gus, could be counted on to put the legitimate interests of MPs and the well-being of Parliament ahead of any pressure originating in uninformed criticism or bureaucratic fad.
He knew how this place worked, and when we needed something attended to, we knew that if we spoke to Gus there would be something done about it.
Without being an MP himself, he was nevertheless what the tradition has in mind when someone is paid the high compliment of being referred to as “a House of Commons man”.
On behalf of the NDP, we give thanks for his life and for his service to this place, and we extend sincere condolences to his family.