Mr. Speaker, that was very, very nice. It is amazing how when we want to be kind in this place, we can be very kind. It is just a little dig. I got that one.
No, that was really kind of everyone, and I do want to thank my deputy leader. I want to thank the leader of the Bloc Party. I want to thank the member for North Island—Powell River and the House leader for the Green Party and the member for Waterloo for those very kind comments.
Elizabeth, we did hug another time, one that you do not remember. It was in the studios at CTV. I think a pipeline had just been approved, so it must not have been under the Liberal government, but a pipeline was approved and Elizabeth came in and she was devastated. I was pretty happy, but she saw me and she said “I need a hug. I can't believe this pipeline was approved.” Remember that one? Yes, so we may have hugged another time.
I am very humbled and I am grateful for all of the kind words. It has really been an honour of my life to lead my Conservative colleagues and our party over the last several months, and it is not over yet. As the deputy leader said, I am still the leader until September 10, but I know this part of my leadership is coming to an end here in the House of Commons.
It has been not only an honour; I have also really enjoyed it immensely. It has been incredible to work alongside each one of these amazing MPs around me to make decisions that we believe are the best decisions for the people of Canada and our party, and we have done that together.
The last several months have been very gratifying as I have watched our caucus and our party heal some rifts and come together and be in probably one of the strongest positions that we have been in for a very long time. We are over 600,000 memberships strong. As I said to my caucus many times, we are not always uniform in our ideas and our perspectives, but we are genuinely unified in our goals.
This caucus has been an incredible group to lead, and I want to thank them for putting their faith in me. I was not expecting to be the leader of the party and it all happened very fast, literally over the course of a few hours, and there was no recess or riding week to get ready.
The House of Commons sat the next day, and I and the people around me stepped into our roles without missing a beat, or at least trying not to miss a beat, during a bit of a tumultuous time in our caucus and actually in our country. It was a pretty difficult time in the country. I want to take a moment, if I could, to thank a few people who were especially helpful during that time.
First of all are my whip, my House leader and the leadership team around me who stepped into their roles and were just amazing and so supportive, and they are very good friends. They have been servant leaders. We hear that term “servant leadership”; I would say these individuals around me have been true servant leaders to our caucus and I am so grateful for what they have done.
I also want to say a big thanks to three of my Hill office staff members, Neal MacDonald, Kim Baker and Grace Gallien. They were not hired to work for the leader of the Conservative Party, but when that happened overnight, all three of them just stepped into these roles and were amazing, and I am just so grateful. I know they sacrificed a lot.
I also want to thank my riding staff, Deb Giblin and Colleen Kyle, who have not seen much of me in six months. They have kept things going very successfully in the riding, and I am very grateful for them.
I thank as well William Stairs, my chief of staff, and Nancy Heppner, my director of communications. William actually came out of retirement to, as he said, make sure the ship stayed afloat; Nancy left her family and her home in Saskatchewan to be here for the last six months, and that is a real sacrifice. I am very grateful for what they have done.
As members of Parliament and as leaders, we get the credit a lot. We are in the limelight, but is these people, our staff members, who put up with a lot and work hard, and I want to make sure that they get the credit today that they deserve.
I do want to thank my family. My leadership came as a big surprise to my kids. They are not watching question period or the news all day every day, so on February 2 in the evening, they turned on the news and saw that their mom and grammy was the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. My children have sacrificed a lot over the last 14 years, but I know that they would say they gained a lot. Luke, Delaney and Parker are the very best kids in the world, and I am so grateful for their love and support. They are always proud of me and show it, and I love them very much. I thank them very, very much for being my kids.
I give a big thanks to my husband, my love, Michael, who has been a partner and my partner in this every step of the way. He has helped me be a better member of Parliament and a better leader because of his wisdom, his sense of humour and his support.
Although I will not be the leader after September 10, I know I still have a lot of work to do as a leader within our caucus and within our party and our movement. I am looking forward to working with our new leader and Conservatives around the country to do just that.
To close, as members know, and as the member for Waterloo mentioned, Michael and I did move into Stornoway and we will be there until the new leader is chosen. We have enjoyed being able to use it as a working house and a place for colleagues and others to gather, meet and talk about important issues facing our country.
Members will be interested to know that I am getting some mail at Stornoway addressed to past opposition leaders who lived there previously. Actually, I have gotten some mail for some of our previous leaders, and I plan to give it to them the next time I see them. However, if anyone on the Liberal side happens to know where Michael Ignatieff is these days, I think he may have won a prize in the lottery or something, because I got a piece of mail for him. Perhaps we can wait until after the next election, when the Liberals will be taking over Stornoway again. Maybe Michael Ignatieff will come back to visit and one of them can give him that piece of mail.