Madam Speaker, this is probably one of the last times I will rise in the House, and I want to take the time to thank the people of Abitibi—Témiscamingue for allowing me to represent them. My constituents are brilliant, creative people who are full of ideas. The ideas are sometimes crazy, but that is what makes my riding a great one to represent. We become involved in these crazy projects and ideas.
The people working for organizations in Abitibi-Témiscamingue are extremely creative, motivated and passionate about the region. One example is Randa Napky, an ambassador for Abitibi-Témiscamingue. I cannot think of anyone better to represent our tourism association. All of these people make coming to work a pleasure, and it is truly wonderful to have this opportunity, as a member of Parliament. People are welcoming, they open their doors to us and they are always there to help.
I had three children during my time as an MP. When I attended events, people would take my babies from me and look after them. I was comfortable with that. So many times I felt as though I was visiting family, no matter where I went. It was like always attending a family party where people took care of each other, asked questions and asked how I was doing. They did not just do it out of politeness, but acted as though I were really a member of their family. Those were some really great moments, and I absolutely loved representing those people.
There are also my employees, who did a wonderful job. They became my close friends. There is Alain, who has been with me from the start and who got to know me extremely well. Now, when he has to write anything, it sounds as though I wrote it myself. We now finish each other's sentences. Over time, I got to know his wife, who is a nurse like me. I think Alain hates it when his wife and I talk because, when two nurses get to talking, the stories can get kind of gross. Chantal is a wonderful woman. I loved getting to know her, and I hope we will remain friends for a long time.
Yves also joined my team. He came from Service Canada, and according to his resume he was a very skilled and competent public servant. He also has a very crazy side, which I saw at one of the murder mystery events. This theatrical side may go unnoticed, but it is fun to see. He is also extremely dedicated to people. With his help we managed on a number of occasions to do things that the media never report on and we never talk about. Several times we were able to recover $20,000 in family benefits that were not paid because the CRA continued to ask for paperwork. No one reports these types of stories, but I can say that when we manage to do this for people, it really improves their lives.
There is also Ghislain, who is very intellectual and passionate about history and archeology. He cares so deeply about indigenous peoples that his master's thesis was about the role of traditional dance in the healing of indigenous people. It is a highly specialized topic, but this shows how much he cares about indigenous peoples.
Then there is Daniel, who seems unflappable. He has an incredible desire to learn, a thirst for knowledge and a great sense of calm. I am also lucky to know his wife, Maude, who has a truly unique personality and is very vivacious. They are outstanding people. I am very pleased to have met them.
Nicolas has been part of my Ottawa team for a long time. Even before he came to work for me, we were both candidates in a few of the same elections. Nicolas is always upbeat. He is the type of person who never gets discouraged and you cannot knock down.
Then there is Jean-François, who left for Iceland, where he is also a citizen, this spring. He was a down-to-earth guy I liked talking to, and I could talk to him about the politics of pretty much any country in the world. These people have been extremely important in my my life. There are also people from the whip's office, like Christian and Anthony, who know every detail of our lives. We have no choice; we have to tell them everything. Their job is to reassure and comfort us. They know all kinds of things about us.
Many of my colleagues have also changed my life. Lots of people think everything started with the orange wave, but plenty of other things happened before that. I myself was in the forces and a member of the NDP. Eventually, I decided to leave the army, and it just so happened there was an election around that time. I spent my last enlisted years under the Liberal government. The cuts were disastrous. We even had to train with snowballs a lot of the time. I made up my mind to leave the army.
Since I was no longer part of a system where I could not be politically active, I decided to get involved. At 22, I made the crazy decision to participate in the NDP electoral campaign. I also decided to move back to Abitibi-Témiscamingue. I talked to a young woman, Rebecca Blaikie. We spoke for an hour. Finally, she said that the party was looking for a candidate like me. She asked if I felt like getting into politics. The party was prepared to give me a chance.
I talked to my parents about it and decided to run for the first time. I was 22 at the time, in 2006. I was a candidate in 2008, but it was finally in 2011 that I was elected as part of Jack Layton's team. After 2006, I started getting involved. I also attended conventions. I remember spending time with Thomas Mulcair and the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. We spent evenings having discussions with Mr. Mulcair's wife, Catherine. She became a friend.
I also met the member for New Westminster—Burnaby. I doubt he would remember this, but we shared a taxi. He gave me his business card and said he was available to answer any questions I might have. That stayed with me. At the time, I had not been elected yet, but he was there for me.
Then I was elected. I became a mom while serving as an MP. I also remember Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, Rosane Doré Lefebvre, Alexandrine Latendresse, the member for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski and the member for Salaberry—Suroît. We became moms around the same time. Former MP Alexandrine Latendresse had a baby shortly before I did, and she became a close friend, even officiating at my wedding.
I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing people, like the Assistant Deputy Speaker and member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, who is basically my kids' third grandmother.
I have gotten to meet some incredible people. I want to thank them for being part of this adventure.
Before I leave, I just want to tell people to be bold. If I had not made that call, I probably would never have experienced this adventure. Members need to have the courage to stand up, to show some backbone and think for themselves. Canadians expect us to be honest. They want us to say what we really think.
Canadians are sick of canned speeches. I urge members to stand up, say what they think and stop parroting talking points. I think that advice applies to many members of the House. They need to reconnect with the public. The parties need to stop telling their members what to say. In my view, we did not go through 150 years of feminism for women in Parliament to just say and think as they are told.
I urge everyone to be brave. I sincerely hope that the next elected members will have the courage of their convictions and the will to stand up, as Canadians expect them to do.