Mr. Speaker, a bit of history was made today in that it is the first time that a Speaker of the House has been wrestled up the aisle to that chair by a New Democrat. These special moments need to be noted for the record in Hansard. New Democrats extend sincere congratulations to you on your election today.
I also want to commend all members who took the opportunity to present themselves as speaker of this place and for the words they shared with all of us. If we could put them all together and follow the spirit that was laid out, Canadians would be very proud of what we have been able to accomplish. Let us set that as an objective.
Mr. Speaker, it is also important to reference the contribution over 10 years of your predecessor, someone who I know, as you earlier reminded me, had taught you so much. We want to take this moment to acknowledge the Speaker of the House for the last 10 years, the former member for Kingston and the Islands.
If your predecessor were here, I do not think that he would hesitate to tell you that his robe—which you are not wearing now, but will be wearing tomorrow—was not always easy to wear, especially in recent years. I have seen high school teachers leave the public gallery, clearly embarrassed by the behaviour of the elected officials their students were here to observe. That must change.
I have seen accomplished women from all of the parties face intimidation simply because they were women. Some of them have even told me that they now hesitate to rise in the House. That must change and we can do it. I want to tell all members of Parliament that we can do things differently in this 41st Parliament.
We will disagree passionately at times but passionate debate is essential in this place. We may disagree but we must show each other respect at all times because Canadians elected each and every one of us here. When we do not show respect for each other as individuals, then we are not showing respect for the Canadians who sent us here.
I believe that together we can restore civility to this place and that we can choose to focus on the values we share and the work we have to do.
I am here to make a commitment before all members today that we will change. We are committed to doing our best to fix what is wrong in Ottawa and, to start, we have agreed that there will be no heckling from the 103 members of our caucus in this House of Commons and we will do our very best to ensure that is the case.
With that commitment, Mr. Speaker, and on behalf of the official opposition, congratulations once again on your election and best wishes in what lies ahead.
We are prepared to make the House of Commons an institution of which Canadians can be proud.