Mr. Speaker, this is not an easy day to say goodbye after all these years in this place. It has been 13 years since I was first elected and 34 years since I started in political life as a parliamentary intern.
This has been my home away from home. It has been the place where my kids have grown up. Many members may remember my younger son at the age of 8 terrorizing the halls of Centre Block. That holy terror Joe is now a young man at the age of 21. He is here with his father today, and I want to thank him.
I want to thank my husband of 38 years, who has been there through thick and thin, supporting me every step of the way. I want the House to know that contrary to popular opinion, he did not lose his hair because of me.
I want to thank our special son Nick, who has taught me every step of the way why it is important to be in political life and about our responsibility to keep working to ensure that society does not ditch its responsibilities to the aged, the frail and people living with disabilities.
I want to, of course, mention my mom and dad who are watching right now as we speak, Harry and Klazina Wasylycia, who are 91 and 87 years old respectively, and who told me that I was the perfect child until I started to talk. My dad is a proud veteran who met my mother in World War II in Holland, and next week they will together mark the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Holland by Canadians with great celebration and pride.
This is a day of very mixed emotions. I have to say goodbye to my NDP family and to our tenacious and courageous leader who has actually changed politics in this country to the point where we are now just about on the verge of a three-way race.
I have to thank all of my colleagues who are here today and those who came before, and another leader, Alexa McDonough, with whom I started politics in 1997.
I want to thank my staff, especially those who have been with me from the beginning: Chuck Brabazon, who is here today, Jim Thompson in the riding, as well as Adam Moore, Judy Burns and Margaret Platte.
I want to thank all of my colleagues whom I consider to be friends. We are all here for noble reasons, because we want to build a better world. We just may have some different ideas about what that world looks like or how we get there, but we are all on a noble pursuit to fight for what is right and to preserve democracy.
Sometimes this place can be dysfunctional. Sometimes there can be a bit too much heckling, not by me though. But we know when it works, when we work together. When we collaborate and co-operate, it can be magic.
I think about the unity we all had and showed when we adopted unanimously the bill to create the national Holocaust Remembrance Day. I think about everyone in this House wearing blue to mark Prostate Cancer Awareness Day. I think about the cheering in this place when we celebrated and welcomed our Olympians and Paralympians. These are wonderful moments. They are magical moments. We should never lose them or let go of them. There is so much more to be done.
I would like to thank everyone who makes it possible for us to do our jobs, including the political staff of course, but also the clerks, the interpretation staff, bus drivers, technicians, security, the cooks and their staff, the Serjeant-at-Arms, editors, translators and of course the pages. I would also like to thank the press gallery staff and our friends, the journalists.
It has been an enormous privilege for me to stand in this House and to speak on issues of national importance, making a bit of difference on matters for which Canadians are deeply concerned, especially in the area of health care where I am proud to have stood in this House, time and time again, fighting for and standing up for a single payer, universally accessible, non-profit, quality health care system. One thing is for sure. Our fight, our work to defend, preserve, protect and strengthen medicare is not over and we must continue that battle.
The greatest of all privileges I have had here over 13 years has been to serve the people of Winnipeg North, a remarkable, resilient people who have had so many challenges and have worked so hard to overcome them. We have seen, over and over again, the people of Winnipeg North overcoming adversity, working together, building on the strength of our diversity to translate that into acceptance and celebration of our differences, working together when the big banks left us virtually without any branches, to create alternative financial services, and when small convenience and hardware stores left the north end, working together to create the amazing Pollock Hardware Co-op, which is doing a remarkable, record-breaking business.
It is with great sadness that I must say goodbye to some of this work and say goodbye to my friends. However, before I say my goodbyes, I should mention one more thing about Winnipeg. I must tell the member for Ottawa Centre that we have the longest skating rink in the history of the world.
Lastly, I want thank the people of Winnipeg North for their support and, who knows, maybe one day I will be representing them again in the future.