Mr. Speaker, this is to my hon. colleagues, my dear constituents and supporters, my hard-working team and my beloved family and friends.
I saw this day coming for many months, but I have been feeling somewhat sad about it.
For over five and a half years, I have had the privilege and honour to sit in this House and represent the good people of Miramichi—Grand Lake. I am very proud of what our government and I have been able to accomplish for our riding, but of course, there is still a long list of more things that need to be done. However, that will be passed on to our next Liberal MP from Miramichi—Grand Lake to pursue and deliver because today I wish to announce that I will not be the candidate for the next general federal election, but I will remain their MP until such a call is made.
It is always risky to thank people and acknowledge their work, because most of the time we end up forgetting people we really should have thanked. I hope that, if I forget anyone, they will forgive me. I will always be very grateful to them.
At this stage of my life, six years is really but a small portion of the time I have been up on my feet. Most of my life I have spent in my community with my family, building our business and being involved in local, provincial and national organizations.
The voice I brought to this House was not one of an acclaimed politician or one with tremendous legal or political science background, which I respect and admire, and such expertise is absolutely necessary in the House. No, my voice, which I believe is just as important, was one of rural, smart, hard-working people, including our vibrant indigenous communities.
I am glad that I was able to have it heard in so many different ways, such as with the privilege of sitting as a member of the fisheries and oceans committee and the agriculture standing committee, which I had the opportunity and honour to chair throughout my time as MP.
I was also able to have my voice heard in the many conversations and meetings with our cabinet ministers, my caucus colleagues and as chair of the New Brunswick caucus with my provincial colleagues.
Finally, I had the great privilege to have my voice heard by the right hon. Prime Minister, who I want to thank personally for putting his trust in me and for his strong support and confidence during my time as member of Parliament for Miramichi—Grand Lake. He made many visits to my riding in times of crisis to provide commitment and support, such as during the 2017 ice storm and the dark days of the payroll centre in my riding, but he also dropped in many times just to meet and have conversations with the people of Miramichi—Grand Lake.
Thank you so much, Prime Minister.Thank you for your guidance and for carrying us through this awful pandemic.
I must also recognize that I have learned and benefited so much from the many conversations and debates with all members of the House, whose friendships I will cherish always.
Our government accomplished some great things for our country and for my riding of Miramichi—Grand Lake. Even though there is still a lot more to do, our region experienced a great period of economic and social growth during my term.
I would like to list a few of those many accomplishments that we have been able to achieve in my riding. Of course, again, the payroll centre, which had just been opened by the previous government in my riding and, everyone will agree, was totally dysfunctional. We were able to secure and stabilize it with an additional 400 local federal jobs in my riding and proper investments to fix it and make it work.
Just a few of the many investments the government and I were able to secure are the refurbishing of the Minto town hall in my riding; Chipman water sewage treatment; the Chatham wharf; the new Napan Agricultural Show building; the new Miramichi Airport terminal; the auditorium, the hall dedicated to Lisa LeBlanc in my community of Rogersville; the roof for the Neguac Sportplex; the refurbishment of the Tom Donovan Arena in Renous; the new Anderson Bridge; the new water system for the the Village of Doaktown; an elementary school for our indigenous community of Elsipogtog; water and sewage for the villages of Neguac, Minto and Rogersville; and the renovation of Kouchibouguac National Park.
On the strategic economic front, my riding also benefited greatly from millions of dollars invested in our fishery sector with processing-plant upgrades, small craft harbours and stability funding for our fishers. There were millions of dollars of investment in our primary sector, in such areas as peat moss, the forestry sector, agriculture and also great investment in our summer and winter tourism industry.
On the social front, unprecedented investment in the Canada child benefit brings over $3 million to over 5,000 families in Miramichi—Grand Lake every month, along with our increased new horizon program and disability accessibility program to name a few. The doubling of the Canada summer job program, mental health investments, housing and immigration programs are all record high investments.
Although much remains to be done, our steady work with our first nations in housing, clean drinking water, language and culture teaching, and work on truth and reconciliation has made great strides. Of course, I am so proud of our unwavering commitment for the environment, whether it is our oceans protection plan, polluter-pay legislation and our plastic bans, and also our commitments to net-zero emissions by 2050. These measures will secure a livable planet for the next generation.
I also want to take the time to thank the mayors, council, businesses and local leaders from all communities in my riding for all their hard work and great co-operation.
I now want to take the opportunity to personally acknowledge and thank my office team: Ashley, Hannah, Roger, Bertrand, Christine, Marie‑Paule and Peggy, as well as my former staffer Josée and the late Louise.
I want to say a big thank you to them on behalf of myself and the people of Miramichi—Grand Lake who received absolutely professional service when they knocked on our door for help. I want my office staff to know that they helped a lot of people.
I also want to thank my campaign team and all my constituents in Miramichi—Grand Lake to whom I owe the privilege of serving in the House.
I also want to thank the House of Commons team from security to cafeteria workers, and from pages to all the support staff. I want them to know they are appreciated, indispensable and I really want to thank them from the heart. I have had great conversations with them and enjoyed my sidebars with security and everyone else. It was just great.
Finally, I want to thank the people who mean so much to me in my life and who have sacrificed a lot for me. To my daughter Vicky, her husband Gerard, my son Derek, and Sarah, and to my grandchildren Tristan, James and Joelle, I thank them and say, “pépère is back”. To my mom, my eight brothers and sisters and their extended family, I thank them for their support.
I also want to inform this House that I was not the only one serving the good people of Miramichi—Grand Lake. My wife Lise also accompanied me to so many events and took care of so many things for me so that I could do my job. She also served. Just a note to the Ethics Commissioner, she was not on the payroll, so it is fine. Her relentless work in keeping our family and business together is simply amazing. I can never thank her enough. She has been my rock, my safe harbour and my eternal love. I will say, and I hope she is okay with it, “I am back”.