Mr. Speaker, I am rising today as the proud member of Parliament for my community of Hamilton Mountain. It has been my immense privilege and honour to serve my constituents over the past six years as their MP, and for nine years before that as their city councillor for Ward 7. I have spent more than 15 years serving the people of Hamilton Mountain as an elected representative. It has been an exciting and rewarding experience to hear from my community, advocate on their behalf and fight for Hamiltonians as their representative at city hall and here in Ottawa.
It is now time for me to leave room for others to continue this important and great work. After leaving politics, I plan on spending time with the people I love deeply and care about, and will volunteer to help seniors in need. I also want to work with my grandchildren in my shop to help them build things.
This may be one of my last opportunities to speak in the House, so I want to take this opportunity to talk about what my caucus and I have championed over the six years during my time in Ottawa and what prompted me to run in the first place.
I came to Ottawa to fight for the people of Hamilton and for Canadian workers and pensioners. I am a proud steelworker, and my roots in the labour movement advocating for workers is why I am a New Democrat. Given my time at Stelco on the production line, then as a union steward and then as president of USW Local 5328, the labour movement has been my life. Protecting workers has been a priority during my time as an MP.
What we have seen in the House shows why we need a strong voice fighting for workers and for labour. We have seen several efforts by the government to legislate striking workers back to work and damage their ability to bargain for a fair deal with their employers. We have seen the government refuse to act on scab labour. We have seen the government refuse to protect the pensions of workers during bankruptcy and insolvency, and instead put big banks and investors at the top of the list. This is why it is so important that we continue to fight for workers in this place.
I went through the bankruptcy at Stelco back in the day, and I will never forget Judge Farley's advice, because I thought it was disgraceful how workers were being treated in the bankruptcy protection process. He said, “I don't like doing this, Mr. Duvall, and if you want to change it, go to Ottawa and change the legislation.” That is another reason I am here.
We have all seen an effort by the government to create a two-tiered system of “junior seniors” and “senior seniors” by only giving an increase in OAS payments to some and not others. We have also watched them fail to act to protect single seniors and allow them to continue to pay substantially more taxes than seniors in a couple with the exact same income. During my time in Ottawa, it is has been my priority to fight for seniors, to advocate for them and to push our government to do better.
In the House, I have sponsored a number of bills and pushed forward many initiatives. I have championed antiscab labour legislation aimed at protecting unions during labour disputes and preventing employers from undermining their collective bargaining. I have fought against government action to legislate striking workers back to work, taking away one of the strongest tools they have at their disposal to collectively bargain for a fair deal. I have pushed to protect the pensions of workers during bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and to make sure that payments of the unfunded portion of pension plans come before payments to big banks and investors.
I hope that before our Parliament is dissolved, quite possibly because of an unnecessary election call by the Liberals, we can pass through the House the best shot we have at protecting retirees and pensioners: Bill C-253.
During the pandemic, the time spent at home has reminded me of the importance of family and loved ones. As members of Parliament and as public servants, we are often forced to put our duties and responsibilities first and our families second. The toll this can have is immense, and I am so lucky to have had my family by my side the entire time.
I want to thank my wife Sherry; my kids, Laurie, Mandy and Megan; and my entire family and grandchildren. They have given me so much support and have made many sacrifices that have allowed me to do this important work and serve our community. I am so excited to spend more time at home with Sherry, and hope she will be excited to have me there with her, our family and grandkids.
I want to remind all of my colleagues in the House of the importance of our families and loved ones and the role they play in supporting our work. Our families and loved ones make just as many sacrifices as we do, if not more, to allow us to serve our community. We miss a lot of important moments in their lives while we serve, and when we leave public service, it is my belief that we owe it to them to make up for that lost time and to cherish our families.
I want to thank my incredible team of staff, both here in Hamilton and in Ottawa. In no particular order, I would like to say to Val, Rose, Bill, Tony, Kathleen and Aiden, and my former team members Chris, Erin and Jackie, that I thank them for everything they have done to support me, for their dedication and loyalty, our work throughout the years and their service to the people of Hamilton. Their dedication to our constituents shows how important it is for an MP to have a great team fighting for our community. They made me look good each and every day.
I want to thank the people behind the scenes supporting the whole NDP caucus, the team in the NDP lobby, particularly Anthony and Christian, who have made the time serving as a member of Parliament and being in the House so much easier and more effective. Their dedication is what allows us to be an effective caucus and do the work that we do best. They have provided so much guidance to us, and their contribution to our team is something I will never forget.
I thank my NDP caucus colleagues for fighting with me to protect workers, pensioners and seniors. I am proud to have served in a caucus that worked hard every day to protect people. I am grateful for all of their support, friendship and shared knowledge that made me a better MP.
I thank my leader, the hon. member for Burnaby South, for the guidance he has given our party. I cannot wait to see him become Prime Minister and demonstrate that an NDP government is the one that will put people first. Canadians can put their trust in New Democrats to fight for them.
I thank those in the labour movement who have supported my work and helped champion the causes I have taken on. In particular, I want to thank the incredible team at United Steelworkers, and Canadian director Ken Neumann and District 6 director Marty Warren for their faith in my fight to protect workers, retirees and pensioners. Their work and activism show that the Canadian labour movement is strong and will not quietly fight for the rights of workers across Canada, but will be loud until they are heard.
I want to thank the members of the Hamilton Mountain NDP and all the volunteers, supporters and activists who came out during each election and fought to make sure that Hamilton Mountain is represented by a New Democrat and by a party that will fight for them.
I also want to thank Monique Taylor, the MPP for Hamilton Mountain. From the time she was my assistant at City Hall to now, when we are working together representing Hamilton Mountain provincially and federally, we have been a great team. I am so proud of her work to fight for our community, and I cannot wait to see what more she does.
I want to thank the people of Hamilton. Without them and their support, I would not have had the honour of sitting in the House of Commons or the important duty of fighting for all of them. Every day that I spent serving the people of Hamilton was a privilege, and I was humbled by the trust they put in me to represent them.
I again want to thank my wife Sherry of 47 years. I am going to be home this time.
Mr. Speaker, it has been my greatest honour to be a member of Parliament. I thank you and I respect you.
I want to thank all the people in the House and I want to thank all the members. I have become friends with many of them. I really appreciate it. I have had a great time and I am going to miss a lot of people.