'We are all Canadians and we all love our country'

The Conservative MP for Calgary Centre rose after QP today to announce his resignation. Mr. Richardson was first elected as a Progressive Conservative in 1988—here is his maiden speech—but he first worked on the Hill as an executive assistant to John Diefenbaker and later served in the Prime Minister’s Office of Brian Mulroney.

Last spring, he sought the Speaker’s chair, finishing third in balloting. He will be returning to Alberta to serve as principal secretary to Premier Alison Redford.

Below, the text of Mr. Richardson’s remarks in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to inform you of my resignation as the member for Calgary Centre.

Serving in this House on two different occasions, in two different centuries, has been the greatest honour of my life.

From 1988 to 1993, I was privileged to serve as the member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast in the government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, whose achievements included the free trade agreement and the acid rain accord, two landmark agreements between Canada and the United States.

Since 2004, I have been equally privileged to serve as the member for Calgary Centre and, since 2006, in the government of Canada’s 22nd prime minister, the right hon. member for Calgary Southwest.

To both prime ministers, I thank them for the honour of serving in their caucus. Each has remarkable listening skills when it comes to leading a united caucus, the most important leadership attribute in our parliamentary system.

This Prime Minister has reunited our party and brought it from political wilderness to government, where he leads our country with great distinction.

As a Calgarian, I think all Calgarians take great pride that our country is led by one of our own. I am proud to have served in his government and am grateful for his friendship and support.

I am equally proud of Laureen Harper, a wonderful chatelaine of 24 Sussex and ambassador for Canada.

I first sat in the members’ gallery, and some members will recall me saying not long ago, 40 years ago, as executive assistant to the Right Hon. John Diefenbaker, Canada’s 13th prime minister. He was no longer leader of the Progressive Conservative Party at that time, but he was still master of this House, the greatest parliamentarian of his time. It was a privilege to have known him and have worked with him on his memoirs, One Canada. There was never a more partisan figure in this House than Mr. Diefenbaker, but he was, above all, a man of this House.

If I could share one thought with colleagues, it would be this. While we advocate for different ideas of Canada, we are all Canadians and we all love our country. We would all, I think, do well to remember that and leave the partisan furies at the water’s edge.

There are many people I would like to thank, many people to be thanked, beginning with the voters of my two ridings who sent me here in five elections.

I would like to thank the volunteers and supporters in my Calgary association and my dedicated staff who have served me so well over the years.

In particular, I want to thank Lynda MacKay, my executive assistants, who is now the longest-serving staffer on Parliament Hill. Just last week, she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her decades of unbroken service.

I am leaving to take up a new opportunity as principal secretary to the premier of Alberta, Alison Redford. This is an exciting challenge at a moment when Alberta’s new premier is claiming Alberta’s leadership role in the Canadian federation in a way that only Peter Lougheed, among her predecessors, has done.

To my friends here, goodbye for now. I hope to see all of you at the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede this July. It has been an honour to be in your company.