The Speaker says goodbye

Below are the Speaker’s parting words to the House of Commons, delivered shortly after Question Period.

Avant de commencer mes remarques personnelles, je voudrais me joindre aux collègues pour saluer la présence parmi nous aujourd’hui de l’honorable députée de La Pointe-de-l’Île. Bienvenue madame, c’est un plaisir de vous voir.

I am honoured by the very kind comments so many colleagues have made today.

Je voudrais vous remercier pour vos remarques. Cela a toujours été un plaisir pour moi d’être ici, en Chambre et j’ai apprécié cette opportunité, depuis mon élection en 1988, par les électeurs de Kingston et les Îles.

I have really enjoyed being their representative in this House. I am honoured to have been able to do it for so long, and so consistently in the sense that they keep re-electing me. I have appreciated that support immensely. I am very pleased and honoured to have been the member of Parliament for such a great constituency, obviously Canada’s first capital. It has been a privilege to serve my community of Kingston. I must say I look forward to spending a little more time there, if there is a dissolution shortly.

I would also like to express my profound thanks to the Clerk of the House, as well as her predecessor, Bill Corbett from the support group 2000.

Il faut que le Président travaille de concert avec la greffière, tout le temps, pour arranger les choses en Chambre et pour recevoir l’avis concernant les choses qui se passent ici et elle le conseille lorsque le Président doit rendre une décision.

Throughout, the Clerk and her officials have been very, very supportive and very, very helpful. Obviously, if I have been getting some credit for some successful decisions in the House, a lot of the credit goes to the table officers who do the work in preparing these things. I do not claim to do all that research myself. It is great.

I also want to say how much I appreciate the support of my fellow Chair occupants.

As Deputy Speakers, I have worked with: Bob Kilger; the current minister of transport; and, Bill Blaikie. The member for Regina—Qu’Appelle is the current Deputy Speaker. We have had a very interesting association among the whole group of us in a way.

The Deputy Chairs of Committees of the Whole are: Réginald Bélair; the hon. members for Hull—Aylmer and Ottawa—Orléans; and, currently, the hon. member for Victoria. I have also enjoyed working with all of them.

Finally, the Assistant Deputy Chairs of Committees of the Whole are: Eleni Bakopanos; Betty Hinton; Jean Augustine; and, currently, the hon. member for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. I thank them all for their assistance.

As a team, in each case, I think we have worked very well together.

I would like to also thank all of the dedicated staff in my Kingston office who have worked hard to keep the constituents of Kingston and the Islands happy.

Once I became Speaker, the number of days I could spend there during the week diminished somewhat, so I have not had as many appointments in the last 10 years as I did in the years before that, but they have seen a lot of constituents and dealt with a lot of the issues and helped out.

The staff in the office here in Ottawa have also been very helpful, particularly in the Speaker’s office, in assisting me in this role in helping arrange all the trips and the visiting delegations and the meetings with officials that I get to do. On behalf of the House, I appreciate their help very, very much.
I thank the leader of the opposition for mentioning my old friend Jerry Yanover. We were in high school together. I am sure he would have loved to have been here today if he were still around.

I would like to thank my family, my five sisters, my brother, some of whom are here today, their spouses, their children, all of whom have helped me, and my mother. I am looking forward to again having a little more time to spend with them at the cottage when we get a break this summer. That will work out well.

I want to also thank all of you for having elected me so frequently as Speaker in this House. It has been a singular honour to serve in this position. Of course I am always delighted with the support that I get during the elections, and of course elections are a real pain in the neck for Speakers. You have two every time. However, having gotten in, I do then have the pleasure of working with each one of the members.

C’est toujours un plaisir pour moi d’avoir des conférences avec vous, des discussions et de petits messages de temps à autre. J’apprécie beaucoup l’appui et l’amitié que vous me démontrez. De plus, j’apprécie beaucoup les commentaires d’aujourd’hui.

Perhaps I could just end by telling a little story.

Toward the end of her long reign, Queen Elizabeth I, in an address to her subject, said these words: ‘… though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves.’

When you elected me to this job, you raised me high in this House, but what has been the wonderful part about it is the affection and the respect that you have showered upon me since my first election.

Merci beaucoup, mes chers amis.

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.