Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate this opportunity. I hesitated to give my farewell speech, because this is the third farewell speech I have given. I have had a rather zigzag career, so members have to pay attention, because I am going to outline it.
I was first elected in 1988 as a Progressive Conservative. Then, in 1993, I was defeated by a Liberal, if members can believe that. Then, in 1997, I was recycled as a Progressive Conservative and elected again. Several elections later, Mr. Harper came along and changed the party to the Conservative Party of Canada, and I ran for that party. He invited me to sit as an independent, which I did. Then, in 2009, I resigned my seat for health reasons, thinking I would never come back. I made a farewell speech at that time, which I just read, and it was kind of interesting.
Here I am, back again. In my last farewell speech, I said I had sat 6,149 days, and I figure that now I have spent something like 7,499 days in the House.
I want everyone to know that every single day has been fantastic. It has been the most interesting thing anyone could ever do, and I encourage people to consider running for office. The hours are long and the stress is awful, but representing people in a riding is the most wonderful job a person can do. For me, it has been a great honour and a great pleasure.
I do not know if Canadians knows this, but this place works. It really works well. We have a government, which could be one party or another, and we have opposition parties. The opposition parties have a job to do and the government has a job to do. Between them, they keep Canada between the rails of a highway, as I like to think of it. If the government goes too far to the left and hits the guardrail, the opposition brings it back. If it goes too far to the right and hits the guardrail, it will come back. This keeps Canada on the straight and narrow, and we never vary too much. We are very fortunate to have this system.
We are also really fortunate to have this system because, as a backbencher, I know that every single day the ministers are going to be here. I can walk across the floor and talk to them if I have an urgent issue from a constituent. I actually do this. The same thing goes for opposition members. I do not know of another system on the planet that has that availability of ministers to backbenchers and other members of Parliament. It is a good system and it works.
I also think that every single member of Parliament I have ever met has brought something to the table. If a person can get through the nomination process in this country and then get through the election process to get a seat in the House, he or she brings something to the table. Members bring experience, knowledge and personality to the table, and every single member of Parliament adds value, with the possible exception of the member for , but he is all right.
I want to acknowledge the contribution made by backbench MPs, as often the focus is on cabinet. Backbench MPs do a lot of good things, and I think they are not recognized enough.
I sit on the health committee. We have a great health committee, with NDP, Liberal and Conservative members. We are there for one reason only: to hear about the health concerns of Canadians. Nothing else matters. We have philosophical differences, but mostly we are there to deal with the health concerns of Canadians.
Today we heard about violence against health care workers. I had no idea this was an issue until witnesses came to our committee. It sounds like a frightening situation. Hopefully the backbenchers on that committee can advise the on how we might be able to make a difference.
Committees work, and the backbenchers do a good job.
Another thing backbenchers do is propose private members' bills, and these change the lives of Canadians. I want to run through a few of them. As it happens, the five I will mention are from members of Parliament from Nova Scotia.
The member for brought forward a motion to ensure that sound environmental consultations are completed before infrastructure investments are made. I think this is a great idea.
The member for established a national strategy for safe disposal of lamps containing mercury. His mother, Joy, is my constituent, and she is my favourite constituent.
The member for brought forward a bill ensuring that Remembrance Day is formally recognized as a federal holiday. I always thought it was.
The member for moved a motion ensuring that abandoned and derelict vessels are taken care of in a sound manner. That is now national policy coast to coast.
I, the very distinguished member for Cumberland—Colchester, had a bill asking the government to establish a system to help indigenous groups repatriate their artifacts. That passed unanimously.
There is another one I want to mention. The member for , a Conservative member, brought a private member's bill to enhance organ donation in this country. We are way behind in this. His bill is simple, and it is important that it get passed. It passed in this House unanimously. It is stuck in the Senate, and I hope it can move along with my bill and many others.
My point is that private members make a difference in the lives and the environment and the health of all Canadians. They deserve a lot of credit, and sometimes that is overlooked.
When I made my last speech, I did not know I was going to come back. I thought I was done. I had health issues and did not think I would ever see this place again. However, in 2014, I got an email from the leader of the Liberal Party, which was in third place at the time. He asked if I would be interested in running. These are the people who defeated me back in 1993, but I felt very comfortable with them. I had gotten to know the member for when I sat over there as an independent with him. It has been a very productive three and a half years.
I am so glad that through Parks Canada we designated the Acadian village of Beaubassin as a national historic site. Parks Canada has now erected a pavilion and commemorative plaques and is going to have signage right away that will enhance that location.
Another project was Isle Haute, a wonderful pristine island in the Bay of Fundy. In 2001, the government was considering divesting it. It took from then to now, but just three weeks ago we designated it a wilderness preserve, and it is preserved forever. I am so grateful for that.
I am really glad that the issue of rising sea levels and climate change is being recognized, because I live at the head of the Bay of Fundy, and everything at the Bay of Fundy is exaggerated. The tides at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy are five or six feet; at the head of the Bay of Fundy, they are 50 feet. They are exaggerated, so a little rise in sea level at the mouth is a big rise at the head of the Bay of Fundy. The Government of Canada has now identified two different programs to deal with erosion and rising sea levels, which are critical.
In a month, we are going to recognize the Amherst prisoner of war camp. It was the biggest prisoner of war camp in Canada in World War I. It is going to have its 100th anniversary, and the ceremony will include the entire German Luftwaffe band. I encourage everybody to go to amherstpowcamp.ca and have a look.
In this short time, I have a lot of thanks to give and I am going to rush them because I am running out of time. They should not be rushed; they do not deserve it.
I want to thank my staff in Amherst, Truro and Ottawa: Sandra, Jon, Deby, Trish and Joel, and all those staff who helped me over the years to make me a successful member of Parliament. Every single one of them is dedicated to helping people and giving the help they need.
I want to thank the security people on the Hill, everywhere. They help us all the time. They protect us, but they also help us.
I thank the pages, who make sure we know what we are doing and where we are.
I want to thank the clerk and the table officials. They understand this place like none of us do. We can go to them and find out what is going on all the time. Not only that, but they remember every single one of our names, somehow.
Of course, I want to thank the voters who sent me here under three different party flags and as an independent. I am truly honoured to represent the interests of Cumberland—Colchester. I am grateful to every single person in the riding, whether that person voted for me or not. I appreciate them very much. This has been an honour, off and on for 30 years, and I will never forget it.
I want to thank our Liberal caucus, our Nova Scotia caucus, Atlantic caucus and national caucus. I went to the first Liberal caucus and on the way home I called my wife and said, “You know what? They laugh at the Liberal caucus.” It has been a great experience to get to know everybody, and I have made some great friends.
Finally, I want to thank my family. My number one person in my life is Rosemary, my wife of 49 years and five months. Everybody everywhere should know that this job is hard on spouses. We see the cut and thrust, but we also see that when the cameras are off we get along pretty well. All they see is the cut and thrust, and I find that it puts an awful strain on spouses. Everybody should keep that in mind. It is a very difficult job for spouses; it is hard on them.
I want to thank our children, Michael, Holly and Allison. I am very proud of them all. They are working their way through life and they have made a sacrifice for 7,499 days while I was a member of Parliament as well. I appreciate it. I want to recognize our grandchildren, Willow, Jasper and Autumn. They bring joy to our life, and they even seem to like us.
With that, I want to say thanks for this opportunity. I want to thank everybody in this House, from all parties and all positions, for the opportunity to work with them. It has been an honour. I am not done yet. I am going to be here for a while, but this is my opportunity to speak. It is truly an honour to be part of this, in this building and the other building. I could not have done anything for 30 years that would have been more rewarding, more satisfying and more interesting. Thanks very much.
Mr. Speaker, when I first put forward my name for nomination, an older friend asked me if I knew the similarity between politicians and babies' diapers. I said I did not but I bet he was going to tell me, and he said they should be changed often and for the same reason. Here we are, 19 years later, after six elections, and it is a time for a change for all of us.
I am here tonight to say thanks, first to the people of southwestern Saskatchewan, the best people in the world. Cypress Hills—Grasslands is a place where common sense still exists, where people feel both freedom and responsibility and where hard work is expected and rewarded. They have been exceptional in their incredible and unwavering support and it has been my privilege to represent Cypress Hills—Grasslands.
I have gained so many friends over the years. When one takes this job on, everything changes. Friendships, casual relationships, all of them, change. Much of the challenge for me has come from the massive size of my riding and the 10- to 12-hour one-way commute from home to Ottawa. Being gone much of the time, it was a challenge to keep up the friendships I have had in the past, but I need to thank our lifelong neighbours. Many of them have helped Sheila and me time and time again with renovations, blowing snow off the roads, feeding cats and dogs, and checking our house when we were gone. There are too many to mention, but that is just one more benefit of living in a small community.
As time went on, we made so many other friendships throughout the riding: small town leaders, grocery store owners, hockey parents, professionals, business people, fellow motorcyclists and people I met on the ferry. Yes, we do have a ferry in southwestern Saskatchewan.
It takes a while when we get here for members to settle in. The pace is crazy right from the beginning and there is not much of a training program, but over time, we cross paths with those who work here, in the cafeterias, on the bus and every time we enter a building. Over time, we become friends as we share small parts of our lives, including family issues, vacation plans and always the weather. Sometimes it amounts to more than just the Hill. I remember going motorcycling with some of the folks who work here on the Hill. I had the only Harley. It was the one that gave trouble and I was the one they gave grief to, but we went out together a few more times.
I need to especially mention Lynn, who serves us so faithfully on Wednesday morning. One of my most satisfying experiences has been the weekly prayer breakfast at 7 a.m. on Wednesday that has changed and cemented so many relationships here over the years. Lynn has served us for many years on Wednesday mornings.
I want to thank the young Conservative staff who have worked behind the scenes and made us look good. I want to thank my six elections' worth of colleagues. We have gone to war together. We have had victories and we have had losses, personal and political, and it has been my privilege to serve with them.
I would like to give a special thanks to those who have helped in the constituency and have been involved with us politically, some from the very beginning and others who joined later and put so much time and effort into helping us out. My friend Wayne Elhart showed up at our doorstep in mid-summer 2000 to encourage me to run. We chased him off, but he came back about three weeks later with my sister Wendy and her husband Wendell. We sat down together, had a conversation and began to pursue this. They were stuck with farming while I came and went, and now, 19 years later, their son Jeremy is running in the nomination in my riding to replace me.
I remember going to Swift Current for the first time to look for support and meeting with a small group. I got two things out that meeting: one person told me to go get a haircut and some decent clothes, and Alice Wall, who was the first person in Swift Current to say she would help me. She and John have been with me ever since and I thank them. Many others have been part of six campaigns and 20 years of board activities and fundraisers and all that goes with political life in a riding.
I am so grateful for my staff. Three of my four current staff members have been with me for over 10 years. They have had an incredible capacity to do the work. They addressed the issues, they gave great service to my constituents and they are known for that. It feels a bit like I am deserting them. This is where I have the most mixed emotions.
Over the years, many of them have become more than just workers. They have become friends. Many of them are here with me tonight. Victoria, Erin, Carla, Sarah, Justin, Craig and Patrick, thanks for joining us. Leanne, Naomi, Tim and Aaron are sorry that they could not be here. I hope I have not missed anyone on that list. It is fun for me to see past staff members running for nominations for our party and two of them are now candidates for 2019.
I have said our work here is often like getting a free world-class master's program; the best in the world are available to us if we are interested. We have done lots of work in our office, from Canadian Wheat Board stuff that took 12 years to get completed, to agriculture and trade work, as well as working on a motion declaring Parliament's support for religious freedom, and serving as a PS to 10 ministers, including natural resources, agriculture and foreign affairs, and then spending almost the last 10 years focused on human rights and religious freedom.
I want to thank Sheila, who is my love and my conscience. She is the one who has kept us going all these years and the one who has sacrificed more than anyone will know. We will be spending more time together.
To Amy, Andrew and Charis, Josiah and Ellis, and to Angela, who has become part of our family along with Hunter and Harley, we love them and thank them for being willing to pay the price so that I would have the privilege to do this job.
I want to thank my mother, Betty, who has prayed for me for decades.
I should mention that during my first campaign in 2000 there was a couple from Herbert, Saskatchewan, who helped me out, and at every turn, they mentioned their son-in-law, who was also running in Crowfoot, Alberta. When we came down here, the member from Crowfoot and I met. In our travel schedules of 10 hours to 12 hours one way for each of us, we both decided staying in hotels was not working very well for us and became roommates in early 2001. That must be some sort of record for Ottawa. I have to thank Darlene Sorenson, who has allowed her husband to share an apartment with me for almost 20 years. We have far outlasted much more well-publicized roommate relationships such as the one of the members for and , who were elected at the same time.
Last and definitely not least, I thank God, whom I know is real. That knowing has changed every aspect of my life and is what brought me here. It is also what is taking me away. Although I do not know what the future will be, I do know that being an MP has given me a great opportunity and responsibility. It is our privilege to be a very small part of his work, and I hope and pray that I have been faithful in some way.
It is my expectation that my colleagues will form the next Government of Canada. While I know I will miss being here, I give them my support and best wishes. I will miss serving the people of Cypress Hills—Grasslands in the future. May God bless Parliament and may God bless Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of hard acts to follow.
I want to start by telling parliamentarians of this wonderful, blessed life that I have had. I am a very fortunate man.
I have been blessed in many ways in my life of 75 short years. Two of my blessings have been the wonderful wives that I have had. My first wife, Carol, was a superb mother who lovingly raised our two children, Jeffrey and Lonna Lea, to be the most incredible parents that anyone could ever have. I am the proud grandfather of seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. It is hard to believe that a young man like me could be a great-grandfather.
After my wife, Carol, passed away in 1988, it was a barren time but my two children and I became very close friends. The bond grew closer and closer. I stayed widowed for 17 years until a wonderful lady by the name of Frances came into my life. We met in October of 1999.
I had never been part of any political party, belonged to a political organization or even attended a political meeting at that time, but somehow I was inspired to put my name in as a candidate for the Canadian Alliance Party of Canada in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. Believe it or not, I spent about two months on the road with my brother, Ed, and my wife, Frances, or “constant companion” as the press used to refer to her. We used to have a dog and pony show where we would go to small communities around the riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, put an ad in the paper, have a meeting where eight or 10 people would come out and listen to Guy give his wonderful speech, and then we would sell two or three memberships. Eventually, we sold enough memberships to win the Canadian Alliance nomination in 2000.
I did not know a thing about campaigning, but in 2000, we came within 2,900 votes of being successful. However, I got the bug and from then on I decided I wanted to be a member of Parliament.
I was dating Frances at that time and date nights became church suppers and every social event that was going on anywhere in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry where there were more than a dozen people. That was our date. I would take Frances there and spend the big money, and we would have a church supper, have great pie and those kinds of things, and then I would take her home. However, that was successful. I did that for four years and, believe it or not, in June 28, 2004, I had the good fortune to be elected the member of Parliament for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.
Everyone in the House knows, but cannot express to other people, how exhilarating it is to be elected a member of Parliament, but it is also so humbling. When I realized that my peers had said “Guy, we trust you”, it was the most humbling, wonderful experience that I have ever had. The past 15 years and four re-elections since have been a true blessing.
I served as deputy whip for a period and also as the parliamentary secretary to the minister of agriculture. I had the distinct honour to act as the national caucus chair for the Conservative government for eight wonderful years. I will be forever grateful to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for honouring me with the great privilege to serve my colleagues, the Conservative Party of Canada and the Conservative government, as well as to serve him.
How do I thank the great constituents of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry for the best 15 years of my life? Personally, I feel totally inadequate to express the sincere gratitude that I have in my heart for the hundreds and thousands of supporters and volunteers who have trusted me with the great honour of being their member of Parliament. I will be truly grateful to the wonderful constituents of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, and I will continue to serve them in any way possible.
I want to thank my staff past and present. Currently, Francine, Denise, Sue, Nicole, Adrian and my almost full-time volunteer, my wonderful sister Claire, provide the best service any constituency office across Canada can provide. I challenge anyone to top that.
I also want to especially thank my executive assistant, Eric Duncan, who was with me for nine years. He drank the Kool-Aid and now is a candidate for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry in the October election. Eric was my caucus coordinator during the eight years I was caucus chair. I am sure he will serve the constituents of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry very well. As a matter of fact, I am starting to refer to him as the new improved version of Guy Lauzon, and younger I should say. He is only 31-years old.
Staff is so invaluable. Ninety per cent of the clients of the constituency of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry do not deal with me; they deal with my staff. I go out on weekends to social events and everybody tells me that they went to my office and had great service. I tell my staff that I get wonderful feedback from constituents, and I want them to know it. I keep getting re-elected because of them. I have been re-elected four times. They do all the work and I get all the glory. However, I tell them that if I keep my job, they keep theirs. That seems to work for them.
I want to thank my colleagues on all sides of the House. It truly has been an honour to sit in the chamber and serve the constituents of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry as well as the citizens of Canada.
To the citizens of Canada, to all the staff in Parliament and all my colleagues, I say “Thank you”. God bless them and may God bless Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I suspect that this will be one of the final times I will get to speak in this amazing place. What an honour it has been.
I come from southwestern Ontario, from a little place called Denfield, which one cannot find on a map. All my life, all I ever wanted to do was farm. For those who have ever had a dream and lived it, that was my dream.
I graduated from agriculture college and had the great opportunity to become a dairy farmer and a cash crop farmer. It was an opportunity in my life when we exported cattle nationally and internationally. I also remember at that time, which was the 1980s, that for those of us who were in the business, who were expanding our business or who were buying farms and those types of things, 23% interest was a little more than a challenge. For people who were retired, it was a blessing. I was a long way from being retired. There were major bumps in the road.
Also at this time, I had been married to this amazing woman called Barb. Over those years, she has been with me with me, and together we went through those times. We survived it. We became stronger along with our three children.
Over 35 years ago, I got a call. I was asked if I would become a fence viewer for Lobo Township. I will not go into the details because likely nobody knows what a fence viewer is. Following that, I got a call asking if I would sit on the planning board for the township.
We had just finished planting soybeans when my councillor drove into the yard. He said that he was not running in the fall and asked me if I would run in his place. After 20 years, being a councillor, then deputy, then for 16 years being reeve, mayor and then warden of the county, it was time for him to step back. At that time, when that call came for the job of fence viewer, little did I know it would be the beginning of a political career.
It was a bit of a challenge because when Barb indicated that it would be a great idea to get married, she said she would never marry a politician. At any rate, she has been there with me all this time. Never in my life did I ever think I would be in politics.
After 20 years in municipal politics, some people showed up at my door and said they would like me to consider putting my name in to run for the Conservative Party of Canada. I said that it was not on my radar screen and it never had been. I told Barb and she said, “I think we need to pray about this.” This was the same beautiful woman who many years before had talked about me not being in politics. We prayed about it. Prayer has been one of the solid things in our lives and in our marriage. She said to me, “Whatever your decision is, I'll be there with you.”
I ran in 2004 and lost, and that was good. Not many people would say that, but there were things that happened in the two years before 2006 that make me thankful I was at home with our family.
Then on January 23, 2006, the people of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex allowed me to be the member of Parliament for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex. There should never be an election in the winter, not in Canada.
At any rate, for those who have been through this, there is no staff, no office and, as I found out, had a limited understanding of what the load would be with this job. I have referenced it as being like trying to drink water out of a fire hydrant. After a while, the hose gets smaller and then to gets to where a cup can be put under it and the water can be nourished and drank. It does all come together.
I am thankful and privileged to have served under the Right. Hon. Stephen Harper, a man of wisdom and a man of integrity. During that time, we all had our things, and I was so fortunate to have two private members' motions become legislation. The first focused on agriculture, which was the harmonization of the science for the registration of agriculture inputs. The next one was a motion that would end up, because of my colleague from Grasslands, establishing the Office of Religious Freedom. It would fall under the and would be responsible for monitoring religious persecution around the world. What an honour it was to have representatives from parties in the House support in those motions.
Now we have a new leader, who I believe has a new clear vision for Canada and who I believe will become the prime minister in October.
I want to thank the member from for the prayer breakfasts we have on Wednesday mornings. What a stabilizer it is for those of us who have a strong faith.
After nearly 14 years, I could describe this as a walk in life because of the amazing people around me. That, my friends, is what makes it a journey.
I want to thank the special people in my life: my wife Barb, our three children, Cheryl, Greg and Chris, and our 10 grandchildren, with whom I will get to spend much more time.
I thank the incredible people who became my staff over the years and those who carried me through, people like Yvonne Hundey and Pat Davis, who have been there since day one; Stephanie Cattrysse, Todd Gurd and Sarah Brown, who is my corporal in Ottawa. To all the staff who have worked for me, they made a mark in my life and I thank them very much for that.
How do I thank neighbours and friends, the people who take care of things when I am not there? They look after my home and ensure Barb is safe when I am not there. I hope my thanks is enough.
Larry Weatherhead is an unsung hero. He would be embarrassed, but he is a friend and an employee. He carried a lot of the farm workload while I was not there over the years. I thank him.
To my colleagues in this place of all party stripes, I thank them for the friendships we have built and sustained.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank all the people who supported me as well as the ones who did not but who put up with me.
I pass the torch to Leanne Rood, the candidate for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex in October 2019. May the torch be held high.
May God bless each and everyone in this Parliament and may God bless this great country of Canada.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak this evening. More than anything, I appreciate the opportunity I have had to serve in the House. I wanted to tell my story of how I got here and at the same time, thank all of the people who have contributed so immensely over the years.
I would like to begin by thanking my wife and my kids for allowing me to leave, and forgiving me for leaving, every single week to come to this place and do what we know is a passion for each of us. That passion is serving our country.
I would like to thank my mom and dad, my mom who is an activist and my father who knocked on doors. I cannot tell members how badly the man, who is 40-some years older than me, shamed me by being a better door knocker than me and going more quickly than me over the years, in election after election.
I thank the friends who gave so much time and effort to help me achieve my dreams; the president, John Thornton; Bruce MacGregor; Lynn Kelman, who served in the new riding of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte since its inception in 2013; and the board of directors who guided us.
Finally, I thank the staff who served in the offices in Barrie and here in Ottawa over the years: Amanda, Matt, Dion, Emrys, Stephen, Filip, Tiana, Laura, Kathryn and Naomi. I can tell members that their service was not just to me as the member of Parliament, but to the people of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte and the people of Canada. That can never be forgotten or erased. I want to thank them for all of the hard work they put in.
My story with politics started when I was 15 years old. I was more likely to be smoking pot in the forest beside the high school than I was to be in the high school where I was supposed to be. Mike Harris changed the education curriculum in the first year of the double cohort and created civics and careers. I took that civics class and I fell in love because I realized that something could be done to improve the lives of those people around me and my situation and my family.
The next part of the class was careers. At the end was a project, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” It was not an entry-level job like it is now, but naturally I chose Prime Minister of Canada. I also chose member of Parliament, and I have been able to work toward that since then.
When I was 18 years old, I ran for city council. I ran against my principal after dropping out of high school to run for council and I lost. Surprise, surprise. I went to speak at a Christian businessmen's association lunch and there was a guy named Arch Brown who created Canadian Tire money, that stuff they used to have and just brought back. He asked me if I was going to run again. I said, “I don't know. Who wants an 18-year-old running a council of a city of 100,000 people?” He said, “Alex, 17- and 18-year-olds signed up, went to Europe, fought for their country and died for their country so you could have the freedom to run here today.” He is no longer with us, but thank God he said those words to me that day, because they have never left. In fact, someone reminded me of them just a few days ago.
After that, at 21 years of age, I ran against my grade 4 teacher and my boss in Patrick Brown's office, but this time I beat the authority and I won as a city councillor. I was re-elected at age 25 to Barrie city council. Eventually, at the age of 30, I had my opportunity to run for member of Parliament, the goal that I set when I was 15 years of age. This time I ran against the president of the college that I attended, another authority figure in my life.
I had no idea when we started that election there would be literally $400,000 or $500,000 spent on the election and it would come down to 86 votes, that 51,000 people would vote in this riding and 86 people would be the determinant as to what would happen in terms of success, whether it be Liberal or Conservative.
When I came here, I was nothing but an idealistic Conservative, through and though. I certainly still hold those beliefs to this day.
When I walked into this chamber, I believed that Conservatives were good and others were bad. Quite frankly, it was a very divisive attitude. I was young, and still am, and I certainly did not understand the people around me, the perspectives they had and why they believed what they believed.
I can say today that I have grown as a human being. I have learned lessons. I will never forget to respect people on the other side of the aisle, to respect those beside me and to understand them.
What is incredible is that what saved me as a 15-year-old kid is the same thing I am seeing fall apart. I see the destructive behaviours of divisiveness and of calling each other either fascists or communists. The politics are the same now as they were then, and we must stop the destructive behaviours.
I am seeing it in our young people, as I travel from university to university serving in the shadow cabinet, serving an incredible leader. Our young people are becoming as polarized as the debates we are having both inside and outside the House.
I would like to take this opportunity to mention a couple of members from other parties whom I have grown to respect. My colleagues know how much I respect them, because we get to talk about it all the time.
When I first came here, I was on the industry committee. The member for and I were on opposite sides, and we had arguments for the first three or four weeks. It was not long before we realized that we wanted to achieve the exact same things, so we worked together. Since then, I have seen him work with members on all sides, certainly those in his caucus and mine, to fight for what he believes in terms of democracy, opportunity and hope for Canadians. I have seen that in every member in this place in one way or another.
While I am not running in this election, I hope the one lasting impression I leave on members of the House who are running is this. When they are out campaigning and speaking to the Canadian people, with the Canadian people, for the Canadian people, members should bridge the gap. They should not make it any larger than it is, because by doing so, in the end, nobody wins. The only people all of us want to see win are the Canadian people.
I am thankful for this opportunity. God bless Canada.