Mr. Speaker, it is indeed an honour for me to rise to pay tribute to the former Clerk of this august chamber.
Last week members learned of the death of William Corbett, who was the Clerk of the House of Commons from 2000 to 2005.
I think I first met Bill while he was in the Committees Branch. Then he came to the Table of the House, ultimately becoming our most senior officer and adviser. For many of us, Bill was the friendly and courteous person we met when we first came here, fresh from the election trail, to swear our oath as members. That is a pretty heady event for new members and their families. Bill treated all of us as if we were the only people he had to swear-in that day, and you knew you had found a new friend on the Hill.
Parliamentary process is a rare field of study. It is a balance of protection for the rights of minorities, while it enables the House to move business forward in an orderly way. This is the speciality of the officers of the House, and Bill was one of the best. We always knew we got complete and fair advice from him.
The Clerk's office is an ancient one, in Britain dating from 1363 and predating the offices of Speaker and Prime Minister. In Canada, since Confederation, only 13 people have held the office of the Clerk of the House. Bill was the 12th. The House and the Board of Internal Economy benefited from his wise counsel in his all too brief tenure.
However, there is more than Parliament and Ottawa. Bill's passion for travel by water and land, I am sure led him to be one of VIA Rail's best customers, and his green tugboat plied the historic Rideau waterway, a testament to the pleasures of a slower and more elegant pace.
To his family, his wife Marit, his children Erica, Mark and Caitlin, Erica's husband William and Bill's sisters and brothers and their families, we say thank you.
Thank you for sharing him with the House of Commons. The members of the House were better able to discharge their responsibilities to the Canadian people because of his efforts and talents. He was a leader and inspiration to the next generation of House officials.