Good morning, colleagues, and congratulations to you all as we gather for this first sitting of the 43rd Parliament.
Some of you are taking your seats in the House for the first time. Some, like me, have had the honour to be re-elected by their constituents, and in some cases, as I once experienced, after an involuntary sabbatical. All of us are here because we want to make a positive difference in the lives of our fellow Canadians.
I also had the privilege of serving the House of Commons as Speaker during the 42nd Parliament, and I would be pleased to put that experience to use serving the House of Commons and its members. This morning, I would like to point out, as did the others, that my friends, the other candidates, are all outstanding.
During my time as Speaker, I sought, with the support of many members, to maintain and promote decorum in the House and to limit, when necessary, any behaviour that might have undermined respect for this institution and its members. If you do me the honour of selecting me as Speaker, I will continue to stand up for the dignity of Parliament and the rights of its members. Taxpayers expect us, their representatives, to be professional and to honour the office to which they elected us.
If you assign these responsibilities to me again, while remembering that the Speaker is the servant of the House, I will continue to use the tools at my disposal.
Our constituents look to every member to take the responsibility of self-control. I have often heard from people who were unhappy with the noise and disrespect that has too often occurred. It is up to each of us and to the House leadership teams, as well as the party leaders themselves, to improve decorum in this place and enhance the image of our democracy.
To exercise their rights and to carry out their responsibilities, members rely on the support of the House of Commons administration, which exists to provide them and their staff with the services they need. Quite simply, the MP is the administration's core business. That is why, throughout the 42nd Parliament, a number of measures were put in place to improve the support available to members of Parliament so that we could all better serve our constituents. That is what it is all about, after all.
From the updated orientation program to new on-site service centres and buildings here in Ottawa that offer members and their staff in-person support related to various operational services, the House administration has been focusing its resources on its reason for being: the MP.
It has been almost a year since members first sat in this interim chamber that now fills the former courtyard of West Block, and preparations for the much-needed rehabilitation of Centre Block are under way. As members and the other occupants of West Block settle in, improvements continue to be made to provide MPs with as modern a workplace as possible.
As Speaker, I will get members involved in the restoration project to ensure that the renovated Parliament building meets their needs. I believe that initial consultations with the people who will be using the space are essential to the success of the building's restoration.
During the 42nd Parliament, I worked hard to fulfill my responsibilities as Speaker of the House, and I believe I was able to do that with some measure of success.
I hope that you, my colleagues, will entrust me with the responsibility of serving the House of Commons and its members during the 43rd Parliament.