Madam Speaker, it is an honour for me to stand in the House today to give my maiden speech.
I would like to thank my constituents in Port Moody—Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra for electing me and allowing me the privilege to serve as their member of Parliament.
I would like to thank my volunteers for knocking on thousands of doors through pouring rain and sweltering heat, and walking up many flights of stairs and steep hills to help me be here today. I am also grateful to my campaign chairs and managers, our EDA and generous donors for their incredible support.
From the idyllic Como Lake to the deep cedar forests of Anmore, the misty blue and green of Rocky Point and the pastel sunrises of Bedwell Bay, I am blessed to be part of a caring and diverse community that lives in the midst of breathtaking natural beauty.
As I was door knocking during my campaign, constituents expressed their concerns on affordability, housing, home ownership, bureaucratic red tape that hinders businesses from thriving, better access to mental health care, employment, the environment, infrastructure and many more issues. Today I want to renew my commitment to my constituents to keep working hard and do my best to ensure their needs are heard and dealt with.
I am blessed because of the prayers and encouragement of friends who cheered me on to the finish line and who continue to nourish my soul on this political path. I would like to thank my parents for their unconditional support and the values of sacrifice, perseverance and hard work they instilled as I watched them struggle to settle into Canada as first-generation immigrants. I would like to thank my sisters for their support as we continue to journey closely together through thick and thin.
I am here today because of the people who shaped me, the circumstances I have lived through, the choices I have made and a measure of providence. In 2008, after seven years of working for the public school system, I came to a crossroad very much like the one alluded to in Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. I was grateful for the opportunities I had every day to make a positive impact on my students as a high school English and music teacher, but I felt a longing to explore more of what life had to offer.
My hunger for greater purpose and meaning in life compelled me to leave my permanent job and sell my home. I was then ushered into a wilderness journey of living within limited means, serving the hurting and the marginalized, and learning about the complexities of the human condition as I served as a missionary in different urban centres. I found myself listening to a lot of stories from the homeless, impoverished families, young drug addicts and adult survivors of childhood trauma. My heart broke and expanded as I came to a better understanding of the depth of human suffering, the cycles of dysfunction and the power of hope. I found joy in serving. I discovered that my life work is to help restore people's lives.
I am here today as a member of Parliament to continue working through the life assignment I discovered in the wilderness. I come with a vision of individual and national prosperity and filling in the gaps to make that vision possible.
I am grateful to be serving with a dynamic team of MPs and leaders in Her Majesty’s loyal opposition. I am coming to love each member as a brother or a sister. As a pianist, composer and supporter of the arts, I am particularly grateful for my appointment as deputy shadow minister of Canadian heritage. My view of the Canadian heritage portfolio is to strengthen the patriotism and unity of our diverse nation through the cultural institutions of our country. I look forward to the work I will be doing with the Hon. Minister Steven Guilbeault; shadow minister, the Hon. Steven Blaney—