Mr. Speaker, I hope the House will allow me a few minutes to speak so that I, too, may pay tribute to you. I will not repeat all that we have already heard about your illustrious career as the Speaker of this historic Chamber.
Mr. Speaker, you have been the voice of the Commons for just over 10 years. I have been very proud to have served with you as a Chair for just about half of that time.
In your speech to the House on the first day of the current Parliament, you told members that in your view:
—in a minority House there are certain circumstances that require expertise, not merely experience.
That, I think, has become clear to all members who have served with you since you first took over the speakership of this House in the 37th Parliament. You have shown a great deal of expertise, and not merely experience.
Mr. Speaker, you have consistently demonstrated your vast knowledge of the rules and procedure that guide our deliberations and the precedents that guide the Speaker's rulings
But what stands out the most is the fact that, not only did you carry out your duties with a great deal of expertise, but you did so with a genuine love for Parliament, a true grasp of the important role this institution plays in Canada, and true commitment to its traditions.
Beauchesne's, citations 167 and 168, tells us that:
The essential ingredient of the speakership is found in the status of the Speaker as a servant of the House. The Presiding Officer, while but a servant of the House, is entitled on all occasions to be treated with the greatest attention and respect by the individual Members because the office embodies the power, dignity and honour of the House itself.
The chief characteristics attached to the office of Speaker in the House of Commons are authority and impartiality.
I think all members will agree that those are two characteristics you have displayed very well over the past several years.
Perhaps many Canadians do not know that the Speaker is often called upon to represent Canada abroad at meetings such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, with the speakers of other G8 countries and on bilateral diplomatic visits.
I can tell the members of the House and, indeed, all Canadians, that Canada was always very well represented when Speaker Milliken represented us.
Members of the next Parliament will no doubt miss your presence in the Chair. They will miss your affable nature in guiding this House through some interesting times, and they will certainly miss your expertise.
However, it is said that it is not what one gets out of something that one is remembered for, but what one leaves behind.
You can be proud of the legacy you are leaving here today. I am not talking only about statistics and numbers, as the longest-serving Speaker, for instance, or the highest number of votes taken, but rather as a Speaker who has left such a mark on the position that it is probably difficult for the members and for Canadians to imagine you no longer occupying the chair.
On behalf of all of those who have worked with you, both in the Chair and as table officers and as the many clerks you have served with over the years, I wish you all the best in whatever your days may bring. I know you will always be welcomed in these corridors.