Mr. Speaker, I join with my colleagues, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in offering you our warmest congratulations on this significant personal achievement.
I think all members of the House have noticed your great interest in the affairs of this place and have noticed, as well, your commitment to an even-handed treatment of all members of the House in your previous responsibilities. I can assure you that we shall look forward very much to working closely with you and with your colleagues in ensuring that the House of Commons is as great and good a place which, at its best, I think we all know that it can be.
I will make a couple of further comments, Mr. Speaker, because this is one of the few opportunities that I have not to get cut off by you.
I first want to say that it is a tribute to the democracy of this place. Some of us who have been in previous Parliaments will know that there was a time when the speaker was not chosen by the members of the House. The speaker was chosen by the first minister of the day. The fact that it took six ballots, Mr. Speaker, for you to be chosen is a reflection of the democratic traditions of this place and of the fact that we have all participated in the toing and froing in the discussions that have taken place. It has been quite a remarkable day in that respect. You, sir, have come out as the winner and we continue to express our strong support, not only for you but for the institution.
Being where we are now in the House, I have to say that we pay special tribute to those who were not successful at the end with respect to the sixth ballot.
I join with my colleagues in expressing my appreciation to all those who presented themselves to the people who spoke so frankly and so candidly, and who presented themselves as effectively as they did.
I would like to say to my dear colleague from Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour that we have a great deal of respect for his work as the dean. We are well aware that he is no longer a member of an official party in the House. However, I can assure you that we believe that all members of the House have an important role to play in this parliament, and we will continue to respect the traditions of all members, even those who are not members of an official party, and even if we do not share all the aspirations of that party.
I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, for your efforts and your accomplishments. I join you in paying tribute to Mr. Milliken and all speakers before you, who have done an outstanding job. We expect to continue our efforts to ensure that the House works well.
For my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, whom we congratulate today on achieving this position with which those of us on this side are quite familiar, speaking personally, I will not be making any such declarations with respect to the complete and total silence of the members of my caucus when comments are made. I know we are all deeply in favour of decorous behaviour, of behaviour that respects the civility of this place, but I am also a profound realist. I have the scars in front and the scars in my back to prove it.
I am looking forward to the first sign of life from the official opposition, to the first heckle and to the first joke. I, myself, will be keeping book on how many days, indeed hours, it will be before he sees that happen.