“Goodbye” would be the end of the sentence.
You almost have me speechless, which is quite the accomplishment. I'm blown away. I just confess that, for all the passion I bring to the issues, I don't handle emotional issues real good. This just overwhelms me. Nothing means more to me than words like you've given today, words from colleagues who walk in the same shoes. No matter how close you are, it's not until you've walked in those shoes and know what it's like to be a parliamentarian that you fully understand, when fellow parliamentarians compliment you, what it means, especially when they're people you respect.
I've been blessed, especially this last Parliament, with being on two committees whose mandates I thoroughly enjoy: public accounts and PROC. It's also given me an opportunity to spend time with some of the finest parliamentarians that I've met. The hardest thing for us to do is to climb past partisanship, yet it's the critical part where we actually make a difference, where we find a way to move forward for the country—that ability to set that aside. I'm guilty of not doing it all the time, too, because our passions do drive us, but at the end of the day, that ability means everything.
With the people I've been able to serve with, the two chairs that I've served under—you, Mr. Larry Bagnell, and Mr. Kevin Sorenson.... I've been blessed with fantastic chairs who were only interested in the best for Parliament and Canada.
I thank all of you.
I thank my fellow Hamiltonian, David Sweet. We know that nobody gets up every day and says, “What can I do for Hamilton”, unless they're Hamiltonians themselves. I've always believed that when we're on home turf, it's important for those of us from different parties to make their city the priority and that we, as much as possible, come here and have a united front on the issues that matter. When we disagree, we do it respectfully. If we're going to have a knock-down, drag-'em-out fight, we do it here in the context of Parliament. However, when we go home, we're home, and we treat each other with respect. That means a lot.
I can't address everyone individually, as I know that I don't have enough time, but, Mr. Reid, definitely you'll be the first invitation to that dock, and I'll have a cold one ready for you, sir.
There are a number of people who I'm looking forward to continuing to work with.
I'll just also mention that on the issue of parliament's security that matters to us, Mr. Blaney today, who was the minister at the time, just stopped by me after our public accounts committee—I don't think I'm telling tales out of school; I hope not—and said to me, “Look, you need to understand that, at the time, we were under a lot of pressure. There were a lot of crises. I think we made the wrong decision. I think we made a mistake. I want you to know that if I'm here in the next Parliament, I'm committed to changing that and putting it back to the way it should be.”
I know that people like Mr. Graham and others care about that, and that's a good sign. It means a lot because it's the way Parliament should run.
Just to end, I was asked if I'm going to still be around. Yes. It turns out that sitting around on the public accounts committee for 15 years suddenly qualifies you as an expert. There are people around the world who would like me to come and do some work with their public accounts committees and their auditor general systems, and I'm now on the board of directors of the Canadian Audit and Accountability Foundation. It's the main non-profit NGO that we use at the public accounts committee for their expertise and assistance. I'll be joining their team and travelling. So, I'll be continuing to do that. Hopefully it's not more than half time. I still want to put my feet up for the other half. I'm tired: I've been working for 50 years, and that's sufficient.
Those are my plans going forward. However, I'm also aware that plans, like war plans, change. The first thing that goes out the window when the war starts is the plan, so we'll see what actually happens.
What I would like to do, if you'll allow me, is.... This is very difficult. You guys have really, really thrown me for a loop. What's interesting is.... You mentioned the filibuster, and a lot of you have commented on the non-partisanship. I have a present that speaks to both those issues. It speaks to the filibuster, but it also speaks to non-partisanship and extends beyond us as parliamentarians.
You all know Tyler Crosby, who is without question, in my view, the most amazing staff person on the Hill, bar none. You often see me talking to him. He's my right hand. I couldn't do this job without him, at least not the way I'd like to. However, he's not always there. Sometimes he nips out to get something, and then I have nobody else. It's just me here, right?
Yet, when we were in a filibuster, when it was time to unite and fight the good fight, those lines didn't matter, and the partisanship didn't matter.
The Hill Times actually had a picture. I'll just read the cutline that goes with it. It says, “NDP MP David Christopherson consults with an opposition staffer ahead of resuming the filibuster at the House Affairs Committee on April 5. He alone spoke eight hours in all that day, and for another four hours on April 6.” The other person in that picture is Kelly Williams.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. David Christopherson: I want to present to Kelly a frame of that picture as an indication of the way that we can be non-partisan not only as politicians but as staffers.
I thank you for the unpaid work that you did for me. You assisted me to do what I did.
With that, colleagues, there aren't enough words to properly say what this has meant to me. This will stay with me forever. You really touched me in a way that I can't express, and I thank you very much. It means everything to me.