POLITICS

7 retiring MPs share parting words, advice for House of Commons

06/22/2015 07:47 EDT | Updated 06/22/2016 05:59 EDT
Before rising for the summer, the House of Commons set aside two evenings for MPs who aren't running again to make farewell speeches — a last chance to speak on the parliamentary record.

There were people to thank, anecdotes to recall and jokes to tell. The MPs spoke from the heart and shared honest insights.

- Chris Hall: MPs offer some regrets in farewells to Parliament

- Photos: Departing ministers thin Conservatives' re-election ranks

It's hard to get the last word in politics. But given the opportunity, here's what some of them wanted us to know:

Irwin Cotler

​Liberal (Mount Royal, QC)

First elected: 1999 (by-election) 

"I recall fondly my first-ever visit to and encounter with this House. It was 1951. I was 11 years old. My late father took me here [...] He looked up at the House and said, "Son, this is the Parliament of Canada. This is vox populi, the voice of the people."

"It is my father who taught me [...] the pursuit of justice is equal to all the other commandments combined. As he said, 'This, you must teach unto your children.' It was my mother who, when she heard my father say this, would say to me, 'If you want to pursue justice, you have to understand, you have to feel the injustice about you. You have to go in and about your community and beyond, and feel the injustice and combat the injustice. Otherwise, the pursuit of justice remains a theoretical construct.'"

Laurie Hawn

​Conservative (Edmonton Centre, AB)

First elected: 2006

"I have great respect for (former NDP and Liberal MP) Bob Rae as a brilliant parliamentarian, and despite our ideological differences, we could work together behind the scenes on things like the mission extension in Afghanistan. I do not say this with malice at all, but Bob made it clear that if there were political advantage, he would stab me in the heart, and I would stab him in the right circumstances too. However, we would stab each other in the chest, eye to eye, and not in the back.

"We can be political adversaries, but we certainly do not have to be enemies. We should, and we do, take our jobs very seriously, but we should not take ourselves too seriously.​"

Gerald Keddy

​Conservative (South Shore-St. Margaret's, NS)

First elected: 1997

"Here in Canada, we are a volunteering society. People volunteer at their local legions, churches, and food banks, but it is somehow a dirty word to say that someone volunteers in politics. Quite frankly, shame on us, because those volunteers are the other part of the glue that binds this democracy together."

​Alexandrine Latendresse

​New Democrat (Louis-St-Laurent, QC)

First elected: 2011

"I had some wonderful times during my term here. However, to be honest, it was not always easy. I also had to deal with some very dark sides of politics. I went through some very tough times. I saw how complicated being a young female member of Parliament can be. I saw how partisan politics could become harmful and toxic [...] I was able to remain hopeful and persevere thanks to the love and support of my gang here."

Marc-André Morin

New Democrat (Laurentide-Labelle, QC)

First elected: 2011

"Partisanship leads us to make assumptions about our adversaries' opinions. It makes debate sterile, and the value of the individual is lost. We end up by looking at one another through the lens of prejudice. One side sees people wearing cowboy hats who enjoy shooting at coyotes on the prairies; the other side sees the granola crowd sitting on a patio in a big city, criticizing the oil industry [...]."

"The biggest challenge for Canada is to overcome its prejudices [...] Having lived on a reserve for a few years, I am all too familiar with the meaning of the word 'prejudice.' [...] If we do not manage to overcome these prejudices, we will never be able to correct past injustices, and that does not bode well for how we will handle mistakes that we may make in the future."

Lise St-Denis

Liberal (elected as a New Democrat) (Saint Maurice-Champlain, QC)

First elected: 2011

"Fridays in the House are special. Most of the members have returned home to their ridings, and the House is getting ready to shut down for the weekend after one final hour of debate on a motion or a private member's bill. That is one of the rare instances when there is time for a more personal debate.

"That is what happened last week when we were debating Bill C-643, which called for a national spinal cord injury awareness day. The bill, sponsored by our two MPs in wheelchairs, gave us a rare opportunity to step away from partisan rhetoric and learn more about their lives [...] Such a rare situation, so different from what we see during question period, should be more common."

Frank Valeriote

Liberal (Guelph, ON)

First elected: 2008 (by-election)

"Countless Canadians have incredible contributions to make to this place and public discourse, but are rightly concerned about the strains that this place will put on them and their families [...]. My marriage was a victim of the toll this takes on a family and relationships with loved ones, and I am by no means alone [...].

"We have an opportunity to consider new ideas, and I urge this chamber and the members returned here after October to do so [...]. We no longer live in a time or place where communication is so difficult that we all must gather here to be heard. Let us modernize and take some of that burden off the families back home."