OTTAWA — Conservative MP Jason Kenney has made his last speech in the House of Commons as he prepares to quit federal politics to focus on a bid to unite the provincial right in Alberta.
Kenney's resignation formally takes effect on Friday.
The longtime Calgary MP says his nearly two decades in the Commons gave him great respect for Parliament and its work.
Jason Kenney speaks in the House of Commons on Sept. 21, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
Kenney, 48, thanked his colleagues, staff and the public service for supporting him in both opposition and government.
Kenney is running for the leadership of the Alberta Conservative party in hopes of resurrecting the fortunes of the one-time political dynasty.
His former cabinet colleague Jim Prentice tried something similar, winning the provincial leadership and becoming premier in 2014, only to go down to defeat to a surging NDP the following year.
Thanks in large part to the Wildrose party helping to divide opposition voters, Rachel Notley formed the first-ever majority NDP government in Alberta, ending 44 years of Conservative governance.
Aims to unite right again
Kenney says he wants to unite the right again.
In his departure from the Commons, Kenney recalled his almost two decades in the House. He urged fellow MPs to work together.
"Whatever our disagreements, we are all in this together as proud Canadians and must respect one another accordingly," he said.
Kenney, who was minister of citizenship and immigration between 2008 and 20013, said the country is largely made up of those who fled hardship and persecution to seek a better life in Canada.
"Whatever our disagreements, we are all in this together as proud Canadians and must respect one another accordingly."
He counted among them some of his own ancestors who sought refuge from the 19th century Irish famine.
"You can see the Kenneys have recovered from the famine," he said to laughter.
Kenney was also minister of employment, minister of multiculturalism and minister of defence.
"There could be no greater honour than to work with our men and women in uniform who are the greatest Canadians," he said of the latter post.
Kenney was first elected as a Reform MP for Calgary Southeast. He was re-elected six times, the last time in the redistributed riding of Calgary Midnapore.