February 3, 2015
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): When each of us chooses to enter public life, we do so united in one simple desire, the desire to leave behind a better country, a better province, and a better community and to pass on to the next generation a better place than the one we inherited from those who came before us.
I will miss this place very much, and many of the people in it, on all sides, but the time has come for me to start a new chapter in my life.
John Diefenbaker once said that Parliament is more than a procedure; it is the custodian of the nation’s freedom. There is no greater honour for a Canadian than to serve in this place, no greater honour than to serve the people who place their trust in us.
Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): What always drove the minister, as far as I could tell, as for many of us in this place, was making a genuine difference in his community, in this place, and obviously, recently, on the world stage.
I have to share with the House and Canadians that the way the minister conducted himself on that trip [to Iraq, in September 2014], also with my colleague from the Liberal Party, showed his professionalism. It showed that he cared about this country and that he was a responsible minister and parliamentarian. On every visit with dignitaries, he included us. He asked for our advice and actually followed up on some of the issues we were advocating for.
The member has served this place with passion. He served his electors well. If I might say, “Rusty” may be gone but will not be forgotten.
Mr. Marc Garneau (Westmount-Ville-Marie, Lib.): If there is one person in this chamber whose passion never seems to have abated for one second, who always had fire in his eyes and who still has fire in his eyes, it is surely he. I think we were all completely taken aback to find out last night that he had made the decision to leave us.
The public knows the member to be ultra-partisan, having sometimes been called a bullhorn. He has done that job very well. I have had the privilege of also discovering the member whom the public knows less well.
The minister is approachable. We have conversed about a variety of subjects. He has always found the time to listen, and he has listened sincerely. I believe that particular trait is what I will remember about the minister for years to come.
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, GP): I also want to join in words of farewell and thanks to the Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, as he takes his leave of this place, is young. He has his whole life ahead of him. I urge him to enjoy it, embrace it, and have a wonderful life.