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Speech to the End of the Forty-second Parliament

Honourable senators, let me first acknowledge that today is National Indigenous Peoples Day. I saw AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde in the hallway. Concluding this Parliament on National Indigenous Peoples Day is a way for us to remember that we should start the next Parliament also with the importance of Indigenous issues firmly in our minds.

Honourable senators, we are minutes away from concluding the Forty-second Parliament. Those of you who are familiar with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will know that 42 is the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything.

Wise and wonderful as we are, I don’t think we answered the question to life, the universe and everything, but we got a lot of work done. I don’t need to recount the bills that we passed. Senator Harder has done a very good job of that, but the breadth of legislation is breathtaking, and we can look back on the Parliament that’s about to end with great satisfaction that we were able to get so much work done.

It’s not just that we were able to pass 88 bills but that so many of these bills were amended and, therefore, improved by the upper chamber. Indeed, a record number of bills, in proportionate terms, have been amended. In one case, a record number of amendments were proposed to the House of Commons. And I like to think that this greater scrutiny, the greater ability and willingness to amend and approve bills is partly a function of a less partisan, more independent upper chamber.

Needless to say, all of this work would not have been done, could not have been done without the support of the hard and soft infrastructure on which we rely; the hard infrastructure we see before our very eyes, but so much more important is the soft infrastructure of the staff that makes this place work — staff of our individual senators’ offices but, of course, also staff of Senate administration. These include the legislative team, the legal team, the corporate team, the food services team. By the way, the food services team has been working overtime the last few weeks, as you all know, keeping us nourished. I extend a special mention to the pages, who have been such faithful supporters of our work until very late hours.

I want to especially recognize some of the leadership of Senate administration, who have been such dedicated employees of this upper house and dedicated public servants to the Canadian people: Richard Denis, Philippe Hallée, Julie Lacroix, Pierre Lanctôt and Pascale Legault.

Let me also add my sincere appreciation and tribute to my fellow leaders in this chamber, starting with the Speaker and, of course, my colleagues who lead the other groups and caucuses: Senator Harder, Senator Smith and Senator Day.

I want to especially recognize that Senator Harder has done a remarkable job of steering us through this Parliament with no use of time allocation whatsoever. He did so with a very small group behind him, the three individuals, including Senator Bellemare and Senator Mitchell. It is a testament to their diplomatic skills, their use of persuasion and reason that allowed us to get through this very heavy agenda without the use of what one might consider to be harsh and Draconian measures.

In part, that’s because of the cooperation of the opposition. I want to tell you that I have gained and I have more greatly appreciated the role of the opposition in this Parliament.

Particularly Senator Smith and Senator Plett, who, from time to time, will say to Senator Harder that their job is not only to oppose but to make Senator Harder’s life difficult. But even though they understand that to be their job, they also understand that their job, for the purpose of the institution, is to get the work of the Senate done. That is why we were able to get to the end of this Parliament without the use of time allocation.

Finally, my thanks to all senators, particularly my colleagues in the Independent Senators Group, for the support you have shown me, for your friendship and your camaraderie. I wish all of you across this chamber a restful and rejuvenating break, and I look forward to seeing everyone again at the start of 43.