Reform Founder Looks Back -- and Forward to Issues Facing Canada

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The founding leader of the Reform Party of Canada -- now the Canadian Alliance -- looks back at his decade in Parliament, and forward to the issues and opportunities confronting Canada. Among the issues he notes are the threat of terrorism and war in the Middle East; declining confidence in the Canadian dollar; reduced public participation in the political process; how best to combine federal, provincial and private sector resources in health care reform; how to legislate the genetic revolution; the need to acknowledge moral, ethical and religious issues. Farewell speech in the House of Commons on retiring as a member of Parliament, Ottawa, January 31, 2002.

Mr. Speaker, my main purpose in rising at this time is to, first, thank the electors of Calgary Southwest and, second, to thank my colleagues for the very gracious tributes given today. They probably would have helped me if I had received some of them a little bit earlier. I thank my hon. colleagues for the sentiments they have expressed. They mean a great deal to myself personally and to my family.

I would like to make a few comments, looking back but also looking forward. My remarks will be brief because, as many members know, I have a particular interest in economy and budgets. The budget of the House is getting close to $300 million and we spend about a thousand hours a year here, which means that if one takes even 15 minutes of the House's time that is about $75,000. I am feeling fiscally irresponsible already for the time we have taken.

It was almost 15 years ago that a small group of people in western Canada decided that we would try to change the national agenda by using the tools that democracy gives to every citizen: freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the opportunity to try to convince fellow citizens to support a political program.

In our case, as members know, we used those tools to advance on the national agenda such ideas as debt reduction, budget balancing and tax relief, and also to demand a greater clarity and rigour on the part of the federal government with respect to secession and the revitalization of federalism.

Other Canadians and other members of the House may have different concerns and aspirations. We all do. I would hope that the experience of the Reform Party would inspire democrats in every party and in every part of the country to believe more passionately and actively in the tools and ideology of democracy itself.

That ideology and those tools still constitute the best way in my judgment to change the country. I trust that our activities will inspire people.

Like all members I am indebted to many people for anything I have been able to accomplish politically. I acknowledge that debt today. To the thousands of faithful party volunteers, supporters and workers without whom our democratic system would grind to a halt, I offer my deepest thanks and appreciation.

To the voters of Calgary Southwest, who never insisted that I attend any social, community or even political events in the riding as long as I kept working for their interest on the national stage, I offer my deepest thanks. It has been a privilege to be your representative in the Parliament of Canada.

To all the administrative and support staff in our party offices, parliamentary and constituency offices, and to the officers of this House, pages, security and maintenance people I offer my deepest thanks. Most of us politicians can look bad on our own. To look good we need the help of a lot of people and these are the ones who give it to us.

To all my colleagues, past and present, in the Reform, Canadian Alliance and democratic representative caucuses it has been a great honour and a privilege for me to campaign with these parliamentarians in the federal elections of 1988, 1993, 1997 and 2000, and to serve with hon. members in this place. …