Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks at the Centre Block closing ceremony
Her Excellency the Governor General, the Honourable George Furey, the Honourable Geoff Regan, my two colleagues– two parliamentarians Andrew, Guy. It is also a great pleasure to know that among us are two former prime ministers, Mr. Chrétien, Mr. Clark.
And what a joy it is to see so many parliamentarians here tonight. Whether you are a current MP, a former senator or a future MP–for our youth–you all share this commitment to represent Canadians and build a better country.
My dear friends, that is exactly what we do in this building. But in a few weeks, architects and construction workers will take the place of politicians and journalists in these halls. In 2019, we will resume our parliamentary work in the West Block, a new magnificent, more ecological, accessible and modern place that will ensure that Parliament continues to serve Canadians.
But as we trade the stained glass of Center Block, for the glass roof of West Block, I know I’m not the only one who will miss this building. Whether it was playing hide and seek in the stairways with my brothers as a kid, eating lunch with my dad in the parliamentary restaurant, or first taking my seat in the House of Commons ten years ago, Center Block has a unique place in my heart. And I’m sure everyone here has their stories. Because as soon as you step into Confederation Hall, whether it’s full of students waiting to watch question period or calm and quiet after a long day of work, you know this is a special place.
The walls may be bricks and stone and mortar, but this place was built by Canadians of incredible vision. People from every corner of our country who never stopped fighting for a better Canada.
These halls have seen our greatest triumphs.
It was here, below the Peace Tower, that our Maple Leaf flag was flown for the first time.
It was under this copper roof that we brought the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to life and declared that every Canadian is free and equal. Here, that we affirmed that every Canadian has the right to get married, regardless of sexual orientation.
It is here, between these walls, that we declared that we are a bilingual country, a country where English and French are spoken proudly as our mother tongue, our second language, or even our third or fourth language.
Here is where we started on our way on the road to reconciliation, forging a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples. Here is where we launched the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
But these halls have borne witness to our greatest tests, too. The faces carved into these walls have watched as Canadian heroes rose in our darkest moments – Ambassador Vickers, Constable Son, Corporal Barrette and the other officers who responded without hesitation on October 22, 2014. Together in this place, we honoured Corporal Cirillo, just as we remember all who have given their lives in service.
And, of course, I can’t be here in this hall of honour and not remember how these stones and carvings and arches watched over my father as he lay in state for two days, eighteen years ago.
But Parliament isn’t just about the moments that are recorded in the history books. Every day, in the Chamber down the hall and the offices above my head, a thousand small acts come together to make something much greater: progress for all Canadians. For the new family that’s just getting started and the senior who’s enjoying their well-deserved retirement.
Because Parliament isn’t just a building. It’s the promise that each citizen will be heard, and that we’ll work together to make a future that is brighter for our kids and grandkids.
So, although the foundations of these buildings were laid more than 100 years ago, each, and every day we build a new Parliament. And we build a new Canada, where everyone has the chance to succeed and no-one gets left behind. That is our collective promise to Canadians.
My friends, in ten years when we come back to Centre Block, we’ll be bringing with us more accomplishments and more history. We’ll be bringing back a stronger Canada. The building may change, but the commitment and the dedication of those who serve here will always remain the same.
Thanks very much.