Everyone has their favourite room.
The Parliamentary Restaurant, the Senate, Hall of Honour, the Memorial Chamber and certainly the House of Commons.
As I write this column and think about everything I am thankful for I am truly blessed to be sitting in one of my favourite rooms in the entire world.
I am sitting in the breathtaking Parliamentary Library in Centre Block of Parliament Hill.
Even as I listen to the tapping of the keys on my laptop I catch myself glancing up at the incredible woodwork, smell the books and drink in the quiet atmosphere.
This month the House rose, signifying the end of the Fall session. For many of us it could be the end of an era.
When we return for the Winter Session at the end of January the House of Commons will no longer be in Centre Block, but in a temporary location in the newly renovated West Block. The iconic Centre Block, with the Peace Tower as its keystone, will be closed for more than a decade for a massive renovation.
For many current Members of Parliament, we may never have the opportunity to return to the traditional home of Canada’s democracy. I know they are saying 10 years, but for a project of this magnitude, I am guessing closer to 15 years until the House resumes in its splendid home.
Therefore, December’s adjournment proceeding was bittersweet to say the least.
For me, still a relatively new Member, I found it hard to escape the grip of my seat.
On Dec. 13, the last day of the session, I asked what could be my last question in Question Period in the true home of the House of Commons. I was honoured to ask a question of the Prime Minister about the energy crisis in Canada and its impacts on families in Alberta, especially during the holiday season.
Afterwards, even after the House rose for the Christmas break, I and a handful of others, could not bring ourselves to leave. Instead I stayed in my second-row seat and soaked in the room – grand, elegant and quite simply beautiful.
I thought about the debates that occurred here in the past, the icons of Canadian history who sat in these same seats – MacDonald, Laurier, Diefenbaker, King, Trudeau, Mulroney, Chretien and Harper. The men and women who made the difficult decisions and passed legislation in this House helping to build a nation, a pillar of democracy admired around the world.
History was made here and at times I find it hard to believe I am a part of that history.
The shooting in October 2014; sending troops into Syria; Malala Yousafzai addressing the House of Commons; an emergency debate on TransMountain pipeline; legalizing marijuana; a floor-crossing from the government to opposition. Good and bad, I have had a front row seat to key moments in our history.
I have been able to because of the confidence and support of you. I have served the constituents of Foothills (Macleod before that) for more than four years and each day I still get goosebumps when I walk up the Hill and see the Canadian flag atop the Peace Tower.
As much as we will try, the temporary home of the House of Commons will not be the same. However, I know the essence of this hallowed place will live on in West Block over the next decade as we continue to debate the issues important to Canadians and continue to make history.
Well, the librarian has told me it is now time to close the library as well. Sad.
I know this is not a traditional Christmas column, but as we head into 2019 I want to say how thankful I am for the opportunity the residents of Foothills have provided me to represent you in the House of Commons.
From Louise, myself and our family I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2019.