Judy Foote talks courage, cancer and family during final House of Commons speech
Member for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity steps away after 21 years as a politician
Tears welled in her eyes as Judy Foote looked up at the prime minister.
"Judy, my dear friend," Justin Trudeau said. "I am going to sorely miss having you by my side.
"But I know, we all know, your family and friends need you by their side even more. I love you."
After 21 years representing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Judy Foote walked away with glowing words and an embrace from the prime minister on Thursday.
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During her final remarks in the House of Commons, Foote — the member for Bonavista-Burin-Trinity — spoke of how much she loved her family and her career.
"My husband of 43 years, Howard, has put up with such a crazy lifestyle," she said. "And knowing how much I enjoyed my job, he campaigned vigorously every election to help me keep it."
A model for other women to follow
She also took the chance to speak about women in politics. During her 2015 campaign, Foote was the most popular politician in Canada — winning her seat with a staggering 82 per cent of the vote.
With her parting remarks, she talked of how she wanted to see more women follow in her footsteps.
"I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to encourage more women to get involved in what I consider an honourable profession, where it really is possible to make a difference in the lives of others, especially the most vulnerable," she said.
Foote has spent the last two years seated beside the prime minister in the House of Commons. The two have developed a close friendship and spoke of how each helped shape the other's choices in their time together.
Family comes first
She also spoke of something else that has shaped her career — cancer.
Foote spoke of how she met Terry Fox while working as a reporter with CBC News in 1980. They talked about his hair — a treasure of his, since it grew back full and curly after being shed by chemotherapy treatments.
"Little did I know that several years later I would be diagnosed with breast cancer not once, but twice, most recently three years ago," she said. "Like Terry, I lost my hair, and while it may not look like it now, it grew back curly."
She has always been, for me, a model of grace and compassion.- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
After her treatments, Foote learned she carried a gene leaving her susceptible to cancer.
"Getting my head around what having the gene could mean for my children Carla, Jason and Heidi and their children if they inherited it from me was difficult," she said.
"And needless to say [it] remains so, because unfortunately two of my three children did."
In August, Foote announced she would be stepping down to be at home with her family.
Members of all three parties stood and shared their thoughts and memories of Foote on Thursday.
Her presence will be missed by all, but perhaps none more than the prime minister.
"No matter what the situation she has always been, for me, a model of grace and compassion, a source of intelligence and deep wisdom."