The House resumed from December 4 consideration of the motion for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by recognizing that yesterday was the anniversary of the Montreal massacre. It is a day that we should never forget because it reminds us all of the need to work together to end violence against women. There is still much work to be done, and our party wants to work with all members in this area.
I want to welcome back to the House my colleagues in all parties and acknowledge that despite the disagreements we have had in the past, and I am sure that we will have in the future, we all share a deep and abiding love, a true patriot love, for our country.
We wish our colleagues across the floor well and we respectfully remind them that in their new role they must govern responsibly for all Canadians, not only for the millions who voted for them but also for the millions who did not.
On a personal note, I want to thank the voters of for their vote of confidence in me on October 19. I love the region that I represent and I love the people who I represent, many of whom are going through tough times right now. I want them to know that the challenges they face are top of mind for me. I will be pressing the government on finding solutions to help the thousands of Albertans who are going into Christmas without a job.
As Her Majesty's official opposition, our role in Parliament is to hold the new government to account, particularly with regard to its management of the public purse. We will be the taxpayers' watchdog.
It is already abundantly clear that we have our work cut out for us.
If there is a common thread woven throughout everything that we heard on Friday, it is that the Liberal devotion to big activist government is alive and well. We on this side of the House find this disturbing for the following two reasons.
First, big government is expensive government. It makes an assumption that runs counter to one of the most deeply held beliefs we have as Conservatives. We trust Canadians and the money they work so hard for is better left in their own pockets than in the hands of politicians here.
Second, activist government is often intrusive government. It restricts our personal and our financial liberty. It operates under the assumption that important decisions, decisions about everything from how we raise our children to how we go about our business, to how we spend our golden years, are best made by the state rather than by an individual. We disagree with that.
Therefore, we will be steadfast in our efforts to hold the government to account and we will be generous with constructive and respectful advice when we see it going astray. We hope in turn that the government will listen.
An example was the plans for resettling refugees. We are encouraged that Canadians were able to convince the government of the errors in its original plans, that it was willing to embrace a more sensible approach that reflected our ability to help the most desperate people from a war-torn region, while minimizing the risks of the safety and security of Canadians. So many questions still remain about this process, and let us face it, the Liberal Party had a promise but not a plan. However, as I said, we are encouraged that it listened and it has revised its approach.
We would like to think that the same is possible when it comes to the government's election promise to remove the Royal Canadian Air Force and our CF-18s from the bombing mission against ISIS.
It is alarming that the threat of ISIS, as well as the men and women who are putting their lives on the line in the fight against ISIS, did not warrant a mention in the throne speech.
Unlike the Liberal government, President Obama did talk about the threat of ISIS last night.
He told the American people:
In Iraq and Syria, air strikes are taking out ISIL leaders, heavy weapons, oil tankers, infrastructure. And since the attacks in Paris, our closest allies—including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom—have ramped up their contributions to our military campaign, which will help us accelerate our effort to destroy ISIL.
President Obama did not mention Canada because it is clear that we have scaled back our contribution since November 4.
The has told our allies that we will be pulling out our CF-18s in the fight against, what President Obama called “cult of death”, ISIS.
While on the international stage we saw leaders of the western world come together, coalescing around the fight against ISIS. The impression that was left with Canadians and the international community was that our prime minister was consumed with taking selfies. I mention this because it was mentioned to me many times by constituents. It was not that we had a leader who was going to step up and stand resolutely shoulder to shoulder with our allies, but one who consistently reminded Canadians of an election promise, even after the attacks in Paris and Beirut.
The has offered no sensible argument for pulling our air force out of this fight because, frankly, there is not one. Meanwhile, President Obama made clear last evening that the reasons for remaining part of the bombing mission were clear and unambiguous.
It is not too late for the Prime Minister to change course. The reality is that when we talk about Canada's new approach to fighting ISIS, Canada is not back, Canada is backing away. Our offer stands. Should the government change its position and allow our air force to continue bombing ISIS along with our allies, it would have our full support.
We heard a long list of promises on Friday, but where are the plans for fulfilling them? We certainly heard nothing about an economic plan.
The government was silent on support for private sector businesses and industries, which actually create the good, stable, well-paying jobs on which Canadian families depend. There was no mention of the auto, forestry, or energy sectors. There was no mention of a plan to help the more than 60,000 Albertans who would be facing Christmas without a job. It was silent on the role of the agricultural industry and farmers from coast to coast in Canada. It was silent on whether it would leave us on the outside looking in when our friends and partners ratify the trans-Pacific partnership, the biggest trade deal in history.
What we did hear was a recipe for big government and big spending. Therefore, the question that every taxpayer wants us to ask the government is where the money will come from to pay for all of this. It comes from one place, and that is out of the pockets of Canadians.
We know that the government plans to grab as much money as it can by ending tax fairness for families with its plans to take away the universal child care benefit and income splitting for couples.
All of that will come out of the pockets of hard-working Canadians.
We have no indication to date that the and his have a plan beyond hoping that the budgets will finally balance themselves after years of high spending. Rather, if left unchecked, every indication is that the Liberals will run massive deficits, raise taxes, and in the end will cut programs and benefits because they cannot tax their way to prosperity and spend their way out of debt. This is the choice facing all governments: responsible fiscal management in the present or painful austerity in the future; living within our means today or leaving our children and grandchildren to pay the bills for years to come.
In conclusion, we will continue to demand at every turn a fiscally responsible approach that is fair to all Canadians. We will be a voice for taxpayers as we believe, and we are confident most Canadians share this belief, that is the best path forward for our country.
We believe and we are confident that most Canadians share the belief that Canadians know how to manage their money. They know how to go about their lives, how to manage their own families and businesses, and how to achieve their goals. They do not need the government to do it for them. They want their government to create an environment in which all Canadians can turn their dreams into reality.
These are our Conservative values. They have always been our values and they will continue to guide us as we fulfill the time-honoured responsibility of our current office as Her Majesty's loyal opposition.
Given our values and our position, the official opposition cannot support the throne speech as it is presently written.
With that, I propose the following amendment to the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. I move:
That the motion be amended by adding the following: “and regrets to inform Your Excellency that your government has not acknowledged that many of its promises do not provide transparent cost estimates, implementation plans, or consider cost burdens to the provinces, and as such your government should put the best interests of Canadians first by reversing its plan to deliberately put Canada back into deficit, since such a move would ultimately lead to a higher tax burden for Canadians, just as it reversed its unrealistic promise to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of 2015; and
further regrets to inform Your Excellency that your government has failed to outline a plan to create jobs in Canada's private sector, and has ignored important economic drivers such as the agricultural, energy and manufacturing sectors, despite the billions of dollars in economic activity they produce every year; and your government has also failed to mention Canada's responsibility to stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies against ISIS at a time when they are stepping up their fight against terrorism.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to respond to the first Speech from the Throne presented by this government. I also want to congratulate you on your election. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate all members of the House of Commons.
I look forward to working with all members, a group as diverse as Canada itself, in this 42nd Parliament.
In his address last week, His Excellency presented the government's agenda for the upcoming session. It is an agenda endorsed by Canadians, who on October 19 gave our government a strong and clear mandate to make real change happen. Canadians elected this government to do different things and to do things differently. Many of those changes are already under way.
Our first substantive bill, the tax cut for the middle class, will be introduced in this House on Wednesday.
Also this week, the first flights carrying Syrian refugees from camps in Jordan and Turkey will land on Canadian soil.
The mandatory long form census has been restored and will be implemented next year. In addition, federal government scientists can once again speak freely about their work. Furthermore, for the first time in Canadian history, we have gender equality in cabinet.
Other changes mentioned in the throne speech will begin to take shape in the weeks and months to come, as the House resumes and as the committees resume the important work they do.
Today I would like to expand on the government's broader mandate to develop the five things that Canadians expect us to do, and the steps we will take to ensure that we meet those expectations.
First, we will invest to grow our economy, create a strong middle class, and provide help for people working hard to join it. That is what Canadians voted for, and that is what we will deliver.
We will grow our economy by making significant new investments in public transit, green infrastructure and social infrastructure, creating jobs and economic growth now, and making our economy more productive over the long term.
We will strengthen our middle class by putting more money in Canadians' pockets. As I have said, that starts with Wednesday's legislation, which will deliver a tax cut for the middle class.
We believe that everyone deserves a fair and real chance at success. Canadians believe this too. We will do more to help those in need by giving less to those who are not. That is the basic principle behind our tax cut for the middle class and the new Canada child benefit, which will be introduced in our first budget.
This new benefit will give nine out of 10 families more money than they are receiving right now. That is the type of real change that can be made when a government puts the interests of Canadians at the top of its priorities and in its plans.
Second, we are committed to delivering real change in the way that government works. It means setting a higher bar for openness and transparency, something that is needed if this House is to regain the confidence and trust of Canadians.
One thing is very clear. We will not be able to meet the challenges that we are facing, from growing our economy to responding to the threat of climate change to keeping our citizens and our communities safe, unless we have Canadians in our corner.
People want a government that is honest and open, transparent and accountable, and relentlessly focused on those it exists to serve. We will be that government.
Canadians want a government that acts honourably and treats all others with respect, both inside and outside this House. We will be that government.
Canadians are tired of the cynicism and distrust that have defined federal politics for far too long. They are ready to trust the government again, but that trust does not come for free. If we want Canadians to trust their government, the government must trust Canadians.
We are going to work hard every day to earn and keep Canadians' trust. This Parliament belongs to Canadians and must continually prove that the voices of all Canadians matter.
Third, we will keep proving to Canadians and the rest of the world that we can have both a healthy environment and a strong economy. That is true when it comes to investing in and supporting clean technology, something our government is determined to do. It is also true when it comes to climate change. The changing global climate is a major and immediate challenge, but it is also an historic opportunity. We have an opportunity to build a truly sustainable economy based on clean technology, green infrastructure, and green jobs.
There are billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of good jobs on the table for the countries that get this right. As I told our international and domestic partners in Paris last week, building a clean economy will create growth, not sacrifice it. Our ambition cannot end with making sure that Canada makes the most of a challenging situation. As we know, the atmosphere does not care where carbon was emitted. That is why we will invest $2.65 billion over the next five years to help the developing world grow in a cleaner, more sustainable way.
Here at home, we will protect the environment with new environmental assessment processes, respect for science and scientists, and more public input, including greater engagement and respect for indigenous peoples.
Canadians are smart, practical people. They do not expect us to solve all the world's problems. All they ask is that Canada do its part and lead by example when it comes to protecting the environment and growing the economy. Our government will do just that.
Fourth, we will continue to work with Canadians to build a more peaceful and prosperous country, one that is strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them. Canada's success culturally, politically, economically, proves that diversity and inclusion work, but we still have much more work to do.
For indigenous peoples, life in Canada has not been and is not today easy, equitable, or fair. Our history also shows that too often those who chose to come to Canada and build their lives here have been treated with indifference, or worse. Some Canadians who were born here have, at times, been the targets of hateful words and deeds simply because they look different, speak a different language, choose to wear different clothes, or practise a different faith. Painful as that may be, we need to acknowledge these truths. We are not well served by ignorance.
At the same time, it is important to remember that Canadians are good and decent people. Against the warm hearts and welcoming spirit of Canadians, intolerance stands little chance, because no amount of fear can extinguish the understanding that we are all in this together. No act of aggression can separate us from the deeply felt knowledge that wherever we come from, we are united in our struggles and in our dreams.
All efforts to close us off from others will be in vain because when Canadians have a choice, as they did in the recent election, they always reject attempts to divide them.
As I have said before, Canada’s success as a diverse and inclusive nation did not happen by accident and will not continue without effort. There should be no doubt that Canada and Canadians are worth the effort, and on this point, the government will not waiver.
Fifth, we will do everything in our power to ensure that Canadians are safe and secure at home by promoting Canadian values abroad. People need to realize that Canada is a safe and peaceful country, a country where it is possible and necessary to strike the right balance between our collective security and our rights and freedoms.
In part to ensure the security of Canadians, we must also export the ideas and the institutions that serve us so well here in Canada. We can show other countries and their citizens how to govern with respect for diversity, with openness and transparency, in peace and prosperity. We can and we will continue to co-operate with our allies in the fight against terrorism. We know what it takes to be an effective partner in international peacekeeping operations and, therefore, we can make a greater contribution to efforts to enhance peace and security around the world. We can and we will do so.
It has been just over a month since our government took office. In that time we have held bilateral talks with the leaders of all UN Security Council permanent members: the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China. We have also represented Canada at four major international summits. In Turkey we met with the G20 leaders. In the Philippines, with leaders of APEC nations. In Malta, with Commonwealth heads of government.
Last week, the premiers of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec, along with the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the leaders of the NDP and the Green Party, and the Conservative environment critic joined our government in participating in the international talks on climate change in Paris. In other words, we have been busy. We have all been busy working together.
Personally, I love working long hours, spending sleepless nights, and dealing with demanding schedules, and I know that all my colleagues here in the House do as well because that is just the kind of hard work we have been sent here to do.
I am reminded of a quote by Nelson Mandela who said that he discovered that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.
I have no doubt that we will encounter many such hills in the years ahead, but I also know that our success or failure as a government will be measured in more than recorded yeas and nays. We will succeed when we deliver an economy that works for the middle class, when we make government open and transparent by default, when we combine, for all Canadians, a clean environment and a strong economy. We will succeed when we affirm that Canada is a country strengthened by diversity, when we realize greater security and opportunity for Canada and for the world.
Those are the things that matter most to Canadians. That is the real change they desire and deserve.
When we asked them, Canadians told us that good enough is not good enough, and that they do not believe that it is impossible to do better. In fact, based on the confidence and ambition that have always defined our country, they know that in Canada better is always possible.
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand here on behalf of more than 3.5 million Canadians who gave the New Democratic Party of Canada the mandate to serve as the progressive opposition in this Parliament. I thank each and every voter who gave us their trust and confidence. We will stand up for them and for our shared values.
I would like to congratulate the new government on its win in the last election. The and his cabinet have been entrusted with tremendous responsibility. They were given this mandate based on ambitious commitments, and I sincerely hope that they will fulfill them.
On behalf of New Democrats across Canada, I commit to working with the new government to bring in the change that an overwhelming majority of Canadians sought in the last election.
Today, as leader of the progressive opposition, I commit to working with the when our values and policies overlap.
I would also like to congratulate every member of the House on their election. We are 338 commoners representing this wonderful country of ours from coast to coast to coast. We differ on policy and outlook, but what unites us all is the conviction that this great country can be even better.
Like all members, I met thousands of Canadians during this campaign. We are an optimistic bunch and we know that we live in one of the greatest countries on earth, but many Canadians are also deeply worried. There has been a hollowing out of the middle class. Good manufacturing jobs have been lost. New jobs are temporary, part-time, and precarious.
Families have a hard time making ends meet. I met child care providers and airport workers who work full-time but live in poverty because there is no federal minimum wage.
I met women who had survived sexual violence only to be denied a shelter when they needed it most. I spoke to young people crushed by the weight of student debt, worried about their job prospects, and deeply concerned about climate change and its effects on their generation.
I met families of murdered and missing indigenous women, who lost their loved ones brutally, and they fear that we are not doing enough to prevent future violence. I spoke to seniors who built this country but who now live in poverty; seniors who cannot afford lifesaving prescription medication; seniors who have to live in hospitals because we do not have enough home care services.
Despite the tremendous wealth of our nation, too many children are still going to school with empty bellies. Too many women are giving up their careers—and it is nearly always women who make the sacrifice—because they do not have access to affordable child care. Too many homeless people are living and sleeping on the streets. Too many families are living paycheque to paycheque. Too many workers are living with a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads because they could lose their jobs if the trans-Pacific partnership goes through in its current form.
When the tells us that we can do better, I feel relieved because I truly agree with him. Here in Parliament, we must commit to working together to make real and positive change for Canadians.
I paid very close attention to the Speech from the Throne. Like most Canadians, I am pleased with the new tone of the government and many of the promises it has made. Now we have to roll up our sleeves and get down to business. As they say back home, it is time to walk the walk.
Canadians need the assurance that, from now on, Parliament will fight for their jobs, their families, and their communities.
There were, at the same time, some troubling omissions in the Speech from the Throne. There was no mention of bringing the age of retirement back to 65. There was no mention whatsoever of better oversight for Bill . There was no mention of restoring door-to-door mail delivery, despite an absolutely crystal clear promise to restore door-to-door mail delivery. There was no word about child care. On health care, there was no engagement from the government to cancel the planned cuts to federal transfers. We have an obligation to help the five million Canadians who do not have a family doctor. We have to fund a prescription drug plan. We must expand long-term care and palliative care for seniors. The government has the legal obligation to uphold and enforce the principles of the Canada Health Act against creeping privatization. Real change must mean real help for people. It is time to make quality child care affordable and ensure universality, so it is not just the rich who are entitled to high-quality child care.
When it comes to the government's proposed tax cut, let us get it done right. As it stands, the government's proposed middle-class tax cut would not give a penny to nearly 70% of Canadian taxpayers. Ironically, most of the benefit from the proposed Liberal tax cut would go to wealthy Canadians and give the average family absolutely nothing. Someone making the median income in Canada, which is $31,320 a year, would get nothing. A family that is middle class, earning $45,000 a year, would see zero benefit from these so-called tax cuts, whereas as my colleague from said a few minutes ago, a member of Parliament who earns $167,400 a year would get the maximum tax cut, and that is just not fair.
The plan proposed by the government does not include a tax hike for wealthy Canadians. In fact, the rich will get a tax cut, while a middle-class family earning $45,000 a year will get nothing. We can and we must do better.
Although we are an opposition party, we also believe we must bring forward proposals. The NDP did in fact propose an adjustment to improve the policy brought forward by the Liberals in order to include all middle-class families. That is what was promised.
Instead of introducing a tax cut for the second tax bracket, we propose applying it to the first tax bracket while enhancing the working income tax benefit. That change alone would give a worker who earns the median income an extra $200 in tax cuts.
With the NDP plan, workers who earn between $11,000 and $45,000 a year would save an average of $172, while under the Liberal government's plan, those workers will get nothing. This one small change to the government's policy would have a real impact on middle-class families. By including our suggestion in its proposal, the Liberal government could respect the spirit of its election promise.
Parliament must protect the most vulnerable. We agree that it is time to build a nation-to-nation, respectful relationship with indigenous peoples in our country. We have to close the funding gap for first nations education. That is an obligation. We must call a public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, immediately boost funding for child and family services, and provide clean drinking water on all reserves in Canada.
Resettling Syrian refugees is also a national project that we should all be proud of. Let us be clear with Canadians on the numbers and let us not disqualify a whole group of refugees based on the politics of fear. Let us instead show the generosity of our great country in living up to our international obligations and give these Syrian refugees the peace and opportunities they need.
It is time to fight against poverty. Let us close stock option tax loopholes for the richest CEOs in the country and invest the money in helping eliminate child poverty, a goal set by Ed Broadbent and supported by the House a full generation ago. Also, let us make Canada's largest corporations start paying their fair share of taxes. Let us give tens of thousands of Canadian families a raise by bringing in a federal minimum wage, a living wage of $15 an hour. Let us increase the guaranteed income supplement to lift 200,000 seniors out of poverty. We can all agree on that. Let us also return the retirement age from 67 to 65.
I hope we can also agree that it is time to start reversing the damage the previous government caused to our employment insurance system.
The new government's change in tone on climate change is welcome, but actions speak louder than words. The time for talking the talk is over. It is now time to walk the walk. In concrete terms, we need firm targets for reducing greenhouse gases in Canada. Nothing else will do if we are to meet our obligations. There needs to be a coherent plan and a binding deadline for achieving those targets. The government must also review the environmental assessment process and add climate impact to project assessment criteria.
Also, it is time to fix Ottawa. It is time to strengthen our democracy. In his last full year in the House, the outgoing prime minister only attended one-third of question periods. The best way to show respect for this institution is to show up in Parliament regularly and be answerable to Canadians.
The has made a bold commitment that 2015 would be the last election wherein an archaic first-past-the-post system produces phony majorities and a Parliament that does not reflect the true democratic will of Canadians. Every vote must count. We are ready to work with the government in ensuring that this fundamental value in our democracy, proportional representation, is truly honoured in Canada's new electoral system.
It is time to clean house here in Ottawa, and it is time to put an end to the old patronage ways. Politics should be noble and should inspire people to become involved and make others' lives better. It is time for Canadians to start trusting politics again. Politics should not be synonymous with scandals and partisan appointments. Politics should not sacrifice the public interest to serve the interests of those at the top. Again, the progressive NDP opposition is ready to work with the government to advance the public interest. However, we are also here to hold the government to account. If the government does not make the real change that Canadians are longing for, then we will be here to remind the government that it was elected with a mandate for real change. Canadians deserve nothing less.
In ending, I move, seconded by the member for :
That the amendment be amended by deleting everything after the word “by” and replacing it with the following:
“working in collaboration with opposition parties to present realistic, structured and concrete changes that benefit some of Canada's most vulnerable citizens including: seniors through an increase to the Guaranteed Income Supplement; middle class families through reducing taxes on the first income tax bracket; low-income workers with leadership by introducing a $15 per hour federal minimum wage; and supports to those struggling to enter the workforce with a robust and reliable employment insurance program.”
Let us carry on.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I am proud to stand here and speak to the Speech from the Throne. It is short, it is focused, it is clear, and it sets priorities for promises that were made during the election.
What is really important is that the people of Vancouver Centre who re-elected me will be pleased with some of those promises, especially the ones we have heard before the Speech from the Throne such as the fact that we will reinstate the Kitsilano Coast Guard base and the marine communication segments that were cut to British Columbia. This Speech from the Throne talks about promises that were made, and this was one of them.
I want to congratulate all the members in the House who were re-elected and who were newly elected. I really hope that the tone set in the Speech from the Throne will be held dearly by all of them, as they begin to learn how to work together, respecting each other. Part of that respect would have been to allow the to speak today.
The Speech from the Throne recognizes the diversity of Canadians not only demographically but regionally, the fact that we are so very different in all parts of this country in which we live. It recognizes that diversity is what has made this nation great. It vows to bring back that diversity and to ensure that all Canadians, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or where they live in the country, will have the opportunity to succeed.
I heard the interim speak about big spending promises in the Speech from the Throne. I think we all believe that it is about spending but it is also about investing in Canadians. It is about helping Canadians have the opportunity to succeed regardless of where they live, their socio-economic conditions, or their status as indigenous peoples, immigrants, or refugees. That is reflected in the Speech from the Throne.
We have heard real promises made with regard to treating indigenous peoples on a nation-to-nation basis, to bringing in an inquiry on the missing and murdered aboriginal women, to sitting down and bringing in recommendations from the truth and reconciliation committee. These important pieces have been promised in the Speech from the Throne.
Bringing in 25,000 refugees by February 16, 2016 is a promise that will be kept, and it is not just bringing them in. It is about these refugees having access to something that was denied under the last government, access to health care. This is an important, ensuring that immigrants and refugees who come to our country, like I did at one time, will have the opportunity to succeed, to have a dream, and to know that they and their children can have better lives.
This is part of what good government does. It invests in people. It is something the last government never did understand. It played games with people, and it only invested in things in which it was interested.
One of the most important things is not only investing in Canadians but investing in them in every phase of their lives. We see the child benefit. It is a real child benefit. It is not going to be taxed. I know the former government talked about the child tax benefit, but it was taken away in the form of taxation. We are not doing that. We are giving it to Canadians so middle-class Canadians can afford to bring up their children.
We are looking at how we can help middle-class Canadians get the kinds of tax cuts they need to move forward. We are talking about how we can help seniors retire in dignity. That is one of the things the last government obviously did not understand. So many seniors are living in poverty. Expanding the CPP is one way of helping our seniors.
We are looking at a very bold plan. It is a plan about people. As we have heard our say today in his speech, we know it is not possible to create jobs and improve our economy unless we look at environmental sustainability, that one cannot work without the other and that it is possible to do both. This is why we see a strong piece about the environment in the Speech from the Throne and the work that needs to be done in reaching goals, which were very ambitious in Paris.
Our country has agreed to look at how we can achieve those goals. To do so, we will work in a very new tone within our government, which is to work in partnership, not only with aboriginal peoples but the provinces. We saw the Conservative government turn its back on provinces and allowed them to fend for themselves. It treated them quite miserably, especially in health care, where the provinces were beginning to show that they could not deliver the care needed, as promised in the Paul Martin $42.1 billion health accord. When the previous government came into power in 2006, it did not cancel it but it ignored it and the provinces, and it did not sustain medicare, which is really important.
The Speech from the Throne talked about a new accord with the provinces, meaning we must change the system by which we deliver health care. We must move to community-based care, interdisciplinary care, and home care. Indeed, acute care is the old way of delivering care and should be part of the system only when intervention is needed. We have seen some changes that need to be made, again, because of cuts made by the last government in health care, decision-making that was done unilaterally that changed the transfers on a per capita basis that began to hurt the smaller provinces.
There are so many things in the Speech from the Throne that I do not even know how I can cover them all, but I will try.
We have not only talked about children and how the new child benefit will help them, but we have also looked at how low and middle-income Canadians, when they finish school, will get access to post-secondary education. This is part of the creating opportunity. This is part of giving people the tools they may need to succeed.
We know that today many young people cannot afford post-secondary education. I have heard that the official opposition thinks we are spending a lot of money and doing all kinds of silly things. We are investing in people, we are investing in the economy, we are investing in the environment, we are investing in the diversity of our people, and we are investing in those who have had a very difficult time making it. Again, that is what good government does.
We are creating partnerships with provinces, with first nations people, and with Canadians. We are promising to consult, and have already begun to consult, with Canadians. That is part of the democratic process. It is not just about how one votes, but how one respects civil society. There is a real promise of working with civil society. Task forces are going to be set up to talk about how we should move forward and work to ensure that as we move forward it will be implementable and achieve the objectives of what we are discussing.
We have talked about evidence-based decision-making. For a decade, we forgot what evidence-based decision-making was in the House. We have seen ideological decision-making in health care, which hurts people, public safety and the environment. All Canadians and all of us in the House have to work together, in the spirit of good faith, to make the changes and rebuild what was destroyed by the last government. This is a job that we must undertake.
I have heard the leader of the NDP talk about rolling up our sleeves. That is the first thing we have to do. We have to roll up our sleeves and get the job done by using science, evidence, consultation and with the people in the House working together. There is now a new respect for members of Parliament in the House. Every one of us was elected by Canadians. How we treat each other in the House, the way we respect each other, the way we work together without putting up roadblocks when we have common goals is what I and the Speech from the Throne hope will happen.
I ask hon. members to let us move forward in the spirit of hope and optimism, to do the best for Canadians, and create the country we know we can have.
Mr. Speaker, I am rising in this hallowed House for the first time as the member for LaSalle—Émard—Verdun.
I would first like to thank the people of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun for placing their trust in me. I will work hard to serve them with all my heart and to the best of my ability.
I would also like to thank my family, my wife Geneviève Saumier, my children Andre Vito, Gabrielle Vanda, and Dominique Charleen, as well as my volunteers and organizers for their support, patience, and hard work.
I would like to recognize my mentors, the Hon. Justice Peter deCarteret Cory, formerly of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the Hon. Gilbert “Gib” Parent, who sat in your chair at one time, Mr. Speaker, for teaching me about the values of humility, justice, decency, and hard work.
Finally, I wish to thank my parents who chose this country to escape the ravages of poverty and war, and who made many sacrifices such that their children could be formally educated, a privilege they never had, in order to have a better life.
It is a story common to many people in this House, whether immigrants or children of immigrants, grandchildren or descendants of immigrants. It is precisely because this is a common story in this House and across this country that this is such a great country.
The first nations welcomed wave after wave of newcomers, but unfortunately the kindness they showed those newcomers was not reciprocated. The way the first nations were treated was not fair or humane. It was a terrible tragedy.
We must correct this historical and modern injustice by working with our aboriginal peoples to adjust the moral compass of this great country and ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity. In the Speech from the Throne, this government promised to make that a priority. It is never too late to correct the mistakes of the past, and those mistakes must be corrected. We are taking the first steps toward doing so with the measures announced.
As a number of members of this House will attest, in almost 20 years of teaching property law at the Faculty of Law at McGill University, I have promoted the cause of justice to our first nations.
By choosing to introduce to my students the varieties of aboriginal property normativity, and by critiquing the vastly imperfect western concepts of aboriginal title and aboriginal rights, I have emphasized that much more was needed, and that reconciliation and justice toward aboriginal peoples remains the single most important priority facing this country.
I pledge to work with all members of this honourable House, with first nations, and indeed with all Canadians to work toward reconciliation and help restore justice and peace.
In so doing, I also honour the legacy of my teacher, friend, and mentor, the late Professor Roderick Macdonald, who as president of the Law Commission of Canada penned a report on residential schools that helped lead to the historic apology to aboriginal peoples and the establishment of the truth and reconciliation process.
The welcoming tradition, first exemplified by our first nations, must and shall continue as people across Canada and in move to welcome refugees from Syria. We must be compassionate in the face of human catastrophe. We will be helping local organizations to step up, and we will be encouraging others to do likewise.
At the end of this, there will be another 25,000 Canadian stories to add to the narrative of this wonderful country.
The riding of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun needs an agenda like the one the government set out in the throne speech. It is a new riding, and part of it was previously very well served by the Right Honourable Paul Martin. This riding is a microcosm of the country.
In fact, in my riding, francophones, allophones, and anglophones, members of various cultural and religious communities, and people with a variety of beliefs and from very different socio-economic backgrounds live together in an atmosphere of peace and respect. This riding, which is surrounded by the river, the Lachine canal, an aqueduct and highways, is attracting more and more young people because of the quality of life there.
What my constituents need now is a positive and progressive government that has an active vision for the future and a detailed plan. They need real change.
A significant proportion of the population in my riding is made up of middle-class families with young children. They will benefit from the tax cuts and the family benefit described in the throne speech.
The riding is also a poster child for infrastructure spending and investment. The major highways that bound the riding are crumbling visibly and are in dire need of rebuilding. Happily, some of this work has already begun, on the new Champlain Bridge and the replacement of the Turcot interchange, but much more needs to be done.
For security and safety, as well as to encourage and improve public transit use, Verdun needs another smaller crossing to Nuns' Island. The only current crossing is a busy highway. Thankfully, Verdun and Ville Émard are generally well served by the Montreal Metro, but LaSalle needs better transit links both to the metro and to the downtown, in order to break the culture of the automobile. The infrastructure program proposed by the government could be used to accomplish these very important goals.
In Verdun, a city with a great history and an increasingly trendy part of Montreal, there is an urgent need for social housing. This is also the case for Ville Émard, Côte-Saint-Paul, and LaSalle. Infrastructure spending in social housing and incentives to encourage the maintenance of the stock of affordable rental housing would help alleviate this acute need.
Government must invest in LaSalle—Émard—Verdun and across Canada.
My riding also needs jobs. Poverty is a real problem in the riding of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun. There are many people who would like to be part of the middle class but who do not have meaningful jobs. The quality jobs generated by our infrastructure investment program will create the opportunities these people need, directly or indirectly. This is particularly true for cultural communities in which the unemployment rate is especially high.
My riding could make a name for itself in the area of innovation, since it is close to universities and a CEGEP, as well as being home to rapidly evolving post-industrial spaces. Programs to invest in accelerators and incubators, and in new technologies, could help reinforce the trends we are already seeing.
Furthermore, the commitments to seniors and veterans will alleviate poverty in this riding.
I turn lastly to the jewels of the riding, the St. Lawrence River and the Lachine Canal. The river links the riding from end to end and provides a sublimely beautiful recreational space for the riding's residents and non-residents alike. Its banks and the quality of its water need protection. It was with a heavy heart and a commitment to make real change that the was forced to approve the dumping of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River, some of it at points in this riding, in order to undertake necessary infrastructure work.
We must invest in green infrastructure, brown water infrastructure, water treatment, and sewers to ensure that such a move must never again be taken. All along the river, we need to ensure water treatment capacity is not only adequate for present needs but is enhanced to meet the demands of a changing climate. The wildlife along the river and its islands also requires vigilance in the protection of its habitat.
The Lachine Canal is a historic waterway that has undergone transformative change, and here too we can develop this as a wonderful park space for Canadians across the country.
The people of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun voted for real change. They want something better. They want something positive. They want to rebuild their riding, physically and emotionally. Our government committed to doing so, not only in LaSalle—Émard—Verdun, but also across the country. The throne speech set out our first steps.
It is time, in a spirit of co-operation and good faith, to get to the heavy lifting.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
Yesterday was a day of remembrance to commemorate what happened at École Polytechnique in Montreal, and I would like to recognize the women who were the victims of that terrible event. It is important for everyone to remember that on December 6, 1989, our lives were once again marked by tragedy. I thought it was important to remind everyone before I begin my speech.
I also want to thank the voters in the beautiful riding of , which used to be Roberval and later became Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. They have placed their trust in me for a fourth time.
As the official opposition, we welcome the openness announced by the new government. I want to congratulate the government and give our assurance that we will work with it in the interest of the Canadian public. Of course we are ready to get to work in the House to advance the issues, to keep taxes low for Canadians, and to put more money back into their pockets.
However, we are concerned about what we heard in the throne speech because many of the Liberal government's promises could end up costing Canadians a lot of money. We agree with the new government that the voices of all Canadians matter. That is why we will be the voice of Canadian families and taxpayers in Parliament and why we will hold the government to account on its policies, which will most certainly result in tax hikes for families and more debt for future generations, as well as centralization of power in Ottawa at the expense of provincial jurisdiction.
We will request that the government explain, in an open and transparent manner, how it intends to manage the economy. The Liberals must explain to Canadians how they will pay for all of the promises they have made.
Already the Liberals have announced that they will not respect their own $10-billion deficit limit. The government must be transparent with Canadians and tell them exactly how large a deficit it wants to run and for how long.
That is particularly important because reports like the one from the C.D. Howe Institute—which was, until recently, run by the Minister of Finance—are already suggesting that changes to federal taxation might make it difficult for national tax revenue to cover the cost of keeping those promises.
There could be a shortfall of more than $4 billion over and above the deficit that was already announced. We will see how this turns out, but we cannot spend money we do not have. When people spend more than they earn, sooner or later the bank will come get the keys to the car or the house. That is exactly what those people want to do.
The Conservative Party has always been in favour of low taxes, cost cutting, and sound economic management. Under our government, federal tax revenues relative to GDP were at their lowest level since the Second World War, over 50 years ago.
The government has laid out its plan for the coming years. We will make sure it also has a plan that includes a return to a balanced budget, as promised.
Not only are the new government's many commitments terribly short on economic and fiscal details, but a number of the commitments on infrastructure, education, and health fall under provincial jurisdiction.
I just listened to my colleague talk about infrastructure in his riding. Everything he talked about falls under provincial jurisdiction. The provinces own 93% of the infrastructure in the country. As usual, the Liberals want to interfere in provincial matters and have everything centralized in Ottawa.
Our Conservative government has always maintained solid co-operation and great respect in its relations with the provinces, practising an open federalism. In this respect, we are the only party that honours the spirit of our Constitution and the founding principles of our Confederation.
We are also the only party that made sustained and significant increases to the transfers to the provinces. Our government made sure that equalization payments will continue to grow in relation to the economy.
Under the Conservative government, federal transfers increased by 63% between 2006 and 2015. It is that unparalleled support through the equalization program and the Canada health and social transfers that allowed the provinces to respond appropriately to the needs of their citizens.
What we saw in the Speech from the Throne indicates that the Liberal government's planned spending will most certainly lead to falling revenues for the provinces, and that it also intends to pursue its long tradition of centralizing power in Ottawa against the interests of the provinces.
It is incredible to see that the speech makes no mention of agriculture. How can the Liberal government claim to represent the voice of all Canadians and not make a single mention of the agricultural community?
Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector contributes more than $100 billion to Canada's economy and employs more than two million people. It is the backbone of the Canadian economy. The quality of life of Canadian communities big and small from coast to coast depends on agriculture. That includes helping farmers penetrate new markets through free trade agreements such as the trans-Pacific partnership, which the new government must ratify as soon as possible.
We know that our farmers and their products can compete with the best in the world. We are therefore urging the government to pursue our party's work and defend our farmers' interests.
The Liberal government's reluctance to support Canadian businesses by ratifying the historic TPP is alarming. This agreement is one of the excellent legacies of the previous Conservative government. It opens up some of the largest markets to Canadian businesses and will lead to the quickest growth in the world. Every sector of the Canadian economy will benefit from the TPP, including the forestry industry, which our government always vigorously supported. In the Speech from the Throne, the forestry industry was conspicuous by its absence.
It is also notable that there was no mention of ISIS in the throne speech. How can the government increase Canadians' security, as it has promised, if it does not recognize one of the greatest threats to that security?
ISIS has demonstrated its ability to carry out attacks around the world and has repeatedly called upon its members to target Canadians at home and abroad.
At a time when our allies are strengthening their resolve to defeat this terrorist group, we must stand side by side with our partners. Canada must remain a contributing member of the international coalition's air bombing campaign.
We continue to urge the Liberal government to reconsider its decision and ensure that the Royal Canadian Air Force remains engaged in the fight against ISIS.
We are ready to work respectfully with all of our colleagues in the interest of all Canadians. However, our new government must know that we will be watching it very closely.
We will be carefully monitoring the situation.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand in this House today as the newly elected member for Calgary Signal Hill. I will talk a bit about the riding in a few minutes. Before I do that, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, the member for , and the member for for your new roles in this assembly in trying to ensure that we maintain those so-called sunny ways referred to by our leader this morning. I would also like to congratulate all 337 of my colleagues who were successful on October 19. We all know that it was a long campaign and it is truly an honour to be representing our constituents. Congratulations to each one of us.
I would like to take a moment and talk about my constituency of Calgary Signal Hill and the support that I received and continue to receive from my family and the volunteers of my constituency. I was fortunate to have sat in the provincial legislative assembly of Alberta for two terms, and those same volunteers and constituents were there when I asked for their support on October 19. I am extremely grateful.
Calgary Signal Hill is a riding that has a new name, but it is primarily made up of the former riding of Calgary West. It has always been a Conservative riding, but we have a little different representation today than we may have had in the past. I look forward to working with each member to ensure that our constituents feel as though they are represented in this House.
On November 11, I participated in the celebrations at Battalion Park. For those who do not know, our constituency of Signal Hill is one of the many foothill ridings I have the pleasure of representing. However, 100 years ago our young troops were being assembled at Camp Sarcee, by the Elbow River. Prior to leaving our country, they had a remembrance of the battles they were going off to fight. They carried 16,000 stones all painted white and marked across the side of Signal Hill. The numbers on the side of Signal Hill are 137, 113, 151, and 51, which are the battalions of those soldiers who went off to war, many of whom did not come back.
We celebrated on November 11 not only to recognize the contributions our soldiers made to preserve the freedom that we enjoy here today but also to recognize the 100th anniversary of this park. There is an initiative to designate it as a national historic site. I would ask the government to seriously consider endorsing this initiative to declare Battalion Park a national historic site.
Standing there on November 11, I just could not help thinking about those soldiers who gave up their lives for the freedom we enjoy today, and then turn that clock ahead 100 years when we have a government that is steadfastly refusing to defend our country against the thugs who are wanting to kill people in this world. We are withdrawing as defenders of freedom where those young men and women were the fighters for freedom 100 years ago. It is shameful. The throne speech, in my view, is shameful. It is shameful for what it does not say.
We had a stand in this House earlier today who had the opportunity to fill in those blanks. Yes, we could have missed some things, he could have said. He could have talked about, as we have mentioned, agriculture, forestry, the economy, pipelines, energy, or any number of things, but no. What did we hear? We heard all this fuzzy good news stuff.
I am really happy that it is not me who has to go back to Calgary and sell this throne speech. I would not want to be the member for , the Minister of Veterans Affairs, or the member for and have to go back and sell this throne speech in a city that has lost 110,000 jobs in the last year. It is shameful.
In some of the response to the throne speech on the other side of the House, there seems to be a view that somehow if we just spend more taxpayers' dollars, we will fix the economy. I even heard a member say in this House that all we need to fix the unemployment problem in the member's riding is to create more federal service jobs. I was shaking my head wondering if I heard correctly. That is hardly the way we are going to fix the economy.
We can fix the economy by working as a government to get out of the way of the private sector doing its job. We can start tomorrow, ensuring that we get access to tidewater for our products from western Canada.
When the price of oil is at $100 internationally, a $20 differential is workable, but when the West Texas crude is selling at $40 a barrel and we in western Canada are getting half that, that is not right. The main reason for that is because we are not moving forward on getting pipelines to the coast, because we are advocating to the environmental groups that continue to stand in the way. All I heard from the today was more support for that kind of standing in the way of development of the private sector.
I am going to conclude by saying that the will be in for a rude awakening when he starts preparing his budget in a few months. We have heard about taxing the rich crowd. We heard the talking about it again. That so-called rich crowd lives in my riding. A whole bunch of the so-called Liberal-designated rich crowd members are not working today. They do not have jobs.
This particular has his work cut out for him to bring in a budget that is going to cover all the expenses that we already see in that throne speech. I am not sure where the money is going to come from. As has been mentioned by both the deputy leader and the leader this morning, that deficit is already rising. By the time the budget comes in, I do not know what the number is going to be but it is not going to be pretty.
The Liberal government is going to have to answer for it. It is all the promises that the Liberals are making in that fairytale world that they are living in over there, that world where that bunch actually out-NDPed the NDP in the election. Now, how bad was that?
I will conclude by saying this. Albertans made a decision last spring to elect an NDP government in Alberta. Members should hold the applause. We are in a mess in that province. Unfortunately we elected a couple of those Liberals in the last federal election on October 19.
Thank goodness the majority of the province came to its senses and elected a large number of Conservative members of Parliament who are going to fight to ensure that we have jobs in this province, created by the private sector and not by a bunch of government programs on green technology and stuff that will create nothing. We have seen what has happened in Ontario with hydro. I think there is more of that coming.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for .
It is an honour to rise for the first time and introduce myself and the great riding of Sudbury.
Before I begin, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wife and my children, Mylène, Henri, and Théo, for their love and support, which gave me the strength to win my seat in the House of Commons.
I would also like to thank my team of hard-working supporters and all the voters in Sudbury for their confidence in me.
I also want to thank my family and friends in my home town of Kapuskasing in northern Ontario for their ongoing encouragement.
Today, I would like to tell members a bit about my great riding and the vast potential of the region of northern Ontario, and how the speech from the throne, in its elements, will profit it.
Sudbury also is a microcosm of Canada. With a majority anglophone population and over 45,000 French-speaking residents, Sudbury has the third-largest francophone community outside of Quebec and a strong indigenous population. Sudbury was built on the backs of waves of immigrants from Italy, Finland, Poland, Ukraine, and Greece, and today a strong South Asian population. It is a rich arts and culture hub of Northern Ontario, reflecting Canadian diversity.
Sudbury is located in boreal forest in the heart of the Canadian Shield and is rich in natural resources.
As stated in the Speech from the Throne, in Sudbury people see the result of immigrants building successful lives in Canada, and I am proud to stand with this government in working hard to bring in immigrants and refugees to contribute to Canada's economic success.
There is a total of 330 lakes within the city of Sudbury, more lakes than any other municipality in the world. In fact, Lake Wanapitei is the largest city-contained lake in the world. Ramsey Lake, in the heart of my riding, is the second-largest lake and provides over 40,000 homes with fresh water. Sudbury is also home to the fourth-largest film festival in Canada, the third- and eighth-largest science centres in Canada, a burgeoning film industry, and a variety of cultural and music festivals, such as the jazz festival, which I am proud to have helped launch.
I am therefore proud to be part of a government that plans to invest in culture and in Canada's creative industry, as set out in the throne speech.
I will return shortly to the many hidden gems that make Sudbury a great place to live, but I want to talk first about what my riding is known for.
Most know that Sudbury is home to one of the largest integrated mining complexes in the world. Without a doubt, it is the richest mining district in North America and is one of the leading hardrock mining regions in the world. It was a sector largely ignored by the past government and I find it important to raise it today.
From my business office in the centre of the city, I see three headframes, a smelter, and the second-largest smokestack in the world. Nowhere else in the world is the mining industry so pervasive. In fact, there are 5,000 kilometres of underground tunnels. If they were put back to back, they would go from Sudbury to Vancouver underground.
However, the real story of Sudbury's mining industry is its growing mining supply and equipment sector. As new technology and innovation led to new products and processes, these homegrown companies found eager national and international markets looking to improve their productivity. Today, the sector represents more than 300 companies in Sudbury, employing almost 14,000 skilled workers and professionals and generating approximately $4 billion in revenue each year, some 40% of the mineral production in Ontario.
Because of this innovation boom, mining research and development in Sudbury has evolved into a world-class industry all its own. Many of the brightest minds and mining-related sciences are being drawn to Sudbury to be part of one of the world's most advanced clusters of international mining research. Greater Sudbury's innovation cluster is made possible through partnerships involving post-secondary institutions, all levels of government, and some of the world's largest mining corporations.
The long-term sustainability of these mining companies is dependent on the innovative research coming out of facilities like CEMI, the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation, and MIRARCO, the Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation and Applied Research Corporation, both located at Sudbury's Laurentian University, as well as NORCAT, the Northern Centre for Advanced Technology Inc., which is the third major innovation partner.
Other world-class research facilities include the SNOLAB, which I will come back to in a moment, and the Vale Living with Lakes Centre at Laurentian University, where I had the great honour of welcoming our then soon-to-be prime minister last August, when he announced $200 million in annual funding in support of technology incubators and research facilities and financing for small businesses looking to grow.
Obviously, when it comes to Sudbury's success stories, it is important to mention environmental restoration.
Sudbury has received numerous awards for its aggressive land reclamation program, including a United Nations Local Government Award and the U.S. Chevron Conservation Award. Over the past 30 years, dozens of community partners have planted over 10 million trees, transforming our sulphur-damaged moonscape into a reforested vista of green. In fact, a prime example of the sustainable transformation of our mining industry and our city's landscape is coming online right now.
Currently, Vale is wrapping up a $1 billion investment in pollution controls to further reduce sulphur dioxide emissions 80% below current levels, well below government standards. When completed, Vale will be in a position to demolish its iconic smokestack. Yes, the second-largest smokestack in the world may be demolished because of the innovation in research that has been done.
In Sudbury, we strive to protect the environment and grow the economy. These have been compatible goals in Sudbury. However, more work is needed, but that is the success of the Sudbury region.
Earlier I mentioned the SNOLAB, and I want to take a moment to recognize it and its staff, particularly Dr. Arthur McDonald, for their historic contributions to humanity's understanding of our world and how it works. I am sure some of my colleagues recall that Dr. McDonald and his colleagues last month won the Nobel Prize in Physics for work largely conducted at Sudbury's SNOLAB.
SNOLAB is an international underground research facility specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics. Located two kilometres underground in the Vale Creighton Mine, SNOLAB has 5,000 square metres of clean space underground for experiments and the supporting infrastructure. It is the perfect example of what we have done in Sudbury to transform our community into a world-class centre of innovation. Sudbury has made tremendous strides and succeeded in diversifying the local economy away from only the mining extraction sector.
Sudbury is a major educational centre in northern Ontario, with two colleges and a university that offer courses in both official languages. The Regroupement des organismes francophones or ROC in Sudbury works to promote Franco-Ontarian culture through theatre, literature, visual arts, music, and books, as well as through a cultural centre that makes Sudbury a veritable hub of Canada's Francophonie.
I am proud to be part of a government that encourages and promotes the use of both official languages.
Looking forward, thanks to the support of the federal government, Health Sciences North is launching the Advanced Medical Research Institute of Canada, which is attracting specialists in medical research conducted on an ongoing basis.
I am also proud to be part of a government that has promised to stand up for Canadians who need support. Seniors, veterans, young people, those suffering from mental illness will be my priority.
My grandfather fought in World War II. He came back physically fine but was never the same. We now know that he suffered from PTSD and my family suffered with him. After his experience, it is important for me to ensure that no veteran or their families have to fight the government for the support and compensation they have earned. It is important that we work as hard to provide supports for people suffering from mental illness as from physical illness.
I want to conclude today by sharing with the House details of the most significant economic opportunities presented to Canadians in a generation, the Ring of Fire. In the far north of Ontario there is unparalleled opportunity for Canada and Ontario to follow Sudbury's lead and continue to diversify our economy and solidify our place as a global leader in mining innovation and technology.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my remarks.
The numbers on the Ring of Fire speak for themselves. Analysis shows that within the first 10 years of its development, the Ring of Fire will make significant contributions to Canada's economy, and will sustain up to 5,000 full-time jobs annually, create more than $25 billion in economic activity, as well as generate more than $6 billion in government tax revenues. All of this provides a compelling incentive for all governments to invest in this economic opportunity.
I know that along with my Northern Ontario caucus colleagues we will champion this opportunity by standing up for the leaders who are prospecting and investing in northern Ontario; the researchers and innovators whose work allows us to mine, process and transfer ore sustainably; and importantly, the indigenous peoples of that area who have called these lands home for generations, and ensure that they are fully engaged in reviewing and monitoring this project as promised in the Speech from the Throne. We will stand up for the men and women seeking to earn a living and support their families in one of the oldest and most respected industries in Canada, hardrock mining.
I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House of Commons to build Sudbury, northern Ontario, and Canada into a global centre for sustained mining excellence.
Mr. Speaker, as this is the first time I have risen in the House, I want to congratulate you on your election.
I would also like to congratulate all my colleagues in the House on being voted into office. I have the opportunity to rise today because more than 34,000 voters put their trust in me, and I am extremely grateful. I want to assure the House that I will be representing all the people of .
I would also like to thank my family, my girlfriend Kathryn, my brother Mathieu and his wife Anick, my nephew Noah, and my parents.
If nothing changes, we will have to honour the greatest supporter of the House, the person who has yet to miss a session, and that is my father, who is again seated in the gallery watching the House conduct its business. One might say that he is a true supporter of Canadians.
As a Franco-Ontarian, I am delighted to debate the throne speech. Nearly seventy per cent of the wonderful riding of is francophone. Our region has a rich cultural and heritage legacy.
I am proud to say that the only francophone agricultural college outside Quebec, Collège D'Alfred, is located in my riding. It is important for Franco-Ontarians, and for all francophones outside Quebec, to preserve their language and their cultural heritage. I know that my colleague from believes this as well.
It starts with our public institutions providing adequate service in both languages. I am proud to be part of a government that understands and respects that fact.
That is why our government will support CBC/Radio-Canada and encourage the use of the country's two official languages by investing in Canada's cultural and creative industries.
That is real change. Diversity matters to this government, and we recognize that it is a source of strength, not a weakness. Diversity is what brings us together here in Canada. That is why it is so important for us to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.
In , nine out of 10 families earn less than $150,000. The new Canada child benefit will help 90% of families with children under the age of 18 and will lift 315,000 children out of poverty. That is a fair plan for Canadians.
Yesterday was the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. To my dismay, last week I found out that 107 cases of sexual assault were reported in , more than last year. That is unacceptable.
In the throne speech, the government committed to introducing legislation to provide better support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
I will work with my colleagues on this because I hope that, next year, I will be able to rise in the House to say that that number has gone down.
Two weeks ago, I was in here after my swearing-in ceremony with my three-year-old nephew. It got me thinking about the legacy that I wanted to leave him. I want to ensure that the next generation inherits a house with a stronger foundation.
Can a homeowner really claim that the family budget is in the black when the roof is leaking? The answer is no, because down the road, major repairs will cost a lot more money, which will have an even greater impact on the budget. This is why we need to make infrastructure investments now. This is not a Liberal idea; it is simply a government listening to Canadians. It is what all mayors across Canada have been asking for. It is what all nine mayors in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell have been asking for.
For instance, the municipality of Clarence-Rockland has been advocating for the expansion of Highway 174/17 for many decades now. Residents are telling me that while they would love to take public transit to come to work in Ottawa, it is simply not advantageous for them to do so. After all, what is the point of taking public transit if one is stuck in traffic, just like everybody else? It also makes sense, as Ottawa is building its light rail transit system.
Another example is Maxville, where every year the largest highland games in North America are hosted. It still relies on water wells. Unfortunately, the wells are getting dry. A senior's residence is forced to truck water in, which is costing it over $100,000 per year. This only increases the cost for our seniors to stay there. Surely, we can do better than that. Our seniors deserve better.
For over two months, we had the opportunity to ask people what they thought as we went door to door. Access to home care was a recurring theme. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the excellent work done by Prescott and Russell Community Services. This organization provides home care services to people who need them. A large part of the population is aging, but these people want to stay at home. That is why it is important to continue investing in health care. That is why it is important for our to sit down with the provincial and territorial leaders to sign a new health care accord.
We can choose to ignore the fact that our population is aging and not invest in our health care system, but that would mean governing with our heads in the sand. A responsible government looks at what is coming.
The last point I want to raise is the importance of agriculture. While some might worry the word “agriculture” was not included in the Speech from the Throne, I and many of my colleagues who come from rural ridings will work to ensure our agricultural sector is a growing part of our economy. However, the only way to create the jobs of tomorrow is to invest in research. That is the commitment we made during the campaign.
That is the promise that I made to Ferme d’la sept, to the Lafrance, Lemieux, and Lalonde families, and to others.
I know we will honour our commitments.
In closing, the throne speech presents a vision for Canada that brings Canadians together, invests in the middle class, seeks to grow the economy by investing in our infrastructure, respects official languages, and will rely on fact-based decision-making.
I look forward to working with all of my colleagues from the two sides of the House. I know we will not always agree, but we must keep the level of debate to a mutual respect. After all, we all share a common goal, and that is to improve the lives of all Canadians.