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View Damien Kurek Profile
View Damien Kurek Profile
2019-12-09 11:06 [p.69]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in the House for the first time.
Before I get into what will be a list of people I want to thank, I would like to reflect for a moment on when my wife and I flew here for the first time after the election for one of the orientation days. Although I had been to this chamber and to the chamber in Centre Block many times, it was an incredible experience to walk onto the floor of this House, the very epicentre of Canadian democracy, to see that so clearly demonstrated through the traditions represented, the desks, the very carpet, and all that that means. It truly is a humbling experience, the burden that all 338 of us have as we sit here representing people from across this country.
Danielle and I took a few moments and reflected on the significance of what that means in our nation's more than 150-year history. The phrase that kept coming to mind, which I repeated often throughout the election, was the short statement in section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, regarding the House of Commons and making laws “for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada”.
Although it talks primarily about delegated authority, over these last seven to eight months I spent a lot of time campaigning and talking with Canadians, the people of Battle River—Crowfoot. I thought time and time again the prime reason we are here is to ensure that we have peace, order and good governance. Each and every one of us has that responsibility in representing our many constituents in the diverse regions that make up this country and that we all work toward that in the midst of what often will be differences, sometimes passionate differences, on policy items. As we work in a unique minority Parliament there has to be a level of working together to some degree, while we all strive for peace, order and good government.
I would be remiss if I did not list a few of the people I wish to thank. I will get to the people of Battle River—Crowfoot in a minute, but I first I need to thank my family.
My wife Danielle is an amazing life partner. I thank her for the support she has given over these last eight months in the adventure of a nomination campaign and now during the early months as a member of Parliament. I thank Danielle so much. I am also very proud of my two boys, Matthew and Emerson, who are excited that dad gets to now work in a castle. They are a little young to understand the dynamics of it, but they like the fact that I work in a castle.
I thank my dad, siblings, aunts and uncles. When one comes from a farming family, one has a real understanding of the significance of what family is in a situation like this, and I thank my family.
I want to especially mention my late grandfathers, Jim Hutchings and Felix Kurek, who, throughout their lives, were such an encouragement to me. They were both very different people, but they demonstrated so well what it is to be Canadian and all that it represents. My grandfather Felix had a career in the energy industry. My grandfather Jim was a career farmer and demonstrated well what it is to be Canadian.
I thank my campaign team. By the end of the campaign, we had more than 200 people who participated in the nomination and election campaigns. It was incredible to have all of these people involved in the democratic process, and I thank my campaign team.
I would also like to thank my office staff, some of whom I have worked with before and some of whom are new, for their hard work, support and effort, especially over these last weeks as I have been learning the ropes as a member of Parliament.
I want to also thank my predecessor Kevin Sorenson. Kevin demonstrated well what it is to be a strong representative with a principled voice for east central Alberta. He is a principled, good guy. I appreciate Kevin's friendship and his mentorship. I am glad that he is still quick to offer me advice, even though I am now the one sitting in the chamber and he is farming and taking some well-deserved rest.
I want to talk about the people of Battle River—Crowfoot, and my response to the throne speech and the amendment that our Conservative caucus has brought forward. They go hand in hand.
I am a fifth-generation farmer from the constituency of Battle River—Crowfoot. Over the last seven or eight months I have spoken to over 10,000 people who are faced with the reality of the country in which we live. I need to first thank them for the honour of representing them with a strong mandate in this House. I will be their voice in Parliament, making sure that the concerns, the issues and all that makes up Battle River—Crowfoot, that 52,000 square kilometres of east central Alberta, get represented in our capital. I take that seriously. I thank them again for this honour.
As I have travelled over these last eight months, and as I have continued connecting with the people in Battle River—Crowfoot since the election, I have heard a consistent message. They are frustrated and they are not content with our country's status. As a proud Canadian, that is difficult to hear.
We have heard a number of speeches from some of my colleagues that have touched on this, but the level of alienation that we are hearing about is real. I would urge members opposite to take seriously the fact that there are lifelong proud Canadians who feel their country is not serving them. That is a problem and something that needs to be acknowledged. Unfortunately, it was not acknowledged in the throne speech.
I have spoken with energy workers, people who have made a career in the oil and gas sector, who have given up hope. These people are proud of the work they do, including the world-class environmental standards that they work hard to preserve each and every day. They were not recognized. They need champions, yet unfortunately, the throne speech does not even acknowledge them.
I have spoken with the agricultural industry. As a fifth-generation farmer, I am proud of that legacy. Farmers are stewards of the land in Alberta's special areas, yet producers have faced devastating consequences. Let me outline what that might look like for a producer, a farmer. Farmers are facing a drop in the price of canola from $13 a bushel to $9 a bushel. That has a devastating impact on a farmer's bottom line in an industry that already has very slim margins. We did not see those issues addressed in the throne speech. However, the government seems to brag about its relationship on the international stage when it is literally being laughed at on late night television.
I talked to other business owners and people within my constituency. They are all so close to giving up hope. That is devastating for a proud Canadian, whether it be workers in manufacturing, or whether it be those teachers, nurses, doctors in our small communities. If they do not have strong communities, those institutions cannot thrive.
My speaking time is nearly done and I look forward to answering questions. I would simply conclude by saying once again that I am so honoured to be the member of Parliament for Battle River—Crowfoot. I thank God for this country. It is such an honour to be able to participate in this democratic process and all that it means for the future of Battle River—Crowfoot and this nation.
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