Madam Speaker, it is delightful to see one of my former seatmates sitting in that chair again tonight. Congratulations.
I know all my colleagues have heard this a lot, but it is an absolute honour to rise in this place in my first opportunity to speak in the House during the 43rd Parliament.
I want to take a moment to thank the amazing people in my constituency of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, the greatest riding in all of Canada, with all due respect to the members who have had amazing speeches in the House today and gave me a chance to hear about so many wonderful ridings across this country. This is one of those first few weeks of this sitting of the House that I truly do love, as I get to hear about the amazing ridings in this wonderful country.
I want to thank the tireless volunteers who worked so hard to share our progressive message on the doorsteps. We had an incredible, diverse group of volunteers, from new Canadians to business owners to seniors and lots of young people. I want to give a shout-out to what we call our “teen dream”, all of the young people who worked so hard on our campaign. Our volunteers gave so much of their time and their energy to make sure that we could continue the important work that we are doing for Canadians. I want to thank them.
I would be remiss if I continue to forget the fact that I am sharing my time with the member for Surrey Centre.
None of us get here without the help of our partners and our families. I have to thank my loving wife of 20 years, Anne, and my kids, Bruen and Ava, for supporting me through the campaign and through every day that I am either in the constituency or in this wonderful place.
I also want to take a moment to thank the hon. member for Halifax West for his service as the Speaker in the 42nd Parliament. He worked hard to bring decorum and respect back to the House of Commons. That is a tough job, and for that I think he deserves all of our gratitude.
I also wish to congratulate our new Speaker, the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming. I have no doubt that he will also serve honourably and will continue the work of the member for Halifax West in holding all members accountable in this place.
Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is filled with community-minded, compassionate people. My hometown is the kind of place where folks help one another, where neighbours help neighbours, where doors are open wide to those in need. There has never been a better time to live in Dartmouth. I say that a lot.
Our business community is flourishing and vibrant. We have many incredible entrepreneurs who are opening businesses all across the riding. From Selby's Bunker in Cole Harbour to Lake City Cider in Dartmouth, we have numerous restaurants, cafes, brew pubs, shops and more that are all worth exploring. Businesses such as the Village on Main, the Cole Harbour and Area Business Association, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and the Greater Burnside Business Association are doing an incredible job in advocating for businesses across the riding. Memberships are growing, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to work with them to make sure that the decisions that we make as a government help local businesses grow, succeed and continue employing people at home.
Our arts and cultural community is alive. There are always festivals, performances and exhibits at Alderney Landing.
From the Salt Marsh Trail to Shubie Park, our green spaces add to the livability of our community. Of course, Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is known as the home of hockey players Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, but hockey is not all that we are known for. Our lakes and waterways are the focal point and the heart of our community. Lake Banook is known around the world as the greatest lake in the world for paddling, kayaking and rowing. I look to the new member for Milton to back me up on that.
Just for a second, going back to hockey, many colleagues know, as I have mentioned it a time or two in the House, that hockey is my favourite sport. Some folks even say that hockey was founded on beautiful Lake Banook in Dartmouth. However, as I have ties to Windsor, Nova Scotia, all around me, I am not going to enter that debate if I want to stay married.
A stone's throw away from Lake Banook on what is now the Shubenacadie Canal Greenway park, is where Starr Manufacturing produced the first-ever commercial hockey sticks. Of course, we cannot forget their incredible Starr skates.
Although Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is succeeding, we know that not everyone is benefiting from this success.
There are incredible organizations like the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre, VETS Canada, the Public Good Society of Dartmouth, Margaret's House and many more groups and people working hard to ensure that as we succeed, folks are not slipping through the cracks.
It is important to me that we recognize the good work that these organizations do, that we learn from them and that we continue to support them. The partnerships of folks working hard on the ground, at the grassroots level, are the only way we will be able to successfully lift our communities.
From clean air to healthy waterways, we need to ensure we leave this place environmentally healthy and better for future generations. My constituents and the majority of Canadians overwhelmingly asked us to take stronger climate action and to protect our oceans.
I am from Atlantic Canada and we are seeing first-hand the harm of rising sea levels. We are seeing the damage that plastic pollution is causing to our sea life and to our communities. Protecting our environment is top of mind and it is a major priority for me personally.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in the last mandate, we worked hard to produce a report on protected areas. That report has led to historic investments in protecting nature across our beautiful country.
Our efforts are helping to protect areas like Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes in Nova Scotia. Through protected areas, we are helping species like the Nova Scotia Blanding's turtle and mainland moose and we are helping to protect the ecological integrity of our province.
In my first term as a member of Parliament, I had the opportunity of bringing forward private member's legislation and I used this opportunity to work toward a healthier environment. My private member's bill, Bill C-238, the National Strategy for Safe and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury Act, is now law across Canada. I want to thank all members on both sides of the House for supporting that bill. The act is helping to keep dangerous mercury out of our land, air and waterways.
Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is home to a growing and thriving clean technology industry. Companies like One Wind are promoting clean, renewable energy, while at the same time employing hundreds of folks across our riding. In fact, the only impediment to its continued growth is the ability to find more skilled labour.
We are home to Mara Renewables, a company that discovered a marine algae strain that is used to produce healthy Omega 3 nutritional supplements, without needing to harvest fish. It is brilliant.
In fact, the ocean technology sector is exploding in Dartmouth, especially through COVE, the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship. On the waterfront in Dartmouth, COVE is an incredible hub of ocean tech research and industry.
In the last mandate, I also advocated the zero-emission vehicle incentive. This incentive has been helping more Canadians afford to make the switch to an electric vehicle. However, we need to do more. We need to do more to encourage people to try out these vehicles, to ensure that the supply is there for all Canadians and to ensure more and more Canadians are aware of the benefits of electric vehicles.
We know that we need to do more to strengthen health care across the country. We remain committed to working with the provinces and territories to strengthen health care and to ensure that all Canadians receive the care they need when they need it.
Over the past few years, I have heard from constituents in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour who are forced to choose between putting food on the table or paying for the prescription drugs they need.
I know that throughout the previous mandate I sounded like a broken record, but Canada needs universal national pharmacare. The throne speech called pharmacare the missing piece of universal health care in the country, and I could not agree more. This government will keep working to make this a reality for all Canadians. I can tell the folks back home in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour that I will not stop advocating for it.
Congratulations to you, Madam Speaker, and to all members in the House who were elected for the first time or re-elected.