Madam Speaker, congratulations on your appointment.
I am very happy to be here today representing Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge. I want to thank the residents in both communities for electing me, and I want to thank all my volunteers. As all members here recognize, we just cannot do it without them. I also want to recognize my staff whom I have hired in Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge. I have Sean-Mark Gillespie, Linda Kingsbury and Nancy Nagy. Two of them have worked with me in the past. I have Jay Denney here in Ottawa, and he will be working with me beginning next month.
Most of all, I want to recognize my wife Marlene. We have been married for 34 years and she has been a tremendous support to me. When I was elected provincially, she came with me most times when I was in Victoria and she will be with me a lot of the time here. My constituents are getting two for one.
Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are two wonderful communities. We live in a stunning part of the country and the world. People would never believe that within minutes of my communities they are lost in nature, whether it be in Golden Ears Provincial Park or Widgeon Creek, on Pitt Lake or wherever. It is one of the most beautiful places in Canada. If members do not believe it, they can please come and visit. It is very picturesque.
Both communities are growing rapidly. A lot of millennials are moving to the region into new subdivisions that are happening all over the place because they are more affordable. That is a very relative term for the Lower Mainland.
Transportation infrastructure is a need. I know the Liberals have made many promises. They promised tens of billions of dollars, but 40% of those projects have gone nowhere. It is one thing to make promises. It is another thing to put those promises into action. We are looking forward to seeing that in my communities.
Also on the provincial side of things, the NDP has made sweetheart deals with its preferred unions. That has made projects a lot more expensive than they otherwise had to be and it has reduced the number of projects getting done, at a much greater cost to taxpayers.
For me it has been a long journey getting here. In 2003, I attended the Teacher’s Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy here in Ottawa. I am a teacher by profession. It was the best professional development experience I have ever had, and I recommend that teachers across the country apply for it. I believe the next one is in February. I saw democracy in action and it gave me a tremendous passion to get involved even more in politics.
I actually ran in the nomination for the Conservative Party when I had just joined in 2004. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and I lost. Randy Kamp became the member of Parliament. He won that year and he was a great member of Parliament, representing the area for many years. It was then a minority government and there was an election in 2006. I won the nomination the next time but in a different riding, Burnaby—New Westminster. I won the nomination but lost the election.
That is not the end of the story. I moved on to provincial politics. I won two terms representing Maple Ridge—Mission. It was a great experience, I enjoyed it very much and was able to accomplish a lot for my constituents. I want to give a shout-out to my former B.C. Liberal colleagues and staffers. A number of them work on the Hill on both sides of the floor. My future director of operations, Jay Denney, will also be working for me.
My heart has always been to eventually serve in the House of Commons. I have always had a vision for Canada and its place in the world. I was raised in a military family, born in Germany. My dad was in the RCAF. I lived on bases throughout Canada. I lived in Quebec in Chibougamau, up north. It is a little chilly up there but a beautiful place to live. I also lived in Valcartier, near the City of Quebec, as well as in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and throughout the country.
My mother is French Canadian.
She was a Beaudoin. She was one of 18 children in her family, which was originally from near Kapuskasing, in northern Ontario. In the 1940s, the family moved to northern Alberta, near Falher, which is well known for its bees and great honey.
I have hundreds of cousins, aunts, uncles and nephews who are part of the Franco-Albertan community.
On my mother's side I am French Canadian, but on my father's side I am Métis. I trace my roots to the Red River Colony in the early 1800s and with the Cree in the Lesser Slave Lake area. My indigenous roots are very important to me, my brothers and sisters and my grown children. One of my roles in the B.C. legislature was as parliamentary secretary for aboriginal relations.
Canada's indigenous population is the fastest-growing population in Canada, as well as the youngest. It is a vital and integral part of Canada's present and Canada's future.
My constituency of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge is a bit of an anomaly in the Lower Mainland. It has a growing population of Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Farsi and Indo-Canadian people, but the largest minority is the indigenous population. I want to recognize the Katzie First Nation and Kwantlen First Nation peoples, and I look forward to having a good relationship with them and working with them.
I am a member of the Golden Ears Métis Society, GEMS, which is a vibrant association affiliated with Métis Nation British Columbia that is under Clara Morin Dal Col as its president.
When I was a teacher, I led exchange trips to Quebec. I felt it was important for students to experience our country, grow an appreciation for the wonderful country we live in and discover what a beautiful place Quebec is. It was good to have students from Quebec visit British Columbia to see what a beautiful country they are a part of.
National unity is extremely important to me. I take no pleasure in hearing people complain about Quebec. I adore that province and its people. I like their joie de vivre and their passion.
However, I also feel similarly about Alberta, where I have deep roots and graduated, as well as for British Columbia and all of Canada. I have travelled from coast to coast to all of the provinces and two of the territories. We have an amazing country.
I am disappointed and truly troubled by the way the Liberals are governing our magnificent country.
For the Liberals, it seems to be all about politics and trying to stay in government regardless of the tremendous stress and negative impact their policies are having on this great nation of Canada. There is a reason the Bloc Québécois has rebounded, and the onus falls on the Liberal Party and its leaders. There is a reason the Liberals were wiped out in Alberta and Saskatchewan and lost seats in British Columbia, the Maritimes and Manitoba, and why western separatism is being discussed in pubs and on streets in places like Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Regina and Saskatoon. The onus falls on the Liberal Party and its leader.
I have heard it said that the difference between a statesperson and a politician is that the politician is looking to the next election and the statesperson is looking to the next generation.
I believe that members opposite have good intentions, and I would encourage the Liberal Party to stop playing identity politics and dividing Canadians. It should do what is good for all of Canada, not just where it has the most, or any, seats.
My team and I went to tens of thousands of doors during the election. It was a lot of work, and I enjoyed it. It was an opportunity to listen to people, get to know them and hear their concerns. The number one issue I heard about was affordability. Bear in mind that in my riding, the average family income is about $90,000. Families are finding it tough. It is not how much one makes, it is how much one is allowed to keep. Taxes from all different levels of government are approaching 50%. The Conservative message of reducing financial stress on families resonated on the doorsteps in my constituency and throughout British Columbia.
The Liberals say they are planning on reducing the tax burden, but they do it with a sleight of hand, giving with one hand and taking more with the other. We—