Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne.
It is a great honour and privilege for me to stand here and acknowledge that we are standing on unceded Algonquin territory.
I would also like to acknowledge the leader of the Progressive Conservatives. I would like to thank him for his service and wish him well in the next chapter of his life.
It is not easy to be a politician in this day and age when there is a hard split of opinions on the left and on the right. It would seem to the public that people here with differing opinions are constantly at each other's throats. However, today we are seeing what we can do when we come together to acknowledge the humanity in each other and see that we are not just spokespersons spouting out political ideology but in fact living, breathing human beings.
It is this spirit of reconciliation that I believe the throne speech embodies, and since the word “reconciliation” is used many times in it, as a new member of Parliament, I have to say that this is the spirit that I embrace and that I intend to continue to put forward in the days, months and hopefully years to come.
I am a proud Nova Scotian. My riding of Cumberland—Colchester is a beautiful region in northern Nova Scotia. It is bound by the sea on both sides, by the Bay of Fundy and the Northumberland Strait. One of the issues we have is climate change, which is very real for us. Many of us are on flood plains, including my home of Truro, Nova Scotia. We have already had one big flood, which occurred 10 or 11 years ago when I had just become a member of the legislative assembly of Nova Scotia. One of the first tests of my leadership was a huge flood. At the time, it showed me what could be to come if we are not careful.
The Chignecto Isthmus is a piece of land at the top of my riding, and it joins Nova Scotia to the mainland of Canada. Right now, the seas have risen so far that the only thing that is keeping the sea from crossing over that isthmus and turning us into an island is a railway. There are 400-year-old Acadian dikes there, an incredible engineering feat that has managed to keep out the seas for this long in Nova Scotia, but the dikes are aging, and we are going to have to raise them. We will also have to take other measures to protect Nova Scotia from the rising seas. This is why I am very pleased to see so many mentions of the environment in the throne speech, as well as the idea that climate change is a crisis and that we need to act now.
Therefore, when I hear opposition members say that climate change is not necessarily a priority, it gives me great concern, because in my riding it is a huge concern. The first nations people, the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia, have been very active in combatting all kinds of environmental degradation in our province. I am very proud to have stood with them on the front lines, fighting for government recognition and fighting to get these issues noticed, especially when big corporations are polluting the lands right beside the first nations communities.
In fact, one of the bills I introduced in the legislature in Nova Scotia was called “An Act to Address Environmental Racism”. It acknowledged the disproportionate amount of toxic waste sites, landfills, dumps and huge corporate pollution on the lands of first nations and black communities. I would like environmental racism to be talked about more often, especially in the House, as we move forward.
It is with great honour that I was elected to the House. It is my first time in Ottawa. I would like to acknowledge the people back home in Cumberland—Colchester who helped me get here. I will not let them down. I will fight for everything I believe in: human rights and justice for women and girls and dealing with human trafficking and domestic violence.
On domestic violence and gun control, I noted that at least 118 women and girls have been murdered across our country so far this year, according to the annual report from the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability. More often than not, that is a result of domestic violence, and shooting was the most common method of killing. This report comes on the 30th anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre at the university in Montreal. That shooting, which left 14 innocent young women dead, thrust the term “misogyny” into the public discourse in Canada. It still continues today, and it is a problem. Missing and murdered indigenous women are still a huge issue that we need to address on all sides of this House and in all provinces across this nation.
I would like to reiterate, in the spirit of reconciliation, that no matter which province we come from in Canada, we are still all Canadians and we still bleed red blood. We want our children and grandchildren to be looked after, have food on the table, have good education and schools, go to school in peace and not be afraid of violence. We want them to have affordable housing, which is also an issue in my area. We need to deal with poverty, including in the middle class, to help people struggling to become part of the middle class. We need to not forget them. As somebody who cares deeply about social, environmental and economic justice, as well as justice for arts and culture and for realizing how important they are to the fabric of our society, I intend to stand in the House as much as I can to remind us all of the importance of these values and doing everything we can to help every single person in Canada, not just a few.
In Cumberland—Colchester, there are a lot of farms and small businesses, and a lot of women have taken on small businesses. I have to say that it gives me great pride to walk down the streets of Truro, pop into a store and see a female entrepreneur who has been there for 35 years, as in the case of one of my friends. She has a dress store called “Moments”. She dressed me today and other days, and she was very excited about that. There are also many little restaurants.
I am thrilled and excited to help put Cumberland—Colchester on the map and bring more tourists to my beautiful region. There is great wine in Jost, which has many types of incredible wines, including a new red wine called “Great Big Friggin' Red”. For anybody who likes barbecues, spaghetti or steak, it goes with them.