Madam Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague from Essex for splitting his time with me.
If members will indulge me, as this is my first time rising in the House, I want to thank my team, which spanned thousands of kilometres, with hundreds of volunteers, and spent thousands of hours to get me re-elected. I want to give a heartfelt thanks to all of them back home in Cariboo—Prince George.
I also want to take a moment to thank my family, my wife Kelly, my daughters Kassi, Kaitlyn and Jordan, and my son Joshua. Without family, we could not do what we do here. All of us should be mindful of that. If I have one piece of advice for my new colleagues here, it is that while the work we do here is important, if they do not take care of themselves and do not work just as hard on their relationships with their family and friends, then what we do really has no meaning. It is so important.
Last but not least, and why I am here today, I want to talk about my riding of Cariboo—Prince George and its residents. I want to thank all of them for putting their heartfelt trust in me once again to be their member of Parliament. This responsibility is not lost on me. I will work tirelessly to represent them, to bring their voices to Ottawa and ensure they are represented in our nation's capital.
However, this election was probably one of the most divisive times I have faced in recent years. It was probably the ugliest six weeks in my four years of being elected. My family was personally attacked, which speaks to the divisiveness within our country. We did not talk about SNC. We did not talk about blackface. We did not talk about the ethics and the scandals that took place over the last four years. Why? Because that is not important. What is important are the residents who are losing their jobs, whether in forestry or agriculture. It now seems that even our LNG opportunities are in jeopardy.
B.C. is the largest producer of softwood lumber in our country. Over 140 communities are forestry-dependent. Over 140,000 jobs within our province of British Columbia are tied to forestry. One in four manufacturing jobs are tied to forestry. One in 16 jobs in British Columbia are forestry-dependent.
The Prime Minister has said time and again that it is his job to stand up for Canadian jobs. However, what we have seen time and time again is that he will stand up for his own job, he will stand up for those on the other side, or he will stand up for his corporate friends or Liberal friends. When it comes to western jobs, he is absent.
I looked for some words, some promises in the Speech from the Throne for our agri-food sector. I looked to see what the government would do for our forestry sector. There was nothing there. All we got were platitudes. Empty words is really what they were.
We got a mixed message about a space-time continuum. Wikipedia's definition for space-time continuum is that different people can experience things differently depending on where they are and who they are. Does that sound familiar? I found that odd. I thought maybe the Governor General was taking a quick shot at the Prime Minister or maybe she was on the same space-time continuum as him.
Just two weeks ago, in one 24-hour period, Mosaic Forest Management shut its doors. That was a loss 2,000 jobs. That is 2,000 forestry workers out of work just weeks before Christmas. The very next day, Canfor Forest Products, our largest forest products company in Canada, announced curtailment at all its mills throughout British Columbia. Over the course of 2019, there were 130 curtailments across Canada. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, yet it does not even warrant one mention by the Prime Minister in the Speech from the Throne.
It was mentioned today by our colleague from Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies that our province's industry is on fire. We are burning up because our industry is flat.
Over 50% of Canadians report that they are $200 away from insolvency at the end of every month. In my riding, our constituency office sees constituents every day. They talk about being close to losing their homes, or their cars or their businesses. They want to know what their government will do for them. I do not know if the Prime Minister has that same experience. I can guarantee he does not.
Just last month alone, 18,000 jobs were lost in British Columbia and 71,000 across the country. Eighteen thousand jobs were lost in the province of Alberta last month, yet all we get from the Prime Minister and his merry band of bandits are talking points. They must be double-jointed, because they are so good at patting themselves on the back. It is shocking when we stand in the House and offer this information and they just keep patting themselves on the back.
I have had constituents here. An RCMP officer, who serves our country every day, sat in the House and listened to question period. He was shocked at the non-answers by the Prime Minister. He asked if it was always that way and told him pretty much, when the Prime Minister showed up. He was disappointed and shocked. Canadians are seeing the same thing.
The Prime Minister said right after the election that he heard Canadians, that he needed to be better, that we needed to work across the lines and that he needed to take a bit collaborative and collegial approach. However, in Speech from the Throne, in subsequent meetings and in his talking points, it is more of the same as what we saw over the last four years. He had such a huge majority that he figured he could bank on another four years.
The Prime Minister says “better is always possible”. I do not think that better is always possible with the current Prime Minister and government.
I will probably get some boos from my side of the House when I say this, but there are good people on that side of the House. Sadly, however, they are not on the front bench. The Speech from the Throne was nothing more than a disappointment. However, much more than that, it was more of the same thing we saw over the last four years: nothing for western Canada, nothing for my province and nothing for Cariboo—Prince George, and that is shameful.