Mr. Speaker, I must admit that I am a little bit nervous.
I would like to begin my speech by taking a moment to congratulate the Speaker on his election. It is very clear that he will be a fair and impartial Speaker who will be respected by parliamentarians and Canadians.
I am honoured to be here in the House of Commons today to represent the people of Brome—Missisquoi. I would like to thank them for putting their trust in me and electing me as their MP. I am really grateful to them and I will work hard to properly represent all Canadians while I am in office.
When I made the decision to go into politics, I had three objectives: to help others, to listen to people and to try to make a difference. I want to bring everything I learned in sports to the public sector so that I can be even closer to the people. I believe that the government has the same approach in that it wants to build on its achievements and on what it has learned in order to become closer to Canadians and better meet their needs.
Over the past four years, the Liberal government has made real progress by taking action to invest in the middle class, grow an economy that works for everyone and protect the environment. However, there is still much to do. In October, Canadians made the choice to move forward and focus on the progress that has been made, while reminding parliamentarians of the importance of working together, putting the community first and finding common ground.
As Her Excellency the Governor General said, Canadians have given us a mandate to govern the country, but we cannot fulfill that mandate unless we work together. Our government is committed to working with the other parties in the House, as well as with provincial and municipal governments, to deliver the best possible results for Canadians.
Canadians want a government that focuses on the issues that matter to them, like strengthening the middle class and helping those most in need, fighting against climate change and protecting the health and safety of Canadians.
In this throne speech, our government committed to taking meaningful action on the defining challenge of the time: climate change. The government will set a target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. I realize that this is an ambitious target, but it is necessary if we want to protect our environment and maintain Canada's economic growth.
Speaking of the environment, the government will take action to preserve Canada's natural legacy. My constituents in Brome—Missisquoi will surely be happy to hear this, since the two transboundary lakes in our beautiful riding, Lake Memphremagog and Lake Champlain, supply drinking water to our communities. Thanks to our government's commitment to making our communities greener, cleaning the air and using nature-based solutions to fight climate change, we can proudly look forward to a greener future for our communities.
Speaking of communities, we cannot forget that our constituents face different social and economic challenges. Our government is committing to quickly cut taxes for Canadians, which will give more money to middle-class families and those who need it most.
The solutions to the problems and challenges of the future will have to be found by the future leaders of Canada. Therefore, our government will give more support to students, be they new graduates struggling with loan repayment, or be they heading back to school to learn new skills. That is why our government is committed to being there for Canadian students.
However, before they become students, they are children who need services and their parents' presence. That is why our government has pledged to give families more time and money to help raise the Canadians of tomorrow. To that end, our government is committed to making child care services more accessible and affordable.
The government cares about our seniors and Canadian workers. The government will foster their well-being in two ways: by increasing pensions and the federal minimum wage.
The government has also announced that it will continue to invest in affordable housing and will make it easier for people to buy a first home, which will help Canadians have a roof over their heads.
Finally, our government will lighten the financial burden on households by cutting the cost of cell and wireless services by 25%.
The well-being of Canadians is not just about income, work-life balance or access to housing. It is also about access to the care they need when they need it. That is why our government is going to work together with the provinces and territories to improve health care for Canadians by making it easier to get a family doctor and by bringing in workplace mental health standards.
As stated in the Speech from the Throne, often Canadians who fall sick suffer twice: once from becoming ill, and again from financial hardship caused by the cost of their medications. That is why our government is committed to taking steps to introduce and implement a national pharmacare program.
Since the beginning of my speech I have been talking about members of the Canadian community, but who are they exactly?
They are young people, seniors, workers, students and parents. They are also innovators, farmers, artists and entrepreneurs. They are our families and neighbours. In order for everyone to thrive and for Canada to thrive with them, our government needs an economic agenda aimed at building a modern economy for Canada.
How do we build a modern economy? It is by maintaining a flourishing, integrated North American economy; by reviewing the rules around the new digital environment to ensure fairness for all; by eliminating domestic and international trade barriers, investing in infrastructure and facilitating the creation and growth of start-ups and small businesses; and by implementing a financial plan for keeping our economy strong and growing. That is exactly what our government pledged to do in this throne speech.
The Canadian community also includes indigenous peoples, who all too often face challenges that are more specific than I have covered in my speech. However, as Her Excellency the Governor General noted, it is indigenous genius that allowed our country to thrive and grow. The knowledge held by indigenous peoples, along with their sense of community, should continue to guide our actions.
If we are to continue relying on the knowledge of indigenous peoples, we must continue and step up the reconciliation efforts undertaken in the previous Parliament. This is why our government has made reconciliation with indigenous peoples one of its core priorities and will continue work to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls' calls for justice.
I am particularly proud of our commitment to develop and introduce legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the first year of the new mandate.
Indigenous peoples have been living in poor conditions for too long.
That is why our government is committed to continuing the work of eliminating all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve by 2021 and ensuring safe drinking water in first nations communities. That is also why the government will work with indigenous communities to close the infrastructure gap by 2030 and will introduce legislation to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to high-quality, culturally relevant health care and mental health services.
Our government will continue to work with indigenous peoples to develop and adopt these measures, as well as measures to ensure that the government is living up to the spirit and intent of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements made with indigenous peoples.
As I mentioned earlier, Canadians want a government that will keep them safe. Accordingly, the government is committed to taking greater steps to address gender-based violence in Canada, whether it is by working with partners to implement a national action plan or building on the gender-based violence strategy.
Gun crime is a terrible reality in Canada. That is why the government will ban military-style assault rifles and enable municipalities and communities to ban handguns if they wish.
Right from the beginning of my speech, I have been talking about “community” in both the local and the national sense. We must remember that we live in an increasingly interconnected world. That means Canada has a role to play in the global community. Canadians are generous and deeply compassionate. They believe it is important to share, and they care about the environment.
As the Governor General said, Canadians expect their leaders to stand up for their values and interests here at home and around the world. That is why I applaud our government's announcement about building partnerships with countries that share our values and our vision so the whole world can benefit from Canada's expertise in areas like environmental protection, fighting climate change, and promoting human rights and democracy.
I personally believe that the government's interest in marginalized populations, those most in need, can also apply internationally. I think the government shares my point of view, since it just committed to contributing resources to international development, including investments in education and gender equality, while helping the poorest and most vulnerable people live better lives.
On a more personal note, I have faith in our regions, our youth, our creators and our entrepreneurs. The people around us must remain our top priority and serve as our inspiration in our day-to-day work. I have worked hard in recent years to get where I am today. I have been determined and have pushed my limits my entire life, but always with the support of those around me. As a member of Parliament, I intend to make rapid progress, with the same strength and determination I have shown in the past. That is why I have faith in our government. I believe it is the best way for me to move my constituency and my country forward.
If there is one thing I learned from my experience as an athlete, it is that it is much easier to make progress as a team than to go it alone. More often than not, the accomplishments are that much sweeter. I am very excited to work with members from both sides of the House to improve life for Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
I move, seconded by the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country that the following address be presented to Her Excellency, the Governor General of Canada:
To Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.
May it please Your Excellency:
We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the House of Commons of Canada in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.