House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was going.

Topics

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in one of the comments the member made about regional programs.

I wonder if he could take a minute to explain why he does not think those are programs that could be fair and equitable, or that they only concentrate on urban areas and the rural areas are left out. We in western Canada sometimes feel that the regional programs do not work. I would like his thoughts on that.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. There are the large urban centres, but let us take for example the CED, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, which looks after resource-based regions. I have been advocating for several months that small communities in resource regions should take part.

The best example we have is FedNor, in northern Ontario. We would really like to have an economic development agency for the resource regions and the small communities, and even the larger ones, in those regions.

There is one example in Quebec at present. One in all of Quebec. Speaking of the large urban centres, they are grabbing projects worth $24 million.

There is western diversification; we know how that works. In the Maritimes, there is the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, or ACOA, and in Ontario, FedNor. But we in Quebec would like our smaller regions to have an agency just for the resource-based regions with appropriate criteria for development.

What is most important—and I am coming to a conclusion—is getting up-to-date criteria. People must not wait a year. Decisions must be made the same week or the same month as the file is submitted. Because, when our bank manager loans us money to make a purchase, he makes the decision in one or two weeks. Right now, the big agencies make people wait between three and a half and five months. Promoters are exasperated. What is important is to listen closely and give an honest answer immediately. Do not keep promoters waiting for nothing. In my opinion, 30 days is long enough. It is possible to give the resource regions a positive answer for a good project.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne.

Also, in this final session of the 37th Parliament, I want to thank my constituents, in particular all those people that I will be losing because of a political reorganization of my riding to remove the western portion and add an eastern portion, I guess just to make things a little difficult. I want to thank all of those people for their support over the last 11 years.

My general comment about the Speech from the Throne is that I sat in amazement thinking of the things that were being said and how much they were going to cost. Then I was amazed further at how many things were left out and I would like to talk about those. Then specifically I would like to talk about what the Speech from the Throne had to say about environmental issues.

Much of what the Prime Minister put in the Speech from the Throne we heard again on the CBC. The highlight of that had to be the grade 5 students who did such an excellent job. I would tell the Prime Minister that I enjoy answering questions from grade 5 students as well because they come right from the heart and they are really honest. Probably his best answer of the whole evening was the fact that he watches CBC news before he goes to bed at night. That was very enlightening.

The reason I came to Ottawa was that I felt that this place was corrupt. I felt that this place did not know now to spend money. I could not believe the debt that the country had built up.

Today the debt is $32 billion higher than it was in 1993. It could be said that not very much has been accomplished if that was one of the major issues and it is now $32 billion higher. That debt is being left to our children and our grandchildren. That is one of the reasons we came here.

It galls me when I hear the members across the way talk about how they have dealt with the debt. It has not grown as fast, but certainly it is now $32 billion higher than it was in 1993 when the member for LaSalle—Émard became the finance minister.

When we look at the promises in the throne speech, we see promises about health, which is the number one issue for Canadians. We see a promise that wait lists will be reduced. Red book one said that waiting lists would be reduced and of course in red book four it now says that waiting lists will be reduced. I think Canadians are starting to say that it is easy to put this rhetoric in, but when is the government going to deliver and actually do something that reforms and revises our health care system?

We see a promise of .7% for foreign aid. In red book one it said that we would increase our aid to foreign countries and of course, we are now at less than .2%. Obviously we have gone in the opposite direction there too. Many of the farmers, many of the cities, many of the students that come into our offices also ask, “What about us? If you are going to increase your foreign aid help, what about us?”

For the military, the great pride in 1993 was to cancel the helicopters. Now in red book four we are going to buy helicopters, but that is still a few years down the road. All of us still have in our minds the helicopter lying on its side on that ship. Those 40 year old helicopters are going to be 50 years old before we replace them and our young men and women are forced to fly in them.

We are going to have greater intelligence services and more security. That is great to say and all of us want that security. Terrorism is a horrible threat. However, the environment minister's feeling is that it is not all that bad and not a major threat.

Then the government talks about our social programs. The gap between the rich and the poor certainly has not changed. If anything it is worse.

How long has the aboriginal issue been around? Obviously according to the throne speech we are going to fix that. There are no real details or idea of the cost or no real focus on how we would do that.

Western alienation is a really big problem and we are certainly going to fix that. Yet we find out that our elected senators are not going to be named. We find out that the Wheat Board is just fine, although only Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are forced to sell their grain through a government agency, They are unable to sell their own grain. Farmers cannot take a bag of wheat across the border and give it to a 4-H club without going to jail for it. One of my constituents went to jail for 23 days for taking a bag of grain and donating it to a 4-H club across the border. That is western alienation and there is no mention of fixing things like that.

It was going to cost $2 million for gun control and it has now cost over $1 billion. It is not working. I received 13,000 letters in my constituency office about former Bill C-68. We are not going to fix that. We are not going to have a free vote in the House.

That is what western alienation is all about. Why did the Prime Minister not deal with those problems in the throne speech?

We are going to help the cities. That is just wonderful. We are going to give back some of the GST but we will come up with a plan later, the cheque is in the mail. We are going to help them with their infrastructure. We have been saying that for years and years. Red book one said that. Red book four says that. I assume that if we have a red book 10 it will say that, but not much will happen.

If we did all of those things, the real question is who would pay for it? Obviously we are not going to go into deficit again. We certainly would not want that to happen. I guess we are just going to increase taxes if in fact we are going to deliver on the promises in the throne speech.

More important, what was omitted? Agriculture and BSE and those young farmers were omitted. Those people are losing their way of life. They are going under. They are finished. A whole culture is gone. That is part of western alienation too but there is no mention of it. There is some fancy statement about the government being dedicated to the agricultural way of life but it is not. There is nothing in there that says the government is dedicated to helping those people out.

There is no mention about what is going to happen about taxes. There is no mention of debt reduction. Remember that every man, woman and child owes $40,000. The minute a child is born in this country, he or she owes $40,000. There is no mention of dealing with that. There is no mention of justice issues, about police, about policing problems, about gangs, about drugs.

I read a book over the holidays about how the gangs are taking over Canada. It is scary when we hear what the Hell's Angels are doing and how they have infiltrated government, how they have infiltrated business, how they have infiltrated the police, how they have infiltrated our whole society. There is no mention of that in the throne speech, but that concerns people.

Senate reform also has not been dealt with. We are going to have more free speech. We are going to have more democracy. Six days into this new session, the government used closure. It took the other prime minister over a year to do that. The government used closure again to shut down debate in the House. What are people to think when they hear that?

Turning to environmental issues, as the Conservative Party's senior critic for the environment I have been active in a number of these files. First, on the issue of contaminated sites, it is great that we are going to spend $3.5 billion over 10 years, but much of that money was already included in the 2003 budget. Is it not nice when the government announces the same money over and over again and tries to take credit for it. Let us get on with it. Let us prioritize those sites and show an action plan of what we are going to do.

It is great that we have $500 million over 10 years for other sites, even those that are not federal. It is great that we are going to help the Sydney tar ponds, but we have put $66 million into studies and we still have not done anything. When are we going to do something? Remember that this money amounts to $50 million per year. That is not going to cover a heck of a lot of cleaning up of contaminated sites.

There are brownfields in all of our cities that are going to take a lot of money. They could be productive, taxable sites within our communities. That would be a way to help out the communities. Uranium mines in the north are leaking into our rivers. These things have to be dealt with, but we need a plan. I do not see that plan.

As far as Kyoto is concerned, climate change is occurring. Climate change has always occurred and will continue to occur. There is no question about that. The big question is how much does it have to do with natural processes and how much does it have to do with humans? Let us err on the side of caution and say that humans do play a role in this, but let us get the science behind it first and use that to develop our program.

The environment minister acts like Chicken Little as he runs across the country. I have listened to his speeches all over the place, and my God, the sky is falling. He says there are catastrophes occurring everywhere; there is no snow, there is drought; there is pestilence coming across the whole world. It is just terrible and if we do not do something the polar bears will drown, the native people will be swimming and the Maritimes will be flooded. The whole world is about to end. This guy should be written up in the cartoons.

What does the chief meteorologist for Environment Canada say? He says that there is no proof that extreme weather is caused by global warming. The minister says that in his view climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today, more severe than terrorism. I do not know how many people would agree with that. I doubt the people in Bangkok, or Afghanistan, or in other parts of the world where they are constantly worrying about threats of terrorism would agree with that.

We have agreed that we will be 6% below 1990 levels, which will be a 240 megatonne reduction in CO

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reductions. We now have a plan, so to speak, that is going to pick all the low fruit and could conceivably result in a 180 megatonne reduction by 2010. Many countries, 14 of the 15 EU countries, are saying they do not think they can reach their targets by 2010. Those guys have it easy compared to us. We have a huge country, we have a cold climate, we do not have much infrastructure, et cetera. Remember as well that the United States, China, India, Mexico and Brazil, those big polluting countries, are not part of the whole Kyoto process. Remember as well that 8 out of 10 provinces say that they would want more input before they would agree to try to achieve those targets.

All of that said, we look at the government plan and see big industries being asked to reduce by 55 megatonnes. They are saying they cannot achieve that. We are asking average Canadians to reduce their use of carbon by 20%, the one tonne challenge, 20 megatonnes is all that will be. By the way, for those 20 megatonnes so far we have spent $62 million per megatonne. That is what we have budgeted for just to reduce 20 megatonnes out of the 240 megatonnes.

The throne speech says that we are going to go the final shot and take the final 60 megatonnes. There is no plan for that. There is no budget for that. No one knows how we would ever achieve that. We have already added up a whole bunch of maybes to get to the 180 megatonnes. Where could we possibly get that other 60 megatonnes? There are only three places we could get it from.

We could get it from the electricity producers who largely use coal across the country. We could do one of two things, we could shut them down from using coal or we could decide to go totally nuclear. Something has to be done because they are the big producers of CO

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. There has to be a plan of what is to be done. That would mean higher electricity rates.

Transportation also has to be looked at. It is fine to say that when people are lined up to go into McDonald's the cars should be shut off while in line and started again to move forward and then turned off. It is fine to say that people should not drive more than 80 kilometres an hour on the highway because that will use less fuel.

I recently drove down Highway 401 at 120 kilometres an hour and I was being passed. We have to convince that whole herd of traffic to drive at 80 kilometres an hour and I do not know how that will be done.

Finally, we also have to regulate heat. We need heat in Canada. In case the Minister of the Environment has not noticed, we have had one of the coldest winters in a long time. In my area we have had more snow than we have had in a long time. I notice the minister does not call it global warming any more. He calls it climate change. That is probably wise. It is hard to sell global warming when it is minus 47 degrees Celsius. It is a tough sell and he might lose his crowd.

Our economy will be affected if we try to do all those things. What should we do? I do not like being negative all the time. We should have a plan and a made in Canada plan, not a Eurocentric bureaucratic nightmare called Kyoto. We need a plan that consists of three things. It would consist of conservation, many of the measures that the Minister of the Environment already promotes. There are all kinds of ways that we can conserve energy. If we were to give Canadians a vision there are all kinds of things they would buy into and their 20 megaton target could be achieved. They probably could double that if they really bought into the program. Canadians need to be told the reasons, they need to be given a name and they need to be shown ways to help them do it. It cannot be done through these phoney programs that nobody knows how to get and that bug all of our offices because we do not know how to access that $400 for a new furnace. The plan may be there or it may not be, we cannot get answers.

Then we need to push the transitional sources of energy, such as the hybrid vehicles, the coal gasification and the bio-gas. Exciting projects are out there in that whole area. I do not have the time to talk about them all now. I would have to take three or four days.

We also have alternate energy and that is the future. Everyone, including the oil and gas industry, can buy into that. That is where the real answers are to this whole problem of climate change and the way we can solve it. There is geo-thermal. In my riding of Red Deer we now have two very large buildings heated by geo-thermal energy. The new county office drilled 300 wells into the earth and pump water down through a heat exchanger to heat and cool their building. It is an exciting project. I am proud of this project.

My riding has a swimming pool and recreational complex heated by geo-thermal energy. This is very exciting. I am proud of this. I take people there and show them these facilities.

We have big wind generators. We have wind farms in places such as Ireland, Germany and Denmark. These countries are leaders in this whole area. We should be there also. We should be helping Canadians to achieve these benefits.

Solar energy is another area that has a great future. There are all kinds of solar cells in space that ultimately could be used to generate energy on earth.

Finally, there is the hydrogen energy. If I had more time I would tell members about a little factory that I went to in Vancouver that is creating fuel cells for motor scooters. Anyone who has been to Beijing or any of those kinds of places would have seen that when the traffic light goes red about 50 to 500 motor scooters line up and then there is a big cloud of smoke. Just think of the benefits if they were using these fuel cells.

I could describe many more options. We are so busy here talking about the culture of corruption that we have little time to talk about the environment and what we should really do. We have little time to work on our clean air, clean water and clean land policies.

In the words of the commissioner of the environment, Johanne Gélinas, there is a gap between the federal government's commitments to the environment and its actions. I think that is exactly what we see in the Speech from the Throne, which is why it is so disappointing to be the environment critic when the government has so little vision on where the environment is really going.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:25 p.m.

Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge
Ontario

Liberal

Dan McTeague Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I was happy to hear the comments of the hon. member who I know he is deeply devoted and committed to issues surrounding the environment.

I was also going to throw into the hopper things like a sequestration process for coal. I am not talking about the kind that is put in the ground but the kind that uses semi-Canadian technology derived in partnership with the United States, which has so far not been tested in this country. It is a part of the zero emission coal alliance, which I know the hon. member would be interested in.

If we could find a way to burn these things without creating emissions we would solve a number of problems. However it perhaps would also lend itself to abuses, which is that people would not care about what temperature they set their air conditioners at in the summer or, for that matter, their heaters in the winter.

I was completely with the member of Parliament until he talked about the culture of corruption. I find it passing strange that the member's own party is inviting and continuing this ongoing debate about perceptions of, as he called it, the culture of corruption.

Since he mentioned that, I want to ask the hon. member a question. We just had a committee where the Auditor General talked at great length about whether ministers were involved and who could have been involved with this fiasco. The Auditor General said that it was the current minister who was accountable for actions within a department. I question if that is really the expectation. Is it realistic to expect a minister to know everything that is going on in a very large and very complex organization as some of these departments are?

Yesterday the member's colleague, the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, said on TV that the Auditor General had said that the ethics of the government were the worst in 100 years. His party is perpetuating this stuff. The Auditor General clearly said just a few hours ago that she never said that.

My next question is very simple. It is up to the hon. member and his party to stop the culture of corruption and the accusations. However, given what has been said here, how does the hon. member find his task of telling his other members that they really do not have a leg to stand on?

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is politics and this is a blood sport that we play down here. Obviously, when mismanagement occurs and money is wasted on such things as the scandals that we see, the worst in probably 136 years, we do have to focus on that. We have to focus on that because if there is corruption in that area, where else is it occurring?

All of that money and all those interest payments that could be used for the projects I am talking about that would make us leaders in alternate energy, developing fuel cells and wind energy, is not available because it has been funneled off through political corruption.

I did a poll in my riding, and does anyone know what the number one issue was? Thirty-three per cent of my constituents said, long before this, that the corruption and waste that occurs in Ottawa has to end; 19% said health; and 17% said environment. That tells us why we have to focus on it. We have to end that before we can get to the things that will be good for this country.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to expand on the present Liberal government's plans. I know that Kyoto has been spelled out.

I refer to the headlines from the Ottawa Canadian Press :

Federal scientists issued warning about mad cow

Health Canada scientists warned their supervisors last year that proposed measures to curb mad cow disease were inadequate, but the department did not heed the advice.

What does the member think it has done to our industry not to have heeded that advice? We could have avoided the shutdown of our industry.

It goes on to state:

Private correspondence within the department reveals sharp dissent on how to respond to Canada's first case of...(BSE)...

She argued that safety measures proposed at the meeting, such as the removal of spinal cords and brains from slaughtered animals, were inadequate--

What would the member say about a plan for Canada's agriculture department?

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, farmers were disappointed when they did not seen any direct reference in the throne speech to BSE and the crisis it has created. BSE is changing a whole way of life forever, certainly in western Canada, but also in parts of Ontario, Quebec and I am sure in Atlantic Canada. These people will no longer be in business. We need a secure food supply.

When the British had their problem, we should have sent our people over there to understand the issue. Once they understood the issue they should have come back here and erred on the side of caution to do whatever it took to make sure it did not happen here.

In 1997 we outlawed the feeding of animals to animals but we were too slow and now we are paying the price. This issue will change our whole agricultural society forever. We have lost that resource and I am not sure what will replace it. I am not sure it will be good for Canadians as a guaranteed food supply.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I know the member would not want to misinform Canadians and if he erred I know he would want to be corrected.

He mentioned the tar ponds and said that $66 million was spent on studies but that no action had been taken. When I visited the tar ponds recently I saw that the landfill had been capped and all the runoff had been re-channelled from the landfill which was part of the problem. A sewer interceptor has been constructed to take raw sewage out of the tar ponds. The structures have been removed. I saw a lot of optimism in the community around the work that was being done by the joint action group of both the federal and provincial governments in resolving this.

There is now jubilation in the fact that the government has committed funds for the long term fix. Solutions have been identified by the community. This is not a project that will be done over the summer. It will take many years because it is a very sensitive area and it will take a long time to clean.

I am sure the member would like to comment on that.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I visited the tar ponds in 1994 and it was a horrible mess. I agree that the $66 million that has been spent has started the move forward.

However there are 10,000 sites in Canada and we are talking about $500 million. How much will it take to finish the job with the Sydney tar ponds? As the member knows it will be a lot of money. It could easily take that $500 million. I believe that is our number one crisis area.

Let us also look at the other 10,000 sites and come up with some sort of plan for those. We cannot do it overnight. I am glad for the people in the tar ponds area who were dedicated to it. As environment critic it is my job to focus on the tar ponds and get on with it.

However let us not waste money planning and discussing. Let us put it into some action. The more action the better. The member has indicated some of it but it needs a lot more.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member pointed out a little earlier a concern of his constituents talking about the amount of so-called corruption. I do not want to harp on this point but in terms of the Auditor General, I think it was very clear in her presentation this morning that that was not the case.

I cannot think of a single member of Parliament sitting in the House of Commons today who could be described as fitting that bill.

What is the hon. member doing in his own riding, rather than pandering to that of kind myth about what is going on here, to elevate rather than denigrate the position of members of Parliament, including his own position?

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have sat through these public inquiries before. I will go back to the Somalia inquiry in which I was involved as the foreign affairs critic. Some terrible things happened there. We sent it to a public inquiry and after almost two years we decided to simply dissolve it. A couple of little guys went to jail but nobody higher had anything happen to them.

We then had the tainted blood, hepatitis C Krever report where again terrible things had happened. We ended up blaming the Red Cross because it was a good target. The little guys were booted out and we set up our own blood agency. We paid off some people but not others.

Then we had the APEC inquiry which was really interesting. We saw the hit men for the prime minister out there organizing it, the Jean Carles and so on. Guess what happened to that inquiry? It was shut down too. We did not do anything and nobody went to jail.

I guess I have to be a little skeptical. The Prime Minister has said there are 14 crooks here. When are they going to jail?

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It remains to be seen.

The hon. member for York South--Weston.

Resumption Of Debate On Address In Reply
Speech From The Throne

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to be able to stand in the House representing my constituents in York South--Weston in reply to the Speech from the Throne, and in particular to speak within the context of those concerns that I think are typical not only of York South--Weston but of constituencies right across this country.

I have the advantage of being able to use the hindsight that comes from the throne speech having been given last week. Having now had the opportunity to talk with and listen to many of my constituents in York South--Weston, I would like to just elaborate on some of their reactions. In doing so, I want to place that in the context of the culture that has been described and the motivation that has been attested to by the previous speaker, to some extent, because I would not like to think that all of the members of the House come here solely to fight the culture of corruption.

We are all here to establish a culture of accountability, and I think that is really what the member was trying to say. In my experience, he has been a very positive and very effective member, particularly on the environment committee. I would like him to know that I hold him in that high regard, and I would like to congratulate him on the positive contributions that he has made. I would not like to think that people would conclude he meant he was here solely to fight corruption, to be sort of the modern day equivalent to the ghostbusters, that there was any magic mechanism that was going to clear some of the problems, environmental, social and economic, for which we are here to find solutions.

I would like to talk about what constituents in York South have indicated are their primary concerns.

There is absolutely no question that the quality of our health care system is foremost and top of mind. There is a higher than average number of constituents in my York South riding who are elderly. Just recently the exposé on care for the elderly has made it graphically and profoundly obvious that we have to do better in the area of looking after the legacy that we have, which is to nurture our elderly, those who have given us the quality of life and the respect that we have internationally, those who have provided us with the example, the symbol of what is important in the world in terms of quality of health. We are falling short in terms of providing that for our elderly.

The throne speech is very dynamic in terms of focusing on our health care system, both reminding us of the shortcomings, the professional shortcomings in terms of our medical professions, as well as reminding us that this is a challenge, top of mind, and that we must mobilize every resource we can. To that end, the Prime Minister did follow through with respect to the $2 billion that is going into improving our health care system. There is more to be done, but that is a concern that has been expressed by my residents in York South, one that I thought I should articulate to the House today.

Also with respect to top of mind issues is this whole issue of jobs and employment. The residents of York South are very representative of the international patterns of immigration--multicultural, ethnic and religious--that have come into our country. York South--Weston is the kind of constituency where we build a cohesive and caring society.

I might say that after 9/11, with a large number of residents coming into York South--Weston from Muslim based countries, we worked together to make sure that in our educational system, in our schools and in our community associations and so on we all would be aware that we indeed are responsible for our neighbours.

Again, the throne speech is a speech that talks about the international transformation that is taking place and how we have to look at the character and nature of our communities. In everything we do and everything we enunciate, we have to remind ourselves that we are responsible, if not for our own human rights, for the human rights of all in our country and in fact in our world.

The throne speech makes a great commitment to that international quality and character of human rights. I think that is what the Prime Minister meant when he said that in some respects we will take the pride that we had back in the Pearsonian and Trudeau days in building that international character, build upon it once more and not only transform our own country in terms of how we feel about it, but take it out beyond our borders.

People are concerned in terms of how we create jobs, how we create employment. Just recently as a result of the throne speech, we have had announcements made with respect to using the sectoral council mechanism, a community based mechanism that involves business, the corporate sector and labour and brings them together in terms of looking at programs whereby we can develop new skills for those who have found themselves displaced in the employment sector. It is to reinvest not only in our young people, which is very important, through our educational system, but also in those who have lost their jobs, to retrain them and bring them back into the mainstream of economic life in a fulfilling and responsive way. The throne speech talks about that. In fact, we have started to act on it in terms of job creation and value added activity in our communities.

Residents of York South--Weston also have talked about the quality of life in our cities. Of course our cities really are the incubators in which all of the very high value added activity in a civic society occurs.

I am very pleased, having been one who has spent the majority of my public life in municipal government, that the throne speech outlines the understanding that the quality of life in civic society really is generated through municipal governments, municipal orders of government across the country, and that it makes a statement, not just of idle faith but of commitment, that the first step, in terms of the GST rebate, will allow the municipalities to make their investments of that money. No longer will it be streamed into a tax stream. It will now be used for reinvestment.

Whether it is through housing initiatives, initiatives for the homeless, or initiatives with respect to investing in capital programs or infrastructure above and beyond the existing programs that have been announced by the government, municipalities can make those decisions. That is very important, because we must not feel, in a paternalistic way, that we understand all the ills of municipalities and that we have to, from the top down, dictate those areas in which they should spend this money that would ordinarily go to the GST. That is a statement of faith that municipalities, in a responsible manner, can reinvest in those things that will add value and quality to life in the cities.

With respect to the kinds of concerns that have been expressed by the people in York South—Weston, we also have looked at the environmental legacy, which just cannot be taken lightly. We look at the environmental legacy, and yes, a minority of scientists think that global warming and the greenhouse effect and so on is not the compelling issue that we should be focusing on, perhaps, but by far the majority in the scientific community feels the opposite way.

The throne speech takes that on as a responsibility: for us to take every initiative we can to deal with that legacy. Not only the people in York South--Weston are concerned about this legacy, but the people across the country are concerned, I think. Be they in rural or urban areas, they are concerned about the implications of environmental degradation.

We hope to invest more as the economy expands. As we have adopted our partnership, building with the cities and the provinces, we hope we can invest in new technologies that add value to economic life, in the kinds of initiatives that my colleague preceding me talked about in terms of innovative environmental technologies and transportation technologies, which not only can be used here in Canada but can be exported and can add value to the transportation sector in terms of jobs and so on. At the same time, they can allow the cities to grow and deal with urban sprawl, environmental degradation and so on.

The throne speech is a true commitment, an act of faith, that we can answer the concerns not only of the people of York South--Weston but of people right across the country and that we can do better in the environmental area.

In terms of Canada's role in the world, coming from a constituency like York South--Weston, which is really a microcosm of constituencies across the country, very diverse in background and so on, these people would want to hear us talk, too, about the kind of world they know so well. They would want us to talk about what that world view looks like to us in terms of government policy and what we intend to do in terms of building a better world, not only here in Canada, but for a world that would reach back to their roots, that would give them the opportunity to say, “Yes, this is a legacy that we bring to this country, but it is one that the collective community all starts to share”.

The people of York South--Weston have asked, “In terms of Canada's role in the world, what does the throne speech say?” Does it match the dreams and aspirations of those people? Does it build on the legacy that past generations in this country have given us? Is it the kind of legacy such that we can look into the future and say that this society we are building, this dynamic society, this transforming society, will be a beacon of hope in a world that appears to offer very little hope for so many people, be they in Africa, in Southeast Asia or in South America and the Caribbean?

The throne speech reminded me of the Pearsonian outlook, in which those of us who were raised through that period of time were so proud of that new nation, Canada, having come out of two world wars and the Korean war, having taken our place in peacekeeping and having led the way in diplomatic initiatives and in the development of countries where the needs were so great. The throne speech to me was not a trip backwards to try to find some nebulous concept that we might be able to just latch our dreams to, but a real solid foundation of accomplishment.

During the tenure of Prime Minister Trudeau we used our diplomatic efforts to reach out to the Chinese and the People's Republic of China. Where would we be today had it not been for those successful outreaches? The United States then came in and we now find ourselves, at the very least, in a very difficult area of the world in terms of North Korea. At least the People's Republic of China is being supportive in terms of contributing to international stability. All of these are foundation blocks of that kind of international outreach work and have been cumulative.

The throne speech talks about that. It talks about an era where we had this evangelical outreach, and I say that in a non-religious sense, of doing more in the world than that which the world had given us. It talks about the creation of a Canada youth corps where we would look at our young people who are educated and concerned environmentally, socially and economically. They are capable. They want to have a role to play in building this country and making this world better. We are going to invest in them, make them our diplomats, and give them the opportunity to go out and represent what Canada really is all about in terms of its quality.

When the people of York South—Weston talk to me about the kind of world that we are building together, they see a role in it for, not only themselves in terms of how they served past generations, but their young people coming into the mainstream of Canadian society and carrying out international roles.

I am proud of the fact that the Prime Minister, at some risk and to some degree of cynicism, invited Bono to talk about our international responsibilities at the convention on that Saturday night. The atmosphere in the Air Canada Centre was electric when Bono reminded us of our responsibilities in terms of building a strong society here and using that to mirror to the international community responsibilities such as the AIDS epidemic, those who are maimed by landmines, and children in hospitals.

That still continues to go on. When we look at the international situation, we can see the responsibility and the accountability that we have, to be not only as good as we can, but to be the best so that we can continue to build a strong national and international community.

All these things are what I feel the people of York--South Weston want to see articulated, represented and characterized in a progressive and positive way. There is so much to do. The throne speech is merely a template, a philosophical concept right now in terms of what we stand for. Our budgets and actions will be the testimony to whether we are serious. This member, along with, I believe, the members of the House, is serious about taking the philosophy of the throne speech and implementing it into concrete action.

Social and Enterprise Development Innovations
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of the House the Social and Enterprise Development Innovations learnsave program, which is operating in my riding of Kitchener Centre.

The learnsave program helps 150 low income families in the Waterloo region learn valuable skills by contributing to a matched learnsave account. This enables unemployed and underemployed Canadians, through these accounts, to invest in education and skills training, as well as improving financial planning. These skills can be leveraged to gain opportunities for new sources for income and education.

Approximately 95% of the participants have family incomes under $30,000 and 98% have liquid assets under $1,000. Yet, they have contributed over $60,000 to their savings accounts. This has been matched for a total of $115,000.

The federal government will continue to fund programs that help Canadians help themselves. I would ask all hon. members to join with me in congratulating SEDI and Lutherwood for their excellent work in Kitchener Centre.

Government Contracts
Statements By Members

February 12th, 2004 / 1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the whole sordid mess known as the Liberal sponsorship scandal will forever go down in our history as one of the worst financial frauds ever perpetrated by a Canadian government.

The focus is quite rightly on the Prime Minister who presided over the whole grotesque affair while he was finance minister. To say he had no idea of what the money launderers like Groupaction were up to is to stretch all bounds of credibility.

Let me tell the House about some of the groups in my constituency who would have loved to have some of that lost quarter of a billion dollar action. Community groups in Merritt, Princeton and Keremeos are still desperately waiting for softwood lumber compensation which the federal Liberals promised.

In Westbank and Naramata, groups still face urgent infrastructure needs which just a fraction of those wasted Liberal funds would have satisfied. In Okanagan Falls and Kaleden, they desperately need the resources for two more peace officers to help with local policing. The positive growth in Penticton has increased its need for promised federal funding which has disappeared down the Groupaction sinkhole.

The time is coming for citizens everywhere to take real action, at the ballot box as a group, and put this Liberal fraud machine out of action.