House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I truly appreciate my colleague's question. However, he has forgotten to mention the programs that were very popular, such as the ecoAUTO Rebate Program, which was not renewed. Programs that do not work have been kept; others that worked very well have been abolished. It does not make sense.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has also been left out of the throne speech and the budget. This agency has to assess various programs, including the pesticide approval program.

At present, Quebec and Canadian producers are at a disadvantage with respect to U.S. producers, who have a more flexible process allowing them to use certain products on their fruits and vegetables. They compete directly with our producers, who cannot use these products to improve yield and quality.

All of these have been forgotten. I represent a riding with a significant market garden component and I must point this out to the members in this House.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter into the debate today on the Speech from the Throne and have been watching the debate with some interest.

I will be sharing my time with my esteemed colleague, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

As we commence the third session of the 40th Parliament, Canada is poised to emerge from the world-wide recession powered by one of the strongest economies in the industrialized world.

Jobs and growth remain the top priority of our government. The Speech from the Throne made it clear that the government will focus, to take a few broad themes from the speech, on completing year two of Canada's economic action plan, which is to protect incomes, create jobs, ease credit markets and help workers and communities get back on their feet; returning to fiscal balance by winding down stimulus spending as economic activity rebounds; by restraining federal program spending overall while protecting growth in transfers that directly benefit Canadians, such as pensions, health care and education; and continuing to work on job creation and job protection, recognizing that too many Canadians are still looking for work.

The government is acting to help young Canadians entering today's job market for the first time to make that transition to work.

The government will focus on building the jobs and industries of the future by investing in Canadian skills and education, keeping taxes low, opening markets to Canadian goods and services, and creating the conditions for continued success of industries that are the foundation of Canada's prosperity.

In addition, the Speech from the Throne sets out the government's broader agenda, one that reflects Canadians' values and focuses on what matters to Canadians the most; making Canada the best place for families by strengthening the universal child care benefit; protecting consumers; ensuring that the law protects everyone while those who commit crimes are held to account; standing up for those who helped build Canada by strengthening Canada's retirement income and supporting legislation to establish a senior's day for example; continuing to stand up for Canada's military and its veterans; continuing to recognize the contributions of Canada's aboriginal peoples; strengthening a united Canada in a changing world by pursuing democratic reforms; further strengthening Canada's francophone identity; improving the immigration and refugee systems; helping the north realize its vast potential; and protecting and preserving our natural environment.

The government will also continue to stand up for what is right in the world, including global security, human rights, maternal and child health, financial market regulation and international environmental challenges.

This year, as we host the G8 in April and the G20 summit in June, the government will use its international leadership to advance these goals.

Speaking of Canada's place in the world, a few hours ago in this chamber the Prime Minister made reference to our Olympic athletes and stated how proud we all are of how they represented our nation. Alexandre Bilodeau, for example, and the story of that family and their remarkable relationship with Alexandre's brother, Frédéric, that story has gone around the world. They make us proud representing Canadian families and how we try to do our best and recognize and honour the disabled.

How about Joannie Rochette and what she overcame in her remarkable bronze medal performance. Then, of course, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, not only in their exemplary dance competition that made us all proud, but the way they embraced their chief competitors from the United States showing us that we can be competitors without being opponents.

Who can say much about our two gold medal hockey teams and talk about a storybook ending to that Olympic experience. I am sure all Canadians who were watching and many millions of Canadians who were tuned into that event will remember where they were when that final goal was scored. I certainly will.

I was in the departure lounge in Nanaimo. Everyone in that lounge was glued to the TV set in the overtime period. They did not want to board the plane. We saw the final goal, let out a whoop and everyone boarded. I am sure all Canadians would want to say to Sidney Crosby, “well done”.

Canadians have a lot to be proud of in our nation. As a British Columbian, I would like to express my congratulations to the Vanoc organizing committee, the volunteers from across the nation, the people of Vancouver, and the security forces. Many of them came from across the nation as well. Together, with the spectacular record-setting performance of our great young athletes, they accomplished something of which all Canadians are justifiably proud.

If the House will permit me to mention it, the Paralympics are just beginning. I am sure all Canadians wish all of our Paralympians well. I want to make mention of one of my constituents from Nanaimo—Alberni, Andrea Dziewior. She is participating in the alpine events and I am sure all members, Canadians and supporters from Nanaimo—Alberni, will want to join me in wishing Andrea all the best and in saying, “Go, Andrea”. We wish her all the best of success in her Paralympic events which will soon take place.

Speaking of pride, it was only a short time ago the world was rocked as the tiny nation of Haiti, and pardon the pun of being rocked, was rocked by a very severe earthquake and the consequences for the poorest of nations in the western hemisphere were devastating. I am sure all Canadians are proud of the response by this government in deploying our forces very quickly. They brought in tonnes of relief with our C-17s. The military acted quickly, DART was on the ground, and military mobile hospitals were there to help the people in distress.

What is most remarkable of all to me is the response of Canadians themselves as our government committed to match up to $50 million of voluntary donations across the nation. That figure was far exceeded. I believe the last number I heard was in the order of $150 million that was matched, amounting to over $300 million in donations to Haiti. That speaks very highly of the commitment Canadians have to helping those in distress around the world.

The Speech from the Throne addresses a broad range of measures to help many industries across the nation and to help the economy across the land. It speaks about what we have been doing in the last year with our economic action plan to help Canada through the worst crisis that has happened certainly in our lifetime and in modern history, the worst economic worldwide calamity.

One of the important sectors in my riding is that of forestry. I would like to make mention of the fact that there are those in the House saying we are not doing enough, but I would like to remind members that the early part of our economic action plan included $1 billion for the pulp and paper green transformation program. That resulted in tremendous benefit to mills in my riding.

There is the Harmac mill in Nanaimo. It is actually in my colleague's riding just south of my jurisdiction, in Nanaimo—Cowichan. The Harmac mill is a story of tremendous success, where workers took a mill that was in grave danger of being dismantled and shipped off to a third world country and managed came up with a long-term labour agreement.

Three enterprising companies moved in together to purchase the mill, along with a quarter ownership by the employees themselves. They benefited by over $27 million from that green transformation program and they are turning that mill into a success story. They are well situated with a deep water port in the south end of Nanaimo and are turning economic difficulties into success with the help of our government's measures through the green transformation program.

The Catalyst mill in my riding also benefited to the tune of some $18 million from that program alone. There was also $170 million over two years in Canada's economic action plan to improve the forest sector's long-term competitiveness through renewed investments in market diversification and forest innovation. Furthermore, there are $180 million now in a green transformation plan that will help forest companies with producing green energy.

This government's focus for 2010 is continuing to deliver on stimulating Canada's economy. It is working. The last fiscal period reported 5% growth and now three successive quarters of growth for our economy. The IMF and the World Economic Forum both noted Canada was the last country to enter the recession and is expected to be the first to come out. That is because of an effective economic action plan. It is making a difference in my riding, on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia and across Canada.

That is what the Speech from the Throne is all about. It is about charting a course through this economic difficulty into balanced budgets and a stabilized Canadian economy. The investments we are making right now are about bringing that to pass.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to hear from the hon. member. We have worked together in the past and he knows that we have to continue to keep our eye on all of the challenges facing the country. It is not just the fiscal deficit that we are facing. Incidentally, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has now reported that the government's projections on growth rates et cetera are too ambitious and that there will, in fact, be a $20 billion structural deficit which really exacerbates the problem that we are facing on the fiscal side.

However, we also have to deal with matters on the social deficit. The member is a trained medical practitioner and he will know that we are facing some serious problems with regard to the delivery of health care, the attendant problems we are going to have on social services, all related to going through a recessionary period.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on whether or not he anticipates seeing some support for health care and social services.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I notice the member for Mississauga South is one of the members who likes to participate in debate and spends a lot of time in here on a whole range of issues so we welcome his comments.

The member began his remarks saying we are focused only on economic stimulus, but the number one concern of Canadians at this time is still the economy and rightly so with so many that have been displaced by job challenges, work challenges, so many going through retraining programs.

Even in my sector we have forestry workers, because of the downturn, who are actually retraining through our government's programs for work in the medical services delivery area. That is challenging for people who have had a career in forestry, but they are making difficult changes and coming to other sectors that show more promise.

All transfers for health, social services and education are protected and those increases that were negotiated with the provinces are coming forward as promised and on schedule to ensure the provinces have the resources to deliver those programs.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's comments on the throne speech. It is clear that prorogation did nothing to change the Conservative government.

The throne speech and the economic action plan offer nothing for the unemployed or for seniors. For several years, we have been calling on the government to improve the guaranteed income supplement. That would be the ultimate solution to help seniors.

The throne speech talked about a seniors day. That sounds like political action by the Conservative government. Would it not have been better to improve the guaranteed income supplement to help seniors who are living in poverty? When will this government provide more support for seniors living in poverty? Also, some unemployed workers do not have access to employment insurance. The government could improve the employment insurance system. When will this government take action?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course we share a concern for seniors. In my riding we have a very large retirement community. In fact, the average age in Oceanside area is around 57 years which the per capita average when we consider all the school kids is getting up there. But we do have programs to help our seniors.

In the first part of our economic stimulus package we had programs like the new horizons for seniors program that helps a whole lot of agencies that have programs for seniors. We have already brought in programs to help seniors such as income splitting which is something that many seniors in my riding greatly appreciate. We have changes to the age credit and other changes that allow seniors to contribute to their retirement savings over a longer period if they are able and willing to work a little longer. So we have done a lot already in our program to help seniors and we are working to ensure that all of our seniors are looked after.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reply to the Speech from the Throne.

There is no doubt that in Canada today there is a new sense of pride, a special bounce in people's steps, that reflects the positive accomplishments of four years of Conservative government.

There are some who attribute the new sense of pride that all Canadians are feeling to the most successful winter Olympics in Canadian history. We all owe a debt of gratitude to our athletes for their outstanding efforts.

But it is more than that. Canadians can take pride in having a steady hand at the wheel.

Leadership begins at the top. Nowhere in the world is that more evident than with the international admiration that Canada has among our trading partners and in the professional manner our economy has been managed in a time of international economic uncertainty.

Canadians recognize that now is not the time for the type of expensive, extreme experiments, the separatist socialist Liberal opposition coalition would have liked to inflict on Canada.

Canadians recognize that our economy is not some classroom in a foreign university, with some obtuse academic spouting off untried theories with all Canadians as test subjects.

Canadians also recognize that this is not some type of court in downtown Toronto, with a gaggle of high-priced Toronto lawyers so far removed from the lives of average Canadians that they have no idea of the devastating financial impact their manipulations of the law have on the lives of ordinary Canadians who live by the rules, work hard and pay their taxes.

Our Conservative government recognizes a simple fact: corporations do not pay taxes, people pay taxes.

Representing the families who live and work at CFB Petawawa has been a remarkable honour. I was proud to see included in the Speech from the Throne the commitment to change the unfair rules restricting access to benefits under employment insurance for military families who have paid into the system for years.

As outlined in year two of our economic action plan, our government will extend the period of eligibility for paternal leave when a member of the Canadian forces is asked to interrupt his or her time with their children to defend their country.

Having spoken to many of our enduring spouses who have lost their partner in life, our government's plan to extend EI benefits to those who have lost a loved one serving overseas is both compassionate and long overdue.

It is clear that our Conservative government understands the obligation it has to the families who sacrifice so much for our great country.

Our government must continue to examine how provisions of our EI system impact the lives of our military families, and make corrections when the rules unfairly discriminate against those we ask so much of.

Only by allowing people the freedom to express their intelligence and their creativity in the workplace, free from crippling taxes as proposed by the opposition coalition when it pushed to raise the GST, free from excessive regulation and red tape that is the hallmark of a socialist nanny state, will the jobs that come with economic opportunity be created.

Our government today is recognized as a world leader when it comes to public support for research and development.

Today at the forestry caucus, chaired by the member for Cariboo—Prince George, wood product companies praised the direction taken in the Speech from the Throne. They are pleased to see the emphasis on biofuels.

In my riding of Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke, Ensyn Technologies has been working on biofuels for a number of years. Not only is the research productive but it provides for many jobs while it is ongoing.

When it comes to science research, there can be a serious lack of understanding between what occurs in the laboratory and how that research is misinterpreted by some individuals, for a variety of reasons, who seek to misinterpret or distort scientific research and the big science that goes with it. Nowhere is that more evident in Canada today than when one says the word, “nuclear”.

As the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, which includes Chalk River Laboratories and Atomic Energy of Canada, I am proud of the over 2,700 women and men who work at that facility and the work they are doing to repair the legendary NRU, at 52 years, the world's oldest working reactor. It also made Canada the first peaceful user of nuclear energy.

Let us be clear. The NRU is more than AECL's isotope facility. Until the current challenge of keeping a 52-year-old piece of equipment working safety and efficiently made the headlines, the vast majority of Canadians were completely unaware of Canada's nuclear research and development and the international reputation, and even that this facility existed. That international reputation was recognized by the Nobel committee, when it awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1993, to Dr. Bertram Brockhouse. Dr. Brockhouse has the distinction of being the only Canadian who was born, educated and doing all of his research in Canada. The specialized piece of equipment he designed to do his research is still in use today.

Though I was disappointed to read as recently as this week a Toronto newspaper attacking the Canadian nuclear industry and the 30,000 jobs that go with it, I am pleased to support the Speech from the Throne from our government and the investments we have made since 2006 to overcome the decade of darkness in the underfunding of AECL, Chalk River Laboratory and the military by the old administration, and our commitment to the future.

As I quote from the throne speech:

Our Government will continue to invest in clean energy technologies. It will review energy efficiency and emissions-reduction programs to ensure they are effective. And it will position Canada’s nuclear industry to capitalize on the opportunities of the global nuclear renaissance--beginning with the restructuring of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited.

The time has come to renew the nuclear industry in Canada.

It is a fact that the old administration, during the decade of darkness of underfunding, interfered in the operation of AECL, causing it to stagnate. By 1995, AECL knew that the aging NRU, which was responsible for producing the majority of the world's medical isotopes, needed to be replaced. Canadians are paying the price of that neglect today.

Our government is providing the leadership to move forward. We are positioning Canada's nuclear industry for future success. I see great opportunity and I am pleased to support the principal recommendation of the report from the expert review panel on medical isotope production to invest in a new, multi-purpose research reactor to replace the 52-year-old existing research reactor, which has served Canadians faithfully for all these years.

Let me be clear. I support the announcement by our government to fund research to explore new avenues for the production of medical isotopes. Under the old administration, AECL was stuck with a supply agreement that resulted in Canada losing money for every isotope produced. Since 90% of the medical isotopes produced at Chalk River are for export, Canadians were subsidizing the health care of other countries as a result, and this is unacceptable.

While a new multi-purpose research reactor would be capable of producing medical isotopes on a full cost-recovery basis, that would not be its primary function. Under the direction and supervision of the National Research Council, this is a new piece of research equipment that would be the centrepiece of a Canadian neutron centre, a reactor-based neutron source capable of nuclear energy research and development and the production of neutrons for material research, using neutron beams.

For those who do not know what a neutron beam is, I will quote the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering, during the time for questions and comments because I am running out of time.

Rather than being restricted to R and D that is focused on supporting the commercial operations at AECL, the new national laboratory would become very outward looking, including developing Canada's expertise in waste management. A new national laboratory would deliver enduring value for Canada, and delivering value—

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

4 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Drummond.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

4 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

According to her, people seem to be very proud of how we are emerging from the current crisis. I do not know where she is getting that from. In Quebec, I have not heard anyone say they were proud of how we were getting out of the crisis. The prognosis shows that we should be emerging from the crisis in four years. It is not yet done, and it is not guaranteed. If it were to happen, it would not be because of the Conservatives.

The three main reasons we were able to do something cannot be credited to the Conservatives. First, Canadian banks were stronger than in other countries, because historically, they have always been more regulated. That has absolutely nothing to do with the Conservatives.

Second, when the Liberals were in power, despite everything that they did, they managed to considerably reduce our debt, which left room for the deficit, where there had been none before. That has nothing to do with the Conservatives.

Third, a plan was implemented in 2009. I remind members that the Conservatives did not have a plan at that time. It was only when the opposition threatened to bring down the government that they started thinking and borrowed ideas suggested by the opposition to do—

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is true that Canada was later in feeling the impact of the global economic recession. That was due, in part, to the fact when we first saw the indications that there would be a downturn in the economy, months before we brought in an action plan and reduced taxes, such as the GST, and set the stage for opportunity for Canadians. As a consequence, when the global economic downturn did occur, Canadians did not feel it as soon.

While it is true that we are not completely on the road to recovery yet, we are being very cautious as Canada, together with other countries, turns the corner. That is why we are completing year two of Canada's economic action plan and continuing the stimulus funding.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is very pleased and has proclaimed internationally how pleased it is with Canada's economic performance.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question deals with the previous speech of the member for Nanaimo—Alberni, so it will probably be a statement more than a question because he cannot answer it.

He made a very nice presentation about what the government had actually done and that it had done a great job dealing with the situation in Haiti. However, he neglected to mention what the government would do as far as Chile was concerned. We know the government matched the funds of Canadian contributions. So far the government has been hanging back on this. It has not committed to treating the Chilean earthquake in the same way as it is treating the situation in Haiti.

I think the current member can answer this question. It deals with the issue in the throne speech, on page 8, the national securities regulator.

It is not the structure we are dealing with here. It is the people who are running the structure that is important. The provinces of Quebec and Alberta are opposed to this. The fact is if we have a national regulator and we have the same people running it who are running the system right now, we are not going to get any better results. We cannot be staffing the organization with people who are hired from the companies that they are supposed to be regulating. That is really the fundamental problem.

Whatever structure we have should be beefed up with aggressive—

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I will have to stop the member there to allow the member for Renfrew to respond. She will have about 30 seconds.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome, together with my colleagues, the co-operation in working together to put in place a national securities regulator, taking into account all the concerns from parties around the table.

Just one more point I would like to mention on the NRU, and that is all the spinoff companies that have arisen and the jobs. We are looking at success in terms of job currency. We have, for example, Bubble Tech, which is very important in terms of security and radiation detection. The company is less than 10-years-old and it now has 52 employees.

Canada cannot grow nuclear physicists fast enough to supply the demand we have. We also have Glenergy, with the unique nature of neutron beams we can look at blades without x-raying them, and it goes on and on.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate this time today to speak in reply to the Speech from the Throne. This is on a day that follows a very important day in Ottawa, at the House of Commons and more particularly for Parliament. At the parliamentary restaurant yesterday, for the first time we served seal meat. I would like to applaud you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing the restaurant to serve seal. It was a dandy meal and it could be served with just about anything.

If members have never had a good meal of seal, they have missed an entire lifetime of good nutrition and good taste. Even this morning's Ottawa Citizen, a paper not familiar perhaps with the seal hunt, had picture of the leader of the Liberal Party, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, partaking in seal meat.

I would like to congratulate all who took part in yesterday's festivities. We brought seal meat to the menus at the House of Commons. It is a big step forward for the sealing industry.

I will now talk about the Speech from the Throne. There are so many aspects to cover, but I will focus on a few issues that are not only of national significance, but also of great significance to my own riding. Several aspects of my riding are affected by certain national policies that are addressed in the Speech from the Throne. Some of them bear great importance on the whole country, not just the one area I proudly represent, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, from Buchans to Bonavista.

I was a little disappointed in the lack of a clear statement or direction when it came to pensions. In the past six months a lot of publications around the world, the OECD, many other major organizations from the United Nations and others have talked a lot about pensions and, more important, pension security. This is not just from the public aspect of pensions, such as the CPP, OAS as well as the guaranteed income supplement, which are vital tools to keep many people above poverty or certainly to help them enjoy their senior years from age 60 and onwards. There is also a great amount of insecurity when it comes to the future security of pensions in many respects because of the worldwide situation.

My colleagues talked about the worldwide recession, and I agree with them. It is a recession that we have not seen in quite some time. For most people involved in the financial markets, they have not seen it either. We found ourselves in a situation that many were surprised, shocked and government policy followed suit, in many cases short-term measures. However, the problem is now, as we go out of the short-term measures, we have to focus on what is long-term sustainability for our social fabric. The problem with the social fabric that we have created in this situation is it seems as if all the emphasis lately has been on the short-term policy measures. For some of them, that is fantastic. It is a necessary move for governments to use for the sake of allowing people to get from this point to point B, which is a month or two from now or whatever, but certainly for the next two or three years.

However, if we look at all these studies, something is coming this way that may provide a substantial amount of policy talk, thought and deliberation. The House and this nation are not immune to that conversation. We, too, will find ourselves in a conversation about the security of our own pensions, which will take a lot of deliberation, a lot of sacrifices and for all parties in the House and any future parties that may come along, it will be a discussion that everyone has to act with the utmost responsibility.

I will give an example in my riding of Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor. We had the Grand Falls division of AbitibiBowater shut down, 700 jobs directly, well over 1,100 jobs indirectly. It had a devastating effect.

The economy within the Exploits Valley in which Grand Falls--Windsor exists has weathered the storm for now. I would like to say that we are doing well with this in the Exploits Valley. We have handled it well, but we are not out of the woods yet, pardon the expression. In this particular situation, it is a 100-year-old establishment that created not just one, but upwards of 40 communities existing on logging and paper making. All of the suppliers and workers in that particular mill were the lifeblood for an entire community, the valley and the entire region of central Newfoundland and Labrador. It was really compelling, but after 100 years, the doors have been shut.

No one person is to blame for this. No one individual, no one organization is to blame. It is world markets and the struggling economy. In many respects, it is cutthroat competition from others as the markets decline. We have lost a great number of individuals who have gone elsewhere. We have lost a lot of skills and high-paying jobs. The average salary for someone in a mill such as that is extremely high. It is the type of salary that helps support families.

My hometown was really the genesis of the union movement, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. It was in Grand Falls-Windsor because of that mill. A community was created, not just from that mill, but from the unions and community groups involved. Therefore, we find ourselves at a crossroads. This is not easy. Right now we have done fairly well, but we are not out of the woods.

This is going to be a struggle that we go through over the next two or three years. I bring that up for several reasons. Pensions are a part of economic development. I hope that does not serve as a shocker to a lot of people, but they do. They are a vanguard for economic development in somewhat of a small community.

How big is Grand Falls-Windsor? It has just over 13,000 people. That is not a lot of people. However, the entire region helps support 30,000 to 40,000 people. There are 170 communities in my riding. The largest community has 13,000 people. Let us face it. I am as rural as rural can get, maybe with the exception of Nunavut. Nonetheless, one gets the idea.

When I talk about pensions, there were people working in the mill who as of last year saw a decrease in their pension value by up to 30%. If a 79-year-old supports a large two-storey home that costs $900 to $1,000 to heat and his pension is decreased by 25% to 30%, that is a lot. I use all those little factors because the gentleman I am describing is my father. He never thought he would be in a situation where he had to look at the value of his defined benefit pension being 30% less.

We come to a House like this. I do not say this because I am his son; I am also his member of Parliament. There are other fathers with sons who look to me as well and I offer them a couple of measures. I applaud the party to my left, the NDP, for the bills that those members have put forward. We have put forward some as well, when we talk about the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act as well as looking at the unsecured creditors situation.

I do not think we need to approach this through large, expensive measures. I think that some of those could have been covered off a little more than what the government has recently done. I am not here to contradict the government and say that everything it did was wrong. I am here to say that we should raise the bar on this issue, because if we do not, we will get caught.

Unfortunately, with the number of seniors in this country, we suffer from what is called the crowding out effect. Many political scientists use that term when it comes to child care, daycare, health care, aboriginals, fisheries, forestry and agriculture. The size of this issue, when it comes to pensions, may crowd out others. Let us face it. What was then was a surplus; what is now is a deficit. Many numbers have been thrown around, but the figure certainly is over $50 billion. We have to deal with that as well.

I would ask my colleagues to raise the bar when it comes to pensions. Let us not look at condemning wholeheartedly everybody's opinion when it comes to pensions. Let us take a little bit of this and a little bit of that to reach a critical mass by which our seniors can live.

In my response to the Speech from the Throne, I throw out a challenge and I sincerely ask the House to help us with this issue of pensions and pension security. 2010 showed no increase in OAS or GIS support for seniors in poverty and no increase in CPP or any measures to deal with defined benefit pensions. There are defined benefits, but now most places are turning to defined contributions. Essentially that has to do with pension security. Remember that 79-year-old man I spoke of? If he was under defined contributions, the security, the risk to his pension resides with him and him alone.

That is why measures introduced by the Liberal Party, which I fully endorse, look at ways of supplementing the CPP. It is one of the best managed programs in this country and for good reason. Therefore, maybe we should use that as a mechanism by which we can help people get out of poverty.

I want to move on to other issues that pertain to the region. I mentioned pensions as a vanguard for economic development. There are other areas of economic development as well. One of the more successful ones has been an organization known as ACOA. We call it ACOA; here in Ottawa it would be known as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. What we need from ACOA now is a vision.

The problem with the recent budget was that it was a year over year expense of only $19 million into two vital programs, innovation as well as a communities fund. We could argue about dollar amounts all day, but the problem is that a year over year approach will give us $19 million this year, and as for next year, stay tuned.

The problem with that is it does not compel our bureaucrats in ACOA and other places to have a vision that is compelling enough to look at a five year plan. That is the problem. In the early part of this decade, in 2000-01 we came out with a program that allowed ACOA to do that, to create programs that were visionary five years out. Now we are year over year, and it is not helping matters for this particular organization.

I also want to address other issues in the Speech from the Throne briefly, but issues certainly deserving of comment. Being that I represent northeastern Newfoundland, I represent the town of Bonavista. It was the first place discovered in North America well over 500 years ago and the reason they stayed was the fish and the sea.

The town of Catalina in my riding has as its motto “the sea is our stay”. Well, the sea is our stay and it certainly was our beginning. Whether we talk about fish and seafood or we talk about oil and gas, for many people the sea is our stay. How do we make a living from that sea?

We are changing. The dynamics are changing. People with smaller boats are getting bigger boats. The tools and mechanisms by which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans implements these programs sometimes can go awry. They may be paved with good intentions, but unfortunately potholes are developed along the way.

As parliamentarians we have the responsibility to help fill potholes. I mean this in a figurative sense, too, not necessarily literally, but maybe literally as well because potholes are always a big issue.

One of the issues addressed in the Speech from the Throne hinted about the possibility of a new mechanism for fisheries. In the Speech from the Throne, the government said it would introduce new legislation to reform Canada's outdated system of fisheries management.

We dealt with the Fisheries Act twice in the past, one of which was former Bill C-45. The problem was it was what some people would call omnibus legislation, a very large piece of legislation that changed a very old act, I believe it is 134 or 135 years old now. The act is old and it needs to be changed. I do not think anybody in this House disagrees with that, but when an act of its size is changed, an act with so much power because there is so much discretionary power rested within the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, it is a pretty big step.

Co-management was a key factor in the new Fisheries Act, but it has to be done right. A lot of people just were not sure about this act and, there it was, right here in the House of Commons. People were asking questions. We talked to fishermen about this, but we need more than just fishermen; we need lawyers to look at this, too. Former managers said there are some things that caused them concern, but there just was not time. The government said there was a consultation process. We decided that the consultation process was not thorough enough and that is why we worked against it at the time.

I would suggest to the government that if a new Fisheries Act is coming and it wants to do this, I would humbly suggest that it take measures to have consultations, but only about a new Fisheries Act from coast to coast to coast before it puts this legislation on the table.

Alternatively, further to that, it could introduce the bill in the House and send it to committee before it goes to second reading where the bill could be changed and it is wider in scope. Otherwise, if the bill is voted on at second reading and it passes, all of a sudden it goes to committee and changes cannot be made to it because the Speaker would overrule them.

It is not because you are a nasty person, Mr. Speaker, it is only because it is your job. Do not think we have a low opinion of you. We think highly of you. People get the idea; that is where we need to go with a new Fisheries Act.

There are three or four major parts to the Fisheries Act. The problem with that is we may not like one thing, but we would have to discard the whole bill because we would be voting on the whole thing. We have one vote for the whole bill. What the government should do is break it up into a management section in one bill to deal with infractions, a tribunal, and then have a second bill. People get the idea. That is certainly the way we should be progressing. I am not against co-management, but I am certainly in favour of everyone buying into this and truly understanding what a new fisheries regime must bring to the table.

I was disappointed for many reasons when NAFO was ratified by the House. It seems to me that the Conservatives promised that all these new international agreements would be brought to the House to be vetted. We voted on it, but we had a forced vote. It sat there and then was ratified. Even after we voted on it and the majority of members of the House said they did not like it, the next day it was accepted. I will let that rest where it is because I think it speaks for itself.

There was a promise to vet international agreements in the House of Commons. What was the point? We turned back a decision by the House and actually said we did not like it, but yet we accepted it. There we go. I hope this issue of NAFO will not proverbially come back to bite us where we do not want to be bitten, if I could put it that mildly.

I would suggest to everybody in the House that when it comes to the Fisheries Act, it is time to bring it to the country in a manner that is focused on a new fisheries regime, a new style of fisheries management that allows people time to come to terms with what is being asked for and to cast their opinions in a responsible way. It is also responsible for us to move on this so that we can finally make changes and bring forth a new Fisheries Act after just over 130 years. That is quite some time.

To touch on the major themes, the final theme I wish to discuss is search and rescue. I understand the issue of constraint. I still do not have it clear whether there are going to be major cuts in defence or not. Are we toning down spending or cutting it? One says toning, one says cutting. I am not quite sure.

I will say this as a last bit of information, and I am looking directly at the other side. Fixed wing search and rescue has been on the books for well over eight years now, if not ten. We need new fixed wing search and rescue.

I represent 103 Search and Rescue at 9 Wing Gander. It is the greatest search and rescue outfit in the world. My apologies to those who represent other bases, but I am a little biased. We need the resources to help these soldiers, the bravest soldiers I know.