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 women.

Topics

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a simple question for the Bloc Québécois leader. I agree with some of the things he said because Quebec values are important to me. However, I have noticed that Quebeckers' attitudes toward separatism are changing. The former leader, the separatists' and sovereignists' big boss, said that Quebec no longer supports separatism.

The Bloc Québécois has been around for 20 years, and its leader has been a member of the House all that time. We all share the same values. We all want to improve the lives of not only Quebeckers, but all Canadians, even though we have different ideas about how to do that.

Might there be some way to focus on the values and benefits that Quebec brings to the Canadian table instead of constantly criticizing and creating an image of Quebec as a province in need instead of a province that has so much to give?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, as my hon. colleague said, I have been a member here for 20 years. I have voted on the budget every time. He is a member of the Standing Committee on Finance but was absent yesterday, although I do not know why; perhaps he was suddenly ill. I am not allowed to say he was absent, so I wish to withdraw the comment. Let me simply say that he wanted to be here.

That being said, it is rather interesting that a member of the Liberal Party is asking me if some other suggestions could not be made. In fact, we gave some suggestions. We travelled all over Quebec to ask for suggestions. I looked at what the Liberal Party was proposing and there was absolutely nothing, not one number.

Let us come back to Lucien Bouchard, whom he insulted by calling the “big boss”. I would not call him “big” in that way; Lucien Bouchard is in good shape. Consider what Mr. Bouchard said. He said he is still a sovereignist. Lucien Bouchard was asked a question about the Bloc Québécois. He replied that it is very significant that in election after election, for the past six elections, between 40 and 50 Bloc members are always elected. That means something. That is what Lucien Bouchard said. Of course it means something; it means Quebeckers identify with this party. We may have had our differences with Lucien Bouchard. I am not a prophet, but I am convinced that my friend Lucien would not have guessed in 1987, when he was a Conservative minister, that he would found a sovereignist party in 1990. But most importantly, he said this: that a people must have a dream. Everyone needs to have dreams. And we must work to make our dreams come true. The Quiet Revolution took place in the 1960s—

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I am trying to allocate the same time to the answer as to the question.

The hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Madam Speaker, the NDP is concerned with the need to protect seniors. It believes that the Government of Canada should improve the Canada pension plan so that benefits are doubled over time.To that end, the federal, provincial and territorial governments should conduct negotiations. The NDP is also asking the government to fully protect pensions when corporations go bankrupt.

Will the Bloc Québécois support such an initiative today, even though it opposed the proposals in the NDP subamendment to the budget?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, it goes without saying that the Bloc supports a number of my colleague's proposals, for example, those pertaining to federal pensions and the Bankruptcy Act.

We opposed the subamendment because it included the Quebec pension plan. That belongs to Quebec and Ottawa is not going to tell us what to do. It is the NDP's immaturity that leads it to say that Ottawa knows best. It is not up to the NDP to look after Quebec's affairs. We are able to do that ourselves. We capitalized our pension fund a very long time before Canada even considered it. That is why we opposed the subamendment. The same thing applies to the harmonization of the sales tax and the GST. We have already done that. We will not oppose what we have done and ask for $2.2 billion and, at the same time, say that we are against it. That would be inconsistent. I have a number of faults, but being inconsistent is not one of them.

I would like to conclude by talking about Lucien Bouchard's wonderful dream. The seeds for the Quiet Revolution of the 1960's were planted in the 1940's by Pierre Vadeboncoeur, the asbestos strike and Le Refus global, and in the 1950's, by Cité libre—with Trudeau, Pelletier and Vadeboncoeur—as well as the unions that fought the battles, and artists and women. The Quiet Revolution took place because Quebec dreamt about it. All the young athletes who participated in the Olympics said that it was their dream, and that they had to work hard to achieve it.

That is our dream. We will work hard and we will achieve it.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be in the House this morning, after two long months of being shut out. The doors were locked. While Canadians were being inspired by their Olympic heroes, they were being abandoned by their government.

Members of Parliament could not hold this government accountable for its actions, accountable to the quarter-million seniors who are living in poverty; accountable to the 1.5 million Canadians who are looking for jobs that do not exist; accountable to the 34 million people who deserve to know the truth about the accusations of torture and cover-ups; accountable to a whole new generation, a generation that is calling on us to combat climate change.

While we were shut out of this place, Parliament could not do its work. However, while the doors were locked, something positive did happen. Suddenly millions of Canadians were talking about their democracy. They were talking about taking back their democracy. One might say that the camel's back finally broke on this question.

After all, people have been shut out, not just from their Parliament, but from a quarter century of prosperity that has flowed only to the wealthy. They have been shut out from 15 budgets in a row that put big business first. They have been shut out from an economic recovery that somehow comes along without good jobs. They have been shut out from the old way of doing politics.

That sound that has been rising from those big grassroots rallies is people calling for something new, a new way of governing that invites people in instead of shutting them out.

It was a very long throne speech and a voluminous budget followed along after it. If we look hard we can find some positive moments, such as a commitment to Quebeckers on the language of work. There are some new commitments to skills training. But overwhelmingly, the government has answered the call for something new by serving up more of the same. That is the problem. There are more unconditional giveaways to big banks and oil companies, and there is no hope at all for the victims of the recession. That is not an approach the New Democrats can support.

The stories that Canadians tell really put it in pretty clear relief. I met one fellow who worked in an auto parts plant for 18 years. It closed down. He was earning a decent middle-class wage and had a health plan. He had to go into a job competition which it turns out was with his daughter for a part-time position at Tim Hortons. His daughter got the job. He was glad for her, but he did not know how he was going to pay the mortgage on the family home.

When his EI runs out this spring, his family could be headed for the welfare rolls. Of course, before he does that, he will have to cash in all his retirement savings. To qualify for social assistance the family will have to divest many of its assets that have been built up after all those years of working hard and playing by the rules. That family is going to risk falling into the poverty trap. His daughter, who dreams of becoming an engineer, may be working at Tim Hortons for an awfully long time to come because her dad has no money to put into any education fund that might give him a tax break. Meanwhile, tuition fees are rising rapidly out of reach for families like that one.

That is how the poverty trap works. There are 1.5 million jobless Canadians who know firsthand what that family is facing because they are facing the same kind of situation. Economists say that 800,000 of those people could exhaust their employment insurance this year and literally have nowhere to go.

Eight hundred thousand Canadians are looking for jobs that this government has been unable to create.

What hope does this throne speech offer? Instead of offering hope, the government is promising the same old thing, the same old thing with a weak economic recovery plan. This plan focuses more on photo ops for the ministers than on the creation of full-time jobs for Canadians. This plan allows for even more deregulation. This plan opens the door even wider to speculators, the ones who started this economic crisis we are still dealing with. This plan has even more gifts for the country's most profitable major companies.

What the throne speech offers is not hope. It offers barely a hope and a prayer that big business will somehow use its handouts to build the kind of country that we want, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

The scale of the government's corporate giveaways is quite startling. Fifteen billion dollars each and every year, fully phased in is what the corporate tax rates for big corporations are going to cost us; $15 billion taken away from Canadians' real priorities, and for what?

Why? The Conservatives will say it is to increase our competiveness. After 10 years of consecutive tax cuts, corporate tax rates are much lower than those in the United States and other G8 countries. The Conservatives will say it is to stimulate the economy. After 10 years of tax breaks, we know that investing in infrastructure yields 10 times more in terms of economic stimulus and job creation. The Conservatives will say it is to improve innovation, that it is to improve productivity. Despite 10 years of tax breaks, large corporations are investing less in research, technology and equipment. The Conservatives will say it is to save jobs, even though 100 years of tax cuts will not help employers in the manufacturing or forestry sector, sectors in which businesses are not generating any taxable profits.

It is not economic sense that keeps these corporate handouts flowing; it is ideology. They are flowing into the bottom lines of Canada's most profitable corporations, an increasing percentage of which are foreign owned, like the oil companies mining the tar sands that the government wants to deregulate, like Canada's five biggest banks and their $15.9 billion of profits last year, built on the backs of families who are literally heaving under household debt averaging $96,000. And to whom are they paying interest most of the time? Those same banks, the same banks that doled out more than $8 billion in executive bonuses alone so soon after Canadians came to their assistance to backstop all of their interbank loans to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

It is time for something new. Markets can create wealth and prosperity, but they cannot do it alone. Sometimes the government needs to get off the sidelines and be part of the solution. We cannot wait for the invisible hand of the market to solve things.

The NDP believes that productivity and an enterprising spirit are what drive our economy, and not almost non-existent tax rates. We believe we must fight for workers, their jobs and their communities. We believe we need to make this Parliament work for them.

I want to emphasize a few pragmatic measures that this government would have to take before the NDP could even begin to think about supporting it.

Earning our support starts with closing the doors on corporate giveaways, so let us shelve the next two planned corporate rate cuts, which would alone as a measure save $6 billion every year. That is $6 billion to invest in better priorities. It is time to make those better choices. What are those priorities?

First, let us get Canadians working again. Instead of renewing a failing stimulus, retool it with a razor-sharp focus on job creation, creating good full-time jobs. Instead of criticizing provincial red tape, let us share another cent of the gas tax with municipalities for green public transit.

For a government that is ready to foster enterprise and small business that does most of the job creation, there is no shortage of ideas to spark employment. As we develop those, instead of watching thousands fall out of the productive workforce, let us extend their employment insurance. That money would go right back into the local economy to create local jobs, support small business, put food on the table. Those are the choices we could support.

Second, let us build a greener economy for our future prosperity.

The throne speech resurrected the long-discredited idea that environmental assessments slow economic development. We do not have to choose between the economy and the planet. Instead, we can choose a new, sustainable economy, a productive economy based on solar, wind and hydraulic power, along with biomass. Canadian innovations can make us leaders in job creation in the renewable technology sector. We can get started today. We can extend the tax credit for home renovations with emphasis on making Canadians' homes more energy efficient. That will promote energy efficiency while stimulating the economy. It will support job creation. That is a choice the NDP can support.

Third, let us shore up Canada's retirement savings system and help those who built this country to live in dignity in their retirement. Its vulnerabilities were certainly laid bare by the recession. One just had to talk to any senior.

The throne speech did voice concern for workers hurt by bankruptcies, but why did we not see action on that issue in the budget? We need action to put workers first, not just words. So let us put workers' pensions first, as we have proposed, ahead of the banks when it comes to creditors.

Let us take action to strengthen public pensions too, like empowering families to save more through the very best tools available, the Canada and Quebec pension plans. Before we hand one more dollar to the banks, let us bring dignity and respect to the quarter of a million Canadian seniors who are living below the poverty line and lift them out of poverty in one step. We could do that with a $700 million investment through the guaranteed income supplement. That is one-twentieth of what the government would hand to corporations each year. That is a choice that I think Canadians would feel very good about making.

Fourth, let us build our social infrastructure. We can create jobs in child care and in aged care. We can build affordable housing and create opportunities for first nations, the Métis and Inuit. We can improve services that help the vulnerable, that make life more livable for the struggling middle class and that attracts business investments much more reliably than tax cuts do, which is why the throne speech's silence on health care is, frankly, deafening.

With our aging population, we have reached a tipping point. We need to fight for the health care system that we want, public, modern, accessible, and that means leadership on drug therapy, prevention, human resources and seniors care. Simply promising not to cut transfers on health care does not a health care policy make for the future of our country.

Lastly, let us keep the doors of democracy open. Rather than fill the Senate with party cronies, the government should put an end to all questionable and partisan appointments, whether to commissions, boards or Rights & Democracy.

Rather than complicating the access to information process, it is time for government to be more open and transparent to Canadians. That means coming clean about the harm done in the torture cases in Afghanistan, not defying the legal opinions that recommend making the information available. By refusing to release the information, the government is closing the door on democracy.

We also recommend taking steps to keep the doors of the House open by limiting a prime minister's power to prorogue Parliament.

This Parliament has been asked to overcome the old partisan battles. We would do well to honour that call each time we pass through these doors, but that does not mean giving the government the majority that Canadians refuse to. The government needs to compromise. The opposition must be constructive.

New Democrats are challenging the government to make better choices and we are advancing new ideas that will make this Parliament work for Canadians, such as our Nortel bill, a bill that would protect workers' pensions in bankruptcies; our employment insurance bill to make EI accessible to workers again; our language of work bill to respect the rights of Quebeckers; our climate change bill to build hope for a new generation; our early learning bill that would finally create child care spaces; and our affordable housing bill, because having a roof over one's head should be a right in this country. We have not forgotten who we are or who we represent and what we are here to do.

We have not forgotten who we are or who we represent. We must always keep people and families in mind because they are the reason we are here.

We hold firm to our conviction that together we can achieve a green and prosperous future and a better world, with doors wide open to all Canadians.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Madam Speaker, at the very least, we hear in the comments of the leader of the New Democratic Party some specific and concrete ideas around the economy, which is something we failed to hear from the official opposition.

Nonetheless, I do have a question and a concern with regard to the ideas around corporate taxes. This is a refrain that we continue to hear from the New Democratic Party. Perhaps the leader of the NDP can comment on the concern I have. At a time in the world when capital is so fluid and when businesses can make decisions as they must, we need a vibrant and competitive economy. We need to attract investment here in Canada. If we simply put off important tax relief for corporations, we would lose jobs. We would see a loss or a vacuum.

Would we not see an evaporation of our corporate tax revenue, not from the tax rate itself, but from the very fact that business investment would be lost?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Madam Speaker, this is the debate that is often raised. I think it is important that we look at the facts here. The fact is that we already have a corporate tax rate that is below our major competitors. The problem is that lowering it further would deprive us of the ability to invest in a way that would actually bring more business here with no benefit.

We and others did a very careful study on the impact of these corporate tax cuts, which have been going on every year, year after year, for 10 years under two successive political parties in government. What we are not seeing, which should worry us all and cause us all to reflect on whether this very expensive strategy is working, are increases in productivity and investments in innovation. I have talked to some of these corporate leaders and have asked them what is going on here.

The problem is that quite often they were talking about global corporations that are investing the tax savings we are giving them in businesses far away. In fact, half the time they turn around and close the very businesses that they have bought here in Canada because of our tax rates. Then they shut down the plants and leave thousands of workers in the streets who then must make up the difference for the tax cuts that these companies have taken off to another part of the world.

That is not right and that is why other countries are not making this kind of a mistake. We should not be making it either.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Madam Speaker, as the NDP leader can see, the government states very clearly in the throne speech that it is going to remove long guns—unrestricted weapons—from the gun registry.

I believe that my colleague agrees with me that this registry is very important in crime prevention and to the police. Moreover, everyone—the police, women's groups, the National Assembly of Quebec and the Premier of Quebec—is calling for the registry to be maintained.

Will the NDP leader see to it that all the members of his party vote against Bill C-391 or any other measure this government tries to introduce to gut the gun registry?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Madam Speaker, we know that the Conservative government is trying to divide Canadians and set rural residents against urban dwellers. That is why the NDP has proposed a detailed policy to reduce violence in our communities and violence against women. We have proposed a whole series of measures that we will continue to pursue, for example, to enable municipalities to abolish handguns in their jurisdictions. We want to control the guns crossing our borders, and we are calling for a meeting of all levels of government on both sides of the United States border in order to address this problem. We have all sorts of other measures. The NDP will not stop trying to reduce such violence and gun violence, because it is a priority for us.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, on page 5 of the English version of the throne speech, it states:

Balancing the nation's books will not come at the expense of pensioners. ...or by raising taxes on hard-working Canadians. These are simply excuses for a federal government to avoid controlling spending.

I believe that misleads the House since the member will know that on January 1 there will be a punitive 31.5% tax on the distributions on income trusts. We also have a significant 9% increase in EI premiums to employers and employees, job killing, as the member knows, that will commence during the first year of the budget. Another example would be the transport taxes that the government is proposing.

It appears, notwithstanding what the government says that it will not be raising taxes on hard-working Canadians and pensioners, that its actions say that in fact it is. I wonder if the member would like to comment.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Madam Speaker, those would have been very good reasons to ensure that the budget was defeated but that did not happen, which is hardly a surprise given that the whole process of rapid and unconditional corporate tax cuts was initiated by the Liberal Party in government. Therefore, it is not a big surprise that the Liberals have been supporting it ever since.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Madam Speaker, it is refreshing to hear a speech that talks about making Parliament work for Canadians. It is refreshing to hear a speech that is about protecting Canadian families.

What we do not see in the budget is enough protection for Canadian consumers when it comes to credit cards. The government talks about wanting to introduce a code of conduct for the credit card companies but only if necessary. The gouging that Canadian families are receiving right now is atrocious. With 25% and 19% interest rates, they cannot even make payments because the credit card companies keep upping the interest rates.

The government is refusing to do anything to protect Canadians. I would like to hear what the member opposite has to say about the government's inaction in protecting Canadian consumers.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Madam Speaker, due to the configuration of the House, I may be physically opposite but I can assure members that I stand in solidarity with the previous speaker and I thank him for his question.

I noted in the Speech from the Throne that the word “solidarity” was mentioned two or three times in the first several paragraphs. I found myself scratching my head on that one because I do not think the Prime Minister and the government have a clue about solidarity when it comes to standing up for working Canadians.

I am sure the banks and the credit card companies would never say this but probably one of their most favoured things to hear is when someone says, “My credit card is maxed out”. What the people who say that are having to do is expose themselves to these terrible fees, charges and punishing interest rates that are buried in the two point font fine print in their bills.

I know the government has committed itself to increasing the size of the font so that Canadians can know when they are being gouged. That is real leadership in standing up for Canadians. Boy, they must be laughing in those executive suites at the corner of King and Bay, right up at the top of the bank towers. When they look down they do not see people because they are too small to see. All they see is the potential for squeezing out of people billions and billions of dollars in profits. It really is unjust.

I want to commend that member in particular for having taken on the challenge of putting forward concrete proposals to stop the terrible exploitation of hard-working Canadians by those who extract from them such terrible interest rates on their credit cards.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

12:20 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Minister of Labour

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to share my time with the member for Kootenay—Columbia. I am also very pleased to rise today to share my thoughts, as Minister of Labour, regarding the Speech from the Throne.

I will highlight how my portfolio, the labour program, will play a vital role in helping government deliver on the commitments it has made to Canadians in this important speech.

Canadians want leadership to address a changing world. Through this Speech from the Throne, our government is demonstrating our leadership in addressing Canada's recovery and sustaining our economic advantage now and in the future. The speech sets out an ambitious agenda focused on creating jobs, growing the economy and exercising fiscal discipline.

Over the past three months, in my riding of Halton, I hosted numerous round tables with community leaders, business owners and concerned citizens who gave important feedback on the next steps that this government must take to strengthen Canada's economy. As Minister of Labour, I am pleased to have the opportunity to highlight how my portfolio is called upon to help achieve a better Canada for us all.

The first area concerns returning Canada to fiscal balance. As noted in the Speech from the Throne, Canadians have learned to live within their means and expect their governments to do the same. Along with other departments, the labour program undertook an extensive strategic review to ensure that its programs and activities align well with the government's priorities and address the concerns of Canadians.

One of our government's key priorities is responsible spending and sound management of tax dollars. These tax dollars come from hard-working Canadians. Our government takes this responsibility seriously and feels that its sound stewardship of public funds is a solemn obligation that it has made to all Canadians.

To do this, we embraced three broad objectives: eliminate red tape and streamline service delivery; ensure that planned expenditures are better aligned with needs; and focus on the core mandate of government. With this in mind, the outcome will be a sharper, more focused government than ever, focused on delivering services that are valued by Canadian businesses and workers alike.

The second area of the Speech from the Throne that the labour program directly supports is building the jobs in industries of the future. Building the economy of tomorrow hinges upon creating good jobs and fostering growth. That is how this government will support the economic recovery under way and sustain Canada's economic advantage now and for the future.

Canadian businesses and workers are the driving force behind Canadian prosperity. Accordingly, our government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that Canada's labour force remains strong and healthy and that our businesses remain productive and competitive. This includes removing barriers or unnecessary regulatory burdens. That is why, in my portfolio, we are examining federal labour standards to ensure that they meet the needs of employers and workers for flexible and modern workplace practices.

Our government will introduce additional measures to ensure workers, especially youth entering the workforce for the first time, can effectively transition into the workplace as the economy recovers. We have consulted with stakeholders on part III of the Canada Labour Code, and we are examining options to ensure we create the best opportunities for Canadians in today's workplace.

The Speech from the Throne also indicates that our government intends to explore ways to better protect workers when their employers go bankrupt.

The labour program's wage earner protection program is an initiative of which we are very proud. This program provides timely compensation to eligible workers whose employers go bankrupt or who are subject to a receivership.

Since its implementation in 2008 and the expansion in the 2009 economic action plan, this program has been a tremendous success. For this fiscal year alone, 15,000 Canadians have benefited from the program. That represents approximately $33 million in compensation paid to these vulnerable workers, $33 million that goes directly to workers who are in need through no fault of their own. Our government is committed to helping those in need.

We will continue to ensure that those employees faced with a bankrupt employer are supported, and we will examine how we can better protect workers who are faced with these difficult circumstances.

Trade is another important component of Canada's economic future. We are a country that takes pride in the way we do business with our partners around the world. That is why, in parallel with free trade agreements, the labour program is at the table negotiating labour co-operation agreements.

The government has signified its intent to implement new labour co-operation agreements with Colombia, Jordan and with Panama. These efforts are complemented by ongoing negotiations on additional trade agreements with partners around the world, including the European Union, India, the Republic of Korea, the Caribbean community and other countries of the Americas. All of these will require parallel labour co-operation agreements.

We continue to believe in the importance of these agreements. They benefit Canada and its trade partners and they help level the playing field. They help Canadian businesses and workers prosper.

There is one more area of Speech from the Throne activity that the labour program directly supports. That is the commitment to making Canada the best place for families.

Responding to the needs of families includes ensuring that workplaces provide the flexibility that hard-working Canadians need to meet both their work and their family responsibilities. In addition to that, we want Canadians to have peace of mind in knowing that they can care fully for their family members in cases where one is victimized by crime.

Therefore, we will be seeking to put measures into place giving workers the right to unpaid leave in those circumstances. This will entail making amendments to part III of the Canada Labour Code with respect to workplaces in the federal domain.

I have outlined how our government, and specifically in my capacity as the Minister of Labour, will continue to play a vital role in helping to deliver on the commitments in the Speech from the Throne. I am very proud of the work that has been done to date by my portfolio. Together we are eager to embrace the challenges of delivering on these ambitious commitments for this new session of Parliament.