Members on the opposite side obviously do not like this information coming out, but it is coming out from an independent inquiry. This information is not coming out from members of the Conservative Party or members of the opposition. This information is coming out of an independent inquiry. Of course they do not like it, so they make some noise.
The other area that is terribly troubling is with regard to the position we have been put in on our relationship with the United States. The throne speech indicated that we need to appeal to “shared values” and “mutual respect”, and I could not agree more. The United States is our greatest friend and our greatest neighbour. Eighty-six per cent of our trade is with the United States, with $1.5 billion a day of two-way trade between the United States and Canada.
The relationship here is absolutely critical. Unfortunately, in the last 10 years we have seen this relationship not just deteriorate but disintegrate because of comments made by members of the Prime Minister's Office, which have been repeated numerous times. I will not go there, but there have been very degrading remarks made about our friends south of the border, the Americans.
We have had some pretty tough times. True friends can disagree with one another, but they have to do it in a respectful way. That has not been the case in the past and, unfortunately, we as a nation have suffered tremendously on numerous issues: from mad cow to softwood lumber, a number of trade issues, and probably more important the relationship between Americans and Canadians in general.
I travel to the U.S. a few times a year and some of the comments I hear are incredibly troubling. Unfortunately, our government did not do anything to correct this. It did not do anything to make it better. Instead, it poured gasoline on the fire. It fanned the flames. Sadly, it is happening even today.
Even in this Parliament there have been very disgraceful comments made. Americans were referred to as idiots. I want to emphasize that silence is consent. The fact that these issues are not dealt with is extremely troubling. Those are some very serious concerns I have. Hopefully the government will take them seriously and address them.
In other areas, the government has promised a defence and foreign policy review. I do not know how many times we have had reviews in the House. We need to get into an action plan. Some of the most impressive retired military people in the country live in my riding, from the army, the air force and the navy, very high ranking officials. There is a wealth of knowledge. I speak to them and a lot of them question the government's long term direction for international defence policy. I think there is a lot more that we can do.
When the government releases its comprehensive international policy statement on defence and foreign affairs, I hope that it is not another endless recycled promise. I hope that our senior military people and commanders can plan for the future and know the resources they are going to get. Unfortunately, in the past we have not seen that.
There are a couple of other areas that I think are really important to talk about once we get past the money that goes to political friends and we get into some of the unnecessary programs. One is the gun registry. There is not one person who I speak to that says this is a good thing. Nobody wants to see anyone in Canada walking the streets with guns. People never have and I suggest they never will. It is not the Canadian way. A $2 billion database is not the answer. It is absurd. Prior to the gun registry people could not walk around with guns in Canada, nor should they be able to.
There are a few points I want to address on our amendments to the throne speech. One is the EI fund, some $45 billion. I am glad the government has accepted this amendment and I hope that it will heed it and not just use it for its own purposes. It is critically important that we reduce taxes for low and modest income families. There are seniors living in my riding who are below the poverty line and paying taxes. That is simply not acceptable.
We need electoral reform. Hopefully these will not be broken promises and the government will follow through. It supported these amendments and we expect to see action.
Specifically, in Saanich—Gulf Islands there are a couple of issues that are critically important. One is the missing persons DNA database. I put forward Bill C-441 in the last Parliament. I know I had the support of the former solicitor general, the member from Prince Edward Island. Hopefully the government will look at bringing this in. This is not a cost item but something that is very important and we need to look at.
I hope the Prime Minister comes through on another promise he made during the election. I was there with former employees of JDS. People were caught in a devastating tax situation and were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes for a phantom income that never existed. The Prime Minister promised them that he had told someone to take care of it. Hopefully it does get taken care of in this calendar year and that something is done.
I look forward to making this minority Parliament work. Canadians sent us here and expect all parties to make it work. I will do my part to ensure that it happens.