Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your new position in the House. I would like to let you know that the Speaker and his deputy speakers can count on my support as I have counted on your friendship over the past few years. As you preside over lively debates in the years ahead, I hope we all remember how lucky we are to live in a democracy in which lively debates are not only allowed but encouraged.
I also welcome the 205 new members of Parliament.
As the Prime Minister was saying last week, the unprecedented number of new members brings to the House of Commons a tremendous energy for renewal.
Most of all I thank the voters of Hamilton Mountain for giving me the honour of representing them again in Parliament. I shall do my very best to fulfil their trust.
Indeed the issue of trust is central in the throne speech. I remember well when the Prime Minister came to Hamilton during the election and held up his now famous red book entitled "Creating Opportunity: The Liberal Plan for Canada". The Prime Minister promised that if elected he would make the red book the basis for a Liberal government. With this throne speech the Prime Minister has kept his word. He has honoured the trust of the voters.
Frankly I am surprised to hear opposition members complain that the throne speech is merely a restatement of our election promises. They should be applauding the fact that the Prime Minister is going to do what he promised to do. They should applaud the fact that the Prime Minister is keeping faith with Canadians.
From the day he was sworn in, the Prime Minister has kept his word. We can look at his record in the first two months. The Prime Minister said that he would cancel the $5.8 billion helicopter deal, and he did. He said that he would have the smallest cabinet ever, and he has. He promised to cut $10 million from the offices of the cabinet ministers, and he made those cuts. The Prime Minister said he would reduce the expenses of Parliament, and he has already reduced those expenses by $5 million. The Prime Minister stopped the costly privatization of Pearson airport. He is stopping excessive spending overseas by integrating our embassies with those of Australia. He appointed a new Governor of the Bank of Canada. He is reviewing the pensions of members of Parliament. He is selling the prime ministerial airbus.
In the House we have seen major changes in the first three weeks of the first session of the 35th Parliament. We have had debate in which we could all participate before a bill is presented by the government. We have debated peacekeeping and nuclear arms. Next week we will be debating social policy. Also for the first time we will all be able to participate in a pre-budget debate.
Those are all major accomplishments but, even more important, the government has already made major changes to our country's policies for economic growth. The new economic approach will make a real difference for my constituency and my city of Hamilton.
The government is implementing the national infrastructure program. We will sign agreements with every province and projects to put Canadians back to work will start in a matter of weeks.
In the very first Question Period of this new Parliament the Prime Minister pointed out the support he had received for the infrastructure program from the mayor of Hamilton. New municipal projects mean new construction jobs. New construction jobs mean new steel jobs. That is what Canadians want, and that is what the government is delivering. That is what Hamiltonians want, and that is what the government is delivering to Hamilton.
Canadians do not expect miracles from the government but they do expect realistic hope and realistic job policies. That is why the infrastructure program is so important. It provides a kickstart for our economy at a time when the economy most needs that kickstart.
This same sound approach is at the heart of the government's policy with respect to trade. The Prime Minister said that he would only agree to implement NAFTA if he obtained an agreement from the United States and Mexico to negotiate on the issue of subsidies, dumping and countervail. This new government obtained those agreements.
The new NAFTA working groups on dumping and subsidies are a major step forward in stopping American harassment of Canadian exports. The road ahead is not going to be easy, but it is very important to note that this government has managed to get the United States to agree to a two-year timeframe to deal with the critical issues.
The new working groups are particularly important to the city of Hamilton since there have been more American trade actions against steel than against any other Canadian export during the last several years. The added benefits is that Mexico will also be party to these negotiations, a significant advance when we consider that Canadian steel is currently facing four separate trade actions by Mexico.
I do not pretend that the government has solved all of Canada's problems in our first two months in office, but I do believe that the government has taken major steps and we have acted quickly to make good on our election promises. Job creation and integrity in government were the Prime Minister's electoral commitments and he is carrying through on those commitments. Of course there remains much to do.
We need better access for small businesses to capital funding. We need to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers. We need to create the Canada investment fund to support leading edge technology firms. We need to reduce the regulatory burden on business. We need to reduce the deficit through more measures for long-term job creation. We need to protect and strengthen our health care system. We need to make our communities and our streets safer. We need to bring in a youth service corps. We certainly need to replace the GST.
We cannot do everything at once but we can and we must take those actions necessary to give every Canadian the opportunity to be the best that he or she can be. We can and we must treat every Canadian with dignity, fairness and compassion. We can and we must ensure that Canada is competitive, tolerant, independent and proud.
There is much to do in Parliament. During the last two months and in the speech from the throne, the Prime Minister has demonstrated his leadership qualities.
As I said at the outset I think we are extraordinarily fortunate to live in a democracy where we can have lively debates. I hope that we remember as we have those debates that we are here to represent Canadians who expect us to put job creation and integrity first. I look forward to working with all members of Parliament as we pursue those goals.