Mr. Speaker, I hope all members will remember your comments. The reality is that we must all perform to the best of our ability and work toward restoring respect and dignity or, come next election, there will be another record number of new members sitting in this Chamber.
I congratulate all members on their election to the House. I am sure it is for them, as it is for me, an honour and a privilege to represent their constituents and bring their concerns forward to this assembly. I look forward to working closely and co-operatively with all members, regardless of party affiliation, during the next four years.
I thank the people of South Shore, Nova Scotia, for putting their trust and faith in me on October 25. My riding, as were many others across Canada, was represented by another party for many years prior to the past election. In fact the last Liberal to represent the South Shore in Parliament was the late Robert Winters. He last served South Shore in 1957.
I do not purport to be another Robert Winters, but I can promise the people of the South Shore that I will represent each and every one of them to the best of my ability. I will fulfil my commitments to them as they were stated over the long and very arduous nomination process and election campaign.
The riding of South Shore is one of the great coastal ridings of Canada. It is presently the home of the largest fishing constituency in all of Canada. In 1992 there were approximately 5,000 active fishermen and 126 licensed processing plants in my riding alone. The value of the annual catch is close to $200 million per year, for a market value of approximately $375 million.
In my constituency there are three counties, all of which have resource based economies. Shelburne County is the fishing capital of Canada. Queens County is known as the forestry capital of Canada, and Lunenburg County is known as the Christmas tree capital of Canada. One could say that the South Shore is the capital capital of Canada with all those capitals.
My riding extends from the community of Hubbards in the east to Charlesville 150 miles to the west. It extends 50 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean to the communities of New Ross and New Germany in Lunenburg County, Caledonia and Greenfield in Queens County, and to Upper Ohio in Shelburne County. Its bays contain thousands of islands from East Ironbound and Tancook in the east to Seal Island and Cape Sable Island in the west.
The historic towns of Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Bridgewater, Liverpool, Shelburne, Lockeport and Clark's Harbour are all located on the South Shore, as are many quaint and beautiful villages such as my home of Chester and other communities such as Blandford, New Ross, Riverport, Port Mouton, East Green Harbour and Barrington Passage. I could go on and on. I would like to name them all but I understand I am limited in time.
I still remember the Friday morning 10 days before the past election when the Prime Minister visited historic Lunenburg, home of the Bluenose, the Bounty and the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. This was a proud occasion for the people of the South Shore, one which I am sure left many people touched by his honesty and humanity.
It goes without saying, as we hear the names of these historic towns and villages, that tourism plays a major part in the lives of my constituents. We must continue to promote tourism as it is serving to revitalize communities devastated by the downturn in the fishery. It generates more than $100 million annually and provides employment for thousands of people on the South Shore. It is an industry that can and will play a leading role in the economic recovery we are all anticipating.
As I said earlier, the economy of my riding is primarily resource based. My constituents are affected by and concerned with the downturn in the fishery, the challenges in the forestry sector, particularly those of the pulp and paper industry, and the difficulties and uncertainty being experienced in the agricultural sector.
I for one believe the fishery can be prosperous once again if we properly manage the change. I have faith, and I know that faith is not misplaced, in the present minister of fisheries. I applaud his willingness to listen and his courage to act. Once we set aside special interests in favour of community interests practical solutions will be found.
One of the first steps we must take is to curtail foreign overfishing on the nose and tail of the Grand Banks. I must say I was encouraged by the comments of Reformers earlier today when they said that they would be supporting the Liberal Party on that initiative.
With regard to the forestry sector I have every faith in the Minister of Natural Resources with whom I, along with my constituent, Mr. Rick Lord, president of the Canadian Christmas Tree Growers' Association, and the Prime Minister, presented a Christmas tree to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
The minister is aware of the size and scope of forestry in my riding. There are 270 established companies within our forestry sector which employ directly or indirectly upwards of 5,000 people. The annual value of all forest exports from my riding alone is in excess of $150 million. The minister is no doubt aware of how important the extension of the federal-provincial forestry agreements are to the future viability and management of this resource.
Not everybody in the riding has resource based employment. There are many who are looking forward to the benefits that can be realized from the Canada infrastructure works program implemented recently by the Minister responsible for Infrastructure. The introduction of this program was well accepted by all 12 municipal units in my riding. Not only is this initiative necessary but its premise that all levels of government in Canada can work together toward a common and beneficial end is sound. I sincerely hope that this is a positive indication of things to come.
There are many issues and concerns to be discussed. Thankfully we have four years in which to deal with them. However there is one further concern I would like to bring forward. It is one that I addressed continually throughout my nomination and election campaign. My concern is for the future of the youth in this country.
In addition to my responsibilities to my family and my business, over the years I have focused some of my energies on the young people in the communities of the South Shore. I have enjoyed working with young people and I have been repaid many times over through my experiences with them.
It saddens me to see so many worried and troubled young men and women in our society today. They have become alienated as their concerns were overshadowed by those of our generation. Their lives are difficult, their futures insecure. We should all be aware of the fact that the changing times, the state of the economy and the seemingly bleak prospects for their future are taking their toll.
Their hours are not always easy to fill. There are few of the simplistic pastimes that most of us remember from our youth. I know I never had to compete with the televised or computer generated games that assail the youth of today. None of my distractions came from drugs, alcohol or idleness.
Today the need for continued education is greater than in the past. Jobs are fewer and costs are higher. It is not easy for them even to begin to compete in the global marketplace.
Where do they find hope? They find hope in our faith in them. The Liberal Party demonstrated its belief in the young people of Canada during the election campaign by introducing the concept of the Canadian youth corps and the Canadian apprenticeship program. I was pleased to hear a reconfirmation of that former initiative in the speech from the throne.
The youth corps program will afford our youth the opportunity to make a positive contribution to the country while building self- esteem, developing skills and gaining experience. The apprenticeship program will give young people the skills needed to succeed in growing economic sectors, will forge strong schools to work linkages and will result in making apprenticeship a valid career option.
In closing, I would like to note that I am fully committed to the program outlined in "Creating Opportunities". The government of which I am proud to be a part was elected to implement this program and the speech from the throne reflects its intention to do so.