Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment to the chair. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate my fellow MPs on their election or re-election. I would especially like to express my appreciation to my constituents in Lisgar-Marquette who have put their trust in me to represent them in this 35th Parliament and to my good wife, Fran, who has been my constant support and friend for the last 32 years.
The constituency of Lisgar-Marquette is a very diversified area. Agriculture is the prominent industry and we grow everything from vegetables such as commercial potatoes, onions, carrots, to fruits such as apples and blueberries. We also grow all coarse grains plus special crops such as lentils, sugar beets, yellow mustard and oil seeds like canola, sunflower and flax. We also have beef, dairy, egg and poultry producers.
In manufacturing we produce everything from small line machinery and grain trailers to recreational vehicles.
Beautiful scenery abounds in Lisgar-Marquette. We are blessed with the Pembina Valley which offers an abundance of recreational activities. From the fertile land of the Red River Valley to the beautiful and unique desert in Spruce Woods Park at Glenboro, Lisgar-Marquette is truly a rare and exceptional place to live.
The voters of Lisgar-Marquette sent me to the House of Commons with one strong message: that the House of Commons again become the voice of the people and that politicians and bureaucrats become accountable to the Canadian taxpayers.
The people of Lisgar-Marquette have become very disturbed about the moral, financial and political state of our country. What took our forefathers 100 years to build has been mismanaged to the point of bankruptcy by Liberal and Conservative governments in the last two decades. The ordinary working people of this country have continually increased production so that our country has not had a manufacturing trade deficit for the last two decades. During one of the most productive times in our history the elite of our country have not only mismanaged our
economy but have mortgaged the future of our children and grandchildren.
It is very sad and unacceptable to see two million Canadians depending on food banks during this past Christmas season as a direct result of a quarter of a century of political malaise.
In Manitoba a recent survey stated that 20 per cent of the school children go to school hungry. A United Nations children's fund report notes that Canada has one of the highest child poverty rates among the wealthy industrialized nations. In 1989 this House passed a resolution pledging to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000; in fact, more than 1.2 million Canadian children were living in poverty in 1991, a 30 per cent increase in two years in the number of people under 18 whose families can scarcely afford the essentials of life.
Given that 1991 and 1992 were recession years, it can be safely assumed that the rate is now even higher. Teachers see it. Police see it. The courts see it. We all see it, if we dare, the result of governments' economic mismanagement. Poverty that leaves our children disadvantaged, apathetic and often hopeless; poverty that brings Canadian families to turmoil. The cost to our country is beyond value.
While we in the Reform Party have been given a mandate by the electorate to streamline government spending and slash the deficit, an even more important impetus comes from the single most important future resource, our children. It is on behalf of these future generations that the Reform Party has accepted the task of changing some of the policies that have denied Canada the prosperity it deserves and has cast doubt on the promising futures that our children deserve.
Only through an influx of new attitudes can we build this new Canada for future generations. Imagine a fiscal reform initiative where public funds are regarded by governments as funds held in trust instead of assets that must be spent too often unwisely.
Simply put and speaking as a farmer, it does not seem right that a banker can tell farmers they will have to pay higher interest rates because their products are being sold for a bargain basement price, a price which they have no control over.
At the same time, because of the bank's bad investments in foreign countries for projects like Canary Wharf, they will again pay higher service charges and interest to cover the bank's financial mismanagement of the country's wealth. Where is the justice in this type of reasoning? How can our youth translate this type of logic into a promising future?
I heard the Prime Minister say the other day that MPs' salaries were still far below that of professional hockey players. Well hockey players are paid for their performance. How should we rate the performance of MPs over the last two decades? They have stick-handled their way through the taxpayers' pocket-book resulting in taxes that are eating up half of their pay cheques. Any farmer or businessman who continually puts his or her operation into debt year after year for a quarter of a century would have long ago been bankrupt and not rewarded with a gold plated pension.
I have never gone to sow a field in spring from which I have not expected a bumper crop. As a new politician I also expect a bumper crop of positive changes in this 35th Parliament. If these changes do not happen in this Parliament there are 52 very capable Reform MPs determined to make those changes in the 36th Parliament from the other side of the House.
The Reform spirit was born at Beaver River, has spread into Ontario and will not be deterred until it reaches the east coast of Newfoundland. It is only through political, financial and judicial reform that there will be a future for this great nation of ours, a future that our children will be anxious to embrace.