Mr. Speaker, in this my maiden speech I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Speaker on his election to such a prestigious position and my personal congratulations to you for your appointment to an equally prestigious position.
I wish to thank the mover and seconder of the speech from the throne. I also wish to thank the people of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo for electing me to represent them in the House of Commons. I want to assure them that I will represent them and serve them to the best of my ability.
I would be remiss if I did not also thank my wife and family for their wholehearted support during my campaign.
The riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo is located in the fertile lands of southwestern Ontario. It looks like and produces as though it were the garden of Eden. It is the number one dairy and pork producing riding in Canada, and second in white bean and mixed farm acreage. The fact that this area is so productive is because of the dedication and efficiency of its farmers, and I congratulate them for their contribution to the wealth of our country.
I have received several hundred calls from dairy, poultry and egg farmers in my riding since the conclusion of the GATT negotiations. They feared for their survival because article XI has been removed from the treaty. I want to assure Canadian farmers in these supply management sectors that the Liberal government in Ottawa is committed to preserving the family farm, the Canadian agriculture sector and the supply management system.
Perth-Wellington-Waterloo's number one employer is the automotive related sector, with factories in Stratford, St. Mary's, Mitchell, Listowel and New Hamburg. The success of this sector depends upon a well-trained and hard-working labour force. This level of competence has been maintained through a commitment by both management and workers to improving their education and skill level in order to produce the highest quality product for consumers.
Finally, I must recognize the most famous institution in my riding, the Stratford Shakespearian Festival, North America's most esteemed repertory theatre which performs on three world class stages in town, a town that is renowned for its park systems, shops and restaurants. I am proud to live in Stratford, the home of Canada's national English speaking theatre, the jewel of southwestern Ontario. This is a cultural success story. The theatre achieves the highest artistic standards while attracting thousands of visitors to the region every year and pumping millions of dollars into the local economy. On behalf of the theatre, I invite every member of Parliament to visit Stratford and attend one of its several performances as my guest and theirs.
The Liberals won the federal election of October 1993 because we provided Canadians with a vision of hope, hope for improved job prospects, with initiatives such as improving the economic climate for small and medium sized businesses. I can assure everyone that my constituents support the proposals contained in the throne speech, proposals such as encouraging financial institutions to improve access to capital for owners of small and medium sized businesses. Consultations with bank executives by members of the government have already started to bear fruit.
The establishment of the Canada investment fund will help leading edge technology firms to obtain the long-term capital they need.
We Liberals will create a Canadian technology network to assist with the spreading of information about technological innovations, providing further assistance to these firms. The government will encourage partnerships between Canadian universities, research institutions and the private sector to strengthen the research and development required by entrepreneurs in order to establish their own businesses. This partnership will help to keep small business managers abreast of new technologies and strategic information vital to their long term success.
We Liberals recognize that the government often acts as a catalyst in the areas of economic growth and job creation, relying on the private sector to be the engine. We hope that the residential rehabilitation assistance program will encourage home owners to renovate their homes and thus stimulate what has been a sluggish building industry.
We also believe there are important programs a government can put in place to give hope and jobs to some of our youth, such as the youth service corps. It will put thousands of Canada's enthusiastic youth into the workplace on worthy community and environmental projects.
Governments in every corner of the globe recognize that the critical component of economic competitiveness in the global marketplace is a well trained workforce.
We Liberals propose measures to improve job training and the transition from school to the workplace. In these days of high unemployment thousands of jobs go unfilled in rapidly expanding industries such as telecommunications, computer services and environmental sciences because skilled labour cannot be found. While thousands of our youth are unemployed we cannot tolerate the squandering of their energy, talent and education.
We will in partnerships with the provinces and the private sector establish a national apprenticeship program. This program will establish national standards for apprenticeship programs and establish new programs for fast growing sectors in the economy. All of these programs are necessary. To simply stay with the status quo would be intolerable.
Just as the goal of Liberal economic policy is to ensure economic growth in the nation, the goal of our social policy is to ensure the social well-being of its citizens. Change is a relentless and often disruptive force in our modern society and has rendered some elements of our social safety net cumbersome and redundant. The role of the government is to design legislation that is current and relevant to meet the needs of the citizen.
Social planners who employ foresight in the designing of legislation will ensure that the revision and amendment of such legislation will require it to be amended in the future. We Liberals are committed to the carrying out of a major study in the social security system.
We will also study our highly prized health care system in co-operation with the provincial governments and in consultation with Canadians. The national forum on health will be chaired by the Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien. We Liberals assure the people that our government remains deeply committed to the principles of the Canadian Health Act including the rejection of user fees in any form.
As I worked my way across the riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo last year, at the farm gates and the factory gates the most disheartening refrain I heard was from the people who had given up on government. Many others were just plain angry at politicians who they felt were dishonest or indifferent to their needs.
There must be some good reason why Canadians are so eager for honesty and integrity in government and why they universally demand fairness and justice. I believe that for too many Canadians the Canadian dream had become the Canadian nightmare. They feared the loss of their jobs, their social safety nets, their cultural identity and the integrity of their natural environment. We Liberals have promised and we must deliver on our promise to return honesty and integrity to Canada's federal government.
In conclusion we Liberals believe that the very essence of a civilized society is mutual interest, mutual forbearance and mutual co-operation. We believe that today Canadians are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder to work together and make sacrifices to the benefit of each other and to Canada.
We Liberals believe that the government's policy as outlined in the speech from the throne will provide the road map for both legislators and the citizens to follow in their common mission. It provides hope through its many initiatives for job creation and economic stimulation. It provides leadership through reforms that will make the operation of government more transparent and accountable and it provides vision through the establishment of structures to examine and upgrade our social security system. It is what Canadians and Canada need today.