House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.


Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start with a comment on the presentation made by the hon. member for Drummond who is to be commended for her excellent speech.

First of all, I entirely approve of her proposal that the provinces should themselves raise, and be allowed to keep, the amounts they need to operate the health care system. However, as we know, under the present system this is unthinkable. So we must ensure that transfer payments to the provinces are not affected, so that the provinces can continue to be responsible for and provide health care services to their residents. I may remind hon. members opposite that during the election campaign, the Prime Minister promised that he would not tamper with transfer payments to the provinces.

The hon. member also made a very careful analysis of the two perverse consequences of a possible reduction in transfer payments for health care. First of all, there would be a reduction in services. And, as she so astutely pointed out, the neediest members of our society would suffer most because they are unable to pay the user-fee or health tax that might be introduced by the province if transfer payments were cut. They would either postpone medical appointments or not go at all.

Furthermore, as I pointed out myself, this might increase the tax burden, because if the federal government reduces transfer payments to the provinces, that does not necessarily mean it will lower its tax rates. Consequently, the provinces will have to pick up the slack, either by increasing their own tax revenues or by asking residents for a bigger contribution to the health care system. And this illustrates the other perverse effect I was mentioning previously. It is a kind of vicious circle: increased burden for the taxpayer on the one hand, and reduced services on the other. I believe, therefore, that the perverse consequences are too important to even consider a reduction of transfer payments to the provinces.

Besides, I would like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister promised not to cut transfer payments to provinces. However, we will have to watch carefully to make sure that those payments are not frozen at their present level, since that would amount, in the long run, to a reduction equivalent to inflation. The government will have to keep the promise it made during the campaign and index transfer payments to provinces to the consumer price index.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.


Harry Verran Liberal South West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your appointment to the Chair. Your guidance and leadership will be appreciated by all in this House.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak in this first session of the 35th Parliament as a duly elected representative for the riding of South West Nova. It is a pleasure, indeed an honour to have been elected by the people of South West Nova to represent them and to bring their concerns to the government and to this House.

The Prime Minister and this government have been given a clear mandate by the people of Canada to implement the programs as outlined in the now famous red book.

South West Nova is a riding in the southwestern part of Nova Scotia. It was represented by Coline Campbell for many years. Coline did not seek re-election this time and I want to wish Coline and her husband Ron, God speed and good health in the future.

South West Nova is a riding rich in history and dates back to Champlain's landing in 1604. The riding has a diverse cultural mix of native Canadians as well as English and French speaking people. As a matter of fact, the Acadians in South West Nova proudly celebrated their 225th anniversary this past year with festivities mainly centering in and round the University of St. Anne at Church Point in the district of Clare. This small degree granting university has the distinction of having the best immersion program in this country.

I want to say that I intend to maintain a close personal relationship with the people of my riding and to the best of my ability give them personal service.

For generations our people have made their living through the use of natural resources, the sea, the land and the forests. However, in recent years our people have found it difficult to make a living from those resources. The fishing industry has been crippled mainly because of mismanagement.

Our ground fishermen are second to none in this country and have co-operated with management to help keep this fishery alive. The thanks these same fishermen received in return for their co-operation from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was a mid-season quota cut which resulted in great monetary loss for bought quota and a reduction of 40 per cent in their catches.

These fishermen were betrayed and lost all trust in the department of fisheries. Our fishermen want better management of these fishing industries where justice and fairness play leading roles. The fishermen of South West Nova want to work and they want to fish.

Recently I had the privilege of meeting with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to voice my concerns for those fishermen of South West Nova. I am pleased the minister indicated to me and to the deputy minister that he too wanted fairness in his fisheries policies so that the people in the industry could regain that lost trust.

The fishermen want to co-operate but insist they must have some input into the decision-making process. I am pleased that at a meeting with the minister of fisheries just today he again reinforced his commitment to visit the fishermen in South West Nova in the very near future. I will be reminding the hon. minister when the near future is here.

In the forest industry our riding is also experiencing some problems. Small woodlot owners have great difficulty trying to

survive. Years ago when a small woodlot owner ran into difficulty and when things were tough and hard, he was allowed o go into the woods and cut a few cords of wood and sell it to the local people. Under the present regulations a man cannot even do that in order to bring bread to the table for his family. It is time to realize that this is also a problem. We have to work to rectify it.

The only mining activity in our riding was centred around the tin mine in Yarmouth County. This mine is closed because of falling world tin prices. The result is 400 more people out of work. This, together with the closing of the textile mill in Yarmouth has left the town and area with over 600 more people unemployed. The people of Yarmouth, Argile and Clare are working together in an effort to bring new business and industry to the area and are in great need of this government's assistance.

In Bridgetown, the friendly town, one of the two main industries has closed with the loss of many jobs. The people of Bridgetown will not give up as they continue to try to attract new business.

Farming in the constituency continues to survive reasonably well even though the traditional family farm is slowly disappearing and with it the opportunity for young men and women to live and work at home. Because of this we need to find alternative ways to keep our children employed, one of which could be the expansion of small business.

Small business in South West Nova has provided employment for many of our citizens but has depended largely on the success of our natural resources. The decline of these natural resources automatically means the decline of others and this is a situation we are currently facing.

Our government must look closely at the rural areas and small towns of our country and encourage small businesses. We must provide the economic climate necessary for people to risk their time and capital.

Last but certainly not least is the issue of CFB Cornwallis, an issue that is very near and dear to my heart. As a young sailor I served at CFB Cornwallis and it has always brought back fond memories for me. South West Nova has been the home of this base for over 50 years. Since 1949 it has served as the only English speaking recruit training centre for Canada.

In December I had the opportunity to meet with the Minister of National Defence with regard to this issue. I explained to the minister the history of CFB Cornwallis as a recruit training base and I spoke to him about a recently developed peacekeeping training plan. I explained to the minister that this peacekeeping plan was developed entirely in South West Nova by the people in and around Cornwallis.

I explained to him the work, the time, the research and the money spent by the community on this plan. I informed the minister that this was our plan and we would be upset if the military tried to steal that plan and implement it in any other part of this country.

I explained to the minister the necessity of blending the advice of military officials with the concerns of the people of Cornwallis and the surrounding area.

The Minister of National Defence has heard from me exactly how the people of South West Nova stand on the issue of Cornwallis. I hope that the minister will seriously consider the input of the local people when the final decisions are made.

Before concluding, I want to say that the most important resource we have in this country today is that of our youth. As a father of seven children and the grandfather of 25, I have great concern. I am pleased to hear that our government is working to implement the youth training corps to begin putting young Canadians back to work.

In conclusion, before coming to this House I made a commitment to the people of my riding that I would fight as hard as I could to ensure that their interests were represented. To the people of my riding, I pledge accessibility and accountability.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member for South West Nova. I have confidence in his description of the problems in his riding caused by the introduction of fishing quotas, the difficulties experienced by the mining and textile industries, the decline of farming, the small and medium sized businesses that are also struggling.

He talked about problems but his speech did not suggest any solutions to these problems. What he described could apply to several regions or sub-regions across Canada; this problem, in my opinion, is due in part to the distance separating these regions from the central government.

Since I am the critic for Youth and he spoke about the Youth Service Corps, I would like to draw his attention to the concerns expressed so far during the consultations held with the organizations responsible and ask him whether he thinks, for example, that $61 a week for young people could be a solution for his region from an economic standpoint?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.


Harry Verran Liberal South West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

Yes, we probably do have similar rural areas in our constituencies in the provinces of Nova Scotia and Quebec. There is no doubt I feel certain parts of the government are too centralized. They should be partly relocated to the areas where they generally would fit into the activities of that area.

As for the youth of the country, the hon. member heard me say that I am deeply concerned about youth as a person with so many grandchildren of my own. At the same time, I realize that the minister has made a great effort and is putting the youth training plan into place.

To a large degree, it would be a real benefit compared to what we have had in the past. It may not be everything at the start of the program but it will certainly be a start that was not there. I am sure it will grow and prosper. Our young people will prosper by it.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.


Jerry Pickard Liberal Essex—Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, first I want to congratulate you on your appointment to the chair.

I know the citizens of Stormont-Dundas, which you represent, are very proud of the effort you have put forth to help them solve their problems throughout the time you have been here. I know that will continue but they can be equally proud for the leadership that you will show in this House. I congratulate you for that. Some comments have been made jokingly about what is the most beautiful riding in this country. To me there is no question that the most beautiful riding in this country is where the heart is and my heart is in my home riding of Essex-Kent. Essex-Kent is the most southerly riding in this country, southwestern Ontario, and very much a rural, agricultural riding, one that has a smattering of small towns like those throughout rural Canada.

There is a great deal of concern in rural Canada about agriculture and agricultural problems. It is really one of the only industries that is so controlled by the weather, by outside forces that governments or others do not control. As a result sometimes they run through very difficult times, although they use the very best technology available to them. Although they are excellent producers they do run into rough times.

Just this past week we had severely cold weather in our riding and much of the soft fruit industry production is in jeopardy because of that hard freeze. That is the reality that agriculture faces. It is not protected from the elements many times and so the economy of much of rural Canada has to be looked at very critically and very carefully by governments.

Certainly Essex-Kent is an area where the people are vibrant. They work hard. They are well educated. They do the very best they can to make sure that their opportunities are fulfilled. There are times when government must be there with support. I feel that it is a concern in rural Canada today and we should make sure that their voices are heard and they are represented well.

I believe this Liberal government will address those concerns as well as all of the other concerns that I heard over the time that we were campaigning for election.

The red book has been mentioned a million times if it has been mentioned once. That red book was not just something that was grabbed out of the air at election time. Three years of consultation, hard work, round table discussions and efforts to develop policy went into that red book and the statements it contained.

The red book tried to address as best it could in 125 pages the concerns and many of the solutions that Canadians would see a Liberal government follow. Quite frankly, there is no question as the Canadian people became more aware of that red book they were quite happy with the solutions the Liberal Party put forward. That is why there are 176 members of the Liberal caucus here in government today.

I believe that the speech from the throne was a very strong reflection of the document that was put in place during the election. There is no question that the document was the blueprint of the direction we shall go. The speech from the throne was not a big political paper of 50 or 60 or 80 pages. It was as reasonably short, concise document that reflected the red book very carefully and brought forward the concerns this Liberal government has. It is important that governments go ahead.

The number one issue that I heard in my riding and as well colleagues across the country whom I have talked to heard was jobs. Certainly we feel that there is a definite direction to fulfil those jobs. A national infrastructure program was put in place so that each community across this country could see some immediate support from the federal government, the provincial governments and municipal governments to make certain that new jobs are brought into their areas.

Every member of this Parliament will see programs in their riding which will reflect this new job development. I have no doubt that when the list came out in my riding just two days ago of the number of dollars that were available for communities to motivate and start up new job creation programs, moneys that will eventually build into longer range job creations, they were very content and very happy. The communication that I received back just two days ago was extremely positive throughout my riding.

The national apprenticeship program, which is a program to help those who are unemployed retrain and redevelop, is there. It is certainly strategic to bring the skills of Canadians up to the levels required by business. It is very important that business, government and the labour force of this country work together as a unit in order to bring about job creation and job training

which will benefit those businesses, benefit the workforce and benefit our country in general.

That is the type of program that comes forth in national apprenticeship programs.

A youth service corps is contemplated in order to get young people into the labour force. Young people who are now presently at 19 per cent unemployment need to find a beginning, need to build resumes of work established. They have that opportunity through this youth corps. It is wonderful when I stop and think of the opportunity they will be provided with. We look at the high unemployment rate and know the government is taking a positive step to make certain the youth corps does develop.

Business has always had major problems in accessing capital when times were very tough. That is one of the complaints I have heard from business and one of the areas where this government will do its very best to make certain that there is capital accessible to them for development, for improvement and for dally functioning.

It is also important to realize that one of the major complaints of business is the huge amount of paperwork they have to do. The paper trails are getting greater and greater and greater. By putting programs in place to reduce this paperwork is the direction this government intends to go and a direction that will be welcomed by the business community throughout this country.

Last of all it is important to mention the Canada Investment Fund to support the leading edge of technology. We know that jobs of the future are going to be created if we do support that leading technological edge and move forward as the new horizons develop.

The debt and deficit have been a major concern across this country. The Reform Party has been talking very much about the debt and deficit. I believe the Prime Minister has not only talked about the debt and deficit, but he has actually taken very strong and major steps within his own operations.

I believe that the Prime Minister riding in a Chevrolet rather than a limousine is a true message to Canadians. I believe when he cut his support staff in the Prime Minister's office, sold the air bus, created a smaller cabinet, started on public consultations about the budget with the finance minister, is now talking about restructuring some of the tax issues that are there, eliminating overlaps in government services, cancelling the helicopters were all actions of which we can be very proud. They are actions which are going to bring us into a better financial situation. They are also actions that give the Canadian people something to believe in, something to say yes, this government is ready to move in a positive direction.

Integrity was very strong concern voiced by the people in my riding. I believe that we need a tremendous amount of parliamentary reform in order to bring about a better image of this Canadian Parliament. You do not change your image by promising things, you change your image by taking action. I believe that the appointment of an ethics counsellor to stop the open lobbying, or at least bring out in public the lobbying that is going on, is of major importance.

We also know that opening up debates here in this House, allowing MPs more input before the legislation is passed or presented in the House, gives MPs a much better say in what is going on.

We saw it in the peacekeeping debate and the cruise missile debate and in the future we are going to see a pre-budget debate giving MPs their opportunity to have their say before the issue is placed in a motion so that one does not have any opportunity to change it.

Committee structural change is also very important to this place. As I look upon things that have been brought about not only in the financial area but in the area of government operations and I look upon the challenges that this government faces in the future, just to wrap things up, I believe we are looking for consultation with the public, better opportunities for MPs to put their concerns forward and a much better representative government for the people of this country.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in what the hon. member had to say especially in the final remarks of his comments.

Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the hon. member, I congratulate him on his presentation. I think he spoke very much from his heart. There was much eloquence in what he said. It is wonderful to be able to stand up here and speak without lots of notes. I have not quite reached that point yet but I certainly do acknowledge that.

The hon. member did say something that I would like to clarify in my own mind. When he talked about changing his image he said: "You change your image by taking action".

I would very much like the hon. member to tell me his opinion of the mechanism of recall as we have suggested in our caucus and how he thinks we can move forward to implement a mechanism such as this.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.


Jerry Pickard Liberal Essex—Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a very important point to make at this place and at this time.

We have had government that has not projected a very positive, open image to the Canadian public. We have certainly not supported the policies that have come down year after year in this place. Canadians have felt left out. They felt that they were opposed to many ideas and yet those thoughts were never listened to as carefully as they should have been.

The difference between a Liberal government and the previous government that we had was that we consulted with people for three years. We asked them what their concerns were. We tried to formalize round table discussions and openness with the public. That is the reason why we came up with a very concise, consolidated red book.

It is important at this point in time to realize that this government now is opening up debate in the House of Commons to allow members of Parliament to bring forth every concern they have from their ridings before the legislation is formulated and put in front of us. It is a total change of direction to allow members to represent the people in their ridings in this place and have some input ahead of time.

I am not into the Reform policy directions. I am not buying into its directions. I do believe our directions are those of openness, consultation and acceptance of ideas before we take action. That is extremely important. It gives the members of Parliament more power in this place and it gives the people they represent a way for their voice to be heard before the legislation comes down.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.


Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to rise before this House for the first time and give my maiden speech.

I would like to also express my gratitude to the constituents of New Westminster-Burnaby for choosing me on October 25, 1993 to represent them in the House of Commons. Mr. McVey, a grade school teacher of mine, must be smiling today.

New Westminster was the former capital of British Columbia. In fact it was given its name specifically by the Queen. It is now proudly referred to as the royal city. The city of Burnaby is a large urban community and residential area lying between Vancouver and New Westminster.

Situated on the banks of the Fraser River, New Westminster has seen history pass its shore. There was the gold rush of 1858 and the massive town fire that unfortunately destroyed its downtown core. In more recent years it has been a centre for the processing of forestry products. With the prospect of urban sprawl New Westminster's geographical significance was eclipsed and now the revitalization of the waterfront and sky train connections brings a tremendous amount of growth to the city.

New Westminster is a city of proud history from the early days of the province to its re-emergence as a prominent place in British Columbia. Burnaby has seen a tremendous amount of growth in recent years primarily with the emergence of Metrotown along with a pleasant mix of parks, recreation centres and libraries.

I am pleased to say that while there is snow and freezing temperatures in Ottawa today, in my riding the lawns are green. The flowers are starting to come up. Although we have not seen snow in my riding this year let it be known that it does not rain every day in New Westminster-Burnaby.

Like other communities the issue of safer streets and the equitable performance of the justice system to properly balance the issues of the victims as opposed to that of offenders continues to fester.

To focus my remarks I wanted to comment on a paragraph in the throne speech referring to community safety and crime prevention. Listening to the throne speech my reaction was one of stunned disbelief for misplaced priorities. Across Canada one particular issue has been the Young Offenders Act, yet it did not rate a mention in the speech from the throne.

There was no outcry in New Westminster-Burnaby for changes to the human rights act or demands for the court challenges program to be restored. It took questioning of the minister from our side to hear any comment to do with the Young Offenders Act. I heard that in just the last few hours the justice minister did hint at a direction but not very precisely.

Let me say clearly that in my riding the folk are upset about deficits and the conspicuous consumption by government and the lack of fiscal leadership by example. However, if one wants to identify one particular statute that is in disrepute then it is the Young Offenders Act.

As a criminal justice professional I participated in the national consultations leading up to the act being passed in the late days of the previous Liberal administration. I recall that in 1984 the government of the day was quite verbose in promoting the efficacy of the compromise achieved with the provinces. However, I also recall other voices predicting that it was a flawed piece of legislation.

The verdict of my community is in. There is little community support. In fact I have never met one policeman who supports this legislation. We have now had about ten years of implementation and during that time the act has acquired very few defenders.

The flawed act was subject to a number of court appeals for clarification. It was also amended several times by the Conservatives. However, the Young Offenders Act remains today the single piece of legislation that is most vilified by the public.

The Young Offenders Act has a title which implies its application. I say to the government as a professional who has been left in the community to administer this act, let the Young Offenders Act truly deal with young offenders and not youthful adults.

If the justice minister does nothing else about this act and all its tangled provisions, it can do one thing to change the mood of this country concerning young offenders. Consider specifically section 2(1) under definitions of a "young person". What if we change the number 12 to 10 and the number 18 to 16? It is just two numbers.

The government needs to change just two numbers in the beginning of this statute and that would then fundamentally change the administration of justice across this nation. However, I doubt that the government has the courage. The throne speech indicates misplaced priorities. The answers of the minister so far outline a plan perhaps to tinker only with the internal technical points of the Young Offenders Act.

However, the thrust of this act has never achieved acceptance in my community. I am also getting calls on what the government really means by its throne speech reference to this: "Amendments will be proposed to the Canadian Human Rights Act". There are a few newspaper articles but not much else.

Where is the political mandate for that? I do not believe there is any specific reference to it in the infamous Liberal red book. Where does this come from, left field? Where is the political mandate to perhaps fundamentally alter how Canadians define themselves? If there is a sleeper time bomb in this throne speech then this is it.

I ask the government to be open now and test the marketplace for ideas on this one. The implications of this measure to policies, to Revenue Canada, the social safety net, insurance companies, pension plans and union contracts is sweeping.

If the government is hiding the intent until the last moment I challenge to issue intent now and if there is national-wide protests then so be it. It just seems that pursuing this agenda is a misplaced priority from what my community wants. It begs the question what special interest group has the ear of the government?

In our let the people speak phase of the election it was clear that my community wanted fiscal reform. Specifically in justice issues it was the Young Offenders Act that was of concern, not the human rights act and definitely not the court challenges program.

I remind the government to pay attention to what the people want rather than what it thinks the people need or should want. Specifically in the field of criminal justice, reform bring forward legislation on the Young Offenders Act first, especially in line with what I have mentioned rather than window dressing.

I also want to commend this government for permitting open debates on peacekeeping and on cruise missile testing. I am sure the varied moods of the communities were reflected by the members, much to the confusion of members of the media who all seemed to want the old style of being handed a set paragraph policy statement that is the formula set position of the day.

Now fiscal reform has been and is being dealt with at least at the talking level, albeit some ministers have not yet got the message with their use of government aircraft. There are indications that the Criminal Code matters will be heard.

That leaves parliamentary reform. I am encouraged as I have said about the open debates so far but I ask if the Prime Minister could go just one bit further and say to this House that the government will not consider the defeat of a government motion including a spending measure to constitute an expression of non-confidence in the government unless it is immediately followed by the passage of a formal non-confidence vote.

The genie is out of the bottle concerning the public's expectation to be heard on issues that fundamentally alter the way Canadians define themselves. The referendum was the watershed for that, but criminal law is part of it.

But more than appreciating the 199 new members of Parliament who have never been here before the fresh air that is needed is an attitude change by just one man, the Prime Minister, who can gather the courage to usher us into a new age of democracy. The Prime Minister is looking to make his mark in Canadian history. I believe that this is where he can do it.

It is not a strategic question of caucus support or insider concerns, all of which were the same arguments used by the British Prime Minister many years ago in his reluctance to abolish slavery. The main thrust, the change was right. Then as now the national mood was right but a consideration for a united caucus and parliamentary manoeuvring delayed too long what that nation wanted. I think the nation wants this measure from the Prime Minister to free us from the slavery of caucus solidarity. This one step could open the House to a new meaning in relevance to those who have sent us here.

In closing I pledge my co-operation and constructive advice on legislation. I will minimize my personal philosophies and emphasize what my constituents desire as I will attempt to represent the broadest of political views. For this House does not belong to parliamentarians. It is not our private club. It belongs to the people. I pledge to conduct myself accordingly for in the long run I trust that if the people are given the truth and the whole story more often than not consensus will emerge that is wiser than any technocrat can devise.

Finally, as the government brings forth its legislative program let the people speak and we will have fulfilled our duty. May the government hear what has been tested in the marketplace of ideas and it will not go wrong. Lead by example and sacrifice and the nation will support it.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I would like to ask the House to consider the following. We will be adjourning shortly at 10 p.m. The hon. member for Elk Island has been seeking the floor. If there was consent to forgo the five minute question or

comment period to the last intervention from the member for New Westminister-Burnaby I could immediately recognize the member for Elk Island before we adjourn this evening. Would there be consent?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

Some hon. members


Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

January 27th, 1994 / 9:50 p.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will begin in the traditional manner by congratulating you on your position and assuring you of my respect and co-operation. I consider it a great privilege to have been chosen by the electors of Elk Island to serve them as their member of Parliament.

As most other speakers have done I will also express thanks to the many people who voted and worked to give me this honour. Especially I am grateful to my wife Betty and my family for their sacrifice, support and trust.

The Elk Island constituency lies immediately east of Edmonton in Alberta and is noted for the fact that it contains Elk Island Park, a national park operated by Parks Canada.

The constituency has approximately 85,000 residents. Many live on acreages and farms. Our people earn their living by working in our industrial and chemical plants, by farming, by operating numerous small businesses and by many other forms of endeavour which add to the economy and well being of the community and the country. In addition many work in the city of Edmonton.

I am very proud and thankful to be a Canadian. I remember as a youth hearing my immigrant parents, grandparents and their friends talk of the hardships and the lack of freedoms which caused them to look to this land for hope.

More recently our son Brent has been working as a volunteer in a relief agency in the countries of Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Bosnia and Croatia where he was helping to give aid to the tremendously disadvantaged because of war. We have been deeply touched by his first-hand accounts of children, young people, women and men who are starving or suffering intensely because of the inhumanity of selfish aggressive people. I am very grateful that in this country we govern ourselves with ballots and not with bullets.

It is in this context that I give my address today. While we have it so good, I am committed to doing my part to ensure that we do not lose our freedoms and privileges. I hope also that we will be able to continue to share our abundance and our help with many other unfortunate people in our hurting world.

It might sound as though I am complaining when I draw attention to the shortcomings of our past governments. I am very concerned that we run the risk of losing it all here in our wonderful Canada because of the mismanagement of government over the last 30 years.

It seems so obvious to me that the policies of the Liberals and the Conservatives of the past have taken us into the slavery of debt. I hope against hope that this new government will be able and will have the political will to begin to turn this around.

Just think there is no country in this world as blessed as ours. We have a wonderfully rich heritage of natural resources from fish to forest, from bounteous grain fields to plentiful energy in oil, gas and water, from beautiful scenery attracting tourists from all around the world to our wonderful land from Newfoundland to British Columbia to the far north.

I could go on and on. Add to that the enormous wealth we have in our people. We are all immigrants, even those who we proudly call our natives. Our first nations originally came here from a different part of the world. We have of course the French and the English, but we also have many others including the Scandinavians and the Orientals, the Europeans and the Africans. The list is endless. Over the years we have lived together in harmony and co-operation.

Mr. Speaker, you do not know how it hurts me to hear some who are working toward tearing up this country. If there is not room for all of us here in Canada, how can we expect the other nations of the world to stop warring with each other on this planet?

I would like to say to my friends sitting next to me how we wish they would change their minds about leaving Canada. How we wish that they would give it one more try. How we wish that they would stop saying Canada and Quebec and would start saying Quebec and the other provinces of Canada.

Will they consider doing what we have done in the west? For years and years we have paid much more into Confederation than we have received in dollars. For those same years we have been practising what many of us learned in Sunday school, that is to share and not be selfish, to give and not always to expect returns.

At the same time I must be honest. The patience of our position has on occasion been tested. We are looking forward seriously to the day when all the provinces will be able to better make it on their own and to decrease their dependence on others. It is very encouraging to see the generosity and benevolence of others too. We desire deeply that all Canadians and all provinces live together in peace and harmony as equal partners in Confederation.

That little diversion from the topic of debt was intentional. I thought that it would be a good idea to highlight our wonderful advantages, but let me now return to the topic of our burgeoning debt. How can it be that with this vast legacy of natural and human wealth our governments of the past have managed to dig us so deeply into debt? Is there any hope for the future?

The government is proposing in the throne speech to borrow more money in order to produce jobs. It will say it is not borrowing more, just spending money that it saved on the helicopters or other areas, but the fact is that there is still a huge deficit predicted for the next fiscal year. That means that we are doing what we are doing with borrowed money.

It is clear that the collective wisdom of the citizens of this great country is moving more and more toward a demand to live within our means. I wish I knew of a way to communicate this forcibly and convincingly to the point where the majority government opposite would actually change its fiscal policies to reflect this reality.

I was elected largely on the merit of the Reform Party's deficit and debt reduction commitment. In my constituency there were five voters who voted for Reform's plan of fiscal restraint for every two voters who chose the Liberal's plan of borrow more, spend more. Even in Ontario where the government received a rather overwhelming number of seats, almost one million individuals expressed themselves in their vote for fiscal restraint.

I would have been so pleased if we would have had at least a commitment from the government to set some realistic written goals and to cap spending. It is very doubtful if we will ever achieve a goal if we are not even willing to state it.

During the campaign a simple fact struck me forcibly. We have no mechanism actually to control spending. We have no means of ensuring that the wishes of our constituents, the taxpayers, are expressed and enforced in the workings of government. I appreciate the new openness of the government. It is breaking with precedent in actually having pre-decision debates on various issues including the budget.

However, we will not have true freedom of expression on behalf of the people we represent until we have true, free votes, even on the budget. This can only happen if we can agree that the defeat of a bill, even the budget, does not automatically mean the defeat of the government. There is no choice if we can only vote yes, even when we disagree.

I respectfully and forcefully request that the government allow all members on both sides of the House, the democratic representatives of the people who elected us, the freedom to send the budget back to the bureaucrats if it is not good enough. Let them fix it and not bring it back until the unencumbered majority of members of the House agree that we have reached a satisfactory decision.

I end my speech with a pledge not only to this House but to the people in Elk Island who elected me, the people of Canada who are looking to Parliament for leadership. I will do all I can to participate in bringing fiscal reality and responsibility to this place. I will exert all the influence I can in changing the way Parliament works so that it can become a better and more democratic place.

In the end I believe we will be a better country. We will not only have increased prosperity and well-being for ourselves, but we will also have the freedom and ability to do more for others.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

9:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

It being ten o'clock p.m., pursuant to the order made earlier this day, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at ten o'clock a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 10 p.m.)