Mr. Speaker, I want to preface my remarks in my first address in this House by offering my own congratulates to our Speaker and our Deputy Speakers for the even-handedness in the way that they have conducted the interventions in this House.
We are witnessing a new civility and decorum in this place rarely witnessed in recent memory. I think all members, regardless of their politics, are showing Canadians that serious discussion, debate and, yes, some disagreement can take place with respect and honour.
I want to take a few moments to reflect on my riding and the wonderful people who elected me as their representative and voice in Ottawa.
My riding of Huron-Bruce is situated on the easterly shore of Lake Huron. It is a riding that consists of the entire county of Huron in the southerly half of the county of Bruce.
It stretches from Grand Bend in the south to Southampton in the north. This beautiful riding includes towns and villages such as Kerkton, Dublin, Teeswater and Zurich, and on the far easterly boundary, Paisley. My riding constitutes 43 municipalities in total.
It is without doubt one of the most truly rural agricultural ridings in Canada. It is decisively agricultural in its base, with pork, beef, dairy and poultry all being produced in great numbers.
The climate is also well suited for beans, navy beans and other cereal grains including canola. I would also like to mention that my hometown of Zurich boasts being the bean capital of Canada. While the town of Goderich boasts being Canada's prettiest town it is also the manufacturing base of Champion road graders which builds graders and other road building equipment. I am glad to see some of that equipment on the streets of Ottawa. Farther to the north of Lake Huron we have the Bruce nuclear power plant, the largest nuclear generation plant in the world.
Among notable Canadians to have come from my area of Huron-Bruce, Paul Henderson in 1972 scored what proved to be the winning goal and made world history in the Canada-Russia summit series.
Timothy Eaton, upon immigrating to Canada, established his earliest roots in Usborne township in the southeast area of my riding.
Kipple Disney, the grandfather of the famous Walt Disney, settled on the family farm in Bluevale. This is where Elias, Walt's father, was born and later went to central school in Goderich.
Most recently we were made proud when another famous person from my riding, Lloyd Eisler from Seaforth, or as he would like it to be known, Egmondville, the suburb, and his partner Isabelle Brasseur from the riding of Richmond-Wolfe won a bronze medal in the 17th Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
To all those people who worked and voted for me in Huron-Bruce I offer my sincere appreciation and gratitude. Their friendship and encouragement are reward enough for a task that at times seems impossible.
Most important in my life has been my family, my wife Kathy and our two sons, Cam and Brian, their wives Kathy and Bonnie and our two grandsons, Brent and Shawn. They have all supported me in my efforts to come here and they have also given me great encouragement in the many years I served in municipal politics. Thank you for your love.
This being the year of the family causes me to reflect in the directions we take as we determine social policies for the country. My view, which I think is shared by many hon. members, particularly my hon. colleague from Central Nova, is that life is sacred from conception to natural death. This view will obviously give cause for some difference of opinion. I welcome the opportunity to debate and address this and other issues in this place of democracy.
Prior to the election, Canadians had lost confidence in their political representatives and the institutions in which they served. I believe we as the new government have begun to reverse this opinion and return people's trust and confidence in us as members of Parliament.
During the election the public had some clear choices before it, parties with very different policies and ideas. We as Liberals believe that the people should know exactly what they were voting for and that is why we put our policies in our famous red book.
Canadians overwhelmingly chose to support our party and, most important, our policies. This is where the confidence factor comes in. What better way to improve Canadians' confidence toward politicians than to give them exactly what we promised and ran on in the election?-not exactly a new idea, but one that has been forgotten for some time.
People's confidence is essential if we as a government hope to be successful in making the necessary reforms to a whole host of policy areas from social security to foreign affairs and defence.
Confidence in Canadian institutions has also increased due to the unprecedented level of consultation and open debate that occurred on recent peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and cruise missile testing discussions in northern Canada. This open consultation has also shown that this place does serve as a forum for constructive debate on matters of national interest.
These changes are just the beginning and I look forward to future debates and changes that will further improve our representative role.
If we look at the budget that the hon. Minister of Finance presented last month we see that the commitments made in the red book are almost kept item by item. If I look at page 111 of the book I cannot find anything that has not been acted upon.
As I have told my constituents, the contents of the budget should come as no surprise to anyone. This most of all will increase the people's trust in their representatives. I am also proud of this budget and have absolutely no problem with defending it and selling it to my constituents. It is a balanced, far reaching budget that lays the groundwork for future reform on improvement to programs and services.
In my riding over the last couple of weeks I have spoken with a great many people and have conducted several media interviews. In all instances people had a positive opinion of the budget. What I think people like about this budget is that it is realistic. People were tired of budgets that promised the impossible and then failed to deliver. It is realistic in terms of deficit reduction, economic projections and job creation.
What we did was lay out before the people the serious financial problems of the country which included a deficit that has skyrocketed to $45 billion, far more than what was expected.
We as Liberals believe in getting our fiscal house in order and that is why the minister has put forth a budget that over three years attains a ratio five to one in terms of spending cuts to revenue increases. This sets us well on our way to meet the deficit target of 3 per cent GDP in three years; again, something which was in the red book and is what Canadians supported.
To those who would say that we have not gone far enough, I want to say that we are not going to abandon those in need or risk spiralling back into recession by cutting and chopping, spending wildly or giving no thought to the consequences at a time when 1.6 million people are unemployed, when welfare rolls are skyrocketing and child poverty is up 30 per cent. It is not the time to abandon these people.
Those people who argue for deeper cuts forget that we did not get into this situation overnight and it will take time and a great deal of fairness and compassion to get out of it. These people forget that they were not on a different planet during the time of deficit spending. They voted and supported governments and benefited from the spending just like we all did.
We must now not take radical approaches but take a balanced approach that emphasizes building a framework for economic growth, restoring fiscal balance and creating jobs.
This budget pursues job creation, not in the old ways in which government provided the jobs, but in a way that produces the climate and provides business with the tools to create the jobs.
I also want to point out that the government wanted to invest in the infrastructure of this country, an investment that will enable Canada to stay competitive in this time of increased globalization. This will create approximately 50,000 to 60,000 jobs.
The minister has listened to Canadians who said that they wanted deficit reduction without tax increases. They wanted a beginning to policy reform without drastic cuts to programs for the most needy. They wanted job creation. They wanted a constant, systematic decline in the deficit. They wanted investment in R and D. They wanted economic renewal and revitalization, and they wanted a fair and more equitable tax system.
This is the budget we delivered and it is the one that I am proud to support.