Mr. Speaker, today I am privileged to rise to speak about the first Liberal budget of the 35th Parliament. I might add that this is the first budget I have had the pleasure and honour to address.
Today we are considering Bill C-14 respecting the borrowing authority for 1994-95. The passage of the bill will raise funds for public works, for general purposes and for the operations of government. I fully support the bill because it limits the government's borrowing authority. The people of Don Valley North and many other ridings across the country voted for cuts in government spending. They gave their approval to the government's plan for fiscal responsibility.
The budget is only the beginning of a new process which started on October 25, 1993. This process will deliver a major promise made to Canadians in the red book. We are committed to bringing down the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP in the next three years. A great deal of credit must be given to the hon. Minister of Finance for his part in consulting with Canadians from all regions and all walks of life before bringing down the budget.
This first budget is a good beginning as I said earlier. It tackles the problem in three ways. First, it is building a framework for economic renewal to help small businesses and create jobs. Second, it is a reduction in the spending on government operations, on defence operations, on subsidies to businesses and on international development agencies. Third, it is a progressive reform of Canada's social programs which will include unemployment insurance reform, review of services for our aging population and social justice issues.
On February 17 I made a statement in the House in support of full funding for the national literacy program. I am especially pleased today that the Minister of Finance pledged on budget day to restore full funding to this program. No budget can please every Canadian and this budget is no exception.
On October 25 the Canadian people gave the new government a mandate for change. I am very happy to be part of the mandate. I will take the challenge very seriously.
I represent the riding of Don Valley North which is located in the city of North York at the northeastern boundary. There are approximately 90,000 constituents from all corners of the world resulting in a diverse mixture of cultures and languages. Don Valley North is a riding we can all take pride in. It is a success story for our government's multicultural policies.
I came to Canada in 1970 after three years in Chicago, Illinois. I first joined my parents in Montreal, Quebec. Afterward I moved to Toronto. I married in 1975 my wife, Zaza, and we are proud parents of four children: Raffi, Tamar, Vatche and
Gacia. I thank all of them for their continued and generous support over the last few years.
My election to the House of Commons is a significant part of Armenian history in Canada. The first Armenian immigrant came to Canada in 1887 and settled in Port Hope, Ontario. I am the first Canadian of Armenian descent to have the honour of serving in the House of Commons.
On the first day I came to the House as a new member of Parliament I was so moved that I had tears in my eyes, tears of joy and happiness. I reflected on 127 years of Canadian history. I remembered former prime ministers, past leaders of the opposition and members of Parliament. I noticed the flag on the Prime Minister's bench and the Speaker's chair. There were so many significant symbols of this House of Parliament that I felt overwhelmed to be a part of its history. I rise to the challenge to do my best to change the course and prepare Canada for the 21st century.
It has been a long journey for me, over 20 years, but I can say it was worth every day of it. I am no longer dreaming the Canadian dream. I am living the Canadian dream. I thank first and foremost the residents of Don Valley North for their trust and confidence in me. Second, I would like to thank the Don Valley North executive, my campaign manager, the team and the hundreds of volunteers. I would not have been here without the support of my colleagues and the captain of the A team, the right hon. Prime Minister. During the campaign I was very honoured to have my leader visit my riding of Don Valley North on a Sunday morning for breakfast. Over 600 constituents came to breakfast and learned firsthand what a great leader the Prime Minister of Canada was.
In the next four or five years we will be judged by the people who gave us our mandate. We have been asked to bring back Canadian values. We have been challenged to bring prosperity and hope to Canadians. The budget is an important step for ourselves and for the next generation. I fully support the budget. I invite Canadians to join us in formulating the next budget. The process was started today. Let us work hard hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder toward a better future.
In closing I remind the House of President Lincoln's speech on his second inaugural address when he said:
Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.