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House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was care.

Topics

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, the people of Dartmouth and of Nova Scotia are very concerned with the blended sales tax which is the son of the GST. We would like to see it removed. We think it is a very unfair tax that hits consumers and low income earners. It hits people when they are paying for diapers and heating oil, although it does not hit people when they are paying for $400 suits. We think it is an unfair tax and we will be fighting to have it eliminated.

I am not exactly sure what the member's question is regarding the justice system so I am afraid I will have to ask for clarification, if the hon. member wants to do so.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member wants to do so, but I am not sure the Chair will allow him to. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate the member for Dartmouth on her inaugural speech in the House of Commons. She mentioned something that is of concern to a lot of people right across the country wherever there are Canadian Armed Forces bases. For instance, I know there are people in Shiloh, Manitoba who have made similar representations to me about the alternative service delivery.

I am sure many other members have had similar representations about the way in which we see being replicated now by the national defence department an ideological drive over the last 10 or 15 years whereby people who had good paying jobs in the public sector are losing those jobs by virtue of privatization, contracting out or alternative service delivery, to use fancier words.

The upshot is that these jobs are not disappearing. The work still has to be done. These people either come back to do the work themselves or other people are doing the work for a lot less. We see a trend toward a lower and lower wage economy. It is robbing from many Canadians the ability to have the kind of standard of living that they legitimately expect. Could the member elaborate on that?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Wendy Lill NDP Dartmouth, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have been struck by exactly what my hon. colleague from Winnipeg has been talking about. People who have been working for 20 or 25 years in the civilian military are now being made redundant or are being put on affected status. They are finding that they can no longer depend on even their pensions being honoured. It is causing incredible stress for their families. It is not a situation I would ever want to find my family in and yet there are thousands of families across the country that are being affected that way.

That is all part of the deficit cutting picture presented by the government. I question its morality and effectiveness.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to respond to the Speech from the Throne. This is my first speech in the House of Commons. I am honoured to be here to share my views and to speak on behalf of the people of Winnipeg Centre.

Winnipeg Centre has a great history and tradition of sending social democrats to Ottawa. The seat I am taking in the House of Commons has been held by two of the greatest champions for social justice in our nation's history.

Seventy-six years ago the voters of Winnipeg Centre ignored the fact that the Canadian government wanted to send J.S. Woodsworth to prison for his role in the Winnipeg general strike. Instead they sent him to Parliament. Here he became the leader of what he called the labour group, and the voters of Winnipeg Centre kept re-electing him year after year and that labour group kept getting bigger.

On his death after 20 years in Parliament he was replaced by Stanley Knowles who held this seat until he suffered his stroke in 1981. Cyril Keeper then held this seat until 1988. This past June was cause for national mourning when Stanley Knowles passed away.

J.S. Woodsworth and Stanley Knowles won the admiration of all Canadians for their honesty, their dignity and for their courage. I am pleased that the leaders of all political parties paid tribute to brother Knowles in the House of Commons this past Thursday. Both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition were full of praise. However, there is a danger to this sort of praise.

It is the sort of praise that is used when one wants to bury the cause for which these men fought. We must not only remember these men for their admirable personal qualities, we must remember the ideals that sustained them. I ask the House to listen to these words from J.S. Woodsworth's first speech to the House 75 years ago. He said:

I claim that we have come to a period in the history of our country when we decide once and for all which shall prevail, profits or human welfare. I feel confident that there is a group of men here, new Members of the House, if you will, who have clearly made up their minds that insofar as they decide it, human welfare is to be given the precedence.

There are new members here today, 76 years later, the men and women who make up the NDP caucus who still see this as the key question facing us. It is a question of justice, a question of social justice and it means far more than just the social safety net.

For the past two decades Canadian governments have been tearing apart the social programs that men like Woodsworth, Knowles and Cyril Keeper fought to put in place. Our caucus is going to be fighting to protect what is left of that tattered social safety net.

These words were taken from Stanley Knowles first speech to this Chamber. He said:

Social justice involves a system in which those who toil, being part of the community, own the productive machinery of the nation and therefore receive every day and every month their full and just share of the wealth that they produce.

I regret that last week's Speech from the Throne does not move us any closer to that noble vision.

Like J.S. Woodsworth and Stanley Knowles, I believe that the day will come when nations will be judged not by their military and economic strength, nor by the splendour of their capital cities and public buildings, but by the well-being of their people, by their level of health, nutrition and education, by their opportunities to earn a fair reward for their labour and by the protection that is afforded to the growing minds and bodies of their children. That must and will be the yardstick by which we measure progress and by which we are judged. Society does not move forward unless we all move forward together.

The Speech from the Throne does not address the growing gap in this country between the rich and the poor, between the haves and the have nots. It does nothing to address the need for a more equitable redistribution of wealth in the country. Instead, it relies on an outdated, neo-conservative approach that the free market will provide for all if it is simply left alone. History has shown us otherwise. History has shown us that capital has no conscience.

As a socialist and as a trade unionist I reject the prevailing wisdom that we can no longer afford Canadian social programs. We have endured endless years of cutbacks that have severely affected the lives of the many poor and unemployed Canadians who live in the inner city of Winnipeg.

I do not believe that our deficit problem is a result of overspending on social programs. We spend less on social programs than most developed nations. Our debt and deficit problems are due to a deliberate economic policy of fighting inflation with high interest rates. The predictable and unfortunate consequences of this tight money economic policy have been chronic levels of long term unemployment and spiralling compounding interest on our national debt. I for one am tired of the flat earth society version of our economic problems that we keep hearing from the government and from the official opposition. Their analysis is both false and ultimately dangerous.

Manitoba just went through what has been called the flood of the century. As hard as it was, it could have been very much worse if successive governments had not spent millions of dollars on the Red River floodway diversion system. They knew that money spent on prevention was not money thrown away.

I want to present the government with another flood warning. This time it is not the Red River that is rising, it is the rising tide of desperation in our inner cities. It is the rising tide of poverty and all the consequences of crime, violence, substance abuse, the breakdown of the family.

Just as the blizzard of the century led to the flood of the century, a decade of budget cutting has led to a social crisis and what could amount to a permanent underclass in our society. Rather than investing in the future, the government has opened the floodgates to social disaster.

Common sense dictates that it is time to start investing in flood protection to stem the tide of despair that threatens to sweep away our inner cities and social justice demands it.

I take my seat today, the latest in a long line of people who have been sent to this House by the people of Winnipeg Centre to fight for social justice. As I take my place I am conscious of the honour that is mine. I wish to renew Stanley Knowles' pledge of loyalty to the cause of social justice that J.S. Woodsworth served so well.

I may never fill their shoes but likewise I promise the people of Winnipeg Centre that I will never abandon their cause.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his maiden speech.

While many of us on this side of the House respect the passion with which he speaks, I would state that his thinking is really a factor of the flat earth society of social democratic thinking that we keep hearing over and over again. It is that business is bad and anything that business does is bad and instead of thinking of how we can increase the pie we have to think about how we can divide up the pie.

Businesses in Canada are beginning to increasingly recognize that they have multi-stakeholder responsibilities. Only recently Mr. Courtney Pratt, president of Noranda, talked about the need for corporations to take an inclusive approach, to invest in people, to be conscious about the environment and to take responsibilities with respect to the community.

We are seeing this kind of thinking coming back into the social responsibilities of business. If we keep saying that business is bad and everyone else is good—

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

He did not say that. Open your ears and listen to him.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

That was the essence of what he said. Then we are wrong footed. We have to increase the size of the pie before we can decide how to divide it up.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I did talk about the redistribution of wealth in my speech. I suppose we are arguing that there is sufficient wealth in this nation to provide for the basics of a family to survive.

I was once fortunate to hear the Rev. Jesse Jackson speak when he tried to explain the difference between the social democratic view of the world and the other side, the corporate community, the neo-conservatives, the neo-liberals. The analogy he used is “If you have five children and only three pork chops the solution is not to kill two of the children. Neither is it a solution to divide those three pork chops into five equal pieces. Then none of the kids have enough to eat and they all go to bed hungry”.

The social democratic position would be to challenge the whole assumption that there are only three pork chops. The challenge is to ask why, in the richest and most powerful civilization in the history of the world, there is not enough wealth to provide for the basic needs of a family to survive.

I do not think that is flat earth society and I resent the implication.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speech by my colleague in the New Democratic Party, and I want to ask him a question that I have had for a very long time and that I think is relevant.

He is surely very aware that there is a very strong social democratic tradition in Quebec. It has had very progressive legislation for many years, such as the anti-scab legislation, and the new equity legislation passed by the Quebec National Assembly, which will apply to all private sector enterprises, a first in North America and perhaps in the world.

We also have a tradition in terms of the anti-scab legislation I was mentioning, as well as a number of other similar examples. I have always wondered why the New Democratic Party has never managed to see eye to eye with us on these social values, and, at the same time, why it has not been possible to get the social democrats to recognize the Quebec people.

I would like to hear what he has to say about this, whether there is not a way to get the New Democrats to change their position so that they can lead the way in Canada for what could become a good partnership between Quebec and Canada, between two sovereign states.

They could develop a model. Right now, the social and environmental side of things is often neglected in international trade agreements. There is much to be done in this regard, and perhaps an interesting model could be developed. If you were to speak for Canadians who want a reasonable approach, who do not oppose Quebeckers' wish for full autonomy, that would perhaps be a productive route for the next century, both for Quebec and for Canada.

I would like to hear what he thinks about this and about the possibility of the New Democratic Party spearheading this original idea, that could be of much-needed benefit to Canada.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, as a working carpenter and a tradesman I have long envied the labour relations climate in the province of Quebec, the recognition of workers rights and the health and safety legislation. The hon. member is right that many aspects of its labour relations climate are far ahead of the rest of the country. As such, I have often looked at Quebec very favourably.

As far as the NDP working closely on social democratic positions, it is our policy to move forward the rights of workers and the rights of the citizens of Canada.

There is a large community of interest between the members I have spoken to in the Bloc Quebecois and our own caucus. We would welcome the opportunity to work with members of the Bloc Quebecois as we advance social issues.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Normally we would not conduct negotiations among the parties on the floor of the House.

I am aware that the question would be put at 2.15 this afternoon. I understand four members are still on the roster to speak. There are two Liberals, one of whom is a new member, and I believe the Progressive Conservative Party also has two new members who would like to make their maiden speeches in the 36th Parliament.

If each of those four members could have 10 minutes we would waive the five minutes for questions and comments for each one of them respectively, which would have the net effect of extending the business of the House by approximately 10 to 15 minutes. We then would ask the Chair to put the question at 2.30 p.m. rather than at 2.15 p.m.

I wonder if that is agreeable to the House.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, seeing as we are negotiating on the floor of the House, I wonder whether the government whip would agree to add the name of the hon. member for Halifax West who was also anxious to speak but was not going to have the opportunity for a 10 minute speech.

I wonder if we could extend the hour accordingly so that he might have a chance to make his speech as well. Then there would be agreement.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Perhaps you Speaker could intervene. I am not trying to stop the discussion, but I can see that we might get into protracted negotiation.

Perhaps we could start with the next speech, which will go ahead in any event and in the 10 minutes during that speech, if a resolution can be reached, we will decide whether to have questions or comments at the conclusion of the speech after a report from one of the whips.

Would that be agreeable to the House?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Liberal Whitby—Ajax, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time this afternoon with my colleague, the hon. member for Perth—Middlesex. I begin by congratulating you on your appointment to the Chair. I know you will execute your duties fairly and in the best interest of the House. I assure you that you have my confidence as you carry out your duties.

It is with great humility that I rise today to give my first speech in the House of Commons. The people of Whitby—Ajax have bestowed upon me an unequalled honour in selecting me to be their voice in parliament as Canada moves from this millennium into the next. They have elected me to be part of an honest, responsible government and they demand that the future of the nation, the greatest place in the world in which to live, is assured.

I thank the voters of Whitby—Ajax for the trust they have shown in me and assure them that I will do my utmost to dignify their choice with tireless work, constant communication and faithful representation. I will not let them down.

Whitby—Ajax is a new riding carved from the eastern end of the proud former riding of Ontario. It is made up of all the town of Whitby including the heritage village of Brookland and the southern portion of the town of Ajax.

Ajax is a vibrant community located east of Pickering on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Named for the World War II warship HMS Ajax , the town is a living monument to the allied efforts during that time.

Streets are named for crew members. The town fountain is formed from part of the original ship's anchor. Each town council meeting is called to order by the original ship's bell. Anyone with an interest in modern history will find a rich and rewarding experience in Ajax and the surrounding area.

Moving east from Ajax along the shore of Lake Ontario is Whitby, Durham's business centre and the heart of the region. Like Ajax, Whitby has a waterfront trail that is the envy of the GTA.

Geographically Whitby is able to supply a large and affluent consumer market within a day's trucking of all of Ontario, two-thirds of the Canadian market and half the American market readily available.

Diversification has been a key ingredient in Whitby's strong industrial base. Over 275 businesses are located in the industrial zoned areas. Companies specializing in plastics, packaging, pharmaceuticals, steel, telecommunications and automotive components are part of the broad sector.

Family Kartways, North America's largest go-kart facility, and the renowned Cullen Gardens are just two of the many tourist draws. A growing dynamic community, I have been proud to make Whitby my home for the past 25 years.

While the residents of Whitby—Ajax elected me on June 2, they also gave a substantial vote of confidence to the government and its unequalled record of sound fiscal management. They acknowledge that there have been many challenges, but they appreciate that for the first time in 30 years the Government of Canada will not have to face a crushing deficit, a deficit that was systematically and rapidly destroying our ability to care for those who need help the most.

We understand that deficit reduction is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The efforts of the Liberal government have given us the ability to address the priorities of compassionate and responsible Canadians while living within our means.

I take a great deal of pride in knowing that it was my party that built the framework for this financial turnaround. I recognize that without the support and co-operation of individual Canadians we would not have been successful.

Having made these sacrifices, my constituents have told me that they want the government to stay the course. They warn that we must be mindful of the still excessive debt. They ask that we make strategic investments in key areas while maintaining prudent controls over spending to guarantee continued steady economic growth.

Just two weeks ago, the Governor of the Bank of Canada said “Canada is in better shape now than it has been for many years to face the economic challenges of the future”. He went on to say “Canada's recovery has the potential for a long period of sustained growth in output and employment with rising productivity and improving living standards”.

The Minister of Finance in his last budget reminded us that a government relieved of its deficit burden is not a government relieved of its obligations. It is a government able to exercise its obligations.

The throne speech speaks to those obligations. We have an obligation to build a stronger Canada. To this end, the government has committed to taking a very broad and consultative approach to promoting and strengthening our national unity. It is committed to forging a strong, progressive partnership for all stakeholders.

We see the most common yet most successful types of partnerships in our families. A family is made up of individuals with different hopes, different dreams, diverging opinions and conflicting ideas, but they remain united. They face challenges together and they help one another in times of need. The individuals grow from sharing the experiences of their brothers and sisters and the family grows and becomes stronger as a result. Never is the departure of a family member beneficial to the family or to the individual. Everyone loses.

It is in that context that I appeal to my hon. members across the way to stop their campaigns to destroy what has been and continues to be the most beautiful and most successful partnership in the world.

Canada may have had its rough spots and tough times, but I am willing to give everything I have to addressing the concerns of Canadians, whether they live in Quebec or British Columbia, and to preserving the country I love.

The next obligation of the government is the investment in our youth. Our children are our most precious resource. Quite literally they are the future of our country.

I am truly heartened by the government's announcement that it is increasing its contribution to the Canada child tax benefit by $850 million a year, with higher payments to families beginning July 1, 1998.

The throne speech states:

A country that has decided to invest in its children is a country confident of its future. A country that invests in children successfully will have a better future—. We must equip our children with the capacities they need to be ready to learn and to participate fully in society.

The throne speech also speaks to the need to create opportunities for youth. Youth unemployment continues to be a serious problem. All Canadians have a stake in meeting this challenge successfully.

The government continues to move forward on the issue. With the recently announced millennium scholarship fund we have demonstrated that the issue is a priority for the government. The fund will reward academic excellence and provide thousands of scholarships each year. It is my sincere hope students of knowledge based technologies will be the primary benefactors.

Any successful business operator or economic adviser will say that in order to succeed one should identify that which one does best and then do it better than anyone else. We have the opportunity to do this with our knowledge based industries. Canada can no longer compete in the unskilled manufacturing sector with the emerging economies around the world which offer low wages, relaxed labour standards and fewer environmental controls.

As Canadians we must focus our attention and resources on nurturing and developing industries in which we can compete and in fact do lead the world. I am specifically referring to the information and communication technology sectors, but the same holds true for any high tech areas that require a highly trained and highly paid workforce.

Our health care system is often considered as one of the key identifying characteristics of what it means to be Canadian. As I campaigned this spring one pressing concern was the preservation and acceptability of health care.

The federal Liberal government is firmly committed to a publicly administered comprehensive health care system that provides universal access to high quality care to Canadians everywhere. Access as contemplated by the Canada Health Act is important to all Canadians, especially women with children and seniors who are the majority users of our health services.

I am pleased the government's objectives are in the national pharmacare program, the maintenance of our HIV-AIDS strategy and the commitment to deal with the unique needs of our aboriginal communities.

I spent six years as a municipal councillor prior to my election to the House. I had the opportunity to work in a collaborative atmosphere with my council colleagues. Issues were addressed quickly and effectively with meaningful consultation among stakeholders. We faced obstacles together and we succeeded. Working together in the spirit of co-operation was the key to successfully finding solutions to the various challenges we encountered on a daily basis.

One example of partnership is the federal government's infrastructure program. As a result of the program the municipalities in my riding were able to complete infrastructure programs that would not have been possible without the assistance of federal and provincial governments.

Only last week I attended the official opening of the Garden Street grade separation in Whitby. This separation was required not only to ensure the safety of residents but to provide the arterial road upgrade needed to attract new industrial and commercial investment to the area, investment that will lead to the creation of long term meaningful jobs.

Working together in partnership with all levels of government is the only effective way to ensure the delivery of services to people within a sound economic framework. Partnerships work. The throne speech is about partnerships, partnerships with Canadian people.

I urge all members of the House to work together to fulfil their obligations as parliamentarians. Our obligation is to ensure the country we leave to our children is safe, prosperous, free and united.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We readily accepted your advice and had some discussions during my colleague's speech.

I thank my colleagues opposite. We have all agreed that without questions and comments to the member who just spoke, and the one with whom she will be sharing her time slot, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, two members from the Progressive Conservative Party and one from the New Democratic Party will make their speeches without the questions or comments period, and that the day will end at approximately 2.40 p.m.

I do want to thank those representatives of the parties not adding additional speakers, in particular the Reform Party and the Bloc Quebecois in this instance. I do salute the co-operation of the House in facilitating new members from the other parties who are able to get on with this additional time today. There will be no dilatory motions subsequently.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

A point of clarification for the Chair. Will they all be 10 minute speeches?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Yes.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the proposal of the chief government whip. Is it agreed?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that the agreement is valid, but that the motion must have an indication that it carried on division. Since there will be no vote called for on it, it must be recorded as passed on division.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there agreement on all of the points mentioned by each of the hon. members?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Perth—Middlesex Ontario

Liberal

John Richardson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise on this important occasion to relate my thoughts on the Speech from the Throne. However, before I do that I want to thank the people of Perth—Middlesex who have given me the great honour to serve in this place for another term.

I would also like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment.

I would like to speak today about how the Liberal government has set forth a bold plan to lead the country into the next millennium, a plan that will benefit Canadians and the people of Perth—Middlesex. The Speech from the Throne has demonstrated our government's vision and leadership and the people from Perth—Middlesex will be pleased about our initiatives in four key areas that impact on them.

Our government's continued commitment to young Canadians, to innovation, to trade and rural development are the cornerstones to ensure a strong and prosperous future for the riding of Perth—Middlesex.

This government's primary focus since taking office was to restore the hope to those who lost it during the early part of this decade, especially young Canadians. Our government will continue to give young people the hope for the future through programs targeted at youth.

Our plan for an improved student loans program will make it easier for young Canadians to gain the skills and knowledge essential to succeed. In 1994 we announced that we would put in an additional $2.5 billion over five years into Canadian student loans. More than $1 billion in Canada student loans helped about 300,000 Canadian students go to college or university this year. That level of commitment is continuing. This is welcome news for students in my riding.

Last week the prime minister announced the additional $1 billion for a millennium scholarship fund to help young Canadians prepare to take their place in continuing to shape the greatness of this land. We also increased loan limits by more than 50 percent and brought about more flexible repayment rules.

We have brought in new measures to ease access to higher education. We have doubled the education credit and extended the tuition credit. The federal-provincial tax assistance to a typical student will rise from $900 a year to $1,200 a year in 1998. That is progress for young Canadians.

We have also doubled the annual limit of contributions to the RESPs to $4,000 so that young families can put more money aside for their children's future.

When fully implemented we will increase federal assistance to post-secondary education by $275 million a year alone. This will be welcomed by families in my riding. In the past three months we saw gains of 52,000 jobs for young Canadians, but it is not enough. Finding work these days remains a challenge for young Canadians.

Our government introduced Youth Service Canada and the youth internship program in 1994 to help, and it will continue with these programs. Earlier this year we announced the new youth employment strategy that builds on more than $2 billion in new and existing funding for these programs. These programs provide opportunities for youth and people who need to find work and build careers in the new economy.

This month we went further by committing $90 million to create a public service youth internship program to complement the other internship programs in science, trade, First Nations, non-profit and private sectors. We will remain committed to those needed programs.

We have continued funding for summer jobs up to $120 million this year which meant an additional 30,000 jobs for students.

The student connections program brings together young people and new technologies. Student connections is employing 2,000 students from places like Fanshawe College for over three years to help small business get connected on the Internet.

In a similar way, hundreds of young people are getting experience in working with the new technologies through employment with community access programs and SchoolNet. These two programs are working to connect 5,000 rural communities like the ones in Perth—Middlesex plus all of Canada's schools and libraries to the Internet by 1998. Affordable Internet access is particularly important to a rural community where improved communications links will open up new opportunities for job creation, trade and economic growth.

In 1994 the Liberal government saw the SchoolNet's potential. We raised SchoolNet's funding to $13 million a year as part of our strategy for building an innovative economy. The SchoolNet is turning out to be an ideal learning tool. Recently scientists and engineers from around the world were brought together with teachers and students through an on line discussion news group. That is the 21st century in action.

We have also raised the funding for SchoolNet's companion program. Community access was originally meant to connect 1,000 rural communities on the Internet. Our increased funding will mean that 5,000 rural and remote communities across Canada can benefit from the economic and learning potential of the information highway. That is the 21st century infrastructure.

Our government's visionary science and technology strategy has created partnerships with the private sector to develop and bring advanced technology to the market. Technology partnerships Canada has a $250 million investment fund where the federal government and the private sector finance leading edge technologies that fuel job creation and economic growth.

Another key science and technology initiative is the Canada foundation for innovation. Announced in the 1997 budget with funding of over $800 million for the next five years, the foundation will invest $180 million a year in labs and equipment in Canadian universities and research hospitals. Canada's young scientists need this equipment to do innovative research, the source of future job growth.

Investments in science and technology increase Canada's productivity and competitiveness which fuel export growth and promote job creation at home. The progressive strategy of combining youth, government and the private sector is working.

In Perth—Middlesex we will see this partnership produce three transmission towers that will lay the infrastructure for our rural communities to gain access to the Internet, and our students will be employed to help our farmers get on the net. That is the 21st century partnership.

Canada and Perth—Middlesex rely on trade for their prosperity. The value of Canadian exports accounts for nearly 40 percent of our gross domestic product.

Canadian exports have soared under the Liberal government and in 1996 the value of Canadian exports exceeded the imports by $34 billion, a record high. As many as 11,000 jobs in Canada are supported by every billion dollars in existing exports. Between 5,000 and 8,000 jobs are created by every additional billion dollars that Canadians export in goods and services. That is why the prime minister will lead Team Canada on trade missions, including one to Latin America in January 1998. The four missions to date have resulted in more than $20 billion for Canadian businesses and thousands of new jobs for Canadians.

I am hard at work recruiting many of the local businesses in Perth—Middlesex to participate because what is good for Canadian trade is better for Perth—Middlesex trade because that is the 21st century commerce.

In a similar way, our government has led important initiatives in agriculture. Canadians may not know that 9 percent of our country's economic input and 50 percent of all employment is involved in that sector, but the people of Perth—Middlesex do.

Canadians may not know that the domestic market is $95 billion and exports over $20 billion, but the people of Perth—Middlesex do. That is why we have not forgotten the farmers. That is why we have set forth initiatives like the family farm loan program introduced in the fall of 1994. This program makes it easier for retiring farmers to hand the family farm down to the next generation without jeopardizing their own security and retirement.

We have established a $140 million Canadian adaptation and rural development strategy to assist farmers and farm organizations by funding research to develop farming and crop technology. The agriculture adaptation council has committed $3.96 million for 108 research components plus a trace cost sector commitment of $660,000. For example, the Ontario soya bean growers marketing board received $387,000 for 17 projects for the corn producers too. It goes on and on.

Our opponents have not offered anything more than cuts to the programs for farmers. It is clear that our government is heading into the next century with vision and action, not words of derision. The Leader of the Opposition in his speech often quoted one of my political heroes, Wilfrid Laurier, but by doing so was able to betray this great statesman by carefully selecting words to bolster his weak arguments. The Leader of the Opposition is fueling fear and hate through his espousing an extreme Canada that is anti-bilingual, anti-multicultural, anti-rural, anti-immigrant, disunited, weak and Americanized.

I remind him of the following words spoken by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1903: “Canada has been the inspiration of my life. I have had before me a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day, the policy of true Canadianism, of moderation and conciliation. In all the difficulties, all the pains and all the vicissitudes of our situation, let us remember that love is better than hatred and faith better than doubt. Let hope in our future destinies be the pillar of fire to guide us in our future”.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, as I rise in the House today I would like to acknowledge and thank the constituents of Fundy—Royal. It is indeed an honour and a privilege to represent them in the House of Commons. They have placed a trust in me and it is one that I do not take lightly. I assure them I will work hard for each and every one of them each and every day that I represent them in this House.

The people of Fundy—Royal, like all Canadians across the country, have made fiscal sacrifices in the name of deficit elimination. When we are in sight of the goal of balancing the budget, this government is willing to throw away all the sacrifices Canadians have made. Why? The tax and cut government of the Liberal's first term has been replaced by the tax and spend government of the second.

Canadian taxpayers have been on the frontlines in the war against the deficit. It has been a tough battle. I would argue they deserve nothing less than a legal guarantee enshrined in law against future deficits. We must make it law that politicians balance the budget. In order to provide taxpayer protection we must pass legislation to cut the pay of the prime minister and cabinet ministers if they break this deficit band.

Now the government is very proud of the fact that it is headed toward a fiscal surplus. This is very good news. The bad news is that Canadians will not see a penny of it. In addition to protecting Canadians with balanced budget legislation clear priorities must be set for the fiscal dividends paid for by Canadians. These priorities must come in the form of specific annual targets to which we can hold the government accountable.

The legislation must contain specific goals for debt reduction expressed as a fixed debt to GDP ratio and what portion of fiscal dividend will be in cut taxes and what portion is to be reinvested in national priorities such as health care and education. Clearly all parties could have done better in eliminating the deficit and reducing the debt. With this in mind it is imperative that we no longer live in the past, that we move forward into the future.

As I outlined, the best way to ensure we never repeat the mistakes of the past is to provide Canadians with guarantees, guarantees in the forms of balanced budget legislation and targets and benchmarks for the fiscal dividend and debt reduction.

During the election the Progressive Conservative Party put forward a visionary and sound plan to bring Canada into the next century. This government is not moving forward and is pushing Canadians back to a period of tax and spend liberalism. We are the only party that wants to give Canadians tax relief now. The budget surplus we are approaching has been achieved through sacrifices made by all Canadians and we believe Canadians deserve to have a little more in their pockets.

While the impending zero deficit or balanced budget is indeed good news, I would strongly caution the government that its struggle by no means is over. We have on our hands a very expensive problem, a $600 billion debt. It is a problem which mortgages the future, especially the future of younger generations.

For the past 30 years this country has been fiscally abusing the future of our children. It must come to an end. I believe it is fiscally immoral to continue to ask the younger generation to pay for a higher proportion of the debt which they were not responsible for accumulating.

We need benchmarks to ensure debt reduction. A balanced budget is not enough. That is why a Progressive Conservative government would apply one-third of all surpluses after the year 2000 to debt reduction.

Health care and education are top priorities for Canadians yet the current government's plans to cut cash transfers for these vital programs by 40 percent while barely touching its own program spending is unacceptable. It did not have the courage to restructure government. To make matters worse, the Speech from the Throne contains no commitment to national health care standards, no guarantees and no mechanisms to ensure co-operation with the provinces.

The Progressive Conservative Party has put forward a co-operative approach to fixing the health care system through a Canadian covenant. Together the federal and provincial governments would set priorities and standards for the management and delivery of health care services.

Canadians must know that they can count on their health care system. Not a two tier system. Our plan for a partnership with the provinces would allow for stable funding and delivery and would mean that the federal government could never unilaterally cut health care spending again.

Just as our health care system has suffered under this government, so has the future of young Canadians. One of the challenges we face as a nation is youth unemployment. There are currently 410,000 unemployed young Canadians in the country. The youth unemployment rate in August was 16.7 percent, almost double the national rate of 9 percent.

The prime minister's announcement of only 3,000 internships over three years is a perfect example of the government's inability to recognize the scope of the problem. We need a more concentrated and focused youth strategy, one that will resonate with all Canadians. We believe that this strategy would not require dipping into taxpayers' pockets, but rather the funds could come from the myriad of training programs already in existence at the many levels of government.

The premiers' decision to present the federal government with a proposal to combat youth unemployment was encouraging. However it was disheartening to hear his outright refusal to consider their proposals. I am however relieved to hear that he has reconsidered as a result of the premiers' initiative at the Calgary conference.

Bringing a renewed focus to youth unemployment crosses all party lines and all levels of government. No one party has a monopoly on ideas. We must put our collective energies together to develop a national vision to solve this crisis. If we set national goals and establish clear targets, we can indeed make a difference.

We must develop better solutions in assisting students with the critical transition from school to work. Education, information age training and skill development are vital. Internships, apprenticeships and co-op programs are components of any solution.

If we are truly serious about helping our nation's youth move beyond this crisis, we must all foster a co-operative approach with the private sector. With private sector involvement, education and training programs would be better directed and would thus better equip young Canadians with the skill sets that employers need.

We must find ways, perhaps through the tax system, to motivate businesses to fulfil this role. Yet the government is content to smother small business, which is the real engine of job creation, with excessive tax rates. This impossible tax burden on small businesses has an extremely detrimental effect on job creation. High taxes kill jobs. I wish the hon. members across the floor could understand this.

Within Canada our high payroll and corporate taxes form a barrier to jobs and growth by taxing businesses for every job which they create. The current government has steadfastly refused to take action. We must eliminate the excessive surplus in the EI fund. Why does this government refuse to reduce job killing payroll taxes such as the surplus that we have in the EI fund?

I would like to take this moment to touch upon the environment. It is important given its absence from the national agenda in the past years. Canada has always been regarded as a world leader and a driving force on the critical issues that threaten the preservation of our environment.

This government was left with an excellent environmental legacy in 1993. Yet this government has let the environment disappear from the national agenda. It is not hard to see why when we look at the regional interests of the opposition parties that environment is no longer a national issue. Environment is a national issue, one best addressed by national parties.

The Progressive Conservative Party plans to put environment back on the political agenda so that Canada can assume its role as an environmental world leader.

As I said earlier we can never afford to mortgage the future of our country. As we move forward into the next millennium, changes will continue to take place in our economy. We must be prepared to move forward and meet the challenges we face as a nation.

Unfortunately for Canadians I do not think the government is prepared to move forward. The throne speech was evidence of that. I believe the government has missed an opportunity to offer Canadians real leadership. We should not fear the future but we should look forward to it.