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.


Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of the constituency of South Shore in Nova Scotia to speak in reply to the throne speech which opened the 36th Parliament.

As is customary I wish to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment to the Chair. I would also like to extend congratulations to those who assist you in your job. They have an important job.

I would also like to congratulate my colleague on his remarks. I listened to his words carefully. I think everyone in this Chamber should also listen to those words and take note of them.

I offer hearty congratulations to the mover of the throne speech and to its seconder. They did their duty well. Personally I would have been a little embarrassed to have moved such a piece of literature. I suppose that is because I am a Progressive Conservative and I am not much for the type of empty rhetoric that this particular throne speech represents.

It is Parliament's responsibility to scrutinize, question, explain, criticize and improve. In other words, Parliament talks. I am here to talk plainly to you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the members present. I have a few things to say.

First the people of South Shore deserve better than what this government is putting forward as its plan for the future. I am honoured to be their representative. I am charged with a solemn duty. My riding has been represented by good people in the past. I want to learn from their example.

One of my most distinguished predecessors from South Shore came to this Parliament in 1957. I hope to do the legacy of Mr. Lloyd Crouse justice. He represented for many years the people of South Shore and I owe him a debt of gratitude. South Shore is a beautiful place and he was a very fine caretaker.

I have much to learn about Mr. Crouse's record of persistence and fighting for his constituents. I have not had the opportunity to do that yet, but I have started my education by studying some of his replies to throne speeches over the years. Almost 35 years ago in a reply to the throne speech Mr. Crouse talked about trade and its importance. He is no doubt as perplexed as I am with the Liberals' about-face on this matter.

In any case, he talked about our riding's many exporting activities. In the South Shore of Nova Scotia, we export fish, Christmas trees, paper as well as other forest products, and manufactured goods. However as Canada's closest land access departure point to Europe, our potential is sadly underutilized.

Education. It is ironic that Mr. Crouse did not put much faith in the Liberals' sincerity on this matter of making education accessible, affordable and excellent. It is ironic because of the recently announced plan of this government to endow excellence. This after having gutted the federal funding transfers to the provinces for education. Does anyone on that side of the House remember the ill-conceived Canada health and social transfer?

Mr. Crouse emphasized in his reply the close economic connection the riding has with the New England states. In this era of free trade, Canadians would be foolish to allow their government to impose decisions upon them that would lessen the potential benefits of trade with the U.S.

Nova Scotia has a great competitive advantage in this regard and would be hurt by this government if it superimposes partisan politics on Nova Scotia trade matters. It would be foolish to deny the right to get us our innovations, our products, our resources and our gas to the appropriate markets.

In his reply Mr. Crouse talked about the people back home in the riding. He spoke of their independence, their indomitable will, their belief in earning their own keep. South Shore families have many farmers, lumbermen and fishers connected with them.

We of the South Shore make much of our living from primary industries. We work hard and we work long hours. We do this to provide for our families and for our future. Let no person in this House cast aspersions on the work ethic of the people of the South Shore.

Taxation. Mr. Crouse talked about taxation. He stated “In the opinion of my constituents, taxation, especially direct taxation, has the effect of choking off business recovery and stifling expansion”. No truer words need to be spoken. It is a simple proposition.

EI premiums. As well, the small business person needs a break but by the looks of things we should not expect too much in the way of growth and prosperity from this government.

I was completely exasperated by what I read in the debates of that other place in this Parliament, the red chamber. The leader of the government in the other place is a fellow Nova Scotian. I was intrigued to see his reply to a question about getting the government—I do not think I can say this—to rethink their insistence on burdening small business owners with unreasonably high EI premiums.

The leader in the other place, a fine but lonely federal Liberal Nova Scotian, was informed that according to the estimates of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the surplus in the EI fund will be at $16 billion this year.

He was asked to explain to members why the Minister of Finance is continuing to insist on burdening those who create jobs with unreasonably high EI premiums. He replied that this Liberal government was not reducing the surplus intake because they want “to ensure that there will be enough revenue over a business cycle to pay the amounts authorized to be charged to the employment insurance account”. Pardon me, but does this government expect a great influx of EI claimants? Is this government expecting a recession?

Spending. This government is being careful perhaps. I am not sure many would agree that this is totally out of character for them.

For instance in the last Parliament they allowed the former deputy prime minister to go on periodic spending sprees whenever she got the desire to be patriotic. As well there was the matter of cancelling the EH-101 helicopter contract and paying the enormous penalties, not to mention the flagrant disregard for human lives.

There was the cancellation of the Pearson airport privatization and the cost of putting that political quagmire to bed or at least partially tucking it in. And of course there was the prime minister's insistence on looking like a Chevy kind of guy while he still kept the Caddy.

The government is definitely a wolf in sheep's clothing when it comes to spending.

Natural resources. To be entirely honest, I did not think I read the throne speech correctly. I thought I had made a mistake because I did not see an iota of real substance about natural resources. I did not see anything that speaks to Canadians working hard to harvest, maintain and make a living by their wits and by their sweat the bounty of Canada's natural resources.

I heard nothing about sustainability. All I read was, and I quote “Canada's rich and diverse natural heritage is also a source of national pride and international acclaim. Canadians are both the beneficiary and the stewards of the land that holds 9 percent of the earth's fresh water, 10 percent of its forests and 25 percent of its wetlands”. I thought it was a postcard. I really did. I could not wrap my head around it.

Perhaps someone on the government side can pinpoint the inconsistency. The government has not assured Nova Scotia that the fishery in Nova Scotia will survive. What about the fishery off my shore? What about the woodlands and our forests? What did Nova Scotians get from their oil and gas? What assurance do we have that it will be our oil and gas? Will it be used to benefit our economy and our standard of living?

I will wrap up. I would like to finish on Indian affairs. I am the critic for the Progressive Conservative Party on Indian affairs and northern development and nature resources. I will bring it down to one quote which I think is very important. It was made by a famous Canadian and certainly a famous Nova Scotian. The government and all the members in the House would do well to remember the words of the Right Hon. Robert Stanfield, a fellow Nova Scotian. He said this while visiting Calgary 30 years ago:

The leadership within the Indian community has, for the most part, been responsible and moderate. Their methods have generally been the peaceful demonstration and the reasoned brief. But if we do not respond to the moderate spokesmen of Indian Canada, there is a danger they will be displaced by the less patient and more militant leaders.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:30 p.m.


Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am deeply honoured, as I rise today in humility, to present a few remarks on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

I dedicate my remarks to my parents, Katherine Earle and the late Maurice Earle, both of whom taught me the importance of a belief in God our creator, a belief in oneself and a belief in and respect for one's fellow human beings.

I also pay homage to my wife and children for the immeasurable love and support that they have given me over the years and particularly during this venture into what for me is a new, exciting and challenging world of politics.

As well, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the constituents of Halifax West who expressed their faith and confidence in me that I will work for and represent them in the House of Commons during this 36th Parliament.

During my election campaign I made it very clear to the voters that I would not make any promises that I could not keep and that in fact the only promise I would make was that to the best of my abilities I would work hard both with and on behalf of my constituents to ensure that their voice is heard in Ottawa in this great Chamber, the hallmark of our democratic system of government.

I also campaigned on the personal commitment to bring a new face to politics. As I went from door to door, from community to community, from urban areas to rural areas I found, as I am sure many other candidates did, an immense degree of apathy and cynicism among both young and old alike, so much so that many had moved to the point of deciding that they were not going to vote at all.

It disturbed me greatly then, as it does now, that so many of our citizens have become so discouraged with our politicians and our political system that they have chosen not to exercise the basic rights for which our forefathers fought and died.

Why are so many moved to such a state of apathy and cynicism? If one wishes to open one's eyes the answer is clear. We have a high degree of unemployment in one of the most developed countries in the world. We have a high cost of post-secondary education in a country where wealth abounds. We have an ever increasing number of homeless people that we can see as we walk down the streets of Ottawa in a highly industrial and technological society.

We have health care concerns and epidemics developing in a land where we have access to the latest scientific and medical knowledge. We have seniors concerned about their future socioeconomic well-being, despite their many years of solid contributions to our society. We have immigrant groups struggling for fair and equitable treatment under the immigration laws of our country. We have the disabled suffering unconscionable bureaucratic delays as they attempt to obtain disability pensions under the Canada pension plan.

We have women, minority groups, individuals of differing sexual orientation all struggling to be accorded their basic human rights. We have our francophone brothers and sisters fighting an uphill battle to have their language, culture and heritage recognized as a distinctive element of our Canadian society. And we have the plight of our aboriginal brothers and sisters being ignored as they attempt to heal and rebuild their communities through self-determination and self-government.

I could go on and on citing the ills of our society as the reasons why so many people have become apathetic and cynical. However, the real question is where does the politician fit into all of this? The plain truth of the matter is that citizens look to their political leaders for a cure to these ills of our society. We look to those whom we have elected to represent and govern us to provide a measure of leadership to help us to meet the challenges of the day.

But the sad reality is, and it came across loudly and clearly to me during the election campaign, that many citizens have lost faith in their politicians. Politicians were described to me as not really caring, being in it only for themselves or for the money, being dishonest or full of empty promises. Perhaps the most hurtful statement of all was “you politicians are all the same”.

You know and I know that politicians are not all the same. There are good and there are bad politicians, the same as there are good and bad in all professions, and history will attest to this. However, the fact remains that for a good portion of the public, the perception is that politicians are all the same: dishonest, self-serving and without compassion.

I feel it is time to put a new face on politics. It is time to show that politicians can bring truth, integrity, compassion and indeed honour to the profession. It is time to show that we are truly interested in providing jobs for the unemployed, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, educating our youth, embracing our fellow human beings and allowing for growth, development and self-determination.

I personally believe that a good starting point in putting a new face on politics and showing the world that we mean business is by maintaining proper decorum and respect not just outside the walls of the House of Commons but, more importantly, inside the walls of this place where we conduct the nation's business.

As politicians we are always under the public scrutiny. It is even more so today with the modern means of communications available. We should ever be mindful of the fact that our actions in this House are transmitted by television into the homes of the nation where the impressionable young minds of children witness our respect or our lack of respect for each other as we debate the issues of the day.

It is all well and good to excuse rudeness and lack of common courtesy as part of the political game or as part of parliamentary tradition, but when young children watching parliamentary debates ask their parents why those men and women are so angry at each other, why they are being so rude to each other, why they are fighting with each other, then I ask if this is a tradition that is worth keeping?

Is this the face we want to put on politics? Is this the example we want to set for our young children?

In July this year I had the honour of attending the First Nations convention in Vancouver, where the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations was elected. What struck me as really significant was the high degree of respect and decorum that was present during that convention. Unlike non-aboriginal political conventions where there is a lot of cheering and booing of candidates, at that convention there was a certain solemnity and respect shown to all candidates regardless of whom individuals may have been personally supporting. I believe there is a lesson to be learned here.

One must listen to hear. What I have often observed in watching parliamentary debates is that often individuals are so wrapped up in their own view and in shouting down and heckling others that one does not hear what is being said. One loses the sense of true dialogue and communication, respect and putting a new face on politics.

As I stand here today I pledge that I will do my best to put a new face on politics. While you may get the odd desk thump or applause from me, I pray that I will never sink to the point of being discourteous when others are speaking. If that should ever happen I ask you remind me of this moment so that I may correct myself and offer to others the kind of respect that I would expect to receive from them.

I commend the government for the positive statements in the throne speech, particularly the initiatives regarding aboriginal people. The government's commitment to develop relationships with aboriginal people based on principles of partnership, transparency, predictability and accountability is very important and very significant. I firmly believe Canada will never solve its national unity problem until we have dealt fairly with our aboriginal population.

I urge that the commitments made in the throne speech not become empty words but that the government give real meaning to phrase “moving forward into the 21st century” by tackling in a very substantial way the problems which the people of Canada have identified as being crucial to them, namely jobs, education, health care, fairer taxation, opportunities for youth and so forth.

In conclusion, I extend my congratulations and best wishes to all who have been elected to the House. Although we are of different political stripes and although we hold different viewpoints on various issues, I believe that the one thing we all hold in common is that we deeply believe in the principles for which we are fighting. While our principles may vary somewhat, I am optimistic enough to believe that deep down within most of us, we have one common desire and that is to build a better society for this generation and for the generations to come. May we live up to that expectation, to the expectation of those who elected us, so that together we may work to make Canada a truly great nation.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Perhaps before I put the question I may be permitted to say a few words of thanks to all the hon. members who in the course of the last two weeks have made remarks supporting me in my work in the chair and supporting the prime minister's choice of me as Deputy Speaker. I consider it an honour to have been appointed as your Deputy Speaker and I thank you very much.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The one drawback is that I do not get to make speeches in the House so that is my maiden speech for this Parliament. I thank hon. members for the opportunity.

It being 2.45 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members


Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:40 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario


Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General


That the Address be engrossed and presented to His Excellency the Governor General by the Speaker.

(Motion agreed to)

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

2:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.45 p.m.)