Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by announcing that I will be splitting my 20 minutes with the hon. member for Vancouver East.
In the limited time I have available I would like to make a few comments on the Speech from the Throne and the state we find the government in. It is hard to pick a metaphor. Many metaphors come to mind. One thinks of the metaphor of a deer caught in the headlights. One thinks of the metaphor of an absentee landlord. One thinks of the metaphor of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. There is a long list of things for which the government stands condemned for a failure to act in a timely fashion, or in many cases a failure to act at all.
I will just go down the list, but I do not have the time to go into all of them in the detail that I would like. The first one that comes to mind is the crisis in agriculture in the country and the fact that producers in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and many other places are facing an income crisis the like of which they have never experienced before. Yet we see a government unwilling to act, pathetically trying to cram solutions to this unique crisis into programs that were developed for much less severe circumstances. The government stands condemned in terms of its inaction with respect to agriculture.
We have a crisis in the airline industry in the country, and what do we hear from the Prime Minister? We hear the Prime Minister say it is a private matter. I cannot imagine that even 10 years ago, and particularly 15 or 20 years ago, the Prime Minister of Canada would have said that the future of the Canadian airline industry—Air Canada, Canadian Airlines and the structure of the Canadian air transportation system—was a private matter. Yet that is the kind of thing the Prime Minister has said.
We have a government that has stood idly by without taking the kind of action which might ensure that not only jobs and consumers are protected but that Canadian control is protected and we do not end up in a situation in the country like we now have with the railways where basically we are owned and controlled by American shareholders.
On water exports, we have various provincial projects going ahead. The Gisborne Lake project in Newfoundland has received tentative forms of approval. Instead of acting on a motion passed by the House of Commons back in February which called for a national ban on the export of bulk water, we have nothing except the ball being thrown back and forth between various provincial capitals and this government. There has been no action yet to ban bulk water exports and no promise of such legislation in the throne speech, not a mention of it.
When it comes to the fishery on the east coast and the judgment of the supreme court with respect to the treaty rights of aboriginal people in that area, we have a government which appears to have been totally unable to have anticipated what that judgment might be or to have anticipated difference scenarios so that if the judgment came down in favour of treaty rights, as did happen, then it would have some plan in place. This is just elementary. Yet it is almost as if the Liberals were caught completely by surprise and almost as if they did not even know the supreme court was considering it.
This has been complicated. It arose in the first place because of an unwillingness on the part of the government to act on the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples which said that these things should be negotiated and not left to the courts. Were they negotiated? Was there action taken? Nothing. Now we have an horrendous crisis on the east coast as a result of that inaction.
On homelessness, winter is coming. Perhaps the Liberals do not know this. Perhaps so many of them go on winter holidays that they do not know that winter is coming and it gets cold in Canada. We have thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people who are homeless. Yet did we see any commitment to real money and real action in the throne speech with respect to homelessness? We have a minister of housing but we do not have a minister who is willing to do anything about homelessness, or about housing for that matter.
We have the crisis in the west coast with respect to the abuse of our refugee system and all the questions that raises. Have we seen any action yet that would maintain the integrity of our refugee system while at the same time attack and address the fact that this system is being abused? No. I do not know what the government is waiting for, and no one else seems to know.
We have had for a long time now promises of legislation to deal with new reproductive technologies and all the tremendous choices, options and I would say potential evils and dangers that lurk in that array of technologies. Did we have any mention of this in the throne speech? Is there any intention on the part of the government to deal with this? Silence. Is that all we get from the throne speech? The feeling is that if we could just hook everyone up to the Internet and send a few kids on an exchange program here and there everything will be terrific. It will not be. We have to address these issues and more.
On child poverty, soon it will be the 10th anniversary of the motion introduced by the hon. member from Oshawa, my former leader Ed Broadbent, and passed in the House. Ten years will have passed. Will child poverty have been dealt with?
The list goes on and on. People know as a result of court decisions that our child pornography laws are inadequate. We can have a debate about how we should respond to that, whether we should use the notwithstanding clause, appeal the decision or whether we should bring the law back to parliament and write a better law if the law is inadequate. Let us write a law that deals with that situation. Do we have such a law before us? Do we have even the promise of such a law before us? Not a hint, not a sniff of action on any of these fronts.
It is worth asking why there is this powerlessness, this impotence and this complete silence with respect to so many issues. If we look we will see that the underlying reality of all this is the way in which over the past 10 or 15 years, sometimes for good and well intentioned reasons and other times for less well intentioned reasons, this place, both parliament and government, has abdicated its responsibility in many ways to first the marketplace and in some other ways to the courts. The government reflects the powerlessness it has chosen by repeatedly signing agreements or adopting policies that make it incapable of dealing with a lot of the situations that we have before us.
Why in part do we have the crisis in agriculture? Because this government and governments before it have deliberately stripped the Canadian farmer of all the support systems that used to exist. Why? Because we wanted to be the international Boy Scouts of the marketplace, with all due respect to the Boy Scouts because they sometimes get maligned by being associated with the government.
The fact is the government has stripped Canadian farmers of the support systems they used to have. This started with the elimination of the Crow rate and went right on down. Then they say there is a crisis in agriculture. No wonder. Other countries have not left their producers abandoned to the marketplace in the way our country has. There it is, abandoned to the marketplace and to the judgments of the World Trade Organization and various other trade agreements.
On airlines, what we have before us is the result of deregulation and privatization. I can remember when deregulation and privatization first came in. Oh what a wonderful world it was to be with competition, healthy Canadian airlines competing with each other. It was to be a capitalist Nirvana.
At that time we said that what is happening today would happen. We are sorry to be right but the fact is that we were right. What we predicted at that time is now happening. Now we see a government so addicted to the bromides of the marketplace, to the idea that this is a private matter and who would want to interfere in the marketplace, that we stand on the brink of having our airline industry completely taken over by American interests.
The list goes on. We cannot deal with water exports because of NAFTA. We cannot deal with poverty or homelessness because that would involve interfering in the marketplace. What do we have to do for homeless people? Build them houses, for God's sake. That is what they need, but there is no market for the kind of houses poor people can afford.
We would have to do that with government money. We would have to do that outside the marketplace. What a heinous thing. What a blasphemous thing that would be because that is outside the political conversation now. That is outside the ideological universe, or rather prison, the government and parliament live in. It is about time they saw Canadians have had enough of this self-inflicted powerlessness. They want the government to do something. If that means getting out of agreements, intervening in the marketplace and acting like governments used to act, then it is high time it did that.