Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely delighted to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the Ciceronian orator from Mississauga West.
I am privileged and pleased to stand in my place to speak on behalf of all constituents of the great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke to make a reply to that carefully crafted, compassionate, caring 1999 throne speech.
Last night I had the privilege of having the Minister of Finance appear at a function in my riding. I might add that he braved rather stormy weather to make it up to the Petawawa Civic Centre. When he spoke, and he spoke very eloquently, he thanked the many people of the great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, in the upper Ottawa valley, for everything they have done in the last 150 years to make Canada the greatest country in the world in which to live.
I looked around the room to see some of the people who were participating in this rather auspicious event. There were 10 other members of parliament who attended. Some of them are here in the House as we speak. As a matter of fact, some of them were from the opposition. I must say, unequivocally, that I agreed with the Minister of Finance that he had definitely hit the nail on the head. What the throne speech effectively did was tell the Canadian people that the government has done a great job. We hope that it continues to do so as we continue to build the country to greatness.
I looked around the room and at a table was my 83 year old father, Hector Sr., who has a grade four education. I know the hon. member for Calgary Southeast wanted to talk about people with money. I will be the first to admit that my father has money. I have nothing. I do not even have hair. At the age of 83 he has more hair than I. My father worked very hard for everything he has accomplished in life. At one time he had two lumber camps on the go with 125 men in each camp. He paid his dues. He is a good French Canadian Catholic married to an Irish lassie. They had 10 children and, I might add, my mother said I was the best of the 10. I grew up to be the worst which I guess pointed clearly to a career in politics.
At that same table sat the two aunts of our current finance minister. I will not divulge their ages but my father apparently took one of the finance minister's aunts out on a date many years ago. What is interesting to note is that our finance minister's father, the late Paul Martin Sr., was born and raised in Pembroke. He went to school and launched his political career in Pembroke.
The hon. members opposite can talk about being American wannabes, but what do the Americans cherish most about Canada? They cherish our valued health care system, our medicare. Paul Martin Sr. was the genesis who promoted medicare back in the 1950s and 1960s. We would not have that valued program were it not for people like Paul Martin Sr. When they are talking about balancing the books and reducing taxes, in many instances the members of the loyal opposition are talking about a frontal attack on medicare. Let us keep things in perspective.
Sitting at that same table was a man by the name of Roy Geisebreck, whom the finance minister will remember playing hockey with back in the 1950s and 1960s in Pembroke and Petawawa. The Geisebreck family is not only famous for their hockey playing talents. The member opposite spoke rather eloquently about small and medium sized businesses. The Geisebreck family has been one of the business mainstays in my riding for well over 70 years. There were seven brothers involved in the business started by their late dad, Charlie. Now Roy Geisebreck, who is 82, is the patriarch of that remarkable family.
It is people like Roy Geisebreck and his family who have really built this county through hard work and determination. They did not skate around the issue like some of the hon. members from the Reform Party and some of the opposition. I might add that Roy Geisebreck's son, Don Geisebreck, and I are partners in a few racehorses. It saddens me to say that some of those famous Geisebreck brothers can actually skate faster than my horses can run.
John Yakabuski was there from Barry's Bay. His father was a member of the provincial government for over 23 years, the provincial government that Premier Mike Harris currently leads. John has seen the light. He has seen that I am going to support the Liberal Party. He was there last night supporting a well known Liberal in my constituency. His father was a former member of the Conservative Party. I believe that if Paul Yakabuski was alive today he would turn over in his grave for the way the provincial Conservative government has treated the quality of life for the people in the province of Ontario.
The hon. member opposite talks about tax cuts. They made tax cuts, no question about it, but with borrowed money. One should not make tax cuts with borrowed money. As a result of making those tax cuts with borrowed money, they had to do some closures.
In my riding they closed the Civic Hospital in Pembroke, Ontario. They tried to close a senior citizen's complex in Cobden, Ontario but there was a real brouhaha. We fought back, as only we can do in the upper Ottawa valley, and it did not close.
John Yakabuski, as we speak, is on council in Barry's Bay. He has also taken over his dad's hardware business and is doing a remarkable job. Again, I say to the member opposite, he is one of these people with a small and medium-sized business who is certainly promoting not only the quality of life for Canadians but also the Canadian culture. He was absolutely delighted last night with the throne speech that was brought down by Her Excellency Adrienne Clarkson.
Mr. Speaker, you are well aware of Renfrew, Ontario. I believe that you have a cottage up in Renfrew where on occasion you go canoeing and swim. You would know Mac Wilson from Renfrew. Mac Wilson was at this very auspicious event last night. Mac Wilson suffered some health problems about six or seven months ago. He was hospitalized in Ottawa because we have great medicare and he took advantage of the medicare system. Mac was on his back. What did he do? Did he give up? No, he fought back. He picked himself up and went back to work in Renfrew. He is the industrial commissioner but not only that, as you well know, Mr. Speaker by knowing Mr. Wilson personally, he is one of the great entrepreneurial spirits in Renfrew, Ontario.
We had big Len Shean there last night. He is the mayor of Arnprior. Len got up and asked the finance minister what we were going to do about the four-laning of Highway 17. I completely agree with Mr. Shean, the big mayor. He said we should have more funding set aside for the four-laning of Highway 17. The finance minister clearly indicated to him that we were looking favourably at it but that basically it was at the disposal of the provincial Conservative government. However, we will arm-twist and I am sure that we will get the job done.
We had Tommy Donohue there from the farming community of Douglas. He is another person that you know, Mr. Speaker. Stay in your own riding, Mr. Speaker, and do not run in mine because I would like to be here again and again and hear many more throne speeches to make sure that we take the lead in providing what the country needs.
One singular characteristic that is endemic to all of these people I have spoken about, and not only to those people but to many people throughout Canada, is simply that they have taken personal responsibility for their lives. They do not want us, nor do we want as a government, to infringe upon their entrepreneurial spirit or their joie de vivre by saying that we are going to tell them what to do. These people take personal responsibility for their lives. They have the vision. They have the values of this party and, I am sure, of every colleague in the House.
I am absolutely delighted to speak on this the last throne speech for the 20th century and hopefully, if the voters from the great riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke see fit, I will be here for the first of many throne speeches delivered from this side of the House I might add, so that we will continue to charge on to greatness for this wonderful country called Canada.