Mr. Speaker, I am splitting my time with the member for Kitchener--Waterloo.
I would like to mention that the members for Kitchener--Waterloo and Cambridge are my counterparts and we work on many issues together. I want to publicly thank them for all the good work they do to help me on a continuing basis. We all know that we cannot do this job alone. We need some co-operation. Members of parliament need to help each other.
I am proud of the budget. Having said that, it was not a budget that was planned. Nobody foresaw the events of September 11. Nobody wanted them but we as a government had to respond to those events. There is no doubt about it.
All of us have to be responsible to the country and to our constituents, the people who elect us. The bulk of the budget addresses security issues. There are many other things in the budget. It is not a budget we wanted to have at this time; nobody will say that it was. Nobody wanted to have to spend these kinds of dollars on security. However, there is no doubt that when there is terrorism, the number one issue is to have a safe and secure country to the very best of our ability. Our responsibility as members of parliament is to do so for the country.
In the budget we have allotted $6.5 billion for security. A number of things concern air transport, which is so very important right now. That is what was used in the attacks. Nobody ever thought that airplanes would be used in such a manner but sadly they were. We have new airport security authorities and air marshals. These are good. I supported air marshals right from the beginning. I and every other colleague here travel mostly on planes. I believe in air marshals. They are important. They will make the public feel better as there will be a sense of security.
In order for people to be confident about aircraft, they have to feel they will be safe. Locked cockpit doors, which we have not had until now, are very important. We might ask why. That seems to be a reasonable thing, but having said that, we all thought we were safe. We all thought it would not have to come to this, but it has and we have responded. As a government we have looked at the issues and we have responded to them.
There is better equipment for screening passengers and luggage. I boarded a plane at a small airport, as do many of the members here. I was asked about my luggage. The bags are now matched with the customer which is good. Those are good things which have happened throughout all this.
For us, airport security has been a priority. Immediately the government responded and acted on the wishes of the people. We have tried to do that consistently.
For safer communities, there is $1 billion to improve the screening of immigrants, refugee claimants and visitors. There are better and more accurate screening procedures and more resources for detention and removals.
Recently the member for Cambridge, the member for Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey and I wrote a letter to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration regarding the Guelph Correctional Centre. We have gone to see the minister. We want the facility in Guelph turned into a detention centre. It is a good facility and perhaps it can be turned into one without being too costly.
The right-wing Harris government closed down this good facility. The Harris government came along, disposed of jobs and hurt our community in order to give tax cuts. I can tell the House right now that I do not think any of those unemployed people really care about a $10 tax cut.
In the budget there is $1.6 billion toward emergencies and the military. That is very important. Many constituents have talked about the military. They want us to be prepared. In fairness to that, I ran in the 1993 election, as did you, Mr. Speaker, and many of our colleagues here. I went from door to door. Many people mentioned that any cutbacks should be in the area of the military. Was that a good thing?
In these circumstances we have to ask, should that have been done? At that time cuts were required. That is how we put the country on a sound fiscal platform. Had we not done that, the events of September 11 would have driven the country into a very deep recession. The country was starting to slide. Make no mistake, the economy was starting to slow down before September 11. The events that happened hit the U.S. but they also hit us because we are very dependent on and work with the U.S. Of course we felt the repercussions. However, because of the sound fiscal footing we were able to put the country in, Canada has been relatively stable.
The unemployment rate has risen a bit. Make no mistake that we have lost some jobs. I certainly acknowledge that and I am very worried about it. Having said that, there has been a buffer.
Let me remind everyone that when we ran in the 1993 election, the unemployment rate coming from the Brian Mulroney Conservatives was almost 12%. Right now it is at seven point something per cent nationally. It was much better nationally but it has risen from where it was. That is not a good thing.
As long as there is one Canadian who wants to work but cannot find a job for whatever reason, perhaps because of illiteracy or improper training, it is important that as a government we strive to ensure there are jobs for everyone, that everyone can qualify and that everyone who wants in is in. That is important.
A lot of the budget, but not all of it focused on security. One of the things it included was apprenticeships. We in the Liberal government have long believed in and supported apprenticeships. My colleague across the way talked about EI. There is now a shorter qualification time. People must only wait two weeks and that is it. Someone who is on a five year apprenticeship would only have one qualification time. That is good.