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House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was shall.

Topics

Business of the House

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House proceeded to the consideration of the speech delivered by Her Excellency the Governor General at the opening of the session.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and privileged to move the motion on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I would like to pay my humble respects to Her Excellency the Governor General and thank Her Excellency for delivering the speech today.

I would also like to extend to the right hon. Prime Minister my gratitude for the honour he has given to me today and to the people of my riding of Davenport in asking that I move this motion.

I am also honoured, as the member for Davenport, to follow in the footsteps of two previous members, both outstanding parliamentarians: the Hon. Charles Caccia and the late Walter Gordon.

I commend the Prime Minister on his unfailing efforts on behalf of our wonderful country. To have courage means more than just not being afraid. It also means having faith.

Our Prime Minister has unwavering faith in his fellow Canadians and his country. The Speech from the Throne expresses his strong belief in the unlimited potential of Canadians.

As a Canadian and as the first member of Portuguese origin in the House of Commons, I am particularly aware of the profound responsibility we as members have to be role models. It is a great privilege to serve as a member of Parliament and with great privilege there is also great responsibility.

Over the past month, we have all had the opportunity to talk to people in our respective ridings. From coast to coast, all Canadians share some of the same concerns and priorities.

We live in a world that has become increasingly more complicated. As we survey the state of our planet, we see cause for deep concern. Wars that rob generations of the right to peaceful existence, inequities that cry out for justice and acts of incomprehensible inhumanity cascade across our various media with seemingly endless regularity, and yet there is always hope. There are people and nations who will answer the call for those of goodwill to stand up and be heard. Nations that stand for the best in human nature seek to cure this with compassion, humanity and fairness. Canada is such a country, a shining example, a light of hope of the ultimate boundaries to which humanity can strive when people of goodwill come together in common cause.

Today's throne speech calls on all Canadians to join together to protect and enhance the values that help us to be the country that so many others strive to be like.

Across Canada, Canadians have expressed their strong attachment to a universally accessible health care system. They recognize the importance, the vitality of families and the health of children, of having access to the services they need.

They want cities and communities that are vibrant and healthy places to live and they believe that like them, we must be fiscally responsible. Our house must certainly be in order. We owe this to the generations that have yet to come. To borrow a quotation from the Haida: “We do not inherit the land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”.

In my riding of Davenport I am pleased to speak regularly with my constituents to discuss their concerns and hear their views. They ask to be assured, like all Canadians, that should they need access to health care service, it will be available to them.

The Speech from the Throne expresses the government's continuing commitment to a well-structured health system, founded on one national standard of service for all Canadians.

The government has also proven that it is determined to improve the health care system that Canadians need and deserve.

Last month, the Prime Minister and representatives of the provinces and territories met and reached an agreement that will make the government's commitment to health care a tangible reality.

Today's throne speech clearly demonstrates that this commitment will become reality. The Prime Minister has stated many times that the government would set itself specific goals that the previous government was unable to attain.

As is the tradition, the throne speech addresses the health care issue in very general terms, but Canadians will certainly want to know what this really means for them. In practice, it will mean shorter wait times for key services, a national pharmaceutical strategy and better health care for aboriginal Canadians. These are the promises made at the first ministers' meeting on health care and these are the promises reiterated in today's Speech from the Throne.

There is no longer any doubt in our minds that Canadians will demand accountability. The government has committed $41.2 billion over the next 10 years to reach its objectives. The government does not just make promises; it takes action.

The government has also honoured its commitment to our first nations, Metis and Inuit people by announcing $500 million for medical equipment, and a further $700 million over five years specifically dedicated to first nations people.

Each day, whether in my riding of Davenport or here in Ottawa, I pass elementary schools that are literally hives of activity. Children playing in the school yards before their learning day begins. Their laughter and their conversations are the sounds of our country's future. Into their hands we commend the hopes of tomorrow and the aspirations of a great nation.

In return they ask that we provide them with the tools they need to grow and the safety and protection they truly deserve. In this regard, and among other initiatives, the government will invest $5 billion over the next five years toward a Canada-wide system of early learning and child care.

All great countries have thrived only when they realize that in the eyes of our youth is reflected the true value of our society. If they are to grow into healthy and productive citizens, it is essential that they receive the care and instruction they need in their early years.

The government will work to implement policies that will assist Canadian children to realize their full potential regardless of where they live or what resources their families have. It is imperative that all levels of government work together to achieve the honourable goals that have been put forward in the last year in terms of caring for our young people.

My riding of Davenport is not unlike thousands of communities across Canada. Each day families rise and begin with the promise of a new day. They go to their jobs, their schools or they volunteer their time in countless endeavours. Families of all kinds are the fabric of our country.

The government recognizes this reality and that is why it is confirming its intention today to help Canadian families to prosper and develop their full potential. As the government moves to implement the Speech from the Throne, helping families will remain at the heart of its agenda.

For over nine years I served my community in Toronto as a city councillor and at times acting mayor. I am proud of my work at Toronto city hall and I believe that at the core healthy cities and communities are the foundations upon which we build and sustain a healthy country.

It is with pride that I commend the government today on its renewed commitment to improving support for our local governments with initiatives like full relief from the goods and services tax and the municipal rural infrastructure fund.

This is a government with an agenda for change, true change that will help to ensure that our cities and communities are the places they ought to be.

The government has set a new tone in recognizing the need to support our cities and communities and today we have heard once again that these commitments will be transformed into action.

Also, today's throne speech demonstrates the government's continued leadership in the areas of the environment and sustainable development. The government has realized that it must play a leadership role in this regard.

Canada is a country of incredible beauty: forests as old as time, majestic rivers that flow over vast distances and mountains that reach seemingly beyond the sky. In protecting our environment we not only preserve this beauty for generations to come, we also confirm our understanding that the very sustainability of our society is contingent upon our success in this area.

The throne speech clearly illustrates this commitment to action with policies like the green procurement policy and an increased focus on wind power. This is a priority for the government and it is central to its mandate.

Historically, Canada has been perceived around the world as a fair and just country, one which fulfills its international obligations and understands the importance of building bridges rather than walls.

We are a people of peacekeepers and, as we know, our flag has flown proudly in the most troubled parts of the world. It is viewed as a symbol of equity, dignity and responsibility.

Today, the government has shown that Canada will continue to be a model of international cooperation in conducting its international affairs.

We as a government will not recoil from our responsibilities to all nations of the world and we will certainly uphold the principles for which we as a country are regarded around the world with respect.

The throne speech today is a reflection of the basic values that we as Canadians hold close to our hearts and the spirit of this commitment is reflected in the creation of a new Canada Corps which will bring the best of Canada's values to the world.

This is an agenda that is inclusive and respectful of the need to ensure that Canadians from coast to coast feel engaged and very much a part of the process of governing the country.

Today, the government, in its throne speech, once again invites Canadians to share in the opportunities that are before us to meet the challenges that may lie ahead and to recognize the greatness of this country.

We are a country that the world regards as a city upon a hill, a country of tolerance, opportunity, inclusiveness and fairness.

The throne speech delivers on the government's commitments to Canadians in the true spirit of our democracy. This throne speech invites us to embrace the future, certain in our resolve to improve the lives of Canadians regardless where they live and committed to lead Canada forward into the new century.

This is the government's vision and this is the vision of Canada set forth from the founding of our country. The throne speech confirms once again the very best of what Canada is about.

This is the government's vision and the true vision of Canada.

I have the honour and pleasure of moving, seconded by the hon. member for Gatineau, that the following Address be presented to Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada.

To Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

May it please Your Excellency:

We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the House of Commons of Canada, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised to hear a new member of Parliament read, somewhat foolishly, a canned speech that is totally contrary to the best interests of the provinces, and particularly the best interests of Quebec.

That speech no longer has anything to do with asymmetric federalism. It is totally silent on Quebec's specificity. This is a blatant encroachment on education, manpower and the environment.

There is nothing on employment insurance. Nor is there any confirmation that a vote will take place in the House of Commons on the missile defence shield issue, and there is nothing on the commitments made by the Liberals. This is a total lack of respect for everything that the public sought when it elected a minority government.

Today, this gentleman came up with this Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. He wants to propose these things to us, while claiming that this is precisely what the public wanted.

There is also nothing about agriculture, including supply management, which is such an important issue for Quebec. As for social housing, the government has totally given up. There is no follow up on the commitments made regarding parental leave. As for seniors, there is no guarantee of retroactivity.

I am asking the hon. member whether he realizes that his address goes totally against the best interests of the people who elected him.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, but I will answer quite simply that I think he did not read the throne speech.

I believe the question that was asked is certainly addressed by the government. There is no question in my mind that the government very much cares about the well-being of Canadians and that is reflected clearly in today's throne speech.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:55 p.m.

Burlington Ontario

Liberal

Paddy Torsney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I wish to extend my congratulations to the hon. member for Davenport.

I noticed that the Minister of the Environment was particularly pleased with his concern for the environment. I wonder if he has anything in mind in particular, given some of the issues that his constituency is facing on the border of the Great Lakes. Is there anything in particular that he wants to further elaborate on with regard to the environment and the importance to his constituency?

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

I must say that during my time at Toronto City Hall I had an opportunity to be the president of an NGO located in Toronto called International Council for Local and Environmental Initiatives. It was actually started by Maurice Strong. It is an incredible organization. At the same time, when I was chair of Exhibition Place, one of the things we brought forward was the first wind turbine in a North American city. I am very proud of that record.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, seeing as the member for Davenport is new to the House of Commons, I will be rather gentle with my first question. On behalf of the New Democratic Party I want to congratulate him on his election win.

My question for him is quite clear. His predecessor was extremely strong. In fact, he was one of the leading advocates in this country on the labelling of genetically modified foods and also other aspects of the Kyoto accord, genetically modified frankenfish and products of that nature. He was an advocate who earned the respect of all members of the House of Commons in his fight to protect the knowledge of citizens of this country to know what they are consuming.

Will we be able to at least be hopeful or suspect that he himself will follow in Mr. Caccia's footsteps in leading Parliament and the government to ensure that genetically modified foods, that are not presently labelled are labelled, and that all Canadians will have a right to know what they are consuming in their day to day lives?

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

I will state that all of us have an important responsibility as parliamentarians and I take it very seriously. I am proud of the work that I have done over the years. I am proud to be the first Canadian of Portuguese origin to serve in Parliament and I also recognize that responsibility.

I must say that when it came to Mr. Caccia, I had a great respect for his work on the environment. I understand and very much appreciate the work he has done over the years. I, too, share many of his concerns. I also believe that the government is committed to Kyoto. That is a strong priority for the government.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First, I would like to congratulate the new member for Davenport. I might add that it is nice to see a young man who is proud of his Portuguese background. My congratulations to him.

The hon. member spoke about his experience on city council. It is clear from what we are hearing from some of the mayors across the country that the new deal for cities is coming in under what exactly they would like to see. In fact, they would like to see an increase in the amount of money going from the fuel taxes to the cities over the course of the next little while and speeding it up to 2007.

I would like to know, since he spent time on city council, why the deal that his former colleagues are speaking about now is not adequate and yet since becoming a member of the government, the deal that the government has outlined is good enough for the Liberals, but not good enough for his own colleagues? Perhaps he could comment on that new deal for cities.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess there is no honeymoon for me today.

One of the things that the cities have been crying for is respect. I believe this government respects our cities and our communities. We have done this with the goods and services tax. We will also be doing that with the gasoline tax and we will work in partnership with our cities. That is the government's mandate. In fact, it has also promised to have further cooperation with all our cities and communities. That is the role, of course, that will be played by our excellent Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his election to this House. I would like to know if he shares our concern.

All members in the House know that health care is one of the top concerns of our constituents. There was a consensus that the federal government should contribute 25% of health spending in the provinces. We realize that the September 15 agreement falls short of this goal.

Will my friend join the Bloc Quebecois in urging the government to take heed of the provincial consensus and make an additional effort to support health care?

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure I stated very clearly in my remarks the agenda of our government.

I would also like to state the fact that the government is moving forward with an agenda that very much puts the first and foremost priority on health care. That is what was discussed in the throne speech and that is what the government will deliver.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a new member, it seems to be a good thing to say one is the first of one thing or another. I take great pride in saying that I am the first woman elected for my party in my great region of the Outaouais.

It is a great honour for me to second the motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I would like to take this opportunity as well to thank my predecessor, the former member for Gatineau and former colleague Mark Assad. He represented the riding from 1988 to 2004.

First of all, I would like to pay my respects to Her Excellency the Governor General, Madame Adrienne Clarkson, and to thank her for delivering the throne speech to both Houses.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate you on your recent re-election. I wish mine had been that easy. I have no doubt that you will do an exceptional job as Speaker of the House.

I would also like to thank the Prime Minister of Canada for having selected me to rise before the Parliament of Canada to second this motion.

What I appreciate particularly, although some might not, is that these are all my own words. I worked on my speech well into the night. And while I may get into hot water for saying so, not one single word of my text was dictated to me.

I did not expect to have an opportunity to speak so soon after graduating from last week's course for rookie MPs. This is a moment I shall cherish, and I thank the Prime Minister for giving me this opportunity so early in my career. As well as the obvious personal honour, it is above all an honour for the people of my riding and for Quebec.

Some may make a point of counting the number of times I repeat the word Gatineau during my speech. Well, the people of Gatineau are important to me. They are the people I represent and I want to thank them. The voters of Gatineau have entrusted me with the task, and the immense honour, of representing them in the federal legislature. The confidence they have placed in me makes me feel both humble and privileged.

We are all well aware that it is a major challenge to represent a riding. I am certain, however, that we will all expend every effort to rise to that challenge, with diligence and respect for the institutions, while of course seeking to do our utmost for the people of Canada.

The riding of Gatineau, in Quebec, is home to Canadians of every origin: mostly francophones, but anglophones as well; Canadians of Lebanese, Portuguese, Colombian, Romanian, African, and Asian descent, to name just a few. Many of them are owners of or employees in small or medium size businesses, where their hard work is enabling the riding to grow at an extraordinary rate. Some constituents work for the government and are unstinting in their efforts to improve our community. I salute them and I thank them.

All of these people know that they can always count on me to listen to them and help them. They can rely on my 20 years of experience as a labour relations lawyer and my involvement in the community.

Gatineau is intrinsically linked to the national capital region, which can and must grow according to principles of fairness between the two sides of the river. This principle, often called the 75-25 rule for Ottawa and Gatineau, was instituted 35 years ago as a sign of respect for the francophone community living in the area. This government will protect and encourage that rule of fairness, both in government services and in the establishment of research centres, of that I am sure.

The riding of Gatineau has an incredible potential for development. Yes, Gatineau does have some enviable examples of infrastructure, such as the Maison de la Culture or the National Archives of Canada. We also have industrial parks ready to be more active.

The city of Gatineau is the fifth largest city in Quebec. Everyone in the Outaouais was happy to learn just recently that highway 50 has been included in the national highway network, which should simplify funding for its extension to Lachute.

Therefore, I would like to offer my special thanks to the hon. Minister of Transport who understood the importance of this highway to the riding of Gatineau and the entire Outaouais region. He took the time to listen to me and support me, and in particular he took the necessary action with our provincial partners. Who thought we were on vacation after the election? Certainly not this government.

In the riding of Gatineau there are many volunteers who work toward ensuring a better future for everyone. The volunteers are seniors, young people, Canadians from all walks of life; they have names like Charron, Strolenberg, Lacroix, Robinson, Vaive, Clermont, Lajeunesse, Thibault, Foy, Racicot, Lagacé, Durand, Daaboul and Londono. I could have provided a much longer list since I have 20 minutes. They are the ones who ensure that our priorities reflect their priorities. We are working for them and everything they represent. They are Canadian citizens like us and have equal status. They trust us to represent them well and to speak on their behalf.

For example, in my riding, a 19-year-old man named Alexandre Gingras, with help from high school students and teachers, developed a plan to promote peace in the Middle East. This is an excellent indication that our young people want to be involved as well. All they need is encouragement. You will be hearing about this project, which goes by the name of Liberté.

I am very proud and privileged to represent all those people here in this House.

My riding office is literally at the heart of the riding of Gatineau. The office is near a CLSC, the cultural centre, the National Archives, the city's administrative offices, a college campus and the future site of a sports complex that I am sure we will help build, since it is good for young people and public health.

The people in the riding of Gatineau want the government's priority to be health, education, the environment and economic development. The Speech from the Throne responds to these requests.

On the matter of education, I would like to point out that today is World Teachers' Day . I think that teachers do a terrific job. They are shaping the leaders of tomorrow and those who represent our future, and I salute them.

The people of the riding of Gatineau want to close the growing gap between the rich and the poor. The Speech from the Throne is meeting this demand.

The people of Gatineau also want a proactive approach to looking after our seniors, young people and women, to integrating our cultural communities, to aboriginal peoples, to international aid and peace missions fundamental demands for respect, justice and equity. The Speech from the Throne meets these demands.

The government's program is an ambitious one. It shows and proves beyond a doubt what the Prime Minister's vision is all about. I congratulate him on it and thank him for it. This program is also proof that this government does not shy away from challenges.

There are definitely no chickens on this side of the House.

I am particularly pleased to note in this Speech from the Throne that the government has heard Canadians across the country and reached out to all parties in this House so that, through the parliamentary process, they may advance those issues that are a priority for them.

We already have to our credit the significant achievement of the recent historical health accord between the Prime Minister of Canada and the provincial premiers. I am convinced that similar achievements will be possible in the case of our other priorities, including our new deal for Canada's cities and communities , and the national child care plan which, I am proud to say, will be modeled on what we have in my province of Quebec. Quality, universality, accessibility and development will be at the heart of the national plan for kindergarten and child care.

I support in particular the steps that will be taken to improve the tax based support for natural caregivers through higher medical expense tax credits or disability credits and a commitment to invest $1 billion over the next five years for those natural caregivers who look after elder or disabled relatives at home. That is important.

I do not know whether hon. members did like i did during the election campaign and met with our seniors. These are people who often have great needs, but who do not express them very strongly. They are afraid they might bother others. This is why I am very pleased to see that the throne speech is looking out for our seniors. They, like me, will be pleased to see that the New Horizons Program, which is already a very popular initiative, will get $8 million for 2004-05 and $10 million thereafter. This is in addition to the 7% increase to the guaranteed income supplement. More important, a secretariat for seniors will be created.

The approach used by the government in its dealings with its partners from the provinces, municipalities and communities makes me very optimistic for the future of Gatineau, Quebec and Canada. They have huge needs, and these needs are a central concern for people in the riding of Gatineau and for all Canadians. We will strive to settle key issues such as urban redevelopment, immigrant integration, cooperative services and social housing, while respecting jurisdictions.

We will expand and improve existing programs such as the affordable housing strategy, the community action partnership initiative dealing with the issue of homelessness and the residential rehabilitation assistance program.

We will continue to invest more in people and we will develop Canada's ability to promote new ideas and to implement them. We will also facilitate trade for businesses in Canada. Moreover, we will encourage regional and sectoral development and we will promote trade and investments.

Above all, we will not forget the very important sector, namely social economy, which is a central concern for many communities, including the riding of Gatineau. The government will help create the conditions that are necessary to the success of organizations that do so much in this sector of the economy.

Canada has achieved levels of excellence that are the envy of many of its economic, social and cultural partners.

Seven consecutive budget surpluses have made Canada the envy of the G-7.

This kind of responsible management increases consumer and business confidence and enables us to invest in social programs.

Our attachment to values such as equality and diversity has also enabled us to reach levels of excellence. In Canada, not only do we live our differences, we make a difference. However, you can rest assured that our priorities will be addressed within a fiscal framework consistent with Canada's financial health and the rules of transparency.

I am proud to be a participant in a government that will be open to working with all parties to serve all Canadians and to make this session of Parliament as effective and productive as possible.

Now is the time for action. Now is the time to move ahead in the interest of people from the riding of Gatineau, from Quebec and from all across Canada.

This 38th Parliament will make discussions, compromise, consensus and solutions a priority to best serve the interests of Canadians. They want this Parliament to work for them and succeed. We must do things differently, always keeping in mind that our job is to represent our constituents in Ottawa, not the other way around.

There are 107 new members of Parliament. We shall be heard. We shall bring to all parties more action and less rhetoric.

We all know history has shown that minority governments can be quite effective. They have been responsible for some of this country's most important initiatives: universal health care in 1966, the government student loans program in 1964, old age pensions in 1927, and the Canadian flag in 1965.

It is not only the Liberals on this side of the House that the people have challenged, but each and everyone of us. The credibility of our institutions and our role as members of Parliament are being questioned and treated with cynicism by both the public and the media. We now have an excellent opportunity to show Canadians that a minority government reflecting the interests of every region of Canada and a wide range of opposing views can also make the best decisions in the interest of taxpayers.

On a more personal note, I simply want to dedicate this day—because it is an extraordinary day for me, even though the next 10 minutes will probably be less so—to my father, who died almost 15 years ago to the day, on October 6, 1989. He was and still is my greatest source of inspiration. He would certainly have appreciated the importance of this moment, knowing that I had been dreaming of it since I was ten years old.

It is with conviction and enthusiasm, as the new member for Gatineau, that I support the motion on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne proposed by my colleague from Davenport.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member opposite on her first day in the House and her first speech.

I also would like to congratulate the member for Davenport. I have had an opportunity to visit the country he mentioned, Portugal, which is almost as beautiful as Canada.

I listened to the member give great praise for the throne speech. I would like to remind her of some things that have taken place in this country in the last number of years, one being that the agricultural community in this country from coast to coast has gone through years of drought and has been left absolutely devastated.

As well, producers have suffered through decades of low commodity prices. The family farm is being eroded and is disappearing. Now we are mired in the worst crisis, arguably, that agriculture in this country has ever faced: the BSE crisis.

As a whole, the agriculture sector in this country lost money last year. When we add up all the revenues and all the problems in agriculture, we get an unbelievable statistic.

The member mentioned her family and people in her constituency, but people in my constituency are losing their livelihood. Some are even threatening to take their own lives because of the desperation the agricultural community is facing.

I have to give credit to the finance minister. In the budget he presented last year, he had at least a half a sentence on agriculture. In the throne speech today, there are only three letters on agriculture. It is unbelievable. I would ask the member to stand up and justify this throne speech when it comes to the agricultural community.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, those are great comments and I think we wholeheartedly embrace what the member has said. This is my first day in the House, but if I understood correctly, I heard there would be a debate on Thursday on this specific issue. I think this shows our concern.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and congratulate her on her intervention. I listened carefully to her praise for this Speech from the Throne, which legitimizes encroachment in the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces in health, education, job training and the environment. I could not help but be troubled by the fact that a Quebec member of Parliament could make such comments in the House.

This Speech from the Throne also talks about unity. I had the pleasure of sitting with the member for Gatineau on the Commission de l'Outaouais sur l'avenir du Québec, of which she was one of the proud signatories. At the time, she recognized the possibility of Quebec's becoming a sovereign state, and she also said that the Outaouais is part of Quebec and that, if Quebec became sovereign, the Outaouais would be part of a sovereign Quebec.

How does the member for Gatineau reconcile her previous positions with those contained in the Speech from the Throne?

I would also like to ask her, since she made some comments on the missile defence shield that attracted a lot of attention, what she thinks about the fact that the Speech from the Throne is purely and simply silent on this missile defence shield and the fact that parliamentarians may be consulted on this project put forward by the United States.

And while we are on the subject, the member for Gatineau cited the extraordinary work done by federal civil servants. What does she think about the cowardly and wrongful dismissal of federal civil servants, such as Édith Gendron, on the basis of their political opinions?

While I am at it, does the member for Gatineau not find it a little troubling that this speech from the Throne is totally silent about the concept of asymmetrical federalism so dear to her counterpart from Chapleau in the National Assembly?

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this feels like my election campaign all over again. It is the same old tune. They lost in my riding, period.

On this side of the House, when we say that we do not need to write long sentences or long agreements or constitutions to know where we are going, it means that we will have ample opportunity to address a number of the issues raised by my hon. colleague.

Clearly, and as the members who carefully listened to my speech have realized—and for those who did not, I would be more than willing to repeat the whole thing since I am starting to develop a taste for this—at the heart of my remarks is the fact that we will be addressing a lot of issues in committee. For instance, we will be looking at the missile defence shield, and I am sure this will not be the last time I hear this expression in the House. We will also talk about sovereignty.

The member mentioned the commission on which we both sat, but I will not even go there, since he knows where I stand on that issue.

About the civil servant the hon. member referred to, again, it is déjà vu, since I was asked about this during the election campaign. As a former labour lawyer, I never publicly comment on a specific case. Since there are cameras in here, I think we should take up this issue at some other time.

I want to thank my hon. colleague who is as eloquent as ever. I think we are in for some very interesting debates.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the House the new member for Gatineau as well as the member for Davenport. I would like to say to the member for Gatineau that it is very good to have another woman present in the House because there are not enough women in the House of Commons. I am sure I am speaking for all of us.

I would point out to her that we in the NDP have always played a very critical role in minority parliaments. Some of the issues that she mentioned have come about as a result of minority parliaments. Social housing, medicare, and a national energy policy happened as a result of the role that the NDP played and the work that the NDP did in other minority parliaments. I would certainly let her and other members know that we intend to play that very central and critical role in this Parliament.

I listened to the throne speech today and her response to the throne speech. They are very good commitments and promises but they are things that we have heard many times before. Thirteen budgets have gone by and we still do not have a national child care program. Many budgets have gone by and we still do not have a national housing program. The member spoke about the need for social housing in her own riding.

I would like to ask the member if she sees a bit of a contradiction here. Does she believe that the government is actually going to live up to its commitment to the promises it made and which it never delivered on over the many years when the Prime Minister was finance minister? Does she believe that in this minority Parliament there will now be an opportunity to deliver on those promises because the NDP is here?

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, that was a great comment and question. All of us in the House have to believe in the parliamentary process. Every member here in this Parliament will have something of value to say.

As for past parliaments, I was not here. However I know what I am going to do. I know what the government is going to do. I have total faith in my government and in the members.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Hubbard Liberal Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for an excellent reply to the Speech from the Throne. I welcome her to the House. Gatineau has an excellent representative here and her constituents can be very proud of the work that she has presented here today.

In our last budget we paid particular respect to the needs of cities by speaking of the GST portion that would be refunded to them. In the throne speech we have also indicated that municipalities and cities will get money back in terms of the gasoline tax. I know Gatineau will be affected by that.

Could the member please comment in terms of the attitude of the people in her riding toward the House and the government in offering greater assistance to our cities and smaller communities?

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Françoise Boivin Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, what a great question.

Gatineau is no different from anywhere else. This morning I was reading in our local paper, Le Droit , that the city of Gatineau is waiting to see how the deal with the cities is going to come out. Of course we realize it is going to be through negotiation with the provinces because we are very respectful of the jurisdiction of the provinces. All the cities are waiting desperately for this deal and Gatineau is no different. Repairs are needed to roads and waterworks. There are other types of repairs that are desperately needed before those cities crumble. We cannot play politics on this issue. It is crucial.

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to congratulate the members who spoke. I heard some enlightening speeches from the other side. Unfortunately I heard some even more penetrating questions from this side. I am sure that pattern will continue.

Therefore, I move:

That the debate be now adjourned.

(On motion of Mr. Harper the debate was adjourned)

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:30 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That the House do now adjourn.

(Motion agreed to)

Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 5:30 p.m.)