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House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was liberal.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member for Lotbinière—L'Érable has very little time to answer.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, in such a short time, I will give a clear answer. I think it is a sure sign of incompetence not to have been able to keep track of all these matters and various departments.

I hope he will be more efficient as a Prime Minister than he was as a finance minister.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in the debate on the address in reply to the Speech from the Throne.

My first reaction, as I listened to the throne speech, was to wonder what kind of a bubble we are living in here in Ottawa. The speech was completely unreal. We came back from the parliamentary break having worked hard in our constituencies, where people told us about their real problems, such as the softwood lumber crisis, for example.

Thousands of jobs in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario have disappeared. Both the workers and the industry representatives were expecting that there would be new measures announced in the Speech from the Throne that would give them the means to get through the crisis and hang on until the final judgment. We won one case yesterday, but it will probably be 6 to 9 months before we are done.

There was no mention of all this in the throne speech, no offer to extend the transitional measures to deal with the softwood lumber crisis, for example. These measures expire on March 31 and it is impossible to extend the deadline for the cases that are under consideration but could not be finally settled. We need a second phase. There is nothing in the throne speech about that.

Another real-life problem people back home have been talking about is the mad cow crisis. Milk producers used to sell their cull cows—cows that no longer produce milk—for their meat. Later, they found themselves in a strange situation, where, because one sick cow was found in western Canada and another in the United States, the market was completely paralyzed. On this matter the federal government has remained completely inflexible and has offered clearly inadequate programs.

The crisis is not over, and today producers are saddled with heavy debt. They have been urged on numerous occasions to invest in their businesses, told that attractive market opportunities would be created. Then, when the mad cow crisis struck, the federal government was unable to implement a tracking system in time to avoid a Canada-wide crisis.

Instead of allowing the former Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food to say that he was going to treat all animals in Canada the same, there could have been a tracking system in place in order to know whether the problem was in Alberta or Saskatchewan. As a result, exports from there could have been banned. During the European mad cow crisis, the entire European market was not closed. Only those actually involved were affected, and their geographical area targeted.

We were expecting some measures for the producers to be included in the throne speech. This is a concrete problem in all of our ridings. But no, the same great desire for maintaining a high profile, for visibility achieved through interference in areas of provincial jurisdiction, was evident. Reference was made, for instance, to day care, an area in which Quebec is in the lead role. The federal government wants to interfere in this, as well as in the community sector, which is not its place.

Why do we have a throne speech that is so far divorced from reality? Because we have a federal system in which the federal government is after a degree of visibility that its areas of jurisdiction do not lend to it, yet it does not shoulder its responsibilities. It puts visibility before responsibility.

That is far from funny, when we are hearing that the Canadian army is under-equipped, that our military personnel do not have what they need. That is a federal jurisdiction. Still, they are announcing piecemeal funding yet again. Today we hear there is another $5 billion surplus this year.

The bafflegab that propels this government also fuelled the Speech from the Throne. Last fall, we were told there no longer was surpluses, that it would take great pains to provide the provinces with the $2 billion for health and that it would be impossible to provide more. Today, the papers reported that $5 billion is being put on the table. Is this supposed to go unnoticed and unexplained amidst the sponsorship scandal? People are not blind. The reality is very clear to see.

With respect to the Speech from the Throne, I feel like bursting the bubble, so that the people who make decisions in government and write these speeches know what is really going on and see the real problems that need to be resolved.

Seniors are another group that has been making representations to us on a regular basis. They are going through a difficult situation. For the past few years, their old age pension has been only partially indexed. That means that over a three-year period, they were denied a quarter, a half, or a full per cent. Now these people who receive small incomes have lost their purchasing power.

Imagine what would happen if we, in this House, did not receive indexation. Or imagine this happening in an entirely different sector. We would rise to say this is unacceptable. Senior citizens have not been given a voice. There should have been something in the throne speech about fully indexing pensions and providing retroactive indexation to those who have lost their purchasing power.

The price of drugs has increased in the past few years. Seniors have such specific needs that their shopping carts are quite different from the average citizen's. The price increase for some products has exceeded inflation. There should be something about that in the throne speech.

Why not have said there was going to be retroactive indexing of the guaranteed income supplement? Some 270,000 Canadians have been left in the cold for many years by not being paid what they are owed. All hon. members must have heard of such cases in their ridings in recent months because the Bloc Quebecois kicked up such a fuss that the department responded. I can give more examples of these situations.

For example, three weeks ago I learned that someone had sent the form three months ago, but had not yet heard anything. We checked and got this person registered. However, the payments are not retroactive.

This is strange, because companies that have their head offices in Barbados got a tax break, as we discussed recently. The ships, the companies that belong to the Prime Minister, to his family, were able to benefit from a retroactive measure to save taxes. It is strange to see that such benefit is provided to the current Prime Minister, to his family, to an industry through tax havens, but not to the elderly who would really need a break.

We are not talking about surplus or excess money. We are talking about money that people absolutely need. Why is the throne speech silent on this issue? Why does the federal government only propose measures that have no real impact, that do not reflect the daily concerns of people, that have nothing to do with the challenges that the public expects the government to meet?

All this, not to mention what we are finding out about the sponsorship scandal these days, generates cynicism in our society. The Bloc Quebecois has asked 441 questions on this issue. We are not talking about one, two, ten or a hundred questions, but about 441 questions to finally get the government to say that, in light of the Auditor General's report, something will have to be done.

Why is it that no minister, no Liberal member has stood up in this House or in public and said, “We must thoroughly examine these files. We must clean things up. We must put things back in order”.

The government even delayed the tabling of the Auditor General's report, which was scheduled for November. The government postponed it to early February 2004 to make sure that the election will be so close that things will quickly move on; also, the announcement of a public inquiry will obviate the need to provide explanations. It is fine to have an independent public inquiry, but we must ensure that it is truly independent. We must also ensure that the inquiry can be conducted quickly.

In the end, there will be a political price to pay. The public simply cannot still feel that this government can continue to lead Canada. The public will have to pass a very harsh judgment. There are often cases where concrete involvement is not obvious, but here it is very clear.

I did a radio interview a little while ago with people from my riding. The host and I were saying that the $100 million that flowed to the buddies with the advertising agencies, for sponsorships, would have made a heck of a big investment in route 185, a highway in my riding that has killed 100 people in 10 years.

The government could have been proud to make an investment like that. Instead, the money was deliberately poured out. The inquiry will have to make things very clear, because those people did not do that for nothing.

There was a Minister of Public Works who was also responsible for political organizing. There were at least five federal agencies involved in this operation and there were many people, members of Parliament, ministers in this very government, who are still deeply involved.

In conclusion, this is a throne speech that has nothing to do with the type of reality we would like to see in a throne speech. The general public is seriously fed up and thinks the politicians are not serious at all. We need to tell them that within the broad class known as politicians, there is the Liberal government that has done these deeds and there are members who rose in this House, including the Bloc Quebecois, 441 times, to ask for a public inquiry, and to ask for details about this affair.

And we hope that the government has received the message because, if it has not, I predict that the public will be sending the message very directly in the next election.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:15 p.m.

Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge Ontario

Liberal

Dan McTeague LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I want to make some comments on the statements made by the member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques. Of course, we worked together on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Consequently, I have a lot of respect for him. I know that he is dedicated and thoughtful, particularly in the area of competition. I also invite him to continue the great battle started a few months ago.

I am interested in his comments concerning a lack of response to the elderly and to pensioners. He even used the word “drug”. I find this interesting because, in the same context, he also used the word “cynicism”. He said that the government's program is cynical.

I find this interesting because he linked the throne speech to the sponsorship issue, with the intention of really showing his constituents and people who are listening that there is a $100 million problem.

However, he knows quite well that, when it comes to drug patents, the position of the Bloc Quebecois would cost $428 million a year, because there is a flaw in the drug system that was created by the previous Conservative government.

I tried to change the situation to save $428 million a year for a pill and the member simply said, “No. We will leave this flaw with regard to automatic injunctions”. How can he focus on $100 million that were lost, and when it comes to the poor and the elderly in his riding, in Quebec or in Canada, he forgets the billions of dollars that are wasted because of a flaw in the bill on drug patents. I find this cynical.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments. This reminded me that there is something which should have been included in the throne speech, namely the recommendation that the hon. member himself supported to set up a petroleum monitoring agency.

The government talks about parliamentary reform. We are told that the opinion of a larger number of MPs will be taken into consideration. However, a majority of committee members, including government members, made a recommendation, but the throne speech makes no mention of it. Yet, every day, people can see the yo-yo effect, in the economy, caused by the sudden increases and decreases in the price of gas. Why does the throne speech not address a concrete issue such as this one?

As for pharmaceutical products, it is obviously a very complex issue. We must look at the overall impact of the decisions. It goes without saying that this issue needs to be thoroughly reviewed. That was done by the committee. But there is nothing on this subject in the throne speech. The hon. member's own government did not deem necessary to deal with this issue.

There is a bill on pharmaceuticals to provide, as soon as possible, third world countries with the proper drugs to deal with some diseases like AIDS. I think we do indeed need to find ways to deal with the problem. The same thing goes for drugs.

We need to strike a balance and come up with proposals to ensure that we have efficient research programs to develop new products and that we also have the capacity to manufacture generic products to keep the price down.

No one has been able yet to convince me that eliminating the middlemen would solve the problem. To pretend that such a well-thought position could lead to the unavailability of some pharmaceuticals is somewhat demagogic. Our position is thoughtful. We want reasonable costs for the elderly and for the rest of the people. Let us put this issue to rest. Let us give the committee a strong mandate and the authority to make recommendations to the government.

Lastly, like my hon. colleague, I think it is unfortunate that the throne speech is silent on this issue. It just goes to show that the throne speech was drafted in a bubble, here in Ottawa, by people totally disconnected from what is really going in our country and from the problems our constituents are facing.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North—St. Paul Manitoba

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan LiberalMinister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to participate in this debate on the Speech from the Throne. I will focus on the theme of regional and rural development. To emphasize the theme, may I quote from the speech as read by Her Excellency the Governor General, the Right Hon. Adrienne Clarkson:

The 21st century economy promises opportunity for all parts of Canada. The objective of the Government is to ensure that every region of the country has the opportunity to move forward, socially and economically, on a rising tide of progress. As we share opportunity, so too will we share prosperity.

The Government therefore remains committed to supporting economic development through the regional agencies where the focus must be on strengthening the sinews of an economy for the 21st century, building on indigenous strength.

As Minister of Western Economic Diversification, as the member of Parliament for Winnipeg North--St. Paul, and as a Canadian, I am proud to be part of an agenda that respects and responds to the concerns of western Canadians.

The Speech from the Throne demonstrates the government's commitment to a new way of working, built as it is on partnership, opportunity, achievement, and the engagement of all Canadians at the local level.

The directions and priorities outlined in the speech are good news for the west and for all of Canada. Our Prime Minister has pledged to open the doors in Ottawa to the voice of all of our regions and to adopt new ways of working together on behalf of all Canadians.

I intend to help make that happen. At Western Economic Diversification Canada--or WD for brevity--we have the networks and the programs to find local solutions for local problems.

We have it in the recently renewed economic partnership agreements that WD signed with each of the western provinces, agreements that will invest $200 million in strategic economic and community development projects based on regionally identified needs and priorities. Previous agreements leveraged an additional $458 million from the private sector and we expect this positive collaboration to continue.

The Speech from the Throne also correctly targets the health of communities as key to our social goals, to our economic competitiveness, and to our environmental concerns.

The commitment of the west to these goals comes through loud and clear with initiatives such as the Vancouver agreement and the Winnipeg urban development agreement, which is in the final stages of negotiation.

These innovative agreements bring together all three levels of government, with the private sector, the voluntary sector and community partners, to address social, economic and environmental challenges unique to each city. These agreements demonstrate the importance of the Speech from the Throne's clear commitment to municipalities.

Health care, homelessness, new infrastructure, security and the full participation of aboriginal people and new immigrants in our new economy are issues that figure strongly as national concerns. We must remember that these issues are lived out and best understood at the local level. Hence, municipalities, both rural and urban, as well as other local actors, must have the resources to be effective partners in designing and implementing solutions.

In many Canadian cities, aboriginal people experience far worse conditions than their non-aboriginal counterparts. About 70% of Canada's aboriginal people live in the west, a growing number of whom live in urban areas.

WD therefore plays a strong role in Canada's urban aboriginal strategy, a partnership that brings all levels of government together with aboriginal groups, community organizations and the private sector. Our approach is one of coordinated effort to provide better access to a variety of targeted programs and services. The expansion of this program will improve conditions for many of our disadvantaged citizens. Clearly this is the right thing to do, not only for aboriginal people but for our nation as a whole.

In the west alone, it is estimated that over 200,000 jobs are needed within the next 15 years. By addressing the underlying barriers to full economic participation of disadvantaged communities and citizens, we will foster talent, creativity and determination, which will combine to form a tremendous new force to meet the challenges ahead. Indeed, our success as a nation depends on the contributions made by individual Canadians working together in their communities.

Here, too, the west shows its commitment through entrepreneurship, which has created a region with 40% more small businesses than elsewhere in Canada. The WD's business service network provides over 100 points of service to assist new and existing small businesses and to foster community capacity building. I am particularly pleased that the Speech from the Throne reinforces the importance of these initiatives, which do so much to enhance the vitality and quality of life in our communities.

I am one of the millions of immigrants who have come to this country and have chosen Canada to be our home. Myself, I emigrated from the Philippines 36 years ago as a young medical doctor. I am gratified, therefore, at the reference to ensuring the successful integration of new Canadians into our economy and our communities. One way is to have in Canada an orderly process for the accreditation of foreign obtained credentials in the fields of trades and the professions.

I am grateful that the Prime Minister has made this issue one key message in the Speech from the Throne, and he recently raised this issue with the premiers. I look forward to being part of the effort to ensure that others have the kind of access and the chance to fulfill their full potential and make a contribution to this great nation that were so generously extended to me.

When foreign obtained credentials of new Canadians and immigrants are not recognized, their dreams remain unfulfilled. More sad is that the dreams of Canada remain unfulfilled, for a nation always wants the best for all her citizens. By ensuring that all Canadians can fully participate in and contribute to this country's productivity and prosperity, we are ensuring a 21st century economy that is open to the world, a nation with the strong social foundations that are the envy of the international community.

Perhaps nowhere is that potential more evident than in the area of environmental technologies. Indeed, we in the west are transforming what we have learned from our resource based history and applying it to innovative new ventures that will help build a sustainable future for the generations to come.

British Columbia has become a global hot spot for the development and commercialization of fuel cells. Forecast to be a $145 billion worldwide market by 2020 and to create 15,000 jobs for every billion in demand, fuel cells have the potential to be a huge driver of our social, environmental and economic progress.

Alberta is implementing, through Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada, an eco-efficient and greenhouse technologies program that will support the efforts of the hydrocarbon energy industry.

Saskatchewan's canola biodiesel is being explored as an alternative renewable fuel for diesel engines.

In Manitoba, WD is supporting innovative enterprises at the University of Manitoba's engineering labs to help create key industry clusters such as biotechnology and information technology.

On a pan-western note, I am pleased to say that WD, following extensive consultations, recently has funded the Canada West Health Innovation Council to champion the significant contribution health research and innovation can make to future economic growth and quality health care.

By acting now, Canada can get ahead of the curve and create a sustainable competitive advantage for the future, an advantage that will bring economic and social benefits to all Canadians.

Finally, in renewing in the Speech from the Throne its commitment to regional development, the Government of Canada is recognizing Canada's dynamic diversity: geographic, linguistic and cultural, as well as the unique experience, knowledge and skills that exist in each region.

Indeed, regarding regional agencies, Donald Savoie of the University of Moncton recently said, “If they did not exist, the federal government would need to create them”.

May I say that having visited my departmental staff in all four western provinces, I have been impressed with their hard work, dedication and understanding of the needs of the west. They are truly making a difference in the life of western Canada and, therefore, in the life of our entire nation.

The fact that WD is now a full department underscores how essential a uniquely western approach to regional development is for the future of the west.

I am proud to say that in building a stronger west, we are building a stronger Canada, a Canada committed to strengthening our social foundation, a Canada committed to building a truly innovative modern economy in the 21st century and a Canada that ensures it will play a significant role in the world, a Canada, if I quote the Prime Minister, “that speaks on the world stage”.

It has been my pleasure to participate in this debate.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his presentation. I noted in his speech that he quoted five different departments and stated that he would be working with those departments through Western Economic Development.

I would like to ask the minister about his commitment to the synchrotron at the University of Saskatchewan and also to our agricultural college and the development of bio-diesel. I have heard from people throughout Saskatchewan, basically in western Canada, that sometimes Western Economic Development does not help the research projects as much as they need helping.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, certainly we are committed to ensuring that the fullest potential that will come from the Canada light synchrotron facility in Saskatchewan will be fully tapped by the country. Of course the big operation of this facility is in need of great funding, and certainly it is a big ticket item.

I assure the member that I will be bringing this need, this concern and interest to my fellow ministers in cabinet.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to focus briefly on two aspects of the minister's speech. I would indicate to him that I appreciated his remarks with respect to the Winnipeg community.

I want to focus on his statement about strength from diversity and the celebration of our ethnocultural heritage, something that obviously we have in common in our Winnipeg constituencies.

Based on that, my first question is, is the minister prepared to give support to Bill C-436, which is before the House now and which has been sponsored by my colleague, the member for Vancouver East. It is about allowing every Canadian a chance once in a lifetime to sponsor a relative who now would not be eligible under the family class category? That is my first question.

My second question has to do with the need for urban renewal and for a new deal for a city like Winnipeg. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the north end of Winnipeg, where we have had a recreation facility sitting empty for over a decade and for which the community has actively sought federal funding.

I have written the minister myself on a couple of occasions and have yet to receive a response. I would like to know and the people of north Winnipeg like to know if once and for all the wellness centre in the north end of Winnipeg, which has a large aboriginal population and is a high needs area, will receive funding through western diversification?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the first question with reference to a bill on immigration, we should make it easier for families, for Canadians, who are here to nominate and sponsor members of their family who want to come to Canada.

Immigration to Canada is based on criteria acceptable to all Canadians. If a potential immigrant is not eligible, it could be based on many reasons. Unless we know the reasons for the disapproval or for non-ability of a particular potential immigrant to come to the country, it would be very difficult. I think it would be unwise to make a blanket bill that would allow, once for a lifetime, a non-eligible immigrant to come to Canada because the reasons for non-eligibility could be based on many reasons, and I have no time to debate that at this time.

However, Manitoba has a Canada--Manitoba provincial nominee program. If it is deemed by Manitobans and by the provincial government that it could facilitate the entry of immigrants to Manitoba, then all the provincial government would have to do is indicate its intention, and I am sure it would be given due consideration by my colleague, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

On the second point about the facility that needs help. I again would like the member to see the full proposal for this facility. I assure her that the Department of Western Economic Diversification will give it due diligence and prompt attention.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I understand this is a new portfolio and a new department. I would like to know a little about it. The minister will have four prairie provinces for which he will have a budget. How will he decide these budgets and who will make the decisions on what gets money from the budget? Is it divided evenly among the provinces?

I just want to ask the member a bit about the guidelines of his new portfolio.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, this is certainly a very valid question. It was the first question I asked of my department in the debriefing I received from it.

Included in this portfolio will be Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. They are provinces of different population size and population size is one criterion for the disbursement of funds to be fair and equitable to all the provinces. Of course the rate of unemployment varies from province to province. This is an additional criterion. Again, because we would like to develop the fullest potential of any of the four provinces, this too is a valid criterion. On these three criteria, we will try to distribute the funds equitably.

As to who makes the decisions, the department will make the decisions. The officials will study all submitted projects and due diligence will be made as long as the projects fulfill our strategic thrust and themes of innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable communities. They will be assessed on those bases.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I recognize it is a new portfolio for my colleague from Manitoba, but I am curious. In light of the revelations in regard to the sponsorship program with Public Works Canada, is there any kind of a booking fee that happens to work within western diversification in, say, its community futures projects? If dollars flow from western diversification to anyone of the numerous community futures offices, does money go directly through or is there a funneling agent for the cheques or the money to flow?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, the department is very conscious that every single taxpayer dollar disbursed by the department is done with the greatest prudence and with the greatest of integrity. When we deal with the community futures groups, agreements are made between the department and the community futures groups, and that ensures that no single penny is wasted.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Rajotte Canadian Alliance Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister will be familiar with this because he was the secretary of state for science and technology. As he knows, Western Economic Diversification partly funds the synchrotron at the University of Saskatchewan, something my two colleagues have supported very strongly. It is a very good project. It is $174 million. It is about to come on stream. It has an $18 million operating budget.

First, how does the Government of Canada intend to support the operating budget?

Second, I posed this question to him before. Does he agree with the Auditor General and many scientists, including at the University of Saskatchewan, who say that the Government of Canada must change the way it funds big science projects, that it needs to fund it though one funnel, in a much simpler fashion, rather than funding it through the NRC, through Western Economic Diversification and through Industry Canada?

Does he agree that it is about time for the Government of Canada to show some leadership and fund these big science projects through one funnel rather than make these scientists go to five or six government departments to get their funding?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, certainly the question is very timely and critical. It is timely because we have a new administration, and in fact a science adviser has been engaged by the Prime Minister. Therefore, science is a very important policy issue to which the government is attending.

In terms of funding the big ticket items, the budget for big science facilities, through one agency of course it is under consideration. I am sure that in due time when the government has a definitive answer it will be given as well. However, it is important to maintain the regional agencies because if one would like to kick-start a project, one could do it through the regional development agencies. However, no doubt I agree with the member.

I recently visited the facility and talked with the officials, and when thinking of the big support, I am convinced we need to have support from Ottawa.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar.

It is an honour to rise in reply to the Speech from the Throne and represent the constituents from Saanich--Gulf Islands. I read the Speech from the Throne and I am going to comment on a few specific areas.

The Speech from the Throne is full of nice warm fuzzy statements but it is completely diametrically at odds with the actions of the government. I will give specific details. It states:

The path to achievement begins with making sure that Canadians believe their government, so that they can believe in government.

There are titles “Restoring trust and accountability”.

Let us look at the facts. Anyone who has read the Auditor General's report will know that the government is off to a pretty bad start on this promise. We have seen a quarter billion dollar vote buying scheme. One hundred million dollars went straight to Liberal communication firms. It is absolutely outrageous. Some that money found its way back to the Liberal Party of Canada as donations.

This is a money laundering scheme that is worthy of a sophisticated Mafia style attempt to take money. People who ran the program reported directly to the deputy minister. This is not, as the government or the Prime Minister proclaims, a problem in the department and those people are being dealt with. This is at the very top echelon of government.

The Auditor General's report states that there is no paperwork, no contracts and fictitious invoices. The current Prime Minister, at the time all this was happening, was the CFO of the country. He was the caretaker of the public purse. He was entrusted to look after taxpayers' dollars.

What did he do? I just outlined it. If he was a CFO of a public company, he not only would be fired instantly on the spot, I submit that he would put in jail.

During that time, the Prime Minister chose to remain silent. Silence is consent. He consented to these activities through his silence. He never questioned; he had to know what was going on. This is not something that happened for one week. This went on for years and years. It was talked about at the cabinet table. It is not acceptable.

The path that the Prime Minister chose was a path of scandal. The path of the yellow brick road was paved in gold by none other than the taxpayer. Like every single other Canadian we are absolutely disgusted and horrified. None of those words can do justice to this. We are in absolute disbelief.

We hear members on the opposite side saying that we are hurting Parliament's reputation. It is the government that is destroying the reputation of elected people across the country. It is our duty to stand up against the theft of this tax money. Someone has to come clean. What does the government want to do? It wants to bury it in another report.

These are the facts. The Prime Minister stood up and all Canadians can see this. It is the government's duty to take responsibility and show leadership. No. We are going to get a public inquiry and the government plans to bury this until after the next election. The Speech from the Throne states:

We must re-engage citizens in Canada’s political life. And this has to begin in the place where it should mean the most—in Parliament—by making Parliament work better. That means reconnecting citizens with their Members of Parliament...This will include significantly more free votes, so that Members can represent the views of their constituents as they see fit.

That is word for word from the Speech from the Throne. That is only going to happen if we get a chip embedded in our brain to become a member of the Liberal Party that the government can control.

Let us look at the actions of the Prime Minister and his team of people. Let is look at what he is doing to his own members who sit beside him--forget about everybody else, including the taxpayers.

For example, the member for Davenport, the dean of this House, is one of the most honourable members I know. I will say that because I have worked with him many times. We may have different politics, but he is a very honourable member. He told me yesterday that he is not seeking the Liberal nomination, but running as an independent. Why? Because the Prime Minister's henchmen are trying to oust him from his seat.

The Liberal Party says that its members can have free votes if they get here, but first of all they will have to submit to surgery. They will have to have a computer chip implanted in their brain so the Liberal Party can control them. It will not allow them here unless they sign their life away outright.

Why is the member for Davenport not seeking the Liberal nomination? Because he does not want to sign a pledge that he cannot run as an independent if he loses. He knows the Liberal Party is out to get him. It is not just the member for Davenport, it is the member for Parkdale--High Park. I have personally spoken to her. Those members will not speak in public for fear of what would happen to them. It is the member for Hamilton East who is receiving the press.

The Prime Minister is going after his own. How can we possibly expect him to treat Parliament with any kind of respect? How can we expect him to treat taxpayers' money after what we have seen over the last five years?

The Prime Minister's words are meaningless. He has only been in office a few months and look at his actions. They are deplorable, shameful and disgraceful. Then he comes out with this nice warm fuzzy throne speech.

Would hon. members like some more quotes? I wish I had unlimited time. I could stay here until about next week some time. The Speech from the Throne states:

This will include an enhanced role for Members to shape laws.

What have we seen? I have not seen any new laws, have hon. members? I have seen a lot of Mr. Chrétien's bills, the former Prime Minister's bills, tabled word for word.

The Prime Minister cannot have it both ways. He is trying to portray this as a new government. That is ridiculous. Half the cabinet faces are the same. The minister who was charged in the advertising scandal is now the Minister of Finance. Imagine that. The guy who is out there looking after the public purse or looking after these contracts is now the caretaker of taxpayers' dollars. The minister responsible for the Treasury Board got a standing ovation in Parliament.

The actions of the Liberals are absolutely inconsistent and diametrically 180 degrees opposite to the words of the throne speech. I ask every single Canadian to look at this scandal. This is not a few thousand dollars. This is hundreds of millions of dollars.

Imagine having somebody buy a Rolex watch because the Liberals needed some for the department. First they sent a contract out and they skimmed $15,000 or $20,000 off the top. That was not good enough. The person who got the contract then sends his son, who gets another $15,000. The Auditor General's report is full of this. Imagine transferring money from one department to another department and paying half a million dollars in commissions. It is outrageous.

The Prime Minister, who was the CFO of the public purse and entrusted to look after those dollars, remained silent. Silence is consent. He did not speak up; he did not question. He did not look at the concerns out there. We were raising questions. The Liberals absolutely blew them off and now they are asking us to trust them. I do not think so.

Let us go to some more points here. This is an amazing one:

Canadians want the Government of Canada to do better in meeting ethical standards.

Imagine that. The ethics commissioner's bill is still not independent as once promised. He does not report to Parliament and is not answerable to Parliament as a whole.

This is being fraudulent. It is defrauding the people of Canada. It is defrauding Parliament when the Liberals say they want to bring in a new ethics commissioner. He is the same guy who is in charge of all of this. He is telling the Prime Minister that it is okay because he is in a blind trust, that he could have briefings on Canada Steamship Lines, and that it is okay that he received hundreds of millions in government contracts.

The pictures becomes pretty clear when we start putting all the pieces together. The Prime Minister has been in power a few months. We have been in Parliament a few weeks. We have to appoint a new independent inquiry. We are getting a new inquiry almost once a week. What does that say?

This is not a new administration. This is the same old administration. We are seeing the same old standards and Canadians deserve better.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member, has he read the Speech from the Throne, and has he followed the deliberations in the House and the activities of the government and the Prime Minister?

He refers to the question of restoring trust. When we look at the Auditor General's report, we must look at the actions of the government and the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister said the activities were unacceptable. He did not hide behind any definitions. He cancelled the sponsorship program on the day that he was sworn in. He has called for a judicial inquiry as recommended by the Auditor General. He has referred the matter to the public accounts committee, appointed an independent counsellor and recalled the ambassador.

I do not know that one could say that he has been hiding. Everything he has done is to ensure integrity. I believe, as does the rest of the House, that the Minister of Finance, like the member for Davenport, are members with impeccable integrity.

I ask the member, what other actions would he have asked for? How can he define that as hiding and not as restoring trust?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will start with the last question first. We talk about integrity and specifically about the member for Davenport who is the dean of this House. The Prime Minister has his henchmen out after him. That is a known fact. That member is not even seeking the Liberal nomination because he does not have a chance against the Prime Minister's machine and is running as an independent. Those are the facts. Those are the actions. How is that showing any kind of ethics?

Yes, the government cancelled the sponsorship program after it had its hands in the cookie jar--it might as well have crawled right inside the cookie jar. It is great after it had been caught and exposed; however, the Prime Minister had this report for months.

I want to emphasize that this scandal did not happen yesterday. It did not happen six months ago. This has been going on for five years while the Prime Minister was the CFO of the government. Did he do anything then?

One cannot just blow off millions of dollars and not notice it. Where is the accountability? If he did not know, then we must ask the question, is he competent? It is a fair question. Who is doing the checks and balances? Are cheques written out willy-nilly? There is not even a paper trail quite often, but it is okay to just send out the cheques. Those are the facts.

Yes, he has called for an inquiry. We seem to be getting a new inquiry every single week. When are we going to get an inquiry for the recent scandals in British Columbia? Oh, I forgot. That is on the other side of the Rocky Mountains so it does not matter. We can forget about British Columbia because we do not really care about those people out there. When that scandal broke, the Prime Minister responded that it had nothing to do with him. The police had not asked him any questions about it and he did not feel that he needed to respond.

There are a number of top lieutenants in British Columbia who are legislative assistants in the legislature earning $60,000 a year and flew to the Prime Minister's coronation in Toronto on private jets at a cost of $65,000 paid for by the Liberal Party of Canada. Where is the inquiry into that?

How about the tens of thousands of memberships that David Basi, one of the Prime Minister's top henchmen, signed up? CTV cameramen went door to door asking if people in my riding belonged to the Liberal Party of Canada. People were shocked to find out they were on the list. A few had been called but had not paid for memberships. These are the indisputable facts.

He can talk about what is in print but what is in print is diametrically 180 degrees opposite to the actions of the government. Liberals do not deserve one seat in the House of Commons. I remind them to look back at what happened in the last British Columbia election when we saw a government which spent half a billion dollars on fast ferries. They had no respect for taxpayers' dollars. They were reduced to two seats because they did not deserve to represent the people.

Neither does this government. It is time that Canadians look up. I look forward to the election when Canadians will have an opportunity to express their thoughts of this government on the ballot.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to rise in the House on behalf of the citizens of Saskatoon--Rosetown--Biggar to respond to the Speech from the Throne.

As I sat down to prepare my speech for today, I was full of different title ideas. It got to be kind of a joke in the office because we looked at the Prime Minister and we thought about the titles he could have used on the front of his throne speech. He could have used, “We have made these promises before. You believed we would do it and voted for us, now we will try it again”. Or it could have been something like, “I was a senior cabinet minister for nine years but I do not want to talk about that”, or “I know I was Chrétien's right-hand man and in charge of the public purse, but let us pretend I was not”. Or should I call it what it was, “Promises, promises, promises, all guaranteed to be broken again”.

The Liberal Party is expecting the general public to ignore its culture of corruption and to re-elect the Liberals again. There is a limit to how many times Canadians will fall for the same old dirty tricks. A quick review of the nation's media shows the wheels are starting to fall off the tired, corrupt Liberal government. Canadians were hoping for a new Prime Minister who would bring in a throne speech with new ideas but were sorely disappointed to hear the same old Liberal promises, almost down to the word.

In the 1994 throne speech, the former prime minister said:

The government has made a number of commitments to the people of Canada. They will be implemented.

Already the lies began, just four paragraphs into the throne speech. The only reason the current Prime Minister can make the same promises the Liberals made a decade ago is that they broke almost all of them.

Then the former prime minister poured on the deception even more when he said:

In order to achieve this agenda, integrity and public trust in the institutions of government are essential.

My Ministers will insist upon integrity, honesty and openness on the part of those who exercise power on behalf of Canadians.

Lies and more lies.

The Auditor General has exposed the culture of corruption and deceit within the Liberal Party; the theft of public money by Liberals for Liberals. There were promises of an independent ethics counsellor. We are still waiting. There were promises to reduce the regulatory and paper burden on small business and streamline the delivery of programs, promises to eliminate the GST, promises to fix the health care system, promises to implement aboriginal self-government, promises to resolve aboriginal land claims, promises to be active and influential in the global arena. All of these have proven to be corrupt lies.

Now the latest throne speech promises to do the same. I am sure members can understand our skepticism in the Liberals' sincerity. We have heard this all before. They will not deceive the Canadian voter again.

For almost a decade the current Prime Minister willingly and eagerly defended this abysmal record. Why? Because he was an integral part of making it happen. The Prime Minister slashed health funding, slashed education funding, increased taxes, lowered our standard of living, slashed our military and peacekeeping budgets, kept the GST, failed our aboriginal people, watched homeless shelters overflow and child poverty rates increase. Why he would want to campaign on that record is beyond me.

Perhaps the part of the throne speech that disappointed me most was the lack of attention to farm families. The entire agriculture sector, farm families, BSE affected farmers, drought affected grain farmers, all of them received just two measly sentences of attention. There were just two sentences for farm families. Even Flat Mark got more attention.

The Prime Minister promised to address the concerns of western Canadians. Little did we expect that the promise would be broken before he even started. The Prime Minister promised a new standard of integrity and honesty, just like Jean Chrétien's promise. That promise went out the window too.

The Prime Minister wants us to trust him with our precious tax dollars but he cannot be honest about how much will end up in the pockets of his family and the Liberal Party. This corruption has to stop.

Perhaps it would not have looked that favourably on the Liberals had the truth come out during the leadership campaign. The Prime Minister and his sons received $161 million. The entire health care system received a mere $2 billion. Just think, $161 million for mom, dad and their three boys and $2 billion for 31 million other Canadians. Our vision of a responsible, accountable government is obviously not the same as the Prime Minister's.

What did I want to see in the throne speech?

I wanted to see our farm families made a priority. How much more do they have to suffer to get three sentences in the Prime Minister's next speech?

I wanted to see our rural communities given the tools they need to thrive. Rural folks from coast to coast have a history of survival but the government has put them to the test.

I wanted to see our health system functioning under sustainable, predictable federal funding. I wanted to end the travelling federal-provincial funding circus.

I wanted to see our inner city neighbourhoods and their low income residents rise from under the burden of overtaxation.

I wanted to see our environment protected through real action plans, not just rhetoric delivered through idling ministerial limousines.

I wanted to see pride and effectiveness returned to our military. I want to see our men and women wearing the right colour of clothing and having the right equipment for the job.

I wanted to see Canada push forward to take its rightful place on the world stage. I have had enough of playing second fiddle to our allies.

I wanted to see our aboriginal people removed from the cycle of dependence the Liberals have put them in. They are a proud people and unshackled they will succeed, especially our aboriginal women.

I wanted to see our children made a priority. I want a government that promotes education and community, not the use of marijuana. We need a young offenders act that protects children, not one that makes it easier for the bullies to rule the schoolyard.

I wanted to see a national sex offender registry. How many more victims do we need before the Liberal government pays attention?

I wanted to see a clear family policy that makes raising our next generation easier for struggling young parents.

I wanted to see all our emergency personnel get the tools and funding they need to protect us. They put their lives on the line for us every day and the least we can do is equip and fund them properly.

I wanted to see an end to corporate welfare, a marketplace where the firms with the best products and people stand a chance against Liberal donors.

I wanted to see victims' rights made a priority. Canada too often sees its victims forced to go public calling for justice. That is unacceptable.

I wanted to see tough penalties for parole violations and tough penalties for the use of firearms in the commission of an offence. We have tried the Liberal method of gun control and it has failed. We just need to ask the citizens of Toronto.

I wanted to see fixed election dates. Fixed dates would end the uncertainty and paralyzing of government that occurs every one out of four years in a glaring display of partisan political manipulation.

I wanted to see a commitment to defend the supremacy of Parliament. If the Liberal-appointed courts continue to make the laws of this land, we will ensure the irrelevancy of the House.

There was so much I was hoping to see with a change in the Prime Minister's office. Unfortunately, it appears that the only thing that has changed is the name on the door.

Canadians will likely get an opportunity to register their opinions in one of those politically timed elections this spring. I am not sure that current polls truly reflect the growing fatigue Canadians have of the Liberal Party. Canadians from coast to coast have become the victims of the Liberal government's failure to govern.

So bad have these problems become that one need only refer to them in a few words. They are softwood lumber, the BSE crisis, Sydney tar ponds, gun crime, victims' rights, Shawinigate, Quebec advertising, provincial jurisdiction, health care funding, waiting lists, education funding, military funding, homelessness, urban decay, self-government, political financing, the GST, gas taxes, airline taxes. The list goes on and on but unfortunately, time dictates that I cannot.

It has been a pleasure to voice the concerns of the millions of Canadians who were ignored by the throne speech. It has been a pleasure to provide Canadians with a real alternative to the tired, old, corrupt government.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about the lack of mention of the agriculture industry in the throne speech. Does she think the government realizes how important that industry is to Canada? Also does she think the government understands the seriousness of what is happening out there to the industry?

In our ridings, provinces and regions the BSE problem and border shutdown are serious. It is coast to coast. It goes much beyond just saving the family farm. This is about an industry that is going down and we are very concerned.

I watched the take note debate and heard the stories of members from the Liberal ridings as well as throughout the Ontario and Quebec ridings. All parties have been affected, as have their constituents. I am wondering, do they realize they are the people who are to make decisions? I would like her comments.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, it was very interesting the other day when our senior agriculture critic asked a question about the agricultural problems and BSE. A member from the opposite side said that agriculture does not have problems, that it has lots of money. I asked him across the aisle during our mini debate that was going on how he knew. He said that he did farmers' books. I asked if they were from rural Saskatchewan and he said no, but that the weekend before a report had come out about prairie agriculture.

The last time income dropped was in 1929 in the Great Depression. It is lower. Our farm families are on the verge of complete collapse. People in Canada must realize that the free food policy that all members have in the cities will be gone.

There is a huge problem out there. We are losing farm families. There were six farm families lined up for social welfare in Saskatchewan. They are so desperate that they are going for welfare because there is no funding.

The Minister of Agriculture talks about opening borders, travelling and talking to people. I want to say through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Liberal caucus today that does not help farm families. Farm families do not have access to any money. This is right across Canada. We need help for agriculture. If we want to have a livestock industry in this country, the Liberal government must step forward immediately to help these people and try to solve this problem. Platitudes will not save agriculture in Canada.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member raised the issue of BSE which is a scourge across the country. It is hurting all areas, whether people are ranchers or dairy farmers.

Would she not agree with the work that has been done by the minister and the previous minister to make sure that we take the science based approach and that we work with our partners? The results we have had so far have been pretty good. We are the country to have its border reopened the quickest, although it is only partially opened and we want to see it go further.

Would she not agree that the answer to it is the trade question? It is a question of making sure the border is opened. Would she not agree that all communities are thankful for the amount of funding that has come forward for farm families? It does not make up for closed borders, but it assists those families.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raised an excellent question. We see it right across the whole livestock industry. The cervid industry, the sheep industry and the bison industry have been brought into it, not because they have no disease but because the borders are closed to livestock.

Because western Canada does not have a lot of meat packing plants, we cannot move our livestock cross-border. We cannot go anywhere. Animals from western Canada cannot travel to eastern Canada to be slaughtered. I heard of a bison farmer who gave away 100 cows because there was nothing he could do about it. There is no place to take them and no one will take them because we do not have slaughter plants.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

5:15 p.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I want to give notice that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for West Nova.

I stand here proudly to support the Speech from the Throne. It is a speech that has given a clear vision and a commitment to put in place the building blocks that will in fact bring this country into the 21st century.

There is something unique about this Speech from the Throne that no one has noticed. They have said that it is more of the same. This Speech from the Throne does something very important. It has joined the linkages between economic development and social development. It has created that circle that most of us who like to be policy wonks have understood.

We know that if we do not have a stable economy we cannot build social development. If we do not have good social development where people are healthy, where they have skills, where they have training where they work and where those who have been left out we remove the barriers so they can get in, then we will not have increased productivity, increased economic development or competitiveness. Therefore we will not have that circle being formed. It goes around.

When we bring those linkages together we would be looking at policy in a completely different way. It means that the government will look at the same old problems and find different processes by which to deal with them.

The government will be looking at short and long term strategies; looking at how we work horizontally with other departments within the federal government; looking at how we work and form partnerships with communities and other levels of government, such as provincial governments and municipalities; looking at how we build partnerships with the private sector; and looking at unique new ways of doing things together.

The government has decided that we cannot just throw money at problems. In 20 years from now we do not want to be sitting around asking what we will do about the same old problems. We have to change the way we deal with those problems now. That is what makes me very excited about this particular Speech from the Throne.

The throne speech has drawn the linkages between the fact that we need to invest in people. However to do that we need a stable economy. If we have money and we invest in people, then those people will continue to produce and continue to increase the economic status and competitiveness of the country.

Having said that, members will see that there was also a door open to ensure that those people who have been left out, who have not been able to fully participate in the economic and social life of the country, will now have an opportunity to do so in a real and meaningful way that will make change happen. We are back to process again.

Look at the aboriginal peoples, new Canadians and immigrants who have not been able to participate and work. They have been underemployed and unemployed. We are looking at persons with disabilities. We are talking about the cities that are facing insurmountable problems at the moment.

How do we work together to make those changes occur? That is what the Speech from the Throne is about.

While I would love to speak for two hours on all the things that excite me about the Speech from the Throne, l want to focus on one for which I have been given special responsibility by the Prime Minister: to look at the issue of foreign credentials.

We need to look at some very interesting statistics. Currently Canada has a falling birth rate and an increasing aging population. Within 10 years we will have an increase of 50% of people who are between the ages of 55 and 65. That is very important for us. We do not have a birth rate that will replace those people. Baby boomers will reach that age in 20 years.

This country has always depended on immigration for its labour force and it population growth. Currently 50% of our growth in population is dependent on immigration. In another 10 years we will be dependent on immigration for 100% of our population growth.

Currently we depend on immigration for 70% of our labour force growth. In another eight years we will be depending on immigrants for 100% of our labour force growth. Because of the aging population and the drop in birth rate we do not have the people.

We are not alone in any of this. We are seeing that most of the developed countries in Europe and in other parts of the world are facing the same problems: low birth rate, aging population. Who will do the work? Those countries are out there competing with us for a new labour force, for people to come in and work.

Canada has to do a couple of things. This is why this has become a priority for the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister recognizes that currently about 540,000 people in Canada do not have work or are underemployed with regard to their own training. The House should know that about 70% of new immigrants to Canada have degrees and diplomas and 45% of our new immigrants have a university degree, and yet they are underemployed. This is a loss of about $5.5 billion currently to our GDP.

This is a social integration issue, not allowing everyone to participate fully in Canada, but it is also a productivity issue as we can see from our labour force needs. It is also an economic issue in terms of our GDP. It is a competitive issue because other countries are in the same boat and are looking for the same pool within which to get their labour force.

This is an urgent issue but in the new way we are doing things we want to deal immediately with the problems. We are facing critical shortages, for instance, of doctors, nurses, health technicians and pharmacists. We have to do work on that immediately.

Then there is the long term prospect, not only of persons who we will need over the next 10 year period for our labour force, but how, as we bring new people into the country, we integrate them as speedily as possible. Recognition of foreign credentials, training and skills is one of the first steps.

However those are not the only barriers. We need to look at language proficiency. Many people, even if we recognize their degree as a physician, they will not be able to work with people if they do not have a proficiency for practising medicine in English and French.

We need to look at Canadian experience. Most employers are asking for Canadian experience. How do we go about getting our new immigrants and our citizens the kind of experience that they need in order to work effectively in the labour market?

Even though credentials are provincial, we need to set up joint strategies. We have begun to work on this. We need to provide in the resources, which we have already begun to do in the 2003 Speech from the Throne. We have started to work with doctors, and with provinces that are our partners, to develop a new labour force of doctors to meet the critical needs.

Working horizontally with six departments in the federal government and building on those partnerships is what is in our long term strategic plan. I look forward to the government making sure that comes to pass.