Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Cape Breton—Canso.
I spoke at a graduation recently and I was inspired, as I often am with our young people, by their motto: “Shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you'll fall among the stars”. It reminded me of the many unheralded accomplishments of the Prime Minister in his first term in office.
I remember that in two 20 minute speeches in the House I tried to list all of his accomplishments. I could never get through them all. I would challenge both the national press and the opposition to tell us of a Prime Minister in history who had accomplished so much in the first year.
Those accomplishments do not come from only the Prime Minister himself. He needs the support of his cabinet and particularly the administrative branch of the Privy Council Office, which works so hard and plays such an important support role in these accomplishments.
The press or the opposition might wonder why we are so high in the polls at the moment. If we stop looking inside the House and look outside for a moment, where we are not concentrating on only one or two subjects, we would see the big picture and the accomplishments. What kind of Canada do we see out there?
If we were to go out into the city here, we would see a vibrant, bustling city. There is lots of economic activity. The same would apply if a person were to go across this great nation. Beginning on the east coast in Halifax, going to Montreal, Toronto, Saskatoon, Calgary, Vancouver and Whitehorse, we would see the same vibrant cities and communities across this country.
If we were to look at the poor and the families with poor children in this country, we would see that there are more programs to assist them. We would see this in the tax changes that we have made. Soon 850,000 families will be off the tax rolls completely. Those children will have a better economic situation.
We would see the best social programs since medicare. It would include the national child benefit that the government has been increasing year after year. We would see aboriginal head start which has been so successful for the aboriginal children of this country. We would see the national day care initiative, often for single parent families, allowing parents to provide a proper and educated upbringing for their children.
We would see a country where the disabled and their caregivers have more access to different programs and initiatives. We would see aboriginal people in this great nation, who for the first time have a government-to-government relationship. They are working on the major issues that they brought forward. They are working in partnership with us on major round tables in areas such as housing, economic development, education, health care, government and accountability for results.
We would see historic numbers of first nations people and aboriginal people now governing themselves in modern governments. They are doing so in some systems unparalleled in the world today.
We would see for the first time in history that rural Canada is more connected than most nations of the world. We would see new initiatives in rural health because of this connectivity. We would see long distance education that gives access to educational opportunities that rural people have never had before.
As we go across this country and turn outward from this House and from the media, members of Parliament would see what is happening with regard to the environment. We would see new national parks that we are so proud of in this country. We would see new underwater marine areas. We would see the unprecedented cleanup of contaminated sites. We would see all sorts of new and exciting initiatives related to air quality and greenhouse gases.
We would see thousands of energy efficient homes constructed with assistance from the government. We would see new auto emission reduction standards and world class agreements. We would see assistance for solar energy, wind energy, geo-thermal energy, small hydro, landfill gas and CO
We would see the green infrastructure programs in many communities across this country. These are some of the leading communities in the world.
We would see a nation that greatly supports and appreciates cultural diversity. That cultural diversity leads to the protection of individual Canadians, where we stand up for their rights. That cultural diversity that we built and celebrate leads to excitement in our communities that may not occur in other nations. Around the world that cultural diversity gives us a great economic advantage that other nations do not have.
As we go across this country, we would see flourishing universities, where we are leading the G-7 in the research investments that Canada is now making. Our students have access to the largest scholarship program in Canadian history with the millennium scholarship fund. We would see the unprecedented level of research funds where they can work in research during their senior education. We have the highest level of post-secondary participation in the G-7.
Some people say the north is the symbol of Canada. It is really what sets us apart. We would see a north that is having unparalleled attention being paid to it by the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office. We would see a northern strategy and northern economic development fund that we have been after for years. We would see extra money to deal with the challenges in health care, infrastructure, new special transfer payments and unique first nations land claims.
As we go across this country and talk to our seniors, often the most in need in our society, we would see that they are being provided with increased pensions. We would see a reinvigorated new horizons program and all the types of activities that seniors love in that program. We have seniors who now have their own secretariat to ensure that their issues do not fall between the cracks. If these seniors happen to be veterans, we would see the new veterans charter. It is the first time since the great wars that we have reinvigorated and modernized the benefits available to those who have done so much for this nation.
If we were to look at our military, we would see the new foreign affairs strategy that includes: 5,000 more peacekeeping troops, 3,000 more reserves, new trucks, helicopters and utility aircraft, large investments in exercising northern sovereignty, and over and above this, $12 billion to fund all these new strategies. That is the largest investment in 20 years.
In spite of all these critical investments to build a Canada that Canadians want, individual Canadians and their companies are still enjoying the largest tax cuts in history of $100 billion. Canadians are enjoying the largest health care increase in history of $41 billion, and a whole new equalization scheme. The foundation of this great nation is to help those areas of the country at times when they need regional help. The Prime Minister and the PCO have been able to arrange, with all the provinces and territories, this whole new equalization foundation of Canada.
Canadians are proud of their new invigorated country, leading the world with peacekeepers in Haiti and Afghanistan, providing support for Darfur, helping with AIDS, malaria and TB in Africa, leading the world in the fight against polio, constantly increasing foreign aid, and leading the debt relief for poor nations. The Prime Minister pioneered the L-20 and the concept of a responsibility to protect.
Canadians all the while are safely blanketed in a host of security provisions and investments since September 11, and the knowledge that their citizens had the say and the Prime Minister had the courage to stay out of Iraq and missile defence. Canadians are enjoying a vibrant culture of song and theatre with unprecedented investments by the Government of Canada. These were huge needs to be true to our values in order to build the kind of Canada we all want
However, to make those massive investments, did the Prime Minister, the finance minister and the PCO undermine the tremendous fiscal strength that the Prime Minister built for Canada when he was finance minister? Definitely not.
We are the only country in the G-7 with a surplus. We have had eight consecutive surpluses, the first time since Confederation. We have stable inflation. We have reduced the debt by $61 billion, so we can make these investments in health care, the military, the disabled, education and the environment. We have the best job creation in the G-7, the lowest interest rates, a triple A rating, and billions in cost-cutting.
This is perhaps an unparalleled level of government achievement in the world, but rather than increase resources and rewards to facilitate this great PCO work, we face a Conservative motion to cut 0.7%. If I were a Conservative member with any hope of rebuilding a party, so it could once again be a nation-builder, I would be aghast at trying to make this 0.7% cut from one of the most remarkable administrations in history that has done so much for the poor, the environment, the military, cities, and the sick and homeless.
I implore all members of the House to support the PCO and the government employees who have done so much to make this the greatest nation on earth.