Mr. Speaker, I would also like to recognize you on your first day in the Chair.
I rise today to praise the Speech from the Throne but first, if I may be allowed a moment, I would like to thank the great people of Elgin—Middlesex—London for allowing me to come back to this great place.
We come to this place at a time when many Canadians think we, as the representatives of the people, are not respected. An attitude of disrespect has fallen over this House. We will change this. We will work hard to earn the people's trust every day.
In this throne speech we bring forward five priorities, five new leaves of change. We must first accomplish these changes.
As we have heard in this debate and from the other parties, there are perhaps over 100 other changes that they would like to see happen. We have seen in past throne speeches 50, 60 or more issues in a throne speech but those were simply issues brought forward not action taken.
We would like to talk about the change in Canada by bringing forward five priorities and acting on all of them and getting them done, rather than 50 priorities, 50 promises made and all of them broken. We are bringing forward five priorities that are the biggest changes that Canadians would like to see.
The change on January 23 was that Canadians said they wanted change, that it is time for a change, a change in the way that we do business in Ottawa by making the federal government more open and accountable. I will speak in more detail to the accountability act later in this speech.
Canadians also spoke of change in the taxes they pay. They want to keep more of their income to pay for the necessities of life. We have heard, as I have said, from other parties and other members here today of more support being needed and of so many more requests that we could do. If Canadians were allowed to keep more of their hard-earned money, these supports may not be needed. They may in fact be taken care of by fine Canadians on their own.
There is change in how Canadians and communities are kept safe. We must protect victims and not criminals. We must remove gun toting criminals and drug dealers from our streets, not duck hunters from our woods.
We must provide Canadian families with the opportunity to do better in raising their children, the opportunity that families can do better and the choice is that of the parents, not of the state.
There must be a change in the speed at which Canadians can get urgent medical care. In a country as rich as ours, it is a shame that we wait for critical medical procedures. Canadians have called for change and we will deliver. By turning over five new leaves they will form our five priorities.
I would like to speak in depth to cleaning up the government and the use of the accountability act. The first leaf we will turn over involves the cleaning up of a mess left for us here in Ottawa by providing Canadians with open, accountable and, most important, honest government and ensuring that the sponsorship scandal or anything like it can never happen again.
The key to this will be the new federal accountability act which will change the way business is done in Ottawa. How? How it will change it forever is by eliminating the undue influence of big money donors, by banning large personal and corporate donations to political parties, by toughening the rules governing lobbying and getting rid of a revolving door that was so often seen in the past involving political staffers, bureaucrats and, yes, even members of this chamber.
We did not come here so that we will be better off when we leave here. We have seen too much of it. In the past House we saw many examples of people who came here even as members of Parliament and left here very rich as lobbyists. This is not why I came to this House and it is not why the people of Elgin—Middlesex—London sent me here.
We will make the federal government more transparent and accountable by increasing the powers of the officers of Parliament, as was just mentioned by the previous speaker, specifically the Auditor General. We must provide real protection for whistleblowers, those who come forward with information about unethical and illegal activities within the departments in which they work. In a perfect world whistleblowers would not be needed because no one would be doing things wrong. We have learned over the past many years that we do not live in a perfect world. Our government does not exist inside the vacuum of a perfect world and there is wrongdoing. We must be able to protect those who come forward. The idea is to give Canadians the good, clean government they expect and deserve.
We said that the first move of our government would be to clean up Ottawa and that is why the first bill we will bring forward will be the federal accountability act. Canadians expect politicians and public sector employees to conduct themselves with the highest ethical standards. Our goal and commitment is to make government more effective and accountable to Parliament and to Canadians.
The federal accountability act builds on the platform of commitment and takes into account our discussions with officers of Parliament, such as the Auditor General and the Information Commissioner, with public policy experts and with eminent Canadians and unions. The package will address long-standing and difficult issues head on. We must change and become more transparent.
We will increase public confidence in the integrity of the political process by tightening the laws around political financing and lobbying and we will take steps to make government more accountable by eliminating the influence of big money donors and by banning large personal, corporate and union donations to political parties. We will toughen the rules around lobbying and get rid of that revolving door syndrome as we have seen in the past.
The accountability act will be one of the toughest anti-corruption laws in Canadian history. It will bring in a corruption watchdog to protect whistleblowers against the bullying that can happen in their workplaces. It will end the revolving door between lobby firms and ministers' offices. It will give the Auditor General the power to shine, look in every corner and to hunt for waste and theft. It will ban big money and corporate cash from political campaigns and it will move from a culture of entitlement to a culture of accountability. We are fixing the system for Canadians.