Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House for the opportunity to participate in this debate on the Speech from the Throne. I want to begin my remarks by thanking the voters of the city of Charlottetown for the trust and confidence they have entrusted in me. It is a privilege to represent them in the 39th Parliament.
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your position as Deputy Speaker of this House. You are the dean of this House and we are all very pleased that you are in this role right now.
I would like to deal with the throne speech. Everyone in this House I believe agrees that it is thin, it is brief, and it is more notable for what is not in the throne speech than what is in the throne speech. However, it might have achieved more success than perhaps some people give it credit because in a situation like this, as veteran politicians will indicate, the goal or the objective will be to manage expectations, to lower expectations. If the objective of the author of this speech was to lower expectations, then I believe the author has succeeded. In fact, I would submit that the author has basically eliminated expectations. Anyone reading this would have no expectations, or very little expectation of anything positive coming from the agenda of the government.
However, having said that, we have to move forward on a progressive basis. There are things in the Speech from the Throne where I believe, as a member of Parliament, common ground can be found.
First, I would like to speak briefly on the issue of crime. It has become an issue in certain areas of Canada. We have to look perhaps not so much at the crime but the causes of the crime. If the package introduced in the House by the government comprises of public education, rehabilitation and sentencing, I am certainly prepared to look for common ground. In my view, one of the main causes of crime in my area is drugs, and certainly the sentencing of drug offenders is something that we as a Parliament should look at very closely.
On the whole issue of the accountability act, which I understand is going to be introduced in this House shortly after Easter, that is something that we can hopefully find some common ground. It is good to have rules that are clear and that everyone understands. However, what does concern me and I find very unsettling are the actions of the Prime Minister since he was elected.
First, he appoints a lobbyist to be his defence minister. He will not cooperate with an officer of Parliament. He tries to fire the same officer of Parliament. He appoints a person who ran as a Liberal who was against everything the Conservative Party stood for as a minister of executive council. Then, the grandaddy of them all, he appoints his campaign chairman to a position of an unelected senator and then appoints him as the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.
He is on what I would refer to as an ethics binge and it is very unsettling to this House. I hope and I trust that the accountability act will deal directly with the actions of the Prime Minister.
I find particularly troubling the appointment of the campaign manager to the position of an unelected senator and then given the position as Minister of Public Works with a budget of $15 billion. He is answerable to no one in this House. He is accountable to no one in this House.
We do not know where he is. Mr. Speaker, you do not know where he is. The Clerk sitting at the Table does not know where he is. There is no one in this House who knows where that man is. All I know is he is somewhere around Ottawa. Apparently he is wearing a trench coat. He has a black briefcase. He is spending $50 million every day of Canadian taxpayers money and he is accountable to no one. He is answerable to no one. I find that very troubling. The cord of accountability has been severed and that is deeply troubling.
I do hope that when the President of the Treasury Board introduces his accountability act after Easter, that it will directly deal with that situation and we can put an end, a sudden end, to this very sad spectacle that is going on before the Canadian people.
The issue is, what will we do until then? That is two or three weeks down the road. We have this campaign manager/unelected senator out there, unanswerable and unaccountable to anyone, spending $50 million a day. What will we do until then? I have no idea. I have thought of it and maybe other members of the House will have some suggestions as to what we can do to stop this spectacle from going on.
One thing I just thought of was that we could create the version of a 21st century posse. You could deputize 10 members of the House, Mr. Speaker, to go out and find him. I know we cannot bring him into the House, but we could lock him to a post outside the House and then we could ask him questions. It would not be satisfactory, but there would be some limited semblance of accountability. That is how crazy this situation is.
I look forward to the accountability provisions. I do believe and have trust and confidence in the President of the Treasury Board that he will deal, through the act, with the situation and put an end to this sad spectacle.
I have listened to the debate on child care and I honestly believe that the debate is off on the wrong foot. We have a situation here. There is merit with both plans. I will talk about the Conservative plan.
First, there is a plan of $1,200 per month for children under the age of six. This is an income support measure. I think it will be welcome, in most families, or all families I should say. I would be more enthusiastic if it were means tested. However, I do not think we can discuss that. We do not have to create a whole new program or architecture.
Actually, it can be accomplished simply by an amendment to the child tax benefit and the national child tax supplement. It will be made available to all parents. Parents of children under the age of six years old would get $1,200. It would be very simple and less costly to administer. That is something the government ought to consider.
Parents of a child under six in a low income family are presently getting the child tax benefit and the national child supplement in the vicinity of $31 and it means increasing that amount to $4,300. If it does not compromise, which is the caveat, the national child care agreements that have been signed by all 10 provinces, I will certainly support that sort of income support initiative. However, I do add, that income support initiative has nothing to do with early childhood development.
We went through this. There is an agreement made between the Government of Canada and all 10 Canadian provinces. I do acknowledge that every family in Canada is different, but this is part of our educational system. It has to be expanded and retained. I would be very disappointed if there was any movement in the House to compromise any of these agreements that have the broad support of all Canadians and eight of the 10 premiers in this country.
One disappointment that I do have in the throne speech, and it was touched upon by the previous speaker, is the whole issue of productivity. This goes right into some of the early childhood development agreements. We have to, as a Parliament and a society, look at everything through a productivity lens. We have to invoke measures and put them in place to promote work, make people work, save and invest. That is something we have to look forward to.
In closing, it is incumbent upon us to make this Parliament work for all Canadians. We have to move forward on these and other issues.