Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take the back end of the ship with my colleague from West Nova. His speech reminded me of a time when Nova Scotia had a regional minister who actually stood up for our interests and put Nova Scotia's interests ahead of Canadians' interests.
I want to talk about the Speech from the Throne. Some of the things that my colleague spoke about I may touch on, but for me it was a disappointing document, a leaflet really, more for what is not in it than for what is in it.
We just had a question from a western Canadian about the Atlantic accord saying that there was a lot of miscommunication. I remember when I was in the House back in the spring when it was apparent to most people in Canada, and certainly to all people in Nova Scotia, that the Atlantic accord was torched. A member from Ontario asked a question saying that it had not been torched and it was still there. That was obviously not the case. I pointed out to the member at the time that he would not know the difference between the Atlantic accord and a Honda Accord, and that is still the case. There is a lot of confusion.
The Atlantic accord is gone. If it were not gone, we would not have seen the scrambling to try to fix it. The fix is not a fix that Nova Scotians would stand up and give any resounding approval to. It is not a fix at all. If it were, the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley would be back on that side of the House from where he was kicked out not too long ago.
It is one issue that all Nova Scotians, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will stand up to be heard on.
Last week I had a public meeting in my community. I invited people to tell me as their member of Parliament what they wanted to see in the throne speech. The government had prorogued Parliament and would bring in a throne speech. Whether I agreed or disagreed, we discussed a number of things. We discussed poverty, Afghanistan, the Atlantic accord, as we might expect, students, seniors and veterans.
One issue that came forward, as one would expect, was the issue of crime. In my community of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour we have had more than our share of violent crime, which is a big concern.
At that meeting, two people whom I had not known before spoke at that meeting in a very personal way about their experiences with two sons from two different families. They had been beaten up and bullied and they did not feel safe in their community. They came with an open mind about what could be done, but they wanted to see changes in the Youth Criminal Justice Act to address their specific case.
When members of Parliament hear these stories, they want to do the right thing. In Nova Scotia last December Justice Merlin Nunn came forward with a report on youth crime in response to a specific incident in Nova Scotia, which was quite appalling. The report was long, detailed, well thought out, well argued and well presented.
When the Minister of Justice came to Halifax, he referenced the Nunn Commission report. All members should go to www.Nunncommission.ca and have a look at this report. In the report it refers to problems with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It indicates particularly that repeat offenders are not dealt with effectively enough and makes recommendations. It also suggests that the Youth Criminal Justice Act is sound legislation and that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
When the Minister of Justice refers to the Nunn Commission report, I hope he does not just take a little piece of it, on which I agree with him, but looks at the who report in context and adds into that the need for mental health services for kids in our community, boys and girls clubs, breakfast programs and stay in school programs as well, which will also do more to reduce crime.
Yesterday the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development spoke on the throne speech. He was one of the first government speakers. It was an amazing spectacle. He gave a 20 minute speech without talking about human resources. He talked about one specific issue, and that was the crime issue, which the government is pounding away trying to get people to believe that its members are the only people who want to act on it.
The Minister of Human Resources and Social Development stood in the House of Common, and he is a good guy, but he did not talk about human resources. Why? Because there is nothing in the throne speech on human resources of which to speak. We heard about employment insurance. It states:
Our Government will also take measures to improve the governance and management of the Employment Insurance Account.
There are people across Atlantic Canada whose knees are shaking when they read that piece. Does that mean the government will make it better, as my colleague from West Nova optimistically points out?
If the government wants to make it better, it could look at some private members' bills that have come from all parties in this Parliament: Bill C-269, Bill C-265 or Bill C-278 that my colleague from West Nova referenced, which would extend sick benefits under EI from 15 weeks to 50 weeks. Who could oppose that?
It is a reaction to a very significant issue in Canada, which is that people who used to die of heart attacks, strokes and cancer in a lot of cases now are surviving. That is good news. The bad news is they cannot go right back to work and the EI system is the perfect way to address that need.
I want to applaud the member for Sydney—Victoria, who brought forward Bill C-278, costed it and did a lot of work on it. He got the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Cancer Society to say that it was the kind of legislation we needed, and the government refused a royal recommendation.
This document has one very brief mention about education, saying families worry about the rising costs of higher education. That is not a stunning revelation. They do. We all hear that as well. We need to help them. One does not tax cut one's way to a better education. One invests, particularly for low income Canadians, persons with disabilities and aboriginal Canadians. We should be investing.
In the late 1990s, when the government wrestled the deficit under control, we invested in things like the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, which is now at a precipice in terms of whether it can continue if it does not soon get a nod from the government that it will put money back into it, Canada access grants, learning bonds and a number of other things.
If we are to address productivity, there are a number of ways we should do it. We should be reducing taxes, not throwing $6 billion out the window on a GST cut, particularly for Canadians who need it the most. As a start, we should go back to the Liberal cut of the economic update of 2005, which the government reversed the following year. That is a start, raising the personal exemption.
I am fully in support of lowering corporate taxes. The countries in the OECD that have done that are doing very well. The lowest economic groups in those countries are doing very well also.
There are things that we can do, such as replenishing the Millennium Scholarship Foundation. The Canada summer jobs fiasco, which we dealt with last year, was pretty clear. It was a mistake by the government. It tried to rectify it. Some organizations, due to pressure from this side of the House, got their funding but many did not. There are things we can do now to ensure that fiasco does not happen again next year.
I want to talk about manufacturers and exporters. There is a crisis in manufacturing in Canada. We need to have mechanisms in the employment insurance system through Human Resources Canada to deal with that.
In my riding the Hershey Moirs plant announced in the spring that it would close in December. Six hundred people will be out of work. There is a program designed to help those people through Service Canada. I have been at transition team meetings with the union, which is working very hard. It is not happy about it at all, but realizes it has to now ask what it will do with the people. It is working with the plant and with Service Canada on a program that provides assistance to people who will lose their jobs.
Guess what? There is a limit of $100,000 per project. I asked Service Canada if it had implemented this project somewhere else and it said, yes, that it was great. I asked how many employees were affected and it said one. One person gets laid off and it can spend $100,000, 500 or 600 people get laid off and it can spend $100,000. Surely the funding should be by person, not by project.
I want to mention that I spoke directly to the minister about that. I appreciate the fact that he took the time to talk to me about this case. I am very hopeful he will intervene to make sure that what needs to be done gets done. However, there was no mention—