Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to personally congratulate you on your re-election as the Speaker of the House. I am certain your re-election was due to your past record of non-partisan oversight of this House and your commitment to fairness to all members of the House.
I also would like to take this time to thank the constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap for their overwhelming and increased confidence in me as their voice in this place. It truly is an honour and I am humbled to be given such a vote of confidence. I would be remiss if I did not credit my electoral success on the leadership of our Prime Minister and the great job my staff in the riding and Ottawa offices have done in serving the constituents of Okanagan—Shuswap. I thank the many volunteers who helped during my campaign. Their time and dedication is sincerely appreciated.
The theme for this session's Speech from the Throne is protecting Canada's future. This theme is a reflection of our government's approach to these uncertain economic times. Our government will not react in a knee-jerk, irresponsible physical manner today at the detriment of tomorrow. The Speech from the Throne is very clear: our government will make calculated decisions that will weather the current storm in preparation for the sunny days in the future.
The problem today is that the current global financial framework has not served the global community well. Lack of sound fiscal policy and regulation framework has proven the undoing of many developed nations' financial institutions.
Canadians can be proud of the policy and regulatory work that this government and previous governments have put in place to ensure Canadians of a secure and stable financial sector. Our government's budgets have been balanced, our economic growth has proven surpluses and the $37 billion in national debt repayment has cushioned Canada from this current economic meltdown.
As our throne speech indicates, Canada will work with the global community to put in place international regulations to prevent this type of exploitation of financial markets and overextension of the credit markets. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance began this important work on November 15, joining the leaders of the G-20 in Washington, D.C., and will continue to pursue this in the future.
The global economic downturn has challenged the liquidity in global financial institutions and compromised the capitalization of the equity markets causing a lack of capital for home mortgages, business capital expansion and development. This credit crisis has weakened dramatically the prospects for growth of our domestic economy in the global economy.
Canada needed a throne speech that assured Canadians that we will keep our house in order by tight fiscal management and prudent targeted spending. This throne speech is just what the doctor ordered. We must remind ourselves that Canada is built on the promise of opportunity, the chance to work hard, raise a family and make a better life. Today it is more important than ever to deliver on this promise and ensure that all Canadians share in the hope and prosperity of this land.
Our government has already cut the shackles of high taxes and released businesses to be more competitive, labour to have more disposable income and investment to be more vibrant.
Our government has lowered consumer taxes, such as the GST by 2%, has increased tax credits for spouses, children, seniors and businesses, all contributing to less money in government and more money in citizens' pockets as well as in the economy.
Initiatives such as accelerated capital cost allowance invite businesses to retool, expand, and create new jobs, resulting in new wealth for Canada.
Statistics tell us that one-third of our economy is wealth creation, that is, creating new money. Resource extraction, manufacturing, farming, power generation, forestry, and technology products generate new dollars for the economy. The other two-thirds of our economy takes this new wealth and provides services such as transportation, retail goods, food services, consumer goods, financial services and government. A drop of 10% in the resource and manufacturing sectors results in a 20% drop in the service sector.
In my past, when I was gold mining in the Yukon, our motto was “The buck starts here”. For every dollar created, there were two dollars spent in the service sector.
I tell members this so that they will understand why it is so important that our government invest in education and skills training, infrastructure, transportation, and research and development: so that those who are creating wealth for this nation will have the tools to create new money in the economy.
This Speech from the Throne sets a stage for investment and a climate for success for those who would risk and succeed.
In Vernon in my own constituency of Okanagan--Shuswap, Tolko Industries, the fifth-largest lumber products company in the world, has its head office. This company is a well-run and innovative company, but it has, as has all the forest industry, struggled in the past three years.
Tolko Industries has not hung its head low. It has taken the opportunity to make its operations more streamlined and energy-efficient. The gasification project to the Heffley Creek operation saved $1.5 million a year in natural gas costs. Its cogeneration operation in the Armstrong mill supplies electricity to the power grid in British Columbia, and its new OSB and engineered beam plants in Alberta are state-of-the-art, modern and efficient operations.
This Speech from the Throne reaffirms our government's commitment to continue to partner with industry to make Canadian businesses more competitive and more energy-efficient. Our government will continue to assist these industries through measures aimed at marketing Canadian products abroad, expanding trade opportunities and helping business to be innovative.
This means wealth creation. This means jobs.
The throne speech reveals our government's continued support for higher education, research and development, and skills training. A good example of our government's partnering with educational institutes to realize skills training for aboriginal students is in my riding. The Government of Canada partnered with the Vernon campus of Okanagan College to fund the carpentry apprentice program for aboriginal students. Through this investment, graduates were given the skills needed to fill vacancies in the building construction sector.
Canada has one of the smallest labour forces in the developed world, so we must be the most skilled, the smartest and the most innovative if we are to survive. Canada has a successful, proven track record. We must continue to invest in our greatest resource, our human resources.
Sometimes how we do things in government is just as important as what we do in government. This cannot be more clear than in the relationship between the economy and the environment. As citizens of this planet, we must do our part to ensure that we are good stewards of the environment around us. In the throne speech, our government committed to ensuring that by 2020, 90% of Canada's new energy sources will be from clean energy production.
We are taking action to move away from dirty coal and carbon fuels to the clean, efficient and environmentally responsible energy of the future. Truly, Canada is turning the corner on the environment. Our government will continue to work with the provinces and territories, the private sector, and our citizens to make Canada cleaner, more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.
Our government believes that the foundation of this country is the family. In its throne speech, our government has once again supported families.
The continuance of the child care allowance, which helps parents make parental decisions for their children's best interests and supports them financially with those decisions, has further demonstrated our commitment to families.
Our government is introducing a new opportunity for family-owned businesses. The throne speech offers business women the opportunity to participate in maternity leave benefits as administered under the EI program. This is a great program to help small family-owned businesses to have children without compromising their business interests and their family income.
This throne speech also ensures that the transfer of payments to the provinces for education and health will keep up with inflation, ensuring that growing families will have top-notch education for their children and timely access to the health care they need.
Finally, the economic slowdown does not mean a slowdown in our efforts to make our communities safer. We will continue to crack down on organized crime, guns and gangs, drugs, and violence.
Governments are called upon to provide citizens with law and order. Our government will continue to review the young offenders act and make certain that a young age will not be an excuse for criminal activity.
Canadians want to know that their children are safe from those who would exploit their sons and daughters with drugs.
Our government will not only make our streets safer, but we will also continue to make our nation safer and more secure. Our government will continue to improve border security in an effort to stop the flow of guns and drugs into Canada.
Our government will build a new icebreaker and an Arctic port. We will increase our presence in the Arctic and protect Canada's sovereignty over our northern frontier.
Security of our nation is the responsibility of the men and women of our Canadian Forces. Our government will continue to support their efforts by purchasing new and more modern equipment. Whether in a foreign field or at home, our men and women stand bravely for the freedom we enjoy daily, and we appreciate their commitment. We support them in their work and we will continue to give them the tools needed to do their job.
I once again remind the House of a good definition of good government. As a famous statesman said many years ago:
--a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain [its citizens] from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government--
This Speech from the Throne embraces all of these: law and order, freedom of enterprise, and low taxes. It is no wonder Canadians returned this Conservative government to office with a larger mandate.