Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this motion. I am going to speak from the perspective of a proud father of three daughters and a husband.
I think we have come a long way in this country. The Liberal Party is, after all, the party of the charter. As the party of the charter we have come in a generation, I believe, to the point where my daughters simply assume equality. That is not really a discussion around our table. It is not something they actually find themselves fighting about in their courses.
I have one daughter who recently graduated from the University of Waterloo. She is about to get married in a couple of months. She has found employment and is looking forward to a life where she will achieve in many areas that I could not even have thought of when I was growing up.
I have another daughter who is in her second year at McMaster University. If there is a lawyer in the family, she is probably it. We feel somewhat sympathetic to that, but nevertheless, I expect that she may well go into law, possibly even politics, my gracious me. I do not expect her to actually encounter any sexism barriers and I do not think she actually thinks that she will encounter any barriers.
My third daughter will be 18 tomorrow. I think probably the nation should be warned about that. I anticipate that she will also go to university. In fact, she has already been accepted here at the University of Ottawa. She recently came back from a debating competition in Great Britain. She did extremely well in an international debating competition. I have no idea why she has those particular talents.
I think the general point is that where I come from and the household in which we live, equality is simply expected.
The genesis of this motion is that in the enthusiasm of the Bloc and the NDP to bring down the previous government in their vacuous political machinations, they actually destroyed much of the progress of the previous government in three critical areas.
The first area was Kelowna, where there was an unprecedented agreement among all the provincial premiers with the federal government and all the aboriginal leadership. There was a serious and a significant commitment of funding to address those inequality concerns. That was lost because the NDP and the Bloc decided that they were going to join with the Conservative Party and bring down the previous government.
Then there was the issue of a national child care program. It was an unprecedented program. There was an ability on the part of the nation to actually address the issue of child care and actually take meaningful steps, so that Canadian women in particular, but Canadian families generally, are not forever running around trying to find child care, which often is inferior and inadequate.
Again the NDP and the Bloc, and I know, Mr. Speaker, you might have some bias on that point, in their enthusiasm to destroy the previous government for their own political calculations, took the unprincipled step of joining with the Conservative Party and taking us back into the 19th century.
As well as losing Kelowna and the child care program, we also lost the environmental initiatives that had been taken by the previous government. If we look at the November 2005 update, there was an over $5 billion commitment made to address climate change issues and a real program.
The country ended up losing the government, putting these folks in place, and the consequence of which is that there have been zero child care spaces created. We have an embarrassment on the international stage on climate change and an aboriginal file which is in utter disarray.
That is what we get for the apparent principles of the NDP being placed in a position such that its so-called political equation took precedence over its so-called principles.
I would like to speak to the issue of the child care spaces, if I may, that have not been created by the government. This is up front and personal for me.
There is a young woman employed by my office. She and her husband had a baby a little less than a year and a half ago and, in the fullness of time, she wanted to re-enter the workforce. Her re-entry was delayed some number of months because in the city of Ottawa one cannot find adequate day care spaces due to the fact that the government has not contributed. It just simply has not done the job.
The notion that if families are given a cheque for $100 once a month somehow or other that will compensate for child care spaces is ludicrous. One hundred dollars a month does not even get them in the door in many instances in and around Ottawa or any major city. This is a personal experience.
I heard the member for York Centre challenge the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development. After the minister had been to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, our member asked him how many spaces had been created. Of course, the minister dodged the question.
The minister then said he had been in Halifax the previous week and was again asked how many spaces had been created there. Of course, none have been created because the government is off on a tax cutting agenda, an agenda which is antithetical to family building, and has a cheesy program that sends out $100 a month, which is sort of a one size fits all.
If people try to get child care spaces for $100 a month in this city or any other city in Canada, I say good luck to them because they are simply not there. If there is a choice between an actual program which creates child care spaces and $100 a month for young families, let us do the right thing as opposed to this crazy notion that $100 will cover it.
The other area that really bothers me about the government is the creation of affordable housing. Liberals were in government when I came here in 1997 and they were just digging out from the Mulroney mess. I think 1997 was the first year the Liberal government ran a surplus. Of course, over that period of time a number of deficits had built up. There was a deficit in infrastructure, which is still building and not adequately addressed. The other deficit that was really acute for the Liberal caucus was the issue of homelessness and affordable housing.
Within the first month of my being elected, I was watching television and saw people marching in front of a motel in my riding. It had some pretty ugly slogans, such as “gypsies go home” and things of that nature. It was really an embarrassment. What really transpired was that there was simply no affordable housing for refugees or anyone else in and around the GTA and people were being put up in motels at $30 or $40 a night, an extraordinary sum of money.
To shrink the story a bit, what came out of that was a commitment on the part of the Liberal caucus to create a program for affordable housing. The then hon. Claudette Bradshaw grabbed it with enthusiasm and ran with it. The ultimate result was the SCPI program.
The government's response to the SCPI program was to let it wind down and then at the last second to re-fund the program. It was a really good, solid working program. It made a huge difference in my community.
I see these as significant losses. We have lost Kelowna. We have lost child care. We have lost environmental legislation. We have lost the SCPI program, only to be re-funded and renamed, and we have just lost time. It is all because of the machinations of the Bloc and NDP for their own political calculations.