Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Edmonton—St. Albert.
I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in today's debate on the Speech from the Throne.
Our government's throne speech lays out a plan to ensure Canada is poised to emerge from the global recession powered by one of the strongest economies in the industrialized world.
Even as we begin to witness improvements in growth and employment, we know we must finish the work begun last year. Jobs and growth will remain the top priority of this government. That is why we will focus on completing Canada's economic action plan, returning to fiscal balance, continuing to create and protect jobs and building the jobs and industries of the future.
The Speech from the Throne also sets out the government's broader agenda, one that reflects Canadians' values and focuses on those things that matter most to Canadians. That means making Canada the best place for families by strengthening the universal child care benefit, protecting consumers and ensuring that the law protects everyone, while those who commit crimes are held accountable.
It also means standing up for those who helped build Canada, by strengthening Canada's retirement income system, supporting legislation to establish senior's day and continuing to stand up for Canada's military and its veterans.
It means strengthening a united Canada in a changing world by pursuing democratic reforms, improving the immigration and refugee systems and protecting and preserving our natural environment.
Our Speech from the Throne is a blueprint for where our government is headed. It is our plan for the months ahead to see Canada through these hard times and into a more prosperous future.
Let us consider for a few moments some parts of this plan laid out in the Speech from the Throne.
To realize the hopes Canadians hold for themselves and their families, the economy must remain the government's single most urgent priority.
To restore fiscal balance in the aftermath of the global economic recession, our government will lead by example.
We will freeze the salaries of the Prime Minister, ministers, members of Parliament and senators, freeze office budgets and departmental operating budgets and reduce the number of appointments to federal agencies, boards, commissions and crown corporations.
In a time of global economic instability, free trade is more important than ever, and the Government of Canada is pursuing an ambitious trade agenda, including trade negotiations with the European Union, India and South Korea. Doing so will ensure the broadest possible market for Canada's goods and services, and it is the best way to guarantee Canadian jobs and prosperity.
To protect jobs, we will partner with the forest industry to enter new markets and deploy new technologies, and we will reform Canada's outdated system of fisheries management.
Our government will introduce legislation to increase the penalties for sexual offences against children, strengthen the sex offender registry and protect children from Internet luring and cyber abuse.
We will make the youth criminal justice system more responsive and propose laws ensuring that, for multiple murderers, life means life and requiring that violent offenders serve their time in jail, not in the luxury of their home.
We will address the under-representation of B.C., Alberta and Ontario in the House of Commons to ensure representation by population.
We will establish Canada's national museum of immigration; strengthen recognition of foreign credentials; crack down on unscrupulous immigration consultants; and introduce comprehensive reforms to the refugee system to speed up the process for legitimate refugees while closing it down as an avenue for those who use it as a back door into Canada.
It is now becoming apparent that the global economy has begun to stabilize after undergoing a deep recession, which stemmed from the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s.
Since then, global financial markets have improved and confidence is returning, leading to a tentative resumption of global economic growth. Canada was able to weather the global economic crisis better than all other major industrialized countries, thanks to actions taken by our government.
Members do not just have to take my word for that. Look at the markets and where investors are turning. They are putting their money into Canada because of our low government debt, the good housing market, early signs of economic recovery and a solid banking system.
Doug Porter of BMO Capital Markets said that investors are not coming here to earn a quick buck. He said they are not coming here to earn higher interest rates; they are coming here because they view Canada as a safe harbour versus the rest of the world.
A vice-president of J.P. Morgan said, “Most of us in the global financial community are very sanguine about Canada's prospects, bullish on the economy. I would say most definitely the country is viewed, and I think it is not an understatement to say, as a star”.
The economic recovery in Canada strengthened over the second half of 2009, with real GDP increasing 0.9% in the third quarter and 5% in the fourth quarter.
There are broad signs of recovery in the Canadian housing market with resale housing activity and prices returning back to pre-recession levels. Canada's housing market remains healthy and stable supported by sound economic factors, such as low interest rates, rising incomes and a growing population.
These strengths, together with low interest rates and the substantial support provided by Canada's economic action plan, have supported a recovery of domestic demand. Since the start of 2009, domestic demand in Canada has grown faster than in any other G7 country.
Growth in real consumer spending on goods and services averaged more than 3.5% over the second half of 2009. Residential investment supported by the home renovation tax credit increased 9.5% in the third quarter and 29.7% in the fourth quarter.
These developments have been accompanied by a swift recovery of consumer and business confidence. Reflecting the improved economic performance of the Canadian economy over the second half of 2009, labour market conditions have improved markedly. In particular, more than 135,000 jobs have been created in Canada since July 2009.
Since coming to power in 2006, our government has taken the necessary steps to ensure our economy remains strong. We have lowered taxes, controlled spending, reduced debt, strengthened laws and invested in essential infrastructure. Our prudent management of federal finances allowed us to take extraordinary measures last year when faced with the global economic recession.
Canada's economic action plan has helped our country weather these troubled times, and it will ensure that we emerge a stronger and more confident nation.
The blueprint laid out in the Speech from the Throne will ensure we continue along that track to a brighter, more prosperous future.
My constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells know that Canada is on the right track.