Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl.
My congratulations to you, Madam Speaker, on your appointment as Deputy Speaker and chair of the committee of the whole.
I am pleased to rise in the House as a spokesperson for the constituents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. It was an incredible opportunity for me to stand for the New Democratic Party in the last election and to talk with my constituents about its plans and programs. The warmth and receptiveness of the good citizens, whether they voted for me or not, was truly overwhelming and I certainly appreciate it. As has been said, regardless of whether I got their vote, once elected I am the member of Parliament for all constituents of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.
Since the election, I have had the opportunity to meet with a number of groups. As can be appreciated, regardless of how hard one worked during the campaign, one's duties commence immediately upon the time of election.
Of the groups I have had the opportunity to meet with one was DASC Industries. This is an organization that provides important work opportunities for women and men who have certain challenges. It is looking for some capital support from the government, which is a proposal that I have indicated my support for.
Some of the groups that I had the opportunity to have some discussion with since the election are: Evergreen House, an important museum in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour; the Cole Harbour Heritage Museum; a group of parents for a local elementary school in Dartmouth North; the Take Action Society; the Supportive Housing for Young Mothers; Dartmouth Learning Centre; Main Street Dartmouth and Area Business Improvement Association; Boys & Girls Club of East Dartmouth; and, of course, my good friends whom I swim and work out with at the Dartmouth YMCA. When I go home to Dartmouth—Cole Harbour on the weekends and once the House rises, I will have the opportunity to do more of that.
As well, on June 5, I had the opportunity to participate in a D-Day parade organized by Branch 31 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
I look forward to seeing my colleague, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, continue to stand as our veterans affairs critic and an advocate for seniors. I would urge the government, as I know he would, to take measures toward fixing the clawback on veterans pensions and give these brave men and women the respect and support they deserve.
I also look forward to my role in international trade and will work to make sure that we enter into strong agreements that strive to support and protect workers, communities, producers, and the environment both here at home and abroad.
My main priority in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour at this point is to engage in dialogue with non profit and community organizations, police, veterans, families, seniors, businesses, and as many people and groups that I can, to hear their stories, realities, ideas and solutions, and bring those voices to Parliament.
Right now, part of my community is struggling with crime issues and I had the opportunity to meet with the chief of police and HRM. These crime issues cannot be solved by overly simplified approaches such as tougher laws and more prisons. I suggest to members opposite that it requires innovative, responsive community-based approaches.
Many communities that are struggling with inadequate health care services must have their needs and concerns addressed. Many young families are teetering on the brink of financial crisis because the cost of daily living keeps rising but their income, their security and their prospects for good jobs are not.
Indeed, there are issues in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and in communities across this country that the government is in a position to impact in a significant and positive way if only there were a commitment and a political will to work with and for all the people of Canada who possess a wealth of insight and experience. We would be wise to draw from that fantastic resource.
The people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour sent me here to do some very important things: to be their voice in the House of Commons; to represent their thoughts and interests; to work as a member of this Parliament to make their lives better, their communities stronger and our country better and stronger; and to help shape our nation into the thriving, sustainable and compassionate global leader we all know we can be.
I am ever mindful of that job and of the commitment and responsibility that accompanies it. I am also deeply grateful to the people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour for the trust they have placed in me. I intend to work very hard to ensure I live up to my end of that bargain.
That is why I feel it is so important to draw attention to the weaknesses in the budget presented before the House yesterday. This is not a budget designed with the Canadian family in mind. It does not acknowledge the reality that the people in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and across this country are facing.
This budget will see cuts to DFO and to ACOA. It makes no commitments of any substance to the people I am here to represent. It barely even gives a nod to the millions of Canadians who voted for change in this country. For the most part, the budget caters to those who, I would suggest, are already doing quite well and ignores the very real and pressing needs of many of our citizens. It does nothing to create meaningful social or economic progress for Canadians.
To point to job creation numbers as a sign of success when many of those jobs are part-time with no benefits, no security and a minimum wage that is not a living wage, is not progress. To cut this country's deficit by cutting the very programs and services that many Canadians count on and to not even be up front about where and how deep those cuts will be is not progress. To put the interests of large corporations and the interests of the Prime Minister and his closest allies ahead of the interests of Canadians and citizens who work hard every day to support their families and their communities, the people who are the heart and soul of this country, is not progress.
As the official opposition, we are more than a voice for our constituents. On behalf of our nation, we are also the eyes, the ears and, where needed, the conscience of this House. The budget does not sit particularly well with that conscience because it fails to address or even recognize the needs of Canadian families.
We have been charged with holding the government accountable to all the people of this country. It is a critically important job and we have every intention of living up to our end of the bargain. Will the Government of Canada live up to the bargain that it made with all Canadians, and not just the ones who voted it into power? I say to the members opposite that hope springs eternal.