Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to this important motion from the opposition, which calls on the government to start taking some action, to pay attention to what is going on in the country and to begin taking some specific action as it relates to the unemployed, to businesses that are struggling and to innovation.
I will take a few minutes to talk about trade because it is extraordinarily important. It is important that the government enter into discussions around trade with its eyes open. My concern is that the government has set itself a quota of trade deals that it has to get. It is going after these trade deals and negotiating them simply to get through them so it can say that it has another trade deal and another notch on its belt. There are some problems with that I am going to get there.
I want to talk about what we are hearing from the government benches. The government members stand and say what a great job they have done with the economic action plan. I was not here in the fall of 2008, but I watched from afar. The Minister of Finance came out after the election with an economic statement that said that everything was great, that we were gliding along perfectly, that people should not pay attention to all the economic turmoil beyond our borders, that everything was fine, that we would sail off into the next couple of years and that we did not need to do anything different. He said that there would not be any spending.
It took a near-death experience for the government. The opposition members came together and said that Canadians recognized that the economy in our country and around the world was in terrible trouble. It was only until they decided they would join forces to bring the government down that the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister suddenly woke up and said that maybe something was wrong, that maybe they had better do something quickly. They even went to the extraordinary length of proroguing the House in order to avoid the decision of Parliament and also to give time for the Minister of Finance to find himself and recognize that there was some trouble in the U.S. economy and throughout Europe with the economy and maybe he should do something about it.
The Conservatives came up with the economic action plan, and they have been taking credit for that. However, we all know that it was only when members of the opposition threatened to bring the government down, did it recognize it needed to invest in infrastructure spending. Yes, countries around the world have recognized that Canada has done a good job in that respect. However, every time the Minister of Finance stands, he almost breaks his arm as he tries to pat himself on the back and members opposite likewise applaud themselves. I cannot get over the level of hypocrisy coming from those member.
Given what happened three short years ago, it is incumbent upon the opposition to again try to jolt the Minister of Finance and his colleagues to recognize, as Canadians do, that there are serious problems out there. Members on this side talk about unemployment among youth. University graduates are building up greater student debt because of the lack of support from the federal government as is the case with the lack of support for provinces and universities. When they go out to try to prepare themselves for the work world and for the global economy, they find there are no jobs. There are no supports for innovation. There are no specific actions on behalf of the government to support our young people who are taking the time and incurring the debt to prepare themselves by increasing their training.
We have heard members on this side talk about innovation, about how the government needs to recognize the fact that it needs to support activities, ideas and those clusters of innovation that are developing in various parts of the country, to ensure those industries are in a position to not only create jobs, products and services that are innovative and world-class, but so they can then trade with the world. They need support so they can trade and exchange and build the economy of our country.
However, there is nothing. All we hear is the government saying that we may not have as many jobs as we had back in 2008, but we should not worry as Canada is doing better than the United States, Greece or Italy, so it is doing a great job.
The people of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour do not think that is good enough. The people who come to my office, the people who just got out of university and are looking for work, are asking me what the government doing. Seniors who cannot find care and support in homes are wondering why the government has turned its back on them.
I had a meeting just the other day with a 72-year-old senior. He lives in Cole Harbour in subsidized housing in a seniors' complex. He lives on $14,000 a year. The members might remember the debate we had in June about the difficulties of seniors living on such low pensions and the fact that the government was failing those seniors. Here is a guy who has taken it upon himself to try to find a part-time job working as a crossing guard three hours a day, three days a week, protecting children as they cross the street in Cole Harbour. Every dollar he makes is being clawed back. We have a senior who cannot make ends meet because of the paltry pensions that are paid by the government. He is trying to make ends meet but the measures the government brings hold him down.
The reason why we have brought this resolution forward is to take the opportunity to remind the government that the action plan was not its idea. The government was forced into it. It was kicking and screaming at the reality of the fact that it needed to take action. I and members of the opposition are here to once again to say to the government that Canadians need it to act. Canadians need it to start making investments in its communities. Canadians need it not to turn its back on them, not to make phony polls or any of the rest of it on the government's website. They need the government to pay attention to the pain and struggles that people are experiencing in their communities. It needs to deal with the problems of infrastructure of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal.
Those are the realities. Those are the things the government needs to take action on to make a difference, so when the economy does turn around, Canada will be in a better position to move us forward and create the jobs that our young people need.