Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand today. I have not spoken as much as I used to. I remember a time, a couple of years ago, and I can always count on my own colleagues to applaud that. However, I do remember just over a year ago that we had an opportunity to speak up for constituents across the country. I heard the NDP member across the way talk about standing up for infrastructure. I do not remember any NDP members standing up for infrastructure when we brought in Canada's economic action plan.
In fact, I remember the exact opposite. Opposition members sat for that and did not vote. They did not vote for the bridges, the tunnels, all the road work that we brought in for the country. They did not vote for the jobs, the infrastructure investment and multiplexes and other measures we voted for at that time. Although they talked a lot about the need for infrastructure, when it came time to vote for it, they even voted against the water and waste water projects across the country.
I know in my constituency in northern Alberta that waste water and water projects are very necessary because of the expanding growth, but also because some of these projects were put in 30 or 40 years ago and are wasting away, which, as is the case with all infrastructure, actually depletes its purpose.
I heard the member say that she and the NDP spoke up for infrastructure, but I could not help to bring forward the fact that when it came time for the infrastructure investment to combat the economic decline in our great country, as well as that which the rest of the world had seen, and still sees, it took this Conservative government to stand up for Canadians and those infrastructure investments. I will never apologize for that because they were some of the best initiatives we could have taken for our country. It also was the best action taken in probably a 50-year period by any government.
Being from western Canada and northern Alberta, I have seen some things happen with which I am not very happy. One is that we have run out of people to take the jobs in western Canada, jobs that have been available for many years. I am proud to be from the constituency of Fort McMurray—Athabasca, which I consider to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
During the period of time I have been there, I have been a business owner, a lawyer and owned and operated some 10 different family businesses for some 45 years. For the last 20 years, I have been active in my own businesses there. I can assure members that we have had real problems employing Canadians. We have had to resort to outside agencies so to speak. We have had to resort to temporary foreign workers. In some parts of the country that is a dirty word, but in my area it is a necessary word. Without temporary foreign workers and the programs of the federal government in co-operation with the provinces that have been brought into play, we would have nobody manning any of restaurants or hotels.
In fact, I can tell stories of hotels having to close down in my constituency and even further abreast than that in Alberta, and now in Saskatchewan. Some hotels have to close entire floors because they do not have staff to clean rooms. It sounds like a trivial matter until one sees that those people who work in those jobs, like in my area of northern Alberta and Fort McMurray, work 12 to 14 hour days, 20 or 25 days straight. That might sound absolutely atrocious, and I believe it is because the quality of life of my constituencies is affected, but the truth is our economy is such that these people not only work because they need to but also because they come from many different places in Canada.
Economic action plan 2012 focuses somewhat on employment issues. I am proud to say that I think the government has addressed these issues very well.
These employment insurance initiatives will encourage people to take long-term employment, to come from other parts of Canada and to be employed not only in northern Alberta hopefully, but also in Newfoundland. I do not know if members are aware, but I hear clearly from my constituents, and I have about 30,000 to 35,000 constituents who are from Newfoundland, that they and many of their relatives think the growth in unemployment is such in Newfoundland that they will return there.
I see from my notes that I also missed a very important part, but I was passionate about the issue of infrastructure and the vote that this Conservative government took on it. I forgot to mention that I would be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West. I apologize for forgetting that. However, I would like to continue on with some of the employment insurance initiatives that this budget would put in place.
Mr. Speaker, I understand that you may have a problem with me splitting my time, but clearly as many—