Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate you on your election, and each and every one of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle on their recent election or re-election to this wonderful honourable House.
Given that this is my maiden speech in this historic place, I would like to say what a privilege it is to rise and speak in the heart of our Canadian democracy. I want to thank the many friends and volunteers who were part of my election team. If had not been for each and every one of them, I would not be here today. They worked tirelessly for me.
I also want to thank my family. As so many of my colleagues have noted, it is not possible to do this job without the support of our loved ones. I want to thank my son David, my three sisters, and my 95-year-old mother, who watches this every day. They were with me every step of the way and provided the love and encouragement that I needed to make it here.
First, I want to thank the people of the new riding of Long Range Mountains for placing their trust in me as their first member of Parliament. Long Range Mountains is made up of nearly 200 communities scattered all along the western and southwestern part of the beautiful island of Newfoundland. Many of these communities were originally founded as small fishing villages. Their continued sense of community and tradition is a testament to the commitment, resiliency, and character of Newfoundlanders throughout our riding. My parents, both native Newfoundlanders, instilled in me these same ideals of hard work, giving back, and perseverance, and I want all of my constituents to know that I will be a strong, positive voice for them here in the House.
It is an honour to rise in the House today in support of our government's throne speech. The priorities that it lays out should make all Canadians as proud of our government as it makes me. Each of these commitments will create a positive impact throughout our great country, and especially in my riding.
As our Prime Minister has said, there is no relationship more important to Canada than with our indigenous peoples. The commitment to re-engaging with our indigenous peoples in a nation-to-nation relationship based on respect, co-operation, and recognition of rights is essential to the Canadian mosaic evolving in the 21st century. As the member for Long Range Mountains, this is particularly important to me because it will be a new dialogue with the Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band.
Our government's commitment to transparency and openness is what will hold us to account and give Canadians the faith in government that has been absent for far too long. This is especially relevant in Newfoundland and Labrador, where broken promises have led to the relationship with federal representatives being at a historic low for far too many years. Nowhere is this felt more clearly than in the historic Newfoundland fishery. There is no question that the declines in past years of certain areas of the industry have hurt many of my constituents. When we speak with them, and I have spoken with thousands in the last 14 months, they will say that what has made the situation even worse was a lack of consultation with local groups and the lack of evidence-based policy.
Our government's commitment to open, transparent, and science-based decision-making will mean a new approach to all issues, including fisheries issues. It will be an approach that engages the local communities. It will empower scientists and promote the role of science in the process. This will allow for a prosperous, stable, and, most importantly, sustainable fishery for generations to come.
I am sure that all of my colleagues heard from their constituents about rising housing prices, increasing costs of living, and stagnant wages. Many Canadians are struggling to get by, and that is no different in my riding. That is why I am so proud of our government's plan to grow and sustain the middle class.
Moreover, the pledge to nearly double infrastructure spending over the next ten years will make a significant difference in ridings across the country, especially in rural ridings like Long Range Mountains. We have a historic opportunity to make an investment in our future if we act now. Together, working with our municipalities and provincial and territorial partners, we will make a difference.
Agriculture is another pillar of the economy in my riding of Long Range Mountains, as it is in many ridings throughout the country. Investments in our crumbling roads and bridges will allow farmers and our fishermen to get the products to market more quickly and more cheaply. They will also provide the resources for our small resources to compete in global markets.
Broadband access is just as important. Throughout the Long Range Mountains, and in many rural communities across Canada, there is limited or no access to high-speed Internet. Without this access, it is difficult for our small businesses to compete. It limits their ability to reach new markets and conduct day-to-day business. It also limits education in communities and reduces the capabilities of our health care system. Remote care is quite common for seniors in my province, especially in the rural areas.
These investments are not just an investment in our economy of today. They are a investment in our economy of tomorrow. If we are willing to seize this unique opportunity we will empower our children to succeed in the future and, hopefully, they too will improve our country for the next generation.
This idea of investing in our future was present throughout the throne speech. Our government has proposed an ambitious agenda, based on a vision of Canada that we all share. It is a vision of economic growth, driven by our middle class, of equal opportunity for all our children. It is looking after our seniors and preserving our environment for our next generation.
This agenda does not just make moral sense. This makes economic sense. Accounting for 80% of all new jobs created across the country, small and medium-sized businesses are the biggest driver of economic growth in Canada. To continue to grow our economy, we must invest in our small businesses and empower them with the resources they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy.
As a small business operator in Newfoundland and Labrador, I understand the challenges our small businesses are facing. Today's economy is built on ideas and innovation, and in order to succeed it is essential for small businesses to have access to a highly skilled workforce. That is why I was very pleased to see the priority of working with territorial and provincial leaders to make post-secondary education more affordable. Whether it is the skilled trades, college, or university, post-secondary education is the key to our youth succeeding in today's economy. In the Long Range Mountains, we are lucky to have three top flight post-secondary institutions: Memorial University's Grenfell Campus, the College of the North Atlantic, and Academy Canada. By working to make post-secondary education more affordable, we can ensure that our small businesses can harness their talents to build an economy that will be competitive not just today but for decades to come.
I would like to touch on Memorial University and the Grenfell Campus for a minute. The Grenfell Campus is located in Corner Brook. It was named after Sir Wilfred Grenfell, a medical missionary on the rugged coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. Memorial University itself was founded in honour of the 1,500 Newfoundlander and Labradorian soldiers who died fighting in the first world war. It was named by their mothers. They wanted to commemorate their sacrifice, and their memories live on in Memorial University.
We will always remember our fallen and we will always be proud of those who choose to serve, just as we all are of our Canadian Forces. I was very pleased that the additional support for veterans will mean the reopening of the Veterans Affairs offices throughout the country, one of which is in my riding of Corner Brook. These offices are an important source of care and assistance for the hundreds of thousands of veterans across the country.
The throne speech laid out the theme of investing in our future. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than our relationship with our environment. The pledges in the throne speech to tackle climate change and to focus on the growing economy while protecting our environment are great steps forward for all Canadians. We are lucky to be blessed with a beautiful country and an abundance of resources. By caring for both we will preserve these treasures for the next generation.
In my riding of Long Range Mountains, we enjoy two UNESCO world heritage sites, L'Anse aux Meadows and Gros Morne National Park. Both of these sites, and the many other tourism treasures, contribute to the growing tourism industry, to our small businesses and, most importantly, to our culture and heritage, which is a tad unique in Newfoundland and Labrador. I am thrilled our government has placed a priority on protecting our environment.
I believe the Speech from the Throne laid out an ambitious agenda with a vision that Canadians share, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both side of the aisle delivering for the constituents of the Long Range Mountains and for all Canadians.
As I am the last speaker for today, I would like to take this opportunity to say merry Christmas. Have a safe and happy holiday. We will see everyone in the new year.