Mr. Speaker, as this is the first time I have risen in the House, I want to congratulate you on your election.
I would also like to congratulate all my colleagues in the House on being voted into office. I have the opportunity to rise today because more than 34,000 voters put their trust in me, and I am extremely grateful. I want to assure the House that I will be representing all the people of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.
I would also like to thank my family, my girlfriend Kathryn, my brother Mathieu and his wife Anick, my nephew Noah, and my parents.
If nothing changes, we will have to honour the greatest supporter of the House, the person who has yet to miss a session, and that is my father, who is again seated in the gallery watching the House conduct its business. One might say that he is a true supporter of Canadians.
As a Franco-Ontarian, I am delighted to debate the throne speech. Nearly seventy per cent of the wonderful riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell is francophone. Our region has a rich cultural and heritage legacy.
I am proud to say that the only francophone agricultural college outside Quebec, Collège D'Alfred, is located in my riding. It is important for Franco-Ontarians, and for all francophones outside Quebec, to preserve their language and their cultural heritage. I know that my colleague from Orléans believes this as well.
It starts with our public institutions providing adequate service in both languages. I am proud to be part of a government that understands and respects that fact.
That is why our government will support CBC/Radio-Canada and encourage the use of the country's two official languages by investing in Canada's cultural and creative industries.
That is real change. Diversity matters to this government, and we recognize that it is a source of strength, not a weakness. Diversity is what brings us together here in Canada. That is why it is so important for us to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.
In Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, nine out of 10 families earn less than $150,000. The new Canada child benefit will help 90% of families with children under the age of 18 and will lift 315,000 children out of poverty. That is a fair plan for Canadians.
Yesterday was the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. To my dismay, last week I found out that 107 cases of sexual assault were reported in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, more than last year. That is unacceptable.
In the throne speech, the government committed to introducing legislation to provide better support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
I will work with my colleagues on this because I hope that, next year, I will be able to rise in the House to say that that number has gone down.
Two weeks ago, I was in here after my swearing-in ceremony with my three-year-old nephew. It got me thinking about the legacy that I wanted to leave him. I want to ensure that the next generation inherits a house with a stronger foundation.
Can a homeowner really claim that the family budget is in the black when the roof is leaking? The answer is no, because down the road, major repairs will cost a lot more money, which will have an even greater impact on the budget. This is why we need to make infrastructure investments now. This is not a Liberal idea; it is simply a government listening to Canadians. It is what all mayors across Canada have been asking for. It is what all nine mayors in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell have been asking for.
For instance, the municipality of Clarence-Rockland has been advocating for the expansion of Highway 174/17 for many decades now. Residents are telling me that while they would love to take public transit to come to work in Ottawa, it is simply not advantageous for them to do so. After all, what is the point of taking public transit if one is stuck in traffic, just like everybody else? It also makes sense, as Ottawa is building its light rail transit system.
Another example is Maxville, where every year the largest highland games in North America are hosted. It still relies on water wells. Unfortunately, the wells are getting dry. A senior's residence is forced to truck water in, which is costing it over $100,000 per year. This only increases the cost for our seniors to stay there. Surely, we can do better than that. Our seniors deserve better.
For over two months, we had the opportunity to ask people what they thought as we went door to door. Access to home care was a recurring theme. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the excellent work done by Prescott and Russell Community Services. This organization provides home care services to people who need them. A large part of the population is aging, but these people want to stay at home. That is why it is important to continue investing in health care. That is why it is important for our Prime Minister to sit down with the provincial and territorial leaders to sign a new health care accord.
We can choose to ignore the fact that our population is aging and not invest in our health care system, but that would mean governing with our heads in the sand. A responsible government looks at what is coming.
The last point I want to raise is the importance of agriculture. While some might worry the word “agriculture” was not included in the Speech from the Throne, I and many of my colleagues who come from rural ridings will work to ensure our agricultural sector is a growing part of our economy. However, the only way to create the jobs of tomorrow is to invest in research. That is the commitment we made during the campaign.
That is the promise that I made to Ferme d’la sept, to the Lafrance, Lemieux, and Lalonde families, and to others.
I know we will honour our commitments.
In closing, the throne speech presents a vision for Canada that brings Canadians together, invests in the middle class, seeks to grow the economy by investing in our infrastructure, respects official languages, and will rely on fact-based decision-making.
I look forward to working with all of my colleagues from the two sides of the House. I know we will not always agree, but we must keep the level of debate to a mutual respect. After all, we all share a common goal, and that is to improve the lives of all Canadians.