Madam Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak today for the first time in the House of Commons. It is an honour and a privilege to be the very first member of Parliament for Oakville North—Burlington, and I thank my constituents for the trust they have placed in me.
I would like to thank the member for Milton for representing the Halton riding, which is now part of my riding. I would also like to recognize my colleague from Oakville, who has joined me here today.
I congratulate my colleagues on all sides of the House for their election, particularly those like me, who are here for the very first time. I look forward to working with them over the years.
I am hopeful that a new era of respect and civility will dawn in this Parliament and that the democratic reforms that will be coming forward will go a long way to making this a truly great Parliament. In my riding, residents share my desire for respect for all points of view.
I would like to thank my son, Fraser, without whom I would not be standing here, not only for all that he has done to work alongside me from when he was very young, but also because I have always looked to him as the future of my community and country. I have been inspired to take a longer vision of issues so that I can ensure that he has a clean environment and a healthy and vibrant community and country in which to raise his own children someday.
To the rest of my family, Taylor, Jill, Rob, Bayley, Betty, and Mitchell, and to my wonderful friends, I give thanks for their love and support. Those no longer here, my mom and especially my dad, and Max Khan, remain in my heart always.
This government was given a clear mandate to make real change happen, and happen in a way that includes Canadians, all levels of government, business, our indigenous people, and other stakeholders. Already, we are seeing collaboration in a way that is inspiring Canadians. This level of co-operation will be needed to tackle the complex issues that we will be dealing with over the coming years.
I have always said that what is good for the environment is good for the economy and for our health. Taking action on climate change and our environment by investing in clean technology and working in partnership to reduce our carbon footprint will make Canada a leader in the world. Listening to the Governor General read the Speech from the Throne, I was delighted to hear him talk about how a clean environment and strong economy go hand in hand.
Examples in my community include the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, whose climate change adaptation strategy for Canada, which called on the federal government to develop and implement a national strategy on climate change adaption, was adopted this year by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Oakville Hydro jumped into renewable energy. Why? It did so because it is good for the bottom line. Leadership from the federal government will motivate other levels of government, businesses, and individual Canadians, who need to be partners in this journey, to tackle climate change.
Oakville North—Burlington is largely an urban riding, but it is blessed with abundant green space. It has extensive trails, Bronte Creek Provincial Park, and Glenorchy Conservation Area. The preservation of this green space and the growth of our urban tree canopy is of great importance to residents.
Many in my riding are young families, who will benefit the most from our tax cut for the middle class and the new Canada child benefit. I am a proud advocate for public transit and alternative means of transportation, both walking and, of course, cycling. Moving people away from single occupancy automobile use is good for everyone. Our investment in public transit will help to make the kind of behavioural change that we must make going forward. Many in my riding commute, and public transit will get people home faster and allow families in my riding to spend more time together.
I know only too well from my work on the Oakville Town Council that municipal governments need a federal partner on infrastructure projects. They need one that will work with them to invest in our communities, protect our assets, and grow our economy.
In 2012, I met two teenagers from my riding, Emma and Julia Mogus, who founded Books With No Bounds. Their dream was to send 500 books to their brothers and sisters in the north. Their passion for youth in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation inspired me to mentor them, and today they have sent close to 100,000 books, school supplies, and other necessities to first nations youth. As I heard the Governor General talk about working with first nations so that every first nations child receives a quality education, I knew that Emma and Julia shared my hope for the future of our friends in Fort Severn and all NAN communities.
I look forward to today's announcement by the minister on our missing and murdered indigenous women.
Our young people, like Emma, Julia, and so many more, are not just the leaders of tomorrow. They are leaders today. Moreover, our seniors built this country and bring a wealth of wisdom, and our veterans have served our great country so that I can stand here today to speak in this institution. We need to work side by side, each one of us, to move our country forward.
I represent a riding that is growing. We are proud of the diversity that growth brings. Youth, seniors, all cultures and religions, those with varying intellectual and physical abilities, those who are new to Canada, new to Oakville and Burlington, and those who grew up here all share one thing: our desire to be the best we can be, not just for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren.
One in five young people suffers from mental health issues. We lack the resources to deal with this and we need to remove the stigma.
We have an epidemic of autism in our country, and we must recognize that doing nothing is not an option.
People living with devastating diseases, such as ALS, like my friend Tim Robertson, face not only emotional and physical challenges, but also financial hardship for them and their family, and these can be devastating.
There will be opportunities to look at ways to help these people. We must explore all options. Our work with our provincial partners to negotiate a new health accord will be critical, particularly with an aging population.
I am proud of the work of the Halton InterFaith Council, Terra Firma Halton, our Halton regional chair, the mayors of Oakville and Burlington and their respective councils, the Halton Multicultural Council, the Oakville Community Foundation, and too many others to name, which have shown leadership in welcoming Syrian refugees to our community.
As a former municipal councillor, our commitment to investments in public transit, green infrastructure, and social infrastructure is most welcome. I have seen first-hand the challenges that municipalities face on these issues. Oakville North—Burlington is a caring, compassionate community, one that values helping others. The need for affordable housing has never been greater. I look forward to working with Halton region and groups like Habitat for Humanity Halton, so that everyone in our community is able to have a safe and affordable place to live. With our investment in social infrastructure and by working with stakeholders and our provincial and municipal partners, we can work to end the cycle of poverty. We need to ensure that our young people can afford to stay in our communities and not be forced to move away.
I have had the pleasure of working with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 793 and LIUNA. I applaud the important role they will play in training our young people and providing them with the skills they need to succeed in a changing workplace.
We face a skills shortage in Canada. This is another area where we need to work in partnership with the provinces and stakeholders, such as the operating engineers and LIUNA.
Small and medium-sized businesses are the drivers of our Canadian economy, and the Burlington Oakville chambers of commerce are their voice in our communities. I have had the great pleasure of working with the Oakville chamber on a number of issues, and I look forward to growing my relationship with the Burlington chamber. Both the Burlington and Oakville chambers are leaders in mental health in the workplace, which is an issue they recognize as not only important for their employees, but also good for business and good for our community.
While physically located outside the boundaries of Oakville North—Burlington, Ford of Canada's assembly plant and head office in Oakville are of vital importance to Oakville, the surrounding area, and Ontario. Ford of Canada makes a significant investment in our community. Its employees, through Unifor Local 707, are one of the largest contributors to the United Way and, through the United Way, to groups like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Halton, and so many others that make a difference in the lives of Halton residents.
Our National Day of Mourning, organized by a Ford employee, Tim Batke, through the Oakville District Labour Council, ensures that our community not only remember those who died in the workplace, but also reminds everyone about the importance of workplace safety.
As I stand here today, I think of those who came before, in the House, including in particular, Jack Burghardt, the former member of Parliament for London West for whom I worked here in Ottawa and whose values and beliefs about respect, fairness, and public service guide me to this day.
I am proud to be part of this 42nd Parliament that will make a real change happen for Canadians, particularly those I represent. I will take Terry Fox' words to heart, as I always do: “anything's possible if you try; dreams are made possible if you try.”