House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was work.


5:35 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, the member and I had a great time on the transportation, infrastructure and communities committee in the last four years, and I very much appreciated our ability to work together in advancing these issues.

You were asking about infrastructure. I think it is critically important that we are making sure that those infrastructure investments are happening, and even more so with the pressure of climate change that we are all dealing with.

You specifically mentioned the Canada Infrastructure Bank. It may be premature to say it is going to be successful, but I am hoping the Canada Infrastructure Bank is going to be successful in order to give us the money we need for infrastructure in this country. We have a tremendous deficit in infrastructure. We will never have enough money, whether we are talking about out west or down east. We will have a tremendous challenge. We will never be able to meet the infrastructure needs based on taxpayers alone, and we are looking for other opportunities such as the Canada Infrastructure Bank. I am watching very carefully how that comes out, hoping that it is going to be a successful expedition for us.

5:40 p.m.


Yves Perron Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I too want to congratulate my colleague on her speech.

A number of Liberal members are talking about the environment. They say the Liberal Party is ready to take action on the environment. All of us, especially our farmers, but also people who live along our rivers, are experiencing the negative impact of a warming climate.

Is the Liberal Party willing to set legally enforceable greenhouse gas reduction standards that are no lower than what we need to meet the Paris agreement targets, which are not all that ambitious to begin with? That would force us to comply with those standards in the future and do more than make vague promises and grand statements, which has been the norm for far too long.

5:40 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal Humber River—Black Creek, ON

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague. I very much look forward to working with him as well as we move forward in this 43rd Parliament.

Allow me to say, regarding climate change and the whole issue of how we are going to further protect our environment through a variety of measures, that the Liberal side of the House is very committed to making the necessary changes to protect the environment. I have already heard of over 50 different ways that we are going to be moving forward on that agenda.

I would say to my colleague to just watch and monitor the action that I hope will be happening.

5:40 p.m.


Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, thank you for giving me time to comment on the latest Speech from the Throne. I will be sharing my time with my new colleague, the member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

I would be remiss if I did not take the first few moments to thank the citizens of our riding of West Nova for putting their faith in me to represent them in this 43rd legislature. I also want to thank my election team and the volunteers for working so hard all summer and into the fall. They are all rock stars to me.

The election in West Nova was pretty civil, regardless of the intensity of the national campaigns. I would like to recognize my opponents for putting their names forward to represent our riding: Liberal Jason Deveau, Green Party Judy Green, NDP Matthew Dubois and Veterans Coalition Party Gloria Cook. They believed passionately in their positions and ideas, and I hope to echo some of them in my work here as a very proud MP for West Nova.

I need to thank my family, especially my wife Anne and my boys André and Alec, for allowing me to let my name stand for a sixth time. They were my bedrock during the past 16 years as a provincial politician, and I hope to make them proud during this federal adventure.

Nova Scotia rules allow an MLA to actually speak for an hour to respond to their throne speech, so it is a lot of work here to smush this into 10 minutes.

My riding of West Nova is quite rural. It is 300 kilometres long by 50 kilometres wide and it is located in southwestern Nova Scotia, bordering the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy.

My beautiful riding has a rich heritage, since our communities and historic sites date back to the early days of our country. For example, Port-Royal, located near Annapolis Royal, is the first permanent French settlement in the New World and was founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1605. West Nova is home to a few large Acadian communities, such as Clare and Argyle, where the language of our ancestors is still spoken, 264 years after the expulsion of 1755.

On a related note, I was very disappointed that the protection of linguistic minorities was barely touched upon in last Thursday's throne speech. I look forward to hearing the government make some real commitments to protect the French language, since the ongoing battle against anglophone assimilation is very real in all francophone minority communities back home and across the country.

I am proud to support the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse and all associations that are doing excellent work, since our language and culture face significant challenges. Every year, our language and our culture are more at risk.

As opposition critic for official languages, I will work hard to ensure that the voices of minority francophone communities in my region and across the country are heard.

Another point of the throne speech that needs more detail and was the number one issue at the doorsteps in West Nova is health care. People in Nova Scotia are having a tough time accessing primary care, specifically a family doctor. Currently in Nova Scotia there are 50,000 people who do not have a family doctor. This is unacceptable and causes tremendous difficulty and uncertainty, especially in our rural areas. Imagine being a senior, a diabetic or having cancer without access to a family doctor. As incredible as it sounds, it happens all the time in our area, forcing these patients to present themselves at emergency rooms, causing useless long wait times, if they show up there at all.

Health care is a basic human right and we should all ensure the dignity of our loved ones. The government has the responsibility to listen attentively to the provincial premiers, and it should, especially with their request for an augmentation in their health transfers.

West Nova's economy is based on natural resources, such as agriculture in the Annapolis Valley, fishing in the southwest, and forestry in all of its regions.

Agriculture in the valley is very diverse and innovative, but its core depends on supply-managed commodities like dairy and poultry. They need to see the concessions of the new NAFTA, the USMCA, so they can have a better feeling of how their industry will be going forward. Then they can have faith in their industry again and continue to invest and grow. From that base, the industry in our valley can continue to grow other commodities, like wine, apples, beef and many horticultural products.

Immigration is very important to our regions. Over the past 20 years, we have seen a mass exodus of talent and expertise that were once well established in our regions. Right now, small business owners are having a lot of trouble finding and keeping people who are interested in taking on and running their thriving businesses. Now more than ever, we need to focus on ideas that will contribute viable solutions and help with transfers so that we can make sure these vital businesses and services stay open and available to local residents.

Another important point to emphasize is that West Nova has the largest air force base in eastern Canada, CFB Greenwood, home of 14 Wing. We must continue to support our troops, making sure they have the adequate equipment needed to do their jobs. We also need to make sure that our veterans have the services they require during their service and after they have served our country with dedication and honour, which I was happy to see included in the throne speech. However, I am sure it is short some of the things we really need.

I need to talk about our fisheries. By far, the largest employer and economic driver in West Nova is our fishing industry. Hundreds of millions of dollars of fish products are landed on our shores. Scallops, groundfish, herring and tuna are landed at many of our ports, but lobster is king. Between the last Monday in November and the end of May, the worst time of year to go fishing, when the big boats are all tied up at the wharf, the little boats go out there for a billion dollars' worth of lobster, or somewhere close to it, to be caught and sold around the world.

It may seem like the fishing industry is going strong and is happy with the government. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fishermen are up in arms over about numerous issues involving this government.

For one thing, they are furious about the tax changes rolled out by the Liberal government, which lopped millions of dollars off our hard-working fishermen's family trusts. Thousands of fishing boats had been registered as small businesses to facilitate tax planning. That option was suddenly eliminated by the Liberal government, which also called our fishermen tax cheats. That was an outrage and an insult to them.

I am proud to be my party's critic for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and I want to make sure the government stops going after the honest workers in our industries.

Fishermen feel that with the economic activity they create and the taxes they pay they should have safe and modern ports to work from, but they are wrong. They have woefully inadequate facilities that cannot accommodate the larger vessels they are using, or they are actually falling into the ocean. The Liberals boasted during the election of the investment they have committed but I can assure the House that it pales in comparison to what is really needed.

I look forward to working with the fisheries minister and the transport minister to assess the real need to make our ports safe and to be able to seize the opportunity that our oceans truly are.

I could talk about a lot of other things but I am running out of time. I could talk about climate change and gun control. I could talk about MPAs. I could talk about Internet and cellphone service and the loss of our local call centre. Unfortunately, however, I do not have an hour to actually do it.

In closing, I am certain that all my colleagues in the House will agree with me that we have much work to do to ensure that Canada remains strong and united. The throne speech was not reassuring in that regard.

Our country is unique in the world; it is a good place to live and an remarkably welcoming country. We have a duty to ensure that all Canadians have access to adequate health care, can look forward to a prosperous future and can obtain services in both official languages.

I have been a committed citizen and politician for many years, and I will spare no effort to ensure that the government fulfills its responsibilities towards taxpayers and respects them.

Madam Speaker, I wish everybody a merry Christmas.

5:50 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you on becoming Assistant Deputy Speaker.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the people of Halifax West for returning me to the House of Commons along with so many colleagues.

I would like to welcome my good friend, the new member for West Nova. He is not new to politics, but he is new to Ottawa. About 15 years ago, we were both ministers, one in the federal government and the other in the provincial government. We often worked together and we got along most of the time.

My colleague has considerable provincial experience and is very familiar with the needs of the provincial governments and the challenges they face. We have recently been hearing some comments about the equalization program and that some premiers would like to change it. What are his views on that?

5:50 p.m.


Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

I was Nova Scotia's health minister for three years. Federal money was often not enough, so we had to make big decisions, such as which services to offer in which parts of the province.

The regions need money to find the expertise our health system needs. Finding prescription drugs and long-term care services is not enough. What the government needs to do is help provincial governments find a way to provide better service.

5:55 p.m.


Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, congratulations on your new post. I look forward to your rulings and your working with the Speaker to make sure this House works well.

On doorsteps during the election, I heard from people whose concerns were getting a doctor or a referral to a specialist. Those are the areas where Canadians want to see some co-operation with our provincial counterparts.

I want to focus on something the member said about connectivity. The government, in the last Parliament, really failed in its connect to innovate program. The design of the program was not well received. The government opened up a second round without even telling more than 80% of the participants whether they were accepted or if they would receive funding.

I would like to hear the member talk about his community in terms of its need for connectivity. When a community loses a mill or a call centre, this is a way for small businesses to grow and hire people.

5:55 p.m.


Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, Internet connectivity is important to us. Many parts of the province are under what would qualify as a wireless system. The wireless system is performing somewhere under one megabit per second. It is very difficult even to receive an email, let alone trying to connect to the World Wide Web or any other important system across the world that supports small businesses.

As a member of the provincial legislature, I saw people who moved into a little community. They were moving out of Halifax into a small community so they could bring up their kids. They built their house and then realized they could not get Internet to serve it. They could not run their heating system because it was an Internet-connected heating system.

We have a lot to do in our area to make sure that constituents have the Internet connectivity that they require.

5:55 p.m.


Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be able to rise in the House. It gives me an opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment. I know you are a very understanding person but also very tough. I would like to personally wish you good luck and assure you of my co-operation. It is an honour to see a woman in the chair and I hope that, in the next Parliament, we might see you become the Speaker of the House. That would be an honour for the women parliamentarians here.

I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. I am pleased to learn that he was his province's health minister. The question I want to ask is fairly simple. Earlier, in response to our colleague opposite, he said that the provinces needed money in order to provide health care to their residents. I completely agree. Money is needed. However, that money comes through a transfer from Ottawa to the provinces and to Quebec.

Can he explain to me why his party, when it was in power, cut Ottawa's transfers to the provinces? Can he explain, as a former health minister for his province, how he can allow Ottawa to cut provincial transfers when people are in such great need of those services? I would like him to explain that.

5:55 p.m.


Chris d'Entremont Conservative West Nova, NS

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her excellent question.

Our health care systems took a shocking hit in the 1990s when Mr. Martin balanced his budget on the backs of the provinces. That is when it really began. Over time, our systems gradually started to change and recover.

When I was a minister, I myself faced budget cuts. We always made sure that they were not based on population. In eastern Canada, we have seniors and we have systems that other provinces do not have, which is why we need to push things a little further.

December 11th, 2019 / 5:55 p.m.


Marc Dalton Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, congratulations on your appointment.

I am very happy to be here today representing Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge. I want to thank the residents in both communities for electing me, and I want to thank all my volunteers. As all members here recognize, we just cannot do it without them. I also want to recognize my staff whom I have hired in Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge. I have Sean Mark Gillespie, Linda Kingsbury and Nancy Nagy. Two of them have worked with me in the past. I have Jay Denney here in Ottawa, and he will be working with me beginning next month.

Most of all, I want to recognize my wife Marlene. We have been married for 34 years and she has been a tremendous support to me. When I was elected provincially, she came with me most times when I was in Victoria and she will be with me a lot of the time here. My constituents are getting two for one.

Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are two wonderful communities. We live in a stunning part of the country and the world. People would never believe that within minutes of my communities they are lost in nature, whether it be in Golden Ears Provincial Park or Widgeon Creek, on Pitt Lake or wherever. It is one of the most beautiful places in Canada. If members do not believe it, they can please come and visit. It is very picturesque.

Both communities are growing rapidly. A lot of millennials are moving to the region into new subdivisions that are happening all over the place because they are more affordable. That is a very relative term for the Lower Mainland.

Transportation infrastructure is a need. I know the Liberals have made many promises. They promised tens of billions of dollars, but 40% of those projects have gone nowhere. It is one thing to make promises. It is another thing to put those promises into action. We are looking forward to seeing that in my communities.

Also on the provincial side of things, the NDP has made sweetheart deals with its preferred unions. That has made projects a lot more expensive than they otherwise had to be and it has reduced the number of projects getting done, at a much greater cost to taxpayers.

For me it has been a long journey getting here. In 2003, I attended the Teacher’s Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy here in Ottawa. I am a teacher by profession. It was the best professional development experience I have ever had, and I recommend that teachers across the country apply for it. I believe the next one is in February. I saw democracy in action and it gave me a tremendous passion to get involved even more in politics.

I actually ran in the nomination for the Conservative Party when I had just joined in 2004. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and I lost. Randy Kamp became the member of Parliament. He won that year and he was a great member of Parliament, representing the area for many years. It was then a minority government and there was an election in 2006. I won the nomination the next time but in a different riding, Burnaby—New Westminster. I won the nomination but lost the election.

That is not the end of the story. I moved on to provincial politics. I won two terms representing Maple Ridge—Mission. It was a great experience, I enjoyed it very much and was able to accomplish a lot for my constituents. I want to give a shout-out to my former B.C. Liberal colleagues and staffers. A number of them work on the Hill on both sides of the floor. My future director of operations, Jay Denney, will also be working for me.

My heart has always been to eventually serve in the House of Commons. I have always had a vision for Canada and its place in the world. I was raised in a military family, born in Germany. My dad was in the RCAF. I lived on bases throughout Canada. I lived in Quebec in Chibougamau, up north. It is a little chilly up there but a beautiful place to live. I also lived in Valcartier, near the City of Quebec, as well as in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and throughout the country.

My mother is French Canadian.

She was a Beaudoin. She was one of 18 children in her family, which was originally from near Kapuskasing, in northern Ontario. In the 1940s, the family moved to northern Alberta, near Falher, which is well known for its bees and great honey.

I have hundreds of cousins, aunts, uncles and nephews who are part of the Franco-Albertan community.

On my mother's side I am French Canadian, but on my father's side I am Métis. I trace my roots to the Red River Colony in the early 1800s and with the Cree in the Lesser Slave Lake area. My indigenous roots are very important to me, my brothers and sisters and my grown children. One of my roles in the B.C. legislature was as parliamentary secretary for aboriginal relations.

Canada's indigenous population is the fastest growing population in Canada, as well as the youngest. It is a vital and integral part of Canada's present and Canada's future.

My constituency of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge is a bit of an anomaly in the Lower Mainland. It has a growing population of Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Farsi and Indo-Canadian people, but the largest minority is the indigenous population. I want to recognize the Katzie First Nation and Kwantlen First Nation peoples, and I look forward to having a good relationship with them and working with them.

I am a member of the Golden Ears Métis Society, GEMS, which is a vibrant association affiliated with Métis Nation British Columbia that is under Clara Morin Dal Col as its president.

When I was a teacher, I led exchange trips to Quebec. I felt it was important for students to experience our country, grow an appreciation for the wonderful country we live in and discover what a beautiful place Quebec is. It was good to have students from Quebec visit British Columbia to see what a beautiful country they are a part of.

National unity is extremely important to me. I take no pleasure in hearing people complain about Quebec. I adore that province and its people. I like their joie de vivre and their passion.

However, I also feel similarly about Alberta, where I have deep roots and graduated, as well as for British Columbia and all of Canada. I have travelled from coast to coast to all of the provinces and two of the territories. We have an amazing country.

I am disappointed and truly troubled by the way the Liberals are governing our magnificent country.

For the Liberals, it seems to be all about politics and trying to stay in government regardless of the tremendous stress and negative impact their policies are having on this great nation of Canada. There is a reason the Bloc Québécois has rebounded, and the onus falls on the Liberal Party and its leaders. There is a reason the Liberals were wiped out in Alberta and Saskatchewan and lost seats in British Columbia, the Maritimes and Manitoba, and why western separatism is being discussed in pubs and on streets in places like Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Regina and Saskatoon. The onus falls on the Liberal Party and its leader.

I have heard it said that the difference between a statesperson and a politician is that the politician is looking to the next election and the statesperson is looking to the next generation.

I believe that members opposite have good intentions, and I would encourage the Liberal Party to stop playing identity politics and dividing Canadians. It should do what is good for all of Canada, not just where it has the most, or any, seats.

My team and I went to tens of thousands of doors during the election. It was a lot of work, and I enjoyed it. It was an opportunity to listen to people, get to know them and hear their concerns. The number one issue I heard about was affordability. Bear in mind that in my riding, the average family income is about $90,000. Families are finding it tough. It is not how much one makes, it is how much one is allowed to keep. Taxes from all different levels of government are approaching 50%. The Conservative message of reducing financial stress on families resonated on the doorsteps in my constituency and throughout British Columbia.

The Liberals say they are planning on reducing the tax burden, but they do it with a sleight of hand, giving with one hand and taking more with the other. We—

6:10 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Questions and comments, the hon. parliamentary secretary.

6:10 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, in many ways this government, particularly the Prime Minister, has been a visionary on many of the different policy announcements made over the last few years. There has been a very solid commitment to Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be part of it, lifting people out of poverty, contributing in a very big way by increasing disposable income, thereby enhancing and giving greater strength to Canada's middle class and, ultimately, the economy. We have seen significant gains. Yes, there are always going to be highs and lows in the economy. The Prime Minister has been visionary in the sense of making commitments on our environment and an increase in CPP for people retiring.

There is a litany of things and time will not permit me to list them all, but I wonder if my colleague across the way, after reflecting on some of them, would agree that he may have passed judgment a little too quickly on the current government.

6:10 p.m.


Marc Dalton Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, my apologies to the member, but I did not pass judgment too quickly; I do not think I passed it quickly enough.

The middle class has struggled. On the doorsteps in British Columbia and throughout this country, people are saying their disposable income is going down. Members on the other side mentioned job increases. That is not what I am aware of in my community. Over 400,000 jobs have been lost since the House recessed in June. I believe the number is 71,000 alone in the last month. It is a significant problem.

As far as the resource sector is concerned, it does not just impact Alberta and the hinterlands of Saskatchewan; it impacts Canadians from coast to coast.

6:10 p.m.


Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened with passion to our colleague's speech.

He says that it is important to him that provincial jurisdictions are respected.

Can he explain why he voted against the Bloc's amendment to the amendment that sought to improve the Speech from the Throne and specifically note that the government is to respect the jurisdictions of the provinces and Quebec, especially when it comes to land use and environmental laws?

Can he explain his perspective on that?

6:10 p.m.


Marc Dalton Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

I truly believe in every province's jurisdictions. It is very important.

There are jurisdictions on the provincial side of things that also are a responsibility for Canada. It is a matter of recognizing that all Canadians pay taxes which go to providing services, whether they be health care or other services. Those are outlined in the Constitution and it is important to respect the Constitution.

6:10 p.m.


Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge on his first speech in the House.

There is an epidemic on the west coast when it comes to salmon farming. We have seen a record amount of sea lice infestation on salmon. These salmon are in farms on juvenile salmon migratory routes. The government continues to allow diseased fish into open-net fish farms. We have seen massive die-offs. We have heard from organizations, like the Pacific Salmon Foundation, that want open-net fish farming moved to land. In fact, the Liberal government promised that it would do this by 2025, and we have yet to see it do that.

In the member's own riding, in the Alouette River, there has been a collapse of the chum. It went from 160,000 fish a decade ago to about 500 this year. There were 60,000 returning fish expected this year. There has been the collapse of the Fraser and half of the lowest return in history—

6:15 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Alexandra Mendès) Liberal Alexandra Mendes

Let us have a very short answer, please, from the hon. member for Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.

6:15 p.m.


Marc Dalton Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Madam Speaker, salmon fishing and salmon runs are extremely important. I think it is very important that we conserve the salmon runs.

I have advocated a fish ladder on the Alouette River toward Alouette Lake, which is very important. I did that provincially and I will as a member of Parliament.

6:15 p.m.


Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, it is delightful to see one of my former seatmates sitting in that chair again tonight. Congratulations.

I know all my colleagues have heard this a lot, but it is an absolute honour to rise in this place in my first opportunity to speak in the House during the 43rd Parliament.

I want to take a moment to thank the amazing people in my constituency of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, the greatest riding in all of Canada, with all due respect to the members who have had amazing speeches in the House today and gave me a chance to hear about so many wonderful ridings across this country. This is one of those first few weeks of this sitting of the House that I truly do love, as I get to hear about the amazing ridings in this wonderful country.

I want to thank the tireless volunteers who worked so hard to share our progressive message on the doorsteps. We had an incredible, diverse group of volunteers, from new Canadians to business owners to seniors and lots of young people. I want to give a shout-out to what we call our “teen dream”, all of the young people who worked so hard on our campaign. Our volunteers gave so much of their time and their energy to make sure that we could continue the important work that we are doing for Canadians. I want to thank them.

I would be remiss if I continue to forget the fact that I am sharing my time with the member for Surrey Centre.

None of us get here without the help of our partners and our families. I have to thank my loving wife of 20 years, Anne, and my kids, Bruen and Ava, for supporting me through the campaign and through every day that I am either in the constituency or in this wonderful place.

I also want to take a moment to thank the hon. member for Halifax West for his service as the Speaker in the 42nd Parliament. He worked hard to bring decorum and respect back to the House of Commons. That is a tough job, and for that I think he deserves all of our gratitude.

I also wish to congratulate our new Speaker, the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming. I have no doubt that he will also serve honourably and will continue the work of the member for Halifax West in holding all members accountable in this place.

Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is filled with community-minded, compassionate people. My hometown is the kind of place where folks help one another, where neighbours help neighbours, where doors are open wide to those in need. There has never been a better time to live in Dartmouth. I say that a lot.

Our business community is flourishing and vibrant. We have many incredible entrepreneurs who are opening businesses all across the riding. From Selby's Bunker in Cole Harbour to Lake City Cider in Dartmouth, we have numerous restaurants, cafes, brew pubs, shops and more that are all worth exploring. Businesses such as the Village on Main, the Cole Harbour and Area Business Association, the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and the Greater Burnside Business Association are doing an incredible job in advocating for businesses across the riding. Memberships are growing, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to work with them to make sure that the decisions that we make as a government help local businesses grow, succeed and continue employing people at home.

Our arts and cultural community is alive. There are always festivals, performances and exhibits at Alderney Landing.

From the Salt Marsh Trail to Shubie Park, our green spaces add to the livability of our community. Of course, Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is known as the home of hockey players Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, but hockey is not all that we are known for. Our lakes and waterways are the focal point and the heart of our community. Lake Banook is known around the world as the greatest lake in the world for paddling, kayaking and rowing. I look to the new member for Milton to back me up on that.

Just for a second, going back to hockey, many colleagues know, as I have mentioned it a time or two in the House, that hockey is my favourite sport. Some folks even say that hockey was founded on beautiful Lake Banook in Dartmouth. However, as I have ties to Windsor, Nova Scotia, all around me, I am not going to enter that debate if I want to stay married.

A stone's throw away from Lake Banook on what is now the Shubenacadie Canal Greenway park, is where Starr Manufacturing produced the first-ever commercial hockey sticks. Of course, we cannot forget their incredible Starr skates.

Although Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is succeeding, we know that not everyone is benefiting from this success.

There are incredible organizations like the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre, VETS Canada, the Public Good Society of Dartmouth, Margaret's House and many more groups and people working hard to ensure that as we succeed, folks are not slipping through the cracks.

It is important to me that we recognize the good work that these organizations do, that we learn from them and that we continue to support them. The partnerships of folks working hard on the ground, at the grassroots level, are the only way we will be able to successfully lift our communities.

From clean air to healthy waterways, we need to ensure we leave this place environmentally healthy and better for future generations. My constituents and the majority of Canadians overwhelmingly asked us to take stronger climate action and to protect our oceans.

I am from Atlantic Canada and we are seeing first-hand the harm of rising sea levels. We are seeing the damage that plastic pollution is causing to our sea life and to our communities. Protecting our environment is top of mind and it is a major priority for me personally.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in the last mandate, we worked hard to produce a report on protected areas. That report has led to historic investments in protecting nature across our beautiful country.

Our efforts are helping to protect areas like Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes in Nova Scotia. Through protected areas, we are helping species like the Nova Scotia Blanding's turtle and mainland moose and we are helping to protect the ecological integrity of our province.

In my first term as a member of Parliament, I had the opportunity of bringing forward private member's legislation and I used this opportunity to work toward a healthier environment. My private member's bill, Bill C-238, the National Strategy for Safe and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury Act, is now law across Canada. I want to thank all members on both sides of the House for supporting that bill. The act is helping to keep dangerous mercury out of our land, air and waterways.

Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is home to a growing and thriving clean technology industry. Companies like One Wind are promoting clean, renewable energy, while at the same time employing hundreds of folks across our riding. In fact, the only impediment to its continued growth is the ability to find more skilled labour.

We are home to Mara Renewables, a company that discovered a marine algae strain that is used to produce healthy Omega 3 nutritional supplements, without needing to harvest fish. It is brilliant.

In fact, the ocean technology sector is exploding in Dartmouth, especially through COVE, the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship. On the waterfront in Dartmouth, COVE is an incredible hub of ocean tech research and industry.

In the last mandate, I also advocated for the zero-emissions vehicle incentive. This incentive has been helping more Canadians afford to make the switch to an electric vehicle. However, we need to do more. We need to do more to encourage people to try out these vehicles, to ensure that the supply is there for all Canadians and to ensure more and more Canadians are aware of the benefits of electric vehicles.

We know that we need to do more to strengthen health care across the country. We remain committed to working with the provinces and territories to strengthen health care and to ensure that all Canadians receive the care they need when they need it.

Over the past few years, I have heard from constituents in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour who are forced to choose between putting food on the table or paying for the prescription drugs they need.

I know that throughout the previous mandate I sounded like a broken record, but Canada needs universal national pharmacare. The throne speech called pharmacare the missing piece of universal health care in the country, and I could not agree more. This government will keep working to make this a reality for all Canadians. I can tell the folks back home in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour that I will not stop advocating for it.

Congratulations to you, Madam Speaker, and to all members in the House who were elected for the first time or re-elected.

6:25 p.m.


Eric Melillo Conservative Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, many constituents in my riding have been concerned with the throne speech making absolutely no reference to rural broadband connectivity. Internet is becoming increasingly more and more essential for participation in modern life and residents in rural and remote areas of our country are disadvantaged because of poor Internet connectivity.

Could the member speak to the importance of this issue and when the government will make it a priority?

6:25 p.m.


Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I welcome the member to the House.

If he had been here before the last election, or if he was paying attention, he would know that we have made massive investments in connectivity. We will have high-speed Internet in every home in Canada by 2030. I ask the member to stay tuned. A lot of work has been done by our amazing ministers on this. We are going there by 2030.

6:25 p.m.


Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I congratulate you on your post as well.

I was really happy to hear the previous member talk about the government's acceptance of universal pharmacare. That is something that we desperately want to work on with the government. We want to make sure it is single-payer and, in fact, universal. That is great. I am glad to hear it.

The member talked about people suffering and struggling. A former colleague of his talked about the housing problem. In my home community of London—Fanshawe, and in London, Ontario, 5,000 families are currently on the affordable or social housing wait-list. Prices in London have increased over the last 10 years by 70%, and that is simply something that the average family cannot keep up with.

People are certainly in a housing crisis. When I canvassed door to door, people told me they were concerned and worried. They see neighbours not being able to make ends meet. Things are getting tighter. These services are being downloaded on to municipalities by the federal government and it is simply a shame. People cannot keep up.

Will that government member commit to the NDP plan to build the necessary 500,000 units of affordable housing? It would help people not only across Canada, but certainly people in London—Fanshawe.

6:25 p.m.


Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, our plan is better. Our housing strategy is the best housing strategy, the biggest investment in housing in the history of the Canadian government. I feel that when we have made these commitments and we have made these bilateral agreements with each province, we are going to see incredible growth in housing.

The member is correct. We hear this. The member heard me say this in my speech. When I knocked on doors in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, I heard that the people who are seeing success, the people who are benefiting from their success, are there to help the people who are falling through the cracks. That is one of the reasons why I am so proud of the people in my riding. Those doors are wide open for people who need help.

We are working toward a national housing strategy. We just signed our bilateral in Nova Scotia on August 23. The member for South Shore—St. Margarets was there that day to sign that with the minister of the Crown in Nova Scotia. This is going to be a game-changer for housing in our country.

6:25 p.m.


Pam Damoff Liberal Oakville North—Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is absolutely wonderful to see you in that chair. Congratulations.

I want to thank the hon. member for his work in the House.

One of the things that I heard a lot about during the campaign was the Canada child benefit and the difference that it was making. The member mentioned the national housing strategy. A number of things are making a difference in the lives of Canadians to lift them out of poverty.

I come from an affluent riding, there is no doubt about it, but there is still poverty in my riding and there are still people who are struggling. I can remember one family in particular with a number of children who talked about the amount of money they were getting every month. That money was going to buy food to put on their table.

I wonder if the hon. member could speak a bit about some of the things that we have done but more importantly, some of the things that we could do going forward to alleviate poverty in our country.