House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was need.

Topics

The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member for Kelowna—Lake Country.

I would like to start by thanking the residents of Northumberland—Peterborough South for allowing me the great honour to rise and speak today.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the leader of Her Majesty's official opposition for his service to the party, Parliament and the country. I look forward to serving in Parliament with him and continuing his great work.

Members are of course aware of the hon. member's accomplishments: He was the youngest Speaker ever in Canada, he increased the size of our caucus dramatically and he won the popular vote. However, I would like to relate a story of what happened during the campaign, as I think it highlights a part of his character that we may not all be aware of.

He came out to visit my riding, the beautiful riding of Northumberland—Peterborough South. My son was there and was a bit upset: He was moved away from his dad and did not like it. The Leader of the Opposition went over to my son, cheered him up, grabbed one of his hands and we started to swing him. We swung him once, twice, three times and he would not let us stop. The wild part was that whenever we went to any other political event, and I apologize for the breach in protocol in using a member's name, but my son would ask, “Is Andrew Scheer going to be there?” I am definitely the second-most popular politician in my house.

Once again I thank, from the bottom of my heart, the Leader of the Opposition for his great service to his country and what he did for my family personally. I would not be here without him.

On a different note, I want to thank the Prime Minister for his conciliatory tone in the Speech from the Throne. However, to solve the many issues we are facing today, change will require more than a change in tone. We need substance. We need willingness from the government to partner with a party that received the most votes in the last federal election. Canadians elected us not just to speak but to act. We need to act for those who are struggling the most.

During the last five months of the campaign, I door-knocked with our team, knocking on over 40,000 doors, and heard over and over again that times are getting tougher and things are getting more expensive. We need to act for those people. We need to make things better for the average Canadian.

The average Canadian now spends more on taxes than on food, clothing and shelter combined. This is being felt by our most vulnerable. Young Canadians looking to start their lives are finding it harder and harder to pay their rent or mortgage. The idea of saving for a rainy day, which will happen with the shocks in the economy, is not there any more. Folks out there right now are trying to make it from payment to payment and, quite frankly, these are not always being made. Nearly half of Canadians are within $200 of not making their payments. Sadly, there are many folks who are not making their payments at all, as personal bankruptcies are reaching decade highs.

Our millennials and those before asked our generation and the generations before for an opportunity. Instead, all they got was legalized marijuana. The generations that preceded them felt the dignity and honour of working, of building equity in their businesses and homes, but increasingly the youth of our generation are being denied that opportunity. We need to give them back the opportunity to not just get by but get ahead.

We need to act and we need to act soon for the underemployed and unemployed. We have had the worst job losses since 2008. Personal prosperity does not start with a government program; it starts with a great job or a new business.

Canadian small businesses provide more than 70% of the jobs in the private sector, yet the finance minister looks at business owners simply as a way to avoid taxes. I do not think that is right.

Businesses in Canada are not optimistic about the future. Over the last five years, we have seen a 20% reduction in investments in equipment and plants. When they look forward, they do not see good things to come. Government needs to get out of the way of business owners to make sure they can do what they do best: create jobs. We need to cut the red tape now, not five years from now, not 10 years from now.

At the heart of many of these issues is the productivity gap, which has only been exacerbated over the last four years. Canadians contribute $50 to the GDP per hour of work. In contrast, our neighbours to the south contribute $60, or better yet, Switzerland contributes $65 and Ireland 84.

What is the big deal? How does it affect us? It has a real impact on Canadians, because it is lowering our wages. If we want life to be more affordable, if we want Canadians to be more prosperous, we must increase our productivity, because this has brought down our average wages to $19. In contrast, in the United States it is $23, or better yet, it is almost double that in Switzerland, at $33.

When we increase productivity, we increase the wealth of our nation, wealth that can be used by parents to help feed their children, by students to pay for university, by the unemployed to be employed and by seniors to retire with dignity. Despite the overwhelming evidence that productivity will make life better for all Canadians, the word “productivity” was mentioned in the throne speech exactly zero times.

The Speech from the Throne was replete with messages that would suppress productivity instead of increasing it. It did not contain any measures to improve the drivers of productivity, such as innovation, technology, small business and, notably, any support for the resource sector. Canadians involved in the resource sector contribute a remarkable $600 per hour to the GDP. If we want to increase the wealth of our nation, we need to continue to invest in the resource sector.

When we enhance the productivity of our nation, we necessarily create jobs, increase income and increase the size of the middle class. Of equal importance, we also increase tax revenue, which can be used to increase our funding for important social programs like health care, the environment and, perhaps most importantly, our military.

People within my riding and the rest of Canada need jobs, higher incomes and more affordable goods and services. Quite frankly, the Speech from the Throne did not provide those things. We have a choice to make: We can continue to watch our productivity slip down the spiral underneath the tremendous weight of failed policies, increased regulation and excessive taxation, or we can decide to take a different path and instead climb the staircase of prosperity.

Our nation is depending on us coming to Parliament and to our committees, supporting not just our party's ideas, but the best ideas. This is our reality. If we do not act together, if the government does not compromise with the party that won the most seats in the last election, we will further alienate our regions and drive a deeper wedge into our wonderful country.

We will need more than a conciliatory tone. We need an openness to a different direction, a more productive direction, a movement away from that downward productivity spiral and a movement up the staircase of prosperity.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Nathaniel Erskine-Smith Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate hearing the member's comments about productivity. According to Clean Energy Canada, the number of jobs in the clean energy sector grew by 2.2% a year between 2010 and 2017, nearly 60% faster than the Canadian average otherwise. We did see in the throne speech a commitment to clean tech in the platform. As the provinces realize, we see a commitment to reducing taxes for companies investing in clean tech.

I wonder what the member thinks about incentivizing one of our fastest-growing sectors.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would echo my hon. colleague's comments in that we need to reduce taxation and increase incentives and investments. However, we should not cherry-pick. That is what the free market is for. The free market is the best way to choose the winners and losers.

When government picks the winners and losers in our economy, we are ultimately all losers.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for talking about working-class people and jobs in the resource sector. I live in British Columbia, where we have had the perfect storm. We have had a curtailment in the forestry sector. We have had record-low salmon returns. Our commercial fleet did not even get fishing until the end of August. People are desperate. They are losing their homes and their houses.

We are calling on the minister and the government to extend EI and provide training, resources and investments in these strategic areas, in the fishing area and in the forestry sector, so that we can maximize our profit.

We call on the government to support a bill from my colleague from South Okanagan—West Kootenay, who tabled a bill so that the government would buy Canadian lumber and use it in building infrastructure.

Does the member support these initiatives and calling on the government to fast-track this process and support these families, especially with Christmas fast approaching?

I think we should stand together and ask the government to take urgent action. This is affecting these families and affecting coastal communities. We need the government to take urgent steps right now to provide relief to these families and to these really important sectors of the Canadian economy.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly share the hon. member's worry and concern for those individuals who are suffering during this most wonderful time of Christmas. No family should be suffering at this point. I believe that the government should do everything possible, not only for those immediate crises, but going forward.

If we have an economy that is rolling, one that is not losing 71,000 jobs, one that is not driving people into personal bankruptcy, we can avoid those tragedies throughout our country. We need to focus on the free market. We need to focus on our economy so that we have no one struggling in a country as rich and wealthy as ours, as ultimately we will be judged by the folks who are the most unfortunate in our society.

We have to do everything we can. We need to continue to invest in business and in the private sector and grow that engine that will provide prosperity for all.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, you are doing a great job.

I appreciated the tone and positivity of the member's speech. I am going to quote a line from the throne speech. It says, “A clear majority of Canadians voted for ambitious climate action now.” I am wondering what the member's plan would be for that if the Conservatives were in government.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland—Peterborough South, ON

Mr. Speaker, we had the most comprehensive climate change plan ever introduced in Canada. The reality is that climate change is a global problem and it requires a global solution. We want to invest in technology, invest in clean tech, and we are for all of the above when it comes to energy production.

We believe in investment in technology. I have said this to many high schools throughout Northumberland—Peterborough South as I travelled around: The cure for some of our greatest ills may be in this room right now. I am hoping that the solution is right there, maybe at the University of Toronto or the University of Ottawa. I am so looking forward to our future, and it is so bright. I look forward to great solutions coming forward.

Ultimately we could shut down our economy today and that would not meaningfully affect climate change, but if we develop that technology, at the University of Ottawa or the University of Toronto or York University, where I went to school, and export it to China and India, then we could really tackle the huge problem of climate change.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Northumberland—Peterborough South for splitting his time with me.

I would like to thank the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country for putting their trust in me to represent them as their member of Parliament. I thank all the donors and the hundreds of friends, family members and volunteers who put in countless hours. I thank my husband Larry Gray, my son Daniel Gray, my immediate family and all of my friends. It was a family decision, and it was a huge family effort.

Kelowna—Lake Country is a wonderful mix of urban and rural, and we are one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada, which creates opportunities and challenges.

We have a diverse mix of businesses, including farms, wineries, microbreweries, aerospace, film and animation, and arts and culture. We have tourism and outdoor recreation, including lake sports, golfing, hiking, cycling and skiing, all at our back door, along with sports fishing, shooting and hunting.

Our largest employment sectors are professional services, health care, technology, trade and construction. We have a thriving municipally owned airport, the 10th busiest in Canada, as well as Okanagan College and the University of British Columbia, Okanagan.

I would like to step back for a moment to bring forth the reasons I decided to run to become a member of Parliament, which go back over two years.

The Prime Minister came to Kelowna to speak at a town hall at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, and I went there as a Kelowna city councillor to hear the Prime Minister speak. I am sitting, in this House, the approximate distance from the Prime Minister's seat that I was that day.

After hearing the Prime Minister answer question after question about the tax changes he was proposing at the time, which would negatively affect families and small businesses, as a mother and small business owner myself, I knew first-hand how out of touch the Prime Minister was. It compelled me to run.

Let us not forget that at the time of these proposed small-business tax changes over two years ago, 35 organizations from across the country came together in an unprecedented way to form the Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness, a unified voice to oppose the federal government's tax proposals.

President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Perrin Beatty, said, “I've never seen an issue that has generated greater concern among our members.... To make matters worse, allotting only 75 days for comment in the midst of the summer holidays is not a consultation. It's a stealth attack on farmers and family businesses.”

Not all the originally proposed tax changes were implemented. However, many were, including changes to passive investments and income splitting.

I have spoken with thousands of constituents in my riding across Kelowna—Lake Country who have been negatively affected by the small-business tax changes. There are farmers who cannot retire, families who are paying considerably more in personal income tax and spouses who had to go back to work and stop volunteering at their children's school.

One family's story really resonated with me. They had to make the tough decision last year to not buy RESPs for the children. These are real people, with real-life situations. I rose in this House a couple of days ago to ask the government to repeal these tax changes and, in typical fashion, the response from the finance minister was out of touch with how these failed policies truly affect people.

In addition to being engaged in the community every day, I door-knocked for an entire year. Come snow, sleet or summer heat, I personally knocked on over 30,000 doors and with my incredible team of volunteers, we knocked on over 55,000.

We talked to people on their doorsteps, and I realized that the concerns I had with the government were not mine alone. I heard many issues consistently across my riding. People were not just concerned, but they felt as though their voices were not being heard.

Their concerns included the rising cost of living, overall affordability, mental health and addiction on our streets, the desire to work hard and get ahead, constituents in the resource sector losing their jobs, business tax changes, government red tape, infringement on personal freedoms and rights, clean air and water and cumbersome temporary farm worker procedures.

Kelowna is experiencing an addictions crisis that affects our entire community. Mental health and addiction is a topic I have personally spent a lot of time focusing on by meeting with individual residents, community groups, government officials, treatment homes, first responders and health professionals. It is clear that there is little focus on building a system of care that includes treatment and recovery. Constituents and neighbourhoods are feeling like their concerns are not being heard.

We need to hold criminals accountable for the flow of illicit fentanyl. We need laws that target criminals and keep them off our streets, and we need to better equip our police. We need to focus on helping Canadians struggling with addiction through recovery and prevention. This is a gap. There is nothing in the throne speech addressing this.

We need to amend the Canadian drugs and substances strategy and fully implement actionable items that address getting people out of addiction, including direct funding for addictions treatment and recovery centres. I implore the government to make this a federal priority.

Tolko Industries in Kelowna announced the permanent closure of its mill, meaning that 127 people who were laid off recently will now add to the mill's total of 217 permanent jobs lost. This brings the total jobs lost in the forestry sector in British Columbia alone to 4,000. These are well-paying jobs that support families in our community.

I have spoken to many people in the forestry industry and their message is similar: There is not a lack of renewable resources available and the costs and regulations associated with provincial and federal governments are making it more difficult to operate.

There is no mention of the softwood lumber agreement in the throne speech. Canada has filed trade complaints against the United States in the past and has won. However, when our local companies pay tariffs up front, it adds substantially to their immediate costs. The federal government needs to negotiate a softwood lumber agreement to end this dispute, give certainty to the industry and get people back to work.

My community of Kelowna—Lake Country is strongly tied to the prairie provinces economically. I meet people every day who live and work between B.C. and Alberta in the oil and gas sector. We used to have direct flights from Kelowna to Fort McMurray. Those have been cancelled due to the economic downturn. The throne speech says nothing about what the government is going to do about getting people back to work. We need to ensure that we have stable regulations within the energy sector in order to attract and keep investment in Canada. We need to get people back to work.

It does not matter whether they are students, families or retirees, I hear from people every day about the affordability of everything. I saw with all my door-knocking where multiple generations are living together, as many people are trying to figure out how they are going to get ahead. We need to keep taxes low while at the same time not get further into debt as a country. People are concerned about paying higher taxes in the future to pay off debt for decisions being made today by the Liberals. There is nothing in the throne speech that talks about when we are going to get back to a balanced budget.

Something that is important to my constituents in Kelowna—Lake Country is to protect our watershed from invasive zebra and quagga mussels. There is nothing in the throne speech about protecting water sources. When these invasive mussels get into a lake, they change the ecology, basically taking over, making beaches unwalkable in bare feet and attaching onto infrastructure in water. Many people get drinking water from our lakes. A study showed it would cost $40 million per year in the Okanagan alone in economic losses and direct costs to manage if these get into our lakes.

I had the honour of chairing the Okanagan Basin Water Board, which is the organization spearheading this in British Columbia. We met with the fisheries and oceans minister here in Ottawa to elevate the issue when the invasive mussels presented themselves just south of the border in the United States and moved west to Manitoba. The allocation of resources from the government was nominal and it did nothing to protect the Okanagan basin or western Canada from these invasive mussels progressing west.

Last, I am honoured to have been asked to serve as the shadow cabinet minister for interprovincial trade. This will bring the voices of Kelowna—Lake Country and British Columbia forward at an elevated level to hold the government to account. The free movement of goods, services and people across provincial borders is imperative. Red tape stifles business. We have free trade agreements with other countries but not within our own country. As an entrepreneur working in the British Columbia wine industry for 27 years, I saw first-hand how interprovincial trade barriers made it challenging to expand markets within our local British Columbia wineries.

It is no secret that our country is currently divided. Internal trade disputes have escalated between provinces, creating uncertainty. The government must take national unity seriously, reduce regulations and free up the movement of goods and services.

My commitment is to continue to be active and engaged in my community while being a strong voice in this House for the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:35 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate a number of the comments that the member raised, in particular, the issue of water management. In the province of Manitoba, Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg are massive bodies of water. There is a great deal of concern in regard to water management in general, whether it is on the Prairies, in British Columbia or anywhere in Canada, even right into our oceans.

I am hopeful that in the coming months and years we will see a higher sense of co-operation in the standing committees to look at potential studies that would ultimately see a higher sense of co-operation. The member made reference indirectly through her comments on trade that as a national government we cannot do it alone and we need to work with other stakeholders, in particular, our provinces and territories and indigenous people and so forth.

I would like to get the member's thoughts on the need for co-operation that goes even beyond the House of Commons, but it sure would be nice to see it here on the floor of the House.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, water is a very important resource to many of our communities. It really involves all levels of government working together. Different jurisdictions have different levels of authority. For example, I know that in the Okanagan with the Okanagan Lake system it is the Province of B.C. that manages the water flows throughout the lake system, which can affect usage by residents and also affect fish.

There are a lot of other ways that we can work together. At the federal level there are different funding opportunities in order to protect our lake and water systems. It is something that I think collectively is probably important to everyone and is something we can definitely work together on.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise and welcome the new member for Kelowna—Lake Country to the House. My partner and I know her riding well. We spend our summer holidays there every year. I look forward to working with her in this House.

I was very pleased to see her identify the omission of the opioid crisis in the throne speech, and I want to ask her about another omission I see in that throne speech. A year ago, the government adopted the 90-90-90 targets of the UNAIDS organization, which would allow us to eliminate HIV, to eradicate this epidemic once and for all. What we have seen since that time is no new programs to actually make those goals a reality.

In the last three years, we have seen a spike in HIV infections in British Columbia, and in particular, in the north Okanagan and among indigenous people.

Does the member share my concern about the Liberals' lack of action on this great opportunity to eliminate HIV/AIDS once and for all?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, anytime people have health care issues, it is definitely important. We know that there are different levels of authority and we need to respect that, but I believe it is definitely important to all of us.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I have to interrupt the hon. member. She will have one minute and 21 seconds remaining upon our return to this debate.

A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:

Mr. Speaker, it is the pleasure of Her Excellency the Governor General that this honourable House do attend her immediately in the chamber of the Senate.

Accordingly, the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.

And being returned:

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to Bill C-2, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.

The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to welcome with all enthusiasm the new member of Parliament for Kelowna—Lake Country. She has done so much in her community already and she will do so much more, especially given her story today of how much door-knocking she has done. I know her volunteers, family members and the community are so happy to see her in this role.

Christy Clark, the former premier of my province, once called Kelowna the “cradle of free enterprise”. Today, the member has talked about how important small business is to both the Okanagan and the way of life we have. In British Columbia, we pride ourselves on asking government to get out of the way. The member of Parliament for Kelowna—Lake Country has mentioned some of the activities she would like to do to help small businesses in her riding. Could she mention one or two of those things today? I think we would all love to hear some of her intentions in the days ahead.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Tracy Gray Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Madam Speaker, small business absolutely is the backbone of our economy. Of course, we have some large and medium-size businesses as well, but certainly, we have a lot of small business owners. Basically, what I hear is that people are willing to take risks, they put their house on the line, and it should be okay for them to want to get ahead. I have heard business owners, who are quite frustrated, ask why they should continue to stay in business, because they are working seven days a week, 12 hours a day. Some of the tax changes that I spoke about repealing would definitely be helpful to them.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ryan Turnbull Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, before I begin I wish to inform you I will be splitting my time with the member for Milton.

I want to express my overwhelming gratitude to the people of Whitby. I am so happy to be here. It is such an honour to be sitting in the House and to have the opportunity to serve at the highest level of our democracy. I am elated by the fact that the people of Whitby chose me and the Liberal Party to represent them in the House.

I also want to thank each and every member of the House on their election. I also thank the hon. Leader of the Opposition for his years of service. I would like to acknowledge the many exceptional people who made profound contributions to my campaign. No matter how small or large their involvement was, I am forever indebted to them and touched by their generosity and all they gave. They inspired me every day, and continue to do so. There are too many people to name, but I want them all to know that they paved the way for me to be here. I thank them for putting their confidence in me. I will never take for granted the great privilege it is to serve in the House.

I would like to also thank four generations of women in my life who have been the bedrock of my family: my grandmother, mother, sister, my wife, and my eight-year-old little girl. These strong, resilient women have supported me in so many ways and really provided a foundation of love and support for me throughout my life. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

I also want to acknowledge my father for his 30 or more years of service in the public service. He was a police officer for the Peel region and served on the national Parole Board. I thank my dad for always being a great role model to me and showing me what a life of service is really about.

I want to state something plainly and clearly with all the force and conviction that I feel for it: The Liberal Party of Canada is truly the reason I ran in this election.

Before entering federal politics, I was an entrepreneur, a sort of special type of entrepreneur: a social entrepreneur. I built a mission-based consulting company, specializing in social innovation. That is right, social innovation. What does that mean? Social innovation is applying new approaches to society's toughest and most persistent challenges. I spent over a decade working with teams of people, mostly in the non-profit and charitable sector, but in many cases across all sectors, to facilitate inclusive, consultative processes using design-thinking and collective-impact approaches that generated innovative solutions to achieve systemic change. I have worked on ocean protection, energy efficiency, food security, affordable housing, children's health and nutrition, environmental monitoring, waste reduction, workforce development, child care settlement, seniors care, education, mental health, diversity and inclusion and many more.

In over 350 projects, I studied the persistent social challenges and took the many perspectives of stakeholders into account to generate innovative solutions with many stakeholders.

Based on these experiences, I see that the Liberal Party in the last term really stepped up to the plate. It consulted the key stakeholders on these important issues and matters to Canadians, and gathered research and engaged partners and actors from across Canada in formulating solutions and strategies for change. It made evidence-based decisions and then committed significant and appropriate resources to make strategic investments in addressing the many issues that matter to Canadians.

This is the very definition of good governance. Since joining the party, I have been absolutely awestruck at how open, authentic, supportive and hard-working the people in this government really are, including our cabinet and leader. Responsive, accountable, visionary, strategic and hard-working: I think these are what Canadians want in their government and why we have been chosen to deliver on this for another term.

During this election, the people of Whitby shared many stories, experiences and concerns with me at their front door. They talked about the many challenges they were facing in their daily lives and their concerns about their families and preserving their quality of life. They identified pressing issues that are important to them and that should be top of mind for this government moving forward. These included supporting our seniors, addressing climate change, building a stronger local economy, making home ownership more attainable for many and developing a central infrastructure to reduce commute times. They talked about the pressures they experienced from the rising cost of living.

I heard about the challenges experienced by parents who had children with developmental disabilities. I heard about the need for community safety and the need for youth mental health supports and programming and many others.

The most prevalent issues for Whitby that I will discuss today are seniors, climate change and local economic development.

In supporting our seniors, I will say that it was a pleasure to meet many of our seniors across Whitby over the course of the fall. I visited many seniors homes and talked to hundreds of seniors. As we know, a higher proportion of the population is reaching the age of retirement, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have engaged with seniors and heard their feelings and concerns.

Many talked about income security, the rising cost of living and the limited availability of affordable housing options that are really geared to their needs, and the challenges they have experienced in accessing health care. People told me about the cost of medication and dental care, which is putting additional strain on them.

Our government over its last term began addressing all of these issues in our communities, including making the largest contribution in history to the Canada pension plan, increasing old age security and the guaranteed income supplement, and returning the age of retirement to 65 after the previous Conservative government raised it to 67. We also laid the foundation for national universal pharmacare, and the national housing strategy certainly focuses on the needs of seniors. I was extremely happy to hear that seniors were explicitly mentioned multiple times in the Speech from the Throne. It is clear that our seniors are top of mind and important to us in addressing their needs moving forward.

Again, we are making seniors a priority by increasing old age security for people over age 75 and implementing national pharmacare with dental benefits and increasing the survivor benefit by 25%. There are a significant number of things in the platform that are really going to help support our seniors.

The next issue I want to talk about briefly is action on climate change. This is the top issue for my constituents. Many times over they told me of their great concerns about flooding and other environmental disasters. We have taken their needs seriously, and in the throne speech it was good to hear many references to climate action. In fact, our government has done more on climate change than probably any other government in Canadian history, and has always listened to science-based research and data. We have taken international targets seriously and are putting in place instruments and tools to achieve the long-term behavioural change that will address the causes of the issue.

We are making positive steps forward. We declared a national climate emergency. We put a price on pollutants. We protected 14% of Canada's coastal and marine ecosystem. We developed a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change with the input of stakeholders from across the country. This framework allowed each province and territory to have input and set targets for reduced emissions by building resilience while growing our economy at the same time. This is a really balanced approach, thinking that the environment and the economy can go hand in hand.

We are doing and committing to a lot more more in the platform for this term. I am really proud to see things in there like planting two billion trees, protecting 25% of our land and oceans by 2025 and, eventually, by 2050, getting to zero carbon emissions.

We know that we have to move to electric vehicles, support green infrastructure and increase the energy efficiency in people's homes. We are making it easier for them to do that.

Lastly, my constituents wanted the government to help build a stronger local economy, and there are many opportunities to do that. The most important thing for me is to acknowledge the track record of success of our Liberal government since the last term. We have created just under one million jobs, reduced poverty significantly, invested in infrastructure, invested an unprecedented amount in R and D and innovation in high-growth industries, supported the skilled trades, invested in small business and have set up regional economic agencies, development agencies and more. I think—

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The member's time is up. I apologize for not giving him the one-minute warning. The member may be able to incorporate the rest of his speech into questions and comments.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

December 12th, 2019 / 4:15 p.m.

Bloc

Julie Vignola Bloc Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, since this is the first time that I rise in the House, I will start out by thanking the people of Beauport-Limoilou for entrusting me with the mandate to represent them. I thank them for their confidence and the hard work they all do every day to improve their lives in the riding.

I would like to ask my colleague a question.

Granted, the Liberal government has made a number of changes to improve Canada's situation in terms of climate change. Nevertheless, it spent several billion dollars to purchase the Trans Mountain pipeline that will carry oil to the Pacific near Vancouver, potentially threatening certain species, including salmon. Then there is the so-called new NAFTA, which turns its back on Quebec's green aluminum industry.

How can we really improve the climate if we are also taking actions such as these?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ryan Turnbull Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, our government is taking a balanced approach to addressing climate change and building the economy at the same time. This is a sophisticated approach. It does not mean that we take extreme sides one way or another; we have to do both at the same time. We have to look at the environmental impacts of these major investments in infrastructure and to take Canadian workers' lives and jobs, their livelihoods, seriously all across the country. We need to support those industries as well as mitigate the risk to climate change.

We know that moving to a low carbon economy is going to take time. In the interim, we need to support our workers and get our oil to market.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to welcome the member for Whitby to the House of Commons.

I was reading a letter from 11,000 scientists who are involved in studying our climate and who declare unequivocally that planet earth is facing a climate emergency. I take great stock in what scientists are saying.

The member was talking about how he values evidence-based decision-making. Scientists are stating unequivocally that we are facing a climate emergency, yet his government has gone ahead and bought a bitumen oil-exporting pipeline and plans to triple its exports.

Can the member try to qualify how he can support such a project, how his government can support such a project, yet firmly believe in evidence-based decision-making?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ryan Turnbull Liberal Whitby, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague's question is one that other people also have. It is a common question. The evidence is clear that we are facing a climate emergency and we need to take it seriously. Our government is really stepping up to address that issue.

The progressive measures in the platform are really working toward reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. It would be great if we could reach those targets more quickly. It is what we intend to do if we can get the co-operation of industry and the many other stakeholders involved in this work.