Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Cariboo—Prince George.
As I rise in the House of Commons for the first time, it is my honour, on behalf of the residents of Essex, to represent each corner of my riding, from Lakeshore to Amherstburg, from Essex to Kingsville, from LaSalle and everywhere in between. I am humbled to represent my great riding. I thank each and every person for putting their trust in me. I have been working and will continue to work hard for them in Essex, as well as in Ottawa.
First and foremost, I must give thanks to my Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ, for the opportunity to stand here as the member of Parliament for Essex.
On the eve of the writ being dropped, I had an unfortunate accident that was scary, to say the least, but many stitches later and amazing health care from the doctors and front-line nursing staff at the Erie Shores HealthCare hospital, along with prayers from many and a long phone call from Conservative leader Andrew Scheer while I was in the hospital that evening, I was discharged. It is not often that a candidate gets a call from his party leader on the eve of an election. This speaks directly to Mr. Scheer's caring character and concern for others.
Members of my Conservative family came out in full force and offered to help my campaign in whatever way they could. As I knew, my Conservative family is a caring, thoughtful and deep-rooted family, ready for the call to action when someone is in need. For this, I need to thank all of my colleagues for their support during this difficult time.
There are so many people I need to thank. I thank my wife Allison, the love of my life, my best friend and supporter, for her sacrifice, her smile, her dedication and trust. I love her dearly. My children Jagger, Cody and Faith should remember that they are only handcuffed by the boundaries that they place upon themselves. Each and every one of them is unique and I am proud to be their father and excited for their future. I thank my amazing parents, Kim and Helen Lewis, and my brothers, Jeff and Kim, for being positive influences in my life and helping me to be the person I am today.
I thank my most amazing volunteer election team, my campaign manager and those who helped spread the positive Conservative message at 43,000 doors across Essex, those who worked tirelessly and always with a positive attitude and great big smiles. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them. I also thank my staff members, the people who truly get things done.
I am honoured to have served alongside my brothers and sisters of the Kingsville Fire Department for seven and a half years. Serving my community is the very reason that I stand here today. To each and every one of them who had my back and looked over my shoulder in the face of danger, I thank them. To my dear friend, Captain Mark Rankin, I respect him enormously and thank him dearly for his friendship.
I would be remiss not to thank a few other folks, too many to name, but vital to recognize. To my hockey coaches, my baseball coaches, my teachers, my mentors and my friends, as well as those who have influenced my life and given me opportunities along the way, I thank them. Mrs. Robinet, my grade school teacher, and Mr. Robert Peterson, who took me under his wing during my term as Kingsville councillor, have both touched me deeply and I am better because of it.
I stand here today to represent the great folks of Essex. It is with them in mind that I must focus for a moment on the cultural, geographical and economic riches of my riding of Essex. Essex is famous for its farming and agricultural communities. The greenhouse industry is also a big part of its economy, growing a variety of produce and now expanding into the cannabis industry as well. There are wineries and microbreweries. I was proud to see our local wine being served here in Ottawa just last week. There is cutting-edge technology for development, as well as incredible training at St. Clair College, training our future generation of skilled trades workers. There are salt mines and dairy farms, commercial fishing and the most talented auto workers and steelworkers in the country. Geographically, Essex is among the warmest ridings in the country, attracting tourists from around the world to enjoy its climate, waterways and the many festivals the region has to offer.
I stand with confidence when I say that Essex is truly a microcosm of Canada. I would like to include in my speech two issues that are close to my heart and to the hearts of the good folks of Essex.
First, our nation and my riding are built upon the hard-working people and entrepreneurs of our small businesses. These are the people with great hopes and dreams. They are often willing to mortgage everything, short of their children, to ensure that they are serving their local communities, creating jobs and opportunities, feeding the mouths of families and donating to the many charities that, especially at this time of year, come knocking on their door for donations.
These individuals are freedom fighters. They take all the risk, invest the capital, are directly responsible for their success versus their failure and do not receive benefits like many of us do. They often have to borrow money from family members to get their businesses started, as banks are reluctant to lend money to set up a business. They spend long hours creating jobs for Canadian families. These businesses are the economic engines of Canada and when they fail, people lose the ability to feed their families. They pour their blood, sweat and tears into their companies as they are proud of what they do.
What is more, they drown in government regulation and tax. I spoke recently to a gentleman in my riding who was working on his day off. It happened to be a Sunday and he was working very long hours to fill out the tax forms as he could not afford to pay an accountant to do it for him.
Being a small business owner myself, I understand the struggles that these people face each day. I see nothing in the Speech from the Throne to address these issues or to support our small businesses. Conservatives understand what the issues are and we thank our small businesses for what they bring to Canada. We will certainly continue to stand up for them.
Second, I stand in the House as a proud hunter, angler and legal firearm owner. In fact, as an outfitter, firearms are one of the tools of my job. Like many Canadians, I enjoy sport shooting and target shooting. I am not a criminal nor have I ever had a criminal record. Like many Canadians, I have had many background checks and spent a lot money to enjoy my right as a legal firearm owner. Now the government is looking to penalize and persecute me for a crime I did not commit. I am both a legal handgun owner and a member of the House of Commons and I find it appalling that we are going down the same path that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars in the past with zero results. Criminals and gang members are not going to give up their guns. Mayors across Canada have said that this is simply not the answer.
The answer is giving our border guards and law enforcement officers the tools and funding they need to combat illegal smuggling, gang violence and criminals. Getting serious on crime and giving longer prison sentences is the answer. A buyback program and banning handguns will have absolutely no positive effect to reduce violent crime. When will the government stop penalizing the law-abiding gun owners? The nonsense needs to stop.
I was elected to represent the great people of Essex, to defend their rights as Canadians and help create an environment for families and businesses to flourish. Members of Parliament have been given a sacred trust to do all we can to serve the people who sent us to Ottawa to represent their hopes, dreams and aspirations for themselves, their loved ones and their communities. We have a great challenge and great opportunities ahead.
I look forward to the work I can do to make changes for Canada and my riding of Essex. It is my deepest desire to do all I can to leave this world a better place than I found it.