Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour that I rise today in reply to the Speech from the Throne.
As the member of Parliament for Tobique—Mactaquac and as the shadow minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, I would like to thank our leader of the Conservative Party for the opportunity. We look forward to serving the people of our region and across the country to the best of our ability to make sure that their voices of concern are heard at this time, and also that we seize the opportunities that are before us.
Over the course of the last six months, Canadians have been hit extremely hard by COVID-19. It has affected every area of our lives. Most of us have spent extended periods of time locked in our homes, cut off from family and friends, oftentimes only able to communicate virtually or by phone, which has been extremely difficult for our seniors. Many people have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own, throughout this crisis and, most tragically, some have lost loved ones and those they cared for.
It is during times like these that both the best and the worst of people are revealed. Today, I choose to focus on the best.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the first responders, those who rush in when others are rushing out, and who gladly go into areas of danger to help their fellow citizens. I would like to thank our health care workers, such as our doctors, nurses, personal care providers, pharmacists and nursing home workers. I would like thank our agricultural workers, those who grow and harvest our food, including farmers, fish harvesters and grocers. I would like to thank our truckers, those who haul and transport our goods to make sure that we have the needed supplies during this time. I would like to thank our small business owners, entrepreneurs and innovators who are still taking the risk and getting out there doing everything they can to provide meaningful employment for others. I would like to thank those who choose to continue working in their minimum wage jobs when there is increased risk; they had other options before them and yet chose to keep working, and I commend them for that. I would like to thank our teachers, especially on this World Teachers' Day, and acknowledge the great challenges they have had to face, and the big adjustments they have had to make to ensure the safety of their students, to ensure that the quality of education is maintained and that our children are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. I would like to thank our faith-based, non-profits and other food bank organizations, etc., who provided these essential services and offered hope to some of our most disadvantaged, often overlooked segments of our society. They continue to do good work in spite of not having the resources they once had. I would like to thank all of them.
I know that Canadians feel like there is no end in sight. It seems like, every day, it is just a new update on how many new cases and where the outbreaks are. Despite how it feels, I want to assure members that COVID will not last forever and that this too shall pass. Canada, as well as all the nations of the world, will get to the other side of this together. It is important and imperative now more than ever that we as Canadians and we as a nation choose to embrace our potential rather than continually focus on the peril that is before us. I feel that, in the midst of this, there is opportunity and there is hope in spite of all the challenges we face. All too often governments and people reach after the things that challenge us and concentrate on the things that are negative.
If there was ever a time for the voices of hope to arise and voices that point to our opportunities and our potential as a people, it is now. The Liberal throne speech was not just somewhat but a whole lot disappointing in this fact. It was high in spending, had a tremendous number of platitudes and a lot of virtue signalling, but it was very low on sustainability and a vision for our future.
The Prime Minister had six weeks of a prorogued Parliament to chart a path forward and instill confidence in the Canadian people who are so desperately looking for both a COVID plan and an economic recovery plan. Instead of using those six weeks to plan for the future, it would appear that the Prime Minister chose to prorogue simply to run away from the ever-increasing and ongoing ethics scandals, and threw together a speech made up, it seems, of the greatest hits from the last 20 years of failed Liberal promises and social experimentation.
I have heard from many Canadians about their disappointment in the Liberal throne speech, from those Canadians who were forgotten or left out of the speech, from Canadians who understand the need to take care of those who are struggling in these difficult times but are equally concerned about the ever-rising deficit and national debt, and those Canadians who are concerned about their children having to pay down this debt for years and years and for generations.
Unfortunately, it would seem that sometimes despair and apprehension are all too common during this time.
A great opportunity was missed in the throne speech, and that was the opportunity to speak to our potential as a people and as a country, the opportunities for growth where we maximize the potential of our resource sectors, our agriculture sector and our manufacturing and technological sectors. I have a feeling that, if we spoke to that potential, hope would begin to arise and we would say, “Yes, we can overcome. We can become more. Canada can be positioned to come back stronger,” as the Conservative leader has talked about.
Canadians know the circumstances we are in, but they also know deep within that there is a new day coming when this will all be behind us, and they expect us, as leaders, to be offering a vision that positions Canada to not only grow through this crisis but to be positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that are going to emerge on the other side of this.
I have had the privilege of being in a riding that has a lot of farmers and agriculture producers. I have also had the privilege in my new role to talk to fish harvesters. I have learned some very valuable lessons. I remember that at the height of the crisis, at the time we were so uncertain about what we were facing, I personally drew comfort in driving through the riding and seeing tractors going back into the fields this spring to plant seed, seeing them work as they always had in spite of the uncertain times we were living in. It was reassuring to see trucks driving back and forth on the highways taking goods to Canadians.
There was something reassuring about the fact that even though they were faced with uncertainty, they chose to keep working. They chose to keep doing what they knew they could do with the things that they could control. While there were lots of things that were beyond their control, they chose to keep specializing in the areas they had control over. It reminds me of the ancient proverb that says that he who regards the wind or looks at the clouds will neither sow nor reap. In other words, if we are waiting for perfect conditions to do what we can do, we will probably never reap or get back to doing what needs to be done in this time.
Farmers and fish harvesters can teach us a very valuable lesson, which is that we should keep working and doing what we can. Even though we are not sure what the future may hold, let us position ourselves to be ready to prosper and do well again when the tide changes.
In conclusion, this too shall pass. Yes, as the old writer once said, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”. I want to assure the people of Tobique—Mactaquac and the people of Canada that, yes, it seems like it has been a long night with COVID-19, but morning is coming and the day will break again. Now is the time for us to position Canada to prosper and seize our potential, rather than continually focus on the perils that surround us.
I look forward with optimism to a future that is bright for Canada, when we invest in our people and not only seize on the immediate crisis at hand but look beyond that and say that Canada can grow the goods the world is hungering for, we can produce the energy the world is looking for and we can manufacture the goods that the world is depending upon. I look ahead with hope.