Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute pleasure to rise today in the House of Commons representing constituents of Cumberland—Colchester.
As my colleague did, I would like to thank some people from my campaign team: George Laird, Chris Guinan, Paula Henderson, Joe Nicholson, Ray Cameron, Kevin Mantin, Nick Gear and Tom Macdonald. I also thank my family, who continue to support me through this journey, which is certainly new for me. I thank all of them and a multitude of others as well.
Cumberland—Colchester is an area of Nova Scotia nestled between, on one side, the Bay of Fundy, with the highest tides in the world, and the Northumberland Strait, with the warmest waters north of the Carolinas on the other. It is an ideal place to raise a family, invest in a business, retire or go on vacation. Realistically, anything one could possibly imagine doing can be done here in Cumberland—Colchester. We have recreational activities all year long, as well as captivating natural beauty, first-rate educational institutions, business opportunities and people with a kind and welcoming spirit, such as the Smith brothers, whom I mentioned yesterday.
With all these great things in Cumberland—Colchester, why was there almost no mention of the entire province of Nova Scotia in the Speech from the Throne? The answer is very clear: There is a failure of leadership as it pertains to the current Liberal government. Let me also be clear that the office of the Prime Minister of Canada deserves to be respected. I wonder, then, how it is possible that the Prime Minister could believe that the Liberals are only there to represent those who voted for them and are able and willing to make disparaging comments about those with differing points of view.
As we all know, we in this House are asked to debate topics that are potentially very difficult and could affect the lives of millions of people. This is meant to be done vigorously and vociferously but without vitriol. Good leadership in a democratic society should not leave citizens fearful of criticizing those in the decision-making seats. They should not be disparaged for not following the party line, and our great nation should not be divided by a leader who has been tasked to be a leader for all. Good leadership calls us to be courageous yet kind, fearless yet forthcoming, visionary yet lacking venom, and highly principled, yet without hatefulness.
Sadly, this purposeful division of Canadians has only increased over the last two years for our citizens. In our great country, this has led to blaming, malevolence, hostility and demonstrations. This is not the Canada that I imagined living in as I age.
The division has been the excuse for a government that has planned poorly during a global pandemic that has been predicted for years. In the early days of the pandemic, if not for the Conservative plea for vaccines, none would have been procured, and certainly, very sadly, two years into this pandemic, none have been produced domestically in our own very capable and innovative nation. Further, our cries for rapid testing were dismissed as unnecessary and unhelpful. Now the Liberals have tabled a bill asking for $2.5 billion to procure rapid tests. This should have been a priority 18 months ago, when Canada's Conservatives recommended this course of action. Everyone in the world knows the value of rapid testing, and the government's continued failure to produce any significant number of rapid tests domestically in a reasonable time continues to illustrate its inability to plan or to execute a plan. Also, the procurement of antivirals has been slow compared to other nations, and perhaps so slow that they will be useless against the current wave of omicron.
Let me be clear: Too slow, not enough and not at the right time should be the planning model of the current government.
Therefore, colleagues, where has this left us? We are two years into a pandemic without federal leadership and without enough tools at the right time, which leaves our provincial counterparts with only the tools of lockdowns and restrictions. We are also well aware, as my colleague mentioned earlier, that the underfunding and poor planning with regard to our health care system has left us without any surge capacity at all, with 92% of acute care beds being full the majority of the time.
Once again, this allows the Liberal government to have Canadians locked down and restricted, to have businesses fail and to have a national debt that grows by more than seventeen and a half million dollars every hour: tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. It now tops $1.2 trillion.
Fewer dollars chasing fewer goods has led Canada to a 30-year high level of inflation and a housing bubble that has hit every corner of our nation. Last month I spoke to Alison. She volunteers at a local housing board in Cumberland. Recent estimates suggest there are 100 people without adequate housing and no prospect of finding a place any time soon. In Springhill, a town of less than 1,500 people, a one-bedroom apartment, if it were available, would be $950 a month. As we have heard again and again, Canadians are being priced out of their own lives. We begin to see a trend here with respect to planning: too slow, not enough, too late.
Over many years, the government was also warned of the terrible disaster that happened in the Sumas Prairie of British Columbia. As the government is a purported champion of climate change, Canadians expect more. That disaster was preventable and now that area of Canada will be recovering from it for years to come.
I wish I could stand here and tell members that catastrophe was unique, that it will never happen anywhere again in Canada and, if the government did know about such a looming disaster, that of course it would create a plan and do something about it. Once again, it is with a very heavy heart that I report to the House of Commons that in my own riding on the border with New Brunswick, such a disaster is ready to happen.
The land that connects the rest of Canada to Nova Scotia is called the Chignecto Isthmus. As far back as the 17th century, Acadian settlers realized that this low-lying area was subject to flooding on its flanks and, therefore, diked the area. This allowed for farming of the rich soil with protection from flooding. Indeed, there has been some maintenance that has been carried out at great expense. Unfortunately, the government has seen it appropriate to study this problem once again. For those of us who stood at the top of the dikes at high tide, it is clear this problem is real. It is an awesomely frightening experience to realize that, on an inauspicious day in December, the Bay of Fundy, with the highest tides in the world, literally laps at the top of the aforementioned dikes.
For those of us who believe in planning and the old adage of “failing to plan is planning to fail”, we see the folly of another study. We know that there is a time for action and the time is now. To add insult to injury, this new study, which arrived almost a year late, is not available for my review. It was commissioned by the federal government and the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. However, for reasons which are beyond comprehension, I cannot get a copy of this study even though, as I mentioned, this looming disaster is in my riding.
In fact, I reached out to the Minister of Transport specifically requesting a copy of the study. The response, jaw dropping and astonishing as it may be, was that I should seek a copy of this publicly and federally funded study from the Province of New Brunswick. To me and to the residents of Colchester, this is a slap in the face. Indeed, it is an affront to all Nova Scotians as the Trans-Canada Highway, CN Rail, telecommunications infrastructure and $50 million of trade pass daily through the isthmus. When the dikes are breached and there is no plan, the aftermath will be horrific and the remediation beyond expensive.
I stand here as a rookie member of Parliament, proud to represent the great people of Cumberland—Colchester, but with a very heavy heart. Canada is in a crisis of division, despair, deception, decay, decline, defamation, degeneration, disappointment, doubt and dread. I place this unbelievably unpleasant state of affairs firmly at the feet of my Liberal colleagues, who continuously fan the flames of the social media ether world for political gain, while the destruction of our country due to ineptitude continues. Who is playing the fiddle?
Canadians deserve and demand better. Conservatives stand ready to get Canada back to its rightful place nationally and internationally.