Madam Speaker, I rise today to refute the motion before the House and to speak directly to Canadians of the record of the achievements of the Liberal government and the future of this great country.
Whether it is in the House, in coffee shops, malls, union halls, hockey rinks or homes across the country, we are prepared to stand before Canadians with a message of opportunity, a message of equality and a message of compassion.
We want to move Canada forward in confidence and strength. We want to continue to build this country, drawing on the best from Canadians so that this country is among the first in the world in economic opportunity for everyone and fairness and justice for everyone and leadership in a troubled world.
This is the course our Prime Minister is setting and this is the course Canadians want for our country. These are the values of economic opportunity and social justice that bring us together. They are what make Canada the choice of people from all over the world. They guide our government in meeting its responsibility to be the guardian of unity, security and sovereignty.
Let me quote from the remarks the Prime Minister made this fall. He said:
I believe in the good that government can do—that government must be the leader of national undertakings that express our highest aspirations and reflect our deepest values.
I believe that the role of government is to set the national objectives of its time, and then to mobilize the national will to achieve them.
Governing with this minority Parliament has brought its own challenges but, through it all, we have remained fixed on building this country and building a better tomorrow for all.
Let us look at what that determination has brought us: a record of eight straight balanced budgets and a financial and economic position that is the envy of other G-8 nations; the lowest interest rates in a generation for Canadians who are buying homes, Canadians who are starting businesses or saving for their own and their children's future; record job creation with the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years; and economic growth, not just in one part of the country but in all regions.
We have heard the speech from the Leader of the Opposition. The actual words that he used are obviously quite negative in tone but that seems to be the opposition's trademark. The opposition calls our determination arrogance. Canadians call it achievement. The opposition calls it an abuse of public funds. Canadians call this securing a prosperous tomorrow for all our people. Canadians call what this government has provided fulfilling a commitment to the aspirations and the hard work of building a better Canada.
From the very beginning we have been willing to work with the opposition when it is in the best interests of Canadians. For each and every bill that we have passed in the House we have made the effort to build support in the other parties for these priorities. The actual record speaks for itself: budget bills that include the Atlantic accords; the new deal for cities and communities; a national early learning and child care system; bills protecting our children; the civil marriage bill; the health accord; and the veterans charter. These are measures that will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians.
Canada is a parliamentary democracy with core principles that we abide by in this democracy. The alliance of Conservatives, the separatist Bloc and the NDP continue to operate, and we are seeing it again today, not in the public interest but in their own narrow, private and partisan interests by putting forward this motion.
When I look pack to the beginning of this Parliament, the Conservatives entered this minority Parliament, even in the earliest days, calling for it not to work. The threats started right from the beginning with the Speech from the Throne back in 2004. The Leader of the Opposition on September 30, 2004, said, “I will give my caucus a mandate to vote. If that means defeating the government, then that is what will happen”. He said that at the beginning of this Parliament.
The Leader of the Opposition continues to work on private and partisan ambition and not in the public interest. The leader the official opposition has had that narrow, petty view since the beginning of this Parliament, and it springs from an ideology of extreme right wing conservatism. In fact, Ralph Klein agrees. It is what has animated the former Reform and Canadian Alliance parties, their vision of a small Canada, a Canada that would be at the bidding of the provinces. That is the view that the Conservatives and the separatist Bloc bring together under that vision.
We have seen that alignment before and we are seeing it again as they join hands. They join hands to ensure that the one government that is responsible to all Canadians is weakened to the point that it cannot act on behalf of all Canadians.
The Leader of the Opposition mused that Canada should become more like Belgium. He once stated:
Giving provinces a greater voice has become more important as our courts have become increasingly activist in the era of Charter challenges.
Contrast that with our Prime Minister, who said:
Our linguistic duality and our ethnic and cultural diversity make Canada a global microcosm, open to the world. We understand that the strength and success of each province or region is to be celebrated, for it makes Canada stronger; recognizing that together, united, Canada is much greater than the sum of its parts.
The Conservatives and the Bloc joined forces just two weeks ago to vote against programs that would attract new people to this country. They opposed help for family reunification, and help to settle newcomers to this country. The negativity of the opposition is a constant and consistent feature that we see every day in this House. We see it in the misrepresentations and the half-truths, and the innuendo they use to tear down people. They do not care, and the leader of the official opposition just got up and restated this, what an independent judicial inquiry found to be the truth. They do not even want to have it complete its work.
Contrast that with the pledge by the Prime Minister that Canadians should have all the results and the response to its findings before a judgment is rendered by Canadians on this Parliament and on all parliamentarians. There is inconsistency in the Conservative position, and we do not have to look very far. It was only in January that the Leader of Opposition said:
Our party expects—and we will settle for nothing less—than the [Martin] government taking every available means to ensure that the Gomery inquiry continues.
What has changed? The opposition parties ignored Justice Gomery's first report which exonerated the Prime Minister and our members from Quebec. The leader of the official opposition was so joyful to quote from Justice Gomery. Justice Gomery was very clear in his report. He stated:
[The Prime Minister], whose role as Finance Minister did not involve him in the supervision of spending by the PMO or PWGSC, is entitled, like other Ministers in the Quebec caucus, to be exonerated from any blame for carelessness or misconduct.
He further wrote:
--a system of government that would impose upon itself a searching inquiry by an independent commissioner, armed...with a far-reaching mandate to investigate and report on matters that could prove to be embarrassing to the Government itself, is proof that our democratic institutions are functioning well and objectively.
However, the findings did not fit with the opposition parties plans and private ambitions. They ignore the fact that the Prime Minister set the inquiry in motion. They ignore the fact that it was the Prime Minister, in his very first act, who cancelled the sponsorship program. They ignore the fact that he fired the people responsible for the program. They ignore the fact that he has ordered lawsuits and recovery of money. They ignore the fact that he turned the report over to the RCMP, that he established an independent Ethics Commissioner, and that he is taking measures to ensure that this never happens again.
The opposition, rather than deal with the truth, would rather deal with misrepresentations, half-truths and innuendoes. Because the Prime Minister acted forcefully, decisively and with integrity, the opposition parties want to end this Parliament.
What are they really saying? They are saying that they disagree with this Parliament in helping the victims of abuse in residential schools. They disagree with helping the men and women who work in the softwood lumber industry. They do not want this Parliament to help older, displaced and disabled workers. They do not want this Parliament to expand apprenticeships and help people obtain the skills to find and keep the jobs. They do not want this Parliament to create a Pacific gateway, which would ensure the future prosperity of British Columbia and the west as the key North American link to the rising economic powers of China and India. They do not want this Parliament to enact new laws to ban street racing, to ease rules for foreign adoptions, to protect the Public Service whistleblowers, and to protect against international trafficking in human beings. That is what they are really saying in putting this motion forward.
Let us contrast what the official opposition is standing for and looking to do with what we want to do in this Parliament. We want this Parliament to work for Canadians. We are continuing to make it work and are focused on their priorities, even as the opposition parties plot to bring an unwanted election over the holidays. They will have to take responsibility and they will have to explain that to Canadians, but that will be left to them to explain.
We have accomplished much in the 17 months that we have been in this Parliament and with the support of Canadians, we want to do much more. The Prime Minister will be presenting an agenda based on helping people, advancing forward-looking policies, investing in our young people, those most in need, and showing economic and social leadership at home and around the globe.
We are focused on the skills and education Canadians need to prosper and on new partnerships with the private sector to deliver goods the world wants and to reach markets in every place on the planet. We are committed to a strong Canadian federation, to universal health care, and to financial discipline. We are committed to individual freedom and strong social foundations. We are committed to calling forth the best in every citizen and offering hope to every citizen.
For generation after generation, people have come to Canada full of dreams and full of courage to discover new opportunities, to persevere and overcome obstacles, and participate in building this amazing country. They did not ask for miracles. They asked to be treated fairly. They asked to be given their chance to participate. They asked to be treated as equals. All Canadians deserve that promise. All Canadians deserve that chance for their children and their grandchildren to move forward.
It is easy for the opposition parties to belittle progress. It is easy to tear down people with half-truths and innuendoes. It is easy to shut down this Parliament and talk of tearing things apart. When they are so desperate to defeat the government, it is easy for the Conservative leader to say nothing when the leader of the Bloc asserts that sovereignists can ignore the Clarity Act. It is easy to climb into bed with the separatists and months later produce the election the Conservatives so desperately want, to play on fear and insecurities, to foster alienation, and to encourage envy and the regional hurts at the expense of national interests.
It is easy, as they have done over and over again, to blame the person who admits the problems and acts to deal with them. Those things are easy, but those things are not leadership. They do not constitute vision.
We are prepared to meet the challenges of the future. We are prepared to reach out to all Canadians. We believe in the vision and courage of Canadians that will make our economy, our citizens and our country as strong as they can be.
Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, we will work to make the best country in the world even better. The world has seen the meaning of hope and it is Canada. The world has seen the future and it is Canada. We will not let it be turned backward in the name of some right-wing ideology put forward by narrow and angry people. We will not let Canada be torn apart. We believe in thinking and acting in the long term interests of Canadians and this special place, Canada.
Whenever an election is called, we are ready. We are ready to take our vision to Canadians. We are ready to run on our record. We are ready to run on what we have done. We are proud of what we have done. We will fight the negative. We will fight the innuendo and we will go to Canadians. Ultimately, Canadians will decide. That is our democracy and that is their right. We are proud. We are ready. We will fight for Canada and we will ensure Canadians have the brightest future possible.