On behalf of all my colleagues, I want to thank the people of Quebec and assure them of our intention to fully defend their interests during this mandate.
The riding of Laval East offers many challenges. Canada is a vast country, and I have noticed that several of us do not know my riding well.
Laval, in the province of Quebec, is the name of a renowned university, but it is first and foremost a great city, located on an island near Montreal. The city of Laval is buzzing with economic activity. I must say that the infrastructure program put in place by the government is a valuable tool for growth and development at the disposal of our local decision makers in Laval.
Laval's economic development cannot be dissociated from that of the greater Montreal area. It has been stimulated by the Canadian action strategy for the greater Montreal area and very sizeable federal investments exceeding $1.5 billion. These measures have helped consolidate the economic base of the Montreal region, and Laval has benefited from that.
Laval East is one of three ridings located on the island of Laval. It is an urban area bordered by two rivers, but it also includes a large agricultural area.
When travelling on certain secondary roads around Laval in September, one feels that one is in the country, seeing the vast fields and mounds of cabbages on farmers' trailers.
All this to say that Laval East and the entire city of Laval are more than just a suburb.
That is why the priorities announced in today's Speech from the Throne coincide perfectly with those of the people living in Laval East, who want to work on their island.
My riding welcomes the government's initiatives to promote a new economy based on research and development.
The high tech sector has been taking on increasing importance in Laval in recent years. The government's continued emphasis on developing new technologies augurs well for the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and computer industries. One has only to think of the Institut Armand Frappier, which offers leading-edge training at the master's and doctoral levels.
The partnership with industry approach has been a winning one for this new economy, with its emphasis on innovation and new global markets.
In my humble opinion, the Speech from the Throne reflects a vision of modern society focused on the family, youth and the less fortunate, a lasting Liberal vision.
The Speech from the Throne outlines an action plan for the future, based on a Canadian way of doing things. The tax breaks promised last fall took effect one month ago. It has been reassuring to see that they have been driven by a sense of fairness and responsibility, and that low income Canadians, particularly families with children, have been the principal beneficiaries.
The government has also shown that it was able to react quickly and introduce short term measures, such as last fall's rebate to low income Canadians for heating costs.
I can tell you that this measure was extremely well received in Laval East, where seniors are having a very hard time coping with the increase in heating costs.
As a lawyer who had to deal with heart-wrenching matrimonial disputes, I am glad to see that my government is concerned about the help being provided to single-parent families and the best interests of the children when a family breaks down.
Increasing the child benefit and introducing a one-year parental leave are just some of the concrete measures that will be taken to ensure a brighter future for our children.
During the election campaign, I also came to realize how important the health agreement signed last September was to my constituents of Laval East, who are however still wondering how this agreement will be implemented by the provincial government.
The commitment of our government to take concrete measures during the next three years to promote health and prevent illnesses is crucial to our aging population.
Also, the way our government keeps insisting on maintaining a medicare system where all patients, rich or poor, are equal is certainly reassuring for all of us.
By acting to fight organized crime and protect the public against new forms of intimidation, the government is showing how responsible it is. We all remember the panic created by the murder attempt against reporter Michel Auger. This truly reflects the terror a large segment of our population is living under.
As another sign of openness, the government insists on helping more adults develop advanced skills. Therefore, it will create registered individual learning accounts. Throughout his public life, our Prime Minister has shown deep concern for labour force training.
In a motion on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne in 1965, which was submitted at the request of Prime Minister Pearson, the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Laflèche said:
For the past 50 years, the Liberal Party has always been at the forefront of social policy in Canada and it will show vision and determination to retrain displaced workers and promote manpower mobility, so that every part of Canada can become a comfortable place for each and every citizen.
Such was the vision of our Prime Minister back in 1965, a vision that has since been updated to include the notion of lifelong learning and to better reflect the concerns of today's society.
In a recent book on the life of the late Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau, an eminent Canadian, Jim Coutts, wrote the following:
There are only two kinds of political leaders: those who want to be somebody and those who want to do something.
Our Prime Minister is proving to us that he is still pursuing goals. His determination, some 30 years after entering politics, to put in place measures to help workers be better equipped to face today's challenges is proof that, in politics, determination is what counts.
I do not have the same number of years as our Prime Minister to achieve my goals. He entered politics at age 29, which is not my case. So, I hope you will forgive me if I am impatient at times during this mandate and I apologize in advance for it.
In conclusion, I am confident that we as parliamentarians have the ability to go beyond partisanship to make ours a better society. Today's Speech from the Throne is eloquent when it comes to preserving our future.
Therefore, it is with enthusiasm that I support the motion on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.