Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleagues on having been elected to the House.
Congratulations to all my colleagues. At the same time I want to thank my constituents for giving me the honour of representing them in this House.
I thank my constituents for having given me the opportunity to return.
My speech has three parts. Part one will be about government that takes an active role. Part two will concentrate on the priorities in the throne speech, and finally part three, the conclusion.
The government has been extremely busy undertaking a number of actions, actions that are good for Canadians, actions that are in fact part of its electoral program. Let me mention a few.
The government has downsized cabinet; it is one of the smallest ever in the history of Canada. It has cancelled the controversial EH-101 helicopter contract. It has as well stopped a bad deal to privatize terminals one and two at Pearson International Airport. It is pushing ahead with its $6 billion national infrastructure program. It has replaced the Governor of the Bank of Canada. It has passed NAFTA and finalized the terms of the new GATT. It has announced a plan for the review of defence policy. It has sent a clear signal on the need for integrity and frugality in government and it is opening the books to reveal government finances. Those are a number of actions the government has already taken.
As parliamentary secretary I have had the good fortune to make a number of announcements in my own riding that respond to the need to create jobs in Canada. It so happened because I was from the city of Winnipeg in the province of Manitoba that I was given this task.
For example, Peerless Garments Limited received two contracts totalling $541,000 for newly designed materials for National Defence to protect Canadian forces personnel from cold and wet weather. This will create four jobs and maintain up to 30 employees in Peerless Garments Limited.
Another announcement involved Century 21st Apparels Limited that won a $526,000 contract supplying National Defence with parkas and trousers for wet weather. This will create up to 20 jobs and maintain 45 more jobs at this particular company.
A third announcement involved Standard Aero Limited that won a $725,000 contract for repairing and overhauling aircraft cooling materials. It will maintain six jobs at this particular company.
Those are the kinds of announcements that Canadians want to hear. Those are the kinds of announcements that create jobs and maintain jobs, that make sure our fellow Canadians are working or going back to work.
I also had the privilege of announcing a grant of $261,000 in my own riding for maintaining a six-room residence to provide temporary shelter for victims of family violence.
It is too bad that in today's society, we need establishments like these, but unfortunately, we do. I was glad to make this announcement, which responds to a real need in our society.
I will now discuss the highlights of the throne speech. First, I would like to deal with job creation.
Job creation which during the election was our major priority continues to be our major priority.
Most members will have heard about the infrastructure program that is going forward rapidly. That is an immediate response to Canadians who have been unable to work. Then there will be the response to small and medium sized businesses which are those enterprises that have created 85 per cent of the new jobs in Canada during the last decade. They will have more access to capital. There will be less red tape. There will in fact be research and development which will permit them to grow, create and simply make sure there are more jobs in Canada.
Now, I would like to speak about integrity or ethics, if you prefer, in public life.
The Prime Minister has indicated that integrity in government is absolutely essential and in that vein he has cancelled the Pearson airport deal which was a very bad deal for Canadians. He has cut political staff for a saving of $10 million annually and he has outlined cuts to MPs' perks and benefits of over $5 million annually. There will be a review of MPs' pensions and there will be additional reductions and changes to that which is happening in this government in this Parliament because the Prime Minister and his government believe that integrity in government is an absolute necessity.
There were also references in the throne speech to economic recovery.
We have talked about changing Canada's social security system within two years so that it responds to more needs more effectively, replacing the goods and services tax, ending foreign overfishing and making sure that we have an elimination of internal trade barriers.
Finally, there is perhaps a fourth major point. We have talked about strengthening the fabric of Canada.
About strengthening the social fabric in this country.
We will proclaim the Canadian environmental assessment act. The Prime Minister will himself chair a national forum on health to foster a public dialogue on health care. We will introduce measures to enhance community safety, especially the safety of women and children, and we will move to implement the inherent right of aboriginal self-government. We will consult widely with Canadians as we conduct major reviews of foreign and defence policy.
As I indicated initially, this is a government of action. This is a government that said during the election campaign that it would do things and this is a government that has reiterated a number of those particular points in the Speech from the Throne.
I would like more or less to summarize the throne speech which reflects our determination to keep our campaign promises. To me, this is absolutely essential. Economic recovery and job creation are the main priorities of this government and of all Canadians.
We will meet the commitments made in our campaign program, the little red book which is becoming increasingly popular. The government's priorities are clearly identified, both in this little red book and in the throne speech.
And finally, the Minister of Finance will put figures to the measures announced in the throne speech in his February budget. The budget will contain measures designed to control the debt and the deficit while turning around the unemployment situation.
There are two final comments I would like to make. The throne speech contains one paragraph which to me is very important, and I quote:
Our cultural heritage and our official languages are at the very core of Canadian identity and our sources of social and economic enrichment. The government will announce measures to promote Canada's cultural identity.
Is this throne speech perfect? Of course not. But I think it gives us a chance, if we are willing, to work together to create, to build, and to improve what we already have. On many occasions I have heard members of all political parties make comments such as that this is an excellent country. We live well. We eat well. We have fun. So when we like something this much, something that may be the best of its kind in the whole world, why are we looking for radical solutions? To me, this is the best country in the world, and I want to ask my colleagues to help make it even better.