Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to have the opportunity to speak about such an important measure as the federal budget. I consider the budget to be a historic document which lays the necessary framework for a renewed, prosperous and just Canada.
As this is my maiden speech, I take the liberty to point out that my great privilege to be speaking today is also a historic occasion. I am the first Liberal representative of Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington since David Wright Allison defeated Sir John A. Macdonald back in 1883. It is a privilege to be given the trust and good wishes of one's constituents. I will work to ensure the government represents the concerns of my riding.
Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington extends from Lake Ontario in the southwest and Algonquin Park in the north to the Thousand Islands area in the southeast.
As I travel through the riding and stop in places like Bancroft, Madoc, Marmora, Stirling, Napanee, Arden, Sharbot Lake and my own village of Camden East, I receive many words of encouragement. I also receive general advice and specific suggestions about the issues that face our rural communities. I value this input and I thank the people of Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington for their support and wise counsel.
I give thanks to several hundred people who gave so freely of their time during the recent campaign. Today I am proud to be representing all of the people of our riding.
I would also like to publicly thank my wife Reta, and Kayla Rebecca, our daughter, for their love and support.
One of the messages I receive over and over again is that people want to see the government come out with an open and transparent game plan for economic and social renewal. My constituents expect no less. This is what the 1994 budget sets in motion, a framework for social and economic renewal.
Our objective is clear: to stimulate growth by targeting our spending without imposing new taxes. Just look at how quickly the government has set about funding initiatives which were promised during the campaign. In this party we take our platform, the red book, seriously.
The national infrastructure program has had a speedy start. In my riding alone 44 local level governments and five school boards are busy preparing their proposals. There is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of rural residents that there are many worthy infrastructure projects.
I received copies of proposals from a number of municipalities in my riding. My riding has the most miles of roads of any riding in Ontario. I have seen proposed projects for road improvements. I can attest that there are many heavily travelled arteries which have yet to be paved. The benefits of these proposed upgradings are many. Besides the prospects of jobs in road construction, there is the added benefit to the local tourist economy. Good roads get residents and tourists to and from their destinations quickly and safely.
Infrastructure projects may even save lives.
My background is in small business. I owned a general store in our community. My constituents own, work in and patronize small and medium sized businesses. Eighty per cent of new jobs are created by small and medium sized businesses. Eighty per cent of all jobs in rural areas are created by local based businesses.
This budget, I am pleased to point out, supports small and medium sized businesses. By its measures to support small business, this budget becomes the foundation for our country's economic renewal.
One of the most common complaints coming from the business community in my riding is that it is difficult to access bank capital for investment or expansion. During the election campaign we in the Liberal Party acknowledged this and promised to act to redress the situation.
The government is acting now in consultation with both financial institutions and businesses to develop a code of conduct for small business lending. The government's role is to act as an honest broker between stakeholders. By consulting with those concerned our government is showing its willingness and ability to tackle the problem of access to capital.
It is only by working with the banks and their business clients that we can together meet our country's common objective to improve the business environment and increase international competitiveness.
With this budget the government has proven that it not only knows how to consult but it knows how to listen and act as well.
More payroll taxes would have been a burden on business and a barrier to jobs. The government has acted decisively to roll back the unemployment insurance premium rate.
As most people know, a common request made to MPs' offices is for information on programs for small business. This suggests to me that Canadians have the will to create new businesses. Canadians have faith in their talent and their abilities. Canadians have plans that they are willing to put into action. Finally, Canadians have the initiative to search out the resources which are available to them.
My staff has been and will remain happy to seek information on government programs for small business on behalf of constituents.
It is only sensible that my staff and my constituents should be able to access complete information quickly. They need direct access to civil servants who hold an expert's knowledge of the content and scope of government programs for small business.
By next year the government will have put a Canada business services centre in every province. This is an efficient one stop shopping scheme for government programs. This is just one more piece of the framework which will serve to support business growth. With this budget the government is putting into place the building blocks necessary for strong social and economic renewal.
Also, on the economic front I am excited about the Canada investment fund and the Canadian technology network, just two more pieces of the framework for our country's renewal.
I am perhaps most encouraged by our government's commitment to fundamentally overhaul the social security system. We will not achieve savings by indiscriminately slashing the budget of social programs. Ours is not the mandate of the previous government. We have not been elected to tear down the social safety net, but rather to rebuild a system that works for all Canadians. This is our mandate and this is what the 1994 budget initiates.