Mr. Speaker, to begin with I would like to advise you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Guelph—Wellington.
Mr. Speaker, like a number of my colleagues I would like to congratulate you on your appointment as deputy chairman of the committees of the whole House.
I also want to congratulate our Speaker. As a career educator and seasoned parliamentarian he earned our trust through an election process I particularly appreciated not only as a newcomer in this House, but also as a former member of the Quebec National Assembly. I will always remember that the first thing I was asked to do when I arrived in Ottawa was to vote rather than having a decision imposed on me from above, which had been my experience in the past. This augurs well.
I would also like to salute voters in Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies and thank them for the mandate they gave me last June when they sent me here to represent them and serve them in co-operation with my team of assistants.
My riding of Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies is located in the northeastern part of Montreal island. It comprises the city of Anjou and several areas of Montreal, including the fast growing district of Rivière-des-Prairies. It is a riding where the business community is very vibrant, where businesses are increasing in number, creating more jobs, upgrading their facilities and exporting more and more. My riding is home to dozens of volunteer organizations serving our young people, the elderly, our families, and providing recreational activities, as well as various cultural communities, which by the way are increasingly diverse and numerous since 32 percent of my constituents are not of francophone origin.
It is therefore an honour and a great privilege to be able to represent and to serve that population, one with a rather exceptional voter turnout of 78 percent, 47 percent of whom voted for me as the candidate for the Liberal Party of Canada.
If I may, I would also like to thank the active Liberal party members in my riding, and the party executive, for their warm support of my nomination as a candidate. I wish to send particular greetings to the more than 3,000 members in good standing of our riding association who supported my progress to this seat right from the beginning.
I have listened attentively to the throne speech, the Prime Minister's address and those by the four leaders of the opposition parties. I must say that I am very pleased to be sitting on this side of the House at this time, and I am very proud to have heard the message from the government and the Prime Minister, for a number of reasons.
First of all, the Prime Minister has clearly explained the direction he plans to set for our team now and during the next mandate. In setting a path toward a more humane and more just society, he is adhering to the most profound and the most permanent Liberal values. This I find fitting, because it corresponds to the expectations of the people of Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies, whom I represent.
In recent years, tough decisions have had to be made, ones that have been both hard to make and hard to accept in some ways. I am thinking of our unemployed, our seniors, our disadvantaged families. I am thinking of the volunteer organizations which have had to do more, often with less.
While maintaining its commitment to improve public finances, the government can now say it can once again respond to Canadians' priorities without exceeding our means. It has indicated that it is now again able to invest not only in economic growth, which it will continue to do, but increasingly in the development of Canadian society and of its human resources—men, women, and young people—the primary capital of Canadian society.
Investing in our children, investing in health, building safer communities, offering young Canadians greater opportunities, investing in knowledge and creativity, these are some of our government's priorities. I think these commitments, once translated into laws, budgets and programs and put into effect, will take Canadian societies to new horizons of development and growth and will enable Canada to remain at the forefront of the international community.
The throne speech also warrants praise because it basically reflects the commitments made by the Liberal Party during the last election campaign in red book II, Securing Our Future Together.
From time to time I hear the criticism that this speech contains nothing new, nothing dramatic, that it is a rehash. Had the throne speech contained anything other than the red book commitments, the same detractors would be accusing the government of losing sight of and turning its back on the commitments it made during the election campaign.
What counts most for this country's future, for its unity and prosperity, for its men, women, young people and families, for its businesses? A government committed to fulfilling its promises or a government that is easily distracted and borrows buzzwords from the opposition parties?
Over the summer, like many of my hon. colleagues, I consulted people in my riding, business people, representatives of voluntary organizations, and union organizers from the private sector. They told me they wanted the government: first, to continue to support job creation and economic growth; second, to reinvest in social programs; and third, to settle the issue of national unity by taking into account Quebec's distinct and unique reality, but in co-operation with the rest of the country.
These three main concerns expressed by my constituents are high priority items in the throne speech. I look forward to helping implement measures in response to these needs and concerns shared by my community and many other communities in Quebec and across Canada.
In conclusion, I must say that I became involved in federal politics under the banner of the Liberal Party of Canada because I believe that this country can not only survive but prosper provided that the central, regional and provincial powers find a way to join forces instead of squabbling or even trying to split this country up, as the PQ government in Quebec and its prophets of doom and division, the Bloc Quebecois members, are currently doing.
I got involved in federal politics because I believe that the federal government has a unique responsibility to bring together and mobilize every part of this country, that is to say every generation, every region and every citizen of this country, to respond to the question the Bloc Quebecois is obsessively asking with ambitious plans, mainly by ensuring that each and every one of us can achieve our full potential within the Canadian democracy while making an important contribution to the international community.
During the course of my years of professional activity in teaching, the union movement, the environment, in consulting and in international co-operation, I learned that as Canadians we have many more similarities than differences, whether we are teachers, or engineers or unemployed, young and old. I learned that among Canadians there is an important desire to work together in a shared political framework. I learned that by working together as Canadians from Quebec and elsewhere in this country we can ensure a better future for ourselves and our children and make a most significant contribution to the well-being of the international community.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all my friends in the teaching profession across the country, and their representatives, and to the union organizers. I would like to pay tribute to the sustainable development promoters and supporters of the country, to the people concerned with international co-operation, and to the business people who I rubbed shoulders with in my career lives. I do not only wish to pay tribute to them, I also want to thank them for showing me that we have everything to gain by getting to know one another and by working together, with respect to our differences certainly, but also with the profound conviction that our membership in the Canadian family is a guarantee of security, fairness and prosperity for everyone in this country.