Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member for Lachine-Lac-Saint Louis for his excellent speech this afternoon and also the hon. member for Beaver River, who I can say is a very kind person. She wrote me an excellent letter last winter when I was in the hospital, as many members on both sides of this House did. I appreciate that very much.
Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate you on taking the chair. I think it becomes you very well. I will likely have an opportunity to congratulate the Speaker in person. I would also like to congratulate the other two officers of the chair.
When I was sitting here this afternoon listening to the debate on whether we are going to separate this country or whether we are not, I found it rather depressing. As a result I threw away most of my notes. Therefore, what I am going to say tonight is from the heart. That is not to say that my notes were not.
When we think of what it took in human work and human effort, in negotiation and flexibility of human nature to get this nation of Canada where it is today, I think all of us in this House and indeed across this country should exercise that flexibility and make up our minds that there is a bridge that can be built between human beings as well as across a river. Mental bridges or regional bridges in Canada, whether it be east, west, central Canada, Ontario, Quebec or Atlantic Canada versus central Canada, or whatever, are part of the uniqueness of this nation. As we start off this 35th Parliament it is very important that we realize and think about where we are going.
At the outset I want to say that I cannot in any way express my feelings in words as firmly and as sincerely as I would like. No matter where I am in Canada, I feel at home. I hope there is not another Canadian from sea to sea to sea who does not feel the same way.
Whenever I am speaking to development groups, whether they be chambers of commerce or municipal councils or county or regional councils or whatever, I always impress upon them the importance of smiling to people on the street and saying hello. It is very important to welcome people to your community. You can do that by breaking the ice.
I believe there is an element developing in Canada where there is a coolness in one part of the country to people in the other. First of all we must remember that our ancestors put this nation together. They put it together through hard work and determination. Can anyone imagine the work it took to put the first railroad across this great nation of ours and why it was done? It was done to weld this country together economically and, hopefully, socially.
I have the immigration figures here for Canada from 1852 to 1972. It spells a story of immigration to western Canada. It spells the early days of immigration to-I do not call it central Canada, I call it by the names of the provinces-Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. We have some great heritage in this country, not only in physical objects but in messages, philosophies and mentalities that have been passed on to us through generations.
I listened to the hon. leader of the Reform Party this afternoon. He had some particular views because he comes from another region of the country. I respect those views. I respect some of the views that have been put forward by the opposition. I cannot say that I go along with them, but they have the right to state them in this institution or anywhere in this country. We have to get down to a good, honest, in-depth debate on this nation. We cannot have an ongoing debate in a country as to
whether we are going to have national unity or whether we are not.
There are jobless people across Canada today. They want jobs. The average people in this country want to put bread on their tables. They want to have the dignity of being full-fledged citizens participating in their society. They would much rather be paying taxes than receiving welfare payments. It is up to us in this Parliament and in every legislature in Canada to think of those people, to think of the further advancement of Canada, this nation that was put together by great people like George Etienne Cartier, Baldwin and Lafontaine, people who had the flexibility to meet the other person's mind, have discussion and eventually agree.
That is going to be the big issue in this Parliament. Are we Canadians going to sit around, continue to bicker and differ among ourselves on questions of national unity when if we got together and had a meeting of minds we would go on to retain and improve Canada as one of the greatest nations on the face of the earth? Some people in other parts of the world would give their back teeth to be here with us today.
We not only have a great obligation to Canadians to provide jobs, we have a great obligation in this country to create research and development, to go on with it, to think of people in various parts of this country. Transportation is very important to this nation. We have many issues before us today; a $46 billion deficit in one year, a $500 billion debt in this country.
I beg and plead with all members in this House to get down to the business that our ancestors would want us to do, and that is building Canada, which they strained their backs and expended their energies to do. They had a vision for Canada. Let us not lose that vision. Canada is one of the most loved nations on the face of the earth today. Other countries must be wondering what is going on here. If we are arguing among ourselves, they will wonder whether we are going to tear it apart or not. I have such a deep feeling for this nation that I could not help but lay my notes aside tonight and express these very sincere and in-depth feelings.
We have a nation here that is not fully developed. Some people talk as if we are a fully developed nation. Out there we can create jobs by promoting tourism in this country. Tourism in Canada is virtually untouched, virtually untapped. We have some of the greatest scenes in this nation. Remember this. We have had a tremendous group of statesmen in this House over the years since these Parliament Buildings were first designed in 1859 and the members here now are in some of those seats. I ask the members to think about developing the vision, the sincerity and the dedication to our nation of those people who passed through these seats ahead of us over the years.
I have the list of Prime Ministers here. People think that Parliament is a raucous place today. Take out Hansard and read some of the debates on the great free trade of the 1911 election. Read the debates of the conscription issue in this House in 1917. It practically tore the country apart. It was a terrible thing on the social conscience of Canadians.
In the opposition lobby and in the government lobby of that day, I was told by an older person a few years ago, there was a bar and the debate went on all night long. Can you imagine what a spirited debate that was.
That is the kind of history we have here. We are not an old country. We are a very young country. It is not surprising that we should be having debates on national unity along the way. I just want to say this evening that we should think of the railway building which I mentioned and those people who immigrated to Canada and their train trips across this nation. After getting off ships some settled in Montreal. The St. Lawrence seaway development is one of the finest waterways that any continent could be blessed with. We can live together. You bet we can live together and we can thrive together.
If we put our energies into developing Canada and put a vision into this Parliament, exercise a vision to create jobs, we can make Canadians happy again right across this country. Canada is worth retaining. The world knows that. It seems to me that what we have to do is convince ourselves. We have some great talent in this country.
I have friends all across the province of Quebec. I have friends across Atlantic Canada. I have relatives in western Canada whom I have never seen, as many members may have. I have been to the territories in the north. This is the way we can build bridges. We must see our country and we must know our people. There must be respect for people out there. The only way that we can expect their respect is if we are not only seen to be but in fact are working on their behalf and on their betterment for the future.
There has to be respect for dignity, a respect for people of different cultures, yes, and a respect for some decency throughout the world. Hope and dignity should be the landmarks of this Parliament.
I agree with the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell when he said a while ago: "People think everybody was fighting with one another in past Parliaments". Over my years here I have had many very good friends on both sides of the House. I remain in touch with some of them today.
The 205 new members in the House have one of the greatest opportunities going. It is a personal challenge. They too will make friends back and forth across the floor. They too will find
that those people worked just as hard to get elected and have good ideas for Parliament and for Canada. They will grow to respect one another.
To every one sitting in the House now I say it is a great opportunity to be flexible, to develop friends and to establish a base for helping people across the country. There are people out there who are hurting. Let us remember that the three main industries from colonial days that built this nation of Canada were the fisheries, the forests and agriculture. All three of them are facing considerable trouble today and we must have a feeling for the people out there who are fighting to stay alive, to make a living and to be creative.
Over the years Canada has grown up a great deal. We have developed into a very responsible nation. I went to Dieppe on one of the anniversaries of the battle there and I could not believe what I saw. It was the first time I had seen it. There was a little narrow beach with tremendous cliffs that had openings in them all the way up for machine gun turrets and other heavy artillery. Poor Canadians were sent across the English Channel to attack Dieppe. One does not need any imagination at all to question the senior officer or officers who made that decision. Canada must have greater say in what we do with our Canadians abroad, whether it be in peacekeeping duties or, hopefully not, in time of war.
Ten of thousands of young people died in World War I. They did not have an opportunity to live in this country. They did not have an opportunity to sit in this Parliament. Within 21 years there was a second world war that took another cream of the crop of young people from this nation. They are resting in graves far from this nation. They fought for Canada. They fought for peace in the world. They fought for freedom. They wanted a free world. Today in their memory the least we can do is have some flexibility and real sound friendship right across the nation for which they fought and died, were wounded or came home with horrendous thoughts about what they had experienced.
These are some of my feelings today as I sit here and listen to the debate. I did not get into the contents of the throne speech which is a good start, an excellent start. I remember every word of it as do other members on the government side of the House and those on the other side. We had the red book and what we have in the throne speech is part of the red book. There will be more to come. As parliamentarians we must gain the respect of Canadians by doing what we said we were going to do. We cannot win them all. We are not going to come out of it batting 100 per cent, but with the fact that there is a target to aim at we are going to come out of it far better than if we did not map out our route in the first place.
The very fact that each of us was elected to this House of Commons shows that we have some special qualities and appeal to the people who sent us here. I ask the new members to develop a good rapport with all of us. My mind is open. My handshake goes out to anyone in this House who wants to discuss an issue whether or not I totally disagree.
Let us think of one thing. We want to get Canadians employed. We want to continue this great nation for which our forefathers fought so hard. They put up with much torment to build our nation of today.