Madam Speaker, as a preliminary matter, I would like to add my congratulations to the Speaker and the deputies. On a personal matter, I would like to thank my wife and family for their support and hard work during the recent election campaign. It was their efforts basically that brought me into this Chamber.
I would also like to thank all my hard workers and the people of Timmins-Chapleau for giving me their overwhelming support in the election. I can assure them that now as a member of the highest court in this land, I will do my utmost to serve them and this government.
I would like to tell you something about myself, Madam Speaker, and something about my riding. First of all, I am a young man born of immigrant parents. I was born and raised in the western community of Unity, Saskatchewan. My parents had emigrated from Germany and they farmed there. My friends from the west will recognize and remember where Unity, Saskatchewan is.
I received my primary and secondary education there and in the latter part of the 1950s I came east. I attended the University of Ottawa law school and graduated in 1962. At the conclusion of that I established my practice in Timmins, Ontario, where I have been to this date.
It was during the course of my university days here at the University of Ottawa that I had the good fortune of meeting my wife who was teaching school in Hull, Quebec. She is from Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Quebec. I am sure my friends to the left will know where Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Quebec is. At the time that I met her she could not speak a word of English and of course I could not speak a word of French.
We have now been married for some 33 years and I have learned some French, by no means perfect, but my wife has perfected the English language. Fortunately our children, all four of them, are perfectly bilingual. As a matter of fact our youngest daughter, who graduated from the School of Journalism at Carleton University in 1990, is now doing her masters at the University of Montreal.
That is basically who I am and where I came from. Of course I practised law in the city of Timmins since 1962.
Timmins-Chapleau is a very diverse ethnic riding, but basically has about a 45 per cent francophone population. The rest of the population are of various nationalities: Finnish, Italian, English and so on.
The base economies of the riding are mining and forestry. Without these economies there would be no reason for any human habitation in Timmins-Chapleau. As we all know, mining and forestry is a large part of the total Canadian economy, but since 1987, particularly in the mining sector, it has been all but gutted because of the policies, or lack of policies, of the previous government.
The mining industry is in a very serious decline. The ore reserves are almost at their depletion point. The mining industry advises us that unless we do something to revive and revitalize the industry, in a matter of four to eight years we will have another situation such as we have in the east coast fishery.
I attribute a lot of this to the previous government for cutting the flow-through shares initiated by the Liberal government in 1983. That program made available a large amount of capital for exploration. That capital has dried up since 1990. Now we are told by the industry that the total amount being expended in exploration is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $300 million, whereas to keep up mining reserves in the country we need a minimum of $800 million a year expended on exploration.
I noted in the throne speech specifically there was no mention made of mining. On October 15, during the course of the election campaign, the Liberal government released its very progressive and comprehensive mining policy. I know that everyone is happy with it and that it must be implemented. It is our task now at hand to implement the policies that were stated by the Liberals in October 1993.
It is my contention that a good place for the government to begin is by reintroducing flow-through shares. Aside from some abuses that took place under the program we know that it produced the capital required for exploration in the country. Since that program was gutted in 1990 all our capital has been going out of the country to Chile and other parts of the world where exploration has increased. This has been to our detriment and has resulted in the depletion of our ore reserves.
If the program were reintroduced by the government it would re-establish and regain the capital so urgently required for exploration. Although there have been critics of the program who said it was a run on the treasury, there are studies suggesting that the program was revenue neutral.
Let me give an example of what flow-through shares produced for the country. In 1988 in Val d'or, Quebec, there was a discovery made in the township of Louvicourt as a result of flow-through financing. That was a world class metal ore discovery. In the last two and a half years the company has spent
some $350 million to prepare the infrastructure to mine the property. I am advised that by July of this year the mine will be in full production. There have been many other discoveries, but that world class discovery alone will more than pay tenfold for anything that the flow-through shares may have cost the treasury over the time the program was in existence up to 1990.
It is my hope that, if not in the next budget, some future budget will include the reintroduction of that program with modifications so that abuses can be eliminated.
We have a lot of work to do in the mining sector. The people in mining have been working very hard. They have told us what the problems are. It is now up to the government to address those problems and to implement the policies in our mining statement on October 15, 1993.
I want mention something about the forestry sector because it is another part of the basic economy of Timmins-Chapleau. It contributes largely to the Canadian economy. I am advised that in the last three or four years the pulp and paper industry people have suffered great losses, some $2 billion to $4 billion. They certainly have my support, and I am sure many people will support them, in their efforts to delay the implementation of effluent discharge reductions that were to take effect in 1995 by two years.
I know my time is up and that I will have many more occasions to speak. I will address those matters later.