Mr. Speaker, I am so honoured to have so many hon. colleagues join us in the House today.
I have not taken the floor in some time and I am going to ask you, Mr. Speaker, and my colleagues on all sides of the aisle, for some indulgence today. I have every intention of speaking to the substantive motion before us, but before I do that, I have some matters of a personal nature that I have felt in my heart for some time and need to get out, and I am going to simply say them if the House would grant me that dispensation.
Let me first take the opportunity to introduce some of the most important people in my life, whom I have the pleasure of having in Ottawa today. That is my parents Sandra and Anthony Chan, my brother Dr. Kevin Chan, and of course my beloved wife Jean Yip. Unfortunately, our three children Nathaniel, Ethan, and Theodore could not join us. The older two are currently in examinations, although Jean and I will be very pleased to welcome our youngest child Theo on Wednesday when he comes to Ottawa for his graduating field trip. We are very much looking forward to that.
First and foremost it is a tremendous honour to serve as the member for Scarborough—Agincourt. All of us treasure the privilege that we have serving in this particular place. I am so grateful to my constituents of Scarborough—Agincourt for having given me a mandate twice to serve in this wonderful place.
While it is a very proud thing to serve as a member of Parliament, there is only one thing that makes me more proud and that is to simply let my parents know my greater pride is reserved for being first and foremost their son, and being Kevin's brother, and most importantly, the spouse of my beloved wife, who has been there every step of the way. I simply could not ask for a better partner in life.
As I mentioned, one of the difficult things that often confronts us, and it is not unique to Canadians but obviously it is a challenge for those of us who serve in public office, is the sacrifices that are made by our families. If I have any failings to my children, such as having missed some of their important milestones, like recently missing Ethan's jazz concert at his school in order to perform my function here in the House of Commons, I ask them to forgive me, but I will explain the important reasons for why we do what we do.
The most important people in my life have taught me three important lessons and they are the concepts of dedication, duty, and devotion.
On dedication, my parents, and be that very much at an early age, instilled in both my younger brother and I the concept of doing our best. I have to say, and I would acknowledge, that I am one who has perhaps not achieved the same standard that my younger brother has achieved in terms of dedication. Dad has often reminded me that I often relied far too much on my talent and not enough on hard and diligent work, but I would like to think that was an important lesson that was imbued on both of us.
On the second point of duty, the point I want to make here is that it was not necessarily done by way of word. It was done by way of practice, through the daily way in which my parents lived their lives.
Duty of course was paramount for them. I hope that Kevin and I have discharged our duty. I have the privilege of serving as a public office holder. My brother does it in a different way as a pediatrician, as a physician, who has travelled the planet to serve the least fortunate children in the world. I am very proud of the accomplishments he has made so far and the accomplishments he will achieve in the future on behalf of the most vulnerable children around the world.
Finally, my parents also taught us devotion. I also had another very important teacher in that, and that is my wife Jean. As many members know, I have been going through this challenge with my health for the last number of years. I simply could not have asked for a more devoted partner in life as I have walked through this journey. I will steal a line from a former prime minister of ours, the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien, in referencing his partner Aline: “Without you, nothing.”
Mr. Speaker, I wanted to get back to a more fundamental issue, one that has been raised a substantive number of times in the House, and that is how we comport ourselves.
I am not sure how many more times I will have the strength to get up and do a 20-minute speech in this place, but the point I want to impart to all of us is that I know we are all hon. members, I know members revere this place, and I would beg us to not only act as hon. members but to treat this institution honourably.
To that extent I want to make a shout-out to our colleague, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. This parliamentarian, who despite the fact we are not in the same party and despite the fact that we may disagree on some substantive issues quite vehemently, I consider to be a giant, not simply because she exhorts us to follow Standing Order 18 but more importantly I have observed in her practice that she reveres this place. She is dedicated to her constituents. She practices, both here and in committee, the highest standard of practice that any parliamentarian could ask for. Despite strongly disagreeing, perhaps, with the position of the government of the day, she does so in a respectful tone. I would ask all of us to elevate our debate, to elevate our practice to that standard.
It is only through that practice, which I believe she so eloquently demonstrates, that Canadians will have confidence in this democratic institution that we all hold so dear. It is important that we do that.
The other thing that I wanted to speak broadly to is the practice of ditching what I call the “canned talking points”. I am not perfect. I know that sometimes it takes some practice. There are instances where it is necessary for us to have the guidance and assistance of our staff, the ministries, and of our opposition research. However, I do not think it gives Canadians confidence in our debates in this place when we formulaically repeat those debates. It is more important that we bring the experience of our constituents here and impose it upon the question of the day, and ask ourselves how we get better legislation and how we make better laws.
We can disagree strongly, and in fact we should. That is what democracy is about. However, we should not just use the formulaic talking points. It does not elevate this place. It does not give Canadians confidence in what democracy truly means.
The other thing I would simply ask all of our colleagues to consider is that while we debate and engage, what we are doing right now, when we listen, that we listen to one another, despite our strong differences. That is when democracy really happens. That is the challenge that is going on around the world right now. No one is listening. Everyone is just talking at once. We have to listen to each other. In so doing, we will make this place a stronger place.
I have some comments that I want to speak broadly to Canadians on before I get to the substantive issue that was introduced in the main motion by our friend from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. I know that sometimes, for example, when we are about to enter question period, and I have to be honest, I am one who is beginning to find it challenging to watch, maybe it is because I am on the government side. I have certainly participated with some glee at times on the opposition side, but I recognize that, and maybe my perspective has changed now that I have had a change of position in this place in the House, although I do not face the daily barrage, unlike members of the government.
I believe strongly that despite what we see in this place, what gives us strength is the fact that we can actually do it. We can actually engage in this process without fundamental rancour, without fundamental disagreement, and without violence. That is the difference, and that is why I so love this place. I would ask Canadians to give heart to their democracy, to treasure it and revere it. Of course, I would ask them to do the most basic thing, which is to cast their ballots. However, for me it is much more than that. I ask them for their civic engagement, regardless of what it actually may mean, whether it is coaching a soccer team or helping someone at a food bank. For me it can be even simpler than that.
It is the basic common civility we share with each other that is fundamental. It is thanking our Tim Hortons server. It is giving way to someone on the road. It is saying thanks. It is the small things we collectively do, from my perspective, that make a great society, and to me, that is ultimately what it means to be a Canadian. We are so privileged to live in this country, because we have these small acts of common decency and civility that make us what we are. I would ask members to carry on that tradition, because that is the foundation of what makes Canada great.
If I may quote the Constitution, it imbues peace, order, and good government. I would go to my friend from Lanark—Frontenac—Kingston, who would appreciate that particular point. We have much to be proud of, and I would simply ask us to celebrate this incredible institution. By doing those small acts, we will continue to uphold our Canadian democracy and the values that bind us together.
I think it would be inappropriate if I did not speak to the substantive motion of the day, so with the remaining five minutes I have been afforded, I will briefly address the motion our friend from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman has put before us, because I may not have actually addressed it at all.
Let me simply say that I understand where the motion the member has brought forward comes from, but I profoundly disagree, and I disagree with it, respectfully, from the perspective of three quick criticisms.
First, I recognize that it attempts to provide a certain narrative that a particular party is good at managing the economy and a particular party is not so good at managing the economy, and it then tries to put piecemeal reasons why that is the case. I would first argue that it is difficult to evaluate the economic performance of a particular government after 18 months in any truly meaningful way, given the measures that have been taken.
I accept very much that we can attack certain measures the government has put in place. Whether one agrees or disagrees is obviously a point of reasonable debate, but I would argue that suggesting that what we have done would lead to some kind of profound economic catastrophe or failure at the present time is simply premature. I would argue that it would take some time yet to evaluate whether the policies of this government would lead to long-term, sustainable economic growth.
My second criticism is that there are lot more complicated variables that go into issues of economic performance that this particular motion, in my respectful view, does not address. I would argue that there are broad parameters related to innovation and where the economy ought to go that are perhaps not captured in this motion.
The final point I would raise is to simply suggest that in some ways, this motion is somewhat nostalgic in terms of its viewpoint. It tends to look at our economy as a whole in terms of what it was or what it used to be as opposed to what it ought to be or where it ought to go. From my perspective, it does not address what I consider to be some of the much broader forces of global technological change this government is attempting to fundamentally address. We need to ask the critical questions in terms of where we need to ultimately go in positioning our national economy in moving things forward.
I would offer those points as quick criticisms of the substantive motion before the House today, but I thank the hon. member for Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman for bringing it forward. It raises an important question about the direction of our economy. I would ask the hon. member to consider it from the perspective of our country as a whole as opposed to piecemeal. This motion, in some respects, has a propensity toward regionalizing, which I feel is an inappropriate approach when a government is attempting to address issues in the national economy.