I want to congratulate this speaker, along with all my other colleagues who have done this for the last few days, on his appointment. I want to congratulate the Speaker on his election. I know he will serve us extremely well.
At this juncture as well in Parliament it is very appropriate for me to acknowledge the political forces that returned me to Parliament as the member for Scarborough-Rouge River. I want to acknowledge all those who participated in the process. I thank certainly those who worked selflessly for me in our campaign, but I also want to acknowledge all the other candidates and their workers in a way that reflects my pride in a political system that really works.
A throne speech is an attempt by a government in Parliament to articulate its legislative goals and its policy goals and it hopefully does it in a way that reflects what the electorate wants.
In this particular case as we open up Parliament, of course the agenda of the throne speech has no excuse in the world for not reflecting what the electorate wants. My leader, our Prime Minister, and all of our members are only days and weeks away from the front doors and meeting places of Canadians. We have absolutely no excuse for not knowing what they want. I suppose it is fair to say that my government has no excuse for not having a reasonable game plan in addressing that.
Today I would like to make an attempt at relating my government's throne speech to the issues and matters that were put to me in the campaign by my constituents. I am happy to say that the throne speech does address almost all of those issues and matters. I would like to take some time to elucidate on that just a bit.
First, the biggest issue that my constituents put to me was the issue of jobs and the economy. That is clearly the thrust of this government's throne speech and, as it will unfold in the weeks to come, its legislative and policy agenda.
Our economy was hit very badly by a recession in and about the year 1990. In addition to that, we had a free trade adjustment which took a toll. We knew it would take a toll. Perhaps it took a greater toll on the economy than we thought but we adjusted. I think we have been through the bulk of that. There may be more to come but I think we have seen the worst of it.
Second, monetary policy overshoot, as it has been called, describes the zero inflation target that the Bank of Canada had for a period of time under the previous government. It did not meet its zero per cent. It never really had a hope of meeting its zero per cent.
Chasing that goal has slowed down our economy even more than it would otherwise have done. Canadians everywhere have paid a significant price for that.
In 1994 there has been a change. The economic fundamentals are much improved. We have low inflation. We have low interest rates. The worst of the free trade adjustment I hope is over. Balancing that we have the new trade opportunities provided by the free trade agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement.
My constituents are very much waiting for the new jobs that this recovery will bring. While no government really runs the economy out of its hip pocket no government can hope to do that because the economy is driven by many forces in the private sector.
It is clear that my constituents will judge this government on how well it fosters the economic growth for Canada in the
months to come. They are watching and waiting. I believe that my government can do the right thing. It along with the economic forces at play, will deliver.
My government has already discussed and put into motion an infrastructure program, the residential rehabilitation assistance Program. We have yet to begin work on the youth service corps. That will happen shortly.
In the longer run we will focus on fostering the small and medium sized business area. We want to see improved access to capital. I was pleased to see a modest response by the banks and the newspapers over the last couple of days.
Our Liberal caucus in opposition met with the banks last May. I think they know the writing is on the wall. They will either have to serve small and medium sized business, as they have tried to do for a century, but they have to do it better. If they fail to do it without stating anything specific-I am merely a humble backbencher here-Canadians and this government will have to do what must be done to ensure that small and medium sized business have the financial tools they need to grow.
We want to improve the access of small business to technology and to increase their participation in research and development. We also want to reduce the regulatory burden. In all of these objectives I know we can make substantial progress and have some success.
The second major issue was the deficit and taxation. I cannot do the issue justice. Every person in this House knows exactly what we are talking about. It is a debt in the vicinity of $500 billion and a deficit way over $40 billion.
My government and our finance minister is committed to taking hold of it. It is not like there were not other ministers who tried in the past. I just think Canadians believe now and we believe that we cannot afford to fail now. We cannot fail to grab hold of that.
We must reduce spending in a strategic fashion. We must increase revenues without building in new taxes. We can only increase our revenues by having growth in the economy. The two are very much tied together.
There is also room for some modest growth in revenues by reducing what are called tax expenditures. Those are the field of deductions available under the Income Tax Act. We are committed to those goals.
The third issue of major significance was crime and public safety. I would note, and I am sure other members have noted, the relatively few number of references in the throne speech to this significant Canadian issue. It is mostly urban in context but the references are clearly there. My government is committed to introducing measures to enhance community safety and crime prevention.
There is a lot more to that issue than that one sentence. We must reduce the incidence of crime. We must reduce the fear of crime. We must also admit that crime is like a penalty tax levied on our society for our failure to effectively manage our human resource and we have plans to address these issues.
The last question was one dealing with immigration levels. This is a question that will have to be debated in this Parliament. I do not know when the debate will begin but I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that other colleagues and I will want to debate that in Parliament.
I am proud to serve my constituents in this place. I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the House to achieve these and the many other goals that Canadians have placed with us in trust for this 35th Parliament.