Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Langley.
I will begin by thanking the residents of Simcoe—Grey for electing me to represent their interests in the House of Commons. As all members will know, it truly is an honour to be given such a responsibility and trust by the residents of our home communities. I look forward to giving them representation that reflects their goals and wishes, representation that treats their tax dollars responsibly and representation that includes consultation, not simply explanation on how things are going to be.
As many of my colleagues have so far, I would also like to comment on the throne speech. Millions of Canadians expected action on the gun registry, democratic reform, agriculture, BSE, tax relief and a modernized and effective military, as well as criminal justice reform. The Liberals continue to ignore these priorities.
As I am limited in time, I will raise a couple of issues that are of great concern to my riding and of course to Canadians across the country.
Two issues of great importance to the residents of Simcoe—Grey concern the BSE crisis and the lack of adequate infrastructure funding.
Sadly, the throne speech gives the BSE issue barely a mention and, on helping municipalities, it takes a step backward from the great Liberal election promises of the past. My constituents want to know why they had to wait more than three months for a document totally lacking in hope and vision.
As we have seen in throne speeches of the past, the Liberals have mastered the art of empty promises. There is nothing new in the speech. It recycles the same old warmed over promises we have heard for a decade in other throne speeches and election platforms.
In a quick flip through Hansard we will find these promises and schemes dating back years. Unfortunately, we will not find follow up action or solutions to problems that continue to affect Canadians.
As we heard last Thursday night during the emergency debate on BSE, Canada's beef producers are in a desperate state and yet the government continues to fumble around for answers and solutions. The government failed to prepare Canada for an eventual case of BSE. We could have solved the problem ahead of time. Now we have all had to live with the consequences. The government continues to fail our cattle producers, lacking the competence to get our borders fully open to export.
In my riding of Simcoe—Grey we have many cattle farmers. I told some of the heartbreaking stories of the many farmers who have lost their way of life during the emergency debate. Kandy was an example. She was a seed stock farmer and 75% of her herd were American sales. She has sold off a registered herd that she spent all her life developing. With the border closed she had no choice.
I also talked about the majority of the compensation money going to the processors. My constituents do not understand how this could have happened and they fully expect that this will happen again.
The response from the minister was that the government had tried to manage the program properly and that it had wanted to audit the processors' books. We already know where the money went. It is clearly because of the government's inability to manage our tax dollars wisely; its inability to manage the compensation program wisely.
When it comes to providing funding to municipalities to help them rebuild their roads, sewers and other public services, the government continues to slide. What happened to the great promises of reliable funding? What has happened to promise to transfer a dedicated portion of gas tax revenue? Has it disappeared until the next election?
In my riding, as in ridings across the country, we have a serious need for renewal. Aging infrastructure combined with a growing population has tied the hands of local governments. They need help and they need it now. They need the gas tax revenues to be distributed equally across the nation, not just be focused on cities and public transit.
In the Georgian triangle region, which includes the town of Blue Mountains, it will have issued one million building permits by the end of this year. It needs the dollars to support this infrastructure. In the Georgian triangle area it gets 50,000 to 200,000 visitors per day during peak seasons, weekends and holidays in the priority urban and emerging centres.
We also have Wasaga Beach in my riding. In a census Statistics Canada has recently established that this is the fastest growing municipality in Ontario and it is the fourth fastest growing municipality in Canada with a total growth of 8% per year, and this is due to migrating urban populations. It needs the dollars to support its infrastructure.
Also, in another area of my riding, Essa township, there are 500 residents who have to pay $6,000 per household to upgrade their sewers and water mains. This is over and above the taxes that they pay every year.
I was very pleased and very much supported the amendments to which my leader forced the government to respond. We forced the government to respond to the real priorities of Canadians. These issues are now on the public agenda because of the initiative taken by my leader. It is unprecedented for such substantive amendments to be made to a throne speech.
As a result of our amendments, the government has committed itself to a vote in the House of Commons before a decision is made on missile defence, an assurance it had previously refused to provide. I must admit though that I was a little concerned when I read what the government House leader said:
The vote is non-binding. It's advisory in nature. Parliament will have that debate and provide that advice to the government, and ultimately the government will decide--
To me it sounds as though the government will continue to govern as though it has a majority. This is unacceptable.
We have successfully made the point to the government that it must consult with opposition parties and take their views into account to make this minority Parliament work. We, as Conservatives, understand and have taken the clear message that we will work to make this minority government work.