Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment. It is an honour to speak before you today. This is my first opportunity to speak in the House.
I would like to thank the wonderful people of Langley for the honour to represent them in this 38th Parliament. My commission is to represent them, and it is about them and their needs that I want to speak about today. I am honoured to be Langley's first member of Parliament because Langley finally has its own riding. I would also like to thank my wonderful wife, children and family for their support and prayers.
Canadians across this country continue to be concerned about health care, our environment, transportation needs and crime. These are just some of the issues I will be working on on behalf of my constituents in Langley.
It is appropriate that I should make my maiden speech in reply to a throne speech that should be dedicated to defining and reforming the government's role in a modern society. I am here today to represent my constituency and to stand up for an ideal, the power of our action together to create a more equal and productive society.
As an elected representative, I am the conduit for communication between the residents of Langley and Parliament. As such I have included a few quotes from some students at Langley Meadows Elementary School. They share with us why Langley is such a great place to live.
Selassie said, “I like Langley because it has many beautiful and nice nature places to go. It is great because it has water parks, ice rinks, restaurants, stores and so many other fun stuff. It is big, but not like a city”.
Partik said, “I think that Langley is such a great town because it is nice and peaceful which is really what more people want. Here in Langley the parks are nice and relaxing”.
Ben said, “Langley is a wonderful city. The schools are great. Our school has nice teachers and we get a good education. In our school we have good computers and we get to stay on them for a long time. We also get awesome field trips”.
Perhaps one of these young community advocates will one day take up a seat in the House to represent Langley with so much heart and goodwill.
Langley is actually two communities with rich heritage and great diversity, Langley City and the Township of Langley. The first nations people, the Sto:lo, are thought to have been the principal occupants of most of the Fraser Valley throughout the last several millennia.
The Langley Township area was where the European settlement was first established. Fort Langley, built in 1827, achieved global attention during the Fraser Valley gold rush. The crown colony of British Columbia was created in 1858, thus Fort Langley was proclaimed the birthplace of British Columbia.
In 1873 the Township of Langley was incorporated. Langley Township is made up of various communities including Aldergrove, Brookswood, Fernridge, Fort Langley, Murrayville, Walnut Grove which is my home, Willowbrook and Willoughby. The township occupies 316 square kilometres and is now home to approximately 91,000 residents.
Langley is also known as the horse capital of B.C. Its horse industry has been valued at over $40 million. Approximately 1,000 horse farms in Langley have produced over 6,500 horses and ponies which represents approximately 16% of the provincial total.
The original settlement of Langley City was known as Innes Corners, established by gold rush enthusiasts William and Adam Innes. In 1955 the City of Langley was incorporated as a separate municipality. In the years since then the population has grown from approximately 2,025 to approximately 25,000 today.
Combined within just 10 square kilometres, the City of Langley contains established suburban residential neighbourhoods, a natural wetland of regional significance, parkland exceeding 300 acres, high density residential development, and a beautiful pedestrian oriented downtown.
The township and city share a regional shopping centre, and one of the most active industrial and commercial land bases found in the Fraser Valley in the Lower Mainland. With a diverse economic base, including well established agricultural communities, state of the art manufacturing industries and a strong retail sector, the Langleys offer excellent potential for investment and business. A favourable tax base, a skilled labour force and the proximity of Langley to Seattle, Vancouver, and overseas markets have made Langley an attractive area for investment and development.
Langley is a constituency that is known as the place where city and country meet, a community of communities, and the place to be. I believe Langley is as close to an idyllic community in Canada that we can find. However, Langley does not exist in a vacuum.
In the three and a half months since I was elected, a young Langley man has been convicted of serious sex offences against young girls in our community. In another instance, an 11-year-old Langley girl was abducted by a stranger and sexually assaulted until she managed to escape her captor.
During my short tenure, I have already established priority issues to work on in the coming year: transportation, auto crime, illegal drugs and child pornography legislation without loopholes.
Transportation is a major issue in Langley. The majority of Langley residents must drive outside of the community to their jobs. This increases traffic congestion to, from and within the community, a problem which has become critical.
A rail line runs right through the middle of Langley and is one of the main contributors to traffic congestion in the central part of Langley. With the planned expansion of the Delta Port container facility, the rail traffic through Langley is expected to more than triple from 9 trains a day to a whopping 34. As it now stands, when a train cuts through the city every major intersection is blocked simultaneously, making responses from emergency vehicles impossible. This is a critical situation which must be resolved as soon as possible.
It is a high priority to secure funding for Langley rail overpasses. I believe that working with the city and township of Langley, CN and CP Rail and all levels of government, we can and will ensure that Langley residents are not just seen as collateral damage by the bureaucracy. I will be talking to the hon. Minister of Transport and the hon. Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities with regard to this important issue.
In my past position with the Insurance Corporation of B.C., I came to realize that our federal government must lead the way in ensuring that vehicle immobilizers become standard equipment in every new vehicle registered in Canada. An immobilizer is an electronic device that prevents the vehicle from being started without the proper key.
Auto thieves target vehicles that are not protected by an immobilizer. Auto crime has reached epidemic levels and is costing Canadians almost $600 million per year in insurance claims. The majority of vehicles being stolen are used to commit other crimes, usually by an offender with a drug addiction. I will be working on a private member's bill on this important issue.
Langley is not immune to marijuana grow ops, the illegal drug trade and prostitution. It is organized crime and drug addiction that fuels most of the crime. I intend to work with my colleagues to see detox and rehabilitation facilities established. It is time for our justice system to use mandatory sentencing and to send offenders with drug addictions to detox. I look forward to serving as a member on the justice standing committee to deal with issues like these.
Langley is located approximately 40 kilometres southeast of Vancouver. It is one of the most beautiful communities in Canada and I encourage every member to plan a visit to Langley.
I close with the words of another young student, Courtney, who said, “Come on! Come see Langley. It's a great place to live! Langley is quiet and peaceful. All the people are very nice and so are the houses. Langley is a beautiful city. I suggest you come on over and enjoy all the fun things to do”. Thank you, Courtney. I could not have said it better myself.
I am honoured to be chosen to represent Langley. I believe in the potential of inclusion, the power of opportunity, honesty, accountability, and our responsibility to share it and make it available to all Canadians. For every day that the people of Langley send me to the House, that is what I will stand for. I look forward to working with my colleagues in this 38th Parliament.