Mr. Speaker, may I congratulate you on your appointment to the chair.
It is my honour to stand today and address the House in support of our government's Speech from the Throne, “Turning a New Leaf”. On January 23 Canadians, including the constituents of my riding of Burlington, voted for change, not just change for the sake of change, but for a new approach and a new attitude to governing this great country from coast to coast to coast.
Canadians demanded integrity in their government. It was time to end the culture of entitlement and indifference. That is why the new Conservative government will restore accountability and ethics in Ottawa.
Canadians have placed their faith in a new government that has a sense of purpose. It was time to end the vast lists of unfulfilled commitments. That is why our new government is clear and precise in our priorities. Burlington voters wanted their new government to be proactive. It was time to end the litany of excuses for inaction. Our new government will deliver on our promises.
As the Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Burlington, I am honoured to be part of this change, part of turning over a new leaf for Canada. This afternoon I would like to concentrate my remarks on the section of the throne speech that focuses on Canada's role in the world.
Our vision, and I believe the vision of all Canadians, is for a strong, united, independent and free Canada, a Canada that will live up to its tradition as a leader, a Canada that has credibility on the international stage, a Canada that has the respect of our friends and allies, and a Canada whose voice is supported by action.
The Speech from the Throne begins the process of rebuilding and restoring Canada's prominent and important role on the global stage. As the Governor General read on April 4:
--this government is committed to supporting Canada's core values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights around the world. In this regard, the Government will support a more robust diplomatic role for Canada, a stronger military and a more effective use of Canadian aid dollars.
Freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights are the core values of our troops and aid workers who are courageously and diligently working to bring opportunity, democracy and peace to the people of Afghanistan.
At this time I would like to offer my personal condolences to the families and friends of our recently fallen soldiers. Their brave and heroic commitment to our country and to the principles and values that guided their desire to serve will always be honoured. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Standing up for Canadian values, being confident and decisive in our actions, defending the security of our citizens and protecting our national sovereignty have never been easy and rarely without sacrifice. Our veterans brought honour, respect and integrity to our country. Their sacrifice helped define us as a nation. Their brave actions liberated many from unspeakable oppression.
In Burlington on April 22 the Dutch community celebrated the relationship between Canada and the Netherlands. Much of the celebrations centred on the role our Canadian troops played in liberating the people of the Netherlands during World War II. It was my honour to represent our government and to participate in this important annual celebration of freedom.
Today the men and women who proudly don our country's uniform carry these Canadian values and traditions. All Canadians are proud, honoured and grateful for the service and sacrifice of all the men and women of our armed forces, past, present and future.
Our government is committed to a robust diplomatic role for Canada. We clearly understand that we are not alone in the world. We must work to rebuild our reputation as a reliable and respected international partner, a partner that is not afraid to lead and be decisive on the big issues in the international arena.
Our government will work through diplomatic means to bring freedom and democracy to other parts of the globe. Canada will participate with the international community at the United Nations to foster peace and prosperity for all people who subscribe to the Canadian values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights.
Closer to home the throne speech makes a commitment to building a stronger relationship with the United States. The throne speech states:
The Government will work cooperatively with our friends and allies and constructively with the international community to advance common values and interests. In support of this goal, it will build stronger multilateral and bilateral relationships, starting with Canada's relationship with the United States, our best friend and largest trading partner.
The relationship with our closest neighbour has frankly been strained over the past decade. A number of the issues from trade disputes to border security have been poorly managed and new issues are emerging that can and will affect the lives of many Canadians. It is time that we restored the respectful, professional and businesslike relationship with the United States. The throne speech clearly supports this objective.
The quality of the relationship we have with the United States has a direct impact on all parts of Canada. I want to illustrate its impact on my constituency of Burlington.
Burlington is situated between Canada's leading steel manufacturers, Dofasco and Stelco in Hamilton, and Ford Canada in Oakville. My community is home to thousands of workers who make their livelihoods from these leading companies that represent the foundation of Canada's manufacturing economy.
Burlington is also home to a large number of small and medium size businesses that are either suppliers or customers in these vital manufacturing sectors. The relationship that Canada has with the United States is key to the long term growth of these industries and businesses. Our neighbours to the south can either be our best customer or our toughest competitor. The decision is ours.
As a Great Lakes city, Burlington also has a vested interest in the relationship with the United States not only as it relates to trade, but also to the environment. Our shared fresh water resource represents a vital link between our two nations. A respectful, professional and businesslike relationship with the U.S. is what my constituents are demanding from our government. A good relationship with our neighbour is fundamental to Burlington's and Canada's health and prosperity.
I am proud of our government's commitment to rebuilding our mutually beneficial partnership. From my experience as a municipal councillor, I have learned that good neighbours make strong communities. As a good neighbour to the United States, both countries will be stronger.
Finally, “Turning a New Leaf” is about our government's commitment to leadership.
There is leadership in restoring accountability to our federal institutions. The new accountability act will deliver a government of integrity and higher ethical standards.
There is leadership in supporting families. Our family support program will provide direct financial assistance to families regardless of where they live in Canada. Our program is universal and fair to all families with preschool children.
There is leadership on delivering tax relief for all Canadians. Lowering the GST to 6% will have a direct and immediate impact on all taxpayers in the country. It is time to lower taxes.
There is leadership in tackling safety on our streets. Increasing the minimum sentences for violent repeat offenders is long overdue. We need to keep drug dealers out of our neighbourhoods and more police officers on our streets.
There is leadership in delivering health care. Working with our provincial partners we must find a solution to the long wait times that have plagued our health system. That begins with our wait times guarantee.
On January 23 Canadians voted for change. Our government will deliver that change. Our government will deliver leadership. Our government will deliver. It is time to turn a new leaf.