Madam Speaker, I also congratulate you on your appointment.
It is my great honour to rise in the House today. To begin, I would like to thank my constituents for providing me this opportunity to serve them and my country. The sense of pride and excitement I feel today is equaled only by my desire to return dignity and integrity to this chamber and my desire to show Canadians that they do not have to settle for the insipid leadership and weak agenda of this Liberal minority government.
Some would say it will be a hard task. I am far away from home, from my family and my friends, but I take inspiration from the riding of Macleod. During the spring campaign, I travelled from the scenic mountain ranges of Kananaskis country and Banff National Park to the northwest corner of the riding, southeast past Calgary and along the beautiful Bow River as it flows through the Siksika Nation, all the way south to the southern border along the Waterton Lakes National Park. I would argue that we have some of the most beautiful countryside in our riding.
Southern Alberta has a diversity of geography and industry, as well as people strong enough to rise to the challenges of both. Macleod boasts Canada's largest wind farms, a proud agricultural industry, major food processing, forestry and manufacturing, and the world renowned fisheries of the Bow and Oldman Rivers. There are coal mining and oil and gas exploration as well as processing, and tourism, including the world heritage site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
The pioneer spirit still lives in the residents of Macleod. There is a desire to succeed and a warm welcome for people from all countries and provinces to be active participants in our thriving community.
I take my responsibilities as a member of the House with all the seriousness that this demands. I pledge to represent the best interests of the people of Macleod. I pledge to support the Conservative Party of Canada and be a proud member of a government in waiting.
I am also rising in the House today as a member of the shadow cabinet and critic for international cooperation. Imagine my disappointment during Tuesday's Speech from the Throne. It sounded like the February 3, 2004 speech. It looked like the September 30, 2002 speech. It repeated promises from January 30, 2001. But to be honest, the October 5, 2004 speech smelled like something I left behind on the farm in Claresholm.
It is shameful for the over 100 new MPs like me who have worked so hard to get here that the Liberal government could not do better than this. The Prime Minister came to this position as leader on the wings of an angel, the messiah, some suggested. But after 10 years of that auditioning for the job, a dress rehearsal last year, and over three months to prepare for this Speech from the Throne, Canadians sat down on Tuesday afternoon and watched the performance of a rank amateur government in an embarrassing pantomime.
There can be no question that the Liberal government has failed in many areas, especially that of international development. It has failed to contribute to the relief efforts in the Caribbean, specifically in Haiti. It has failed to bring diplomatic security or basic humanitarian aid to those suffering in the Darfur region.
It has failed the proud Canadians who work here at home and around the world with private sector firms, the United Nations, universities, colleges and non-governmental organizations.
It has failed the international community, which used to look to Canada to set the example for principled and effective foreign aid. It has failed nations, communities and people who might have benefited from true leadership and a strong Canadian presence in the development community.
The government has reduced its commitment to development issues to a retread announcement of Canada Corps, a new secretariat to harness idealism and expertise of Canadians and bring that to the world. Is that not the job of CIDA? Is it not tasked with planning and implementing Canada's development corporation program? If so, why has the Prime Minister created a brand new fiefdom in the Department of Foreign Affairs? My fear is that like so many Liberal ideas this throne speech has nothing to offer but jobs for the old boys.
The members opposite have lost their way, mired in the excitement of choosing catchy names for programs and initiatives. Canada Corps may sound good, but it is without a mandate, infrastructure or international policy framework. Canada Corps is set to become yet another patronage cesspool for disgraced Liberals to swim in. Canadians expect more from their government. International development is an important part of how Canada is perceived in today's world.
The government is stalled. It cannot focus its development agenda, its foreign policy or decide what kind of military we need. An Ottawa Citizen reporter recently called it “analysis paralysis”. Back home we would just say it is time to get off the pot.
The throne speech once again promised the release of an integrated international policy statement. This is fundamental to ensuring that Canada's overseas development agenda moves beyond reactive crisis management to proactive and preventive measures to help people around the world move beyond daily subsistence.
As critic for international development, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that any review of Canada's international policy includes thorough consideration at the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. All parties must have input in creating an integrated approach to international development that recognizes how diplomacy, trade, defence and development efforts must work together.
Members of Parliament must also develop an action plan that moves this policy beyond a concept into the real world of aid and development, and truly removes the barriers of communication between the departments involved here at home. By getting our own policy house in order, Canada can better engage in the world.
As a farm leader, I have travelled around the world on behalf of Canadian grain and oilseed farmers. I have fought for open markets and fair trade so that individual producers and rural communities around the world can reap the benefits of viable and sustainable economies. Canada should be a leader in the world, extending our expertise and experience, using our development agenda to reduce poverty, and to contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world.
I suppose I should not be surprised that the Liberal government cannot get its act together to help others in need. All we need to do is look at the way the Liberals have failed our farmers here at home. After 17 months of pain and suffering in the cattle industry, the Liberals have lost interest in making a difference. Producers are still waiting for their 2003 CAISP payments and it is not surprising that they lack confidence that the government can come through on their promise of compensation in 2004. We need details now. We need program delivery now. We need increased processing capacity now.
I would like to end my comments today with a few words about my home town of Claresholm, Alberta. I am very proud to be the first member of Parliament from Claresholm. It is also the home of Louise Crummy McKinney, the first woman to be elected to the Alberta Legislature in 1917. She is one of the famous five that will grace our new $50 bill. We are very proud of this lady.
I would also like to recognize the hard work and dedication of those who worked hard to get me elected. I pledge to live up to their hopes and expectations.
Finally, I would like to thank my family members for all the support and sacrifices they have made for me, not just in my journey to become a member of Parliament but in all parts of my life. While rising today in the House is an honour, the love and respect of my wife, Sandy, my daughter Kari and my son Michael fill me with a pride unequal to any other.
Along with the 98 other Conservatives who sit in this minority government situation, I believe we can accomplish great things for Canada and re-establish this country's respected place in the world.