October 2, 1997

REF

Paul Forseth

Reform

Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Ref.)

Madam Speaker, I acknowledge that the constituents of Sydney—Victoria riding are a strong and resilient people. The member spoke about giving and sharing rather than calculating what we can get from society. The Bloc often uses the word demand specifically rather than talking about the nation as a whole and how we can all flourish, be together and share.

Despite the harshness of the land, we have seen some great accomplishments in Canada. It is indeed generous and has been aware of the solitude the member spoke about. But what does he propose? Does he propose more of the same while he admits that what he has had in the past really does not work? Will he not admit that some of the problems of the past have been that the people of Cape Breton have sent the wrong people to Parliament and when they do this they get more of the same that he is asking for? He mentions 36 years of anger yet the solution I hear him proposing is more of the same.

I will say that he is right about the Sydney tar ponds issue. There is a point where things can be done. However for him to say that we need more of the same and indeed much more of it will probably not bring the kind of solutions he is looking for.

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NDP

Peter Mancini

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Mancini

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the number of questions contained in his statement. I will try to deal with each one. I propose a number of possible solutions to the problems.

First would be a fairer tax system in the country which is not necessarily the tax breaks advocated by the party the member represents. Lowering individual tax rates for an individual who is already living below the poverty line is of little assistance. But a fairer tax system to tax some of those who are not paying taxes in the country would contribute to the national good. That money could then be used to invest in places like Cape Breton. That could be a first step.

The member says that things in the past have not worked and that I am proposing more of the same. Some past solutions have worked. When they are free of political interference, the ideas are good. In Cape Breton we have a project called New Dawn, a community based developmental agency that is doing remarkable things for seniors and housing.

He asked if the people of Cape Breton have often sent the wrong people to represent them. Sometimes we have and sometimes we have not. I would point out that we have had representatives as distinguished as Clarence Gillis and Malcolm MacInnis and other very good representatives.

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LIB

Mac Harb

Liberal

Mr. Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, my colleague was attacking the record of the government in social development and other areas.

I want to point out to him that in publications from the OECD and other agencies such as the United Nations, on many fronts such as the health and medical index as well as on the human development front and higher education, Canada has ranked as the best country in the world when it comes to taking care of its people.

We spend more on health care as a percentage of GDP than any of the other G-7 nations with the exception of the United States. In terms of health care, Canada's is the best in the world. In terms of human index development, Canada ranked out of 100 at about 95.1, which is the best in the world. We have the highest number of people who can enrol in post-secondary education.

I hope that the hon. member is not suggesting that more money needs to be spent. I hope he is suggesting that we have to look at the way we are spending those moneys.

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NDP

Peter Mancini

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Mancini

Mr. Speaker, I acknowledged the good things in this country. As I indicated at the beginning, if the member had been present for my speech, Cape Bretoners were among the major contributors to the good things in this country.

He says that Canada is doing well. I would only respond that some people in Canada are doing much better than others. It is for those people who are not that we ought to have concerns.

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PC

Elsie Wayne

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Elsie Wayne

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I did not want to interrupt once again the hon. member from Cape Breton as it is his first speech in the House, but we do not have a quorum in the House at the present time to continue on.

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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The member for Saint John claims that we do not have a quorum. If the member will give me a moment I will count.

And the count having been taken:

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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

There is a quorum. Resuming debate, the hon. member for Vancouver East.

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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be here in this House in the 36th Parliament as the new member representing the riding of Vancouver East.

I have to say as I make my inaugural speech that I feel a very heavy responsibility as I struggle to find the ways and means to bring to the attention of this House a sense of the urgency that comes from the communities I represent.

We are not wealthy or affluent communities. Vancouver East is a highly urban community of over 100,000 people from very diverse and multicultural backgrounds. It is made up of people who are coping with the difficulties of everyday life. In many ways the experience of my first week in this House of Commons seems very far removed from the sometimes harsh realities of life in east Vancouver. Yet despite these difficulties the pride and dignity in Vancouver East is a model for other communities to embrace.

It is a community with a long tradition of social activism and social commitment. It is home to many of Canada's First Nations peoples as well as home to many new Canadians who find in east Vancouver a balance of Canadian roots and multicultural diversity.

If we walk up and down Commercial Drive or through bustling historic Chinatown or along the neighbourhood streets of Strathcona, one of Vancouver's oldest communities, the sense of unique neighbourhoods and their history and character is very evident.

At Hastings and Nanaimo we experience the urban flavour of thriving small businesses that serve the community. There is the landmark Carnegie Centre on one corner of Main and Hastings and the Four Corners Community Savings opposite. At the Kiwassa Neighbourhood House the breakfast program for families is a welcoming start to the day. There is also the pioneering Western Front artist run centre in Mount Pleasant, the Italian Cultural Centre and the new Chinese Cultural Centre Museum. These are only a few of the many community facilities and programs that serve and define east Vancouver as a place of strength and support for its residents.

Unfortunately my riding, like many other ridings and communities in Canada, is also living the consequences of federal Liberal policies of continuing high unemployment especially among youth and aboriginal peoples, of growing poverty, homelessness and inadequate housing.

Vancouver East is poorer because of the failure of this government to aggressively deal with unemployment and declining wages. At the same time this federal government has slashed our social programs at an unprecedented level. There is more homelessness in my community because the federal government has callously abandoned the development of social and co-op housing.

Some of the people in my riding are never heard by those in power. In the downtown east side, in one of the communities in Vancouver East, more than 6,000 people live in what is called single occupant rooms, meaning that they are living in very substandard accommodation. In this same community, we are struggling to cope with a health crisis that results from poverty, an epidemic of HIV transmission among injection drug users.

I brought this to the attention of the Minister of Health in my first week in this House. The people of Vancouver East are waiting for a response with hope that the government will demonstrate that it is willing to act. We ask: How many more deaths will there be? Already over 1,200 British Columbians have died from drug overdoses since 1993.

Vancouver poet and activist, Bud Osbourne, spoke to the community about these and other tragic deaths. He said “But with these thousand crosses planted in Oppenheimer Park today, who really see them, feel sorrow, feel loss, feel rage? Our hearts shed bitter tears. These thousand crosses are symbols of the social apartheid in our culture, the segregation of those who deserve to live and those who are abandoned to die”.

Last week I listened very carefully to my first throne speech. I listened for words of concrete action to be taken, for example, to assist students reeling from the burden of student loan debts or for real targets to reduce unemployment and eliminate poverty. I hoped to hear about commitment to act against violence against women or to hear that the government is going to introduce a national child care program so often promised by the Liberals, or for any indication that the government might finally embark on a campaign of fair taxation to ensure that the vast wealth in this country is something that benefits all Canadians.

However, there was silence from the government on these critical issues. It led me to think about what meaning there is in being here in this place that honours tradition and ritual and holds to represent the people of Canada. The meaning, I believe, is created by the change that is possible if we have the will to act. I know that I and my fellow New Democrats bring back to this House a value and tradition that has almost disappeared, a quest for social justice and social equality and a voice for those who have been silenced and shut out.

We live in an increasingly globalized corporate economy where the rights of multinational corporations, about to be embodied in the multilateral agreement on investment and furthered by APEC, are seen as more important than the rights of people and sustainable human development.

However, as New Democrats we believe that we can bring hope and change not only to this House but to Canadians who believe as well in the progress of nations as outlined in a 1996 UN report. It states “The day will come when the progress of nations will be judged not by their military or economic strength, nor by the splendour of their capital cities and public buildings, but by the well-being of their peoples: by their levels of health, nutrition and education; by their opportunities to earn a fair reward for their labours; by their ability to participate in the decisions that affect their lives; by the respect that is shown for their civil and political liberties; by the provision that is made for those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged; and by the protection that is afforded to the growing minds and bodies of their children”.

The people of Vancouver East expect and deserve no less and I am honoured to represent and fight for their interests in this House.

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BQ

René Canuel

Bloc Québécois

Mr. René Canuel (Matapédia—Matane, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speech by my colleague for Vancouver East and I agree with her almost 100 percent.

Unlike the members opposite, she is very sensitive to the plight of the destitute in our society. Unlike them, she is very sensitive to the concerns of the unemployed. I listened earlier to one of the members on the other side. He keeps saying that Canada is one of the richest countries in the world. However, as my colleague said so well, some people are in dire straits.

We must be sensitive because what is happening in Canada is that the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor. We take from the poor to give to the rich.

I have a question for my colleague. I know that the government is in a very difficult situation because multinationals are always filling their slush fund. The recipient, of course, must return the favour. As we recently saw in the newspapers, the situation is getting out of hand.

Will my colleague support me when I introduce a private member's bill to restore fiscal health? I ask my NDP colleagues for their support.

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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments and his question. He has outlined the sensitivity of the issues that I have raised and remarked on the fact that the government has been insensitive and callous in its treatment of poor people. I acknowledge the comments of the hon. member and share his view.

I also agree that it is very clear that the Liberal government has acted in concert with multinational corporations. There is no question that the public finances and our taxation system have been designed to assist those wealthy corporations.

One of the major issues which we need to address in the House, which my fellow New Democrats and I will raise, is the issue of fair taxation. We live in a very wealthy country. The issue is not whether there is enough money. The issue is how those funds are distributed.

When the hon. member's private member's bill comes forward we will examine it with great seriousness and sensitivity to ensure the common goals that we have, are supported in the House.

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REF

Paul Forseth

Reform

Mr. Paul Forseth (New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, the member for Vancouver East used the term fair taxation a number of times. That is typically one of the buzzwords or the mantras of the NDP. Perhaps it is, from that particular perspective, the code word for a political agenda. We should really know what the hon. member means when she says fair taxation so that it can be revealed for what it really is.

Here is a grand opportunity for the member to expand on the NDP version of what it means to have fair taxation.

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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question. The NDP policy on fair taxation is not a mantra or a code word, it is a serious issue.

Over the last few decades we have seen a significant shift in taxation policy from corporations to individuals. The tax burden is being carried by working people and by middle income people. There are tens of thousands of profitable businesses and corporations that pay not a dime in taxes.

This is not a code word. It is a basic fundamental issue that is the business of this House. We must ensure that we have a fair and equitable taxation system.

I can say, looking at the record, that the Liberal government has moved us further and further away from that. I would suggest to the hon. member and other members of the Reform Party that it would be to their credit if they would also take up the issue of fair taxation for Canadians, instead of their code word “cutbacks” which are hurting the poor people in Canada.

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LIB

Reg Alcock

Liberal

Mr. Reg Alcock (Winnipeg South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton.

As this is the first opportunity I have had to speak in the House, I wish to begin by thanking the people of Winnipeg South who sent me here. I have been elected four times now, twice in the provincial legislature and twice in this Chamber. I know of no greater honour. I am proud to represent the people of Winnipeg South. They take their politics seriously. They consider the issues in depth and I have to convince them each time that I will work on their behalf.

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate you on your appointment, the Speaker on his election and the other members who serve the House on their appointments. It is going to be a fractious House. We see some of that right now. We have been very well served by the leadership in this Chamber. I congratulate the new members who have been elected to the House and those who are returning. It is an interesting place. Members who are here for the first time will find it a very challenging yet a very productive place if they approach it properly.

This was an interesting year for those of us who live in Manitoba. As my colleague mentioned, we had two very significant natural disasters in Canada although we had several others in other parts of the country. We had the very severe flood in the Saguenay region and we had the very different but equally severe inundation of southern Manitoba.

One of the things that gratified me in the first instance, during the Saguenay flood, was how Manitobans and westerners—I am a western Canadian—rallied. Mr. Hubert Kleysen, who lives in my riding, has a trucking firm. He went throughout western Canada organizing truckloads of furniture and supplies which were sent from western Canadians into the Saguenay.

I can tell the House from personal experience that the reverse happened during the flood in Manitoba. The number of people from all across Canada who phoned, who travelled to Manitoba to help out, who came in to volunteer was really quite overwhelming. Members of this Chamber phoned regularly to offer support, donated money, equipment and supplies. To this day I am approached by people who offer to help out.

There is a movie that was popular about eight to twelve years ago called Starman in which the alien makes the following comment about humans: “You are at your best when things are worst”. That was really demonstrated during the flood in Manitoba.

It hit right at the time of the election. What was the defining moment for me was when the Reform candidate, Greg Yost, a friend of mine and a very decent man, was going door to door during an election distributing literature with my name in it. He was referring people to the flood centre we had set up for assistance. The Conservative candidate was working out of my office, having given his office as a storage space for people who had to move out of their homes. The NDP candidate was regularly sandbagging on teams deployed from the office. The two Conservative members of the provincial legislature that bracket the river on the south end of my riding formed a team with myself and the local city councillor.

It was truly a non-partisan effort that shows what we can do regardless of our political position and philosophy when we come together to work on issues.

There were Conservative and NDP members present in the House in the last Parliament but I want to welcome them both back to official party status. I personally am delighted to see both of them back because they will add a dimension to the debate that was sadly lacking in the last Parliament. If I have a concern about the debate that took place in this Chamber, it is that it was badly divided between two opposition parties that I believe fundamentally support the separation of this country. I welcome the emergence of two other parties that have a national view and a sense of what Canada can become if we can get the regions working together.

I am also delighted, I confess with a particular bias, to see the NDP back in some number. I do not want to see too many of them in the House, but enough of them to participate in the debate.

In the last House we had extremely significant social policy issues that crossed the floor of this House, pieces of legislation that were debated in this House without ever a question from the other side, such as the affects of changes to health care, unemployment and homelessness.

These issues were debated fiercely on this side of the House in this caucus. I chaired the social policy committee and there were terrible fights. But when we came into the House expecting to hear debate, occasionally if a New Democrat could get to his or her feet there might be a question come across. But that happened very rarely because of their lack of numbers in the House. From our friends in the Reform Party there was never a question, never a concern, never an expression of interest in what was happening with the unemployed, the homeless or the sick.

There was some interest in health corporations and privatizing the system so they could make some money out of it, but never the kind of question that was raised by the member from Vancouver East about what happens when thousands of people are sick or dying.

I am interested to see the return of the Conservative Party. I will be very interested in what it will have to say given the base of its support. We have one member from Manitoba who carries a rather onerous responsibility of representing western Canada for that party. I must confess I do not have a good sense of exactly where they sit on some of these issues. I will look forward to what will happen in the debates to come.

My experience in the relatively short time I have been here has been that this place is fascinating and can be very important and productive. There is an enormous amount of work that goes on in committees when members put aside some of their partisanship and focus on how to build an excellent health care system, on how to build a good research and development program and how to deal with issues of equity when you are looking at issues of debt reduction. Some profoundly important work gets done.

I invite members for all parties to participate in that work. We have a very active agenda and an enormous challenge put forward to us by the prime minister when he starts talking about what is going to happen a few years out. The finances are coming together but I think we have a little further to go. We have to be a little cautious. We do not want to find ourselves slipping back into the position we were in which robbed us of any flexibility in this last decade or so.

There are some opportunities. There is an opportunity now to challenge ourselves with the task of building a truly profoundly important future for ourselves and our kids. I appreciate the criticism that comes across the floor, it is important to the debate and I invite more of it. I hope it will be more focused on substance. I was very disappointed to see the member from Burnaby do what he did yesterday because I think this debases the debate in the House. I do not think that contributes to a discussion on how we do things better for the people we represent. Rather, it diminishes the view of this House. I feel much the same way when a Reform member stands up.

To my friends in the Bloc I want to offer one comment. It must be very difficult for members of the Bloc right now. I have some sense compassion for them. I know a number of the members of the Bloc as we worked closely together on the HRD committee and the transport committee.

I have great respect for most of their positions. I differ very strongly on the issues sovereignty and I cannot help but think what it must be like sitting in opposition looking across at a government that has been re-elected with a majority, a considerable accomplishment in this country. It has increased its representation in the province of Quebec. It has managed to wrestle the finances of the country into some sense of control. We have begun to see a significant drop in the unemployment rate. We are not where we want to be but we are heading in the right direction.

I notice that a significant majority of Quebeckers are now saying they feel they would be better off within a united Canada. I enjoy the participation of the members of the Bloc in the debate and in committee. I invite them to participate and perhaps we will find some ways to make Canada better so that they can step aside from the one policy that we find so difficult.

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REF

Reed Elley

Reform

Mr. Reed Elley (Nanaimo—Cowichan, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I find it very offensive for this member to speak on one hand about co-operation in this House and raising the level of debate and making Canada work, and then to make accusations of the Reform Party that we are not a party that wants the country to keep together.

It is as if he is trying to say to me, coming from 200 years of United Empire Loyalists stock, someone who has lived in three provinces of this country, who lived 32 years in this province before moving west, that I am not dedicated to keeping this country together.

We are a party that wants to keep this country together. It is hypocritical for the member to say on the one hand that he wants to have a great debate and yet to raise such provocative issues like this when he knows that this party is a federalist party.

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LIB

Reg Alcock

Liberal

Mr. Reg Alcock

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comment from the member. I also note that the member is new in this House. This is his first term here.

If he goes back to my remarks he will realize that I was talking about my experiences with his party in the last session of Parliament. I hope he brings to the floor of this Chamber exactly the kind of debate that he is talking about.

Let me pose a question to him. If that is the kind of debate he is interested in, why did he campaign under a slogan that said no more prime ministers from Quebec? What does that do for the unity of this country? What does that do to bring us together?

That is the slogan that member campaigned on. So when he wants to talk about the unity in this country, he should go back to his party bosses and do a little work within his own caucus to see that his message supports unity in this country.

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PC

Elsie Wayne

Progressive Conservative

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC)

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. Liberal member for his throne speech. I am very pleased to hear him talk about non-partisan issues.

I am hoping that he, along with a lot of members of his party, will help me to see that the infrastructure program, which has been implemented by this government, will be done in a non-partisan way.

We have real problems in the province of New Brunswick with political interference from the premier of the province of New Brunswick and those little communities that were supposed to get part of that infrastructure program.

They were all cancelled by the premier. He took all the money out of the Tobique—Mactaquac area and put it into the riding of his previous minister, who is still in this government.

He did that also in the other part of the northern part of the province. Now he has interfered in my area. We did it in a non-political way. I would like the hon. member to tell me is he going to help us to take the politics out of infrastructure.

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LIB

Reg Alcock

Liberal

Mr. Reg Alcock

Mr. Speaker, I really want to thank the member for Saint John for that question. I will commit to her today that I will do everything I can to assist in ensuring that is the case if she will give me the same assistance with the premier in Manitoba.

I have exactly the same problem with the Conservative premier of Manitoba who takes a program which we designed and operated and pulls it into his riding and presents it as his own. Maybe we can find a way to work together to ensure that does not happen in the future.

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LIB

David Pratt

Liberal

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, first let me extend my sincere congratulations on your election.

It is with great humility and excitement that I rise today to deliver my maiden speech in the House of Commons. I consider it a great honour to stand in this House to represent the citizens of Nepean—Carleton.

We are referred to in the House by the name of our riding. That is an important reminder that the seat we occupy is not ours. It belongs to the people of our riding, in my case the citizens of Nepean—Carleton.

Nepean—Carleton has been blessed with some excellent members of Parliament, both Liberals and Conservatives, people like Dick Bell, Gordon Blair, Walter Baker and Beryl Gaffney. They were people who cared deeply about their community and their country, people for whom politics was not merely a job but an opportunity to serve their fellow Canadians in one of our great national institutions.

Let me say a few words about my immediate predecessor, Beryl Gaffney. As many in the House know, Beryl represented the former riding of Nepean over the course of two Parliaments. Beryl's background in municipal government kept her firmly rooted in the community. In the House she was a fierce defender of the interests of the national capital region, a fervent advocate of human rights, a committed spokesperson for women's health and an active proponent for the municipal infrastructure program.

Beryl Gaffney remains a source of inspiration to those who confront serious illness. Diagnosed with a serious brain tumour part way through her term, she endured major surgery and battled back to sit in the House and speak on behalf of her constituents. She enjoys the respect and admiration of people across the national capital region and across the country.

Over the course of this Parliament it is my intention to devote myself to providing the people of Nepean—Carleton with the best possible representation. Although my predecessors have set a very high standard, I will do my utmost to give voice to the concerns of my constituents in the House and its committees and I will work to ensure that their problems and inquiries with government programs and services are addressed with care and efficiency.

The constituency of Nepean—Carleton has been my lifelong home. I am very proud to say my family traces its roots in this community back to the 1820s and early 1830s. Nepean—Carleton is a riding that has changed dramatically in my own lifetime. From a quiet collection of farming communities it has been transformed with suburbanization and technology.

Predominantly Anglo-Saxon 30 years ago, my riding has benefited from the arrival of many new Canadians who have brought with them not only their skills and their talents but their hopes and dreams for a better life in the best country in the world.

The presence of the federal government in the national capital region continues to be very important to Nepean—Carleton. Many of my constituents are federal public servants.

There is a new kid on the block that is making its presence felt in a big way. Companies which are part of the Ottawa—Carleton region's thriving high technology industry can be found in the northern part of my riding which is part of the city of Nepean. Many of the residents of Nepean—Carleton work for companies like Computing Devices, Nortel, Newbridge, Corel, Mitel and Digital, to name a few. They are engaged in information technology, environmental technologies, biotechnologies, aerospace and telecommunications technology. They are part of the knowledge based economy which has transformed Ottawa from a predominantly government town to Canada's high technology capital.

These high tech companies are selling Canadian products to every corner of the globe. They are competing with the world's best and they are winning.

The southern portion of my riding contains the largely rural townships of Osgoode, Rideau and Goulbourn. Many of the residents of these areas also work in government and high tech industries, but many work in the agricultural industry, dairy, beef and cash crops, which has itself been transformed by new technologies.

In many respects Nepean—Carleton offers the best of both worlds, urban and rural. We are close enough to the country to uphold the rural values of community, self-reliance and hard work, but we are also close enough to the city to understand the importance of innovation, the entrepreneurial spirit and Canada's place in a wider world.

My constituents understand and appreciate the past but they also have an eye on the future. That is why this Speech from the Throne is important to them. Those who have read the throne speech will know that it builds on the tremendous accomplishments of the last Parliament. The future of every Canadian is brighter because of the achievements of the last four years. I am thinking of things like deficit reduction, taking the deficit from $42 billion down to a balanced budget which is now within sight.

Interest rates are at their lowest levels in 30 years. Almost one million jobs have been created since 1993. Our economic growth is expected to be the best of the G-7 countries this year. We continue to record huge increases in our trade surpluses. As we all know, the United Nations continues to rank Canada as the number one country in the world according to the human development index.

Anyone who has read the throne speech knows that it follows up on the commitments made by the prime minister and the Liberal Party during the election. It continues the important work of prudent financial management while, at the same time, directing resources to strengthen the social and economic fabric of this great country.

Let me address just a few of the themes on which the throne speech touches. One area which has not received much attention but which is important to my constituents is the reference to the public service. There is no doubt that there have been some tough times for the public service with the downsizing and restructuring of recent years.

It is extremely important to ensure that steps are taken to enhance the morale and the esprit de corps of our public servants. They provide Canadians with important services and programs from search and rescue to meat inspection to trade promotion. We must ensure that we maintain a well-motivated, professional, non-partisan and efficient public service. I am pleased that the throne speech contains a reference to the people who day after day carry out the work of the Government of Canada.

I can tell the House that I was also very pleased to see the reference in the throne speech to investing in knowledge and creativity. This is vitally important to high technology companies in Nepean—Carleton, the national capital region and, indeed, the entire country.

Let me quote directly from the throne speech, “The government is determined to do more to support innovation and risk-taking in Canada and to attract more foreign investment in knowledge based industries to Canada. We will build creative partnerships between the private and public sectors to accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies in all sectors of the economy”.

The government believes that through small and medium size businesses we can develop and improve new technologies. That is why we are increasing the industrial research assistance program, or IRAP, to promote the diffusion of technology throughout Canada. We have already made a good start in this direction in the government's last mandate. Through programs like SchoolNet, Technology Partnerships Canada and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation we are making tremendous progress.

SchoolNet, which Microsoft's Bill Gates said was “the leading program in the world in terms of getting kids to use computers”, will have every school and library in Canada connected by 1998.

Technology Partnerships Canada, an investment fund with more than $250 million a year, will work with business to keep the development, marketing and production of new technologies in Canada where it will create jobs and foster new growth. There is also the business development bank which is providing start-up capital to new enterprises.

The throne speech touches on many areas of importance to my constituents. The sections of the throne speech which refer to investing in children are particularly important. Again I would like to quote briefly from the throne speech. “One of our objectives as a country should be to ensure that all Canadian children have the best possible opportunity to develop their full potential. We must equip our children with the capacities they need to be ready to learn and participate fully in our society”.

However, the throne speech is not just about idle rhetoric. The government is committed to increasing its contributions to the Canada child tax benefit by $850 million a year with higher payments to families beginning in July 1998.

I would like to indicate my strong support for some of the other priorities in the throne speech, especially creating opportunities for young Canadians. We all heard during the last election about the problem with youth unemployment. It is unacceptably high. We have to address that issue in this Parliament and I think we have had a good start with some of the recent statistics and job creation figures that we have had in that area.

However, we also have to reduce barriers to post-secondary education and ensure, as well, that young people are able to get that all important first job.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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BQ

Francine Lalonde

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Francine Lalonde (Mercier, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and I understand his wanting to express his pride. However, I wonder how he can be proud since, although the Speech from the Throne focuses on young people, it is the policies of this government since 1993 that have forced a significant number of young people into poverty.

The OECD's human development index, as mentioned in the document, indicates that, here in Canada, 50 percent of the children in single parent families live below the poverty line. This index could change, because some of the criteria are being reviewed. With the 20 top countries in a somewhat similar situation, the index was not made for wealthy countries, as we all know.

Is the hon. member proud of the cuts to education, the regular hikes in tuition fees, which led not to increased access to education, but to increased difficulty obtaining an education in the case of those who have little money? Perhaps the announcement of a fund, which the Prime Minister had to make outside the throne speech, will in some way resolve what is felt generally—that as far as young people are concerned, the speech rings hollow.

Is the member proud that, for reasons of efficiency, the federal government, after so many years, has decided to leave job training with the provinces, where it is most efficient—and I repeat efficient, because that was what was decided—when in the name of the same objective of efficiency, it is refusing to do the same for young people? Why would it be effective for everyone but young people? Why should the great federal mind be dealing with these problems, when they are local problems, and jurisdiction is clear, for good reason.

Is the member proud that the government is announcing $850 million for young people, $250 million of which was already provided for in the last budget, while the remaining $600 had been promised in 1993 for a national child care program that never saw the light of day?

I have no doubt my colleague wants to be proud, but he should have reason to be proud.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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LIB

David Pratt

Liberal

Mr. David Pratt

Madam Speaker, in the context of the government's overall program I do not think there is any question that over the last four years the government would have liked to have spent money on areas related to children and youth and aboriginals and other areas of society that in many respects have been neglected.

Certainly one of its primary concerns over the last four years has been the deficit and the impact that the huge deficit and increasing debt would have had on the future of young people. If we had entered the next century with a debt of $700 billion or $800 billion, what sort of a future would that provide for our young people? I can answer that question. It would have provided no future at all because they would have been ground down by excessive debt. The opportunities for government to do creative things in our society would have been reduced significantly.

The government's achievement in addressing the deficit was certainly a first step toward securing the future of young people, children and youth.

A number of important programs and initiatives were announced in the throne speech. I referred earlier to the Canada child tax benefit which I think is extremely important and the government's focus on the need to create strong families so that the family unit can be strengthened as a fundamental component of our society. That is in the process of being done.

When we look for instance at the initiatives related to the centres of excellence to deepen our understanding of children's development and well-being and to improve our ability to respond to their needs, these are good programs which will contribute significantly to the well-being of young Canadians.

The aboriginal head start program is another one that I think is certainly very important to the children of aboriginal parents to ensure that they get the best possible start in their lives.

With respect to youth unemployment, certainly Canada's level of youth unemployment is extremely high. It is higher than anyone in the House would like to see it. As I mentioned earlier—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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October 2, 1997