April 22, 1980 (32nd Parliament, 1st Session)


Cyril Keeper

New Democratic Party

Mr. Keeper:

Finally, by way of thanks 1 would like to thank the people of Canada for the opportunity to serve.
My riding of Winnipeg-St. James is a relatively new riding which includes part of the old riding which was represented by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre and by J. S. Woodsworth before him. This riding was represented in the last House by Bob Lane, who lived in the riding, as I have, and who is a realtor and a local businessman. I know that Bob did his best to represent the people of that riding, and I hope to do my best as well.
The reason I am in politics and in this House now is that I believe democracy can be made to work. By that I mean that the will of the people can be made to be felt and that the needs of the people can be met. I believe that democracy does not just happen but that it must be made to function. That is why we are here. If we can make it function, then we hold out the possibility for the full flowering of the human person.
The riding I represent contains a great variety of people. It is an urban riding, and I would like to take note of the various groupings which exist in it. There is a fairly large number of small business people in my riding who, at the present time, are suffering from the high level of interest rates. The riding contains a considerable number of working people, both organized and unorganized, who are suffering most particularly hard from unemployment at this time. Students make up a
April 22, 1980

significant part of the population. These students attend both university and community college. Their tuition fees are too high, and their living allowances are too low. Immigrants and new citizens are in large numbers, and they seek an open immigration policy which, as we all know, can only in the final analysis be based upon a strong and vibrant economy.
Women are also a very important group. They seek not so much to be treated as men but as full and equal persons. They seek equality in the work place, and adequate family services such as child care. Public servants and armed forces personnel who live in my riding seek not to be scapegoats or to be ignored. Native Indian people-and there are a number in my riding-need their basic needs, such as housing and jobs, to be met. Franco-Manitobans seek equality and cultural affirmation. Pensioners faced with ever-rising costs of living need adequate incomes.
Home owners are faced with the spectre of exorbitant mortgage rates, and every citizen of my riding is faced with the ever rising cost of living due to continuing oil price increases and interest rates and the general lack of sensitive management of the economy.
I would like to turn my attention now to the substance of the throne speech, which is the focus of my remarks tonight. I would like to begin by mentioning the reference to the handicapped, and the amendments to the Human Rights Act which are projected therein. I must say that I welcome this item, and I urge the government to act on it expeditiously.
During the campaign I attended an all-candidates meeting on a local radio program. One citizen telephoned in and asked all three candidates if we could give the assurance that this item would be in the throne speech. 1 was not able to give that assurance, but I said that I would raise it in this debate. I am glad to see that the matter is included in the throne speech. However, being a member of the NDP and being a member of the opposition, I note that I am free to prod the government to fulfil this hope which has been offered. I am free in a way which a backbencher on the Liberal side would not be free to prod the government and, considering the entitlement of Manitoba in this administration to only one cabinet minister, another Liberal member of Parliament from Manitoba probably would not be able to move these things along at all.

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