OLIPHANT, The Rev. Dr. Robert, B. Comm., M. Div., D. Min.

Personal Data

Don Valley West (Ontario)
Birth Date
June 7, 1956
Email Address

Parliamentary Career

October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
  Don Valley West (Ontario)
October 19, 2015 -
  Don Valley West (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 66 of 66)

November 27, 2008

Mr. Robert Oliphant (Don Valley West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a tremendous pleasure and a great privilege to rise and speak for the first time in the House. I begin by congratulating you on your election. I pledge that I will do my best to honour the traditions, protocols and etiquette you have suggested to make the House more congenial, and the Parliament more effective.

It is a great honour to represent the people of Don Valley West and the communities of Leaside, Thorncliffe Park, Flemington Park, Don Mills, Lawrence Park, North Toronto and York Mills. I thank them for their support in the recent election. I thank them for putting their faith in me and letting me be their voice and vote in this Parliament.

I also thank my campaign team, who put their faith in me and taught me how to be a winning candidate. They tolerated me on my worst days in what turned out to be lengthy by-election and election processes. Don Valley West has come to expect the very best of its representatives, and I particularly thank my predecessor, the hon. John Godfrey. His work on issues important to all Canadians, such as child care, the city’s agenda, and especially climate change and the environment have set a high standard for me to reach. I can only hope to serve my constituents and my country with as much intelligence, grace and principled conduct.

The task at hand is the debate on the Speech from the Throne offered by Her Excellency the Governor General last week. As with every throne speech, there was much hopeful anticipation about the government’s agenda for this Parliament. It might surprise the hon. members opposite and perhaps some of the hon. members on this side of the House that I found a number of laudable elements in the speech as it was read. In fact, it was much less brutal than one might have expected following the heated rhetoric of the last campaign.

While exceedingly short on specifics, the throne speech did manage to cover a number of the bases one would hope to see covered in such a speech. Specifically, I was impressed that the government seemed to indicate that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it might actually believe that government can and should be a force for good in people’s lives, and that it is appropriate for government to intervene, act and ensure that our future, particularly our economic future, is protected. The government might actually believe that it is right for governments to work as partners with business and industry to stimulate the economy, and that it is sometimes necessary to finance some of this economic stimulus to ensure that countless Canadians are not needlessly hurt by the dramatic decline in our economy.

What surprises me about this recognition is that it is simply not even close to what the hon. members on the other side of the House were telling voters during the election, week after week in the recent campaign. In fact, during the campaign, the Conservatives ran against incurring deficits and un-budgeted spending while continually denying that Canada was heading toward a recession.

There are two possibilities as to why the government has so radically shifted its position with respect to the economy, and neither of them, frankly, is pretty. First, it is possible that it completely misread the international economic indicators visible to most of us. Second, it is possible that it failed to see that the domestic economic policies followed in their first mandate, policies of irresponsible tax cuts and bloated government spending, have left the government completely incapable of responding quickly or well to the situation. I am talking about incompetence of the highest order.

The Prime Minister himself declared, “This country will not go into recession next year and will lead the G-7 countries”.

He said that just days before the recent election, again boldly declaring that we are not going into deficit. Those statements were made only six weeks ago, and were made in the face of reams and reams of evidence to the contrary. All this from one who claims to be or have been an economist.

If this was done truthfully but naively, it smacks of utter and complete incompetence. If it is not incompetence, ineptitude or mismanagement, I fear it may be a far more serious problem for the government. If it is not incompetence, it is deception or misrepresentation. The campaign run by the Conservatives was disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst.

One of the main reasons I entered public life was to raise the ethical bar. Canadians want politicians to say what they mean and to do what they say.

Voter apathy, civic cynicism and outright disgust with politicians is based on political leaders refusing to say what they mean and, even worse, failing continually to do what they say. Voters are increasingly savvy and are simply tired of politicians telling them what they think they want to hear and then turning 180 degrees and doing something completely different.

At the core of the Speech from the Throne lies bear the ethical reality that shapes the government. It is a government that will say anything, do anything, promise anything to get elected and simply cannot and will not be trusted by Canadians. The throne speech reveals at its core that the government is morally bankrupt. It has lost its moral compass.

My comments thus far have been only on what the speech says, not on what has been left out. It is a speech that reveals the Conservatives to be morally adrift, to lack imagination and creativity, and they continue their hidden agenda of dismantling the social framework that defines Canada. However, it is what the throne speech is not saying that is more important.

Where is the national housing strategy? That is what the people of Don Valley West are looking for.

Where is the will to tackle family poverty and child poverty, the poverty of too many of our seniors? That is what the people of Don Valley West are asking for.

Where is funding for youth initiatives, arts and culture, post-secondary education and women's programs? At door after door, that is what the people of Don Valley West told me they wanted.

Where is the recognition that the immigration system is broken and that newcomers to this country are more than economic units but also add to the beauty and the wealth of this country in numerous ways? That is what the people of Don Valley West want to hear.

Where is the commitment to shouldering our share of international aid and restoring Canada's position on the international stage as peacekeepers?

Where is the care for our veterans, old and young? That is what the residents of the veterans wing at Sunnybrook hospital are asking me about.

Where is the imagination that is going to help the poor and those who will be displaced by today's economic reality as it descends upon us, just as the government has emptied the cupboard?

These are the concerns of the people of Don Valley West. That is why they elected me. That is the voice that I bring to this place. That is what my party offers and that is what I pledge to work on.

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
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November 27, 2008

Mr. Robert Oliphant (Don Valley West, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I welcome the member as a new member just like myself.

My question for him is about his moving tribute to the veterans who were in his families, his father and his grandfather. I found that noble and moving.

However, I recognize that in the Speech from the Throne there is no mention of veterans or the care of veterans, either veterans from the first or second world war or new veterans coming home from Afghanistan. It is of great concern to me that the Speech from the Throne simply fails to mention the service which is ongoing and the care which is needed, both in veterans' facilities and for their families upon their return home.

Is that a concern for the member as well?

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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November 25, 2008

Mr. Robert Oliphant (Don Valley West, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member speaks eloquently about the threat to sovereignty in the far north. I am not sure whether she has actually ever been to the far north or not, but as someone who has lived in the subarctic, I know many of the problems that are faced in that area of the country. The area of the country that she represents may not know that climate change is probably the greatest threat to sovereignty in the far north.

We may protect it with frigates and we may protect it with all kinds of military operations, but the caribou herds and the people are all threatened by glaciers that are melting and water levels that are rising. I am wondering what the government is planning to do. What is in the throne speech about climate change and how will the government respond to it?

Topic:   Speech from the Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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