Mr. Paul Bonwick (Simcoe—Grey, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, I too want to congratulate the hon. member for Nunavut. I am sure she will represent her riding with a passion unparalleled. An area of 1.9 million square kilometres certainly brings a new meaning to door to door at election time.
Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your recent appointment. I take this opportunity to publicly congratulate the hon. member for Niagara Centre on his re-election as Speaker of the House. His remarks at orientation for the new members of Parliament were both inspiring and motivating. I certainly thank him for those words of encouragement. I am sure I speak on behalf of all of my new colleagues when I say that his words and actions have instilled a confidence in all of us based on the characters of those who are chairing this House.
I want to thank the constituents of Simcoe—Grey. I am both honoured and humbled that they chose me as their elected representative. I fully intend to represent them to the very best of my ability in this House. It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. I want to assure all my constituents that I have ample access and little restrictions with regard to my input in voicing their comments or concerns to our government. I commit to them that I will take full advantage of this opportunity to voice their feelings.
I would be remiss and somewhat in trouble if I did not take time to thank my wife Sandi and our three children for the love and support they gave me throughout the election. It is something I know I can draw on throughout this term of office.
I have made a special commitment to my riding, one that I hope all residents will join me in no matter what their party affiliation. That commitment is to work hard to maintain and enhance what we believe to be the best place in Canada, and that means the world. I ask my constituents to join in that challenge.
My riding is a diverse and precious place just like the people within it. The agriculture industry in Simcoe—Grey represents the largest geographical make-up and is the largest single employer in our riding. We are a rural riding that has made and will make an enormous contribution to Canada as a whole.
To touch on a few of those contributions, I remind the House of Sir Frederick Banting, as was mentioned earlier, the co-founder of insulin and a World War II hero. Recent contributions have been made by Sue Palmer and Paul Shaw, two of Canada's Olympic athletes. I could spend the rest of the day talking about our many contributions and how proud I am to be a part of Simcoe—Grey riding but time does not permit it.
From our dairy, poultry, cattle and swine producers in Alliston, Elmvale, Markdale and Stayner to the best apple growers in the world in and around Thornbury and Collingwood, these farms are an integral part of Canada's food producing industry and deserve the support and confidence of the federal government. I am very pleased to see that happening.
Simcoe—Grey is a riding that leads in agricultural excellence. For this reason I am extremely pleased that the Liberal government has continued to support the agricultural community in the form of marketing boards and quotas.
I am especially pleased to see the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food leading this industry into the next century. As a result of his extensive background the minister understands that agriculture is the very foundation of this country and must be maintained no matter what countries or trade agreements try to threaten that foundation. The farming community can be assured that I will continue to support and endorse this agenda very aggressively.
As I mentioned earlier, my riding is very diverse. Our industrial components had their very foundations shaken, some even destroyed, throughout the mid to late eighties and early nineties. Now, thanks to a strong and fiscally responsible government, we have provided a stable and strong economic environment to allow these industries to rebuild and strengthen their positions in Canadian and world markets. At long last there is a glow of optimism within industry.
I also want to take this time to thank the Prime Minister and his previous government for having the fortitude to take us from what was near certain economic ruin to a healthy deficit free economy in four short years.
I am very grateful for the vision and direction of my colleague, the Minister of Finance. His fiscal formula has been a remedy for success.
I ask my colleagues, when dealing with what looks like a small surplus—it has certainly been talked about today and previously—to remember one thing. The only reason they are in this place talking about a surplus is because of the Liberal platform over the last three and a half years. The formula worked.
Like all ridings across Canada, jobs are at the forefront of the constituents' minds in Simcoe—Grey. I commend the Prime Minister for partnering with the private sector and leading trade missions abroad. I encourage the federal government, as I will encourage my riding, to take these types of proactive steps.
I am also pleased that we have a small surplus coming this year to invest back into social programs that are not just important to Liberals but important to all Canadians. With regard to this forecasted surplus, I strongly encourage the finance minister to stay his course in dealing with the debt. For our children it is a legacy in which I would like to put a serious dent, of course always keeping in mind Liberal values and social responsibilities.
We are known worldwide as a compassionate society with very liberal values. Now that our house is back in order, it will be necessary for us to focus more strongly on these issues.
Simcoe—Grey is likely one of the most well-known tourist destinations in Canada. If it is not, I will certainly make sure it is by the end of this term. For this reason I was extremely pleased that the federal government, along with the Business Development Bank of Canada, initiated a $500 million lending pool to help accelerate development in private sector, four season type resort areas.
We have a scenic geography that is second to none. We have, and will continue to develop biking, hiking and cross country trails that go on for hundreds of kilometres. We have the largest downhill ski area in Ontario, the friendliest and best run in North America.
I encourage all my colleagues, both sides, and extend an invitation to visit and see our great riding. I extend that same invitation to industry. We want them too, and we need them.
My riding, like many other rural ridings, has been continually losing its most cherished asset to larger urban centres. That most precious asset is our youth.
Initiatives, like partnering with the YMCA, is a large step in the right direction. It offers our youth opportunities within the riding, not only to be employed but equally or more important to upgrade their skills. It provides opportunities to which they may not otherwise have access. This is a program of which I am proud to be a part.
In closing, I say to all my colleagues, irrespective of party, I look forward to working with all of you in order that we may build a country and a future for our children that is second to none.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Speech From The Throne