Mr. Dave Van Kesteren (Chatham-Kent—Essex, CPC)
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Leeds—Grenville.
First, I would like to thank the people of Chatham-Kent—Essex for the confidence and trust they have placed in me by giving me the great and noble honour of representing them in this, the 39th Parliament.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my wife, who is sitting here today in the gallery, as well as the rest of my family for the support they have given me over the past few years to help make it possible for me to be here today.
I would also like to thank the Minister of Agriculture for coming to Chatham-Kent—Essex and meeting with 30 farm leaders, including the grassroots group, and five local members of Parliament to discuss and hear their ideas and suggestions toward the creation of a new, workable farm program, one that will ensure future prosperity for all Canadian farmers.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate you on your appointment to the Chair. I look forward to working with you and all 307 of my colleagues in this Parliament.
I would like to take this time to honour the soldiers who gave their lives and to offer my most humble and sincere condolences to their families. We are forever indebted to their bravery and sacrifice. God bless all of them.
Our military is fighting for a strong Canada, defending our sovereignty and giving security to our citizens. Internationally, it is becoming more and more apparent that we are living in an increasingly dangerous and hostile world where many do not share our world vision, but if we are to be a light to the nations, a beacon of hope to the oppressed, we need to encourage others to share in the blessings and benefits of democracy and freedom. We must be ever vigilant.
Our anthem states, “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee”. Standing guard implies a show of force, a deterrent to those who war against free speech, freedom of religion and freedom-loving people, and so we support the government's resolve to strengthen our military and supply our brave men and women in our forces with the equipment and training they so desperately need.
I am proud of the bravery displayed by our forces in Afghanistan. My parents came from a country that was overtaken by a foreign army led by a murderous tyrant who posed a horrific threat to mankind's struggle for freedom. My father fought in the underground and lost a brother to the Nazi death camps. I know at first hand what the fight for freedom has brought my family. If it were not for the bravery shown by the Canadian Forces back in World War II, many, including me, would not be able to share in our blessed freedom. Today, children in the Netherlands gather every May 5 and lay flowers at the graves of the mighty and the brave who fought for freedom. Let me say with the Netherlands what has been said since May 1945, “Thanks, Canada”.
On January 23, the people of Chatham-Kent—Essex voted overwhelmingly to clean up government. I support the government's commitment to change the way we do business in Ottawa with the tabling of the new federal accountability act. The act will bring openness and transparency to government and will renew public trust in our institutions and elected officials.
The GST reduction is also something that is being eagerly awaited by the people of my riding. They are tired of paying high taxes. This reduction is a clear indication of the direction the government is taking and will continue to take, giving back to hard-working Canadians the money they have earned and need. This is a visible tax reduction. Perhaps the government's brave action may spur on similar actions in our provincial governments.
In Windsor this summer, along with leaders in law and security, I had the privilege to sit with the task force on safe streets and healthy communities. I listened as they expressed their concerns and their frustration with a system that is failing Canadians and hog-tying law enforcement officers. I am encouraged by the government's commitment to bring back safe communities by tackling crime and improving the security of our border.
I personally have two sons who serve as police officers and have seen and heard the frustration experienced by the men and women in blue who guard our streets and homes. They need and deserve our support and they welcome a government that is working with them to improve our nation's law enforcement.
As the father of eight children, I, with my wife, am especially proud of this government's commitment to support our families with the commitment to encourage families to choose and to make their choices for child care. As a parent, I can assure members that parents know and want to make the choice for child care. The parents of Chatham-Kent--Essex have repeatedly expressed support for this program.
The people of my riding are expressing an increasing level of angst about patient wait times. Our government's commitment of a patient wait time guarantee is long overdue and is welcomed by all with whom I have discussed the plan. Our government will finally provide Canadians with the quality health care they deserve.
The government has also made a commitment to the great people of Quebec, something that the people of Chatham-Kent--Essex applaud. This government shares with the people of Quebec its vision of an open and federalist Canada that recognizes a Quebec in a united Canada. The prospects of mutual respect and collaboration have proven to attract Quebeckers, as evidenced by the strong results made by this party in the last election.
I am also encouraged by the government's direction of restoring and improving relations with our best friend and trading partner. In Chatham-Kent--Essex, the importance of good relations with the United States is especially so for our vegetable and greenhouse growers, who rely on open borders without delay, as most of their product goes south to over 200 million customers. They must get their products there quickly.
The greenhouse growing industry around the town of Leamington in our riding is the largest in North America. The hard-working people who operate these facilities and those who are dependent on its well-being deserve nothing less.
Manufacturers in our riding are also committed to timely delivery of the products by way of just in time delivery. We need open borders.
We have a saying in Chatham-Kent--Essex where we remind one another that we cannot curse our neighbours and expect to sit at their banquet table.
We are indeed privileged to serve, in these great halls, a great and brave people, and I am proud to serve today with a government which will ensure that the principles of honesty, integrity, hard work, family values, justice and bravery will be lived out in a place that rewards the people of this great land with a good and honest government that cares for the needs of all its people.
Topic: Speech From The Throne
Subtopic: Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply