Mr. Randy White (Fraser Valley West)
Mr. Speaker, may I take this opportunity to offer my sincere congratulations to you and to all members of the House of Commons on their election to this 35th Parliament.
I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to all the people in Langley, Aldergrove and Matsqui, British Columbia for expressing their confidence in me by sending me here to represent them.
This is the time when the eyes of Canada are on the new government so I think it only fitting that I speak today about vision.
Historians I am sure will look back on October 25, 1993 as a landmark in Canadian elections. Canadians as never before spoke out in a loud clear voice for the need to change. The old way of doing things is just not good enough any more.
Some would diminish the importance of the result by labelling it merely a protest vote. What, I ask, is insignificant about a protest vote. The people of this country were protesting the way government conducts business and it is up to us to show there is a better way.
We have for two decades witnessed federal governments living beyond their means and it is time to stop and hold all politicians accountable. But rather than look back in anger we prefer to look forward with hope.
The throne speech yesterday provided a glimpse of optimism, something rare in these uncertain economic times. We have heard talk of a new spirit of openness and co-operation between political parties, an idea I would like to applaud. However we heard the same message in the speech from the throne in 1984. It lasted about two weeks. Let us hope it lasts longer this time.
What I wish to emphasize in the strongest possible terms is that if there is no true commitment to open the books of government to the intense scrutiny they need, then all of this talk of co-operation and a new way of running government will be just another echo bouncing down these historic halls.
All MPs should be involved in the detailed, critical analysis of government spending. If the government makes good on the pledge to give more power to MPs in its committees this could be a positive change.
I am also encouraged to see the government has adopted some, though not enough, of our recommendations with respect to perks for members of Parliament. However, since the government has already made its decision I am at a loss as to why a
$200,000 study is currently underway to assess parliamentary compensation and perks.
I am pleased to see the government's commitment to reform the MPs' pension plan. Ending double-dipping however does not go nearly far enough.
Our party has made significant recommendations to reform the pension plan. We would be glad to share the results with the House, certainly at no charge.
Other ideas, like the appointment of an ethics counsellor, sound good on the surface, though I cannot help but wonder at the necessity of adding yet another patronage position. If all MPs simply act as Canadians expect them to, with the integrity the throne speech referred to, there would be no need for a watch dog.
True reform comes from the individual. We cannot legislate integrity. We also cannot hope to create real lasting jobs by throwing billions of dollars at a program called infrastructure. Infrastructure means roads, bridges and sewers. Yet one of the first examples of this spending has gone toward the construction of a civic centre. The government has admitted the announcement was politically motivated. Will this infrastructure program create good, long term jobs? We will see. Be assured we will be watching.
We cannot solve joblessness in this country with more government spending. Anyone who thinks we can is living in a dream world, a dream world we can no longer afford.
As I look around, as one of the more than 200 first-time parliamentarians, I cannot help but be awe-struck not only by the sense of history in these halls but by the responsibility that comes with this chair. I see all around me representatives with many different perspectives on the future of Canada. Though there may be distinct ways of looking at things, no matter how you alter your angle of sight one thing never changes, the bottom line still looks like the bottom line.
If we continue on the path we are on we will no longer be discussing whether the glass is half empty or half full. It will simply be empty. All of the money this government spends will be accounted for and the members of Parliament must be accountable to their constituents.
The Reform Party's constitution states: "The duty of elected representatives to their constituents must supersede obligations to their political parties". To ensure I make good on this pledge we have initiated advisory groups in Fraser Valley West made up of constituents from a variety of backgrounds and political persuasions. Although these groups are just in the formative stage, early indications are that I will be taken to task if I stray from the course they chose.
If we are willing to give members of Parliament more power in the House of Commons let us take it a step further and get the Canadian people involved in the process.
The people I represent from British Columbia are no longer satisfied with the status quo. The federal government has consistently failed to live within its means and my constituents want a direct say in how their tax dollars are spent. These people want guarantees that budgets will be balanced, long term debt will be substantially reduced and expenditures will be necessary and legitimate. It is no longer good enough simply to spend money. We must know where it is coming from, where it is going, why it is going there and why we are not paying our bills first.
Most social programs have merit but that is not enough. In our critical financial state merit is no longer the overriding criterion. Federal spending must be cut to the point where we can once again live within our means. By capping expenditures we will take that first step.
The emphasis on controlling spending is not just for the sake of getting Canadian business going again. On the contrary, every young Canadian should get involved in these decisions. For the first time in our history young people are being told to accept a lower standard of living than that of their parents. This system is unacceptable.
A high standard includes more than financial considerations. It includes our social programs that have come to set us apart as a caring nation. The only way we can preserve the things that make us proud to be Canadian is by ensuring that we can afford them today and will be able to afford them in the future.
Canadian businesses have to live within their means. Canadian families have to live within their means. We must insist that the government live within its means as well. What is prudent for every family in Canada is also prudent for the Government of Canada. There simply is no choice.
In closing I would like to mention an attitude I have observed lately with respect to how Canadians view themselves. Talking to people who have just returned from a trip abroad seems to be one of the few times we hear about what a fantastic country this is. Why is it that Canada looks like such a land of opportunity when viewed from afar but at home we seem to lose sight of the fact?
The Liberals' red book is called Creating Opportunity . I hope the creation of opportunity includes a planned program of deficit and debt reduction as the number one priority.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: Speech From The Throne