Art EGGLETON

EGGLETON, The Hon. Art, P.C.

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
LIB
  York Centre (Ontario)
  • President of the Treasury Board (November 4, 1993 - January 24, 1996)
  • Minister responsible for Infrastructure (November 4, 1993 - January 24, 1996)
  • Minister for International Trade (January 25, 1996 - June 10, 1997)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
LIB
  York Centre (Ontario)
  • Minister for International Trade (January 25, 1996 - June 10, 1997)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 11, 1997 - May 25, 2002)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
LIB
  York Centre (Ontario)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 11, 1997 - May 25, 2002)
March 24, 2005 - May 23, 2004
LIB
  York Centre (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 328)


February 5, 2004

Hon. Art Eggleton

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier in my remarks, cities, where 80% of our population lives, are the economic engines of this country. Cities find themselves in the situation where they are competing more and more with other cities of the world. Toronto competes, not with cities within Canada, but with some of the major cities in other countries, whether they be in the United States, South America, Europe or wherever.

What we are attempting to do here with the new deal is recognize that. We are attempting to bolster our cities' opportunities to continue providing those economic benefits to our entire population. It is like the goose that laid the golden egg. We want to continue to nurture that goose so it can continue to do that for the benefit of all Canadians and advance our economic endeavours worldwide.

Topic:   Speech From The Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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February 5, 2004

Hon. Art Eggleton (York Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in addressing the Speech from the Throne I want to focus my time on the new deal for cities, or “new deal for communities” as it is fashioned in the speech.

I have three reasons for doing that. First, my riding of York Centre is located at the geographical centre of Toronto and when I go door to door and visit with my constituents I hear a lot more about high property taxes and complaints about inadequacies in municipal services than I do about federal problems.

Second, I bring a perspective as a former mayor of Toronto for some 11 years, and the issues of the financial squeeze that cities are facing is something that I personally understand.

Third, I am chair of the GTA caucus, which is a caucus of some 40 Liberal members of Parliament who represent a population of almost five million people in an urban situation.

The Speech from the Throne is outlining what I would see as the beginning of an urban strategy, and it is a needed urban strategy. It is something I have advocated for a long period of time. After all, 80% of the people of this country live in urban areas. The engines of our economy are urban areas. They are very important parts of the cultural mosaic of this country, so we need to have an urban strategy, just as we need a rural strategy, for dealing across departments on a horizontal level with the various issues we face.

In this throne speech we see GST relief for municipalities. That is a good thing. It puts money very quickly back into the hands of the municipalities. In my case, in the City of Toronto it is some $52 million. Also important is the fact that some $20 million will go to the benefit of the Toronto Transit Commission, the TTC, which it needs badly to help cover its deficit situation in terms of the provision of public transit.

The GST relief is a measure that has been applauded by municipal leaders. It may not be the opposition applauding, but certainly we have heard from the mayor of Toronto, the mayor of Winnipeg and the mayors of a whole lot of other cities who are unanimously and very vocally in favour of what has been provided in this Speech from the Throne. It was a very specific measure that was announced.

Second, there was the acceleration of infrastructure last year in the budget. We, for the first time, went to a lengthy period of time: 10 years for an infrastructure program. That is good, because what the municipalities want is some predictability. They want to know that over a long period of time they can plan and rely upon that money coming in. It is good that in the infrastructure program we lever provincial money and we lever municipal money. That helps add to the pot to do more to help strengthen our infrastructure and stop the deterioration of our infrastructure in our urban areas.

So now we are talking about accelerating, and we need to accelerate because we need to get more money in subsequent budgets. The infrastructure program, which I was pleased to have been able to start for the federal government when I was minister of the Treasury Board back in 1993-94, I think is a solid program of great need for urban areas right across the country.

Third, the throne speech says that city hall will get a place at the table and I think that is vital as well. There are three orders of government, maybe only two of them officially in the Constitution, but to the citizens out there who are the taxpayers for all three levels of government they are all important and we need to have the perspective of our municipal leaders at the table.

I can remember that back in the mid-1970s when I first became a municipal politician we had things called tri-level meetings, that is, federal-provincial-municipal. Those were great days in terms of dialogue and cooperation. There was even an urban affairs ministry of the federal government. I think we can get back to a table that does have three orders of government planning together. I think we could see agreements between those three orders of government that would help make our cities, our urban areas, more liveable places in continuing to contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of our country.

I think the throne speech is a solid, welcome piece of work.

As next steps, there are other urban issues and other aspects of the new deal that need to be examined. In Toronto, for example, we are in a crisis situation on two big issues, urban transit and affordable housing. In many other urban areas across the country those two issues are significant. However, overall, all municipalities are facing infrastructure problems.

Let me highlight the two problems because I think they are important. We cannot leave these problems to the municipalities. We cannot expect that the GST relief will cover these areas. There is a lot more that needs to be done. We need to be a partner with them. All three levels of government need to be partners in dealing with issues such as urban transit and affordable housing.

The problem of urban transit in Toronto results in the city suffering from gridlock. The board of trade says that we are losing $2 billion a year in our economy because of this gridlock. Part of the answer to that is to get people on public transit. However in the last few years we have been making it more difficult for people to get on public transit. There have been cutbacks in service and in maintenance, and higher fares.

The Toronto Transit Commission receives less government support than any major transit system in the world. It receives 20% support from the provincial government at this point in time. It was getting 50% support and 75% for capital. It receives a lot less but receives some support from the provincial government.

If we were to look at some of the major transit systems in the United States we would see that they get federal support as well. In fact, their total government support far exceeds what ours is, even in other parts of Canada. For example, in Montreal I think we would find 30% or 40% government support versus the 20% support that exists in Toronto.

Therefore the province needs to do more and the federal government needs to do more in terms of urban transit if we are to solve this gridlock problem. We have to solve it if we want to keep our cities viable and keep them as the economic engines of our country. Toronto, like a lot of the other cities, is very important to the coffers of the government as well.

I will now turn to affordable housing. This is a very sad situation. We need a housing strategy in this country. We need a federally led housing strategy with a partnership with the other levels of government as well. We need to deal with the problem of homelessness and the problems that seniors face.

In Toronto we have some 70,000 people on a waiting list for housing geared to income. Those people are being told they will have to wait seven or eight years. That is unacceptable. These are people who are spending 50% or 60% of their income in some cases on rent. They do not have enough money to make ends meet. In fact, they have to go to food banks. We have over 6,000 children who live in homeless shelters. We have seniors, even though there is indexing in their pensions and it is geared to the cost of living, the CPI, whereas rents in Toronto have been increasing twice as fast as that particular rate has. Therefore, they are into a squeeze as well.

I have had seniors in York Centre tell me that they are paying 50%, 60% or more of their income on housing. Again, that is a terrible situation in which to put our seniors. A lot of people are suffering as a result of this housing crisis.

We need a housing strategy. We need to get on with developing affordable housing with the other levels of government and we need to do it now in both of these cases because we are in a crisis situation.

The throne speech clearly says that in the new deal this is a down payment. That is welcome terminology because it means that there is a lot more to be done. I know the Prime Minister and his parliamentary secretary have a long list of things they want to do. We have talked about the gas tax, and that is certainly one item that I think can go a long way toward helping meet the transportation costs in our municipalities, whether it is roads or urban transit. Urban transit, certainly in the greater Toronto area, needs the major amount of focus.

Yes, the throne speech is a good down payment and a good start but there is more to do. I am glad we are heading down the road of an urban strategy. I congratulate the Prime Minister and the cabinet for helping move us in that direction in this throne speech.

Topic:   Speech From The Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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February 5, 2004

Hon. Art Eggleton

Mr. Speaker, this is a novel throne speech in terms of cities because there has never been this kind of mention of cities before. In the case of the GST, there has been nothing quite as specific as that in terms of the instant benefit that will go back to our cities. Let us give some credit where credit is due in terms of something that is quite new.

Giving our cities and municipalities a place at the table is also vital toward solving problems, including poverty. Yes, I think we should all hang our heads in shame about poverty. However over the years the government has put a lot of attention on poverty, particularly for children. The child tax benefit and the entire child care program that is now evolving are all designed to help meet the needs of our poorer families and to meet the needs of our future generation of Canadian citizens and voters, our children.

A lot of progress has been made. A lot of good things have been done but, yes, there is still a lot to do. Every member of the House, of all political parties, decided that poverty should be eradicated. We all should hang our heads in shame because we still have that kind of problem.

The government has been dedicated over the last 10 years and continues to be dedicated to doing what it can to cut down on poverty and give people in this country an equal opportunity.

Topic:   Speech From The Throne
Subtopic:   Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
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June 11, 2003

Hon. Art Eggleton (York Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Chabad Lubavitch which is the world's largest network of Jewish educational and social service institutions. The Chabad movement was founded in the 18th century in the Russian city of Lubavitch. The word Chabad is an acronym for the Hebrew words for wisdom, understanding and knowledge, representing a philosophy of life that integrates the spirit of humanity with the physical reality of the world.

Chabad is a worldwide movement with 3,000 branches in almost 50 countries on six continents. Chabad operates schools, youth centres, social agencies, summer groups, soup kitchens, medical clinics, and non-sectarian drug rehabilitation centres.

At the present time, more than 100,000 children are being educated in Chabad schools. Chabad houses serve as a home away from home for college and university students. They offer food for the body, nourishment for the soul, and non-judgmental advisers always willing to listen.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Chabad
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May 29, 2003

Hon. Art Eggleton

Mr. Speaker, I think NATO still is very relevant. One sign is the fact that many countries have just joined and many countries still want to join because they recognize two things are important for their future prosperity. One is economic prosperity, which they hope to get through membership or affiliation with the European Union. The other, which is basically and fundamentally needed first, is a sense of security, particularly with some of the past conflicts in Europe. The desire to have the sense of security that comes through NATO is very important to them.

NATO is a collective defence organization. I do not think any one of our countries could defend itself against a major onslaught. It would need collective defence mechanisms. We have built up and are continuing to build up an interoperability among the different countries. NATO is itself developing capabilities like the AWACS system or perhaps even a strategic lift that can be used for the member countries on a shared basis. Collective defence is still a very valid thing.

NATO though in future, as the situation in Yugoslavia settles down and becomes much better than it was in the past, could use its rapid reaction forces to help in terms of peace support operations in other parts of the world, either under the UN or some other international banner where it could make a valuable contribution in the future.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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