Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington)
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to be speaking during International Women's Week as the member of Parliament for Burlington, Ontario. Not only am I excited about representing my home town in the House of Commons, but I feel a deep sense of loyalty and purpose toward the job I have been elected to do.
The people of Burlington have given me the opportunity to grow and learn alongside them, and I welcome the challenge and the privilege. Already the rewards have been great and I look forward to combining the unparalleled energy of the populace of Burlington with my own enthusiasm.
It is very important to me that I thank not only my family and friends, without whose help I would not be here, but also the people of Burlington who have graciously given me their support, ideas and ultimately their confidence. Many people worked very hard to see me elected to this House. My parents and my family have supported me wholeheartedly in what seems in hindsight to have been a very fast campaign but what during the summer seemed endless at times.
My parents and my sister came to Canada in 1957 from Ireland and my parents inspired in each of their children commitment in and loyalty to this country, their chosen nation. They taught us the value of hard work and the importance of volunteering and giving something back to our community. I thank them for inspiring in me this deep sense of commitment I feel and for giving me the genes and the energy to fulfil that sense of duty.
Now, it is my duty to show the people of Burlington that I am worthy of the trust they have put in me. We must create a partnership with them to share our knowledge and our vision of Canada. I plan to work hand in hand with the people of Burlington to make Canada a better and better place to be.
I cannot do this on my own, no more than I can work alone in this House. We must all join hands and work together. In the daily performance of my duties as member of Parliament, I have noticed how different my riding was from my colleagues'
ridings. There are amazing differences between the communities we represent as well as within these communities.
I think that our society can only be enriched by such diversity. We are not divided by our differences but by our silences.
It is fortunate that we have a forum such as this Chamber from which our travels can begin, where we can discover our similarities, share our differences, our ideas, our knowledge and ourselves.
I envision a walk which encompasses the beauty of our country. It will be a colourful walk. There will be mountains to climb and prairies to cross, for our walk will be as long as our country is vast, yet always there will be colour in the languages we speak and in the land around us. We will walk through the blooming of springs and the harshness of winters and we will come through having understood that we can only succeed if we walk together, if we leave no one behind.
Just as I will work to see Burlington grow and succeed, I will work to ensure that Canada also flourishes. We must build a healthy economy for our future generations and a society with racial and gender equality. These goals are mutually inclusive, for our economy can only be strong if everyone has equal opportunity to participate.
If we do not have full equality our development as a nation will suffer and when we have equal participation in Canada we will be at our strongest internationally.
This government's first budget sets a stage from which to strengthen our country. The reforms being sought by the Minister of Human Resources Development will continue that process.
I am proud to be part of a government that recognizes the inequities in our present systems, a government that is committed to making meaningful changes for all Canadians.
This is a historic budget, the first to note the different economic impacts on women in Canada. Too many Canadian children are living below the poverty line, especially in single parent families headed by women. The budget commits the government to examining the issue of child support payments to ensure fairness in taxation as it is critical to the future of many young Canadians. In my view child poverty in Canada is a threat to our economic future and a complete waste of our resources.
The budget will have a positive effect on small businesses. I am pleased to support Burlington's Business Women's Network, a group fostering entrepreneurship and encouraging growth among Canada's most successful business starters, women. People like Roxeanne Moffat, owner of Hillcrest Florist, and Nancy Brewer, who started her own accounting business, are models of excellence and commitment to our fellow residents and to young people.
The axiom think globally, act locally is certainly relevant to Canada and is important to remember as we set the course for our new Canada. If we improve ourselves at a local level we can have a positive effect on the international scene. In Burlington, for example, we have various community activities and projects which have enriched our region both economically and socially.
We have learned the hard way by allowing our once beautiful Burlington Bay to be spoiled with the sludge of industry. Now we are learning that there is a new sustainable way to develop our economy and that Canadians have a commitment to clean up our past mistakes and share our expertise internationally and profitably.
I am pleased by the variety and breadth of local initiatives to stimulate innovative entrepreneurship. Burlington's junior achievement inspires and encourages young entrepreneurs to run their own businesses. They are closely associated with and influenced by local business persons who act as mentors and peers. It is great to see both young and old working together in partnership for a brighter future.
Certainly the older citizens of Burlington have incredible knowledge and insight to share. Many of Burlington's seniors, in age only and not in spirit, have enjoyed a second career by being involved in CESO International Services, a not for profit volunteer based organizations committed to human and global development with a goal of self-sufficiency whether for the First Nations of Canada or for other citizens abroad. On average CESO's volunteers are 62 years old. They are people like Larry and Patricia McMahon and Anthony Miele from Burlington who offer their skills and knowledge to others.
I believe it is necessary for Canadians to share these resources both within and outside our national boundaries. When we take positive action at a local level we will improve the quality of Canadians' lives. Inevitably this energy will spread beyond all boundaries.
In Burlington we have an organization that works locally and nationally to eliminate violence against women. CAVEAT was started by a local mother, Priscilla de Villiers, and is supported and sponsored by many people in our community.
Internationally, the United Nations has followed Canada's lead in working to eradicate violence against women. This is a human rights issue as much as it is an equality issue. All of our world's citizens will benefit when women need not fear for their lives.
I know that every step we take in the long walk ahead of us has been made possible because of the work done by our foremothers and forefathers. In my riding women make up 64 per cent of the population over 75. This is a thriving community of women who are vital and spirited. Their contributions to Burlington have been many and varied and they continue to act as advisers, educators and role models.
I am honoured to be able to take footsteps beside those of such unique people as Jean Galloway, Burlington's citizen of the year for 1993. At 73 years of age, a mother, grandmother and volunteer extraordinaire, Jean was the founder of the Society for Animal Aid. She works for Meals-on-Wheels, the Red Cross and is one of Burlington's foremost lobbyists for improvements in our community.
In sharing their life experiences with their families and friends, the older women of Burlington have given a voice to something which has often been silenced; the value of women and the work they have done both inside and outside of their homes. Indeed, their lives are rich and multifaceted.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the older women of Burlington and of Canada for their contributions to society which oftentimes have been overlooked. We must learn from our elders, both women and men, and rebuild our economy in an economically viable manner.
Together with all Canadians the government will draw up the blueprints for that rebuilding. This budget is the first edition.
I am pleased to be able to work with my constituents and with this House to bring Canada into the 21st century, into an era of equality for all citizens in Canada and in the world. I hope that all members of this House will join with me in this walk into our future.
Topic: Government Orders
Subtopic: The Budget