NDP Caucus inaugural speeches

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Wilf Day
NDP Caucus inaugural speeches

Megan Lesie (Halifax), Nov. 21:

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My constituency is made up of people who are coping with the everyday difficulties of life. It has struck me that the pomp and pageantry of this magnificent House seems very far removed from the realities of everyday life in Halifax.

   With the highest density of students of any city in Canada, Halifax has residents struggling with monumental student debt and uncertain futures. We have the legacy of Africville, with members of the African Nova Scotian community still contributing their vibrant and active sense of culture throughout our city despite their unanswered calls for recognition and reparations.

    We have thousands of seniors who are finding it more and more difficult to do simple things, such as paying their heating bills. We have Mi'kmaq people still looking for concrete commitments to improve their lives after the ray of hope which was the residential school apology.

    We also have a strong military presence in our city with many families who have loved ones on the base, overseas in Afghanistan, or at sea. Our military families live with the terrible uncertainty the war in Afghanistan has brought about and the lack of support which seems to await our veterans after their military service has ended.

    Over the past number of years I have worked with individuals who heat with their ovens or heat only one room of their home at a time because they cannot afford fuel. Their choice is between heating their home or feeding their kids. They choose between heat or eat. They know they should insulate and upgrade, but they cannot afford the initial costs. There was nothing for them in the throne speech.

    I hoped I would hear a plan to restore confidence in pensions which many seniors now feel are uncertain.

    I hoped to hear about a real industrial strategy. Nova Scotian manufacturing industries are hurting. We continue to lose workers to the west. The reality is that under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, the Canadian economy has lost its innovative edge. Instead of grasping new opportunities, Canada is more reliant on the broken U.S. economy and more dependent on resource extraction. We are more than just the hewers of wood and the drawers of water.

    The NDP recognizes that diversity and productivity are the basis for an effective economic strategy. The NDP understands that the opportunities of the green economy must be grasped quickly. Most important, our party sees the security and competence of people as the backbone to any economy. This must be our priority. I did not hear the throne speech make these things the focus of our collective efforts here in the House of Commons as I had hoped.

    Halifax is home to some of the premier research institutions in Canada which are waiting for a real strategy for innovation in the knowledge based green economy of the future.

    The Halifax transit system is bursting at the seams. When new services have been added, people in Halifax have responded by using sustainable transportation.

    Some say that high gas prices will force people to take the bus, but Sambro, a fishing community in my riding, does not even have a bus. Fishers in my riding deserve as much service as the rest of us.

    In Halifax I have seen how jobs can be created in an energy efficient industry. These jobs can be created throughout the country in every community.

    Economists are calling for investment in infrastructure. In the throne speech I had hoped to hear about strong investments in public transit and affordable, efficient housing.

    Housing is infrastructure. Transit is infrastructure. Building both would create jobs, reduce greenhouse gases and work toward poverty elimination. I did not hear the government seize upon these opportunities.

    I also had hoped to hear recognition of arts and culture as part of our economy. Halifax has wonderful arts and culture communities that export film, music, theatre and dance, which create jobs in our city. There was no mention of this vital aspect of our culture and our economy.

    I had hoped for so much from the throne speech. I had hoped to hear a commitment to act against violence against women by attacking the root causes of violence, or to hear about a national child care program, or new post-secondary funding, or a commitment to international aid.

    I had hoped to hear about a spectrum of supportive housing investments, or about a plan to strengthen education in first nations communities, or for any indication that the government might finally abandon its continued march to reduce the taxes of its supporters and wealthy corporations, even when it admits it will be running a budgetary deficit.

    I had hoped, and I was disappointed.

    However, as New Democrats, we believe that we can bring hope and change not only to the House, but to Canadians who believe in the progress of nations.

    I watched with genuine excitement as our friends in the United States elected a president who campaigned on hope and possibility. I was struck by the fact that Canadians voted overwhelmingly by over 60% to reject the milquetoast Conservative approach to the economic crisis when serious action is needed.

    Canada needs bold action for the economy. We need a stimulus package that invests in the real economy of people. We need to protect people's jobs. We need to protect their savings, their homes and their pensions. We need the government to deliver real results.

    While I was hopeful that the Speech from the Throne would signal a plan for this kind of action, it instead signalled to me that the Conservative government is content to continue on with the same legislative program that over 60% of Canadians opposed on October 14. This is why I must stand today and oppose the Speech from the Throne.

Jack Harris (also Nov. 21):

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I should also add that our party was successful in getting the support of 34% of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is a considerable level of support, and I wanted to make sure hon. members here and people watching at home knew that. I understand that 34% is almost enough to get a minority government in Canada. The current government has a little better than that, but not much.

     I hope to play a role in this House as the deputy energy critic for the east coast. We have a tremendous level of development of oil and gas and of other forms of hydroelectricity in the Atlantic region. My appointment by our leader is emblematic of our recognition of the important role our energy plays in the Canadian energy supply. Newfoundland and Labrador produces some 40% of the Canadian requirement for crude oil, and hon. members may not be fully aware of that fact.

     We want to see action on issues such as affordable housing. This issue is particularly important in my riding, where the Canada Lands Company is redeveloping some 80 hectares of land. We want affordable housing to be a significant part of that mix. We need to have a national housing plan or affordable housing programs to help do that. Those did not come forward in the speech, but we will continue to fight for those things.

    I cannot help but remark on the concerns expressed by the opposition leader in Ontario, Bob Runciman. He talked about the concept of being poor cousins to Newfoundland being hard to swallow.

    What was hard to swallow was being told by the Prime Minister that Atlantic Canadians suffered from a culture of dependence, that somehow we were the product of failed regional development policies. Imagine if I said that Ontario's problem was the result of failed regional development policies like the national railway or the St. Lawrence Seaway or the auto pact. That is not the kind of talk we need. We need to understand that nobody needs to feel inferior because the fiscal situation of their province has changed.

    We have a great country. It has an equalization formula that applies equally to all parts of our country. It applies to Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and, yes, even Ontario.

    We are pleased to be part of an economic change in our province. The price of oil makes a big difference. It is all the more important that commitments like the Atlantic accord be followed, because we will need to have that support while we continue to develop our prosperity.

    We do have other projects to go forward, such as the Churchill Falls project. That project will very likely require the support of the Government of Canada, at least in the form of loan guarantees.

    If hon. members want to understand the importance of this step to the people of Newfoundland, I would encourage hon. members who are computer literate to use one of the search engines, perhaps Google, to look up the words “Yes, we have”. Those three words will lead you to a website showing a little video put together by a private company. It puts a speech given by Premier Danny Williams to music.

     It will give you an idea of the kind of passion and pride that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians feel having taken this step. The step is fiscal, but it is psychological as well. Looking at that video might give people some insight into the way we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have sometimes been made to feel because of our economic situation. I certainly intend to play a role in trying to change that as much as I can.

    We are here from Newfoundland and Labrador as equal participants in Confederation. We have lots to say about what needs to be done in this country and for our province.

John Rafferty (Thunder Bay - Rainy River), Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury) (Nov. 20): 

Wilf Day

Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay -- Superior North) (Nov. 24):

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Northwestern Ontario helped to supply the raw materials that built Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto: furs, timber and materials that helped to build a prosperous Canada, but it is northern Ontario now that needs help from Ottawa. Our citizens and our small towns feel forgotten. We feel that in our time of need, Ottawa has forgotten where we are, who we are and what we need.

 

    As I knocked on thousands of doors over five years, I heard a lot of anger and a lot of worry. Thousands and thousands of resource jobs have been lost in northern Ontario, mostly in forestry, woodlands and mills. I heard anger and extreme worry in the forest-dependent towns whose mills and woods operations have closed, like Longlac, Nakina, Beardmore, Red Rock, Nipigon and many of the mills in Thunder Bay. Others are on the edge, like Terrace Bay, Marathon, and the two remaining mills in Thunder Bay.

 

    Since October 14, I have been hard at work on many issues related to making life better for families in our region. Some examples include fostering value-added forestry, exploring potential energy from wood opportunities and meetings on regional issues related to mining, health care, highways, freight rail service to Greenstone and bringing back VIA Rail to Thunder Bay and the Lake Superior north shore.

 

    In our riding, more than 20% of our citizens are members of first nations. We want them to have more than mere payoffs for residential schools. We want them to join the economic and political fabric of Canada.

    Many others in our riding are Métis. These descendants of the fur trade marriages want to be recognized at the federal table.

 

    In our riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North, we have a cultural oasis in a sea of wilderness. We have, per capita, more symphony seats than Toronto. We have more seats at live theatre per capita than Montreal. We have a fine visual arts scene from aboriginal art to traditional art, to avant-garde; eye-popping works. We have those because our citizens and our previous governments helped us to build a cultural foundation. Let us please not cut arts funding. Let us increase it so that arts in Thunder Bay, northwestern Ontario and all across rural Canada can continue to grow.

 

    In Thunder Bay—Superior North, we have skilled, hard-working craftspeople, tradespeople, a labour force with experience and flexibility. We need support for innovation, for finding new ways to make new products from our forests. We do give thanks for the investments in Thunder Bay for molecular medicine and technologies.

 

    Not everyone will get back to work. We need the government to protect their pensions, their homes and their savings, if they are pushed into retirement, through both wise investments and stringent regulations. If they are laid off in mid-career, we want an EI system that serves and protects them, not a system that adds layer after layer of regulations to avoid paying them so that the finance minister can balance his books. We must stop taking the workers' money from EI. It is their money, not the government's.

    As in pretty much every riding in Canada, just over half of the citizens in my riding are women. They want the status of women office back. They want respectful attention to both equity and equality.

 

    In our riding, about 35% of us do not have a family physician, myself included. Persons in need of many services must fly to Winnipeg, Toronto or Hamilton for treatment. Persons in need of psychiatric services get brief diagnoses in pills, not time and therapy and healing.

 

    When Tommy Douglas and Lester Pearson worked together to create our then marvellous health care system, it was funded 50% federally. Today the federal share is well below 20%. We need the federal level of government to restore its long abandoned promise to be equal partners with the provinces on health care.

 

    I have a special plea for the Minister of Industry. We have a specialized mill in Thunder Bay that makes fine printing papers. It is called Thunder Bay Fine Papers. Under previous absentee owners, it was mismanaged. It has been bought and reorganized under new management, local Thunder Bay management. It needs the help of the federal government. It and the families in Thunder Bay need the help of the Minister of Industry, perhaps through FedNor. It is a unique mill. It makes value-added speciality fine printing papers for books, magazines and high quality brochures. It is almost 100% Canadian owned with most of that ownership right in Thunder Bay. It has secured a special, favourable 10-year labour agreement with CEP union. It has dramatically improved its energy and labour efficiency. It has gone from 6.9 hours of labour per tonne of product under the previous owners down to 2.8 hours of labour per tonne, putting it into the top 25% of efficiency in North American mills, and it has several years of orders.

 

    The Province of Ontario has stepped up to the place for the following assistance: a loan guarantee of $25 million, a forgivable grant of $1.5 million, as well, the Ontario Heritage Fund has contributed another $1.5 million.

 

    It is within the power of the Minister of Industry to save this mill. It is within his power to save over 600 direct jobs in a city of 108,000 people, as well as many hundreds of indirect jobs in Thunder Bay, plus securing many jobs at Bowater, also in Thunder Bay, which is the source for the Kraft pulp that goes into these fine papers. All told, it is within his power to save several thousand direct and indirect jobs in Thunder Bay, to save several thousand families in Thunder Bay from the hardship and worry this Christmas.

 

 . . here is what is needed: first, a loan guarantee of between $20 million and $30 million for Thunder Bay Fine Papers to get it through its start-up cashflow crunch; second, that they direct our Canadian government agencies to buy from printers who specify Canadian produced fine papers, instead of the offshore papers often used at present.

 

    I am a wildlife biologist. Biologists combine two strategies for saving endangered species. Second, we make a long-term plan for sustainability but first we move quickly for a short-term survival strategy to hold on to a dwindling population.

 

    . . . we have an endangered forest industry in Canada with an especially endangered population of forestry workers in Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario.

    We need to move quickly to secure these jobs at Thunder Bay Fine Papers in Thunder Bay and in resource dependent communities across all of Canada.

 

    Once again, allow me to express my pleasure at joining the House and I look forward to working with all parties to show that we can work together to reinvest in the kind of Canada that we all seek and that Canadians citizens want and need from us.

Malcolm Allen (Welland), also Nov. 24:

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When I came to this country as an immigrant child with my parents, my father had no work. We came from Glasgow. He was a ship worker. He came to this land to build ships. Within six months, he found himself without a job. The decision for him, my mother and the four children they had at that time, myself included, was “Do we stay in this great land or do we home?” My father's decision, which was extremely hard because there was no other family here to support us, was to stay.

 

    It is clear that we are now facing an economic crisis unlike anything we have ever seen in modern times and for some, I would dare venture to say, never seen before. We would have to look to our grandparents, perhaps even our great grandparents, for those members who are young, to get the history of what happened once before in our great country.

 

    Canadians are looking to Parliament to help alleviate and lessen the impact of the economic crisis we face today. To do this, we believe there are five priorities that we need to undertake.

 

    First, the government needs to create an economic stimulus package to help protect and create jobs. If we want to head off something worse than a recession, we need to ensure that people are working and making money.

 

    Second, we need to protect the pensions of those hard-working Canadians who built this country for us and allowed us to enjoy the fruits of that country. We need to ensure that their pensions are protected and that they never again slip into debt and into poverty.

 

    Third, we need to immediately suspend the $7.3 billion corporate tax cuts scheduled to take effect in 2009. It seems ludicrous to give away billions more to profitable corporations while the rest of the economy suffers. It seems to me that the least we can do is invest in our own folks, not invest in corporations that take a tax cut and head to Mexico, like John Deere.

 

    Fourth, we want to see legitimate steps to fight climate change. Not only is this a potentially greater crisis than the one we face in the economy, but it can indeed be part of the solution and part of the remedy. By creating green collar jobs, we have the potential to help solve both our problems simultaneously, the economic crisis and the climate crisis.

 

    Fifth, we need to bring in meaningful democratic reform and a more open, accountable and co-operative minority government. There is currently a democratic deficit in our country with millions of Canadians feeling left out of our electoral process. At the same time, we are looking for strong signals that this minority Parliament will be more productive and less divisive than the last one.

 

    The five priorities are not outrageous. Nor are they unreasonable. We felt that by introducing some or all these issues we could work with the government in bringing about the solutions that ordinary Canadians are demanding of all of us.

 

    Listening to the Speech from the Throne last Wednesday, I was pleased by a number of elements. I liked the overall tone of the speech. It was conciliatory and open to collaboration.

 

    The Prime Minister mentioned that he wanted to work with the other parties in the House and asked for our suggestions. I believe our suggestions are meaningful. However, asking for advice and then not using it is like an empty promise. I suggest we find a way to make both sides of the House understand that if we are going to collaborate, it means listening to the other side.

 

    I was enthused by the Speech from the Throne with regard to the development of a continental cap and trade system and the invitation to work with the government on an energy retrofit program was encouraging. We have been calling for these initiatives for a number of years. I look forward to seeing further details and hope to be able to support them.

 

    Also, the new language around the new world-class research facilities is promising. Canada has first-class researchers and innovators and it is about time we harness that energy and innovation. Brock University and Niagara College, which are in my riding, are talking about new biochemical industries and bio industries. In fact, the president of Brock University is extremely enthused about it. I look forward to the innovation and this sense of working with new innovators who will come forward, as in the details in the Speech from the Throne.

 

    While all this is well and good, most of the speech was shrouded in vague language with few details and an actual action plan. The Speech from the Throne is the action plan of the government. It is supposed to show the strategic direction of the government. Yet I did not get a sense of that last Wednesday. Canadians were hoping for more and New Democrats were expecting more.

 

    Being an MP from southern Ontario, I was looking for details on how the government would address the growing instability in the manufacturing sector. One area was in the industrial heartland of Ontario, and I did not hear anything.

 

    The crisis extends beyond the auto sector. In southern Ontario one looks at that sector and says “auto”. To be truthful, that is not exactly honest or absolutely true. What is really true about that manufacturing heartland is that it is extremely diverse. The difficulty is we are seeing numerous industries fail, or left to fail or simply pack up and move on.

 

    CanGro was an operation just outside my riding in the Niagara Peninsula. One of its largest products was canned fruit. The Niagara Peninsula is synonymous with tender fruit. CanGro was the last canning factory east of the Rocky Mountains and it was let to slide away about four months ago. Now the peach growers in Niagara have nowhere to send their peaches. In fact, the peach trees have been torn out of the ground, producing no more peaches. That is a shame.

 

    Also in my riding is a place called Horizon Milling. Most people would probably remember it better as Robin Hood flour. The new Horizon Milling decided to buy the corporation from Robin Hood. Its first act of business was to lock out its workers, demand concessions from its retirees and workers, left them out on the street for 15 months and closed it. It is an absolute shame. It was a mill that had been in operation for 60-some-odd years, where grandfathers, fathers and sons had worked one after another in Port Colborne. That is unfortunate.

 

    My riding is in the fourth oldest region in the country. Seventy per cent of young folks under the age of 30 leave the region of Niagara because of their inability to find work. If we continue down the road that is plotted for us today, I am afraid perhaps all young people will leave Niagara to find opportunities elsewhere. We need to stop that hemorrhaging. We need to find a new path. We need to come up with ways to ensure the survival not only of the manufacturing industries that exist today in my riding, but to also start new ones, with new innovation technologies and new ways of employing them.

 

    We need new ideas and a compromise from all parties. If the government is serious about cooperation, I suggest it work with all parties to come up with a made in Canada plan that will not only pull us through the current situation, but leave our country stronger and more competitive to deal with the new realities of the 21st century.

   John Deere had been in the city of Welland for close to 100 years. By its own admission it was highly profitable and highly efficient, with a great workforce. It said in a statement it issued last year that it had a commitment to Welland, yet within nine months it made another announcement to the effect that it was closing the door without any discussions with anyone. It did not even say thank you very much for the tax cuts before moving on.

 

    I talked to a young couple. The husband worked at John Deere. They were in their late twenties or early thirties, not much older than my own children. They told me they had thought they had finally found a secure job in an agri-region, because John Deere was the shining star of the region. When all the other manufacturers were losing jobs, this one was actually hiring. What I saw on their faces was desperation. They were asking me, “What will we do? Where do we go next? What will become of us, our friends and our families when we have to leave?”

 

    It is absolutely heart-wrenching to see a young family in that situation, wanting to stay in their community and to be close to their family. They want to raise their children so that the grandparents will have the opportunity to see those grandchildren. They are looking to us in this House to find ways for them to stay in their community by creating jobs for them and not letting them disappear, and not letting the John Deeres take the corporate tax cuts the Conservatives are giving them and head south to Mexico.

Wilf Day

As I started to add yesterday: Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury), Nov. 20:

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    In Sudbury, we are already seeing signs of the slowing economy. Six months ago, as commodity prices were riding high on the exchange markets and economies around the world were expanding, so was Sudbury. Not only were Vale Inco and Xstrata hiring massive numbers of new miners and other workers, but new junior companies were staking claims and planning new mines.

    Sudbury had not seen this level of expansion in decades. Some predicted that this boom would last another decade or so. With the price of nickel and other metals plunging, so has expansion. Planned new mines are being mothballed and the first of the layoffs have already started. Families that were once so hopeful for what this future could bring are now worried about what this global crisis will bring.

     Sudbury has endured recessions before and knows the costs to a community. In talking to people in my riding, they see nothing in yesterday's throne speech that will help them or their community in this downturn.

    I had the opportunity to speak to an elderly widowed woman in Sudbury just last week. The conversation was difficult as she explained to me that she had just recently lost her husband and that she was alone trying to pay the taxes on her home, put food on the table and pay the bills, all the while her savings and her pensions are vanishing in this economic downturn.

    She is not alone. She is one of literally thousands of seniors in my riding of Sudbury and millions of seniors who built our great country who were virtually ignored in the throne speech.

    Organizations like the Older Adult Centres Association and our local YMCA continue to offer programs to help seniors through difficult times, so too should this government.

    That is why I decided to run for office. People like the elderly woman in Sudbury need more, not more of the same. We need bold action and a fresh direction. We need to start putting families first rather than big corporations. In all the talk of restraint there was no mention of suspending the $7.3 billion in corporate tax breaks set to kick in in 2009.

    We were elected just as this economic turmoil began. The people who voted for us, no matter what party we belong to, voted for real action to help alleviate the impacts of this global crisis. Sadly, most of what I heard in yesterday's throne speech was a steady as it goes approach with little direction to actually deal with problems facing Canadian families.

    There was little mention of how the government will deal with the growing doctor deficit. Five million Canadians still do not have access to a family doctor.

    Child care is virtually ignored in the throne speech. Families across Canada have been demanding a truly national system of child care. I just received an email from a mother in Sudbury who has been waiting over a year and a half for a day care spot. This is forcing her to choose child care options with which she is not entirely comfortable. This is a horrible situation for any parent to go through. The throne speech does little to help parents dealing with the lack of affordable child care spaces across my riding and across the country.

    However, despite my objection over the majority of the content of the throne speech, there were some positive and encouraging aspects to it. First, the overall tone of the speech was more conciliatory and less combative than previous statements. While we believe that this should have been backed up with real change, it does indicate that the government might be willing to set aside with the brinkmanship of the past and start working closer together with the opposition to achieve real results for Canadians. That is a good sign.

    Second, New Democrats welcome the invitation to work with the government on an energy retrofit program, something that we have been calling for and we believe could have a very positive effect on our economy. Also, the mention of the establishment of a continental cap and trade system sounds promising and we look forward to seeing further details.

    Third, the new language around the new world-class research facilities is promising. However, if the government is serious about investing in cutting edge research for the industry, I would suggest that it reconsider its objection to funding the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation in Sudbury. Sudbury is a world leader in this field and it is time that the federal government recognizes it as such.

. . . Canadians need more than vague language; that bold action is needed to help protect the people and communities from this economic downturn.

    Canadians are looking to us to work toward protecting their jobs, their savings and their futures. We need to be brave and lay a new foundation for Canada in the 21st century, a foundation not only to get us through this current crisis, but one that will position Canada to be stronger coming out of this troubled time. Some say that cannot be accomplished. However, in the words of the late great Tommy Douglas, “Courage my friends, It is not too late to build a better world”.

    The people of Sudbury elected me to work hard and tirelessly to ensure that their concerns were met in this Parliament. They can count on me. In these uncertain times, working and middle-class families can count on our team of New Democrat MPs to ensure that their interests come first. That is why Sudbury voted for change. I will not let my constituents down.

John Rafferty (Thunder Bay -- Rainy River):

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    I begin in Ojibway and give greetings in Ojibway to the House because I would like to honour the elders of the many first nations who are in my ridings. I would like to respect those elders and the work that they and their predecessors have done to help build our country. I would like to ask the government today to ensure that our brothers and sisters in the first nations, the Métis and the Inuit are all included in the continuing building of this nation.

    It takes more than five hours to drive across my riding. It spans two time zones. It is, bar none, arguably the most beautiful riding in our country. We have Kakabeka Falls, Niagara of the north. We have Quetico Park, the most accessible wilderness park in the country. Little do members know, I am sure, that the Prairies actually begin in the west end of my riding. Our farmers have been hit hard in Stratton, Emo and Bergland, seniors in Rainy River, Morson, forestry families in Barwick, Fort Frances, Sapawe, Upsala and Thunder Bay and Atikokan, too.

     However, I would like the members in the House to know that we have a fighting spirit and that we are willing to work with all levels of government to ensure we have the wherewithal and the tools to make lives better for our families.

    People in Thunder Bay—Rainy River are worried about their jobs, their pensions and their savings. We were hoping there would be some bold and strategic moves by the government in the throne speech, but what we have is a throne speech that does not match the urgency and the depth of the problems facing Canadian families.

    We have proven again by not supporting this throne speech, just as in the 39th Parliament, that we are the effective opposition in the House.

    The Speech from the Throne does not secure jobs for our families. It does not secure and ensure sound budgeting. Just today the parliamentary budget officer announced that we could be facing a $13.8 billion deficit. Cancelling the scheduled $7.3 billion in corporate tax cuts in 2009-10 would go a long way to putting Canadians and Canada on a sound financial footing.

    However, let me be clear, I want to work with the government. People in my riding have told me that they do not want another election any time soon. They want me to work with the government. We need to ensure that no one gets left behind or no families get left behind.

    I was pleased to hear some of the words in the throne speech. I was pleased that I heard, at least two or three times, the term working families. Everyone in the House will recognize where that term came from.

    I look forward to working with the government on home retrofit programs. I welcome the language on the new world-class research facilities, reducing gun crime and ending cross-border smuggling of guns. It was in our 2008 election platform.

    I have spoken with three ministers so far and I have pledged my co-operation on a broad range of issues. Every educator knows that success breeds success.

     I heard this morning, and I heard recently from the hon. Conservative member, that the government finally would get rid of the long gun registry. I am very pleased to tell the House that for eight years, since the turn of the century, my constituents have told me that we need to get rid of that long gun registry. They have told me that it unfairly penalizes farmers, gun collectors and hunters. If that bill appears as a stand-alone bill, I will honour the wishes of the constituents in my riding.

    As I said, success breeds success. We can make the government work for all Canadians, where no one gets left behind. Do not let anyone tell you, Mr. Speaker, that it cannot be done.

    [Member spoke in Ojibwa]

Wilf Day

Linda Duncan (Edmonton--Strathcona) (Nov. 25) (She is the second member of the NDP mountain time caucus, along with Dennis Bevington):

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  I am awed by the time and energy Canadian communities volunteer to our democratic process. It should be honoured.

     I encourage all members of this House to not lose sight of the privilege we share in living in a nation where we can freely participate in the electoral process without threat of violence or corruption. It is no lesser a privilege that our affairs are dictated by the rule of law. We do well to recall that the very definition of a democracy is a nation governed by rules, made and enforced by those we elect, a government that remains open and transparent, where laws enacted by the majority are effectively implemented and enforced, including laws for the protection of our health and our environment.

    It behooves this House to be diligent in ensuring that the needs and interests of all Canadians are placed at the forefront of our minds when making decisions affecting their lives, their families, their children, their communities and their futures. My constituents did not just elect a new representative to speak on their behalf. More important, I have promised to doggedly pursue a more participatory democracy. I will pursue reforms to bring Canadians proportional representation to this House. I will also champion more constructive and inclusive means to ensure their direct engagement in the decisions affecting them.

    Nowhere is this more critical than in the hinterland. I have long advocated for the right and opportunity of members of the affected communities--farmers, trappers, fishers, first nations, Métis, immigrants and women--to have a seat at the table. This is the real democratic reform Canadians have called for.

    Now more than ever, as we face dire threats to our environment and mounting economic distress, it is incumbent upon us as members of Parliament to open the doors to our decision-making processes. If we are truly committed to seeking answers to climate change, to safe food and drinking water, to clean air and liveable communities, it behooves us to hear directly from and respond to those who bear the brunt of impacts downwind and downstream.

    It is my hope during this Parliament that we can move away from basing decisions on polls and hand-selected advisory groups. Our federal laws and policies will be strengthened when they are grounded in the voices of the communities most directly affected, when we engage Canadian communities in exploring solutions that speak to their special needs and circumstances.

    Canadians want their federal government to assert federal jurisdiction and powers. They have called for bold measures to protect our environment for the benefit of this and future generations. Strong federal laws are in place. Federal agencies and tribunals are mandated. As an advocate for federal engagement in these areas for over 30 years, both inside and outside government, I decry the announcement by the government of its intent to claw back the powers of these agencies and tribunals, to label the valid assertion of federal measures and powers as mere red tape.

    Contrary to the assertions made in the throne speech, less regulation cannot be equated with more effective government nor certainty for investment. Empirical evidence shows that industry looks to regulation as the key determinant for shifting investments toward cleaner production.

    For those reasons, I register my vote opposing the Speech from the Throne.

    Now is the time to set aside petty partisan debates and work together to expedite the necessary economic and regulatory reforms, to convert our fossil fuel dependent economy to a more equitable, secure and greener future.

    Parliament has already wisely passed laws prescribing specific targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Stricter pollution control standards are, hopefully, imminent for release. The next step is to direct the federal spending power, our fiscal measures and our regulatory arm toward incenting conversion to a greener economy.

    We must deploy these powers at our disposal, revamp the outdated national building code to prescribe energy efficient buildings, reconsider these fast-tracked approvals for export of coal-fired and nuclear power and raw bitumen. We must considered stalled investments in tar sands expansion as a welcome window of opportunity to redress the cumulative health and environmental impacts.

    Let us expand partnerships with provincial, territorial, municipal and aboriginal governments by significantly increasing our share of the cost to expedite on a much larger scale initiatives for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

    The throne speech wisely lends support to such an initiative. Let us make it monumental. The result will bring all Canadians a triple bottom line benefit: energy savings to struggling families, farms, businesses and governments; reduced environmental and health impacts; job creation and job choice. This is what can be deemed a sensible policy for our time.

    For many, the retired, those on fixed incomes and struggling students, reducing energy costs is a necessity, not a frill. Many in the House may be shocked to learn of the extent of poverty suffered in Alberta. These sad truths were revealed to us just this past week in reports by the food banks and the Edmonton Social Planning Council.

    We must join forces to right these wrongs, to close the growing prosperity gap, to accord the equal right to a better qualify of life for every Canadian.

    I welcome the opportunity of working with all members in the House to achieve this reality.

Niki Ashton (Churchill) (also Nov. 25):

Quote:
  Our riding is made up of first nations and Métis people, as well as Canadians from all across Canada and Canadians from all over the world. There are over 30 first nations in the Churchill riding. They include Cree, Ojibway, Oji-Cree and Dene.

    At a time when there is significant focus on the economy, it is important to recognize the experiences of people in northern Manitoba when it comes to the economy. In northern Manitoba, communities that depend on the forestry industry were and continue to be affected as a result of the softwood lumber deal. Mining communities as well as future development across the north have been impacted by the economic downturn. There are also communities that have very high rates of unemployment and have seen the destruction of traditional economic activities.

     Along with our concern for the economic well-being of Canadians, we also need to look at their fundamental needs that are not being met. Let me turn to the issues for my riding of Churchill.

    In terms of health, we need to look at the shortage of doctors and nurses all across northern Manitoba and across the northern and rural regions of Canada. We need a strong national strategy that assists the provinces in providing the health care that all Canadians deserve. We need to recognize the health needs of first nations where there are high rates of conditions and illness, such as diabetes and tuberculosis that reflect the third world conditions many first peoples encounter. This is unacceptable.

    In terms of education, we need to see significant funding increases. As a former instructor for the University College of the North, we need to support institutions such as that one. We need to see an increase in post-secondary funding for first nations students. We talk about education being key; let us step up and make sure there is adequate support for it.

    We need to look at primary education on first nations and the increase in spending required for aboriginal education, which is far below the provincial average. We need to look at the building of schools, such as in St. Theresa Point where there is a need for a new elementary school, in Nelson House where improvements need to be made to the high school, in Gods Lake Narrows where we need a new high school, and in Gods River where we need a new school, period.

    In terms of transportation, we need to look at the needs of communities that have no roads and where all weather roads are melting at a very alarming rate as a result of the impacts of climate change. We need to look at building airports in communities that have no airports. The recent crash in northern Manitoba speaks to the need for improved transportation security. As someone who survived a plane crash, I see the need for the federal government to step up and make sure there is transportation security and sustainable ways of transportation for people in northern Canada.

    We also need to see support from the federal government in terms of the bay line and the port of Churchill, important economic centres for our region. We also need to have a very good discussion in terms of the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board, an institution that supports the economy in northern Canada and benefits Canadians all across the country.

    In terms of infrastructure, we need to look at more funding for affordable housing. The lack of affordable housing limits the diversification of many communities across my region. There are shameful housing conditions across first nations communities that need to be dealt with on an urgent basis. We also see the need for seniors housing.

    We need to support child care. I come from one of the youngest regions in Canada. We need to make sure that there is funding for child care in terms of capital as well as programming in order to support young families in my region.

    On the environment, for us northerners we have a close exposure to the impacts of climate change and the destruction of our environment. We see the ice lasting less and we see the change in wildlife patterns all across our region. Northerners are concerned about the preservation of our environment. We need to see action.

    I would also like to bring forward the issues facing youth. In the throne speech we heard tough words on gangs and cracking down on youth crime. How about looking at the opportunities of young people and supporting our young people? As I said, I come from one of the youngest regions of Canada. The median age is 26.4 years. We have communities without recreation centres, without programming, without drop-in centres. We need to look at the positive contributions of young people. The Lance Runners Society, the Island Lake Regional Youth Council, and Tori Yetman are excellent examples of the initiatives being taken in our region. We need to look at building and supporting healthy initiatives and programs for our young people.

    When we talk about the status of women, we need to address the inequality between women and men being faced in my region and across Canada. As the former chair of the Thompson Crisis Centre, we need to act and support the efforts being done in the area of domestic violence. We also need to support the important work being done in terms of the Stolen Sisters campaign and the need to eliminate violence against aboriginal women.

    When it comes to these areas, people in northern Manitoba ask, where is the federal government? We need economic development, development that benefits communities all across our regions. We need to look into partnering in economic development agreements and supporting initiatives that are currently taking place.

    However, there is a lack of vision for building a better Canada for all Canadians. There is a failure to deal with the needs and issues that Canadians face. I would like to see Parliament work together toward a vision for Canada that reflects the needs of Canadians all across this country. We need a vision that aims to realize social and economic justice for all.

    We also need Canadians to be involved. First, there is a need to have a more civil Parliament, something which is essential. Canadians are not interested in lowbrow aggressive attacks and are looking toward important work getting done on their behalf. It is difficult to engage Canadians when all they see is negativity and a failure to address their important needs. We saw it in this election where there was one of the lowest turnouts ever and incredible amounts of cynicism.

    Second, we need to make our electoral system and our political institutions inclusive and have them truly reflect who we are as a country. For example, the voter ID regulations disenfranchised many people across Canada.

    Many of us ask why there are not more young people involved. Let us look at our institutions. Last week I was able to enter the Senate and listen to the throne speech as an MP. Despite the fact that I can be democratically elected to represent Canadians in the House of Commons, I would not, and neither would anybody under the age of the 30, be allowed to become a senator under the proposed reforms.

    At the age of 18 one can vote, one can run for office, one can fight and die for one's country, but one cannot become a senator. This is blatant discrimination. The current version of Senate reform is the equivalent of operating on a fossil. This is not 1867; it is 2008. The Senate is an outdated institution that discriminates on the basis of age and should be abolished.

[Translation]

    We need more young members in our Parliament. There are very few members under the age of 40. The lack of young female members in this House must also be noted.

[English]

    I come here with a message for Parliament from the people of Churchill. Why, in the year 2008, in a country like Canada with so much wealth, can we not achieve social and economic justice for all? To quote the words of a great Manitoban, the founder of a political movement that I am proud to be part of, what we desire for ourselves, we wish for all.

Wilf Day

Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing) (Nov. 26)

Quote:
    During the election, when I travelled across Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, I was able to meet many of the people for whom I now work. In talking to them, I heard time and again that people are worried about their jobs and the high cost of living. They are worried about their pensions and about not being able to send their kids to school. As I listen to my colleagues speak, I can see that these are universal concerns. These are difficult economic times for all Canadians, my constituents included.

    The people of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing are hard-working, and when they cannot work, they want to be treated fairly. They deserve an employment insurance program that works for them and is not just a cash cow for the government.

    Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing is a big riding, and members may be aware that there is not a lot of public transportation. Things that many Canadians take for granted, like the ability to get to work or to a doctor's appointment, can be a big deal for many of my constituents. They rely on automobiles to get around and are subjected to higher gas prices than those in major centres. This is not right. It is hardly fair. The people in my riding have noticed this and they have told me how they feel about it. I have raised it in the House already and I will continue to do so until there is fairness for northerners at the gas pumps. It is too vital a component in our economy to be ignored.

    After the election and the many assurances from the Prime Minister, Canadians were looking for an effective action plan from the government, but they did not get it. Canadians are looking for hope, for economic security, and they are not receiving it. They are looking for leadership and a plan that will guide us through these tough times, and they are not finding it, not from this government anyway.

    However, there is hope. New Democrats have come up with a plan that would keep people working and help those people who want to work find jobs. Our five point plan is designed to help people in all regions and occupations.

    First, the government needs to create an economic stimulus package to help protect and create jobs. These are not just jobs in major centres. New Democrats feel the north requires the same opportunity through economic stimulation, if not more. I might add that an economic stimulus will have to flow through aboriginal communities as well.

    Where is the money for training and education in these communities? If we want people to work, we have to help them develop the tools to work. We want to see the children in aboriginal communities receive an education on a level playing field when compared to the opportunities available for children in cities and towns across our country, and right now that just is not happening.

    Instead, what we see from the government is zero dollars for the integration of technology in schools, zero dollars for school libraries, zero dollars for vocational training in secondary schools, zero dollars for extracurricular sports and recreation activities, and zero dollars for providing students with a diversified and stimulating curriculum such as studies in sports and art. That is a lot of zeroes.

    There are consequence to this oversight as well. Because of all of those zeroes, first nations schools are unable to provide competitive salaries and working conditions. Band councils must choose between vital services, making agonizing choices and cutting elsewhere. Worst of all is the inability to provide young people with a quality education, the kind that every child in Canada has the right to expect.

    I am proud to have been named my party's associate critic for aboriginal affairs, and I look forward to working with first nations and the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan to make sure the government comes to recognize the good work that can be done if it makes our first nations people the real priority.

    We also have to make sure our forestry sector is working. New Democrats, especially those of us from northern Ontario, are worried that the government does not recognize the need to preserve our forestry sector. In northern Ontario, entire towns have been dealt severe blows when a mill closes. Some towns in my riding still have their mills going, but these towns are becoming something of a rarity, and that is just not right.

    Second, we need to protect the pensions of those hard-working Canadians who built this country, those Canadians whose shoulders we stand on. We need to ensure that their pensions are protected and that they never again slip into debt and into poverty.

    Elliot Lake is a prime example of what can be done with an aging community. Elliot Lake has reinvented itself as a retirement town. It is a place where retirees can go and enjoy their retirement. Many of these seniors move to Elliot Lake because they can take advantage of affordable housing. Retirees are now the economic engine that drives that community and it is largely thanks to pensions. However, Elliot Lake is dependent upon pensions that pay out. Where is the protection from the government for retirees and those who are still working and dreaming of their retirement? It is just not there.

    Third, we need to immediately suspend the $7.3 billion corporate tax cuts scheduled to take effect in 2009. It seems ludicrous to give away billions more to profitable corporations while the rest of the economy suffers. Let us face it, the oil companies are not going to leave if we do not give them a few billion dollars in tax breaks. They are going to keep right on drilling. It is money we cannot afford to give away right now, not when we are heading toward deficit budgets.

    Fourth, we want to see concrete steps taken to fight climate change. New Democrats see climate change as both a legitimate threat to our prosperity and a golden opportunity to reinvent our economy. By creating green collar jobs, we have the potential to help solve both our problems simultaneously: the economic crisis and the climate crisis. It is not difficult to imagine Canada being a leader on the world stage with our transformation to a green energy superpower.

    Fifth, we need to bring in meaningful democratic reform and a more open, accountable and co-operative minority government. There is currently a democratic deficit in our country with millions of Canadians feeling left out of our electoral process. One only has to look at the dismal rate of voter participation to recognize that there is a problem. It is a trend that grows from election to election. Canadians are weary of our current electoral model and with the behaviour of those whom they elect to represent them in this very House.

[Translation]

    The New Democrats are eager to work with other parliamentarians so that the House can work meaningfully. We want to ensure that Parliament works for all Canadians, and we are therefore determined to work with the other parties and propose a program that has a good chance of helping Canadians avoid the worst of this difficult economic situation. We want to offer Canadians the hope that better days lie ahead and that they do not have to worry about their pensions or their jobs, about health care or the environment. They want to believe that they can count on us to defend their interests, the interests of ordinary taxpayers, rather than those of shareholders.

    The people of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing can count on me. I will be tireless in my efforts to voice their concerns in this House, as well as the concerns of the millions of working families who voted for the NDP. In these uncertain times, middle class and working families can rest assured that our team will make their interests our priority. That is why the people of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing voted for change, and I will not disappoint them.

[English]

    I could think of no better gift, on this my 50th birthday, than for the government to adopt the five points that New Democrats are proposing. That would be a gift for all of Canada.

Jim Maloway (Elmwood—Transcona) (also Nov. 26):

Quote:
I have decided to stick with three topics, some issues that I have not heard mentioned by some of the other members at this point that I am aware of.

    We enter this House at a time of huge upheaval on a worldwide basis with the economy perhaps in the worst shape it has been since the 1930 Depression. Governments have learned a lot since that time. They know that by injecting massive spending at the appropriate times they can help ease the pain and perhaps even get us through a recession.

    There are several ways to deal with the issue. The United States issued cheques, but that really does not work. People simply take that immediate money and buy products that are made in China and it really does not help the economy here that much. I favour an infrastructure approach. I know one can make arguments about it not being immediate enough, but I think that is the way to go. It is investment that benefits Canadians for years to come.

    In fact, the balancing of the budget exercise for the last decade, which I was highly supportive of in Manitoba and nationally, has in a way meant delayed infrastructure spending. We have a huge supply of infrastructure catch-up to do and it could not happen at a better time.

    In Manitoba we have developed 5,000 megawatts of clean hydroelectric power, which is about one-half of our potential. We export most of it to the United States market because that is where the transmission lines run. They do not run east and west; they run north and south, just like the oil pipelines up to this point in our history. We could develop over the next few years another 5,000 megawatts, or 50% of our total capacity, if the federal government would support an east-west power grid or a hydro superhighway to bring the power east to Ontario and west to Alberta.

    On July 3, 2007 the Prime Minister endorsed the plan. In fact he announced a $586 million payment to Ontario as part of the $1.5 billion Canada ecotrust fund. We need the Prime Minister to make this project happen so we can build the energy equivalent to the intercontinental railway that was built in the 1800s to tie this country east and west.

    I know that members on the government side from Manitoba are highly supportive of this idea and I wish them well in convincing the Prime Minister to take a strong leadership role in developing this east-west power grid.

    We can then build in Manitoba the hydro projects and send the power to Ontario so that Ontario can close its coal plants by the target date of 2014. The coal plants have a capacity of about 6,500 megawatts and therefore, Manitoba is in a strong position to help people in Ontario close those plants.

    Unlike the federal Conservatives in Canada, president-elect Obama is tying investment in clean energy to the creation of millions of jobs. He has set a goal of putting one million domestically built plug-in hybrids on the road and has put an emphasis on the need for energy efficiency and, along with electrification of transportation, hopes to get the U.S. off imported oil. President-elect Obama has also said he wants to expand and upgrade the United States' electrical grid so it can move renewable energy to areas of the country where it is needed.

    This is the Obama version of the east-west power grid that I just discussed. When will this power grid be built? When will the Prime Minister take a leadership role on this file? I look forward to seeing some action from the Prime Minister in the next few months.

    Page 12 of the throne speech refers to increasing incentives for energy-saving home retrofits. Manitoba Hydro has had the power smart residential loan program for many years, which since 1999 has achieved an estimated 374 megawatts in electrical savings. Participation levels are now over 50,000 people. New retrofit loans hit 40,000 recently. The result is $145 million invested in our homes. Manitoba Hydro is the largest electricity exporter in Canada. Its 2008 annual report shows $625 million in export sales to the U.S.

   I want to finish my comments about the Ontario Securities Commission and its dismal record in dealing with white collar crime in this country. The U.S. regulators, as I indicated, convicted 1,236 white collar criminals between the years 2002 and 2007. Does anyone know how many were convicted in Ontario over that period? Does anybody want to take a guess? The answer is two. Two people have been convicted.

    In fact, Conrad Black committed his white collar crimes in Canada while the Canadian watchdogs were asleep at the switch. It took the U.S. regulators to finally convict him. The Canadian white collar criminals who were running the Bre-X and Norshield scams and frauds have been given a free pass.

janfromthebruce

 Wilf, thanks for posting these. I have read everyone but haven't posted. Thanks.

______________________________________________________________________________________
Our kids live together and play together in their communities, let's have them learn together too!

laytonsucks

LAYTON SUCKS COCK!!!!!

Caissa

Countdown initiated...

Wilf Day

Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) (Nov. 27):

Quote:
   Vancouver Kingsway epitomizes Canada. It is a wonderful mosaic of diverse cultures and vibrant communities. It has boundless optimism in what our society can attain and should be.

     It exists in the markets of Victoria Drive, where we can hear commerce conducted in the energetic cadences of Cantonese and Mandarin. It lives in the community halls of Fraser Street, where we can see the cultural expressions of every province and state of the Philippines, Pakistan and India. It is found in the small businesses of Kingsway, where we can meet hardworking Vietnamese and Korean entrepreneurs, and indeed entrepreneurs of every nationality imaginable.

     We can see it in our wonderful network of neighbourhood houses at Collingwood, Cedar Cottage and Little Mountain, and in the Multicultural Helping House. They are all engines of social development and cross-cultural bridges.

    It can be witnessed in countless citizen groups, such as those active in Riley Park, Kensington and Norquay, whose residents devote their time and talent to developing livable neighbourhoods that work for everyone.

    What we can see in these and every one of the communities of my great riding is people living, working and celebrating in cooperation and tolerance. As an integral part of the tapestry of our nation, Vancouver Kingsway thrives with energy and life.

    There is also great need in the riding I represent. Fully 50% of Kingsway families survive on less than $50,000 of total household income, and tens of thousands of families survive on much less than that. The average citizen earns just over $21,000 a year. It is a challenge to survive on such an income in an expensive city like Vancouver.

    There are 6,000 families headed by single parents, primarily women. There are 24,000 children and youth deeply concerned about their futures, a full quarter of whom live in poverty.

    There are thousands of immigrants who are underemployed, living in economic difficulty and separated from their families. There are seniors who live in deprivation, disabled who live in isolation and homeless who live without hope.

    However, the citizens of Vancouver Kingsway are resilient, resourceful and positive about our future. They have spoken loudly and clearly in this last election about their needs and desires. They have articulated what they expect from their federal government and from all of us who were elected to guide the policies of our nation.

    The people of Kingsway want affordable housing so that every person in our community can live in dignity, safety and security. They need more co-ops, more rental stock and more non-market housing of all types. They want their federal government to re-enter the housing arena in this country. There are perfect opportunities in my riding to to create affordable housing at sites such as Little Mountain and the soon to be vacated RCMP headquarters.

    They need quality child care that is accessible, stimulating and affordable. In these tough economic times, they want a national child care program that will help Canadian women and men cope with the challenges of raising healthy children. They desire good jobs that will allow them to support themselves and their families, jobs that are safe and valued, jobs that give a fair return for their hard work.

    They want to protect our environment, address climate change and build a sustainable economy for our children and for future generations. They hope the federal government will lead and partner with them to help retrofit their homes and buildings, and that it will develop clean energy from solar, wind and geothermal sources.

    They require a strong education and skills training system that is available to everyone, regardless of income. They know that a well educated society is critical to their own, their children's and our society's future.

    They yearn for an immigration system that is fair, fast and effective, one that sees foreign credentials recognized, families united and immigrants better supported to succeed in their chosen country. They need more public transit, quality public facilities and a strong public health care system.

    They want the federal government to support our arts and culture sector. They favour a strong public broadcaster, support for institutions such as the CBC Radio Orchestra and Ballet British Columbia, and they want our visual performance and creative arts to flourish. They realize that a worthy nation values its culture as well as its economy.

    They want a society that takes care of our seniors, nurtures our children and protects our vulnerable. They believe in a Canada that is peaceful, just and a model of mature behaviour on the world stage. While they support our men and women in the military, they want us out of Afghanistan, out of combat and back into peacekeeping.

    The good people of Vancouver Kingsway sent me here to bring these goals to the attention of the Government of Canada and to work immediately, tirelessly and forcefully to try to achieve them, and I am both honoured and committed to do so.

    There is one issue that is of special interest to the citizens of Vancouver Kingsway, which must be drawn to the attention of the House, and that is the issue of democracy. In short, they want to send the clearest message possible that the votes of our citizens must be respected at all times and in every way. They stand firmly against those who subvert democracy by crossing the floor and strongly against those parties that would put their political interests ahead of the democratic expression of our citizens.

    All citizens of our country owe a debt of gratitude to the thousands of Kingsway residents who stood valiantly and unceasingly for the integrity of our political system and for democracy in our country.

     Beyond that, the citizens of Vancouver Kingsway also want real democratic reform in our nation. They want our government to respect the fact that Canadians have chosen a minority Parliament and to recognize that compromise and co-operation are expected for the betterment of our country. They want proportional representation so our Parliament will finally and accurately reflect the votes that we cast.

     In addition, like most Canadians, the people of Vancouver Kingsway are concerned about their economic futures, their jobs, their savings, their mortgages and their pensions. They want us to ensure that the interests of our middle class, our working families and our small business sectors are protected and supported.

    Although there are some measures in the Speech from the Throne that are positive and for which I give the government credit, unfortunately the real concerns facing the people of Vancouver Kingsway have not been adequately addressed, but I will work hard to convince the members of this Parliament that the measures I outlined and others are not only greatly needed, they are the right ones to put our economy back on a solid base.

    The citizens of Vancouver Kingsway work hard and they believe in a country that rewards effort and initiative, but they also believe in a nation that is compassionate, fair and committed to social and economic justice.

    Several decades ago, Tommy Douglas exhorted Canadians to “take heart, because it's never too late to build a better world”. Such a sentiment is particularly apt today and the citizens of Vancouver Kingsway want us to get started on that task. I look forward to contributing in every way I can to this noble goal.