I would like to address the
first words in this chamber to the members of the Canadian Forces, some of whom
are present here today. Their commitment and courage in the name of justice,
equality and freedom — whose benefits are not accorded to all peoples in
the world — are worthy of our utmost respect.
The Speech from the Throne
is an important moment in our country's democratic life. Through the Speech
from the Throne, the Government shares its vision with Canadians. And it is
thus that we open the Second Session of the Thirty- ninth Parliament today.
Fifty years ago, on October
14, 1957, during her first visit to
This room is filled with
history, and we mark history again this year as we celebrate a number of
anniversaries. I think, in particular, of the bicentenary of the Abolition of
the Slave Trade Act in the
And although Canada is a
young country, its history is marked by our unwavering willingness —
which I was touched to see all across Canada — to be and to continue to
be a generous society. A society that is concerned about the
well being of others.
A society that is protective of the spirit of this
bountiful land, a deep respect learned from Aboriginal peoples. A society that
is committed to finding solutions to today's challenges. A society that is open
to creation and quick to innovate. A society that is filled
with young people who have an unprecedented openness to the world.
Canadians expect their
government to help them build on this legacy. They want a government that sets
clear goals and delivers concrete results. A government that is accountable. A government that puts Canadians and their families first.
Our Government has worked
hard to meet these expectations. Canadians now have more money in their pockets
because taxes have been cut. Families now have real choice in child care
through the Universal Child Care Benefit. Canadians now have a government
committed to helping them get the medical care they need more quickly. A government that is tackling crime and making neighbourhoods
The results are clear: the
economy is strong, the government is clean and the country is united.
Now is the time to continue
building a better
The Arctic is an essential
But the North needs new
attention. New opportunities are emerging across the
To take advantage of the
North's vast opportunities, northerners must be able to meet their basic needs.
Our Government will work to continue to improve living conditions in the North
for First Nations and Inuit through better housing.
Our Government will build a
world-class Arctic research station that will be on the cutting edge of Arctic
issues, including environmental science and resource development. This station
will be built by Canadians, in
As part of asserting
sovereignty in the Arctic, our Government will complete comprehensive mapping
Defending our sovereignty
in the North also demands that we maintain the capacity to act. New Arctic
patrol ships and expanded aerial surveillance will guard
Ensuring our capacity to
At the same time as our
Government rebuilds to meet our future needs, it will continue to improve
support for our veterans who have contributed so much to defending
Rebuilding our capabilities
and standing up for our sovereignty have sent a clear message to the world:
A commitment to action
The Canadian Forces mission
Our Government does not
In our own neighbourhood,
The best hope for fostering
development and our common security in the hemisphere and beyond is through
bolstering international trade. Through renewed focus on trade and investment
STRENGTHENING THE FEDERATION
AND OUR DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS
Next year we mark important
anniversaries spanning our country and its history. We will celebrate the 400th
anniversary of the founding of
We will also celebrate the
250th anniversary of the establishment of
John A. Macdonald, George-
Cartier and the other Fathers of
Confederation brought many peoples and regions together to create a federation
that has served Canadians well for 140 years.
Our Government is committed
to strengthening that union: it has concentrated on its national role by
reinvesting in neglected federal responsibilities, such as trade, defence,
public safety and security. It has put fiscal relations with provinces and
territories on a principled basis and increased the level of transfers to
support quality health care and social services.
Our Government believes
that the constitutional jurisdiction of each order of government should be
respected. To this end, guided by our federalism of openness, our Government
will introduce legislation to place formal limits on the use of the federal
spending power for new shared-cost programs in areas of exclusive provincial
jurisdiction. This legislation will allow provinces and territories to opt out
with reasonable compensation if they offer compatible programs.
Our Government will also
pursue the federal government's rightful leadership in strengthening
Canadians understand that
the federation is only as strong as the democratic institutions that underpin
it. Our Government believes that
In addition, the integrity
of our federal voting system will be further strengthened through measures to
confirm the visual identification of voters.
Our Government supports
Our Government remains
committed to improving the lives of
Our Government recently
concluded a final settlement on Indian Residential Schools and will launch a
commission for truth and reconciliation. The Prime Minister, on behalf of our
Government, will use this occasion to make a statement of apology to close this
sad chapter in our history.
ECONOMIC LEADERSHIP FOR A PROSPEROUS FUTURE
This is a time of economic
uncertainty and volatility in the wider world. While the economic fundamentals
of our country are strong,
With Advantage Canada ,
our Government has laid out a sensible economic plan to secure better-paying
jobs and solid growth for Canadians. The Minister of Finance will soon provide
a Fall Economic and Fiscal Update, which will outline the next steps in that
plan to ensure that
As part of ensuring
economic security for Canadians, our Government will bring forward a long-term
plan of broad- based tax relief for individuals, businesses and families
— including following through on its commitment to a further cut to the
GST. To complement this, our Government will support Canadian researchers and
innovators in developing new ideas and bringing them to the marketplace through
Our Government will improve
the protection of cultural and intellectual property rights in
The bedrock of our
workforce is middle-class Canadians and their families. These families worry
about the rising costs of higher education and the expense of caring for
elderly parents. They worry about affordable housing and the number of homeless
people on our streets.
Our Government is committed
to helping Canadian families meet their needs. The Working Income Tax Benefit
will help Canadians get back into the workforce, and the registered disability
savings plan will help families care for children with severe disabilities. Our
Government will continue to invest in our families and our future, and will
help those seeking to break free from the cycles of homelessness and poverty.
Our Government will
announce an infrastructure program, the Building Canada Plan, to support our
long- term growth. By investing in our transport and trade hubs, including the
The result will be safer
roads and bridges, shorter commutes, more competitive business, improved
cultural infrastructure and a better quality of life for all Canadians.
Our Government will stand
The agricultural sector
will benefit from our Government's promotion of biofuels
and the new Growing Forward agricultural framework. Our Government will
recognize the views of farmers, as expressed in the recent plebiscite on
barley, by enacting marketing choice. Together with our Government's strong
Our mining and resource
sectors present extraordinary opportunities across
TACKLING CRIME AND
STRENGTHENING THE SECURITY OF CANADIANS
In the last session, our
Government introduced important and timely legislation to tackle violent crime.
Unfortunately much of this legislation did not pass. That is not good enough to
maintain the confidence of Canadians. Our Government will immediately
reintroduce these measures with a single, comprehensive Tackling Violent Crime
bill to protect Canadians and their communities from violent criminals and
predators. This will include measures on the age of protection, impaired
driving, dangerous offenders and stricter bail and mandatory prison sentences
for those who commit gun crimes. Canadians expect prompt passage of this
Our Government will go
further with a Safer Communities strategy to deal with the critical
intersection of drug, youth and property crime. Our Government will strengthen
the Youth Criminal Justice Act to ensure that young offenders who commit
serious crimes are held accountable to victims and their communities. Our
Government will introduce tough new laws to tackle property crime, including
the serious problem of auto theft. New measures to address elder abuse and to
curb identity theft will also be introduced. Our Government will implement the
National Anti-Drug Strategy giving law enforcement agencies powers to take on
those who produce and push drugs on our streets.
In addition to tougher
laws, our Government will provide targeted support to communities and victims.
It will help families and local communities in steering vulnerable youth away
from a life of drugs and crime, and the Anti-Drug Strategy will help to treat
those suffering from drug addiction. It will again ask Parliament to repeal the
wasteful long-gun registry. Our Government will also ensure effective law
enforcement — starting with resources to recruit 2,500 more officers to
police our streets.
The concern of Canadians in
protecting our communities extends naturally to protecting our country against
threats to our national security: those who would attack the peaceful pluralism
of our society through acts of terrorism.
Our Government will address
Canadians directly on the challenge of protecting our free and open society
with a statement on national security. The Government will introduce
legislation to make sure that
IMPROVING THE ENVIRONMENT
AND HEALTH OF CANADIANS
Threats to our environment
are a clear and present danger that now confronts governments around the world.
This is nowhere more evident than in the growing challenge of climate change.
Our Government believes
that action is needed now to ensure our quality of life, particularly for those
most vulnerable to health threats from the environment — our children and
Climate change is a global
issue and requires a global solution. Our Government believes strongly that an
effective global approach to greenhouse gas emissions must have binding targets
that apply to all major emitters, including
As we pursue a global consensus,
This strategy will
institute binding national regulations on greenhouse gas emissions across all
major industrial sectors — with requirements for emissions reductions
starting this year. Our Government will also bring forward the first-ever
national air pollution regulations. In so doing, our Government will put
At the end of 2005,
The world is moving on to
address climate change and the environment, and
greenhouse gases and air pollution, our Government has also acted to protect
sensitive areas, including a massive expansion of Nahanni National Park, and
preserving the Great Bear Rainforest, Point Pleasant Park and Stanley Park.
Through our new infrastructure plan, our Government will promote a cleaner
environment by investing in public transport and water treatment, and by
cleaning up contaminated sites. A new water strategy will be implemented to
help clean up our major lakes and oceans and to improve access to safe drinking
water for First Nations.
In the past, environmental
legislation and regulation have had little impact because they have lacked an
effective enforcement regime. In the coming session, our Government will bolster
the protection of our water and land through tougher environmental enforcement
that will make polluters accountable.
Environmental protection is
not just about protecting nature. It is about the health of Canadians. Recent
events have called into question the safety of basic products such as food for
our families and toys for our children.
Our Government shares the
concern of parents about the safety of consumer products and food. Canadians
should expect the same standards of quality from imported goods as they do from
products made at home. The Government will introduce measures on food and
product safety to ensure that families have confidence in the quality and
safety of what they buy.
CONCLUSION: THE NORTH
Canadians can be proud of
their country and its achievements. Working together we have built a nation
that is prosperous and safe; a land where merit trumps privilege; a place where
people from around the world live in harmony; a federation that is united at
home and respected abroad.
Like the North Star,
Our Government is committed
to strong leadership to realize that future. A
Canadians, standing on a
proud history, look onto a horizon as limitless as the promise of our country.
It is up to us to build on the legacy we have inherited, to seize the
opportunities of the future, and to bring about an even better
May your deliberations be
guided by Divine Providence, may your wisdom and patriotism enlarge the
prosperity of the country and promote in every way the well-being of its people.
The House of Commons
Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to retire.