Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the chief government whip.
I rose this morning, before rising here, thinking about how grateful I am to be in this wonderful institution in this amazing country of ours, how grateful I am just to be standing here, and what an honour it is to represent the people of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country and to be with colleagues who champion the interests of Canadians day by day.
It is also my honour to express support for a bill that keeps Canada on track. I am speaking of economic action plan 2014, tabled by our Minister of Finance.
Our government has charted a course for this nation that has led us through uncharted waters, namely the fragility of the global market. However, despite this uncertainty, there is no doubt that we have emerged triumphant, as our nation's economy continues to thrive.
This is not a coincidence. Our government has, since 2006, relentlessly pursued job creation and economic growth with the full intention of creating a stable, sustainable, and prosperous Canada.
In my remarks today I will focus on four aspects of budget 2014, which illustrate this focus and commitment. I will be drawing direct ties to the people of my constituency who brought their interests to me and to this Parliament through me.
Canada's economic success manifests a vision set forth by our Prime Minister. We cannot witness the transition from a multi-billion dollar deficit to a predicted multi-billion dollar surplus next year without first acknowledging the efforts of this Conservative government.
With the elimination of our deficit, Canadians can anticipate lower taxes, a higher standard of living, greater opportunities for job creation, and a significantly smaller financial burden on our children and grandchildren.
Canada has already leapt from number six to number two in Bloomberg's annual ranking of the most attractive countries for doing business in the world, just behind Hong Kong. A reduced deficit will continue to attract investment and signal our nation's stability on the global stage.
What I see in front of us is a budget that reflects the priorities of our citizens. I know for a fact that this budget addresses four key areas that interest my constituents and other Canadians: the environment, the economy, health and fitness, and search and rescue. I am equally confident that it will reflect the concerns of Canadians from coast to coast.
We have seen a growing number of Canadians voice their concerns regarding our environment. Today I am proud to tell these Canadians that their government has listened. It is my long-held belief that the economy and the environment are inherently entwined. In fact, in my speech to this House last year, entitled “The environment is the economy”, I relayed the concerns of The Future of Howe Sound Society and other constituents that we must embrace the two in tandem.
Economic action plan 2014 follows the lead of innovative Canadians who continually find ways to stimulate the economy while protecting our natural resources. The economy and the environment are not at war, so the advancement of one should not prejudice the other. This is evident in B.C., where a great number of people, including constituents of mine like CaroleAnn Leishman, have expressed their concerns over proposed pipeline projects, despite their potential economic rewards.
This budget will fund the National Energy Board to review pipeline projects so that Canada's economic pursuits can be reconciled with the protection of its natural resources. Our government will not commit to specific energy transportation projects, but will sustain dialogue with the aim of reconciling economic potential with environmental restraint.
As our Minister of Natural Resources recently declared:
No project will be approved unless it is safe for Canadians and safe for the environment.
Energy exports will continue to grow and create many great jobs for Canadians, but the government remains committed to ensuring safe and responsible resource development.
Economic action plan 2014 will also invest in environmental sustainability by protecting Canada's recreational fisheries, so brilliantly championed by organizations in my riding such as the Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable, the West Vancouver Streamkeepers, the Squamish Streamkeepers Society, and the Squamish River Watershed Society.
Last year, the recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program received $10 million, and this year the government is renewing its commitment to environmental sustainability, another demonstration of our government's ability to balance both economic and environmental goals.
The recreational fisheries conservation partnerships program commenced last year at the urging of organizations like the ones I mentioned and people around the country who care about the recreational fishery.
I congratulate the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette for his championing of this program. This is a strong encouragement to show our government has listened to and acknowledged the voices of people who are passionate about salmon and other fisheries in B.C. and throughout the country.
Increasing financial support for another great organization, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, responds effectively to advocacy by fellow Conservative B.C. members. I am proud to have championed the PSP cause along with them. It is another great aspect of budget 2014.
With our government's devotion to environmental sustainability in mind, Canadians can anticipate more economic progress without great cost to the environment. My constituents in Powell River and the Sunshine Coast and the mayors who have been so powerful in advocating for new jobs, like Wayne Rowe in Gibsons, John Henderson in Sechelt, and Dave Formosa in Powell River, can look forward to adding more jobs in their areas as Canada's economy continues to strengthen.
More than one million net new jobs have been created since the recession. When compared with other G7 nations, Canada's economic performance is among the best, leading the pack in job growth.
In this budget, the government has re-emphasized its desire to find employment for every Canadian and reduce job vacancies.
Internationally, I commend our government for securing free trade agreements with other countries. When our government came into power, Canada had three established FTAs. This number has now grown to 44, including the recent Canada-Korea trade agreement—to which the Speaker has contributed—our nation's first official trade agreement in Asia.
Under our government's leadership, Canada will continue to bolster its economy by trading with other nations in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Within our borders, our government also commits to the future employment of our youth, through its youth employment strategy. This program aims to provide young Canadians with real-life work experience that aligns with the evolving realities of the job market. We need to ensure that young Canadians can access employment in high-demand fields, like science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and trades. The government has recognized this need and proposed a $40-million investment to support 3,000 full-time internships, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises. Allowing our youth to gain work experience is a worthy investment and a proactive step toward reducing future unemployment and strengthening our economy.
I am also excited to see how our government has recognized health and fitness as a priority in its 2014 economic action plan, a priority I have championed, to reflect the emphasis on this area shown by my constituents in the Olympic riding.
I applaud the government's initiative to increase the rate of excise duty on tobacco products as a viable method of increasing federal tax revenue. This measure illustrates our government's desire for fiscal responsibility and, more important, for a healthy Canadian population.
This budget also addresses prescription drug abuse, another concern shared by my many Canadians, including West Vancouver police chief Pete Lepine, who has worked closely with me to bring about a national prescription drug drop-off day, which will occur this year on May 10.
The new economic action plan proposes to invest $44.9 million, over five years, to expand the focus of the national anti-drug strategy, so we can also address this emerging health and safety concern. This investment would serve a diverse Canadian population, by enhancing education on the safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription drugs, among other things.
Having watched our Olympians and Paralympians demonstrate the ultimate in health and fitness in Sochi, I am delighted to see our government's continued desire to support Canadian athletes of all levels. Sport promotes leadership. It plays a vital role in our culture, both as an expression of our national identity and as a means of inspiring more Canadians to become active and healthy. This budget would maintain our government's record level of investment for athletes without leaving anyone behind.
While our Olympians are supported through initiatives like own the podium, our government supports Paralympians, amateurs, and Special Olympics athletes, as well.
The last provision upon which I would like to touch is the search and rescue tax credit. This commemorates Tim Jones, the amazing revered volunteer who led the North Shore rescue team for 26 years and who participated in over 1,600 rescue operations. The search and rescue tax credit would recognize the important role played by volunteers who put themselves at risk for the sole purpose of serving their communities.
In conclusion, I see Canada's 2014 economic action plan as another step in the right direction.
Today, I have highlighted four of the many aspects of budget 2014 that are particularly relevant, not only to my constituency but to the whole country: environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, health and fitness, and the recognition of our nation's search and rescue volunteers.
The return to a balanced budget is the fulfillment of a long-term goal. The proposals I have mentioned are examples of our government's commitment to Canadians. It is a good time to be a Canadian. This budget would help ensure good health for our people, our environment, and our economy.
That, in the opinion of the House, the government should continue to: (a) recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity in Canada; (b) support, promote and fund organizations and individuals who are involved in the physical well-being of Canadians; and (c) make the reduction of obesity of Canadians a public health priority.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure this evening to rise to speak to my motion, Motion No. 425, regarding obesity, and the issue that is facing this country.
I want to first thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his work on the issue of health and fitness, trying to make Canada the fittest country in the world, and on initiating a national fitness day, which I believe next year will be June 7. He is doing great work, and I really appreciate his support.
In this House we are usually talking about policy or legislation. Tonight I am going to take the opportunity to talk about something that has personally affected me and why I brought this motion forward--it is not a bill, but a motion--to bring light to the issue and to have some discussion among our colleagues about what could be happening with our health care in terms of the issue of obesity and looking after one's health.
I thought I would start by telling members a personal story.
I have known four great-grandparents. I have two grandmothers still alive; they are both 96. I have known my grandfathers; they lived into their late eighties. I have a picture of myself, my daughter, my father, his mother, and her mother. It is a five-generation picture.
I have very good genes for long life. We have no heart disease in the family. One grandmother, who is 96, did survive cancer at age 40, a long time ago. Other than that, we have been very lucky with our health.
A year and a half ago, I was having some difficulty, so I went to my doctor. I thought there was something wrong with my prostate; however, I found out that I had diabetes, which was a bit of a shock to me. I thought that I was virtually indestructible because of my genes.
However, my lifestyle included drinking five or six Coca-Colas a day, eating improperly, and not keeping proper hours, in the sense that these are long days. It is a really interesting career one chooses in federal politics, and travelling back and forth, not eating breakfast, and just not doing things correctly, I gained weight here, as I know some of us all have. I was about 225 pounds at one point. I hid it well with big suits.
Things changed for me. I went to the doctor; I was having some difficulty. Lo and behold, they claimed that I had diabetes. Of course, my first reaction was to say, “No way. That is not possible. How is that possible when I have no diabetes in my family, when I have no heart disease?” My blood pressure was excellent. It still is excellent. However, my sugar levels were through the roof.
The doctor indicated that if I continued, I had a chance of my pancreas getting worse. I would have to take insulin, and so on and so forth. The doctor diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes—not type 1, of course, which is juvenile diabetes—and put me on a pill, Metformin, which is the standard thing they start a diabetes patient on. I told the doctor I did not want to take pharmaceuticals if I did not have to and asked if there was a way for me to do something about it.
He indicated that it was possible—not likely, but possible—that if I lost weight and exercised regularly, I might be able to get off Metformin.
I took his advice. I started exercising again. I set a goal for myself to run a marathon in every province; I have run six. I just ran one this past weekend, in Victoria, British Columbia. I do not advise everyone that they have to run marathons to get healthy, but I have taken on that task. I eat better, I have lost weight, and I am not on Metformin anymore. It has been about a year.
What woke me up to this issue is that I really did not pay attention. I have two daughters who are athletes. One is on a sports scholarship at a university in the United States. The other plays competitive volleyball. They are both in very good shape. Obesity and diabetes were never an issue around our house. All of a sudden there was something there.
I started thinking that if it could happen to me, what about everybody else? I started looking around and talking to different individuals and organizations about what is happening. In that time frame, even the United States had announced that obesity was actually a disease and that if it did not get on top of it, it would become a real health care issue for them.
Based on the motion, I have broken it down into three pieces. This is just to get people to think about where we are going from a health perspective.
The first part of the motion is to recognize the long-term health risks and costs of obesity. I can put a lot of statistics out there and talk about the costs of obesity and the like. However, it is just common sense. If people are not healthy, they will be using the system. There is no magic to it or statistician's formula. I am always a little nervous about statisticians. If I give my friend a dollar today and a dollar tomorrow, there is a 100% increase yet it is still only a dollar, so one has to be careful with that.
The reality is that if we look around at what we are eating and what we are doing in terms of being healthy, there will be a long-term cost to our health care system. Members may not like the way I put this but at the federal level health care is writing cheques to the provinces that deliver the actual health care. That is a lot of pressure, not necessarily on the federal system but on the provincial system. In general, we need to worry about the costs with respect to health care.
We also need to worry about the health risks. It is claimed, and I hope it is not true, that we might be the last generation with the ability to outlive our children. Imagine a generation that is unable to outlive its children. That is just not right and not what I think should happen. However, if we do not do something in terms of looking after our health, that is an actual and real possibility. I do not think that is something we want.
The second part of the motion is about supporting the promotion of health and healthy living, not just financially but in other ways. There are a number of great organizations. Some are not for profit and others are for profit. I have no issue with that. I just want to highlight a couple.
There are organizations that are oriented toward health issues. For me, the Diabetes Association has been fantastic. It provided me with a lot of information about what diabetes was, what I could do about it and the two different types. There is the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the lung associations. There are a number of organizations that do great work.
My motion asks that all levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal, continue to support those organizations in their efforts. That does not necessarily mean we have to write them a cheque. Rather, it means going to their events and supporting their efforts in the communities. If one has a neighbour or friend who is running in a marathon, which I do, in support of diabetes, support that individual. Those groups are doing great work in their areas of expertise and are important in terms of not only helping those with the disease or health issue they are dealing with but at promoting awareness and education and they need to do that.
Another organization, which I am very excited about and which the Government of Canada has supported, is ParticipACTION. I am a keen supporter of organizations that get people moving and healthy. It does not have to be running. It can be karate. It can be whatever activity one wants to do. I want to encourage people to take advantage of what these organizations do. We do not have to be experts at whatever we are doing.
I ran my marathon this weekend in four hours and 42 minutes. The gentleman sitting beside me in the plane coming back ran it in two hours and 19 minutes. I was exactly halfway when he was finished. We have to just get out there and get involved. If members could, I want them to encourage neighbours, friends and communities. Whatever is happening in a community, if members of Parliament could, they should help support those organizations.
There are for-profit organizations that are helpful, and I'll use the Weight Watchers organization as an example. I think it is an excellent organization. I have not personally used it. I lost my 25 or 30 pounds basically by eating less and not drinking Coke, which I miss. However, people do need help and there are organizations that will help and they are doing a great job.
Another organization in my community that has recognized this issue is Big Brothers Big Sisters. It has a program for the clients they serve, the young people, because youth is a big issue. If we do not convince youth to take care of themselves both by eating healthily and keeping physically fit, there will be a problem. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a program for those young people to make sure they understand what good health is, what good fitness is and what good eating is. I applaud its efforts.
As I mentioned before, one of my daughters goes to school in Indiana and she is in an education program. It was interesting to hear this past week that in one of the courses she takes, which talks about introducing healthy eating and activity into the classroom, it used Canada as an example of how it is done well. I am very supportive of our education system, and I think it does a good job, but we need to continue to support it to make sure physical activity does not leave the curriculum of our Canadian school children, particularly those at a young age, and ensure that other things do not ease it out, being more of a priority. Health is a priority and we need to teach young folks that piece.
The last piece I have to talk about is the public health priority. I think it is fair to say that the public health policy here at the federal level has been somewhat lacking in the obesity and fitness area over the last number of years. It just has not made it to the top as a priority piece. I am hopeful that will change under our government and with the support of all members.
If members look at the throne speech from yesterday, under safeguarding families and communities, they will see that the government will also work with provinces, territories and not-for-profit sectors to encourage young Canadians to be more physically active. I did not know that would be in the speech. I have had this motion in front of the House for a while, because it kept getting bumped for other private member's motions that I felt were of higher priority in terms of timing. So this was a very pleasant surprise for me, and as a member of Parliament, I am going to use it to encourage my government to be proactive in making sure we meet the mandate we have put in this throne speech over the next number of years.
I thank members for their attention and for their attention to their own health and their family's health. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Speaker, as a former president of Rowing Canada Aviron and a board member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, I rise today to speak to the importance of health and fitness.
Fitness and active choices can easily be integrated into our day. It is for this reason I am proud of organizations such as Sport Matters, which promote healthy living and the value of sport and physical activity. I am particularly pleased that Sport Matters supports all forms of athletics, from the playground to the podium. It values recreational activities just as much as the gruelling fitness regimens of elite athletes. Having seen young school children grow and develop into Olympians who represent Canada on the world stage, I know the importance of fitness at all levels.
I wish to also acknowledge my colleague, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country and his Bill C-443, national health and fitness day act. His legislation will serve to ensure a day for all Canadians to be reminded of the importance of health and fitness.
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour to rise on behalf of hundreds of constituents in the riding of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country who condemn what they call a reprehensible practice, which targets baby girls for female gendercide.
It is particularly important, given that the motion introduced by the member for Langley may not be heard in the House, that their voices be heard on the matter.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday's budget was a triumph for small businesses, for workers and for Canadians, including those in the beautiful riding of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
The minister announced a Canada job grant that will better align skills with that which employers need and with the jobs that are readily available. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of HRSDC give us some indication of what responses the minister has had to the Canada job grant?
Order, please. The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Mr. Speaker, parliamentarians from all corners of the House have recently eclipsed the sometimes adversarial nature of the House by supporting the parliamentary fitness initiative.
Today we witnessed the first ever National Life Jacket and Swim Day on the Hill and the members for Etobicoke North and Sackville—Eastern Shore and others joined me in trying to bring about national health and fitness day, involving local governments across Canada.
To that end, I seek the unanimous support of the House for a motion to enable a fellow Conservative and I to swap positions in the order of precedence, specifically: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, the hon. member for Fundy Royal exchange positions in the list for the consideration of private members' bills with the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Mr. Chair, I want to thank the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his very well thought out presentation and intervention tonight on this, the fourth anniversary of the wrongful imprisonment of several Baha'i leaders in Iran.
This week we are seeing not only this take note debate on the human rights failures of Iran, but also the Subcommittee on International Human Rights is having its hearings this week, talking about the violations of what is happening in Iran.
I am proud to be part of an organization called the Canadian Parliamentarians for Human Rights and Democracy, which is meeting on Wednesday night to again look at what is happening, why the regime, led by President Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs, and how the ayatollah and President Ahmadinejad are working to continue to erode stability in the Middle East, to take away the individual rights and freedoms of people of Iran and to ensure they are a continued irritant to what happens on the world stage from the standpoint of peace, democracy and human rights.
We always hear about the nuclear ambitions. Today there is again more reports on the ambitions of Iranians to expand their nuclear arsenal, that it is beyond just ballistic missiles now, that they have enrichment of nuclear energy that can be used in smaller bombs and can be transported by all sorts of different methods around the world.
The member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country talked about the sanctions and how important it was that Canada had been on the leading front of bringing about sanctions. Could he talk about those sanctions, especially on the issue of oil and energy which is 85% of the Iranian government's revenue, and how important it is to shut down that capability which feeds its nuclear ambitions.
I am going to stop the hon. member there as he has gone over his time. At this time we will open up the floor for questions and comments.
The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Order, please. I must give the hon. member time to respond.
The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Order, please. The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for his accolades.
I have done business both in Canada and internationally. From the employer's standpoint, in order to provide working income for staff and to expand the company's market and to make sure that the business is a going concern, there are a number of factors contributing to that. First is a stable environment, and second a low cost tax regime, and third the ability to access capital. From that base the employer then builds a business.
Employees are key to any corporation. Money is easy to borrow. Employers never exploit their employees, at least not in the five or seven companies that I have built, so it is key that we ensure that we retain those employees. To retain those employees we need to offer them the employment security they need in order to work for a long time in our corporations.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the constituents of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country for sending someone, for whom I have a very high regard, to this House. I cannot think of any better member, more hard-working, more intelligent or more serious.
My colleague gave us a very good description of a lot of the infrastructure investments that were made in phase one and, indeed, those have been made in my riding of Kitchener Centre with aquatic facilities and so on.
In Kitchener Centre, my constituents are very much aware that we now have to put the brakes on. We cannot go on with big spending policies. We need to pay down the deficit. I wonder if my colleague has had similar discussions with the people of his riding.
The electoral district of West Vancouver--Sunshine Coast--Sea to Sky Country (British Columbia) has a population of 129,241 with 95,764 registered voters and 245 polling divisions.
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