The people of Atlantic Canada sent us here to Ottawa because they wanted change. They wanted their voice to be heard and a government that believes that the success and prosperity of Atlantic Canada is integral to the success of Canada as a country.
Every single one of us has found key issues in our ridings that are relevant to the region as a whole. From rural innovation, to veterans advocacy, to poverty reduction, to derelict vessels. We stand united on these issues because they are not unique to one town or one province. Each are critically important to our region, but have far reaching impacts in communities across Canada.
Last year, I brought M-39, a study of Immigration to Atlantic Canada, to the floor of the House of Commons because my constituents are feeling the impact of an aging and shrinking population:
- low enrollment in rural schools,
- corner stores closing because of a lack of volume, and
- companies unable to grow because of gaps in the labour force.
I wanted to provide an opportunity for Parliamentarians to make a significant difference in the lives of my constituents of Fundy Royal, and all Atlantic Canadians. To prove to every Atlantic Canadian that the region, culture, language, history, and society is important in this place.
Throughout the healthy debate in the House of Commons, opposition parties took supportive stances. NDP MP Guy Caron said that “the problem in Atlantic Canada is very acute” and Conservative MP Karen Vecchio urged that “It is clear that steps must be taken to reverse the population decline in the region.”
Now that it’s time to take action, clearly there has been a complete about-face of the opposition members from both parties, and it seems that politics supersedes the needs of Atlantic Canadians, like it had for the 10 years of the Harper government.
This motion has been hampered at every possible opportunity.
We have had witnesses from municipalities, universities, Provincial Ministers and just yesterday, the Former Premier of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna; all of whom appeared to provide context, evidence, and advice but their testimony has been repeatedly interrupted, disrespected, and ignored.
I want to thank the Liberal Members of the Committee, Julie, Gary, Randeep, Marwan, and Salma, for being so supportive of this issue, and trying their very best to carry out the important work of this study.
Together we will continue to advocate for Atlantic Canada, and my plea to the Opposition Parties is this: do not attack Atlantic Canada in your attempt to glorify your own position or political futures.