Remarks in response to the Speech from the Throne

December 11, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap.

Though I rose briefly during Routine Proceedings last Friday, this is my first speech in the 43rd Parliament and I would like to take this occasion to give some additional words of thanks. As a temporary custodian of this seat in Parliament, I am deeply honoured to have the enormous responsibility of representing some 140,000 residents as part of a centuries-old tradition of protecting citizens by checking the otherwise unlimited power of the Crown. Parliaments exist in order to ensure that the Crown and its agent, the government, cannot impose itself on citizens without their consent. That consent is granted through votes in this incredible institution.

Once again, I thank the voters of Calgary Rocky Ridge for electing me to be their servant in the House. I also wish to thank the 270-odd volunteers who assisted my election campaign. I thank them for their support, for their commitment to their community and for their love of their country. I could not have done it without them. I would like to thank the other candidates who contested the election in Calgary Rocky Ridge for giving the voters choice, without which there is no democracy.

Finally, I wish to thank my family. My three daughters, it seems I began the last Parliament with three young girls who are now three young women. My loving wife, Kimberley, I thank for her love, her understanding, her patience, her unwavering support and for always keeping it real in the Kelly house. To my parents, Marnie and Duane Kelly, I thank them for their constant love and encouragement.

Today we are debating last Thursday’s Speech from the Throne. My response to the Speech from the Throne is coloured by the recent experience of having knocked on a little under 30,000 doors with my re-election team. What I heard on the doorsteps is what informs my remarks and my impressions of the Speech from the Throne.

To be blunt, the government has virtually no support in my riding. That is simply a fact and it is supported by the election results. I knocked on doors in the communities of Calgary Rocky Ridge in every provincial and federal election over the last 30 years as an activist and in 2015 and 2019 as a candidate, and I have never experienced anything quite like it.

It was never easier. People have never been more forthright in coming forward and identifying themselves as Conservative supporters. However, at the same time, I have never had more difficult conversations on doorsteps than I did in this election with people who suggested that they intended to support me, my party and my leader.

For most candidates in most elections, conversations with our own supporters are the easy ones, but not in 2019 in Calgary Rocky Ridge. Some of the conversations I had with supporters were downright heartbreaking. I spoke with people who had not worked in years. I heard from people who told me that they were on the verge of losing their homes. I talked with people whose spouses were working in Texas and coming home for a couple of weekends a month or were working in the Middle East or other parts of the world and only coming home a few times over the course of a year.

I talked with a man who has lived in his neighbourhood for 20 years and he said that since 2015, seven previously stable families on his block had come apart in divorce. Economic stress and anxiety from unemployment and failing businesses have taken their toll on families, tearing apart the very fabric of our communities.

I spoke with people who openly and candidly expressed their despair, anger and incredulity over what they see as a failure of their country to respect their province. For decades, Alberta has welcomed Canadians from across Canada and indeed people from around the world to be a part of Alberta’s economic opportunities. It has transferred much of that wealth back to other provinces and continues to do so despite a recession that has been going on for five years.

My constituents are demanding action. They cannot wait. They made it abundantly clear to me that regardless of which party was to form a government after the election, they would expect me to speak clearly and without ambiguity about just how devastating these past four years have been.

They expect me to be candid about just how upset they are with their federal government. They told me that they wanted the no-more-pipelines bill reversed. They told me they were stunned that a tanker ban on Alberta exports was brought in while tankers continued to bring in oil to eastern refineries from Saudi Arabia.

They told me that they could not understand why a government was running such large deficits at a time of economic expansion. They told me that they were appalled by the constant parade of ministers to the Ethics Commissioner, by a Prime Minister prepared to bully his own cabinet and break the law just to get his own way, and by the way the Prime Minister’s personal conduct never matches his moral preening.

They told me, at door after door, that the Prime Minister is a constant source of embarrassment on the world stage, and that they do not believe that he is up to the diplomatic challenges of our times, because they believe that he is fundamentally an unserious person.

With the campaign behind us, with the country’s divisions laid bare in a minority Parliament, last week the Prime Minister had an opportunity to acknowledge the failings of the last Parliament, which cost him seats and votes in every region of the country.

He had an opportunity to chart a new course to address the concerns of Canadians who rejected his government’s track record. Instead, he delivered a speech full of the same flowery language and grand aspirations that we heard throughout the last Parliament with only a few inadequate words for my constituents in a partial sentence, kind of as an afterthought, where he claimed that the government would “also work just as hard to get Canadian resources to new markets and offer unwavering support to the hard-working men and women in Canada’s natural resources sectors, many of whom have faced tough times recently”.

Really? “Unwavering support” and “have faced tough times recently”, is that it? Since 2015, hundreds of thousands of energy workers have lost their jobs. Over 100,000 of them are out of work in Alberta right now. There is $100 billion in energy investment that has left Canada since the Liberal government took office.

Encana, which was once Canada’s largest company, and TransCanada PipeLines are changing their names to remove “Canada” from their business names and relocating to the United States because that is where the work is. However, all the Prime Minister had to say in his Speech from the Throne was “unwavering support” and “tough times recently”?

The Prime Minister has been unwavering in his stated desire to phase out the natural resources sector, and he is succeeding. One incredibly insulting sentence that contained a flagrant untruth was all the Prime Minister had to say about this in his entire speech.

If the Prime Minister meant what he said about getting Canadian resources to market, it would require him to undo much of the work of the last Parliament. It would require him to repeal Bill C-69 or implement every single one of the Senate amendments that were rejected last spring.

It would require him to repeal Bill C-48. It would require him to champion Canada as a reliable source of ethically extracted resources and to disown his own prior anti-Canadian-energy rhetoric. It would require him to actually take concrete steps to ensure Trans Mountain could be completed. It would require him to apologize for chasing its private sector proponent out of Canada and for having to send $4.5 billion to Texas so they could compete with us by building pipelines elsewhere.

The Liberals think they deserve some kind of credit for buying a pipeline that should never have been for sale in the first place. I can assure them that not one single person I met in my riding, where pipelines are a huge issue, thought that buying it was anything other than a last-ditch solution to a problem 100% of the Liberals’ own making.

To sum up, the throne speech contains nothing for my constituents. I received a strong mandate from the people of Calgary Rocky Ridge, and I expect them to hold me to a high standard. My constituents expect nothing less.