Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-01-27 15:55 [p.492]
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time this afternoon with the hon. member for Edmonton West.
It gives me great pleasure to speak for the first time in this place since my election in October. I want to personally thank my family, my wife of 38 years, Ann, my daughter Courtney, and my son Geoff. They all worked hard on my campaign. I should add that our daughter delivered our first grandchild, a girl called Avery, during the election, so we did have a bit of a hiccup. As all members know, we all need support from home, and I certainly received it during the 78-day campaign.
I would also like to thank my campaign team as it put in, like many others around this place, many hours to ensure that this moment could happen here today.
I have spent my entire life serving the public. I was a sports broadcaster in the city of Saskatoon for nearly 40 years. That has helped me in the transition to becoming an effective member of Parliament. I have spent many years on non-profit boards over the years, like KidSport and the YMCA, along with Sport Tourism. I have been involved in a number of fundraising agencies and also served on a number of provincial and national sports governing bodies in the country.
For the last nine and a half years I have served as trustee for the Saskatoon Board of Education. It is the largest school division in the province, serving over 25,000 students. I was also elected as the urban public representative on the Saskatchewan School Board’s executive. That represents cities like Saskatoon, Regina and Lloydminster.
As we all know, education is changing. This past year our school division signed an historical partnership with the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. Teachers from our school division are working on the reserve, following the Saskatchewan curriculum, which supports the academic growth of students. It was also sponsored in part by our federal government. While students stay on the reserve in the learning years, they will transfer to the city for the middle years to continue their education. In fact, a new school is currently being built in my riding and will welcome these students from the reserve in 2017.
My riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood is about 93% urban, which is the city of Saskatoon, and roughly 7% rural. The south portion of the riding is the R.M. of Corman Park. It is the home of diverse farming, businesses and acreages.
Saskatoon—Grasswood has experienced tremendous growth over a number of years, maybe the most in the province of Saskatchewan. Two new massive subdivisions, Stonebridge and Rosewood, have been built. The riding has become a strong economic engine for the city, with a population now of roughly 250,000.
Infrastructure for growing communities is always a top priority. The previous government met those challenges with the construction of the south bridge connecting our community east and west. Over $90 million of federal infrastructure money was provided for this project. The south bridge project was talked about in our city for nearly 100 years. When we have the South Saskatchewan River flowing through our city, bridges and roads are needed, and more roads and more bridges will be needed.
The previous federal government worked well with our city preparing for the future, a future that will commit over $57 million to the north commuter parkway bridge. I might also add that our previous government, through the P3 fund, committed another $43 million to the new civic operations centre, which is currently being built in the city of Saskatoon.
The federal gas tax fund has been a winner in the province of Saskatchewan and the city of Saskatoon. It has committed over $12 million to the city each and every year since 2011.
Saskatoon has been known as the “hub city”. It is roughly situated about halfway through the province. It is very important for the lucrative resource sector of potash, uranium, oil and gas, forestry, plus the agriculture community that surrounds the city of Saskatoon.
Manufacturing is a big part of employment, supplying the necessary equipment to the mines and the farming community. The throne speech, though, said nothing about agriculture.
I recently attended the crop production show at Prairieland Park. It is the largest winter agricultural event in the province of Saskatchewan. There was little optimism directed toward the federal government because of no mention of agriculture in the Speech from the Throne. Companies like PotashCorp, headquartered in Saskatoon, look for signals and directions from the federal government. Since there was no mention of agriculture, it came as no surprise whatsoever when the company announced the closure of its mine in New Brunswick earlier this month, putting over 400 people out of work.
Saskatoon—Grasswood has the highest number of seniors in the province. During the election we had many meetings with seniors groups. They were excited about the proposed increase in the tax-free savings account. Seniors enjoyed the benefit of income splitting, two very good innovations from the former government. Unfortunately, the Speech from the Throne offered very little to my constituents, the seniors of Saskatoon—Grasswood.
Our riding has welcomed immigrants, along with refugees, with open arms. Our neighbourhoods have certainly changed over the years. In fact, we have many Muslims in our riding. They provided huge support for myself and our campaign team, along with our party and the riding. Also, the Ahmadiyya Muslim group are currently building a new mosque right in the riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood.
I should add that our riding is also the home of the Western Development Museum. Every summer, we have what is called “Heritage Days” for the public to gain a better understanding of what our ancestors had to go through. I am honoured to be the deputy critic for Canadian Heritage.
We are anxious also to see how the Canada 150 fund is rolled out, as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in the year of 2017. Our government committed $500,000 for playground structure upgrades, and another $300,000 to help support the White Buffalo Youth Lodge. The previous government played a very important part in our heritage in the city and the province. In fact, we are currently building a new art gallery in Saskatoon in partnership with the province, the city and the community stakeholders; $13 million from the building Canada fund investments have gone into this project, which will open very soon.
Finally, we all want to live healthy lifestyles. Since I was in sports most of my life, I would be remiss if I did not mention that Saskatoon—Grasswood is the home of five golf courses. We are home to a curling rink, a swimming facility and also two privately run indoor skating facilities, including one that is almost fully dedicated to seniors 50 and over to play hockey when they wish. We, too, have many ball fields in the riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood. We hope that in the future a winter recreation site at Diefenbaker Park will adorn the banks of the South Saskatchewan in the city of Saskatoon.
Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-01-27 16:05 [p.493]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member and congratulate him on his election.
Infrastructure is very important. We have seen that. However, with infrastructure, we can throw money at projects all we want, but there has to be a lot of planning that takes place. I think in the city of Saskatoon, in the province of Saskatchewan, and like everywhere in the country, planning has to happen. There is a plan, then that plan is executed.
Something we do not often talk about in government is that we have to debrief after projects are done, after we have progressed through them. Sometimes we do not do that in government. We just throw money at a certain project and walk away. We never ask a question like what we could have done differently, or what we could perhaps do differently down the road to help a new project.
Infrastructure, first and foremost, in every part of our country, is most important. We welcome the infrastructure money coming forward. We are concerned a bit about shovel ready because it takes time to plan, but certainly, the Liberal throne speech mentions a lot of money coming forward for infrastructure. We are all excited about this and we want to see how that is rolled out.
Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-01-27 16:07 [p.493]
Mr. Speaker, we all know in the House what happened in my province in the last week. La Loche, Saskatchewan and the whole country were deeply by the loss of lives of the four people.
Partnerships are so important. We partnered with the Whitecap Dakota First Nation on education. We reached out to it and it was so thrilling to have Chief Darcy Bear reach back and say “yes”, that there was a desperate need in education on his reserve. Whitecap Dakota then worked with the former federal government. It had a plan. It took over two years to educate the federal government on what was needed. As we know, education is a federal responsibility.
What has happened in the last seven to ten days is sobering for all MPs in the House of Commons. Unfortunately, many of the reserves are out of reach, as has been said in the last week about La Loche, Saskatchewan. We need to reach out to those communities.
The human rights tribunal announcement yesterday by chair, Cindy Blackstock, was a step forward. I think all MPs will welcome a change going forward.
The full debate can be found online at: http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=42&Ses=1&DocId=8074956