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Thank you very much. Good morning, everyone.
Thank you, Senator Fabian Manning, for your kind introduction and also for all the work that you do to help identify the priorities of Newfoundland and Labrador in Ottawa. We appreciate your work on behalf of our caucus and the people here.
Premier Williams, Commander Jones, members of the Canadian Forces, ladies and gentlemen, this is indeed an important occasion. In building new facilities for Canadian Forces Station St. John’s, we are creating jobs, sustaining long-term economic activity, and most importantly, supporting the work of our men and women in uniform.
These are crucial tasks, as our history shows, right up to the present. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador have a particularly proud military history. From the defence of Quebec during the American Revolution, and Upper Canada in the War of 1812, to the sacrifices at Gallipoli and Beaumont Hamel, to the battle of the Atlantic, to the fields and hills of Kandahar as we speak, the people of this province have made heroic, selfless contributions to the defence of others.
In recent days, in response to Hurricane Igor, we saw members of the Canadian Forces from this province standing shoulder to shoulder with colleagues from across the country, using their courage and expertise to help their own friends and neighbours in their hour of need.
Of course, Canadian Forces personnel from CFS St. John’s played a key role in this operation, Operation Llama. Today I say to them and to their colleagues: you did a great job. You earned the thanks of the people of this province and the admiration of all Canadians.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to give special thanks to those who were in particular positions of responsibility during this operation, Lieutenant General Walt Semianiw, Brigadier General Anthony Stack, Commander Jones, and as well, I commend the hard work of Minister Tom Hedderson and Premier Danny Williams for his leadership throughout the crisis. Congratulations to all these leaders.
Ladies and gentlemen, our government’s investment in new facilities for CFS St. John’s is part of our Canada First Defence Strategy. We’re updating and replacing our defence infrastructure to maintain a modern, first-class military ready to take on the range of challenges known and unknown in the 21st century.
And let me just be very clear on this, ladies and gentlemen. As you know, we’ve continued to make investments to rebuild the Canadian Forces, to build up particularly our army in Kandahar, but also now to begin to make critical investments for the Forces, for the Naval Forces and the Air Forces for years to come. I know some of these have been controversial, but let me just be very clear: governments in the past of all political stripes have never hesitated to ask our men and women in uniform to undertake difficult tasks on our behalf.
And this government will make sure we spare no expense to give the men and women in uniform the equipment they need to do their jobs, well into the future.
CFS St. John’s plays a crucial role supporting our Navy personnel as they protect the sovereignty and security of Canada in our Atlantic waters. It also supports land operations in the province itself, and the training of our Royal Canadian Army, Sea and Air Cadets, our leaders of tomorrow. The consolidation of facilities here will give local military units the work environment needed to support efficient and streamlined operations.
This investment in CFS St. John’s will of course also help meet another immediate need. This province has made amazing economic progress, historic progress in recent years. But like the rest of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador has not been immune from the global economic recession.
The renewal of CFS St. John’s is creating jobs now when they are most needed, and it will sustain the regional economic activity created by the Canadian Armed Forces personnel who work here. In fact, through our Economic Action Plan, our government is stimulating the economy and putting Canadians to work through some 23,000 projects from coast to coast to coast.
We’re creating the modern infrastructure Canada needs for long-term economic growth. Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, through strong cooperation with the provincial and municipal governments, we’ve invested in improved small craft harbours, repairs to federal buildings, expanded facilities at Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic. We’re increasing the availability of affordable housing, and improving the Trans-Canada and Trans-Labrador highways.
Ladies and gentlemen, Canadians should be very proud of the fact that during the worst global recession in half a century, our country has significantly outperformed its peers. Among major advanced economies, we were the last in, least affected, and we are coming out fastest and strongest. The Canadian economy has created more jobs than were lost during the recession, and we have the lowest deficit and debt burdens among the major advanced economies by far.
The global recovery remains fragile and we will not lose our focus on the economy or on the future. The economy is the number one priority of Canadians, and so it will remain the number one priority of our government.
Our investment in CFS St. John’s is another sign of that commitment, and another step forward toward a bright future for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and all Canadians, and another important step forward in the historic rebuilding of the Canadian Forces in support of the men and women in uniform, including those who are here and who do such a terrific job on behalf of our country, and I thank you all for your service to Canada.
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