MP praises speech
Blondin-Andrew discusses strategy as Parliament opens

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 15/99) - Ethel Blondin-Andrew had only good things to say about the speech from the throne that opened the winter session of Parliament in Ottawa on Tuesday.

As the Liberal government responsible for youth and child welfare, the Western Arctic MP praised in particular these aspects of the speech, delivered by Adrienne Clarkson in what was one of her first official duties as Canada's new Governor General.

"I liked the investment for children and youth and also for young people going on exchanges and in volunteering," she said. "I'm very much a supporter of the extension of benefits for Canadians taking parental leave -- it's so important how much time we spend with our children."

Blondin-Andrew said the government's decision to divide the federal budget surplus between paying off the debt and reducing individual taxes would not take away from existing social programs.

"It is in a sense directing it to national child benefits," she said, "as well as putting more money back in the pockets of workers."

Blondin-Andrew further defended the Liberal government against its critics most often-heard complaint -- that it tends to be reactive rather than take the initiative.

"I believe the big, untold story is that the youth and child file has been built up since 1993 and now receives A-base, or permanent, funding," she said. "We've looked at every aspect of child learning from age zero to six and engaged various partners to work with us ... and invested $1.7 billion."

The MP said the recently announced youth crime-prevention test program for the Inuvik region is further evidence of the government's strategy to ensure positive, early intervention.

"What I see with early intervention is the government being proactive and getting to the nub of the problem," she said.