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Your Honour, honourable senators, I rise today to speak about the Fort McMurray disaster and its impact on New Brunswickers.

On Friday, as I flew home to New Brunswick, the plane was full and silent. I had grown accustomed to hearing the usual banter of Maritime workers returning home from Fort Mac.

This time it was different. I could smell the smoke and see the utter dejection in the eyes of the worn out and care worn New Brunswickers going home with nothing. Most of these people, many of them young, left home for the promise of good-paying jobs and a future for their families.

When I saw these New Brunswickers returning home with nothing, I could only think about the uncertain future and jobless economy they will face in New Brunswick.

It's all well and good for those who dream to lose themselves in imaginary visions of the green economy of a far-off future, but unfortunately we must face the reality that our people depend on the jobs provided by our natural resources industries.

For decades, communities all over the Maritimes, many of them among the earliest settlements established in Canada, have seen themselves diminished by the uprooting of generations of our young.

Honourable senators, it's time to bring our people home. We must remove these rose-coloured glasses and support projects like pipelines that will provide the jobs we need in New Brunswick and stop the exodus of our youth.

TransCanada says Energy East would create more than 15,000 jobs overall, including 2,300 in New Brunswick alone. The Energy East project has already been endorsed by the Government of New Brunswick.

Our Prime Minister must move quickly and signal his approval of this project before its backers leave our country for a friendlier market.

I suggest aquaculture also provides significant opportunities for federal support. Our aquaculture industry is a world leader in innovation and has the potential to create many jobs across the country. Just last summer, the Senate Fisheries Committee left the government with a highly detailed three-volume report providing information and suggestions the government could adopt to move forward.

It's clear that New Brunswick needs more investment and more infrastructure funding and more support of the many start-ups that have come out of the Maritimes.

The Prime Minister has an opportunity here to demonstrate leadership, and I ask him, I beg him, to move quickly to prevent us from losing another generation of our people.