Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier today in the Great Hall, the Northern Manufacturers' Association, in partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories Regulatory Reform Secretariat helped launch the Canadian Standards Strategy. I would like to take this opportunity to speak a little about this Association and highlight the good work it is doing.
The Northern Manufacturers' Association was formed in 1997, Mr. Speaker, to improve the competitiveness of territorial manufacturers and to develop a strong and vibrant northern manufacturing industry. It also serves as a voice for the northern manufacturers. Its membership has grown from nine original members to over 40 members in just over a year. It currently represents communities all over the North, including Nunavut.
Mr. Speaker, northern manufacturers produce a wide range of products, everything from clothing, accessories, furniture, windows, log homes, fiberglass, steel tanks and paper products, to name a few. In this House, Mr. Speaker, we often speak about the need to diversify our economy. I strongly believe that the manufacturing industry is a key to our diversification potential.
The northern manufacturing businesses contribute to our economy in a very strong and direct way. They create a wide array of jobs and foster a strong community sprit in the process. More manufacturing in the North means less imported goods. It also means enhancing our northern economy by exporting our goods to the markets world over.
Already, Mr. Speaker, our manufacturers export our products not only to the rest of Canada but to international markets such as Russia, the Far East, Japan and Alaska. Most importantly Mr. Speaker, northern manufacturers are homegrown. They live and work in the North. They know the consumers, and they know how to produce products that meet the standards necessary for the rigors of the northern climate and conditions.
Mr. Speaker, may I close this statement by saying the association deserves our support and northern businesses need our commitment to do everything we can to help them grow and prosper. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.