Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. Today, American President Joe Biden announced a transportation-focused, long-term economy recovery plan. During the Great Depression here in Canada, the federal government funded highway construction to stimulate the economy. In anticipation of our federal government's plan to unveil its budget on April 19th, I would like to talk about roads, specifically the Mackenzie Valley Highway, or what I like to call "the forgotten leg of the Trans Canada Highway."
The Trans Canada Highway runs through all 10 Canadian provinces from Victoria to St. John's. At 7,821 kilometres, it is the fourth longest highway and the second longest national highway in the world. Construction began in 1949 under St. Laurent's Liberal government. According to history books, the Trans Canada Highway was complete in 1962 under Prime Minister Diefenbaker, but here in the NWT, I disagree. Like it or not, Canada's shores touch three oceans, not two, and the northern territories are, in fact, located in Canada.
In 1958, the federal government actually acknowledged this and committed to completing the Mackenzie Valley Highway as part of the Roads to Resources strategy. This construction began in 1972, but in 1977, was stopped, as the Berger Inquiry began a subsequent 10-year moratorium on oil and gas. Over the past 15 years, we have picked away at this highway through cost-sharing agreements with the federal government.
Completing the Mackenzie Valley Highway is an important economic and social development driver for the Northwest Territories. It stands to decrease cost of living, increase food security, increase housing opportunity, create safe passage for survivors of domestic violence, connect families, stimulate economic development, and connect southern Canada to the Arctic.
The federal government needs to understand that 25-cent dollars don't work in the NWT. Our infrastructure deficit and social needs are too far behind to compete against one another. Asking us to choose between economic stimulus and the social supports needed to heal our territory is a cruel continuation of a history already marked by tragedy.
While the Canadian government looks to revive the national economy, we in the North are asking, "Pass the AED and give us a chance to join the fight." Mr. Speaker, today, I challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to finish what past Liberal governments did not, which is a true Trans Canada Highway. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.