House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was child.

Topics

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the debate. My wife and I will be attending a couple of weddings in the next couple of weeks. We attended weddings over the summer, as I am sure many members present and many Canadians watching did. As we are talking about amendments to the Divorce Act, running through everyone's mind are weddings that they have recently attended or perhaps a wedding of their children or of a niece or a nephew. Many of us at our stage in life are going through this. It seems they come in batches.

I was struck by the fact that maybe we are closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped. Perhaps we should be discussing a new marriage act. Perhaps, as many of us have said to others or to ourselves in admonition, it should be a whole heck of a lot harder to get married. Perhaps we are putting our emphasis in the wrong place.

As we look at our society, as other speakers before me have very rightly pointed out, the foundation of our society is built around family. If we look at families or at particular societies such as religious or ethnic societies which place a very strong value on family, on commitment and on the responsibility to comes from that, we find that the divorce rate is substantially lower than it is among the general population.

I am not standing before the House and Canadians pontificating from a holier than thou perspective. I stand here as a person with considerable experience in these matters, having been twice divorced. My mother was divorced. Carrying on a long line of family history, my grandmother was divorced in 1932 in Alberta. That was not a small feat in those days.

I have said many times than it is better to be from a broken home than in one. However, I do not in any way diminish or denigrate the importance of family and how much better it is for children to be raised within a strong and supportive family. There is nothing more important in a child's life. Having said that, we know statistically a good percentage, perhaps even a majority, of marriages are going to end unhappily in divorce. The product of that unhappy circumstance will be children who will suffer in varying degrees from the effects of the divorce. Some children, depending on the maturity, wisdom and good faith of their parents, will suffer significantly less and, in fact, may benefit.

From time to time as members of Parliament we deal with constituents who come to us because there is nowhere else to go. Many of these people are single parents who are struggling to support a family. Some are non-custodial parents who feel grievously wronged because although they have lived up to every aspect of their agreement, they find themselves not able to be with their children. This legislation does not address that. In my opinion, that is a grievous error.

When we delve into the reasons for which families break up or why we have such acrimony over visitation, very often that is driven by retribution. Very often it is the chicken or the egg. If the non-custodial parent pays support regularly, he or she will get visitation rights regularly. In my experience, the amount of money that is awarded to the custodial parent is perhaps not as important as the consistency of receiving that money. It is important, but it is not nearly as important as the custodial parent being able to depend religiously on receiving that money every month.

That brings me to my perspective on this particular debate. I come to this perspective from the position of having paid maintenance payments virtually all of my adult life. There has not been a month that I have not made maintenance payments for as long as I can remember. Having made those payments, I was able to subtract from my income, which was generally speaking higher than my ex-spouse's income, the amount that I paid in support and my ex-wife paid the tax on it. This created a fairly big problem for her at the end of the year. She did not pay tax on it when she received it and the net result was that at the end of the year she had a tax bill she had to pay.

I discussed the matter with her and asked what she thought was the best way to handle it. Should it be taxable for her, should it be taxable for me or should we split it in the middle? We decided the best way to do it was to arrive at whatever the payment was going to be and I would pay tax on half and she would pay tax on half.

That is not what is going to happen with this bill. The non-custodial parent will be paying the tax and the receiving parent will not be paying the tax. It will not affect maintenance agreements that are already in effect. I am sure that the courts will take into account who will be paying the tax when they make their judgments.

This legislation envisions a grid. The grid is a schedule of the amount of maintenance payments per child that will be paid to the custodial parent, usually the wife, based on the income of the non-custodial parent or generally speaking the husband. That is not necessarily a bad idea. However, it does not allow for judicial discretion. In my experience, very often family break-ups come as a direct result of financial pressures. When the family breaks up there is not a whole lot of money to go around anyway. Very often the father pays support to a family where the custodial parent, the wife, has remarried and has a standard of living far beyond anything that the ex-husband has.

These things are not black and white. We tend to make these laws based on our experience with the extremes. Very often the extremes are horrid. The fact is that if a husband is not going to make support payments, no amount of legislation in the world is going to force him to do it. He has to do it because he accepts the responsibility and it is the right thing to do.

I guess this is where our society has kind of become unglued. When a couple makes the decision to get a divorce, when did it become their right to absolve themselves of the responsibilities that were incurred in the marriage and they brought children into the world? When, because I decided to be divorced, did it become someone else's responsibility to be financially responsible for my children? If I am divorced, for whatever reason, and I cannot afford to look after the financial responsibilities that I incurred of my own free will in my first marriage, it does not give me the right to take on new responsibilities in a subsequent marriage and then claim poverty and say: "I can't afford to look after my first responsibilities because I have taken on a second batch of responsibilities".

When we make decisions we have to be big enough to accept the responsibilities that come with those decisions. We are not saying not to do it but are saying: "Having made the decision, for goodness sake, be big enough to live up to the responsibilities that you have".

I would suggest that because the receiving spouse is depending on the maintenance payments, it is entirely appropriate that the government, representing all of the people, take whatever steps are prudent to enforce maintenance payments. We understand that maintenance payments are legislated federally and are enforced provincially. It has to be done with a foundation of fairness. If someone is going to have his or her wages garnisheed, certainly notice should be given. I do not know about other folks, but as an employer when I saw a garnishee notice coming for anyone who worked for me, it raised an eyebrow.

What happens if the person who is on the receiving end of the garnishee is living up to the obligations but is involved in some sort of a messy dispute?

Not all lawyers get up in the morning and ask, "how can we do the right thing?" It is possible that some of them do not have a clue because they did not do their homework. Some of them might decide they are going to make life miserable for someone and do not use due diligence before they issue a garnishee notice. The notion of being able to garnishee without notice is wrong.

Similarly, I have real difficulty with the ability to go back into tax records subsequent to a divorce. In my view the only reason for this could be in order to try to have the amount of maintenance payment increased.

When people decide to divorce, it seems to me that should be that. Each spouse should know the income of both spouses to determine what fair support should be. After that has been concluded, why should either party have the right to open the closed files five years down the road? It does not make sense to me.

Some of the criticisms of this bill, both constructive and positive and negative criticism, are that it takes the judicial discretion out of the awarding of payments. It does not necessarily consider the ability of the non-custodial parent to make the payments that have been determined, nor does it take into consideration the financial circumstances of the custodial parent.

Although the vast majority of divorces end with the female being the custodial parent, it is possible that the husband is the injured party in the case. It is possible that the female who ends up with custody is also the one who initiates the divorce. There are circumstances where in such situations the female goes from one marriage almost directly into another. I know of some that have resulted in the wives not having any negative financial consequences whatsoever. However, the ex-husband has been out of house, home and hearth in order to support the new marriage.

I am really nervous about setting arbitrary rules that do not allow for judicial discretion. That is why we have divorces that go before judges.

Another concern about the guidelines is this. Are they to be a ceiling or a floor? What about the situation where a parent is capable of paying a lot more?

Third is the notion of reopening cases which have already been closed.

In 1977 Betty Jane Wylie, author of Beginnings: a book for widows , wrote that in the dim dark dark days before antiseptics women often died in childbirth and it was not uncommon for a man to outlive two or three wives. A man can still have two or three wives today but it is because of a thing called divorce. It is a lot more messy and a lot more expensive. There is absolutely no question it is far more expensive to get a divorce than it is to tough it out.

I will conclude my comments in the debate with the notion that it is perhaps much more important for us as a society to put our emphasis on the marriage and making it more difficult to get married rather than making it easier to get a divorce. Sometimes, and I speak from personal experience, the tougher thing to do is to work through the problems and tough it out. Therefore, the notion of a unified family court, the notion of arbitration and mediation and a proactive effort would be a very worthwhile exercise for Parliament to consider.

As the great Canadian Charlie Farquharson said, statistically two out of five marriages end in divorce; the rest of us stick it out until the bitter end. Therein might be a pearl of wisdom all of us might learn from. As we discuss the ramifications of divorce and family law on children, there is absolutely no question that those Canadians who are able to tough it out to the bitter end are probably going to find that what they have done for their family will pay great rewards in the long run.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member referred to a joke which with all due respect I do not share. Toughing out a marriage unfortunately is an attitude which has become far too prevalent in our society. The member well knows that when a couple splits up one thing is true, and that is that a second residence will be necessary. In the absence of any changes, the income levels of those two people, in terms of their accumulated revenues and the costs going out, are going to deteriorate. In fact, as a result of divorce many families live in poverty.

My question has to do with squaring the member's statement. I thought I detected some contradiction in his statements. He described his own unfortunate circumstance and I am sorry to hear that he has been divorced twice, but he said that we have to be big enough to accept our responsibilities and tough it out. I did not hear the member comment on the impact on the children and whether or not there were circumstances where even if the relationship had deteriorated that it was important enough, especially during the early years of a child's life, that the member should have been big enough to live up to his responsibilities which he undertook in his marriage vows.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a very fair statement. When I made the comment about living up to responsibilities, I was talking about living up to the financial responsibilities. It is absolutely essential that once we have accepted our responsibility for making maintenance payments for our children, it is our responsibility.

The member opposite did not point out that I said often it is better for a child to be from a broken home than in one. That is exactly the case. I do not think there is any question there are families that are able to stick through it. Obviously, had I been able to for whatever reason, but because I did not do it does not make it right.

Statistically, the point I made was that when we look at the consequences of divorce, when we look at the consequences of family breakdown and single parenting as a direct consequence of divorce, it is fairly evident that families that do not suffer the consequences of that, for whatever reason whether it is alcohol or some other reason, are probably going to stand a better chance than families that do. It is self-evident.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Ontario, ON

Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the candidness with which the member for Edmonton Southwest expressed his comments. It is an issue most of us will deal with. I too would like to reflect a little on a personal note. A very personal friend of mine and his spouse are going through the trials and tribulations of a possible breakdown.

Given what the member has said in terms of suggesting that this bill might expedite the possibility of bringing about divorce or not providing an adequate remedy, I seem to get the impression at least from my constituents and many others who solicit all members of this House of Commons that the judicial system tends to lean more toward the interests of the female custodial parent as opposed to the male custodial parent.

Could the member clarify for me and for this House what his real objections are? There seems to be a contradiction in his statement in terms of suggesting that the legislation would not allow the judicial process.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, this legislation and the application of a grid for suggested payment guidelines was, as I said earlier in the budget debate, a fairly responsible and good step. The reason is that it sets out an amount whereby the custodial parent can expect to receive approximately that amount for each child.

Where I said that in my opinion it was perhaps weak was that we still must have judicial discretion. This has to be part of any payment that is made. It is very likely that while judicial discretion

is allowed in the bill, in other jurisdictions where a grid is in place, the grid has taken precedence over judicial discretion.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Lévis, I am pleased to take part in this debate. As a man, I felt it was my duty to do so, because anything to do with child support is wrongly seen as being a subject that is primarily of interest to women.

This is based on the fact that, in reality, unfortunately, it is women who, as things now stand, more often find themselves responsible for families after a divorce.

I can understand the Reform Party member for Edmonton Southwest, who is one of the more moderate members of his party in many respects, including social issues. Nonetheless, I am not happy to hear him say that it would be better to tough it out than to get divorced. Toughing it out means, in certain cases, for many women and children, and perhaps for men too, putting up with intolerable suffering.

There is one statistic we cannot ignore. In 1990, in Canada, there were 78,152 divorces, and there are undoubtedly more now. Naturally, these divorces involve men and women, so if we multiply this number by two, we see that they affect 150,000 men and women. Furthermore, if we presume an average of two or more children per family, we are looking at 300,000 children affected by these divorces in Canada, and that is just for that particular year. It is not cumulative. Therefore, there were so many instances of divorce that affected 300,000 people in 1990, and probably 300,000 people and up were affected in 1991, and the numbers continue to rise.

We also know that an overwhelming majority, 98 per cent in 1988, of those receiving child support payments were women. The percentage is lower today, but it is still very high. That is why I say that I, as a man, and the men that I represent, should also be concerned about the situation. We can, however, have different points of view, depending on the party line and depending on the objectives of the various parties concerned.

I am a former member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and a current member of the Standing Committee on Health, together with the hon. member for Mississauga-South. We both know how important the first years of life are and how economic and social conditions may have a subsequent effect on health and also create problems, I was going to say with respect to delinquency, but also for a person's social and individual development.

Ideally, and I am sure we all agree, everyone would have a father and mother who stay with their children until they reach the age of majority or even beyond that and who pay for their education. That is the ideal situation we would all wish for.

However, there is one factor we cannot ignore and I am referring to those 78,152 divorces that occurred in 1990. This does not include people living common law, who separate without first having been married and who have children. That is why when last year I saw the Minister of Justice table his plan, and we even saw a glimmer of hope in the last federal budget, something that had changed following the Thibodeau judgment. Basically, the well-known debate on deduction of support payments was no longer about considering one parent or the other, but about what was best for the children.

Twenty per cent of the children in this country live below the poverty line, and the vast majority are in single parent families.

We can say quite confidently that most of the time, in 80 per cent of the cases, these families are headed by women. That is a fact. I must say I am particularly sensitive to the situation of these mothers. In the final instance, children will suffer if we do not deal with the problem in the best possible way. And they will suffer for a long time.

If the economic situation gets worse, with all the psychological and other stress this entails, and this goes on for a number of years, the impact on the children can be catastrophic. Sometimes I hear members of this House, especially members of the Reform Party, say that the rate of juvenile delinquency is terrible, the crime rate is terrible and what is happening in our society is terrible. People often say they do not feel safe any more. I am willing to believe that, but we must try and understand how this happens.

Certain megastudies, which take into account the results of every possible analysis have discovered that these problems are often due to socio-economic problems that affect children when they are young and are not even aware of what is going on in the world. Stress is not always transmitted in an explicit and verbal way. It may be expressed through family tension, bickering, the tension that may exist between spouses, whether they are living together or not.

When spouses take legal action against each other, that affects the children. I am not saying this is so in all cases because some couples divorce amicably. Some men meet their responsibilities properly.

We are not accusing those who are acting properly. But there is one social fact the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest ought to understand: regrettably, a good proportion of people do not meet their responsibilities toward their children properly, and most of these are fathers. Sometimes they may feel that since they did not obtain custody, or joint custody, they are justified in making their ex-wives suffer without realizing that the ones suffering the most are their children. And that is intolerable.

I do not want to sound too critical. Let me take a different approach, since I feel that it is important for this debate to be held. It is important for we men to shoulder our responsibility, just as women responsible for single-parent families must. We must be aware that single parents need our help, be they women or men.

Recently, I attended a function of a single parent association in my riding. It was celebrating its 15th anniversary. There was a time when no men were seen in such associations, but I could see that now there are. Men are also heads of single parent households, and they find that incredibly difficult, as indeed it is.

I do not want to get into details of the private lives of the people here in this House, but I am sure that some here are single parents. Their duties here demand a lot of their time, and they may not have as much time as they would like to devote to their children, who may well have complaints about this.

I know that similar discussions go on in other professions, where there are also heavy responsibilities, where much is demanded of single parents, not just financially, but the financial aspect is a very important one, and ends up being intolerable. As I have already said, 20 per cent of the children in Canada, a country said to have one of the best standards of living in the world, 20 per cent of Canadian or Quebec children, are living below the poverty line.

Among the leading causes of this poverty is the situation of single-parent families and people not fulfilling their responsibilities properly.

While agreeing with the objective pursued by the minister and finding relatively few faults with his bill, I cannot help but notice that the bill shifts away from the strategy announced last spring. We, in the Bloc Quebecois, were afraid there would be discrepancies in the bill or that some of the provisions might be harmful.

Speaking as a former member of the human resources committee, I also notice through all this, good intentions and all, the excessively paternalistic attitude of the federal government in this area. I am also speaking as a Quebecer. Since last year, we have had in Quebec a scheme providing for all the conditions regarding support payments, including provision for support payments to be automatically be collected from spouses who are in default. It is complicated. It is all new and already there are growing pains. The scheme is still in its infancy.

The strange thing is-I can hear you from here, saying: "Here goes the Bloc, the official opposition, again with their line", but spouses who do not fulfil their obligations are in fact not honouring their marriage contract or commitments. And in wanting to interfere in this area, the federal government is interfering in an area of provincial jurisdiction. Let me elaborate.

Marriage comes under the jurisdiction of the provinces, while divorce is a federal matter. There are also those who are not married. When they separate, it is not a divorce. These people form a different group and they are not in any way subject to this bill, which only deals with the issue of divorce. However, the fact is that, in Canada and in Quebec, more and more people are involved in common-law relationships.

Again, the paradox with the current federal system is that people get married under the laws of the province but divorce under federal laws. This is somewhat odd, but such is the situation right now.

In this area, the federal government displays a committed, pervasive and embarrassing paternalistic attitude, as it does in the education and health sectors. In this area, as in the other two which I just mentioned, the federal government introduces guidelines in a bill, presents the whole package to the provinces and tells them: "Sure, you can get involved in this, but provided you do this, that and the other thing. If you do not accept our guidelines, then we are sorry but the federal system will prevail as regards the issue of divorce, because it comes under federal jurisdiction".

This creates a strange situation. For example, if a married couple with two children divorces, the federal legislation will prevail. However, the same situation involving common-law spouses whose children have the same financial needs will be dealt with under provincial law.

Given all the differences in treatment that can take place, I ask you: Is this a fair and balanced situation that will promote consistent social development? This is one of the flaws of the federal system. We have no choice but to say it again: the federal government, the federal "big brother" feels compelled to get involved, with its not so subtle approach, in issues that come under provincial jurisdiction.

When one province does not agree, it is punished, it is not entitled to the benefits of the federal system, or, when there are no benefits, the federal government carries the day.

That, therefore, is the opposition's opinion of this bill. I hope that debate goes well. It is possible that the Liberal government, which has the majority, will decide not to make any concessions or compromises, but that would not be conducive to harmony. At the outset, I hope that government representatives agree to the compromises that will be proposed by official opposition members, who are trying to make a constructive contribution, because these are situations affecting human beings, individuals on whom the decisions made will have important social repercussions, particularly for children, and therefore for everyone's future.

I know that the member for Mississauga South is a sensitive man. He sits with me on the Standing Committee on Health. As I know the influence he has over his colleagues, I challenge him to try to convince them to think about the health of children, given that we want to see more harmonious relations between men and women who have responsibilities with respect to children, and, although there has been a softening of their position, to convince them to be receptive to the compromises we are proposing.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleagues, we may have time for a 30-second question and a one-minute answer.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have just a brief comment and a question. The comment has to do with common law relationships. The member commented about how prevalent this is in our society.

The member might be interested in studying some research about the incidence of family violence in families and those living common law. I think he will find that the incidence of family violence is more prevalent in common law relationships.

My question has to do with prevention versus dealing with the problems after they happen. The member says Quebec has a good system in that it garnishees or takes away the payments so that orders can be enforced. The member spent all this time talking about how to deal with the problem after the problem exists.

I want to ask the member whether he does not think that a system like the one they have in some of the states in the United States, where couples with problems are required to take a 12-week program as a reality check before contemplating divorce, should occur before divorces are granted in Quebec or Canada.

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am not very familiar with the American system the hon. member is referring to. Frankly, when I do not know a subject very well, I do not usually talk about it because I am not convincing. And when I am not convinced myself, I am even less convincing.

Having said that, I have not closed my mind to this idea. We will consider it together. The hon. member for Québec sitting in front of me is our critic on the status of women. If this is a good idea, she will surely give us some advice after thoroughly reviewing the issue. So we will have to wait for that.

One last thing. I do not know what it is like elsewhere, but in Quebec, for example, CLSCs, local community health centres, or private organizations provide services to attempt reconciliation before a couple separates; they try to help the spouses patch things up while looking after the children's best interest. There is a long tradition associated with this. Things do not always go smoothly because there are unfortunately cases of extreme violence in which people even manage to kill their former spouses, which is deplorable.

Finally, Reformers often talk about criminals on the streets, dangerous offenders who make people feel unsafe, but 85 per cent of crimes are committed by people who are oftentimes very close, like family members, and who are often former spouses. The hon. member talks about prevention. I pay close attention to this and I will support any measure he may propose when-

Divorce Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

We will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Ceso Volunteers
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute to several people from my riding of Cambridge who have volunteered their professional skills to help developing economies in Russia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Poland and Hungary.

Through CESO International Services, Steve Meissner, Donald MacLeod, Dirk Booy and Al Galusz have at the grassroots level exemplified the time honoured Canadian tradition of international co-operation and responsibility.

CESO volunteer advisers are professionally skilled men and women, usually retired, who share their years of experience with companies and organizations in developing countries.

On behalf of the people of Cambridge, I welcome back these volunteers who have done Canada proud. I urge them to continue playing a role in assisting developing economies of our global village.

International Music Day
Statements By Members

October 1st, 1996 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this International Music Day, I would like to draw attention to Nil Parent's initiative and the fulfilment of his dream, which is called "Ronde et Bleue".

To keep a promise he made to his son suffering from an incurable disease, this determined musician from Quebec composed an ode to peace. At 10 minutes past 10 this morning, Quebec time, thousands of men, women and children in America, Europe and Africa, in schools and on the streets, sang together in a single voice.

This event was a rehearsal for the great rendezvous on December 31, 1999, when a global choir will sing the hymn to peace.

This megaproject conveys a message of hope that, on the eve of the next millennium, peace will become a common goal and flourish all over the world.

Justice
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, subpoenas are not issued on a whim and politicians are not above the law. We are all citizens of this country called Canada. The rule of law is fundamental to our democracy. Therefore, it is essential that we as Canada's lawmakers be subject to the laws passed by this Parliament.

A Saskatchewan court is calling upon the deputy leader of the Conservatives in the Senate to testify on corruption charges in the Devine government where he was second in command. He is avoiding court by invoking a little used privilege of MPs and senators that excuses them from answering a subpoena for 40 days before or after a session as well as during a session.

In avoiding the court order, the Tories' deputy leader is breaching Canadians' trust in a place where trust should be raised to the highest level. The Senate remains an anachronism yet it has continued to be supported by this Prime Minister.

The actions of the Tories' deputy leader has tarnished the image of all politicians. There is clearly no need to invoke immunity. It exhibits a serious abuse of privilege.

Resign Senator Berntson.

New Democratic Party
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, like a growing morning light in a political landscape darkened and dreary by years of uncritically accepting corporate Canada's pathetic platitudes about what Canada needs, we see the political pendulum start to come back in 1996.

From the provincial byelection in Halifax-Fairview where the NDP got 65 per cent of the vote, to the federal byelection in Hamilton East where we came second getting more votes than the Tories and Reformers put together, to the re-election of the NDP in B.C., and now the NDP Government of Yukon, we see Canadians rejecting what the right-wing Liberals, Tories and Reformers have been telling them.

There is another way. It is not an easy way, but the way of solving our problems on the basis of community and co-operation rather than competition and concessions to the powerful.

Congratulations to Piers McDonald and the Yukon NDP for giving Canadians hope. The next federal election is just around the corner and more and more Canadians appear to know just who the real opposition is.

International Red Cross And Red Crescent Movement
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Hickey St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to inform the House that St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Canadian Red Cross are playing host to the world this week.

Sixty high-ranking officials of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement from around the world are gathering in St. John's for a three day convention. This is the first time in the group's history that it has met outside Europe. The choice of St. John's for this year's meeting shows the support that the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian government have given to the International Red Cross movement over the years.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the humanitarian services provided by the Canadian Red Cross to the world. Their service and dedication to those less fortunate is well known around the globe.

I am honoured that they have chosen St. John's for their meeting. I want to extend on behalf of the government greetings to the participants.