House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was pornography.

Topics

Business Of The House

10:05 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place between all parties in the House and I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:

That the motion for second reading and reference to committee of Bill C-38, Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act, be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until the end of Government Orders on Tuesday, September 26, 2000.

Business Of The House

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the government House leader have permission to put the motion?

Business Of The House

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business Of The House

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business Of The House

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Civilian War-Related Benefits Act
Government Orders

September 22nd, 2000 / 10:05 a.m.

Gander—Grand Falls
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

George Baker Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)

moved that Bill C-41, an act to amend the statute law in relation to veterans' benefits, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to give a major speech today. I am going to be as short as possible because there appears to be agreement, and I am pretty sure there is, among the critics of the other parties in the House that we try to deal with the bill today at this reading so that it can go on to the standing committee.

We have had excellent co-operation from the hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain of the Canadian Alliance, the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville of the Bloc Quebecois, the hon. member for Saint John of the Progressive Conservative Party and the hon. member for Halifax West of the NDP.

The reason we all agree that the bill should be passed as quickly as possible is that it will provide some much needed benefits to our veterans and the survivors of our veterans.

The bill also does something that should have been done many years ago. It gives the civilian groups that served overseas with our soldiers access to the same pension and disability provisions as those who are recognized under the pension act and the War Veterans Allowance Act. In other words, the bill gives the ferry command personnel, the civilian group of pilots who piloted the planes across the Atlantic during the war, access to the full benefits of the pension act and the War Veterans Allowance Act. Five hundred Canadian pilots lost their lives bringing the planes over for use in the war effort.

The bill gives the nursing aids, the nursing sisters of the first world war and the second world war, the Canadian Red Cross workers and the St. John Ambulance workers who worked right at the front access to the same pension provisions as our veterans receive today.

The bill gives welfare workers of the second world war and the Korean War access to those same benefits. It gives Canadian firefighters for service in the United Kingdom group access to the same benefits.

The bill gives a group called the Newfoundland foresters access to those same benefits. The Newfoundland foresters went overseas during the second world war before Canada was involved in the war. Newfoundland was not a part of Canada at that time. The ships left Newfoundland with about 3,000 people who had joined the Royal Navy or the Merchant Navy in Britain, people who were called upon as foresters.

The Canadian foresters who went overseas received full benefits after the war but the Newfoundlanders did not because Newfoundland was not a part of Canada at that time. It should have been in the terms of union but, unfortunately, the individual who was supposed to negotiate this in the terms of union came to Ottawa in 1948, stayed at a local hotel and the day before this was supposed to be negotiated in the terms of union, he died. So it was an omission in the terms of union between Newfoundland and Canada. This bill will correct the error that was made back in 1949.

There are other things in the bill which will be good for veterans, veterans' widows and family members of veterans who are alive today. I will give members of the House two short examples that I know they will appreciate being included in the bill.

There are about seven excellent changes. Take for example one case of a veteran's widow who has an overpayment on a health benefit. Another widow has an overpayment on the funeral benefit and the debt stands. Why is there a debt? It is because somebody made an error inadvertently in paying the money to that individual.

Normally, when there is an overpayment, for example, in employment insurance or in any of the the municipal, provincial or federal government programs, then the person who received the money is responsible for paying it back.

However, the bill states that those overpayments, which were inadvertently made and stand as debts to the crown, will be erased. Although it will not cost that much money and is only a small thing, it is huge to somebody like those two widows who actually owe money because of overpayments.

I want to refer to another section which I think was commendable for members of parliament and those people who participated in the process to put into the bill. I just want to mention them.

The Royal Canadian Legion spent a lot of time with the department drafting the bill and setting up meetings. President Bill Barclay and particularly Allan Parks participated in the drafting of the legislation. The National Council of Veterans Associations also participated. Brian Forbes was at the meeting on behalf of Cliff Chadderton.

There is perhaps no one individual in Canada today who has contributed more to the process of legislation for veterans than Cliff Chadderton. He is an incredible individual who constantly works for veterans.

Peter Ambroziak of ANAVETS, the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans of Canada, took part in the negotiations as did Mr. Lloyd Thompson of Botwood, Newfoundland. He is a Newfoundland forester but he wore the British uniform overseas so he gets the benefits. He is working on behalf of the other foresters in Newfoundland who number anywhere from 500 to 1,000 that I know of. They deserve these benefits and should have received them in the terms of union. However, as I said, the person responsible for negotiating them died the night before the terms were being negotiated.

Also Louis Lang of Montreal from Ferry Command participated. Louis spent a lot of time lobbying on behalf of Ferry Command pilots who perhaps had the greatest loss of life of any one group that took part in the second world war.

There are about seven items in the bill that will benefit Canadian veterans today. I mentioned the overpayments to the two widows and other people in a similar situation which would be forgiven.

Another point I want to mention is that in all of our income tested programs we always rely on somebody's last year's income as reported on the income tax return. Old age security, guaranteed income supplement and spousal allowance are based on the income tax return for the previous year.

Sometimes somebody might receive a benefit, say a capital gain, this year not knowing that next year the spousal allowance could be gone or the guaranteed income supplement would be reduced accordingly. That is one of the aspects of income tested programs that is very difficult to deal with when we have cases where somebody loses something because of what happened last year on the income tax return, especially with our senior citizens.

Of course disability pensions and so on are not income tested. That is the marvellous part of this bill. All these civilian groups that served overseas will have access to the full benefits. Some of them will not be income tested. A lot of our civilian groups did not understand that this would be a real benefit to the people who need home care, for example.

We have people in Canada who went overseas for four and five years and do not have access to home care because the bill is not law today. That is why we are trying to pass the bill as quickly as possible.

Getting back to what we are doing as far as someone's income is concerned, we are saying that the income tested portion of veterans payments will be based on estimated income for this year, not what is on the income tax return.

What is the benefit in that? I will give an example. Perhaps someone received a capital gain last year. Perhaps he or she were left some money or sold some property last year and the guaranteed income supplement and spousal allowance will drop. If it is a veteran's payment that is income tested it will rise accordingly, thereby cancelling the reduction that would take effect under the guaranteed income supplement or the spousal allowance.

These are some of the excellent things in the bill. They certainly set a standard that should be looked at by provincial governments and by everyone who deals with guaranteed income programs in federal and provincial jurisdictions.

I have had preliminary discussions with the member for Halifax West of the New Democratic Party. He has been very active with regard to the bill over a period of time. In fact prior to the announcement being made he was very active with regard to this subject material, as well as the member for Saint John of the Progressive Conservative Party and the member for Terrebonne—Blainville of the Bloc Quebecois. As well, within the last three or four days the member for Souris—Moose Mountain supports the bill wholeheartedly and wants it passed.

That is why I will not say anything else. I will just shut up and hope that other members of parliament will also shut up. Then we could pass the bill with as little comment as possible. We have until 11 o'clock this morning and then we will reconvene on the bill at about 12.15 p.m. until 1.30 p.m. Therefore we have until approximately 11 a.m. now and then about an hour and a half after question period.

If we could so arrange it as to get over this stage of the bill and send it to committee, we would be answering the prayers of a good many veterans. We would be responding positively to what every political party wants to do in the House.

Civilian War-Related Benefits Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing like a good dose of maritime eloquence to begin the morning. I thank the minister for his eloquent speech. In fact we could pass the bill very quickly, as he and other members of the House would like to do, except for one little clause. Clause 46 needs to be removed from the bill to provide the equitability and fairness I know the minister would like to see.

I thank the member for Souris—Moose Mountain, as the minister has mentioned, who has done an incredible amount of work not only for our party but, more important, for the members and the veterans who are waiting for the bill to pass.

I will get to the aspects of clause 46. I am glad the minister will listen. I know he is a man of fairness. I am sure he will encourage and convince his members to remove this clause. If he does so, our party will support the bill and help him expedite it through the House to relieve the suffering that our veterans have been enduring for far too long.

Our party supports Bill C-41 because it gives civilian groups the same fairness and equitability as it has to other veterans who have laid their lives on the line for our country, for peace and security.

It gives it to groups such as the Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, the Corps of Canadian Civilian Firefighters, the Ferry Command personnel and the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit because these people provided invaluable service to the war effort. These people, as the minister mentioned, put their lives on the line. Many of them lost their lives while supporting the war effort. Their efforts, while they did not pick up a weapon, were absolutely essential for the men and women who were in Europe and other parts of the world fighting for the peace and security that we enjoy today.

Our armed forces personnel must have access to existing veterans benefits today if they served overseas during World War I, World War II and the Korean war. Merchant navy vets gained full access to these benefits in 1992. Unfortunately the issue of compensation took far too long to come about. We do not want this to happen with the bill.

The groups affected by the bill have historically had limited access to veterans benefits previously given to other veterans, but the bill recognizes that fact and does a very good job of providing them with the benefits they so justly deserve.

I say these groups are worthy recipients because they served alongside other forces personnel and their lives were in no less danger during those perilous times. The efforts of these organization deserve the recognition they have so long been denied.

I will cite a few examples. The overseas air crew of the Ferry Command ferried military aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. In many ways those brave pilots were trail blazers. Some of them, interestingly enough, were among the first to chart a path across the North Pole.

It was dangerous work, flying over uncharted territory. Many of the pilots lost their lives in the endeavour to provide planes that were absolutely essential for us to carry on the war effort in Europe. During World War II about 340 civilian pilots and air crew were contracted to deliver aircraft to Britain and elsewhere. Today about 100 of these brave souls are still alive.

Coal was vital to Britain's war effort and mining activity. Its use increased so much that Britain did not have enough and wood had to be cut in Scotland. As a result, the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit was created on short notice. It went over there to harvest timber. Of the 3,680 Newfoundlanders who went to Scotland during the war there are roughly 1,000 of these souls alive today who cut the wood that was necessary to build tunnels and for other uses during the war.

During the second world war the Corps of Canadian Civilian Firefighters bravely put out fires during the blitz, which was central to saving the lives of many people.

Members of the Canadian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance worked alongside people who were terribly injured during the war. They were as close to the action as anyone could get. There are approximately 450 members of this group alive today and they need the care they require as they age.

It is a shame that with the passage of time there are so few left and it has taken so long for this legislation to come forward. We as a party are happy and encouraged by the government's effort to move the bill forward.

This should be a lesson for all of us as Canadians to take a more active interest in our military and service people who historically have given us more care and consideration than I think the House has given them. We must pay more careful attention to the long term effects of war that for a long time have been ignored: post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and the effects on the family that are so often hidden.

In fact, historically after World War I and World War II many of these problems were buried but now that medical science and others have taken a more active interest, these problems are coming to light. As these problems come to light, so too is it necessary for the care to be there for people who have been traumatized by horrors that most of us can only imagine.

Not only will civilian groups benefit from the bill but members currently serving in our armed forces will benefit as well. The bill amends the pension act to allow Canadian forces members in the regular force who have acquired service related disabilities to receive pensions while still serving. This brings it in line with the public service and private industry. This is important because this is not a stand-alone issue. It does not affect only the military. In fact the bill brings the military up to today's standards in the public service and private industry.

I want to address our primary criticism which the member for Souris—Moose Mountain raised with the minister. I am sure we can find a way to ensure that this tiny issue will be resolved expeditiously. It involves the RCMP.

While the bill alleviates a past injustice to our armed forces, it creates an injustice to the RCMP. The RCMP pension is tied to the armed forces pension but is funded by the RCMP. Currently RCMP officers are in the same position as Canadian forces personnel in that they cannot receive a disability pension while being employed by the force. I will give an important example very shortly, one of which we are probably all aware. Because clause 46 was added to the bill, by its very wording it removes previous legislation that prevented those in the armed forces from receiving a disability pension while employed, but it prevents the RCMP from getting the same benefits as will be accrued to other members that the bill actually supports, brave officers.

The example I will give now is one which we all remember very well. Constable Laurie White was shot in the leg while trying to serve a search warrant and had to get a portion of her leg amputated. Constable White is back on the force working very hard, bravely so, despite having had part of her leg amputated. She demonstrates the best that we have within our RCMP service personnel and indeed she deserves all of the honours that have accrued to her.

Because this amendment exists, people like Laurie White in the RCMP cannot receive the benefits the bill gives to other individuals even though the RCMP is tied to the essence of the bill. We ask that clause 46 be removed purely in the name of fairness. We cannot ask the RCMP to be involved in the bill and have its entire benefits package tied to those of veterans and the personnel that this involves as the bill does, while on the other hand exempting it from an aspect that would be very important for individuals such as Constable Laurie White.

The bill also makes a provision for peacekeepers which is very important because peacekeepers serve in very dangerous environments. Peacekeeping is a misnomer in that one thinks it has something to do with peace. It has, but the problem is that peacekeeping is really war by another name because peacekeepers confront land mines and snipers. They are often put in between warring factions which are often under no control by their supposed leaders. It is a very dangerous situation.

Unfortunately the government historically has given our armed forces personnel the equipment for a peaceful situation. One other thing I would like the government to know, and I hope the minister of defence pays close attention to this, is that we simply have to arm our soldiers for war in a peacekeeping situation because peacekeeping, as I said, is war by another name.

Our veterans have faced a litany of problems when they have returned from war situations, particularly recently. I and many other members in the House have received many legitimate complaints from brave men and women who have come back from the theatre and have not received the care they require.

I know the minister is very interested in this and that his heart is in the right place. I know he would not like to see these people go without the medical care they so justly deserve. He would want them to receive the required care for such things as gulf war syndrome, other poisonings as yet unidentified, post-traumatic stress disorder and severe major depression.

Fifteen per cent of people who suffer from major depression commit suicide. Imagine the numbers that would involve with respect to our armed forces personnel who go abroad and raise our flag to fight for the noblest of elements of humanity. They fight for peace and security, the things we gratefully enjoy in our country. Let us give them the same care and consideration they have given us.

The government has seen fit to give the members a cost of living allowance. We support this. We have been working hard for a long period of time to right this injustice. We applaud the government for doing it, but there is a problem. While the government has given the members a cost of living allowance and an increase in pay, it is surreptitiously yanking that money away by increasing their rents.

Their rents have increased dramatically in many areas. On the base in Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca the members are so happy and pleased to finally get some recognition and fairness in their pay but there have been massive and dramatic increases in their rents. While money has been given with one hand, the government has taken it out with the other.

I know the government really does not want to do this, at least I would like to think it would not. I challenge the government, as all of my colleagues here do, to please stop yanking money out of one pocket while putting it into the other pocket. Stop giving our military forces money and talking about it as if it has done something and then taking the money away. This has created an incredible negative impact on the morality within our armed forces. They do not deserve that. They have been extremely patient.

The other small section I would like to talk about briefly concerns the civilian population in our military who have done a yeoman's job under very difficult circumstances. Their numbers have been cut dramatically. They did not mind, as they recognized that came down the pike in an effort to save money. Their members have been cut by 50% or more. They have increased their efficiency dramatically and in fact have been given awards for it. On the other hand, alternative service delivery is taking place. They do not mind alternative service delivery but they do want to ensure that they are able to compete on a level playing field with the private sector.

I have one request for the government. Make sure that the people there today are treated as fairly as other competitors. That is what they want. They are confident they will be able to compete well, and as they have done for a long time, do their jobs to support our military. They have done this well but they want to be considered fairly with the private sector that is competing for their jobs.

The government should take a good look at that because they have done an excellent job. They have provided high quality service. They have probably done a better job than many private workers could do. Take a look at that and compare it fairly. I think the government will find that in many cases the civilian workers have done an excellent job and deserve to keep doing their work. Do not let them be lost in the cracks. I would ask the government to make sure that they are listened to and that their concerns are dealt with.

As my colleague from Souris—Moose Mountain said, the improvements made in the bill involve: clarifying how private information can be exchanged within the department to expedite benefits, which is a good thing; protecting the public servants from having to testify in courts of civil litigation; compassionate awards to be continued to survivors, which are very important; deleting penal provisions from veterans legislation where the provisions are either unnecessary or substantially duplicated in the criminal code; where two disabled pensioners are married to each other, both receiving the married rate of pension benefits; and allowing for remission of overpayment based upon compassionate grounds if the debt is not collectable. These are fair things.

In conclusion, the groups of people affected by this bill have a very legitimate claim to the benefits provided. We compliment the government for putting this bill forward. The civilians who went alongside the armed forces personnel did yeomen's jobs. Many of them lost their lives in the process. Their survivors and the remaining few deserve the care this bill provides.

The pension act prohibits armed forces personnel from receiving a disability benefit while employed in the forces and this has been removed. But clause 46 has been added to the bill and it prevents the RCMP from being able to acquire the benefits of this part of the bill. This inequity must be addressed before our party can fully support the bill.

If the government removes clause 46 from the bill, we will have a piece of legislation that will correct years of injustice. If the clause remains, the RCMP will be exempt from the very provision and benefits that our armed forces will enjoy and it will therefore be instrumental in creating an injustice.

In the name of fairness, let us include the RCMP in the bill as it ought to be. Let us remove clause 46 and let us pass the bill for our veterans.

Civilian War-Related Benefits Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, better late than never. Half a century after the fact, we have our government acknowledging that a variety of Canadian civilians, such as firefighters and Red Cross personnel, took part in World War II and the Korean War and shared the merits and often the dangers of military personnel. Yet until now they have not been entitled to the pensions and other benefits received by uniformed veterans which are concrete expressions of this country's gratitude.

Bill C-41, which we are looking at now, has the praiseworthy objective of remedying that injustice. It does so only partially, however, as I shall attempt to demonstrate.

Another category of civilians also has been waiting 55 years for recognition of their merits. These are the merchant mariners. Until now, it appears that those in high places have forgotten that these are the people to whom we owe the fact that the weapons and ammunition, without which our soldiers could do nothing, were able to be shipped across the Atlantic on merchant ships hounded by German U-boats. Many of these merchant mariners now sleep at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Only this year did the surviving brave mariners, or the widows, get any compensation.

The compensation was awarded to the Merchant Marine veterans of Canada and Newfoundland who served in wartime and were not members of the armed forces, or to their surviving spouses if they were deceased.

This settlement for the Merchant Mariners is close to the amount of compensation mentioned in the dissenting report tabled by the Bloc Quebecois on this issue. We called for a minimum of $20,000. They received a maximum of $20,000. It is interesting that this amount is within $1,000 of the amount that would have been paid in 1945, taking inflation and interest into account.

The bill before us today concerns other categories of civilians who served overseas. They are primarily the members of the corps of Canadian firefighters for service in the United Kingdom. These men helped fight the fires in the German bombing raids in London and elsewhere for the first two years of the war.

Others benefiting from the bill are the Canadian members of the voluntary aid detachment of the British Red Cross during the first world war. It took 82 years to remember them. Welfare workers and voluntary aid workers in the second world war and the Korean war are also finally being recognized.

Not forgotten either are the civilian pilots in the ferry command, who often at the risk of their lives convoyed aircraft built here and destined for the European front between Canada and Great Britain.

The members of these various categories of civilians deserving of recognition by their country are, under this bill, being accorded the same treatment as military veterans—and this is fair—and therefore are entitled to a pension. As many of them are dead, their widows will benefit.

The part of Bill C-41 that grants them full eligibility for pensions from the Department of Veterans Affairs is an improvement over an existing act, namely the Civilian War-related Benefits Act.

Under that act, welfare workers who worked with the Canadian armed forces during the war have had limited access to pensions from the very beginning. The same goes for Ferry Command personnel. In order to have access to the benefits provided under that act, these people had to have suffered injuries during an offensive or a counter-offensive.

Many of these civilians did not get any disability pension following accidents that occurred in situations such as the moving of troops and materiel. Bill C-41 would eliminate that restriction, which has the effect of granting pensions, contrary to what is done in the case of veterans, only to those who were injured while on duty, under certain conditions.

The problem is that this good legislation will not be retroactive. It does not provide any compensation for the 55 years during which all these brave people were forgotten by their government.

This is an injustice. Since we are now recognizing that these people are entitled to national recognition just like military personnel who have been getting pensions since the end of the war, it is totally unfair to make them pay for the fact that the government waited for over half a century before recognizing their contribution, and thus their rights to national recognition.

Consequently, when this bill is reviewed in committee, I will propose that the government take action to correct this anomaly by making the act retroactive in this respect.

I do not find it acceptable for the government to permit itself what would be considered a reprehensible abuse of power by the courts if it had been the action of an individual against his employees. Can anyone imagine a business leader admitting that some of his staff had been unfairly treated for years and agreeing to remedy the situation only if no retroactivity were involved?

But this principle of obvious equity does not seem popular with the government, if we are to judge by its reaction to the Canadian Human Rights Commission ruling ordering it to compensate those of its employees who, because they were women, had for years been paid less than their male counterparts—another example. It will be recalled that Ottawa held out against making these retroactive payments for a long time. It only did so because it was forced to by the tribunal.

The purpose of Bill C-41 is to correct another anomaly. This one involves members of the Canadian armed forces who are still serving but are suffering from service-related disabilities.

These men and women are not currently entitled to disability pay before their release. This situation is going to be corrected. We need hardly say that we are in favour of this provision of the bill.

But we do not understand why clause 46 excludes the RCMP from this measure. I will be raising this in committee and calling on the government to withdraw this provision from the bill.

Another anomaly is corrected. As the result of an error for which the recipient is in no way responsible, a veteran might receive a higher amount of pension than his entitlement for a certain period of time.

Until now, when the error was detected, the person concerned was required to pay back the overpayment under conditions and a deadline that might be prejudicial to his quality of life. From now on the victims of these administrative errors will be treated more humanely. We approve of this provision, while once again regretting that it has been so long in coming.

I will now give some of the other provisions of this bill in favour of pensioners with which we are totally in agreement.

Permitting veteran disability pensioners who are married to, or living common-law with, each other to both receive the married rate;

Providing for a one-year continuation of a deceased veteran's pension to the guardian of the veteran's orphaned children;

Correcting the pension indexing formula to accommodate declines in the consumer price index;

Consolidating the provisions relating to service in special duty areas, peacekeeping and Korean war service, directly into the Pension Act;

Allowing compassionate awards to be continued to survivors without the necessity of a time-consuming high-level re-adjudication.

Finally, we naturally approve the housekeeping amendments to clarify regulation-making authorities, ensure the use of gender neutral language, correct cross-references, correct the French name of the department—it is called in French the ministère des Anciens combattants, with a small “c”, whereas it should be a capital “C”, thus ministère des Anciens Combattants—and, finally to repeal obsolete acts and provisions.

In conclusion, I come to the date the bill will come into effect. In light of the already considerable delay in the bill's correction of the various injustices, the Royal Canadian Legion would like, quite rightly, that once the bill has received Royal Assent and an implementing order has been issued for it, to have the changes it provides to be made effective not on the date of the order but rather as of March 1, 1999, the first day of the month the minister announced it.

Once again all these civilian and military individuals, who are entitled to recognition must not be penalized by the length of time it has taken to put a statute in place in order to correct the various injustices these people have faced up to now.

To summarize, we support this piece of legislation in principle, but reserve the right to propose certain amendments to improve it. Subject to these amendments we are happy with the content of Bill C-41.

I repeat, we regret that this legislation comes some 50 years too late. However, as I said at the start, better late than never. We will propose to the government that the text of it be amended, either to make it effective retroactively or to have it provide for the payment of an indemnity to correct, at least for those still living, the injustice this delay represents.

We will also propose that the RCMP not be excluded from the application of the law with respect to the pension for individuals wounded in the line of duty but still serving. I add that we will ask for a greater assurance of confidentiality for personal information that candidates for benefits will have to disclose to the department.

Trade
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House of the successful completion of the Baltic Express II, a trade and investment mission, which I had the honour of leading to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The trade mission took place from September 11 to September 15 and included representatives from 11 Canadian companies in the sectors of construction and building materials, transportation, food, textiles and high technology.

Through trade missions, such as the Baltic Express II, Canada hopes to increase the level of awareness of commercial opportunities and help foster long lasting commercial relationships. The first Baltic Express mission in 1998 exposed 12 to 15 Canadian companies to the regions. Several business partnerships resulted in one or more of the three countries.

With commercial partnerships comes a greater understanding between nations. The Baltic Express II is another initiative that will deepen the important ties between Canada and the Baltic nations.

Fuel Taxes
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Ted White North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, this year alone the Liberal government will take more than $350 million from the people of B.C. in the form of fuel taxes. That is an annual tax grab of $20 million more than the entire Vancouver area budget for new highways to the year 2005. Yet the Minister of Transport stubbornly refuses to return to B.C. a single cent of those taxes in support of our transportation network.

While greater Vancouver residents line up in gridlock on a four lane Trans-Canada Highway built back in the 1950s, the minister pumps our fuel tax money into election goody projects elsewhere.

Our taxed-to-the-hilt drivers have had enough. They are sick of topping up the minister's pork barrel every time they gas up and they are not going to take it anymore. They want their share of the national highways funding returned to B.C. and they want it now. When exactly is the minister going to deliver?

The Late Luc Durand
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we wish to pay tribute to a great Canadian theatre personality, actor and director, Luc Durand, who died at the age of 64 on July 3.

Luc Durand, and his character, Gobelet, touched an entire generation of Canadians. This dreamy-eyed clown was a source of inspiration not just for the children who faithfully tuned in to Sol et Gobelet , but also for teenagers and even adults.

Luc Durand's friends often spoke of his intelligence, his great poetry and his sensitivity. He was the consummate professional, respected and his admired by all.

On behalf of the Canadian government, I wish to thank him and offer our sincere condolences to his family.

World Alzheimer's Day
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was World Alzheimer's Day. In Canada, there are more than 230,000 people suffering from this disease and over 100,000 new cases are expected this year.

The federal government and, I am sure, all members of the House, wish to congratulate the Alzheimer Society of Canada on all the support it provides to those with this terrible disease.

I would like to thank all those who have donated their time and energy in the fight against this disease.

Karen Cockburn
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute Karen Cockburn of Toronto for her wonderful performance and her bronze medal on trampoline at the Olympics. It is the first time that this sport has been included in the Olympics.

Over the past two years Ms. Cockburn has obtained numerous medals and has consistently been ranked in the top eight in world competition. This is quite an accomplishment for such a young person.

This medal, Canada's fourth in these Games, is a fine tribute to the efforts of every member of the Canadian delegation.

I am sure that all members will join me in congratulating Ms. Cockburn for this great achievement and thank her for bringing glory to Toronto and to Canada.

Police And Peace Officers
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, the 23rd annual memorial service for police and peace officers who have died in the performance of their duties will be held this Sunday on the steps of Parliament Hill.

On behalf of the official opposition, I would like to pay tribute to those who have paid the ultimate price in protecting Canadians from coast to coast. This memorial is an opportunity to publicly express our gratitude to our fallen officers and to honour their memories. To the friends and families, you are not only in my prayers, but you are in the prayers of an entire nation as we can only try to appreciate the sorrow and the hardship that you continue to endure.

For those of us who cannot be there Sunday, I urge you to take a moment and reflect upon our heroes and ensure they are not forgotten.

Multiculturalism
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, a plaque commemorating the contribution of immigrants and refugees to the development of Canada will be unveiled by the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Status of Women at a ceremony today at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

With the exception of the native peoples, all Canadians are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from various regions of the world. Since Confederation, generation after generation, they have come to settle in Canada with the firm intention of making a better life for themselves and their children.

Our history records show how through courage, hard work and ingenuity they played a major part in settling the land, developing our resources, building cities and forging transportation links over vast distances. Our history also records that many of these immigrants experienced hardships, discrimination and hostility which memories continue to hurt those affected.

Between 1928 and 1991, Pier 21 was the point of arrival in this country for over one million immigrants, refugees and displaced persons. A testimony to the history of immigration in Canada and the embodiment of the multicultural nature of our country, Pier 21 was declared an historic site in 1997. I urge everyone to pay it a visit.