House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak on Bill C-24, which I could perhaps describe as plagiarizing the provincial legislation in effect in Quebec. I will not, however, since the bill before me today is not a carbon copy of the Quebec electoral law, which has been in effect for 26 years.

All week, I have been pleasantly surprised to hear my colleagues opposite speak highly of the late René Lévesque. To hear people across the way speak of René Lévesque like that warms the heart of a sovereignist, very much so.

Twenty six years ago, René Lévesque had a vision of the democratic political process. He had a vision of how to ensure that political parties are not bought, through contributions. Lévesque had a vision indeed.

The problem I have with this bill we are debating concerns the amount an individual may contribute, namely $10,000. That is a huge amount. I believe it is still a substantial enough amount to enable lobbyists to influence certain decisions.

I will give an example. Take the Minister of National Defence, a former vice-president of the Royal Bank in Toronto. He can very easily call up 20 of his friends and ask them to each write him a cheque for $10,000. Twenty times $10,000 is $200,000 that the Royal Bank would have contributed through the back door, or the side door.

Similarly, the Prime Minister of Canada can very easily pick up the phone and call Paul Desmarais at Power Corporation, asking him for $10,000. His friend Paul and his gang would come up with the $10,000.

The hon. member for LaSalle--Émard can very easily call up his buddies in shipping companies and say he needs $10,000. These are buddies from the shipping industry. Once again, only people in a certain category will be able to afford this kind of contribution. This $10,000 will allow them to continue influencing government decisions.

This is unacceptable. We are proposing that the limit be $3,000, the same as in the Quebec electoral law.

The other problem is also a serious one.

I would like to, if I may, come back on the issue of individual contributions. We in the Bloc Quebecois do not support corporate contributions. However, this is the 21st century, and contributions of $1,000, $2,000 or $3,000 as proposed in the bill could be considered acceptable. However, we recommend instead that there be no corporate donations at all.

The other problem I see, and that I am compelled to talk about, is the famous issue of the appointment of returning officers in each riding. The current practice will be continued, namely that the governor in council will appoint all returning officers. Currently, with the Liberal Party in power, it will appoint its Liberal cronies, former MPs, former corporate directors.

As a result, when I have to discuss anything with my riding's returning officer, or if I have a complaint to file, I am dealing with a political opponent.

As is the case in baseball, I am starting out with two strikes against me. The system should be as it is in Quebec. Allow me to explain how things are done in Quebec.

The appointments of returning officers are done in several stages. First, the position is advertised in newspapers. Anyone who reads newspapers in Quebec can learn about the position. Candidates for the job undergo a written and oral exam. Afterward, a selection committee makes a decision. There are no representatives of political parties on the selection committee. As a result, returning officers in Quebec are apolitical. They do not talk about politics, just about how to apply the Act Respecting Electoral Lists during the election. That is what they do.

The Bloc Quebecois supports the bill before us in principle. However, the Bloc Quebecois would like to see the changes I have just mentioned.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, Canada's agricultural sector is a robust industry that contributes to the economy and quality of life of all Canadians. As the third largest employer, agriculture and agri-food accounts for 8.3% of Canada's gross domestic product. While farming is one of our oldest industries, it has also become one of the most innovative industries in the country.

Budget 2003 builds upon the $5.2 billion agricultural policy framework with the following initiatives. There is $220 million for the crop reinsurance fund; $100 million for food safety; $113 million for Canada's four veterinary colleges, one of which is located in my riding of Hillsborough; $20 million for venture capital and innovation through the Farm Credit Corporation; and $30 million for the Canadian Grain Commission.

Canada's farmers are a high priority for the Liberal government. Budget 2003 maintains and acts upon this commitment.

Member for LaSalle--Émard
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the shine on the former finance minister is starting to fade as Canadian families begin to wake up to his tax and spend shell games. Let us take a closer look at some of the former minister's compulsive tax and spend tricks.

The member for LaSalle—Émard's EI fund was meant to pay for employment insurance, yet there is said to be a $45 billion EI surplus. Where has the money gone? Well, ask the former minister.

The member for LaSalle—Émard promised to scrap the GST, yet Canadian families are still paying it. Why? Well, ask the heir apparent.

The member for LaSalle—Émard's excise tax on fuel was meant to pay off the deficit. The deficit is gone, yet this tax remains. Why? Well, ask the want to be prime minister.

By contrast, the Alliance would immediately eliminate taxes originally brought in to reduce the deficit and it would make taxation more transparent, fair and honest.

Roméo LeBlanc
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Georges Farrah Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, the official portrait of the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc was unveiled.

Mr. LeBlanc was the 25th Governor General of Canada and the first holder of this office to come from the Atlantic provinces.

The causes he holds dear influenced his actions as Governor General. These causes are volunteerism, the history of Canada, aboriginals, and peace-keeping by the Canadian Armed Forces.

During his mandate, he created the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award and the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

Painter Christian Nicholson did a wonderful job in paying tribute to one of the greatest Governor Generals that Canada has ever known, the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate our government on its recent commitment to renewable energy and alternative fuels.

Part of the $3 billion that the budget will provide for the environment will be used to support wind power, fuel cells and ethanol. The bio-diesel industry will also benefit from the removal of the excise tax.

Alternative energy technologies hold the promise of clean renewable energy with little or no environmental damage. These sources of energy will reduce Canada's dependence on fossil fuels.

In fact, the president of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association praised this part of the budget saying “It is a very positive step for the ethanol industry. It means new jobs, economic growth, rural opportunities and cleaner air for us all”.

We will be able to breathe the breath of fresher air as a result of the government's action on renewable energy.

Street Racing
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Peschisolido Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, next Thursday, February 27 there will be a forum in my riding of Richmond to increase public knowledge and awareness to the hazards of road racing.

In the last two years alone street racing has claimed the lives of five people in Richmond. It is a crime that continues nightly on area streets and has escalated into a major concern for area citizens and police alike.

I am proud to say that Richmond residents are united in their efforts to stop this dangerous activity. We have held discussion groups, awareness campaigns and public education activities to inform residents of the dangers associated with high speed road racing. In addition Richmond RCMP has introduced measures on area streets to target and deter young drivers from this violent activity.

I invite all concerned citizens to this forum to discuss means to curb this violent and reckless practice.

DNA Database
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, August 2, 2003 will mark 10 years since 14 year old Lindsey Nicholls went missing without a trace while hitchhiking to Courtenay to visit friends.

DNA is a critical tool in solving cases like Lindsey's. Despite this, the government has not created a missing persons DNA database.

There are over 6,000 unidentified DNA samples taken from crime scenes and 125 unidentified bodies in British Columbia morgues alone. Right now there is no way to link these samples to missing persons.

It is said that the average murder investigation costs $750,000. Collecting a DNA sample would cost $100.

I am currently drafting legislation to address these key gaps. In the coming weeks I will be asking each member for his or her support.

This is not about privacy for criminals. This is not about money. This is about justice, justice for Lindsey Nicholls, her family and every other missing person in this country.

Iraq
Statements By Members

February 20th, 2003 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, I am speaking on behalf of the 6,200 residents of the Beauharnois—Salaberry riding who have presented me with a petition stating their refusal to accept war as a solution to the crisis in Iraq.

I will deliver to the Prime Minister the signatures of these men, women and children who are stating their clear opposition to a war in Iraq.

I am still convinced that this is still the only way to avoid the worst: the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives; the starvation of a population ruled by a tyrant and dictator; and, finally, other ills that may befall a people that has suffered far too long.

Gasoline Prices
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, since yesterday, the Coalition to protect Fuel Consumers in my region has been calling on everyone to boycott all the gas stations on Talbot Boulevard, between Royaume Boulevard and Jacques-Cartier Street, except for the Shell station on the corner of Saint-Thomas Street in Saguenay.

The reason is simple. These gas stations are corporate owned, in other words, they belong to the oil companies. But there is more. By asking the public not to buy gas from corporate owned stations, fuel consumers will send a clear message that they are fed up with the games that the oil companies are playing at their expense when they artificially increase gas prices. No one is fooled when all the oil companies increase their prices at the same time. There is the appearance of collusion and consumers are the victims of this blatant lack of competition.

I encourage other cities to do likewise.

Badger Flood
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

R. John Efford Bonavista—Trinity—Conception, NL

Mr. Speaker, the flooding over the weekend of the town of Badger, Newfoundland and Labrador has left many residents homeless but not hopeless.

After having to flee so suddenly, many families were left with only what they were wearing and millions of dollars worth of damage. However they are discovering a flood of another kind now, the flood of kindness.

Donations of food, clothing and cash have been pouring in for the more than 1,000 residents who have been displaced. Clothing has been given by the Wal-Mart chain. The Canadian Tire Foundation for Families has made donations for families. McDonald's has donated bottled water. Several local companies have donated beds, TVs and furniture.

It is kindness and generosity like this that will make all the difference to the residents of this troubled town. The people of Badger are now asking the Minister of National Defence, who is responsible for emergency measures, to visit the town of Badger and give them some level of comfort as to what the government's response will be.

Badger Flood
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, a disaster has befallen the town of Badger in Newfoundland and Labrador this week. Waist deep flood waters drove 1,100 residents from their very homes. Houses and vehicles, half submerged, were abandoned to the ravages of nature. With a sinister twist, nature's torment of the town of Badger continues as a winter deep freeze has it locked in an iron grip of ice, unyielding but for the hope of an early spring thaw.

The surreal appearance of the deserted, abandoned town of Badger today belies an even more destructive hidden force soon to be released by warm weather.

All citizens should open their hearts to demonstrate support for our fellow Canadians' plight in the spirit shown by the Hay West initiative last summer: Canadians helping Canadians.

A campaign is underway to help the residents of Badger. I call upon all parliamentarians and all citizens of Canada to get involved and show the community of Badger that we truly do care.

Mercury Emissions
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, a just published United Nations report entitled, “Elemental Mercury and Inorganic Mercury Compounds: Human Health Aspects” warns that the world's environment is being contaminated by alarming amounts of mercury.

Once emitted into the atmosphere, mercury travels thousands of kilometres to other continents by way of air currents and is then deposited through rain and snowfalls into the aquatic system and the food chain. The report claims mercury causes brain damage, particularly among infants. Also, mercury poses a major threat to the world's fishing industry.

The biggest source of mercury emissions is from coal-burning power plants and waste incinerators. Here in Canada, the Lakeview, Nanticoke and other coal-burning power plants should be converted to natural gas so as to reduce the quantity of mercury entering the environment and the food chain.

The Budget
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister prides himself that this is a people's budget. Let us be clear, the people who have been hurt the most by 10 years of Liberal damage are still hurting after the budget.

I was desperately hoping for good news on the housing front, but we are barely closer to the 1% solution for affordable housing that is needed to produce 20,000 to 30,000 units a year. What we will get is maybe 2,500.

If Canadians are waiting for affordable quality child care, wait on. Take a number and hope to get one of the only 3,000 spaces over two years, when 82% of kids do not have access to quality child care.

Then there is the child tax benefit. What did the federal Liberals say to poor families? “You are a priority. Well, not until 2007”.

With accumulated surpluses of $80 billion, one would think that eliminating poverty in this country would be an affordable priority. However, the Liberals have shown yet again that their priorities are with tax cuts and helping well off Canadians get more.

So much for the people's budget.

The Budget
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the former president of the Treasury Board, Marcel Massé, announced with great fanfare on March 8, 1996, and I quote, “When Bouchard has to make cuts, those of us in Ottawa will be able to demonstrate that we have the means to preserve the future of social programs”.

The surplus that the Liberals are so proud of was built on the backs of the unemployed, children, the sick, young people and the less fortunate in our society.

When the complacent Liberal members applaud this heartless budget, penned by the Prime Minister himself, they are congratulating him for wanting to prevent the National Assembly of Quebec from implementing a parental leave program that young families in Quebec have been asking for.

Why are the Liberal members from Quebec not demanding that the government do something about the fiscal imbalance, which is a daily threat to Quebec's ability to meet the glaring needs of its people?

Health
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to announce a very successful conclusion to a meeting at the Prime Minister's residence this morning, in which a basic understanding of northern health care needs was agreed to.

I would like to commend the Prime Minister, the three northern premiers and the members of Parliament from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories for developing this special arrangement to deal with the unique health care requirements of the north.

I also want to recognize all the officials in the federal and territorial governments who always work so hard anonymously behind the scenes to make these successes possible.

Finally, I would like to thank all northerners and all those people here in southern Canada who lent their support and understanding for the health care needs of the northern territories.