House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Merchant Navy Veterans Day
Routine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Merchant Navy Veterans Day
Routine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Merchant Navy Veterans Day
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I declare the motion carried.

Merchant Navy Veterans Day
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am seeking clarification. It may never have happened before, and in the six years I have been in this House, I have certainly never seen a vote take a mere two minutes. Usually, the bells ring to call in the members and members are given time to proceed to the chamber to vote.

I will not take up more time with this point of order, but I would appreciate some clarification on that.

Merchant Navy Veterans Day
Routine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I would like to have the attention of the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst. This is not the first time we proceed in this fashion. As the hon. member may recall, on many Wednesdays recorded divisions have taken place immediately after oral question period, without the bells having rung.

Also, you will have noticed that in this particular case, the chief government whip and the opposition whip agreed to proceed immediately with the taking of the vote. There is therefore no precedent. That is what I had to explain to you.

National Acadian Day Act
Private Members' Business

June 12th, 2003 / 10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

moved that Bill S-5, an act respecting a National Acadian Day, be read a second time and referred to committee.

Mr. Speaker, today is a great day, because we will finally officially recognize August 15 as Acadian Day. This bill originates from the other place, and I am privileged to be able to move it on behalf of my Acadian francophone colleagues here in the House. They were not able to introduce the bill, because they are parliamentary secretaries or ministers. They are good colleagues. They could not accept the invitation from the other place to introduce this bill, so I was asked to do it, and I am proud to be able to do so.

I know that one must be careful in identifying individuals in this House and in the other place, but I believe I should indicate that there were are least two senators who worked particularly hard in this matter. The initiative began with a colleague from the same party in the other house, Ms. Losier-Cool. I would be remiss in not mentioning her initial motion that led to a senator from an opposition party, Senator Comeau, introducing this bill. I will not go any farther with my recognition of them, but I did not want to miss this opportunity to commend their work as the intiators of this bill, which will officially recognize August 15 each year as National Acadian Day.

This date was chosen during the first Acadian National Convention, which took place in Memramcook, the birthplace of one of our Governors General, the Right Hon. Roméo Leblanc. It is also the birthplace of the parents of one of my assistants and I know she will find this reference a little ironic. I wanted to mention it because, since becoming a member of this House, I have discovered an absolutely incredible affinity for the Acadians as a people.

They are an exemplary people. They survived the deportation, which, as we know, began in 1755 and continued for some years. This is a people who have been put to absolutely incredible tests, who reacted with determination, came back to their homeland, and now are a shining example of abilities, energy, imagination and creativity for all francophones in Canada.

This creative energy is found in Acadia in the spheres of the arts, business and politics. There is also a fierce determination to take one's place and put down strong roots in the land. In this people, we see pride that they exist and that they are flourishing. I would like to be able to take this pride and spread it through the rest of the country. The star on Acadia's flag shines brightly and shows us the way ahead.

When I was asked to introduce this bill, I felt very proud, and I accepted at once. I thank my hon. colleagues in the other place for their initiative, and my hon. colleagues in this House, for giving their consent so that next year, we will celebrate not only the first anniversary of National Acadian Day, but also the 400th anniversary of the presence of francophones in the Americas.

National Acadian Day Act
Private Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of work to do today, especially with respect to the business of supply and the gas tax.

On behalf of the Canadian Alliance, I would like to say that we support this bill designating August 15 as National Acadian Day.

Furthermore, we wish everyone good luck next year, if it goes through. The House can count on the support of the Canadian Alliance on this bill.

National Acadian Day Act
Private Members' Business

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure and honour to inform the House of the Bloc Quebecois' enthusiastic support for this bill to officially recognize National Acadian Day.

First, I think Senator Losier-Cool deserves to be commended and congratulated for this initiative of hers. She started by moving a motion to this effect, which was then modified to become the bill before us thanks to Senator Comeau. I would like to pay tribute to them for giving us the opportunity to vote in the House to officially recognize August 15 as National Acadian Day.

I would also like to point out that the bill sings the praises of the Acadian people, not only here in Canada but, by extension, beyond our borders. Indeed, as the member for Ottawa—Vanier said a few moments ago, we must recognize the determination of the Acadian people. They managed not only to survive, but to flourish and establish themselves beyond the borders of Acadia, despite the numerous vicissitudes they encountered.

However, I have a number of reservations which I feel I must raise at this time. We must not forget that this proposal really serves as a sort of consolation prize, to sweeten the bitter pill that Acadians had to swallow when the majority of members of this same government defeated a motion calling on the British Crown to recognize the historic facts surrounding the deportation. It is funny that people talk about the deportation all of the time here in the House and outside the House, but no one wants to recognize it officially.

This bill also demonstrates that the future, as the old saying goes, lasts a long time. Acadians did not wait for the federal government's approval to institute a national day. They did so on their own in 1881, and some 125 years later this reality is finally being recognized. This gives me hope that with time and wisdom, the facts surrounding the deportation of Acadians will finally be recognized.

I also want to point out that what clause 2 does is play down the national character of the Acadian people since the term national in National Acadian Day has been assigned the meaning of pan-Canadian. I have no objection to Acadian Day being celebrated throughout Canada. It would be very honourable, but I would have called it National Acadian Day in Canada. Assigning the meaning of pan-Canadian to the word national plays down the national character of the Acadian people.

It is as though the government were afraid to recognize that in this country there are several nations: there is an Acadian nation, a Quebec nation and aboriginal nations. When will the government realize that there are several nations in this country? It is not just a multicultural country, but a multinational country.

I will conclude with an observation, but I am not offering to champion the particular cause. The last time I championed an Acadian cause I was criticized and the Acadians lost out simply because the messenger was not Liberal to the core.

I would like the government members to know that last weekend, at the general meeting of the Société nationale de l'Acadie, a resolution was passed to declare 2004—the quadcentennial of Acadia—the Year of Acadia.

I suggest that my colleagues across the way put forward a motion to that effect. I can tell them from the outset that we will not be partisan and we will vote in favour of it.

National Acadian Day Act
Private Members' Business

11 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. First, as my hon. colleagues have done, I want to mention the contribution of the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier to the House. He is known for passionately defending both official languages and also for supporting his fellow Acadians from different regions who are with him this morning. I also want to acknowledge the work being done in the other place. My hon. colleague from the Bloc named them. I would like to mention again Senator Gérald Comeau, who is a Progressive Conservative. For years, he has been fighting for recognition of the rights of Acadians in Nova Scotia and a greater sense of belonging and enhanced visibility for that community.

As my hon. colleague from the Bloc Quebecois said, this could be a consolation prize. I do not know. Instead, I want to say that it could be a first step in recognizing the Acadian people. Naturally, its good points must be acknowledged, but also the bad things it suffered in the past. Today, we must recognize August 15 as National Acadian Day. Games can be played with the word “national”, but at the very least, this is an important step. Other steps will follow.

I hope that this House will do its utmost to recognize not only the good points, but also the past suffering of the Acadians. I think this is an important part of the process.

I want to thank, too, all the parties in the House for their collaboration in ensuring the rapid adoption of this bill. Our work will be finished shortly. Very soon, I hope, we will be returning to our ridings, but it is important that, starting this year, the House send Acadians throughout the country a signal that the House does note their presence and their contributions. I am sure that, in the fall, it will also note the suffering that led to the Acadians' great sense of pride.

The Acadian flag bears a guiding star. But it is also a sign of remembrance. It is important to never forget our origins, the good times and the bad.

The Progressive Conservative Party is very pleased to collaborate, as are all my hon. colleagues, in recognizing August 15, 2003, as the first National Acadian Day.

National Acadian Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Ottawa—Vanier for proposing Senator Comeau's motion relating to Bill S-5. My congratulations to him for bringing it to this House, and also to the hon. member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes for introducing two measures relating to the Acadians in the House. He has never had Liberal support on this. The first measure was to ask the Queen to apologize on behalf of the Crown, and the second for Parliament to acknowledge the wrong done to the Acadians. Both of these were turned down.

I now see those responsible for this refusal rallying around the member for Ottawa—Vanier in order to share the glory of supporting this national day. That is all very fine if it helps the cause, but it is regrettable that the other motions did not get through. What is involved is more than just a special day; there is also the matter of recognition.

According to the bill,

Acadians, in view of their origin, history and development, constitute the first permanent settlement from France in Canada—

I think that the recognition must be more than just a national day. We can only hope that further recognition will be forthcoming later on.

I think that people all over Canada who have had an opportunity to come to know the Acadians, to live with them, to rub shoulders with them, to laugh with them, to work with them, have seen that Acadians are good people.

They are not known only as growers of potatoes or lumberjacks. It goes further than that, in my opinion. We are a people that need recognition as such, to be celebrated and accepted. This is the message I would like to get across, that there must be celebration, acceptance, not just exploitation.

I am proud of this motion by the hon. member for Ottawa—Vanier. The NDP will be supporting it 100%., while hoping this will not be the end of it. What is needed goes beyond mere words, beyond saying that we can forget the rest, once we have given them that. I feel that Parliament should, at some point, acknowledge the wrongs done to the Acadians. Then we can really turn a new page of history.

National Acadian Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Pursuant to order made Wednesday June 11, 2003, Bill S-5 is deemed read the second time, deemed referred to a committee of the whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage, and deemed read a third time and passed.

(Motion deemed agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee of the whole, reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed)

Supply
Government Orders

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, Canada's infrastructure needs should be met by a regime of stable funding; and that accordingly, this House call on the government to reduce federal gasoline taxes conditional on an agreement with provinces that, with the creation of this tax room, provinces would introduce a special tax to fund infrastructure in provincial and municipal jurisdictions.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to the Canadian Alliance supply day motion which would bring fiscal responsibility and accountability back with regard to gas taxes.

I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys, a colleague of mine from British Columbia.

The province of British Columbia is struggling with a lot of choices with regard to infrastructure because of the 2010 Olympic bid. It also is under increasing economic pressure because of the softwood lumber dispute. It is struggling with choices with regard to infrastructure and an ongoing dispute has emerged. The member for Kamloops, Thompson and Highland Valleys will do, as she has always done since first being elected in November 2000, and that is address many of the concerns her constituents have with regard to the B.C. government's choice to solicit bids for a 55 year lease on the Coquihalla highway. It is an ongoing concern for her constituents.

I applaud the member for her efforts to be here to speak on behalf of her constituents, address what is in fact a complicated issue and to do what is in the best interests of her constituents as she weighs those concerns.

The reason for this motion is, frankly, to do four things. First and foremost is to stop the ongoing gas tax ripoff of Canadian consumers.

The second reason is to draw accountability to the mechanism by which gas taxes are collected and spent in this country.

The third reason, and the third thing we wish to accomplish, is to establish some degree of fiscal responsibility.

The fourth reason is to end the Liberal hypocrisy on this issue. Outside this House the Liberal leadership frontrunner, the member for LaSalle—Émard, has said that if he were in power he would go down the road toward something like what this motion would do. However when he was the finance minister he had that power.

One of the things we often forget about in this place is that when a political party, such as the Liberal Party of Canada, by virtue of our first past the post system and by virtue of, quite frankly, an archaic system that is not representative of a 21st century democracy or of a G-8 nation of educated people, holds majority power in this country, has 100% of the legislative power in the House, in the Senate, in the executive and in all the crown corporations, it can do anything it wants.

When the member for LaSalle—Émard was finance minister he could have done anything he wanted in any one of the nine budgets that he presented to this House. With regard to gas taxes, he could have done what he is now talking about doing outside of the House, when he was finance minister. However when he was finance minister he did not have the courage of his convictions to do what was right.

Now, however, in a crass appeal for votes, he is talking about the kind of fiscal accountability with regard to gas taxes that he did not have the courage to demonstrate when he was finance minister. He simply cannot be trusted. I think the Canadian taxpayers know full well that the member for LaSalle—Émard should not be trusted and that will come forward in the fullness of time.

Canadians paid $4.7 billion in federal gas taxes in the year 2001-02 and $2.25 billion in GST on gasoline in 2001-02, which is a tax on a tax. In total, Canadians paid $6.95 billion in gas taxes in the year 2001-02. What does that mean for the average Canadian? Sometimes we talk about macro numbers, but for average Canadians who pay federal gas taxes plus the GST on top of those gas taxes, it cost them $220.66 last year.

Gas taxes vary between 35% and 45% of the cost of a litre of gasoline at the pump. In other words, speaking for myself and the member from Kamloops, both being British Columbians, on every second full tank of gasoline is 100% taxation. The question that must be asked is: What do Canadians get for those gas tax dollars?

Well, we do not get very much. Of the $4.7 billion in gas taxes that were collected in 2001-02, before the GST was collected, the federal Liberal government returned only 2.5% of that amount back into roads, or $118 million back in provincial transfers for road and highway development. Of that 2.5% that was spent back on roads, 99% was spent east of the province of Ontario. There is a dramatic inequity in the mechanism, both in terms of how it is collected and how it is spent in Canada. I raise that point--

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I apologize to the hon. member.

There has been further consultation among all parties in the House and I now believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, in relation to its examination in view of strengthening economic relations between Canada and Asia-Pacific, a group comprised of four (4) members of the Subcommittee on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bejing for two (2) weeks in September 2003 and that the necessary staff do accompany the Committee.

Just by way of explanation, this is something that was to have taken place right about now and, for health reasons and so on, members have asked the House for permission to delay their trip until September.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bellemare)

The House has heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)