House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

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Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member on her election. She complains of rhetoric. I, for one, cannot promise that she will not hear more rhetoric in this House.

The member talked about the fact that we live in 2004, and I guess it disturbs me a bit. I agree with her 100%, we are living in 2004. However we have to be cognizant of the mistakes that were made in the past. We have to be cognizant of the mistakes that the people who sat in this House made in the past. I have seen first-hand the problems that were caused, not so much for the people in the House but for Canadians, when we had a central government that allowed debt to get out of control, that allowed inflation to get out of control, that allowed interest rates to reach 24% and that allowed unemployment to reach 11.5%. I have seen the results of that first-hand, and it was more than our agricultural community that suffered in that regard.

In answer to the member's question, I want to repeat and associate some of the comments made by the previous speaker, that this government has shown, certainly over the last number of years, a very strong commitment to agriculture. It has worked very closely with the farmers and the farming organizations. There is the recent agricultural policy framework of $5.5 billion. In dealing with BSE, I think there has been $1.6 billion in incremental funding. It is the goal and objective of this government to continue to build a very strong agricultural community and industry right across the country from coast to coast.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to address the House today in response to the speech throne.

First, I would like to tell you I will be sharing my time with my new colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska.

I have examined among other things the section of the speech dealing with the environment, on pages 13 and 14. It is the only part of the speech I will comment on. The least I can say, after examining this section, is that the government lacks imagination. And not only that. It has also gone back to its old and what it considers legitimate ways of meddling slowly but relentlessly in provincial jurisdictions.

Here is an example I found on page 12:

The Government will work to get its own house in order. It will consolidate federal environmental assessments and will work with the provinces and territories toward aunified and more effective assessment process for Canada.

I would like to remind you that, in the past in Quebec, even under the Robert Bourassa government, this sort of approach was strictly forbidden, so that Ottawa would be prevented from invading provincial jurisdictions, more particularly as concerns environmental assessments.

I recall, among others, letters by Pierre Paradis, then Minister for the Environment. As early as 1990 he had written a number of letters to his colleague René de Cotret reminding him that the environmental assessment process Ottawa wanted to put in place was totally unacceptable.

Later, the Supreme Court ruled that environmental assessment came in part under federal jurisdiction. But in the following months, a report was released and a Supreme Court ruling handed down, namely in the Oldman case, reaffirming the jurisdiction of the federal government in the matter. The Quebec National Assembly unanimously denounced this attempt by the federal government to put in place a parallel environmental assessment process.

In March 1992, under the government of Robert Bourassa the National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution that said:

That the National Assembly strongly disapproves of the federal government bill--an Act to establish a federal environmental assessment process--because it is contrary to the higher interest of Quebec, and opposes its passage by the federal government.

On March 18, 1992, the National Assembly, with the support of every party, opposed this first attempt by the federal government to encroach on an area of shared jurisdiction. The Court is not a uniquely federal institution; it too is shared.

We would have hoped not to go back to square one with this proposal by the federal government to put in place one assessment process. I recall that the Quebec government of the day, as well as the ensuing ones, including those of the Parti Quebecois, hesitated a long time before signing an environmental assessment harmonization agreement with Ottawa. The hesitation was precisely because we feared then that Ottawa might use it as an excuse to put in place not a parallel process, but one for the whole country.

In May 2004, the Charest government decided to sign the harmonization agreement. Today, only a few months later, we are told that there will be only one environmental assessment process. How can we accept Ottawa's will to have only one process when ours is working quite well? In Quebec, the BAPE is responsible for environmental assessments. It is a transparent and consultative process recognized by all in Canada. It is the envy of some provinces.

But now, we are told that a unified assessment system will be introduced, which will be controlled by Ottawa. That is why environmental groups, which are not used to endless constitutional disputes, reacted the same day the throne speech was read, saying, “Environmentalists foresee constitutional dispute”.

Why? Because, like them, we believe, as we did in the past in debating bills like Bill C-19, that such interference was unacceptable and distorted the transparency efforts made by the federal government at the time.

I hope that the government, which is looking for asymmetry, will respect the harmonization accord signed in May 2004 and revert to a process allowing Quebec to have its own rules. I can assure the government today that, as this throne speech suggests, it dares go ahead and introduce a bill to officially establish a unified assessment process for all of Canada , we on this side of House will never support such an initiative, because it is contrary to Quebec's proven approach.

A second point raised in the throne speech concerns the Kyoto protocol. The government appears to be reverting to the good old approach of consulting with the people. The Speech from the Throne states that the government plans to implement the Kyoto principles “in a way that produces long-term and enduring results”.

I do not understand. Why mention the obligation of producing enduring results when the the time by which Canada has to have reduced its greenhouse gases is clearly indicated in the Kyoto protocol?

There is no mention of a long-term strategy in the Kyoto protocol. Canada must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 6% between 2008 and 2012. Why was the government not able to incorporate its time constraints into the throne speech, stating instead some vague intentions for the long term?

It is clear that what this government has tried to do is to yield to the pressures of western Canada, whose greenhouse gas emissions increased by 30%, while Quebec managed to reduce its own emissions to 4% and Ontario had an 11% increase. The government was quick to give in to the representations made by western Canada, even though that region has a huge energy potential and has not really implemented a greenhouse gas reduction strategy, as Quebec did in the nineties. Had Canada developed a real strategy, we would be in a position to achieve the objectives of the Kyoto protocol.

There is another aspect of the constitutional plan regarding which the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs refused to answer my question yesterday. Considering that the provinces have a role to play in a cooperative process, how does the government explain the following statement on page 12 of the Speech from the Throne:

It will do so by refining and implementing an equitable national plan, in partnership with provincial and territorial governments and other stakeholders.

I remind the hon. member for Outremont, who has just arrived in this House, that, in the French version, they no longer refer to provinces, but to “administrations provinciales”. It is strange that, in the throne speech, there is no mention at all of an “administration fédérale”. Rather, they refer to the government, the federal government or Canada. However, they implicitly reduce the status of Quebec to that of a mere administration.

How can they do this? How can they present to us now, given this spirit of cooperation and the context of asymmetric federalism, a throne speech that reduces the provinces to mere administrations. This is totally unacceptable.

What is more, not only does this paragraph refer to provinces as mere “administrations”, but it makes no mention of a possible bilateral accord with Quebec for implementing the Kyoto protocol. There is not a single line on what is fundamental to us here in this House.

Indeed, in a sectoral strategy and approach, the federal government concludes agreements with the oil and petroleum industries, the basis of western Canada's economy. In a written agreement, they are told by the Prime Minister that they will be able to limit their reductions to 13%.

While the automobile sector is being told it will be exempt from the Kyoto protocol—the basis of Quebec's economy—nothing is being done for the manufacturing sector. No one is sitting down with Quebec to sign a bilateral accord. Quebec's environmental and economic interests are being compromised yet again. When you are the last one to negotiate, you are often forced to take whatever is left after the other provinces have had their say.

Their is no political will to sit down with Quebec to sign a bilateral accord, which we having been asking the federal government to do for three years now. Quebec's Minister of the Environment at the time, André Boisclair, had proposed this initiative to the federal government. The federal government is still having a hard time sitting down with the Government of Quebec. Rest assured, we will be vigilant in this matter—

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but his time has run out. He might have an opportunity to continue during the period set aside for questions and comments.

The hon. member for Peterborough.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:45 a.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague. I noticed that he mentioned the Kyoto accord. I know of his great interest in that accord. As he knows, Russia has now signed on to the Kyoto accord, which is important first because it means the Kyoto accord is now legal, or whatever the expression is around the world, and second, because the largest polar nation has now signed on to it, which is very special for us in Canada.

He also knows that Canada signed on to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in the spring of the year. That also affects the north and the Arctic Ocean because it affects the way we treat our offshore areas, as well as, by the way, our involvement with fish on the high seas and so on.

I heard he was not satisfied and he thinks that Kyoto should be strengthened in Canada. I agree with him, but I wonder what he thinks about the fact that the vast majority of the proceeds of the Petro-Canada sale are to go to environmental technologies. Second, I wonder what he thinks about the renewed emphasis on the north in the Speech from the Throne, which I think ties in with both Kyoto and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the proceeds of the sale of Petro-Canada shares will go into something, but what, exactly? I would have liked the hon. member to go into a bit more detail.

They will go into the fine foundation that goes by the name of the Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology. The hon. member ought to keep in mind, however, that the Auditor General was extremely critical because the members of this Parliament do not know what happens to the money. That is the problem with foundations.

If the government had wanted to achieve short-term objectives—that being the fundamental issue, since Canada's greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 20% since 1990—it would have taken the proceeds of this sale and put an environmental tax policy in place. This would have made it possible to achieve the objectives rapidly.

But no, they will take the money and put it into a nice foundation, where all sorts of research will be carried out, although solutions are right at hand. People wanting to buy a hybrid car are just waiting for the day this government gives a tax deduction or credit for its purchase. That is where the proceeds of the Petro-Canada sale could have gone.

We might have liked the wind power program to be expanded to bring it in line with the Americans' program. They have not ratified the Kyoto protocol, yet their program is more generous than the Canadian one.

So, although we are pleased with the sale, we would have liked to see the proceeds go directly into concrete measures that would enable us to achieve the Kyoto objectives rapidly.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member who has just spoken. He and I have come to know each other very well on the environment committee. I congratulate him on his re-election and I look forward to working with him in the future.

He and I will disagree on several things, of course, and first, on where Kyoto is going to go. He mentions that the EU has been pushing this. Obviously only three of those countries will achieve their targets. Russia has signed on, that is for sure, but Russia wants to get access to the WTO and to Europe, so it has been done for political reasons. It has nothing to do with the environment.

I wonder if the member does not agree that that technology and a whole new plan to really deal with climate change might be a much better way to go. Much of what he said in his answer to the last question says that he probably would agree.

That plan, of course, is centred around technology. He mentions wind energy, geothermal and biomass. All those things in fact will help us to achieve real targets and long term environmental solutions. Most important is the fact that it will allow the U.S., which is number one in CO

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production, China, which is number two, and India, which is number five, to sign on to this new program. Could the member elaborate on that, please?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member. What we need instead is a real policy that will enable us to meet the Kyoto goals.

There is international consensus. It is really a bit of a paradox; the United States has only just recognized that there is a link between human activity and global warming. Only a few weeks ago Mr. Bush's administration recognized this fact, while it is something we have known for at least 10 years. In my opinion, even if we make cosmetic changes, we are very far away from having the United States signing on to the Kyoto protocol.

There are times when we should follow the American example, in the wind energy sector, for instance, because, as I mentioned earlier, it is ahead of Canada's programs. When something important is going on elsewhere, it would be wise to learn some lessons from it.

I know that the hon. member is happy about it, but we cannot continue giving subsidies of $66 billion to the oil and gas industry, the economic base of western Canada, as we have since 1970. We must not forget that a large fund was created for this purpose, but that only $329 million has been invested in renewable energy. I am deeply convinced that we need to reverse this investment and put our money where it is needed to build a sustainable society. We must not continue to finance polluters. Not only is that contrary to the spirit of the Kyoto protocol, but it also risks preventing Canada from reaching its objective for the 2008-2012 period and the period following it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

I know it is a little early to call it 11 o'clock, but I do not want the hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska to begin his remarks and be interrupted a few minutes later at 11.

Therefore, we will now proceed to statements by members.

Children of Beslan
Statements by Members

October 8th, 2004 / 10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, on September 28 I was pleased to join with teachers and students from St. Clare's Catholic School in my riding of Davenport to work together on a program to collect teddy bears for shipment to children in Beslan, Russia.

The tragedy that took place in Beslan filled all of us with shock and grief. I was pleased to be a part of this program to bring teddy bears to children who have gone through so much in the past few weeks.

The children of St. Clare's school worked with their teachers to collect teddy bears for children in the Russian town of Beslan following the events that took place several weeks ago. The children of St. Clare's, while not fully understanding the nature of events in Beslan, appreciated that their fellow students had experienced a terrible tragedy. They wanted to send these teddy bears as an expression of support to their fellow children in Russia.

The teddy bears were given to a Toronto based agency serving the Russian community to be transported to Russia and then distributed to children in Beslan. The children of St. Clare's--

Children of Beslan
Statements by Members

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry. The hon. member's time has expired. The hon. member for Palliser.

Agriculture
Statements by Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with a tremendous sense of responsibility and hope for the constituents in my riding of Palliser.

First of all, I wish to thank the citizens of Palliser for the great honour they have bestowed upon me in voting for me to represent them in this House.

The BSE crisis impacts my constituency of Palliser as much as it does any area in this great country. The beef industry is a huge economic driver in my riding, and not just in the rural areas. The spinoff is definitely felt in Moose Jaw and Regina.

Producers have faced incredible stress since the border closed in 2003. This government has promised relief to those in the beef industry, but promises alone cannot sustain families in Moose Jaw, Mossbank, Caron, Avonlea, and communities throughout my riding of Palliser.

Today I call on the Liberal government to immediately deliver the cash it has promised to these families. The people of Palliser continue to have hope. They deserve a government that will act quickly to restore their confidence.

Mental Illness
Statements by Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, an unfortunate accident 14 years ago forced North Bay resident Dave Gallson, now the program director for the National Network for Mental Health, to face new realities, work through mental health issues and change his profession.

He created the BUILT Network: Building Up Individuals Through Learning and Teamwork. BUILT is a seven week program designed to assist people with mental health issues to overcome their employment barriers by enhancing their customer service skills.

BUILT Network is an innovative flagship program created and piloted in North Bay, Ontario. It is a project of the National Network for Mental Health and funded by Social Development Canada.

As we celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Week in Canada, I would like to recognize Dave Gallson and his colleagues for developing a project that has such a positive impact on people's lives. Their hard work and dedication demonstrates once again that the people in northern Ontario have the ideas, skills and expertise that can be translated into meaningful community development activities across the country.

Labour Relations
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, as it has for six years now, National PEP Your Workplace Week, a creation of the Institute for Business Technology, will take place in early October.

The Government of Canada is one of the institute's major clients and consequently invests a considerable amount of money in training its employees to enable them to improve their personal efficiency and productivity, or PEP, in the workplace.

This same government could save a good deal of money, taxpayers' money, merely by showing some respect for its employees who are members of the Public Service Alliance. How so? By negotiating fair and reasonable conditions based on conciliation board reports from the various negotiating tables.

Negotiation is the best way to settle labour disputes and to better serve taxpayers. The result would be 130,000 employees who are motivated and “peppy” employees instead of depressed and on strike.

Paralympic Games
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I pay tribute to Kirby Cote, a swimmer from Winnipeg, on her impressive achievements at the recent Paralympic Games in Athens.

Ms. Cote is a 20 year old legally blind swimmer who trains in my riding of Winnipeg South Centre. Her determination and her commitment to her training and her sport are indeed an inspiration to us all.

Ms. Cote won a medal in every event she entered at the Athens Paralympics. She completed the games with five gold medals and two silver medals, a remarkable achievement indeed.

It was exciting to watch a young athlete from Winnipeg win the first gold medal of the games for Canada. Kirby started off the games with a gold medal performance in the 100 metre butterfly and she did so by clocking her personal best time and a Canadian record.

On behalf of all Manitobans and all Canadians, I would like to extend our congratulations to this outstanding athlete.

General Amherst High School
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the people for electing me as the first Conservative MP to serve the riding of Essex in 46 years.

As I rise today in my first official role in this chamber, I wish to commend the students of General Amherst High School for their outstanding contribution to the Canadian Cancer Society's walkathon held in their hometown of Amherstburg last week.

Seven hundred and fifty of 770 students participated in the walkathon. They raised over $72,000 in only five days of canvassing.

Truly noteworthy, however, is the spirit of service exemplified by these students.

As we embark on this new session of Parliament with all its uncertainties, my hope is that this stellar example of service by these leaders of tomorrow will inspire us, the leaders of today, to remember our call as MPs to humbly serve our constituents.