House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was program.

Topics

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, coming from Saskatchewan, where we have scored the coldest place on earth, not just in Canada, I must admit that I have not heard very much about global warming, even when I phoned my wife this morning for the wind chill factor.

I also would like to let the hon. minister know regarding emission controls and emissions from lawnmowers and so on that I now have four pieces of property butting up against mine on which they do not cut the grass or the weeds.

That is just joking, but I want to ask the minister if he does not believe that Canadians are doing more on their own without any concrete proof, let us say, on the idea of emission controls and cleaning our air and so on. It is taking place not necessarily because of the government but rather because of the nature of world events, which are zeroing in on the same topics.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. Certainly as I mentioned briefly there is a big role for the individual Canadian and we expect Canadians to undertake the very types of activities that the hon. member I believe was alluding to. That said, the individual Canadian cannot deal with a central electricity plant that is coal fired, such as Nanticoke. Of course they can reduce the electrical load by reducing consumption, but they cannot deal with some of these fundamentals.

Further, the individual Canadian is faced with a tremendous, bewildering array of vehicles to choose from, but they themselves cannot insist on certain technologies being in each vehicle, because from an individual point of view it is prohibitively expensive.

I think the hon. member would agree with me that there is clearly a role for individual Canadians and we applaud the work they are doing, but there is also a role for regulations. There is also a role for industry, both voluntarily and indeed through cooperation with government, it is to be hoped, but if not, through regulations as well.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been reports that the minister agrees that with the plan he has authored we are short of meeting our Kyoto targets by 25%, the target being a reduction of 240 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, with us being on line to reach only a 180 megatonne reduction. How does the minister expect to be able to make that up and how quickly will the new programs that make up the extra 25%, if in fact that is an accurate reflection, be in place?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

That is a good question, Mr. Speaker. It is quite correct that the plan brought into the House in November 2002 had in fact 25%, some 60 megatonnes, which was a gap area we were working on. Part of this will be dealt with by other programs such as, for example, provincial programs. Part of it will depend on some choices made at federal-provincial-territorial meetings. Inevitably, until such agreements are inked in place and signatures are on the documents, there will be some uncertainty as to what can be done.

To answer the rest of the hon. member's question, yes, we are working to fill in that document of November 2002 to give more precision and to analyze more fully what can be done to achieve these goals. I would add that there is one thing that is very difficult to calculate and that is the work of private corporations and individuals, which my hon. friend who questioned me earlier spoke of. It is hard to say how successful we will be. I gave the example of Royal Dutch/Shell and BP. There is a host of companies that have done the same thing. Almost invariably they have made more money by reducing the input costs on the energy side. In other words, they have become more productive because of their efforts to reduce emissions. So quite often not only is there a benefit in terms of reduction of emissions, but there is a substantial benefit in terms of reducing the costs of their inputs and thus productivity for Canadian industry and indeed for other industries as well.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Her Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General Adrienne Clarkson delivered the first Speech from the Throne of our government under our new Prime Minister. Its wide-ranging agenda included: aid to cities; environmental programs; new measures for aboriginals, students, children, and people with disabilities; and several proposals incorporating recommendations from the former prime minister's task force on women entrepreneurs, whose report was released on October 29, 2003, and which I had the privilege of chairing. Task force members included: as vice-chair, the Hon. Senator Catherine Callbeck from Prince Edward Island; the Hon. Senator Ross Fitzpatrick from British Columbia; the member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre; and the member of Parliament for Portneuf.

Both personally and on behalf of over 1,000 women entrepreneurs who either appeared before the task force or made submissions to the task force, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for acknowledging the important role that women entrepreneurs play in our economy by including the reference to women entrepreneurs in the Speech from the Throne and in his reply to the Speech from the Throne today here in the House of Commons.

Moreover, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for implementing some of the task force recommendations in the Speech from the Throne. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to confirm how proud I am to be a member of this Liberal government and a member of the Prime Minister's team.

Just 15 months ago, the creation of the task force on women entrepreneurs was announced at the innovation and learning summit in Toronto. The task force members were invited to engage women entrepreneurs in a dialogue aimed at advancing their contribution to Canada's economy as part of the federal government's innovation agenda. The work of the task force was undertaken between November 2002 and June 2003. In fact, 38 public consultations were held in 21 cities in all the provinces and the Yukon. Task force members travelled to the United States and the United Kingdom to investigate international best practices. In addition, 21 federal government departments and agencies appeared before the task force and discussed the programs in place to support women entrepreneurs or entrepreneurship in general.

All major Canadian financial institutions and all other interested stakeholders, such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, were invited to appear before the task force and/or make submissions. Participation was sought at the provincial, regional and local levels. Individual women entrepreneurs as well as organizations were invited to make submissions to the task force by attending the consultations or making submissions to the task force in person, on line or in other written format.

The task force reached thousands of women entrepreneurs across Canada, including aboriginal, immigrant and rural women. The response to the task force was overwhelming. Just recently, Gordon Nixon, chairman and chief executive officer of the RBC Financial Group, noted and recognized both the important contribution made by women business owners as well as the challenges that they indeed face. They also realize that there is more to be done, and it is only through strong leadership and partnerships within both the public and the private sectors that long term change will be achieved.

The task force is being viewed as a best practice at the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. On January 20, I was invited to the World Bank in Washington to discuss the work of the task force. Let me share with members some of the things the task force learned.

According to Statistics Canada, small business is the fastest growing segment of the business sector in Canada. Women-owned businesses are the fastest growing part of that segment, with women creating twice as many businesses as men. However, across Canada the task force heard repeatedly that women entrepreneurs are still not taken seriously by government departments and agencies or financial institutions. Yet self-employment has grown faster in the past 25 years than paid employment, and in the 1980s, just over 20% of job growth came from self-employment and small business. In the 1990s, this sector accounted for nearly 45% of job growth. In fact, from 1990 to 1997, at a time of extensive public and private sector restructuring, it accounted for nearly 60% of all employment growth.

It is interesting to note that between 1981 and 2001 the number of women entrepreneurs in Canada increased by 208% compared with a 38% increase for men. In fact, according to data from the OECD, women in Canada make up a larger share of the self-employed than in any other country.

Recognizing the growing impact and importance of women entrepreneurs, the OECD has convened two conferences on women entrepreneurs and SMEs and will be convening another one this June.

Members may ask why these statistics and facts so important. Our government needs to look at the implications of the rising number of self-employed women in Canada and their economic contribution and status. Under the old economy, women made gains due to higher education levels, increased labour force participation, and public policy and legislation supporting women's work, such as pay equity, maternity leave, employment insurance and the Canada pension plan.

However, under the new economy there are growing numbers of women who are self-employed and therefore fall outside the scope of the public policy and legislation that have improved women's working lives. It is clear that Canadian women are creating a range of businesses that fall outside the traditional model of paid employment.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor studies entrepreneurship and public policy in over 37 countries. In its 2001 Global Report , it made six public policy recommendations. One of its strongest recommendations was to facilitate greater levels of female participation. The Monitor states:

There is perhaps no greater initiative a country can take to realize higher levels of entrepreneurial activity than to encourage more of its women to participate.

Yesterday, in the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister foresaw “a Canada that is a magnet for capital and entrepreneurs from around the world”. More importantly, he also foresaw “a Canada where the increasing number of women entrepreneurs have every opportunity to succeed and contribute a vital new dimension to our economy”.

As I said earlier, today, in his reply to the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister again reinforced his support for women entrepreneurs. In asking the question, “What kind of Canada do we want?”, he noted the following: a Canada which is at the leading edge of the world's technologies; a Canada where today's small businesses are tomorrow's global leaders; a Canada where there is no glass ceiling for women entrepreneurs.

Task force recommendations were also included in several other sections in the Speech from the Throne. Under “Caring for Our Children”, the government promised to accelerate initiatives under the existing multilateral framework for early childhood learning and child care, which means more quality child care more quickly.

This commitment is virtually identical to recommendation 4.04 of the task force's report. The task force put forward this recommendation as it truly affects not only the participation of women in the workforce but also the ability of women to consider self-employment as an option.

Under “A New Deal for Communities”, the government pledged to “work to widen the scope of programs currently available to small and medium-sized enterprises to include social enterprises”. I am sure that it will not come as any surprise to you, Mr. Speaker, that if we look at the number of women actually involved in social enterprises we will find that number even more overwhelming.

Under “Lifelong Learning”, the Prime Minister committed the government to “update labour market programming to better reflect the realities of work in the 21st century, such as the growth of self-employment and the need for continuous upgrading of skills”. In the “Science and Technology“ section of the Speech from the Throne the government notes the following:

Our small, innovative firms face two key obstacles--access to adequate early stage financing; and the capacity to conduct the research and development needed to commercialize their ideas and really grow their businesses.

The Government will help to overcome these obstacles--building, for example, on the venture financing capabilities of the Business Development Bank.

This recommendation closely follows recommendation 3.04 of the task force report.

To conclude, I am delighted to tell women entrepreneurs, and I am sure they are glad to have read, that not only has the task force listened, the government has listened. But most importantly, our new Prime Minister has listened to them and to the work of the task force.

I would invite women entrepreneurs across Canada to come forward to ensure that the rest of our recommendations are implemented, to do it together.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague on her speech. Also I want to commend her colleagues for their fine work on the Task Force on Women Entrepreneurs. This is a very fine piece of work. I was pleased that the Speech from the Throne echoed many of the recommendations of the task force.

Perhaps the member could comment on the fact that the Speech from the Throne suggests that it is going to be an extension of the multilateral framework for early learning and child care. That matter is very important for all small business people, for all entrepreneurs but particularly for women entrepreneurs.

The throne speech also mentioned the extension of the scope of programs currently available to small and medium size businesses to social enterprises. I think I understand what that means but I would be grateful if my colleague could explain that to us.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the multilateral framework regarding child care, this is part of our national children's agenda and also the importance that the national children's agenda places on early childhood development. Certainly in our last budget there were moneys specifically targeted for that multilateral framework.

As I said during my speech, it is important that we address this issue because the women who are self-employed are falling through the cracks when it comes to maternity leave, for example. That is why one of the recommendations of the task force was that this government as quickly as possible should consider extending maternity benefits to the self-employed.

We have also asked the government to look at other tax incentives such as the deductibility of child care as an expense for the purpose of producing income. We are looking at that altogether as a framework of what needs to be done to ensure that the children of all women, not just women who are in the workforce, but children of women who are working for themselves, are taken care of in the early childhood years.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I would ask the government House leader to be patient, since there are only two minutes left for questions and comments, following which he will have the floor.

The hon. member for Souris—Moose Mountain.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague opposite with a great deal of interest. If we are going to make this applicable, we have to take a look at Canadians whether they live north of the 60th parallel or on the 49th parallel.

In my area there are some huge ranches run by families. The partners in those businesses, sometimes the male and sometimes the female, but having said that, they too should be eligible for some type of care even if it is not possible geographically. If there is childcare, money or deductions for others who are geographically available, then there must be some levelling of the playing field for those women who are in business with their husbands in a large enterprise but who have been left out of the picture and always have been left out of the picture. That is grossly unfair and grossly wrong to many Canadians.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was one of the things that we actually looked at. I find myself agreeing with my colleague across the floor because it is unfair that the current EI system discriminates against family owned businesses, especially when the wife is a partner in that business. Although she perhaps pays into EI or she should be able to, she is not eligible to collect it just because of that. That was one of the issues our report identified.

The other issue my colleague opposite identified is the problems and challenges and barriers that rural women encounter are greater than the ones in the city. We need to work with those women to ensure that the programs are in place, either regionally or across Canada to ensure that those barriers are overcome.

Business of the House
Speech from the Throne

February 3rd, 2004 / 3:50 p.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions among the parties and I think you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That a take-note debate on bovine spongiform encephalopathy shall take place for four hours from the ordinary time of daily adjournment on February 4, 2004, provided that the provisions of Standing Order 53.1 shall apply mutatis mutandis to this debate.

Business of the House
Speech from the Throne

3:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Speech from the Throne

3:50 p.m.

Some members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Business of the House
Speech from the Throne

3:50 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, this throne speech, so carefully prepared for such a long time because the Prime Minister had ample opportunity, will not go down in history for its renewal or its vision or for its concrete initiatives, with the exception of one short sentence. Naturally, I am making a prediction, but I do not think I am wrong. This short sentence reads as follows:

Jurisdiction must be respected. But Canadians do not go about their daily livesworried about which jurisdiction does this or that.

This short sentence read slowly by the Governor General stated very clearly for the first time that the Liberal Government of Canada does not care at all about the Constitution. A constitution is the basic principles and rights that establish legal standards, particularly in a federation.

The federal Liberal government does not care, and yet, it claims to be a model of democracy and federalism, to the point of creating a “Canadians Corps” to spread the gospel about the “Canadian” federation. But this is good news for a country whose government has forgotten its history and cannot recall it without a certain unease.

This history, this Constitution, reminds us that Canada would never have existed if Lower Canada, called Quebec after the 1837-1838 insurrection, had not been crushed and forced to unite with Upper Canada. If the “French-Canadians”, in Lower Canada, with the English-Canadians who fought by their side in the insurrection, had not agreed to discuss a constitution of principles, rights and the respect for individual and collective rights, which were ultimately adopted by the assembly and introduced as legislation in London—had things been different, they would have been better—, there never would have been a country called Canada.

Even at this assembly joining eastern and western Canada, the proposal passed with a very small majority. I also remember that the Liberals of the day, called the nationalists, had asked for a referendum. Their request was not granted until they agreed to form, with the other colonies, the country that would become Canada.

The Constitution is a contract that allows the provinces, in a federation such as this, to have sovereign authority over areas of jurisdictions, while the federal government has sovereign authority over other areas of jurisdiction.

However, this Constitution has been trashed repeatedly since the failure of the Meech Lake accord.

Even in Quebec, the Liberals under Jean Charest are having a hard time finding their place in this federalism, because federalism as studied through history and as developed by history no longer exists. The majority is speaking as one voice in Quebec, a nation that is different, as our leader pointed out earlier this morning. We are different, no better no worst, just different. We have the right to be different and we still believe that that right was enshrined in the Constitution when it was written.

The word “but” on which the Governor General put emphasis told Quebeckers, even those who still believe in Canada, “You live in a country where we form the majority, so you need to accept the fact that we will not recognize you as being different.”

A constitution is a contract. People do not look at their lease, their mortgage or their house contract on a daily basis. However, when major rights issues are raised, we are rather glad to have a document which we can bring to court, if need be.

Although we have a Liberal government, the country is now being led according to the philosophy of John A. Macdonald. I remember, and I hope other members remember as well, that John A. Macdonald wished for a unitary government, which he was never able to implement.

The throne speech is quite eloquent about what the government intends to do outside its jurisdictions, but remains strangely silent on several crucial problems it is having in its own jurisdictions. I would be remiss if I did not mention mad cow disease. In fact, we want to have an emergency debate on this issue tomorrow.

How is it that this issue is not addressed when there are so many cattle producers and people in the agri-food industry that have gone bankrupt or are on the brink of bankruptcy? The problem affects Quebec as well as western Canada. Not a word was said about softwood lumber, even if thousands of jobs, 20,000 to be exact, have been lost because of the crisis in this industry.

How is it that there was no mention of marine transportation? Was there not a reference in the red book to shipbuilding and was a committee not struck? Reference to the Quebec appeal court judgment, as significant as it is in relation to this government's intentions in connection with one of the major problems of the Quebec nation: its demographics. How could this not have been addressed? This question involves Quebec's ability to create a parental leave program which will really enable couples to have the family they desire.

Why no mention of dredging the St. Lawrence? This is a matter of concern to thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands, millions of Quebeckers. In connection with this dredging, Senator Hillary Clinton begged Canada not to bow to the wishes of a number of major shipping companies, as well as the U.S. army.

Why was there no mention in the Speech from the Throne of women and children living in poverty, despite the numerous poor showings in UNDP reports? All of these are important questions, and there are others I have not touched on. There are, however, two major ones I wish to speak about.

This Speech from the Throne, claiming to support transparency, democracy and renewal, makes no mention of the missile defence shield. If there is one single issue of importance to the future of the people of Quebec, this is it. So why no reference to it? Do they want us to conclude it is encompassed by the term “security“? It is impossible. The missile defence shield is far too broad an issue.

Yet the Minister of National Defence sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld in which he stated as follows:

It is our intent to negotiate in the coming months a missile defence framework memorandum of understanding with the United States, with the objective of including Canada as a participant in the current U.S. missile defence program and expanding and enhancing information exchange.

Then, to be sure there was no misunderstanding, he went on:

We believe that our two nations should move on an expedited basis to amend the Norad agreement to take into account Norad's contribution to the missile defence mission.

They are working on the necessary political and financial arrangements.

This is extremely serious. The U.S. missile defence system is part of the comprehensive program of preemptive strike and new world domination strategy. The United States is acting as if it were an empire. From the very beginning, the missile defence system provides for the use of space for nuclear purposes.

This missile defence system will not guarantee security for Quebec and Canada, but it will surely reignite the arms race. For example, China is prepared to sign an international agreement to eliminate all weapons of mass destruction. Those who think that China will let the Americans build this missile defence system without doing anything about it are sadly mistaken.

The missile defence system is an extremely important issue. Quebeckers do not want such a system. Yet, the throne speech is totally silent on this.

There is also the issue of international assistance. I must say that I cringed when I read that Canada can do more than the other countries. As regards international assistance, Mr. Pearson, who, at one time, was the Deputy Minister of External Affairs, had recommended to the United Nations that such assistance be set at 0.7% of our GDP. If only Canada had done its share, the situation in developing countries would not be as bad as it is.

When the current Prime Minister was in charge of the finances, Canada was in sixth place; it was at 0.45% of the GDP. Last year it was 0.22%. This year it is 0.28% because the OECD took into account some $500 million for Africa. This will not be a recurrent expenditure. Next year, this money will be gone, and Canada will slip back down the list of donor countries to 19th out of 22.

I feel discouraged when I read that Canada can do more than its share. If we want the public to be involved in political projects, it should at the very least to be told the truth.

Truth is at the root of democracy, at the root of the trust that the Prime Minister says he wants to restore.

I cannot help but make the connection with what was often the topic of discussion following the events of September 11, 2001. It was often said that we must fight terrorism, but if we do not root out the conditions, such as ongoing conflicts, injustices, poverty, hunger and disease, that create a breeding ground for terrorism, failing that, whatever claims they make about the openness of the world and opportunities available to Canada, they are not telling the truth or making the proposals the Prime Minister says he wants to make.

This is a very sad Speech from the Throne. The Prime Minister wanted to raise a lot of hopes. Unfortunately, all I see is a lot of general and generous ideas and very little to help Quebeckers and Canadians feel more secure.

The Prime Minister said he wanted Quebeckers to feel part of Canada, but I am sorry, this Speech from the Throne will not help.