House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was municipalities.

Topics

Radiocommunication Act
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger for the Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-2, an act to amend the Radiocommunication Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

David Price Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association. This is the report of the official delegation which represented Canada at the conference, “Securing Peace: NATO’s Role in Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution”, which took place in Brussels on October 16, 2003.

I am also presenting the report on the visit to Canada by the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on October 27 and 28, 2003.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34 I have the honour to present to the House a report from the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the 49th CPA conference which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from October 4 to October 12, 2003.

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-472, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of fines).

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to introduce for first reading today this bill which calls for an amendment to the Income Tax Act to put an end to what I believe is an outrageous situation where fines, penalties and levies can be written off income tax by businesses as legitimate business expenses.

I believe that the public is shocked at this situation. Parliament should act because the Supreme Court directed in fact that if Parliament does not intend to allow fines to be business deductions, then Parliament should clarify the Income Tax Act to put an end to this situation.

By the same logic no one should benefit from a wrongdoing and it undermines the deterrent value of a fine if a business can write it off as a legitimate business expense.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

When shall the bill be read the second time? At the next sitting of the House subject to the Chair reviewing this bill. I have reason to suspect this bill is in the same form as one introduced in the previous session that was ruled out of order. I will be reviewing the matter with that caveat in mind and may get back to the House at a later date. There may be representations with respect to the matter also once it has been printed.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of the people in the Peterborough area. They are concerned about kidney disease and problems associated with kidney disease. They point out that this is a huge and growing problem in Canada. They know that real progress has been made in dealing with various aspects in preventing kidney disease, in curing kidney disease and coping with kidney disease. They know that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has done a good job in this matter.

However, they call upon Parliament to encourage the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explicitly include kidney research as one of the institutes in its system to be named the institute of kidney and urinary tract diseases.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 it is my privilege to present to the House a petition signed by 27 constituents dealing with the benefits of stem cell research in the fight against juvenile diabetes.

The petitioners wish to draw to the attention of the House that scientists have demonstrated that the growth factors of embryo stem cells can be harnessed to develop into insulin-producing cells that might help to cure juvenile diabetes.

The petitioners pray and request that Parliament support the use of all types of stem cells to help provide a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present two petitions on behalf of my constituents today. One is requesting Parliament to immediately hold a review and a debate on the definition of marriage and reaffirm as it did in 1999 its commitment to take the necessary steps to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Durham, ON

The second petition deals with child pornography. It calls on Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that the materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children be outlawed.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I also have a petition on child pornography. The petitioners condemn the use of child pornography, as it is condemned by the majority of Canadians. The courts have not applied the current child pornography law in a way that makes it clear that the exploitation of children will always be met with swift punishment.

Therefore, they call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all the necessary steps to ensure that materials that promote or glorify pedophilia, sado-masochism involving children are outlawed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

February 5th, 2004 / 10:10 a.m.

Sarnia—Lambton
Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 4 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, and of the amendment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech From The Throne

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the chance to comment on the Speech from the Throne that was delivered by the Governor General on February 2.

This is an exciting time, with a new government and a new leader. The throne speech charts the directions that our government will be taking over the next while. It sets some of the priorities and goals. It is important to know that the members on this side of the chamber and those in what we call the rump played an active role in developing and working on this throne speech.

I was very pleased to see a number of initiatives mentioned in the throne speech, and they will be some of the priorities of our government moving forward. In particular, I was happy to see that the new deal for municipalities is a real deal for municipalities. There were many skeptics who doubted our government's will to work with the cities, municipalities and communities to find a better way to provide sustainable funding and a funding for some key priorities with which Canadians identify.

Beginning February 1, there will a 100% GST rebate for municipalities. This will be a down payment while the government works with the provinces and municipalities to share with them a portion of gas tax revenues, or other mechanisms that may be deemed more appropriate by provinces and municipalities, as the federal government begins to work with them on that point.

This GST rebate is 100%, as I said. Over 10 years this effectively will amount to a $7 billion transfer to municipalities. For the city of Toronto, for example, this equates to some $50 million a year. This $50 million a year can be put to uses like public transit. It can be used to help with the development of affordable housing. It can be used to fight crime.

We have far too much violent crime in my neighbourhood, crime that is motivated by drugs and gangs. I know Chief Fantino has expressed concerns about his ability to deal with these matters. With these transfers to the municipalities, this will provide the city councillors some scope to start addressing some of these very serious problems such as the proliferation of handguns and the western-style shootouts that happen in my riding. Gangs arrive and start shooting at each other with handguns while innocent people are nearby and could easily be injured. We have to put a stop to that, and this money will start us on the way toward that.

As we work with the municipalities on ways to transfer the gas tax, this will be the next phase as the government's fiscal position becomes more clear and more certain and when the government has more flexibility in the next few years ahead.

We need to involve the provinces in these discussions. One thing we do not want to happen is the provinces clawing back this money from the municipalities. We have seen this before. Our government transfers money to the provinces for the CHST, for health, post-secondary education and social programs. The the Ontario government, under the former administration, then used some of that money to cut taxes. We all want to cut taxes, but we have to also step up to our responsibilities.

I do not want the province of Ontario scooping back this money that we will be giving directly to municipalities. We have seen it also with the national child benefit which went to many citizens in Ontario. The Government of Ontario clawed it back. We cannot have that happening again. We want to make sure this is new money is for municipalities, and I am sure our government is committed to do that.

Another key priority in the Speech from the Throne was a recommitment to our health care system and the follow-up and implementation of a further $2 billion in funding for the provinces for this fiscal year. We have to work on a sustainable health care system. We have an aging population. We have new technologies. The pressures on health care spending are enormous.

That is why this health council will attempt to build information so that citizens in every province can compare what kind of value for money they get out of their health care dollars. They will be able see what the waiting lists are for a surgery, for emergency rooms in their various provinces, and how that stacks up with the performance of other provinces. If their province is not meeting an acceptable standard, then they can then demand that it deal with the issue.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for York Centre.

The throne speech includes the creation of a new Canada public health agency. A new Canada public health agency will provide a much more coordinated approach to public health issues and threats. Right now we have a number of different organizations, agencies, bodies and people across a wide spectrum. This will bring people together. It will bring the experts and programs together under one roof so we can deal very effectively with SARS and with new threats like the avian flu if it should appear on our shores. That is a very important step in the area of public health.

More quality child care, more quickly will happen as indicated in the throne speech. That means more child care spaces more quickly, and for many citizens in my riding this is a very important matter. I have had many constituents talk to me about the importance of home care and child care. This would provide them with that relief.

Our government recommitted itself to fiscal prudence with no deficits. We will not spend our way into deficit, that is for sure. We will continue our track of reducing the debt in relation to the size of our economy. We started out many years ago at 71% debt to GDP. We are now at about 44% and we will get down to about 25% in the very near future.

To do that, we will be reviewing all expenditures to make sure that they align with the priorities of the government and priorities of Canadians, so we are getting good value for all our dollars and spending is being managed well.

The throne speech talked about investments in people, updating and improving grants and loans, to increase access for middle and low income families to deal with the rising cost of education. This is a big issue in Etobicoke North.

Registered education savings plans will be broadened or new incentives created to make it more attractive to low income Canadians so that they can save early on for the education of their children. There also will be more programs to support and encourage skills upgrading as the economy changes and evolves so rapidly.

The ability to live, breathe and walk about in a clean environment is absolutely critical. We have environmental problems in the city of Toronto. We have environmental challenges with air that is not as clean as it should be. Our government has said that we need an equitable national plan to implement the Kyoto accord. There is no point in setting goals unless we can achieve them. We need a plan that describes very clearly what the risks and benefits are, how this will be paid for and how we will accomplish these objectives in very real terms.

The government has committed $3.5 billion also over 10 years to clean up contaminated sites for which the federal government is responsible, and an additional $500 million for remediation of other sites. We have many brownfield sites in my riding of Etobicoke North, and I hope that some of that money can be redirected so we do not have to start new greenfield operations. We can build on the existing infrastructure and halt the spread of the urban sprawl.

The government is also intensifying its commitment to clean air and clean water by focusing on transboundary issues with the United States. There is also the one tonne challenge. Every citizen is going to be challenged to reduce emissions by 1,000 kilograms per person per year.

We are going to build on the investments in science and innovation, in basic research, which amounts to about $13 billion since 1997. We are now at the phase where we need to get that technology transferred and diffused into the economy. We need more commercialization so this innovation can be translated into jobs and economic growth as well, and benefit all Canadians.

We need to ensure that research and expertise is available to small businesses so that they can develop on their own.

The democratic deficit is mentioned also in the throne speech where parliamentarians like those in this chamber will be called upon to more fully participate in the decisions of the government. There will be more free votes. There will be a review by parliamentarians of appointments. When courts are making such important decisions, it is very important that parliamentarians know a bit about these people and what they stand for. I am looking forward to participating in that.

There will be the creation of an independent ethics commissioner.

On the international stage, there will be a review of foreign policy. I hope that includes a foreign policy review in respect to Somalia. I have many Somalia Canadians in my riding, and Somalia is a failed state. They are trying to put it on the right path, and I hope that can happen.

There are new capital investments in defence and also affordable AIDS and HIV drugs for African nations.

These are very positive initiatives. It is an ambitious agenda. I hope the members of the House fully support it, get behind it and support the Speech from the Throne.