House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was strategy.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Timmins--James Bay.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Humanitarian Award
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the tremendous honour being given to Marlene Bryenton of Charlottetown. Later this evening she will receive the Canadian Red Cross P.E.I. Region's Humanitarian Award.

Her first volunteer experience came as a teenager, helping others through the Canadian Red Cross. Since then Marlene has touched the lives of many. She has also overcome some obstacles of her own, such as breast cancer, which led to the public awareness campaign that resulted in the purchase of additional mammography machines.

She is an active force in the Lake of Shining Waters women's charitable organization and through it has spearheaded the “Baby Think It Over” and “Wigs for Women” programs, among others. She was very much the driving force behind the development of the Joe Ghiz Memorial Park, located in Charlottetown.

Marlene's tireless efforts have been recognized through such honours as the Order of Prince Edward Island, an honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from the University of Prince Edward Island, the Senate of Canada Volunteer Award, the Canada Volunteer Award and many others.

I ask all my colleagues in the House to join me in paying tribute to the remarkable achievements of a remarkable woman.

Agriculture
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, farmers in Ontario have begun a campaign called “Farmers Feed Cities”. They want to increase awareness that agriculture contributes to the health and well-being of Ontarians and the province's economy by providing safe and healthy food.

Agriculture is a key component of Ontario's economy as it provides jobs for more than 650,000 people. Trade in agricultural products contributes approximately $30 billion to the province. The industry also helps to feed the 12 million plus people living in the province.

However, Ontario agriculture continues to suffer an income crisis due to international subsidies, border closures, corporate concentration, rising costs and commodity dumping.

Farmers continue to negotiate terms of new risk management and production insurance programs for Ontario, however, if the implementation of the proposed programs is to become a reality, the federal government will become a necessary partner. I encourage the federal government to work with the province to find solutions to the problems that face farmers today.

Agriculture is a fundamental component of our society which we cannot afford to lose. Remember, “If you ate today, thank a farmer”.

Ukraine
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, November marks one of the greatest tragedies in human history, when 7 to 10 million members of farm families which had just brought in record harvests, were deliberately starved to death in the breadbasket of Europe by the Soviet regime in 1932-33.

The Stalinist regime perpetrated the Great Famine/Holodomor by making food illegal in Ukraine's countryside. Red Brigades, under the direction of Lazar Kaganovich, seized grain, prevented the starving population from leaving the countryside and then sent the food to the west for export. This was done to eliminate resistance to the forced collectivization of agriculture and to destroy Ukraine's national identity.

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of Holodomor, the UN declared a week of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Great Famine in Ukraine.

I join all members of the House in calling upon the Government of Canada to recognize the Holodomor of 1932-33 in Ukraine and to condemn this genocidal act of inhuman brutality by Stalin and his henchmen.

Marie-Christine Côté
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to welcome to Parliament Hill Marie-Christine Côté the MP for a day from the riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, who will be with us today and tomorrow to learn more about the workings of Parliament.

Winner of the seventh “MP for a Day” contest in the riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, Marie-Christine beat out nearly 1,200 other secondary IV students in an test of general political knowledge.

During her stay in Ottawa, she will have a chance to see what MPs do and to experience firsthand the hustle and bustle of Parliament Hill. She and her father, Michel Côté, just had a private meeting with the leader of the Bloc Québécois a few minutes ago. After question period they will meet all the members of our caucus.

Mr. Speaker, you will also have the pleasure of meeting this dynamic young woman later today.

The Bloc Québécois wishes Marie-Christine and her father a pleasant stay.

Campbell Greenway Wright
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a beloved Manitoban.

Campbell Greenway Wright died on Sunday, November 6, after a lengthy illness, at the age of 45 years.

Campbell was truly a child of Manitoba. He was named for his maternal grandfather and his paternal great, great grandfather, both Liberal premiers of Manitoba in their time.

Campbell, while young, had a full life which distinguished by an unwavering commitment to others. An accomplished lawyer, his volunteer community leadership was widespread and included the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Canadian Club of Winnipeg, Joceyln House, a community hospice, and the Westminster Housing Society.

A committed political activist, I had the pleasure of working with Campbell on numerous and various campaigns. I have not met a man of greater principle, honour, dignity and courage than Campbell Wright.

Above all, his family was paramount, and I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his wife Lynne and their young sons, Kirk and Thomas, and to the entire Wright family. He will be deeply missed.

Earth Water
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, most Canadians take clean drinking water for granted, however not everyone has access to this precious resource. Every day there are 6,000 deaths resulting from a lack of clean drinking water. That is one death every 14 seconds, totalling 5 million per year.

While most people choose to ignore this problem, there is one company in my riding of Edmonton--Strathcona that is doing something about it. Earth Water sells bottled water throughout Canada and has teamed up with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to deliver clean drinking water throughout the world. Additionally, Earth Water donates 100% of its profits to the UNHCR.

I wish that more corporations had the heart and soul that Earth Water exhibits on a daily basis. This is a corporation that all Canadians can be proud of.

On behalf of my constituents of Edmonton--Strathcona and the official opposition, I want to thank Earth Water for its contribution to help people drink safe water around the world.

Diabetes Awareness Month
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Comuzzi Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, November is Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada and I am sure I speak for every member of the House in thanking the thousands and thousands of volunteers who volunteer so much of their time to enhance the quality of life for all diabetics in Canada. I say a sincere thanks to all of them for the great work they do.

As members know, diabetes is a serious illness and it can cause, if left unattended, blindness, amputations, heart attacks and strokes. The only way we have now to control it is by following a good exercise program, a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a good body weight and getting an early diagnosis.

My colleagues and I congratulate the Canadian Diabetes Association for all the good work they do. We urge all those Canadians suffering from diabetes to follow the rules of diet, weight and exercise, and we guarantee that we will do everything within our power to find a cure for diabetes.

Laval University
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Clavet Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I have the opportunity to welcome a group of young men and women who are here to learn more on the workings of the federal parliamentary system.

These students from Quebec and France are currently taking courses toward a specialized degree in public affairs and government, a joint program of Laval University and the institute of political science in Bordeaux, France. I commend these two institutions for their deep belief in internationalizing university training.

The students from this program will have a chance today to meet MPs and public affairs professionals.

The Bloc Québécois welcomes them to Parliament Hill and wishes them much success in their future endeavours.

Detroit River Tunnel Partnership
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the proposed Jobs tunnel and the Detroit River tunnel partnership.

Notwithstanding the short-sighted and politically motivated decision of the binational panel, this innovative and forward thinking Canadian project remains the best option to improve the flow of trucks and trains through the Windsor-Detroit corridor by improving and expanding current infrastructure.

Over 25% of all trade crosses this corridor between Canada and the United States. This figure is expected to double within the next 25 years.

The project will ensure that Canada continues to be an attractive market for trade. It will also create jobs, increase security, reduce pollution and eliminate waiting lines at the border.

I urge all levels of government to respect the integrity of the binational process that they have established and to include the jobs tunnel in its list of practical alternatives and undertake a full and impartial analysis of this project. Canadians and Windsorites deserve nothing less.

International Trade
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I believe the time is right to look at expanding trade opportunities by moving toward a free trade agreement with India.

Canada has a large Indo-Canadian community involved in many of Canada's export sectors. In addition, India's system of government is very similar to ours. India's annual growth is estimated to be around 9% for the foreseeable future and ranks third in the world in terms of purchasing power. Its middle class is estimated to be about 300 million people and growing, the majority of which are English-speaking, making free trade negotiations strategically important.

Based on my experience as part of the Canadian trade delegations to India in 2000 and 2005, I have seen the remarkable growth of the Indian economy and the opportunities that it presents. The time is right to seize those opportunities.

When we come to power, we will give actions to words.

Pat Lyall
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness we learned that Pat Lyall of Taloyoak, Nunavut, passed away unexpectedly on October 24, 2005 at the early age of 60.

Son of Nipisha and Ernie Lyall, Pat was born March 12, 1945 to the famous Lyall family that everyone knows in Nunavut.

Pat was one of 10 Lyall brothers and sisters, all known for their commitment to keeping the Inuit culture strong and taking important leadership roles to strengthen our communities. Pat was no exception, especially in his strong defence of our language, Inuktitut.

Pat will be remembered for his compassion, dedication and love of people, evident in the marks he left in his community and the many boards on which he served. He will be missed.

I ask the House to join me in expressing condolences to his wife, Leah, and children, Ernie, Patricia and John, and the whole family. Our thoughts are with them at this sad time.

Natural Resources
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing for northern Ontario in the Liberal's election budget, nothing for forestry, nothing for agriculture and nothing for the mining exploration community.

The government had the chance to extend the super flow through program for mining exploration, but instead, it once again walked away on northern industries.

All across Canada our mineral reserves are being depleted. Restoring those reserves is very important for our economy but it is a high risk game with long shot odds. In a global competitive market, we need every player at the table.

I have written to the finance minister and have asked him to work with the mining industry. Instead, he has done nothing. Once again, the resource communities of northern Ontario are being written off the political and economic map of Canada.

For far too long in northern Ontario we relied on backbenchers to tell us what Ottawa wants. The time has come to send some hard-working New Democrats to tell Ottawa what we need, fight for northern communities, fight for northern industries and fight for our northern way of life.

Multiculturalism
Statements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Oda Clarington—Scugog—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, last December, Canadians and the heritage minister welcomed the CRTC's decision to allow more foreign third language television services into Canada.

Nearly a year later, only one service, RAI television, has been approved, but Canadians of Portuguese, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin are still waiting.

The government promised our multicultural communities greater access to these services and the CRTC chair promised speedy approval processes.

In October, the earthquake in Pakistan claimed an estimated 80,000 lives and left over 2 million people homeless. Pakistani Canadians are desperate for information on the welfare of their families and friends and updates on the rebuilding process, and yet PTV, Pakistani Television, is among the 32 services still waiting for CRTC approval.

Another unfulfilled government promise is standing between Canada's Pakistani community and the vital information they deserve in this time of crisis.

On behalf of the multicultural communities, I--

Multiculturalism
Statements by Members

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Drummond.

Parti Québécois
Statements by Members

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, last night, 29 years to the day after the sweep by René Lévesque's Parti Québécois, the party faithful chose André Boisclair as their leader.

This leadership race, a 149 day marathon, proved beyond all doubt that the idea of Quebec as a sovereign nation is stronger and more present than ever.

The Bloc Québécois salutes all the candidates who campaigned with such determination and loyalty to Quebec during this leadership race.

Thanks to the efforts of all the candidates, the Parti Québécois now has over 147,000 members. The democratic exercise of the past few days attests to the party's strength and health: 76% of all members voted.

With the first step now behind them, sovereignists from all walks of life will join forces to achieve this ambitious and exciting plan for a free Quebec.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements by Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 12 years in power, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has done a terrible job for aboriginal communities in Canada.

Expenditures over the past 12 years have been astronomical, but with what results? The policies are not working. A number of reserves still have no drinking water, and residential school victims have yet to receive any compensation. In many ways, aboriginal communities live in third world conditions.

How can the Liberal government justify such waste to Canadians?

The first ministers are scheduled to meet next week in Kelowna. The Conservative Party hopes that the Prime Minister will not cancel this important meeting.

Canadians hope that he will not abandon aboriginal Canadians. Canadians have had their fill of the errors of this corrupt and incompetent government. They want real change.

Remembrance Day Train
Statements by Members

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to the organizers and to the veterans throughout Canada who ventured to Ottawa on board the VIA Rail Remembrance Day train.

As young men and women, they took a similar train in the opposite direction. The train of their youth took them into harm's way. It took them away from family and homes in response to a call to duty and to face combat, injury and death.

Veterans and their families, including a contingent of some 20 veterans from Prince Edward Island, boarded train No. 15, the Ocean , in Halifax and Moncton for the journey to the national Remembrance Day observance in Ottawa last week.

I want to extend the appreciation of all members of the House to VIA Rail for providing the train of remembrance, to Atlantic Superstores for providing the meals and to the other contributors and volunteers who helped make this a memorable national event.

I thank them and congratulate them.

Airports
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Torontonians are increasingly upset over the huge fee hikes at Pearson International Airport. The airport says that the fee hike is necessary because the federal government is charging unreasonable ground rent.

Today the International Air Transport Association said that rent is, “the biggest single obstacle to lowering airport fees at Pearson”.

When will the Prime Minister show some leadership, stop punishing Toronto, and lower ground fees at Pearson Airport?

Airports
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the biggest factor that is influencing rent in Toronto is the debt factor which is over 40%. The rent represents 14% of the expenses.

My colleagues have been looking at that with the GTA and we have had discussions with the airport authority. Obviously, we are giving them $5 billion in relief. That $5 billion in relief is coming by 2011.

Perhaps in the short term, we may be able to do something up front to help them because --

Airports
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

Equalization
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, hopefully before that relief is delivered in 2010 there will be a new government.

The Prime Minister is also failing Saskatchewan on equalization. The government promised to reform the equalization program in 2004 for Saskatchewan. The government now says it will not get to that until at least 2006, costing Saskatchewan over $750 million in lost revenue.

When will the Prime Minister overrule his finance minister and make the changes necessary, so Saskatchewan does not lose this money?

Equalization
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the reform process that we launched in 2004 with respect to equalization is going forward. In fact, we expect it to take place during the course of 2006.

In the meantime, there have been floor payments and other arrangements put in place to assist the provinces that are going through various forms of transition. In Saskatchewan's case thus far, that has resulted in payments of $799 million in the last 18 months.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Premier of Saskatchewan does not buy that and no other federal members buy that. In fact, the only person in Saskatchewan who believes that is the finance minister.

It is now 16 days since Justice Gomery made his report public. In it, he says that certain Liberal riding associations in Quebec pocketed stolen money, but the names of those ridings remains a mystery.

Will the Prime Minister be frank enough to make public the names of these ridings that used money stolen from the taxpayers?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition needs only to read Justice Gomery's report. All the points Justice Gomery wished to examine are covered by it. Now, if any investigation is required, that will be the role of the RCMP. I know that all stakeholders are prepared to speak to the RCMP at any time, as every citizen has a duty to do.

It is, however, not the role of either the Leader of the Opposition or the Prime Minister to carry out a judicial inquiry.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, in reference to ad scam the Prime Minister said, “The problem did not lay with the concept of the sponsorship program”. That concept, according to cabinet material examined by Justice Gomery included, “strengthening of the organization of the Liberal Party of Canada in Quebec”.

The Prime Minister, as finance minister, sat in the cabinet that discussed the creation of the program. He sat as vice-president of the Treasury Board that reviewed the audits of the program. In his leadership lust, he took over the machinery of the Liberal Party.

Does the Prime Minister now realize that Canadians do not believe his ongoing claim that he knew nothing of the wrongdoings in the Liberal Party's sponsorship program?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, this is what Justice Gomery said in his report:

[The Prime Minister], whose role as Finance Minister did not involve him in the supervision of spending by the PMO or PWGSC, is entitled, like other Ministers in the Quebec caucus, to be exonerated from any blame for carelessness or misconduct.

That is exactly what Justice Gomery said. After hearing from 172 witnesses and after his commission reviewed 28 million pages of documents, Justice Gomery exonerated the Prime Minister completely.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is another non-answer from one of the turncoat, twin towers of virtue on the Prime Minister's ad scam defence team.

Mr. Chrétien said he was told by the Treasury Board members that there were no problems with the program. The current Prime Minister, as Treasury Board vice-president, would have to sign off on that response. In reference to the Prime Minister's knowledge, Mr. Chrétien said, “He was aware like I was aware”.

Was Mr. Chrétien correct in his assertion that the current Prime Minister was “aware like I was aware”, or does he need more proof of the truth to be proven?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, for most reasonable Canadians Justice Gomery represents the truth.

Beyond that, the hon. member and I were once both members of a moderate, progressive and centrist party that believed in bilingualism, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and multiculturalism. I still am and he is not.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, Michel Béliveau, the former director of the Liberal Party banned for distributing envelopes of dirty money from the sponsorship scandal told the Gomery commission that he had paid off the $8,000 debt accumulated by the candidate in the riding of Louis-Hébert in the 1997 election. The Liberal candidate in Louis-Hébert in the 2004 election received $5,000 from the president of Norbourg, who swindled thousands of small investors.

How can the Prime Minister claim that the sponsorship scandal file is closed and that things have been cleaned up when a number of allegations regarding the Liberal Party remain unanswered?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the leader of the Bloc Québécois is trying to develop new muckraking activities. He is making allegations not corroborated in Justice Gomery's report. I know that the Bloc Québécois leader is not satisfied with the judge's conclusions, but his remarks are nothing but muckraking and untruths. He should be more responsible.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Gomery commission revealed that Mr. Béliveau had paid the $8,000 and that Marc-Yvan Côté had been banned for unlawful action. I imagine that if he gave the money to someone, it is quite likely someone received it. That is basic logic.

If someone is to be banished for doling out dirty money, do the members of the government not have a duty to say who got the money? By doing so, they would shed light on this scandal. This activity is not entirely above board, but it took place.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois leader has a habit of trying to tarnish people's reputation and making insinuations without providing any proof or naming names. He has tried to cast doubt on a lot of people. This is the old Bloc Québécois style, their old sullying tricks. People have, however, seen through it, because the Gomery report contradicted the Bloc on all points. They should have learned.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, we will submit a concrete case to the Minister of Transport. According to the Liberal candidate in Lévis, the Liberal Party of Canada was not as generous to her in 1997 because she refused, in her own words, “to play dirty politics”. She added “I have always been told I was too honest to be a politician”.

Marc-Yvan Côté was expelled from the Liberal Party of Canada for having given tainted money to 18 ridings in eastern Quebec, and in these 10 or so candidates received money personally.

Since the Prime Minister refuses to name the candidates who received the tainted money, he might find it easier to—

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Transport.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, here we go again. Justice Gomery has examined the entire situation and every red cent of the money has been paid back to the government by the Liberal Party of Canada. The Gomery report provides certain conclusions. The Bloc Québécois members are not satisfied with those conclusions, so they want to invent some scandals and continue their character assassination based on facts that are not true.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Charlevoix—Montmorency, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the minister believes that the $120,000 of Marc-Yvan Côté's dirty money has been reimbursed, that means certain people received that money. Who did and who did not receive it?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is not our role to do the job of the police. I am sure that the member, not being satisfied with Justice Gomery's work, will not be satisfied with the role of the police either. Yet the RCMP has the entire Gomery report in its possession, and can have access to all documents and all witnesses. I have far more faith in the police than in the Bloc Québécois.

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, all week we have been listening to Liberals say that they could not adopt the reasonable compromise that is before Parliament that could get things done and launch the election in January. However, yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister indicated that there was absolutely nothing to stop the Prime Minister from agreeing to this proposal. It is not a question of whether the Liberals cannot agree to the proposal, it is a question of whether they will. They simply will not.

Here is the question. Why is it that this leader is the only leader in the House that will not compromise?

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, once again the opposition is suggesting that it should be able to vote non-confidence in the government today and have the consequences some time in January.

Opposition members have asked this question over and over again. I think the reason they are asking this question over and over again is because the leader of the NDP is fearful of the fact that so many people have said there was absolutely nothing wrong with having an election as indicated by the Prime Minister in his commitment to Canadians. Today he is attempting to backtrack and is afraid to accept the fact that either we have confidence or we do not. If we do not, have the courage to put something forward.

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, that can only be described as childish bullying tactics. It really is.

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth will want to proceed with his next question.

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, what people have just seen is really quite childish. It is a bullying approach.

It does not make sense to Canadians because they do not buy the idea that a party that received 37% of the vote deserves 100% of the control all the time. They want to see a compromise, so that the things they would like to see done can get done.

Why will this party not compromise in the interest of Canada?

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member has just recently come to this place and he is certainly welcome by all other members, but the hon. member should understand that we are in fact in a parliamentary democracy that operates on a principle that a government must have the confidence of Parliament.

If the hon. member wants to in fact demonstrate that he does not have the confidence in the government, then what is required is a motion of non-confidence on the floor of the House of Commons. Confidence is like an on-off switch. One either has it or one does not. If there is a suggestion we do not, then put the motion forward.

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was questioned about the Keeseekoose education trust account of $600,000, which has now been stolen. At the time, he said that the allegations were ridiculous. By Tuesday, according to the minister, those ridiculous allegations had become serious financial irregularities with the RCMP involved and, in addition, criminal charges being laid. The minister is having some difficulty getting his story straight.

We know that his department has audit documents about the theft. He is refusing to produce them. Is he trying to protect the former chief, the former Liberal candidate?

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, whether the Conservatives like it or not, first nations governments take matters of accountability very seriously. That is exactly what we have seen in this case. Where irregularities were found, the police were informed and charges were laid. What we see from the other side shows once again that these Conservatives will do anything to discredit first nations, their leadership and their members.

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Prentice Calgary North Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the chief at the time of the theft was the Liberal candidate, but in fairness, I am not surprised that the minister is confused. It is difficult for all Canadians to actually keep a clear picture of which Liberals are under RCMP investigation and which are not, which have been convicted and which have not, and which have been banned from the party for life and which have not.

Would the government consider establishing a sort of Liberal offender registry, a criminal registry that the public could consult from time to time and which the minister could use?

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I said it before and I will say it again--

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Calgary Centre-North is obviously waiting to hear the answer from the minister. I cannot hear a peep. The minister is now trying to respond to the answer. We will have a little order. I know it is Wednesday, but there is no excuse for such disorder. The hon. Minister of Indian Affairs has the floor.

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians know a smear campaign when they see it. Canadians know how those members feel about first nations and their leadership. Here we go again.

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, apparently the new Liberal education policy involves paying for California vacations out of a schoolchild's education fund. I ask members to listen to this list of money taken from the Keeseekoose school account: $1,200 for Sea World, $158 for Zorro Jewelry of Santa Monica, $125 for Universal Studios. In total, this is over $3,000 stolen from the children on the reserve to pay for a California vacation.

Why will the minister not stand up for the schoolchildren of the Keeseekoose reserve?

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, this government is standing up for education and first nations. That is the reason why we are going to Kelowna at the end of this month. That is what people who really care about first nations do, not this.

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker , I do not think the minister understands how serious the situation is. On one day alone over $6,000 was stolen from the school's account: $2,000 was withdrawn at Casino Regina and $4,000 was transferred to a local hockey team. The local Liberal candidate was the president of that hockey team.

To make matters worse, the Liberals knew about this theft before they nominated the candidate who is at the heart of this controversy. Will the minister confirm today that he will conduct a full investigation of this matter? Or is this simply another Liberal cover-up?

Keeseekoose First Nation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP has been brought in and has dealt with the issue. The reality is that in this case those members are smearing first nations leadership. That is typical of the Conservative Party and the first nations leadership itself will not stand for it.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government banished 10 people from the Liberal Party for life and is trying to close the books on the sponsorship scandal. However, Marc-Yvan Côté referred to 18 ridings where brown envelopes were handed out and Michel Béliveau spoke of $100,000 that went to ridings in western Quebec. That leaves a lot of people still on the Liberal team who had their hands on this dirty money. Who knows, they could be MPs, candidates, political staff or government appointees.

How can the government claim to have cleaned house when these people are still within the Liberal Party and the government?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, did you notice his abuse of parliamentary privilege, his attempt to tarnish the reputation of certain MPs? It is terrible and unfounded. It is simply appalling.

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have no problem repeating outside what I am saying here.

At the Gomery inquiry, Marc-Yvan Côté said he had handed out money to 18 of 21 ridings. Members of Parliament were elected in at least some of those ridings. We are talking about 18 ridings out of 21 that got dirty money. At the Gomery inquiry, Michel Béliveau said he gave out $100,000 in western Quebec to get candidates elected.

Why is it that those who got dirty money did so with complete impunity and why does the government claim it has cleaned house?

Sponsorship Program
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, if the deputy leader of the Bloc Québécois wants to name names, let him do so. But if he just wants to continue tarnishing reputations then he needs to stop. Justice Gomery has spoken. I know they are not happy with Justice Gomery's findings. They want to re-write the report. It is too late. The inquiry is over and Justice Gomery has presented his findings. The rest is nothing more than muckraking. They are trying to tarnish reputations without having the courage to name names. That is their problem.

Taxation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, “Pockets bulging with what is estimated to be a $100 billion-plus surplus for the next five years, the federal government is taking a cavalier and paternalistic approach to the provinces. This Ottawa-knows-best attitude is beginning to rub the taxpayers the wrong way.”

Should the Minister of Finance not at last bow to the evidence, recognize the existence of the fiscal imbalance, and make a commitment to fix it, since he has the means, and then some?

Taxation
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has increased transfer payments to the provinces to their highest level ever in history. On top of that, over the next 10 years those transfer payments will be going up again by about another $100 billion. All of this is to assist the provinces in discharging their important responsibilities, just as the Government of Canada addresses its very important responsibilities on behalf of all Canadians.

It is a question of balance, fairness and transparency. That is what we showed in the statement on Monday.

Taxation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport should give up on his denials, because my opening remark came from something he himself wrote in Le Journal des affaires . He also wrote in that same article that “With their arrogant and opportunistic behaviour, those shameless characters in Ottawa risk reawakening the forces like those that have already brought down many a government”.

It is obvious that the minister has had a change of heart because he is now in the process of becoming the poster boy for Liberal arrogance.

When will the federal Liberals give up being the only ones denying the existence of the fiscal imbalance and decide to do something about it?

Taxation
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would note that in response to the statement on Monday we had a very favourable reaction from the minister of finance of Quebec. We had a very favourable reaction from the largest business organization in Quebec. We have had favourable reactions from student organizations across the country and from universities across the country, including universities in Quebec.

All of this is intended to raise disposable incomes, improve standards of living and improve the Canadian quality of life everywhere, in Quebec and all across the country. That is what we are doing.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, this morning, we learned that aboriginal women in northern Quebec are 37 times more likely than non-aboriginal women to be victims of rape.

Why is this government refusing to help aboriginal women in need?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Quite the contrary, Mr. Speaker, in Kelowna one of the items that we are dealing with very specifically, supported by NWAC, as a matter of fact, is domestic violence, along with the housing problems that face women in northern Canada. We are in fact dealing with that very specifically in Kelowna.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me repeat this: aboriginal women in northern Quebec are 37 times more likely to be victims of violence. Yet we know that aboriginal women's shelters in Quebec are underfunded by nearly $200,000. The women in these northern communities have been abandoned and they need our help now.

When will the government take its responsibility seriously and provide the needed funding for aboriginal women's shelters?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Liberal

Andy Scott Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the first ministers meeting in Kelowna will be dealing very specifically with this. It has been a matter of some interest for the last year and a half and this is the first time we have heard anything about it from the Conservatives.

Agriculture
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, true to form, this government abandoned farmers in its mini-budget. Yesterday, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food referred to the money that he promised farmers. However, the reality is that farmers are facing an annual shortfall of $2 billion.

The minister is giving himself an “A” for his announcement. Will he admit that he deserves a “D” when it comes to distributing the money?

Agriculture
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary, the economic statement presented by the Minister of Finance clearly stated that we stand by our farmers. We will and we have. We refer to the TISP payment of $1 billion, the FIP payment just this spring of $1 billion, and our CAIS program of $2.2 billion.

In reality, payments to producers are at record levels in this country today because our producers are in need. We understand that and as a government we are responding to it.

Agriculture
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is the promises that are at a record high level. The Liberals do not deliver.

On Monday the government of Alberta announced changes to the CAIS program that will allow producers in that province a choice of how to calculate the reference margin. Will the minister commit today in the House to follow Alberta's lead and offer the same choice in the six provinces where the program is administered by the federal government? If not, why not?

Agriculture
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, we have been working on the CAIS program. In terms of changes, we have increased the cap. We have allowed for negative margin coverage. We have eliminated the deposit. We have allowed for a targeted advance. We have expanded the eligibility for negative margins. We are working on other changes such as inventory evaluation.

As the hon. member knows, if we are to make a change in how margins are calculated, we need the agreement of the federal government and the seven provinces that represent 50% of farm gate receipts. We have a meeting scheduled next week where ministers will be discussing just that.

Health
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, juvenile type 1 diabetes is a cause close to my heart. Members of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation were on the Hill yesterday and I would like to thank all the members who met with them. They had some very compelling stories to share and an equally compelling case.

Could the Minister of Health please inform the House about the government's investments for curing this debilitating disease?

Health
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for bringing this very important question to my attention. I met with members of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation earlier in the year and yesterday. They are doing very important work.

Budget 2005 provides $300 million over five years for the integrated strategy, which includes $18 million a year for the Canadian diabetes strategy. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research invested close to $6 million for type 1 diabetes research in fiscal year 2004-05 and $12 million for type 2 diabetes. That is going to go to $30 million over the next four or five years.

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadians elected a minority government last time in the hopes that it would curb the arrogance of the Liberals, who consider themselves accountable to nobody.

Despite the Prime Minister's promise to improve democracy, he now seems prepared to thumb his nose at the will of Parliament and at the wishes of Canadians. He is prepared to reject a practical, common sense compromise to complete the fall agenda and then early in the new year launch an election campaign.

When did the Prime Minister decide to scrap his commitment to respect the will of Parliament?

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister made a commitment to Canadians on national television and he is going to be consistent with that commitment. While the hon. member makes the comments that she does, in fact the opposition members are not operating at all in the public interest. They are operating in their own narrow partisan interests.

Two-thirds of Canadians said they wanted to wait for Justice Gomery's second report. That is the commitment the Prime Minister made to Canadians. He made it on national television. The Prime Minister will ensure that he meets that commitment. If in fact this Parliament does dissolve, it will be 100% the responsibility of the opposition parties.

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister or the government House leader. Every member of every party in the House knows that we are going to have an election soon. The Conservative Party has compromised. The Bloc Québécois has compromised. We have compromised.

Is it not an example of unmitigated Liberal arrogance to say, “Either it is my way or no way?”

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the hon. member that he check with his new-found partner, the leader of the official opposition. On the one hand they suggest they have no confidence and then on the other hand they suggest that we continue to govern, pass legislation and implement government spending.

How quickly the hon. member and the leader of the official opposition forget what the Leader of the Opposition said on May 10: “the confidence of this chamber...is the only democratic mandate this government has”. We either have the confidence of this chamber or we do not. If we do not, they can put forward a motion and take responsibility--

Parliament of Canada
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands now has the floor.

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government spent $92 million purchasing the Skyline complex from PowerCorp. The government claims that it is getting the best possible value for Canadian tax dollars. The truth is that this is nothing more than best value for Liberal cronies, their friends, and everyone knows it.

How is spending $92 million on a building, the government was not even in the market to buy, getting best value for the Canadian taxpayer?

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member is basing his false allegations on an unsubstantiated media story that had its facts wrong.

Yesterday I offered him a briefing from our department that would provide him with the facts. I would reiterate today that the hon. member is more than welcome to entertain that briefing and to learn the facts. He would learn that he was wrong and that best value for the Canadian taxpayer was provided while we achieved reasonable accommodations for Canadian public servants.

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is an access to information that will show PowerCorp solicited the government to make the purchase.

Is there any other company in the country that could just walk into cabinet and ask for $92 million for a building? The truth is that this happens because special access is granted to powerful Liberals and not to anyone else.

Is it not true that this is about best value for powerful Liberals rather than best value for taxpayers?

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, one can only assume that the hon. member does not want the truth to stand in the way of his false allegations.

Once again I will reiterate that he can have a briefing from the department which will show him that best value was achieved. Beyond that, the purchase price was below market value then and today, and the fit-up costs were reasonable to ensure that Canadian public servants were housed reasonably in this building that was purchased in 2003.

David Dingwall
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, when David Dingwall was thrown out by the people of Cape Breton in 1997, the Liberal patronage machine kicked right into action. Between then and now, Dingwall has received from Canadian taxpayers at least $693,000 in Liberal lobbying contracts and $700,000 for his salary as patronage leader at the Mint. Now Liberal lawyers are negotiating chingwall's severance with other Liberal lawyers.

Why do Liberals insist on defending one another and abusing Canadian taxpayers?

David Dingwall
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Markham—Unionville
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, it is quite astounding that the member opposite continues to put out these false numbers when he has been proven wrong so often.

The $700,000 number includes Mr. Dingwall's salary, the salaries of other employees, office expenses, paper and computers. The $1 million cost, to which the hon. member referred before, could only be reached if Mr. Dingwall's salary were counted twice.

The member has no credibility on numbers and he should realize that point.

David Dingwall
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I stand by my numbers and the minister stands by Dingwall.

The Prime Minister does not clean up, he covers up, and that is what the government is doing. Let us take André Ouellet, please. The Liberal porkmaster general felt entitled to pay himself $2 million in lavish expenses. The public was angry. The Prime Minister promised an audit and 14 months later we are still waiting.

What happened to accountability? What happened to cleaning things up? André Ouellet is the poster boy for Liberal entitlement and this is a cover-up.

Will the Prime Minister stand up and admit that he is trying to hide the facts from Canadians until after the next federal election?

David Dingwall
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Markham—Unionville
Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I do not stand by David Dingwall. I stand by at least rudimentary accuracy in the use of figures and facts in this chamber.

In terms of Mr. Ouellet, as I indicated rather graphically two days ago, the law inhibits me from commenting on that matter.

However I can say that I am honoured and privileged to be in charge of the Canada Revenue Agency because I can attest that the employees of that agency are carrying out their audits and their other tasks with great diligence and great professionalism, which should be recognized on that side of the House.

Immigration
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was passed, four years ago, the government had provided for an appeal division to guarantee that the reduction in the number of commissioners would not deny refugee claimants fair and equitable treatment. In committee, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration confirmed that he no longer intended to establish the appeal division, as his government had promised, thereby embarrassing even a number of his Liberal colleagues.

Can the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration explain the reasons for his about-face?

Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I said we want a system that allows refugees to integrate into the Canadian system. Our existing system welcomed many more refugees last year than the previous year.

Last year, we accepted 28% more refugees. In my opinion that is evidence that there is indeed justice for those truly seeking asylum here in Canada.

Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, four years ago, the government explained that the creation of an appeal division was a matter of fairness and justice for those seeking asylum.

Are we to understand the minister's remarks to mean that, four years later, he no longer considers fairness and justice important?

Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the justice lies in the results. Many more refugees were welcomed here last year than in the previous year. That is justice. We voluntarily take in refugees and welcome them to this country.

Housing
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the leaky condo disaster is costing homeowners billions of dollars. The government has known for years that the national energy program caused the disaster and that the department of energy ordered a cover-up.

In 1981, CMHC told the deputy minister of energy that his department's energy conservation measures were the main cause of rotting walls in newly constructed homes. The deputy minister's response was to demand a cover-up.

Would the Minister of Natural Resources acknowledge that his department's demand for a cover-up is costing homeowners billions of dollars?

Housing
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

London North Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana Minister of Labour and Housing

Mr. Speaker, I believe you ruled on a response we provided to Question No. 151 as appropriate, and you did that yesterday. Therefore I am sure the hon. member in this House would not want me to comment on a matter that is before the British Columbia courts.

Human Resources
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, the compassionate care program was supposed to assist the thousands who perform the physically and emotionally draining task of caring for a terminally ill loved one. However the program is riddled with fundamental flaws and its administration costs far outstrip the benefits.

The minister knows that already, just as her predecessors in the portfolio did for over two years. She said, when asked weeks ago in this House, that changes were “coming very soon”. When terminally ill, soon may not be soon enough.

As there is a failure to present any changes to cabinet, could the minister explain this failure to keep her word to caregivers?

Human Resources
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Liberal

Belinda Stronach Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal

Mr. Speaker, this is not a failure. This a new program that was designed with a greater potential uptake than was actually received at the end of the day. We are looking at the program to expand the definition and, quite frankly, if we do have an election, this is one of the programs that may be compromised.

The Economy
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

Some critics have erroneously claimed that Ontario will not benefit from the Liberal government's economic update. Our economic success is no accident. We have had over 200,000 jobs created this year and October's unemployment rate reached its lowest point in three decades. Housing affordability remains near its best level on record and corporate profits are at their highest level in over 20 years.

Could the Minister of Finance please explain further how Ontarians, like my constituents, will benefit from our government's plan for prosperity?

The Economy
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, our plan for greater competitiveness, productivity and growth will be especially beneficial in Ontario. We will support Ontario's huge business sector with more aggressive trade policy, including further success on the Windsor gateway; more competitive taxes to keep jobs and investment on the Canadian side of the border; more middle and low income students will be able to go to Ontario's excellent universities; more brain power will be developed in this country and in this province; more workers will be able to gain skills; and, more top flight innovation and commercialization. Ontario will be a big winner.

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Liberal finance minister again refused to provide a fair deal for Saskatchewan's oil and gas revenue. He thinks that fixing previous errors that his own department made is good enough. Well, it is not good enough for my province which sees almost 90% clawed back on our natural resource revenues.

Even with his band-aid fixes to previous mistakes, Saskatchewan still loses a billion dollars because of clawbacks.

Could the minister explain to people in Saskatchewan why we should not get the same fair deal as Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia?

Natural Resources
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is just factually wrong. Since February 2004 there has been no such clawback. Saskatchewan has had the full benefit of its natural resources and its full equalization entitlement, which adds up to $799 million extra to the province of Saskatchewan than it otherwise would have received.

I am very happy that today's fiscal accounts in Saskatchewan have reported that the province this year has a surplus of $873 million more.

National Defence
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, following the resignation of the agent orange coordinator, I made a number of recommendations to the government to improve the process, among other things, making the position independent of government with the power to make recommendations in regard to compensation.

Did today's announcement of Dr. Furlong's appointment to this position include any significant changes to address the deficiencies in the original plan?

National Defence
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the hon. member recognizes that the appointment of Dr. Dennis Furlong is an important step in the right direction about getting to an understanding of the agent orange issue.

This coordinator was selected based on his experience and credentials. He is a former health minister of the New Brunswick government. He knows how government works and how important this issue is to Canadians and people from the Gagetown area. I am very pleased that he is willing to take on this responsibility and we look forward to working with him to solve this important issue.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the announcement of an 8¢ cut in EI premiums is very bad news for the unemployed. Instead of improving the system by implementing the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities—such as creating a 360-hour qualification requirement or calculating the best 12 weeks—the government has chosen to ignore the demands of contributors.

Is the minister aware that because of her action almost 500,000 unemployed individuals will be forced to continue to panhandle?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora
Ontario

Liberal

Belinda Stronach Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for highlighting all the good work we have done with respect to evolving EI, in particular the establishment of a commission that sets the rate independently. It has lowered the rate to $1.87, which will allow both workers and business to be more competitive and reduce the costs.

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, there have been reports in New Brunswick newspapers that the Premier of New Brunswick wants an early learning and child care agreement just like Quebec and that the federal government is simply playing politics with an early learning and child care agreement.

Would the Minister of Social Development please tell us about the deal with New Brunswick.

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden Minister of Social Development

Mr. Speaker, when negotiations were conducted with officials of the eight provinces, all sides agreed and there was a deal. In one case, New Brunswick at the last minute pulled the plug and refused the deal.

In eight cases, eight provinces, also with significant rural populations, found the flexibility they wanted and needed in signed agreements. In one case, New Brunswick, said no.

In one case with Quebec, in 2003 the amount spent on child care was $1.2 billion. With New Brunswick, the apples to apples comparative number was $12.5 million. That is $1.2 billion versus $12.5 million, about 100 times different. The people of New Brunswick can--

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

That is the end of question period and we will now go to the tabling of documents.

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Given the minister's reluctance to respond to my question earlier, I would be pleased to table the access documents which support the preamble of my question in the hope that it would perhaps jog his memory.

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Delta—Richmond East have the unanimous consent of the House to table these documents?

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During question period, the Minister of National Revenue, in response to my question concerning Mr. Dingwall and the government's intention to pay him severance, disputed facts which I put on the record in terms of Mr. Dingwall's earning. Those earnings were stated correctly by me, in excess of $700,000, salary and benefits, over the term of his employment at the Mint.

I would offer to the minister to table a copy of the remuneration agreement which was signed with Mr. Dingwall for his edification so he can get his numbers correct in future and be able to have a more reasoned and intelligent response to reasoned and intelligent questions.

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Portage—Lisgar have the unanimous consent of the House to table this document?

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No

Social Development
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

If I can offer some consolation to the hon. member who seems quite disappointed, he can send the minister a copy. I am sure the minister would appreciate that very much.

Certificates of Nomination
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to table today three certificates of nomination, which stand referred to the appropriate standing committees.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to five petitions.

Public Health Agency of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-75, An Act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts.

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

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Peterborough
Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians on the Arctic Region, held in Oslo, Norway, September 29 and 30.

These meetings dealt with topics like the University of the Arctic, indigenous peoples of the north, including Canada's settlements with the Inuit, Arctic climate change, oil and gas in the Arctic, the international polar year, the dismantling of nuclear submarines in the Arctic Ocean and Arctic sovereignty.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixteenth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

In accordance with its order of reference on Tuesday, October 25 your committee has considered Bill S-37, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Cultural Property Export and Import Act and agreed on Tuesday, November 15 to report it without amendment.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

In accordance with its order of reference of Wednesday, September 28 your committee has considered Bill C-53, an act to amend the Criminal Code (proceeds of crime) and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to another act and agreed on Tuesday, November 15 to report it without amendment.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both officials languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Transport.

In accordance with its order of reference of Thursday, October 27, your committee has considered votes 1a, 5a, 10a, 20a, 35a and 40a under Transport in the supplementary estimates (A), 2005-06, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, and reports the same.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Chatters Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

The committee has studied the supplementary estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006 and has agreed to report them without amendment.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), your committee has considered the recent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation lockout and has agreed to report to the House its recommendations.

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Chatters Westlock—St. Paul, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-445, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (female presumption in child care).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this private member's bill. The intent is to remove the female presumption in child care for purposes of the Canada child tax benefit within the Income Tax Act. The act should be gender neutral in this case and leave it up to the parents to decide to whom the benefit should be paid.

I have a constituent who is the father of two children. He has a court order providing legal custody, and he is divorced. Recently he has become involved in a common law relationship and Revenue Canada now says that the child tax benefit must be sent to the common law partner, despite the father having a court order saying that the kids are his responsibility, and the fact that the common law partner has agreed that the father is the primary caregiver.

The Income Tax Act needs to be changed to follow court rulings.

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

Development Assistance Conditions and Accountability Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Independent

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-446, An Act respecting the provision of development assistance by the Canadian International Development Agency and other federal bodies.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is intended to provide a legislative mandate for the Canadian International Development Agency, a mandate with the central focus on poverty reduction and in a manner consistent with Canadian values, Canadian foreign policy and international human rights standards.

The legislation would improve transparency and accountability.

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

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-447, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (use of hand-held cellular telephone while operating a motor vehicle).

Mr. Speaker, how many times have we narrowly escaped an accident on a road? It has happened to us all. More and more it seems that when we look over our shoulder at the offending driver, we see him or her chatting away on their cellular phone. This is an offence of which more than a few of us have been guilty.

Today, I am proud to introduce in the House this bill to amend the Criminal Code of Canada with regard to cell phone use during the operation of a motor vehicle. This enactment amends the Criminal Code to make it an offence to use a hand-held cellular telephone while operating a motor vehicle on a highway.

This private member's bill is quite simple and aims to stop people from taking this unnecessary risk that endangers innocent lives.

The amendment would still allow for the use of cellular phones that are used with an external speaker or with an earpiece and microphone, but it would try to halt the growing trend of convenience and lifestyle habits taking precedence over public safety on Canadian roads.

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

There is a lot of enthusiasm for an amendment to ban the telephones in the House as well.

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

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place among all parties concerning the recorded division scheduled to take place later today on the motion to concur in the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology, requesting an extension of time to consider Bill C-281. I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:

That the recorded division scheduled to take place later today on the motion to concur in the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Industry, Natural Resources, Science and Technology, be deemed concurred in.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me today to present a petition signed by hundreds of Manitobans on autism spectrum disorder. The petition calls for more research to be brought forward to help these children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to table. The first petition is to protect the freeze expansion and new quarry permits on the Niagara escarpment.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on redefining marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is to amend section 83 of the Criminal Code of Canada to provide an exemption for all martial arts and martial arts contests and competitions, including but not limited to aikido, grappling, judo, jujitsu, karate, kick-boxing, kung fu, muay thai, tae kwon do, tai chi and wrestling that are done under official authority of an athletic commission.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Clavet Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride today to table a petition, since CanWest Global has decided to transfer its broadcasting, routing and video tape recording activities from CKMI in Quebec City to Toronto. Numerous individuals and organizations in the Quebec City region have already complained to the CRTC about this.

Today, I am proud to table a petition calling on the House of Commons to ensure that the CRTC will rapidly intervene so that Global TV in Quebec City respects its commitments and keeps the station's production and broadcasting activities in Quebec City.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in my hand signed by the residents of the province of New Brunswick. The petitioners suggest that the Government of Canada should say no to the transport of LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage. Head Harbour Passage is one of the most dangerous waterways in all of Canada. They say this cargo is much too dangerous to attempt to put through those waters.

They ask the Government of Canada to say no in order to protect our environment, our citizens and our economy.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the culture, physical fitness, safety, health and overall well-being of current and future Canadians improve with the adoption of various legislative measures allowing Canadian families access to extracurricular activities and tax deductions for related expenses, such as enrollment fees, necessary equipment, training sessions and summer camps for Canadian youth between 4 and 17 years of age, the petitioners are asking Parliament to adopt legislation allowing tax deductions for all expenses related to extracurricular activities. The family of Julie Blais Comeau started this petition.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Gouk Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, my petition today is signed by the residents of Rossland, British Columbia. The petitioners point out to the House that the RCMP detachment in their community was closed approximately two years ago, being amalgamated with two other detachments. Since that time, there has been a growing frequency of crime in their community. The petition is signed by almost 20% of the residents of that community.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to enact legislation to reopen the local RCMP detachment in Rossland in order that RCMP members be available for direct and immediate contact to deal with complaints. As it stands now, it takes up to 45 minutes for the RCMP to attend complaints. My constituents are looking for the same kind of justice that they would expect in other communities.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, members will be absolutely amazed that I am still getting petitions complaining about the government's mismanagement of the 2004 fishery on the Fraser River. I have petitions today from all over British Columbia, including from Annieville school in Delta, from Parksville on Vancouver Island, Deep Bay and French Creek. It is absolutely astounding. I have presented petitions with thousands of names on this issue.

Of course since 2004, we have had the disaster of 2005, where a complete season went by without any fishery for sockeye on the Fraser River. It is an incredible happening.

The petitioners are calling on the government to call for an enquiry into the management of the 2004 fishery. It would only be appropriate if there was an enquiry as well into the management of the 2005 fishery on the Fraser River. I am sure members would agree with that.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Chatters Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition today on behalf of over 300 residents of my riding of Westlock--St. Paul. They are outraged at the government's reaction to the private member's bill presented by the member for Lethbridge on the age of sexual consent. They are asking that the government raise the age of sexual consent to 18 years of age.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present three petitions signed by about 120 residents of my riding. They believe that the institution of marriage between a man and a woman is the best foundation for families and the raising of children. They are calling on Parliament to pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Calgary South Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions today, but I will limit it to just one because there are members who want to present petitions.

This petition is with regard to the lack of leadership from the Liberal government that continues to suppress long term prosperity of Canadians in relation to income trusts that have provided some relief to seniors and workers saving for retirement. Unfortunately, the Minister of Finance has created some uncertainty to the future of income trusts.

There are thousands of signatures of petitioners who are asking the Minister of Finance to bring some clarity to this matter and restore income trusts.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Anders Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition on behalf of 77 students at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna. They are very concerned about what is going on with the People's Republic of China and its suppression of the people of Tibet, the unprovoked aggression and invasion of that country, the thousands of Buddhist monasteries that have been destroyed in Tibet and the banning of religious activity by the Chinese authorities and the attempt to eliminate Tibetan religion and culture.

The petitioners are asking our government to call upon China to cease those practices that deprive Tibetan people of their fundamental freedoms and rights.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by a number of Canadians principally from British Columbia, from the areas of Sechelt, Gibsons, and so on. They have joined my campaign to call for tougher laws in this country to fight the growing threat of date rape drugs on especially young women on campuses across the country.

The petitioners ask that the government do three things: first, to recommend that substances such as GHB and Rohypnol, which are generally date rate drugs, be identified in the Criminal Code under a separate schedule so there would be tougher and more effective penalties associated with them; second, to establish in cooperation with the provinces and territories a national initiative to educate women on the dangers of date rape drugs; and third, to establish in cooperation with the provinces and territories a national task force for new guidelines on the collection of evidence with regard to sexual assaults and rapes so that prosecutions could be facilitated.

The government has done nothing about this growing threat. Canadians are upset and they have joined me on this petition calling for action.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to present a petition. The petitioners are urging the Government of Canada to assert its sovereign rights and to declare no rights of passage for LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage, based on Canadian law and the precedent set in 1976 when oil tankers were refused passage. This is dealing with the Passamaquoddy region of New Brunswick.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 213 could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 213
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

With regard to soldiers affected by Order in Council 1946-3264: ( a ) how many soldiers were affected by this Order in Council; ( b ) how many of these soldiers are still alive; ( c ) how much money did the government save by deeming these soldiers never to have served in the Canadian Forces; ( d ) how much would it cost for the government to rescind Order in Council 1946-3264 and extend veteran's benefits to those affected; and ( e ) has the government received requests from individual soldiers, or their respective families, to overturn this Order in Council and/or have their record changed to reflect their service in the Canadian Forces and therefore their eligibility for veterans' benefits and, if so, how many requests of this nature has the government received since August 14, 1946?

(Return tabled)

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to call Motion No. P-12.

That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all minutes of discussions and background documentation prepared for discussions by the Consumer Measures Committee of Industry Canada related to financial services provided to Canadians by institutions that are not chartered banks, including but not exclusively, the topic of payday or short-term loans.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-12 in the name of the hon. member for Winnipeg North is acceptable to the government and the documents are tabled immediately.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House that Notice of Motion No. P-12 for the Production of Papers be deemed to have been adopted?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the other Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it agreed that the remaining Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers stand?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest on a point of order.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, here we go again. A number of notices, as the parliamentary secretary is aware, have been on some pretty important issues, one of them being agent orange, another being information on the passport issue which will wreak havoc with the Canadian economy unless the Government of Canada takes firm action with its U.S. counterparts, as well as the LNG issue in terms of a study that the Government of Canada is conducting, which the parliamentary secretary has already made mention of in this House.

Those are important issues. It is unacceptable that the Government of Canada takes so long. With the resources that the Government of Canada has, it could answer those in an afternoon if it wanted to.

The question on the LNG issue would be what is the government trying to hide? The information that we now have, and this is the last point I will make, is that the Prime Minister's shipping company, the company that is owned by the Martin family, is now in concert with and a partner with another LNG company that is--

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I am having trouble following what the hon. member is talking about, whether it is Questions on the Order Paper or whether it is Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers. I cannot tell what he is talking about. Maybe the parliamentary secretary has some idea and wants to respond, but it has gone right over my head.

The hon. parliamentary secretary has the floor.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am very sad to admit that much of it has gone over my head as well, but that could be because the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest is mistaken. The questions that he has on the order paper will obviously be answered in the prescribed time limits. Mr. Speaker, you would expect nothing less of the government. We certainly do not want to have to waste valuable time at committee discussing why the government did not meet these deadlines. That is why we always meet the deadlines.

Perhaps one way to ensure that all of these Questions on the Order Paper, and there are many, and all the Notices of Motions are answered would be to keep Parliament sitting for many more months. That way we could be assured that these questions were all answered with great haste.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest. It will have to be very brief.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, the point we are making here is that for members of Parliament to do their jobs, this information is important. The government simply wants to sit on it and dither away its time, if you will--

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I know there is a disagreement but this does not sound like a point of order to me. It sounds like a matter of disagreement over the rules. The hon. member can of course go to the procedure and House affairs committee if he thinks the time given for answering his questions is too long and have the periods shortened, if the committee agrees with that kind of submission, but we do not need to have that kind of debate on the floor every day when some questions are answered and others are not.

The House resumed from November 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-68, An Act to support development of Canada's Pacific Gateway, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

When the House last debated this matter, the hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre had the floor. There are five minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks, as well as five minutes for questions and comments at the conclusion of his remarks. I now call on the hon. member for Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, at the end of my presentation a few days ago I was actually talking about western alienation. Even though the bill deals with the Pacific gateway, the House may wonder why western alienation came into my conversation. To recap, the Pacific gateway bill deals with $400 million which the government is suggesting it spend only after a suitable amount of time to study it by appointing a committee, many members of which would be appointed by the government, to determine what to do with the money. My point was that the British Columbia port strategy committee had already examined this issue very extensively through its own blue panel experts and had determined all of the priority spending items that should be made.

Whether the government likes it or not, people in British Columbia are feeling probably somewhat alienated by this initiative because the government is delaying and has not listened to their advice in the first place.

I can assure the House that in Saskatchewan, my home province, the feeling of alienation probably goes far beyond any other province for one primary issue and that deals with equalization.

I want to give the members who are sitting in the House today a bit of a history lesson about equalization. I want to also put the record straight. The Minister of Finance has consistently stood in the House and I believe has given some poor information, let me put it that way, about the equalization formula, the program and its impact upon Saskatchewan.

As most members probably know, equalization was designed in the late 1950s to assist provinces that did not have the fiscal capacity of others to try to equalize the level of taxation and try to equalize the level of services provided by each of the provinces. This is uniquely a Canadian program, something which I do not believe any other jurisdiction in North America and perhaps even in the world deals with.

While the program is generally beneficial and recipients are quite happy to receive the equalization payments, the fact of the matter remains that the equalization formula itself is seriously flawed. When it comes to Saskatchewan, it is costing Saskatchewan residents money.

Quite frankly, what equalization means is this. There should be a formula to determine the fiscal capacity of each and every province and then payments would be made to those have not provinces to equalize their revenue stream so that they could provide the same level of services and offer roughly the same level of taxation as some of their more wealthy neighbours.

The problem with the formula is it includes non-renewable natural resources. All of the leading experts on equalization have agreed that non-renewable natural resources should be removed from the equalization formula because that does not truly indicate fiscal capacity. Why is that? Quite simply, because non-renewable natural resources, as the name suggests, once they are taken out of the ground, as in the case of oil, are gone forever. They are not a renewable source of wealth or income. Taxation and income from other sources are renewable, but energy resources, oil and gas primarily, are not renewable.

Experts agree that they should be taken out of the equalization formula. If they were taken out, here is the impact it would have on Saskatchewan. One, our fiscal capacity would be defined at a far less level than it is today. Currently with the oil and gas prices we see today, billions of dollars are being removed from the ground in the form of oil and gas deposits. The revenue is great, but unfortunately that gives a false sense of what our fiscal capacity truly is.

On top of that, during the times that we are a have not province, for every $1 that we make from oil and gas sales in our province, the government claws back from any equalization payments up to $1.28. It is not an incentive for us to actually drill for oil and gas.

That is the biggest source of alienation that we have in our province. It demonstrates that the government does not care about our province. This is the most fundamental and revenue driven program that we have in our province, and the government and the Minister of Finance are totally ignoring reality.

I will conclude my remarks by saying that if the government truly wants to address issues such as western alienation, why does it not for once listen to members and heed their advice?

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Internal Trade

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today to this important bill. It is of particular interest to me because I was a member of an all party committee that studied this very issue.

Over a year and a half ago a group of us went to countries such as China, India, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, and had a chance to see firsthand the emerging markets in that area. I do not think anyone can question that this is where the future lies. Canada needs to position itself very squarely in their view.

I would like to mention a few statistics that we received when we were there. People will probably have heard this already, but it confirms the importance of the market in the Asia-Pacific region. One of the statistics we heard when we were there is that 60% of the building cranes in the world were in China. Second, China, in the year that we were there, was going to be introducing 40 new models of vehicles which ties into my third point which speaks to the middle class in both China and India.

If China is introducing 40 new vehicles, obviously there are people there who are going to buy them, so the world is changing rapidly and the Asia-Pacific market is changing rapidly. These figures may change, but we are told that between 150 million and 250 million middle class now exist both in India and China, but these figures vary depending on who is speaking.

When we were in China, we were told that a port is being built there that will be able to service 15 times what Vancouver is able to service at this time. So again, everything that is done in that area is done on a huge scale. It is very important that we be present there to accommodate further trade.

We were also told that, in terms of education, India alone is producing between 250,000 and 300,000 engineers a year. If I look at Manitoba, where I am from, I believe that our faculty is probably producing between 100 and 150 engineers a year. When we look at those numbers, it is absolutely mind boggling. If people think that the quality of education is inferior, they really need to take a second look at this. We had an opportunity to visit some of those universities and the quality of education is absolutely world class.

I am very pleased and I applaud the hon. ministers of Transport, Industry, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Western Economic Diversification for having recognized the importance of this market and for having recognized the importance of establishing a Pacific gateway strategy.

I am told the strategy will see up to $590 million invested in specific areas to help Canada deepen its economic links with the Asia-Pacific region and ensure that Canada remains a key trading partner of the world's most powerful emerging economies.

The strategy and the proposed Pacific gateway act currently before Parliament is about positioning Canada to take full advantage of global commerce and ensure lasting prosperity for Canadians. Thanks to Canada's rich cultural diversity, our nation already has many people to people links to the world beyond our borders.

One of the things we established when we were there was the importance of these people to people links, the importance of student exchange programs to ensure that in the future these people continue doing business with each other. We found in Hong Kong, for instance, that many students had studied at McGill University. They are currently preferring Canadian businesses at this point because of their connection to Canada. That is a very important part of what we would like to do.

However, the time has come to build more economic links as well. With the global economy shifting into high gear, Canada needs the infrastructure to support these links and ensure that Canada is well positioned to benefit from the emerging markets of the world.That is what the Pacific gateway strategy is all about.

Today, I would like to talk about what this plan means for Canada's trade and its aim to make Canada the premier gateway between the North American market and the vast emerging markets of Asia. Indeed, the strategy's initiatives will go a long way to furthering our goals under Canada's international commerce strategy outlined by the Prime Minister last April as part of Canada's international policy statement.

As the statement makes clear, global business is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace. What is driving this change are advances in information and communications technology, lower transportation costs, and reduced barriers to trade and investment.

A business as usual approach no longer works. Canada's future prosperity depends on the rapid, seamless, and secure movement of people, goods, investment and knowledge. It depends on developing high efficiency trade corridors with the economic powerhouses of the world.

Until recently, Canada's trade corridor could be best described as a north-south corridor. The United States has been our number one trading partner and continues to play an essential role in Canada's economic life. These days, remaining globally competitive means looking beyond North America, especially to the emerging markets of the Asia-Pacific region.

Economic powerhouses like China and India represent the future of world trade. Take China for instance, the world's fastest growing economy. It is currently the world's seventh largest economy and the prospects for future growth look very bright. Canada has already made a number of important links to this exciting market. China is our second largest two-way trading partner with total trade valued at $30.8 billion in 2004.

The Pacific gateway strategy is all about strengthening links with economies like China and making a series of key investments that will position Canada's west coast as a nexus for our trade with the Asia-Pacific region.

Investments of up to $590 million will go toward improving our transportation system, including our ports, whose capacity is being stretched to its limits; ensuring a smooth flow of goods across our borders; helping to develop common harmonized standards with the Asia-Pacific region; and of course developing future initiatives that will strengthen the Pacific gateway in the years to come.

It is interesting to note that our committee's recommendations discussed exactly this. A lot of the problems are not in Asia. A lot of the issues that we have to deal with are actually here in Canada like better preparing our businesses to deal with the different business environment in the Asia-Pacific region. I am thrilled to see that we are moving on this. It is a great initiative and that is why I am pleased to be speaking on this topic.

Fortunately, Canada is very well positioned to take full advantage of increased trade with the Asia-Pacific region. Canada is blessed with many geographic advantages. By boat, Canada's west coast ports are about two days closer to Asian markets than any other port in the western hemisphere. In fact, the port of Vancouver handled a total of 73.6 million tonnes of cargo in 2004, a 10% increase from the previous year. This is directly attributable to increased trade in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly with China.

Our railways offer among the most affordable freight rates in North America. Our trucking industry is highly competitive and efficient, and a key link to the American marketplace.

We cannot overlook the importance of our proximity to and effective transportation links with the American marketplace. This is a valuable advantage, one that emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region certainly appreciate.

Canada's many advantages clearly demonstrate that building links to the Asia-Pacific region means more than having the best goods and services in place. Today's demands for rapid just in time service also means that successful nations will be the ones that make the most of their geographic advantages by getting their logistical houses in order.

Getting products and services to market smoothly and efficiently is fast becoming an essential component of a nation's trade. That is why I am happy to see that the Pacific gateway strategy not only recognizes Canada's many advantages, but it also puts forward a plan to strengthen these advantages and ensure that our transportation system, telecommunications, border procedures and regulatory standards give our nation a clear, competitive edge in the global marketplace.

I should also point out that this initiative reaches far beyond western Canada. Strengthening our position in global commerce is a priority for the entire country.

The link is undeniable. Our total trade is equivalent to over 70% of our GDP and one in five jobs is trade-related. That is why the strategy investments are being spent directly on priorities that affect the entire country. For instance, the central and Atlantic provinces exported over $8 billion worth of goods to Asia in 2004, 82% of which depended on efficient marine transportation and port infrastructure, a key component of the strategy. The strategy's investments to improve the flow of goods across our borders will affect all border provinces, not just British Columbia.

I am also pleased to note that there are a number of similar initiatives underway to promote this gateways and corridor concept across the country, in Montreal, Halifax, southern Ontario and Manitoba. I can speak to the Manitoba corridor which is the north-south corridor, which opens up a market of 80,000 people in the American Midwest. It has been an essential part of the Manitoba strategy to develop links with cities such as San Antonio and Chicago. It has worked extremely well. I am very pleased that we are doing this now on an international basis with the Asia-Pacific region.

These kinds of strategic initiatives are essential for Canadian trade obviously. They reflect the importance that all regions of Canada place on boosting our share of the global marketplace and they represent an important step in attracting the kind of investment that will spell real benefits for Canadians in the future.

Together with the groundbreaking Pacific gateway strategy and act, these initiatives will help ensure that Canada remains a key player in global trade for generations to come.

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3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, clearly this is a great project that Canada needs and the west needs. In my research on this, it seems to me that some experts in the British Columbia area suggested that to do this project correctly it would cost about $4 billion. Therefore, the federal commitment would be 50% or about $2 billion.

It seems to me that the federal government is committing $400 million. That is a complete underfunding of an initiative. Here is where my concern lies. We have consistently heard from this government about funding initiatives that ultimately end up being underfunded.

We had that problem during the BSE crisis. Even in my own riding of Cambridge, this infrastructure money that we get from the government ultimately amounts to paving a couple of blocks on a street in my community. It is complete underfunding.

I wonder if what we are really hearing from the government is just another initiative that the Liberal government has become well known for, which is a lot of talk and ultimately no action.

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to correct the facts. The investment is not for $400 million. It is $590 million. There is $190 million invested immediately and $400 million will be set aside for future development.

Yesterday morning we had the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce in town. It was absolutely thrilled with this initiative. I am sure my colleague here from Saskatchewan will be speaking to the people in Saskatchewan about developing their strategy to tap into this future development.

The Manitoba Chamber of Commerce talked about the port of Churchill and how it can be tied into future developments in B.C. and also about the possibility of an inland port. Winnipeg has the 12th fastest growing cargo airport in the world, believe it or not, but it is a fact. We see some absolutely amazing future tie-ins with this project.

I believe that the $600 million is quite appropriate at this point. I believe it sets the groundwork. It allows us to establish a structure to move forward in the future.

I am not sure we should be investing $2 billion. We would all like to invest $2 billion or $4 billion and that is obvious. The chambers of commerce were thrilled with this initiative and they did not discuss whether the $600 million initiative was adequate or not. In fact, they thought it was an extremely good infrastructure beginning.

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3:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, I wanted to ask my colleague from St. Boniface a few things regarding his speech. Bill C-68, with the new gateway strategy, has some merit in that we are all hoping that we can diversify our trade alliances and not be quite as reliant as we have been on the north-south traffic as the overwhelming dominant force in our trade strategy.

I would ask the hon. member if that trade strategy with China and India and developing nations would take in more than just trade documents and trade agreements? It would take infrastructure as well.

The Liberal government is currently engaged in the sale of the Prince Rupert terminal under a cloud of secrecy, a veil of secrecy. Perhaps he can answer this and shed some light on it. It looks as though a fixture worth hundreds of millions of dollars, a public asset, will be sold for $3 million or $4 million as the going price, with no open tendering practice, and no ability to ensure that we are getting the best value possible for our crown asset that is the Prince Rupert terminal.

Would the hon. member explain to me how this kind of secrecy and this kind of treatment of our public assets is in keeping with the overall impetus to expand the trade and the gateway?

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, much of the initial investment of $190 million will go toward exactly what he is speaking to. It will go toward port development and rail development, not only in British Columbia but right across the nation. I know the four western provinces are keen on this initiative. They think they can certainly benefit from it.

However, as I was saying earlier, our friends from the Atlantic provinces are also selling $10 billion a year to the Asia-Pacific. All of Canada will benefit from this.

Initially we will be focusing on developing these ports and nothing else. We will be extending our rail line facilities and our port facilities. I am very pleased with the initial investment of $190 million.

I also feel that the $400 million we have set aside is an extremely good idea. It would allow provinces like Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to begin developing their strategies and see how they fit into the overall picture.

Again, in my study a year and a half ago, one of the most critical parts of our strategy was developing infrastructure in Canada and ensuring that businesses were made aware of how to do business in those areas. I am very pleased that the initial investment is taking place here and not necessarily overseas.

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4 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Speaker, the member from the NDP made a good point when he said that increasing trade, which is so important to so many Canadians, will take more than just this project. I would direct Canadians to read the section of the economic statement on Monday that commits more assistance to that very important foreign trade facilitation.

It was also interesting, as per usual, to hear the Conservative speaker once again suggest ballooning expenses for the federal government. Throughout question period, the Conservatives are always asking us to spend more money on things. We will reduce taxes, as it states in the economic statement, but we will not be making the broad, huge extra spending commitments that the Conservatives keep suggesting.

This is also very important for my riding in the north. We are very resource rich, with mining and forestry, and we need infrastructure. Of course, Prince Rupert is much closer to Vancouver. We do not want a bottleneck for rail and road. We would like to get our commodities out. I hope the member would agree with me that this is very important to the northwest of Canada as well, not just the prairie provinces and British Columbia.

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4 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely correct. I may have forgotten in my speech to speak to the importance of our northern communities as well in this whole strategy. The ministers involved in developing the strategy have been very forthcoming and upfront to ensure that people do not think that it is uniquely a B.C. strategy. It is a Canada-wide strategy.

I absolutely agree with my colleague from Yukon that a lot of our natural resources come from that area and that is one of the things that our Asia-Pacific clients are looking for. The north is certainly a very integral part of this strategy.

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4 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask for clarification from the hon. member.

The member for Yukon seems to be encouraged about getting some of his resources out of Yukon. The way the government takes money, for every dollar in diamonds he gets out of Yukon, his own party will probably take $1.25, so it is probably better to just leave them there.

There was a question earlier regarding selling the port. If we are to sell the port, have contracts been tendered out?

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4 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Speaker, the reason I did not refer to that is because I am not sure if we are selling the port. I would have to get back to the member on that. If I knew, I would tell him.

The hon. member spoke to equalization, which is a very important issue. When we are discussing this type of strategic initiative from the government in the future, we should actually stick to this initiative. I find that lately in the House we have had to stand up on relevance issues on almost every speech.

I spoke very specifically to the Pacific Gateway strategy and to its importance, not only to all of Canada but to my riding in Saint Boniface. It is a very important initiative for the people of Saint Boniface and I am very proud that our government has advanced it.

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4 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I am proud to speak to Bill C-68, an act to develop Canada's Pacific gateway. As we have heard from many of my colleagues in the Conservative Party, we do support this initiative.

I would like to speak to the bill on two fronts, first, as a representative from the west, and second, as the official opposition infrastructure critic, and address some of the challenges I still see that we need to address in moving forward.

As many Canadians know, the opening of the west has been an important part of Canadian history, from the development of the railroads to the building of the Trans-Canada Highway. For the Conservative Party and myself from Edmonton--Strathcona, it is paramount that the west not only receives fair treatment from Ottawa but also the respect it deserves. Unfortunately, we have seen over a decade of Liberal rule that the federal government is really out of touch with the west.

We are looking at initiatives of how to strengthen this gateway. My colleague from Cambridge asked the parliamentary secretary about the funding and the lack of funding. The greatest accomplishment of the public safety minister, who is a Liberal from Alberta, is the gun registry, for which I think most Canadians would agree we have seen no value. The $2 billion from that program could have helped fund the initiatives required in this particular project.

The whole gun registry is a scheme to register the long guns of duck hunters while the Liberals totally ignore the underlying causes of crime, such as drugs and gangs. If the Liberals did have respect for the west, they would go after these sorts of problems instead of focusing all the feigned outrage on western hunters who simply wish to share this unique experience of hunting with their children. If the government were in touch, we would see initiatives such as this actually being funded properly.

Canadians living west of Kenora realize that the Liberals are out of touch. This is why they continually, election after election, select a majority of Conservatives to represent them here in Parliament. It is something that I think Canadians in central and eastern Canada are also realizing. In the last election, Canadians overwhelmingly moved their vote away from the Liberals to other parties, namely the Conservatives who were the recipients of that benefit in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. In the next election, I think the Liberals will finally realize what Canadians already know. They will find that Canadians do not want an arrogant, tired, corrupt Liberal government that specializes in playing regions against each other. Unfortunately, this is a lesson that the Liberals have not yet learned.

We can take this bill as an example. It is a clear, unabashed attempt to win votes for the Liberal Party in British Columbia because of the way they tried to sell the plan. The Liberals think they can buy off one region of Canada against another and they are playing British Columbians against the rest of country, telling the detractors of this bill that if they do not support this bill they do not support B.C.

This sort of Liberal trick to try to play this game has not worked as well as they think. As a western Canadian, I am here to tell them that they should be ashamed of themselves and that this sort of thing has actually created more divisions and alienation across the country resulting in Canadians feeling disconnected with their parliamentarians here in Ottawa, especially the Liberal Party.

I also want to address Bill C-68 in my capacity as the infrastructure critic, first and generally, on the issue of infrastructure and then some specifics according to the bill.

The past 12 years of Liberal rule have brought Canada many infrastructure projects meant to boost Canada's transportation networks, and yet, in many ways, these programs have failed as the infrastructure deficit continues to grow. We have seen the FCM estimate the infrastructure deficit at over $60 billion.

The Canadian Automobile Association is another one of those groups that estimates the country needs to invest about $20 billion in our roads in order to bring them up to snuff. Where does it get this figure? It gets this figure from the provincial highway ministers who said that the figure in 2000 was about $17 billion. Of course, since then that has risen due to inflation and the lack of regard by the Liberals to the roads that we drive on across the country.

This is a very serious issue and I need to underscore this point. I would like to read an action plan that was developed by the CAA and published earlier this year in February trying to warn the government of warning signs, especially when it comes to our national highway system and our roadways.

The first action the CAA talked about was that they see roads as an investment, not an expense, and that when we consider all the gas tax money collected in the country, more of that money should be going into our highway system. The federal government should make better and safer roadways a major goal and consider them as an important part of the federal productivity agenda.

The second action would be to implement a national highway strategy. The federal government must recognize the national highway system as a strategic national asset and then it must adopt the national highway policy for Canada's NHS as proposed by the provinces and territories. It must then move immediately to fund this national highway system to ensure it is safe, efficient and environmentally responsible from coast to coast.

We have to set funding priorities. The federal government must invest in the national highway strategy to upgrade it to the optimal standard and address the future needs as well. This ties into Bill C-68, especially if we are expanding the gateway. The highway system will be crucial to that. It should also include speeding up the border infrastructure program and develop a rural road safety and improvement program.

We also have to invest in the roads of tomorrow, enhance the role of technology and innovation when exploring the development of better and safer roads and highways, and finally, encourage eco-driving. I think it is interesting that even the Canadian Automobile Association says that there should be some sort of incentives in place, especially as technologies are evolving, looking at new ways to develop hybrid cars and other types of fuel cells, that there should be incentives for Canadians to change their habits and that leadership should come from the federal government.

Those are all actions that as a future government I believe we would definitely support and initiate. The question is whether the Liberals are willing to listen to the motorists of Canada and start working to address those infrastructure needs.

What I have been arguing about this particular bill is that it sometimes seems more politics than policy. If the federal government really wants to support this gateway initiative I believe it needs to finance the initiatives that were identified by B.C.'s comprehensive British Columbia ports strategy. I believe my colleague from Cambridge referred to it. It was developed jointly by British Columbia's ministry of small business and economic development and the ministry of transportation in B.C. The B.C. progress board, a provincially nominated blue ribbon panel of experts, largely supports the recommendations.

Bill C-68 would create an advisory council to help decide how to spend the $400 million that the federal government has announced in support of the specific gateway initiative. The council would have 15 members, 9 of whom would be nominated by the federal government , 5 of whom would be nominated in cooperation with the four western provinces and the final member would be the chairperson of the Asia-Pacific Foundation.

Bill C-68 is a Liberal strategy so it can be seen as doing something to help promote B.C. ports. By setting up the council as a means of subjecting current initiatives to further consultation, the Liberals can continue to postpone their financial commitments while being seen as taking a bold step to support this initiative. I believe it will cost approximately $30 million just to operate the consultation group, which, as has already been proven, consultation has been done by the B.C. government.

The B.C. government estimates that about $3.5 billion will be required to actually identify and enhance the projects that would support the Pacific gateway. The province's number one transportation policy to date was not funded by the federal government's gateway announcement. It is looking at approximately, as my colleague mentioned, $1.5 billion on average, or maybe a little higher, that would fund about 50% of what is required to make the gateway project work.

With this level of shortfall, which I believe was a $400 million announcement for future initiatives, it will not even come close to providing B.C. the money for its initiatives. I know that the costs of some of the projects that were identified were quite large. We are looking at the Kicking Horse Canyon project, the North Fraser perimeter road, Port Mann Highway No. 1, the South Fraser perimeter road and the New Westminster rail bridge. None of these projects, which will directly affect the functionality of the Pacific gateway, were even touched in any of the proposals put forward. These are all significant projects and they have all been identified as crucial to making the new project work.

I will conclude with what we would have done and how we would have approached things differently. Rather than announcing ideas or policies throughout Canada's Pacific gateway, the Liberals have announced more bureaucracy. Western ports need real solutions to their challenges, not this Liberal half-step.

As a government, we would make real policy changes that would allow the Pacific gateway to become a reality, not a Liberal catchphrase. We would eliminate Ottawa's borrowing cap on the port of Vancouver, which is a big problem. We would allow B.C. ports to voluntarily merge for competitive advantage and facilitate their access to more investment. We would streamline security at our ports, offer assistance with dredging, invest gas taxes into our infrastructure, and work with provincial governments and port authorities on high priority infrastructure projects. This would be the proper blueprint.

Canadians deserve better than Liberal catchphrases.

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4:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to the concerns of my hon. friend and particularly to his last remarks with respect to increasing bureaucracy. There is no question at all about that. Members of the House should be concerned about this and should be looking out for it when new proposals come forward. In fact, I probably will be saying a few things about that myself later in this debate when I speak.

However, there is a question I would like to put to him. His party has frequently proposed that the ports police be reconstituted or has said that it was a mistake to disband the ports police. Yet bureaucracy was exactly why that relatively small police force, which had to work with the RCMP and with the port of Vancouver police, was disbanded: because in fact there was more bureaucracy and there were more police forces than necessary.

I believe I heard him mention in his comments this area of protection of the ports. I wonder if his party has now adopted the approach that in fact it does make sense to have the same police forces who handle the onshore security aspects, the same police forces who handle behind the port security, also work on that narrow band of actual waterfront where the docks, some of the warehouses and the ships are. Has his party now accepted the fact that it was a sensible decision or is it still advocating yet more bureaucracy in the ports police area?

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4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I think the hon. member for Victoria is confusing what bureaucracy and concrete measures for protecting Canadians are all about. When I was referring to the increased bureaucracy, I was referring to $35 million that the new Pacific gateway council is going to cost to actually re-study and re-coordinate work that has already been done by the B.C. government and a number of partners in reference to the ports. That is what I was referring to when I said there would be increased bureaucracy.

When it comes to ports police and even to an effective border strategy for protecting our borders, seeing that this is our front line of defence and protection for Canadians, we have been calling, first of all, for a significant border patrol in some of our remote areas. I believe some of our ports are no different. For potential problems, police and the RCMP could be up to an hour or an hour and a half away. This puts real pressure on our customs agents at our land border crossings in reacting to problems.

We have called on the government and said that there has to be a police force, whether we beef up the RCMP or look at an actual border patrol, to deal with protection and security at our borders. It is no different for our ports. I think the hon. member has to realize this. He cannot confuse this with more bureaucracy, which is really going into a vacuum when we look at that $35 million to pay for all these people on the council. Let us compare that to what that money could do if we actually were to put in a border patrol and bring in an aspect of it for our ports. I think Canadians would like to see that sort of security and protection. I do not think it is a duplication at all. If anything, having something like that in place would be a more effective way to patrol both our ports and our borders.

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4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Madam Chair, I must congratulate my colleague for an absolutely brilliant presentation on this issue. Clearly we want to move forward and help out Canadians as much as we can.

I want to pose this question. In my riding of Cambridge, the government continues to come in and make announcement after announcement. In fact, it makes the same announcement two, three and four times. I suppose that if we added it all up it would be some meaningful money.

My concern is that again we are seeing what appears to be a promise with no end result. If we are going to underfund a project, how does anyone buy into that? Clearly our mayors are extremely happy with any dollar they get because they are so strapped. My concern is that this is just another announcement that will never go anywhere because it is underfunded.

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4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Cambridge for his flattering remarks and also for his very well placed concern. I think he hit the nail on the head when he talked about the idea that many of these groups--and I believe the parliamentary secretary referred to one group, I forget which--said they were thrilled to have this money come down. They really need the money for these initiatives.

Some money is better than no money. We cannot really blame these groups for wanting this money. They have been waiting to actually get going to enhance many of these projects, including the gateway project. Clearly that is a positive step, but I mentioned a number of projects that are crucial to the viability of this Pacific gateway initiative. The Kicking Horse Canyon project is a $730 million project. I also mentioned the North Fraser Perimeter Road, the Portmann highway and the South Fraser Perimeter Road. With the Kicking Horse Canyon project alone at $730 million, the government is way short of even that particular project.

I think the government has to re-evaluate what its targets are. The government has to make sure that if it is going to make announcements like those my hon. colleague asked about, they will create some differences at the end of the day.

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4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House in support of the Pacific gateway strategy and Bill C-68.

As all members know, the dynamics of global trade are changing. Today these dynamics are driven by rapid, seamless and secure movements of goods and people around the world, in global supply chains. Both the human and the physical capital to support these movements are concentrated in key geographic locations also known as gateways. These gateways are primary points where goods and services and people come into or leave Canada.

These gateways are connected to each other and to major markets by corridors. We have long recognized the importance of Canada's Pacific gateway as a critical entry point to Canada and North America. This is where all modes of transportation--rail, road, marine and air--come together and create a world class economic network that stretches back across much of the country.

The challenges are indeed immense. Across the Pacific Ocean, China's economic growth has been nothing short of incredible and it is expected to continue well into the future. While it is currently the world's sixth largest economy, it is predicted to be the second largest by 2016 and the largest by 2041. India is also experiencing incredible growth, as are Asian rim countries such as South Korea.

These developments create tremendous opportunities and Canada simply cannot and will not maintain the status quo.

In addition to infrastructure capacity, gateway performance is also affected directly by a range of factors, such as, for example: labour market issues, including skill shortages in critical fields such as long-haul trucking; operating practices in the supply chain; increasing pressures in border management, where continued efficiency and greater security must be delivered in the context of rising volumes; regulatory and economic policies of all levels of government; and municipal land use policies and practices.

A still broader set of issues reaching far beyond infrastructure will determine how well Canada takes advantage of its Pacific gateway. These include trade promotion, sectoral cooperation, standards harmonization and innovation in the Asia-Pacific context. Concerted efforts in these and other fields are required to ensure that the Pacific gateway's contribution to Canada's prosperity is as great as possible.

Canada's Pacific gateway strategy has been developed to address these interconnected issues and opportunities in an integrated way and accelerate the development of the Pacific gateway and its benefits for British Columbia, the western provinces and, indeed, the entire country.

A new policy approach of this scale requires a new type of governance mechanism as well. That is why Bill C-68 includes the creation of the Pacific gateway council. The council, headquartered in Vancouver, would advise decision makers on the priorities among the full range of transportation and other issues that impact the effectiveness of Canada's Pacific gateway and how well the Canadian economy takes advantage of it.

The council will be inclusive. Its members will reflect important areas of expertise such as trade, transportation, security, labour and municipalities. It will also include representatives selected after consultations with the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

In total, the Government of Canada has announced up to $590 million over five years to support the Pacific gateway strategy.

Immediate investments totalling up to $190 million over the next five years include: up to $125 million in transportation infrastructure; up to $20 million in funding to address border management capacity at key points where increased trade and travel will stretch existing capacity; up to $10 million for measures, led by Industry Canada and the Standards Council of Canada, to deepen links with the Asia-Pacific region through increased cooperation in standards related activities and harmonization; and up to $35 million over five years for Canada's Pacific gateway council.

Additional amounts of up to $400 million will be dedicated to future initiatives to develop and exploit the Pacific gateway, including initiatives in response to the recommendations of Canada's Pacific Gateway Council.

The Pacific gateway strategy reflects leadership that is both decisive and collaborative. It also reflects the efforts of dedicated stakeholders across western Canada who have been advancing an integrated approach through a range of gateway issues for years. The new strategy would build upon those efforts and take the concept even further. The response already has been powerful.

As we debate issues in this chamber, it is also important to view this initiative not in isolation, but to view it as part of a bigger plan to enhance Canada's productivity, to enhance trade among Canada and to enhance emerging countries and the ability of a nation to face the challenges of global competition.

The bill speaks to that reality. It speaks to the fact that we as a government have recognized the need to expand trade opportunities, to develop greater markets and to provide greater employment for our citizens. In a broader context this also is very much part of a strategy that recognizes that in order to enhance the standard of living of Canadians and to enhance the quality of life for Canadians we also need to view things through a productivity prism.

What I mean by this is there are elements, when dedicating one's self to strengthening an economy, that we need to address. We need to ensure that we have a micro economic environment that works. We need to have a tax system that rewards effort, innovation and productivity enhancement measures. We need to have a flexible workforce. We need to engage in trade. Trade forces companies to specialize and to innovate. It forces firms to ensure that they can compete in the global marketplace.

That is why the bill should not be viewed in isolation. It should be viewed as part of an economic plan that in many ways works quite well for the people of Canada.

When we look at the government's economic record, when we look at our performance and we look at people's incomes and how low unemployment is today, we need to have faith that this is yet another measure taken by the government to bring about the type of prosperity and productivity gain that will result in higher income for people, greater opportunities and more disposable income for Canadians, and not just out west. It would be a mistake to think that this would only benefit western Canadians. This is a national program and initiative that would benefit Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

I have paid attention to many of the comments hon. members have made and I have taken note of those. However, I have great confidence in this initiative because it truly will open up Canada to great world opportunities.

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4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I noticed near the end of the hon. member's speech he mentioned two things, which I would like to question.

The initiative the government is proposing will increase the disposable income, and I believe that was the term the hon. member used, of Canadians which is a great thing. He also said that he had great faith, and I am glad that he does because I do not.

Given the fact that over the last decade of Liberal rule the disposable income has not significantly increased for Canadians, how could he possibly have faith that this underfunded project would do that for Canadians?

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4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Madam Speaker, as I said earlier, I tend to view things not in their singularity but rather in their cumulative effect.

I sat in the opposition from 1988. I remember those times with not a great deal of affection because our country faced a serious crisis. I remember as a 32 year old finding out that the IMF was knocking on the door of our country, a country of which I am really proud. I also remember the double-digit unemployment numbers. I remember, with not fond memories, the double-digit interest rates. Those were very damaging times for our nation. Not to mention the escalating debt that future generations of Canadians unfortunately will have to continue to pay. Not just my children, but my children's children and the children of the children of the children of the children will be paying that national debt.

Am I proud of the achievements of our government? First, I want to rephrase that. The achievements are not really of our government per se. The achievements are really achievements of all those Canadians who during that period could have thrown up their arms in despair. Instead, they chose to roll up their sleeves and brought about an economic renaissance that has seen Canada become a world leader.

I guess this is where I differ from people on the other side. I am not down on this country. I am very optimistic. I am also different from members on the opposite side because I give credit to all those Canadians who have brought about the economic renaissance. I give credit to those individuals who started small businesses, getting up early in the morning and working late into the night to bring about positive change in people's lives. I also am very different from the opposition that would like people to look at everything in a very dark way.

I am very hopeful because in 10 to 12 years we have seen a major turnaround in the country. When I travel the country and speak to those people who were once unemployed but are now employed, they are very grateful of the opportunities that Canada has offered them.

It is no wonder people from all over the world line up to come to this nation. Perhaps this is something you and I share, Madam Speaker. We recognize the great potential of our country as immigrants to this nation. We recognize that this is a great land of opportunity, that if we work hard and play by the rules, we will be rewarded.

I can say with all sincerity that there is a great deal of optimism out there. I visited the genome project at the Toronto Sick Children's Hospital. We once spoke in this chamber about brain drain. I have gone to the genome project to find out--

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4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As we enjoy the speech, could I ask the member to answer the question?

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4:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

That is not a point of order. The member is answering and is getting to what he considers to be the answer to the question. The hon. member for Vaughan has three seconds remaining.

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4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Vaughan, ON

Madam Speaker, I will dedicate those three seconds to thank Canadians who have turned the country around.

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4:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Charleswood St. James—Assiniboia, Health; the hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, Justice; the hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, Democratic Reform.

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4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I agree that the gateway project is a national initiative. It will benefit all of Canada, provided there is a fair amount of contribution of federal dollars and that they get to where they are needed.

My riding of Langley, British Columbia will be directly affected by the planned Pacific gateway. This transportation issue is one of the most important regional concerns for all my constituents. I take this issue very seriously on their behalf and have been personally involved in finding solutions ever since I was elected.

I sit on two separate task forces which deal with traffic and rail issues that affect my community of Langley and the surrounding areas. These task forces have originated out of a need to share information and to find solutions with government agencies and other communities directly influenced by the international container traffic coming through Deltaport on the Pacific.

Canada requires safe, efficient and effective transportation to be competitive in world trade. Our Pacific port is crucial and essential to the future of Canada. I understand the necessity for the expansion of Deltaport and I am supportive of those endeavours, but the increased rail traffic will have tremendous impacts on Langley.

I have been meeting with many stakeholders in both the city and township of Langley and regional stakeholders in an effort to bring forward a solution oriented approach to the residual problems for Langley with the projected growth in train traffic as a result of Deltaport expansion projects.

The expansion of the port capacity at Deltaport will profoundly impact an already inferior and exasperated situation by adding more than 30% to train length each day to grade crossings in Langley and Surrey. The Deltaport expansion projects an additional 170,000 feet of train per day resulting in a 32% increase in rail traffic volume.

It is estimated that some trains will take 15 minutes to pass through a crossing. Five major roads already meet criteria for grade separation. The Langley bypass has more than twice that threshold. When a train passes through Langley, all five of those rail crossings are closed off simultaneously, making it impossible for emergency vehicles to cross. This puts our community at high risk.

The impact on road rail traffic in Surrey and Langley from the expansion will be staggering. Already horrendous commuter times will worsen. There are five grade level rail crossings in Langley that are experiencing substantial safety and congestion conditions at present, even before the proposed 32% increase in traffic.

While I am supportive of the expansion project, these concerns with regard to rail traffic through Langley need to be addressed. An integrated total solution is required. Solutions have already been devised and proposed at the local level. Every municipality affected by the tremendously increased volume of train traffic from Deltaport already has its list rail and road improvements they require to handle the increased train volume and at the same time manage vehicle traffic.

The objective of the Langley rail corridor task force, on which I sit, is to address the short and long term impacts of the growing rail and road traffic in the rail corridor going through the Langley communities. This group is working to identify cost efficient measures along with strategies for funding and municipal planning to support a safe livable community and an efficient transportation network.

We are considering methods to redirect rail traffic outside of the Lower Mainland, redistribute rail freight within the Lower Mainland, ensure grade separation, relocating rail lines, redirecting rail traffic and creating a joint planning process for the future that considers the needs of transportation and the needs of the community. We are looking at permanent, long term solutions to reduce the bottlenecks caused by rail traffic.

The Pacific gateway strategy includes $190 million in immediate investments and $400 million for undeclared future initiatives. Of the immediate $190 million investment, $125 million is for transportation infrastructure; $90 million for the Pitt River bridge and $30 million for road rail crossing separation from Abbotsford Mission-Matsqui out to Deltaport.

While the comprehensive study of the road rail interface on the entire line would complement work that is being conducted by our task force, there are five grade separations required in Langley alone, and $30 million does not even cover the cost of one rail overpass. One ground breaking will be happening within weeks. It is going to cost over $30 million. The question is what is fair, because of that approximately $35 million, the federal government is contributing $1 million. It is not fair. It is not proportionate.

In Langley there is a need for grade separation or alternate rail routes. Several options have been identified, such as grade separations and exploring an alternate route for at least some portion of the increased rail traffic. The option that perhaps is most appealing from an economic and community standpoint would be to explore an alternate route. Such a route currently exists which would utilize a portion of the Burlington Northern rail line through Surrey and Delta as well as an upgrade of the Fraser River rail crossing, possibly at Douglas Island. Another option would be to consider an additional overpass at Langley. As I mentioned, five locations for rail overpasses have already been identified.

The ultimate solution must work in harmony with the environment all the way along the line. We need railways, ports and governments to come together and come up with integrated, durable and sustainable transportation solutions.

The viability of the suggested alternate route is real. The costs of such an endeavour and whether or not that route can also handle the volume of rail traffic need to be addressed, along with what effect this alternate route would have on the balance of the rail network. We are solution oriented. We are finding solutions to address the rail traffic situation in Langley while at the same time supporting the growth of the Vancouver Port Authority.

Bill C-68 creates an advisory council to help decide how to spend the $400 million in the future initiatives portion of the fund that the federal government has announced in support of the Pacific gateway initiative.

I am concerned that the bill is more about politics than policy. My colleagues whose ridings are also affected by the Pacific gateway and I are concerned about the role, expense and productivity of the advisory council. The advisory council would create yet another level of bureaucracy while affected communities have already studied, analyzed and decided where the funding priorities lie. The communities know where they would like to spend the money. The federal government's role should be to provide a fair portion of the required funding.

While I support the concept of the Pacific gateway act, I would hate to see this legislation be the cause of delay in getting construction going on the solutions which have already been identified as the priorities.

The advisory council must act as a cohesive means to fast-track construction of these projects, not another bureaucratic hurdle to slow the process down. The advisory council would materialize into yet another stumbling block for seeing tangible results. Spending money on real infrastructure like overpasses and bridges is what our communities need, not another level of bureaucracy. Our communities need the infrastructure now.

The federal government should finance the initiatives identified by the comprehensive British Columbia ports strategy which was developed jointly by British Columbia's Minister of Small Business and Economic Development and the federal Minister of Transport.

Premier Gordon Campbell's government has developed a plan to invest $4.9 billion into B.C. transportation systems over the next 10 years. The province is asking Ottawa to contribute on a fifty-fifty basis. We are talking about $2.5 billion which is far from what is being proposed in this strategy. Most of the key priorities in the province's plan for significant infrastructure investment are not funded by the Liberal government's gateway announcement.

In conclusion, I agree that an effective framework or group should be established with appropriate authority and funding to develop long term transportation priorities for commercial goods and transit. Short term solutions must be developed and implemented to resolve immediate transportation needs.

Bill C-68 has my support as it directly affects my community. I hope that the Pacific gateway act will help us to bring transportation solutions into the next century rather than stand in the way with another level of bureaucracy.

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4:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I very much support the member's concerns for rail separation and grade separations in his community of Langley. We know what a serious issue that is in that part of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and how important that is to any workable solution for some of the transportation problems experienced by the Lower Mainland.

Another issue related to rail transport in the Lower Mainland is the New Westminster rail bridge across the Fraser River. The single track bridge is 102 years old and is owned by the federal government. It has to be raised to allow for the passage of river traffic. It is in the up position five hours a day, which causes a major bottleneck for rail transportation in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

I wonder if the member could comment on the need for a better rail crossing over the Fraser River.

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4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right about the rail crossing at Patella Bridge. The bridge is over 100 years old. It has been identified for the last 25 years as needing to be replaced. Again, the federal government has neglected western Canada. It is another example of western alienation. We need to have proper funding. This infrastructure in western Canada benefits all of Canada. It is not just benefiting western Canada. It is moving rail traffic across our country.

We need to properly take care of western Canada. If we do not invest, we cannot expect benefits. This gateway project has to be only part of a down payment for western Canada.

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4:45 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Madam Speaker, the member's speech was excellent, to the point and very positive. I am delighted that the Conservative members are positive about this project. The member talked about how it served all of western Canada.

I have a question related to my riding of Yukon. One of the member's colleagues suggested that we should stop taking diamonds out of the Yukon because the government would take all the money and it was not worthwhile. I would like to ask the member if that is his party's policy.

First of all, the diamonds do not come from the Yukon. They come from the Northwest Territories. The diamonds coming from the Northwest Territories make Canada the third largest producer of diamonds by value in the world. It represents 12.6 millions carats for approximately $2.1 billion and provides approximately 4,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada. A number of the direct jobs are in the north. They are filled by northerners and many by aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories. Of course, their income taxes go toward health care, hospitals, farmers and those types of things.

I know the member is sensitive and thoughtful. I would like to ask him if it is Conservative Party policy that we should shut down diamond mining in Canada.

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4:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's compliments, but the topic of discussion is the Pacific gateway project, not diamonds. I am glad that the hon. member woke from his slumber and is now asking a question.

What we are talking about is the Pacific gateway and it is for moving traffic and people in an efficient way in western Canada. We need that. We need to have federal investment into the gateway project. The question is how to do it efficiently and whether the funding is sufficient.

The gateway is only a down payment, just a start. There are so many needs, $30 million per rail overpass or more. For that whole area only $30 million is being offered on the table. It is insufficient. We need to properly invest federal funds into the gateway project. I hope that federal funds are going to be based on need and merit and not on patronage.

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4:50 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in this debate. I regret, however, that the conceptual approach to Pacific trade has not been stressed heavily by the two previous opposition speakers.

It is important to recognize what the approach is and not to get bogged down in whether there is a specific rail bridge, or highway crossing or left turn lane for trucks, which is a problem at the present time. Every one of us from western Canada, Ontario, Quebec or the Maritimes could probably come up with quite a long list of things in their ridings for which they would like federal money.

We have to recognize this is a very strategic issue. As we know, Canada was created because of the construction of western rail transportation links to British Columbia. That is why my province came to be in 1871 instead of 1867. However, because there was a considerable length of time, while the railway was being built, there were some doubts as to whether that connection with Canada would remain.

We have created the links and the fastest transportation system from the Orient to Europe. Crossing the Pacific by Canadian Pacific ships, or crossing Canada by Canadian Pacific Railroad or crossing the Atlantic by a number of shipping lines was the closest and fastest connection. We developed extensive trade through the port of Vancouver and eastern ports as well by that means.

This also should be looked at not just from the point of view of Canadian exports and imports, but as something which will allow us to continue that same type of development. This time it would not necessarily be to Europe. Through the United States, we would have the ability to bring goods in from China, South Korea, Japan and other countries of Asia. Then they could be distributed by rail throughout North America, Canada and the United States, and even Mexico as well. This is where we have some real advantages. I know that will be pursued because it has been the approach over time with our development of western transportation.

I had a look at the speeches of the opposition when this was first presented. The major criticism is that this does not do enough, and I believe $4 billion was mentioned as being necessary for transportation improvements in western Canada. Maybe it does not and maybe $4 billion is the correct figure. I am quite sure that if we all got together, we could work that up to about $10 billion or $15 billion quite easily, as we added little things or big things to the list.

We are starting with a more conceptual approach to the whole issue, not just of the port of Vancouver trade, or the port of Prince Rupert trade or the port of Victoria trade, but of the whole Pacific coast and the rest of Canada in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and right through to Ontario. A lot of trade will cross this link through the facilities, about which we have spoken, into Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes as well. As I mentioned a moment ago, they will also cross into the United States. Remember that this is an attempt to take a more strategic look.

The Vancouver airport has similarly attempted to place itself as the gateway. We have been talking about that time after time in the House and outside of it. Those of us who have been involved in public life in British Columbia over the last decade and a half and before have talked about the need to ensure that same concept of making the west coast the gateway for this tremendous development takes place in Asia as well.

I should add that the trade increases in the countries involved are extensive. We should never overlook the importance of Japan. Much of the talk has been about Korea. I gather the Conservative Party's first spokesman on this did not like the levels of trade with Korea. He thinks it is a hazard to us in some respects such as the automobile industry. That is fine. I think we can compete and he does not. That is a point we will see in due course.

Also, we should recognize that there is a tremendous increase in China trade which has taken place. I have had the privilege of seeing that. I also had the privilege of living a good part of my life on the other side of the Pacific in then British crown colony of Hong Kong , now the autonomous region of China. Before me, my father spent some 30 years in Hong Kong. There has been a close family connection with the Pacific transportation link that had the family partly in Hong Kong and partly in Victoria.

There is a tremendous opportunity in China, but we must not overlook the opportunity in Japan. Once again, I would differ with my Conservative friends across the way who have said that somehow to deal with China, we have to link up with Japanese companies. That is not the case. We can compete directly. We can link up with Japanese companies, European companies, American companies or companies from anywhere else in the world. However, there is no need to think that there is any particular country which will be our logical and obvious partner in a general sense for trade with China, any other country other than China itself.

This proposal, as has been pointed out rather frequently, is for a council. The criticism that has been made is that the council has some $30 million or $35 million allocated, under the approach outlined by the hon. the Minister for Multiculturalism when the bill was introduced, and that this is somehow too much or extravagant. Those criticisms may be correct. Time will tell.

However, as I mentioned to my hon. friend from Edmonton who spoke earlier today, my concern is more the issue of duplication of roles. We have the gateway council. It is only advisory to the various governments. Therefore, the representative from the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan or British Columbia who sits on the gateway council will be unable to negotiate or discuss with any authority to make decisions. That is a weakness at which we will have to look.

It seems to me that frequently we set up councils of this type. Then when they in turn report to the provincial government of British Columbia, the federal Department of Transport, the Alberta minister of overseas trade or the Manitoba minister of agriculture, as the case may be, we start to get a disaggregated voice and we do not have the correct line authority to make decisions.

If the council is to be so important, all governments should consider giving it the authority to make such decisions and giving it a separate budget much greater than $30 million. However, if on the other hand we just want the views of a wide-ranging number of people, I have to admit I kind of wonder why the Government of Canada and Minister of Transport would not pick up the phone to the Alberta minister of trade, or the British Columbia minister of forests responsible for wood exports or something like that. We know what will happen. We know those intergovernmental connections will be made. Therefore, I see the role of the council as being a bit difficult to envisage in the smooth working system of decision making which I think should take place.

That is something we have to watch for, and we certainly will. The costs of it are definitely very important.

I would like to quickly point out however, as a British Columbia member of the House, that there has been strong support for the gateway concept. The Premier of British Columbia, the hon. Gordon Campbell, has been very supportive. He said:

It is critical that we recognize our [transportation] infrastructure reaches beyond the mountains....This Gateway will invite jobs and opportunities into the country, and invite people to come and trade through Canada to provide their goods to North America.

That was a very positive statement. We recognize and thank Premier Campbell for those comments.

Gordon Houston, the president and CEO of the Vancouver Port Authority, called the initiative a “great announcement”. He said:

The federal government's announcement of $600 million in funding for infrastructure and programs to enhance the Pacific Gateway takes British Columbia's ports a giant step closer to realizing the tremendous economic potential of expanding Asia-Pacific trade...

Fred Green, the executive VP of CP Rail, praised the announcement as:

--an encouraging sign to the private sector...The federal initiative helps further strengthen the Pacific Gateway as a key access point for all of North America. It also complements the Province of British Columbia's efforts to reinforce the importance of the gateway.

Bruce Burrows is another very important player in the transportation sector. He is the acting president and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada. He praised the strategy for helping to fast track infrastructure needed to “enhance Canada's role as a preferred trading partner with China”.

Mr. Burrows also said:

--the federal funds to be spent on Canada's international trade routes, coupled with the railways' own operational and capital spending plans, will help them cope with their customers' significant growth in overseas trade.

Many others have added comments.

Kevin Evans, vice-president of the Retail Council of Canada, welcomed the strategy “as strengthening Canada's position as a trading partner with China”. The Canadian Trucking Alliance talked about this. Peter Marshall, vice-president for western Canada for CN Rail, praised it. I will not go on. There is very strong support for this strategy, and I am trying to give a flavour of it.

I come back to where I started this discussion. In debates like this we have to recognize the importance of taking an approach which is beyond simply specifics of political advantage on a day to day basis. We need to spend public money to get good infrastructure. If we do not, the private sector does not have a prayer of taking advantage of economic opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region. I hope this final point is well understood. We have heard it misapplied and misunderstood time after time by the opposition. We need to have public expenditures at a level for a number of--

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5 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member is giving an outstanding speech, but I do not think there is a quorum to hear him.

And the count having been taken:

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5 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

There is quorum. I will ask the hon. member for Victoria to please bring his remarks to an end.

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, this is an important point which all members of the House really must understand, particularly the comments from many opposition people associated with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and others who do not understand. If governments do not make infrastructure expenditures, we will not have the educated workforce that is needed. We will not have the transportation links that we need. We also will not have the myriad of other requirements of the modern state that make it possible for us to enjoy the high standard of living about which the preceding government speaker talked. We have not had these successes--

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5:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

The hon. member for Langley.

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5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, the importance of the gateway project is to move people, but we want to move them in a safe and in an environmentally friendly way. The member used to be the minister of the environment and shared with us the importance of the environment. I have two questions for him, and they are relevant to the environment.

The member never took a stand against the SE2 project. While he was the minister of the environment, he was asked numerous times to get involved with that. Why did he not stand up for that? Why did he not stand up for a network that protected the environment and the fragile Fraser Valley airshed?

Why has he never fought to stop the dumping of raw sewage into our oceans?

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

Madam Speaker, neither question is in the slightest way connected to the gateway bill.

Let me deal with the first question of the project to have a generating plant at Sumas just across the border in the Fraser Valley. The member is simply unaware. I must now tell the member, and he should understand this, that the way that project was turned down was on the basis of the science work done by Environment Canada. Without that work being presented in a dispassionate, scientific way, rather than as a partisan or political way, we would never have persuaded the authorities who were involved at the decision-making level to turn it down.

Rather than his statement that somehow or another my department that I was then responsible for was not involved, it was the key department. The member could get a large number of people who were quite willing to come to meetings, and there were plenty of them and I appreciate that work. They had a different role.

The role we had was critical in having it turned down. There can be demonstrations. People can stand up and say that they do not like an American plant across the border. If we do not get the right information before the decision makers, which in this case was the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council and the other bodies involved, including the NEB, and it is not reliable, then we do not get the right decision.

The member's position is simple, unfortunately, and I guess based on some of the comments made in a partisan sense in his area rather than on scientific information.

On the second issue dealing with Victoria, the issue has been looked at by scientists from Washington state. Unanimously, there is no negative impact on the environment. That is my riding. I do know it is surrounded by ocean on three sides. We have seven treatment plants. Wherever there is a situation that requires them we put them in. However, there are two outfalls in the south end, Macaulay Point and Clover Point.

The capital regional district is now spending some $630,000 to have a complete review on it done by an international organization with outside people. We have had that done before by Washington state scientists, Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientists, and University of British Columbia scientists. We have never had a recommendation.

In fact, last week the capital regional health officer said there would be no health benefits from treating sewage in Victoria. Why? I will explain it to the hon. member. The fact is vast amounts of fast moving well oxygenated seawater moving through at anything up to six knots does what a treatment plant does artificially. It oxygenates the sewage. It eliminates the problem of pathogens. Essentially, we wind up with nutrients, just as farmers do in the member's riding who puts manure on a field. The two problems that we are always watching closely that are always very important--

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5:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Oh my goodness.

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5:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Anderson Victoria, BC

I wish they would just listen. The reason they make mistakes is because they just do not listen over there.

The two problems of course are heavy metals, which have been dramatically reduced by source control. The other is gender bender pharmaceuticals. They would not necessarily be removed by any treatment. We find that in areas where we have treatment plants, gender benders go through at a substantial rate. Therefore, we are using source control. We are quite willing to put in treatment plants when the indications are that it would be a sensible expenditure of money.

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5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Clavet Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have my chance to speak at second reading of Bill C-68, an act to support development of Canada's Pacific Gateway. In other words—since much has been said on this without any real explanation—it would be a sort of multimodal network of transportation infrastructures focussed on trade with Asia. I therefore feel able to take part in this debate because I am the Bloc Québécois critic for Asia and the Pacific. Those two regions are of the greatest interest to me, since we all know how buoyant the markets in Asia are.

I thank the hon. members from all parties who have spoken so far in this debate, especially my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois and the hon. member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher in particular, our transport critic. I mention this because this whole matter is interrelated. Among other colleagues who have spoken was our critic for international trade, the hon. member for Joliette. Hon. members can see how interrelated this all is, and I will go into that a little later on. My colleagues from Berthier—Maskinongé and Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel have also made contributions.

I am not likely to make a habit of this, and it may not happen again, but I will certainly be supporting my colleagues' position on this bill introduced by the Minister of Transport. At least I shall support it in principle. I will tell you my reasons why. First, as has been said, this involves the concept of a gateway to Asia that opens from western Canada, a concept we support. As I said, this is not our usual habit and will not happen again. In this instance, however, we find this an interesting way of dealing with the problem of integrating everything in the way of modes of transport connected to trade with Asia.

We have some reservations, of course. They relate to a number of factors. We have reservations about the role reserved for the provinces, which is not well delineated in the bill. Once the bill is passed, creating the council itself will be very costly. We wonder how all of this will be put in place. We have a number of reservations about that.

There will be federal government support for businesses and employees in Canada's traditional manufacturing sectors and in Quebec, specifically, in sectors of employment such as textiles. A lot of products are imported from Asia. We would like a few more guarantees in this regard. We are aware that the rapid growth of trade between Asia and Canada, through this Pacific gateway in particular, is creating growing congestion in ports and the western transportation network.

I would like to elaborate on some of these reservations, but for the moment I will say why we support this concept. First of all, the gateway as it is called is very interesting. It requires a comprehensive view and a spirit of integration. It will be welcomed by those who work in the port facilities or manage them, both in Vancouver and Prince Rupert, because the integration involves a number of facets of public policy formulation. Physical infrastructures are of course involved. I mentioned the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. However, roads too are involved, as are airports and customs facilities. The list is long, because intermodal facilities are involved.

The bill also provides for policy and regulatory integration, which will have a major impact on labour and the labour market. It will also have an impact on operating methods in the supply system and even in security matters. We recall the immigration issue involving the periodic discovery of Chinese people in containers. This whole policy will have ramifications for the security of the ports in the west.

Trade promotion and standardization will be affected. Accordingly, municipal policy on land use will also be affected. This has already been addressed by other colleagues on both sides of the House. There is also the whole matter of sectoral cooperation.

As the critic on Asia and the Pacific, what I particularly like about this bill is the aspect of integration and, we must admit, a certain strategic consistency. This bill addresses principles that the Bloc Québécois defends, including sustainable development. We believe in it a great deal and the Bloc has been advocating this type of approach for many years.

In a more general sense, we can say that the network improves as it becomes faster and more energy efficient. Everyone applauds this initiative that encourages sustainable development. The sea and rail combination outlined in this bill could be another interesting niche. We would be wise to develop this niche and take it a step further.

Nonetheless, in order to put all this in place, a cohesive policy is needed and not one imposed by a dictatorship, but one developed through dialogue. A little later I will explain the reservations we have about working together with the provinces on this.

The intermodal transportation and gateway concept is quite interesting to the Bloc, especially because we think it could be applied generally. There are some aspects that could apply to the St. Lawrence River for example. There are some potentially interesting applications for the development of the St. Lawrence River.

Last spring, the Bloc Québécois held a series of consultations in various regions of Quebec on the future of the St. Lawrence. I am not getting off topic, since this still relates to shipping. Several shipping industry stakeholders told us during these consultations on the St. Lawrence in Quebec, that they would like to see improvements to everything involving “intermodal marine and rail connections”.

Some of this is addressed in the transport minister's bill. We would be interested in seeing how this type of integration could promote the development of the St. Lawrence River in the future.

However, in our opinion, the federal government lacks enough vision when it comes to the development of that river. We hear the government talk about it during elections. We get the feeling that the federal manna is going to fall, like a nice snowfall on Christmas Eve, and is going to favour the development of the river. However, the government does not have a more strategic vision.

This is not new. For example, the Quebec bridge in my riding of Louis-Hébert is falling into disrepair. We would like to see the federal Liberal government make the same commitment with regard to infrastructure in eastern Canada, such as the Quebec bridge and the airport. Yet this same Minister of Transport is also responsible for Quebec.

We applaud this willingness to foster the development of infrastructure in western Canada. It is impossible to oppose a great principle such as the Pacific gateway, since it is such an excellent principle. However, we do observe more willingness to act in western Canada than in eastern Canada, particularly when it comes to infrastructure in Quebec.

I would like to remind the hon. members that having a vision for Asia in the bill is a huge advantage. The spinoffs for Canada and all the provinces are attractive. At the same time, we need to point out that this same generosity should apply to Quebec.

In my opinion, it is important to adopt an integrated management policy and put an end to what I call silo or individual management.

I support the principle of the bill for the reasons I gave a little earlier. However, I hope that we will see this principle applied again—and I think my colleagues will agree—in connection with the St. Lawrence, which is so dear to our hearts.

I said earlier that the Bloc Québécois had concerns about this bill. Although we support it, we still have some serious reservations. Our first concern relates to the structure and appointment of members of the council. We have the following questions: why would all the members of the Pacific Gateway Council be appointed by the federal government, as set out in the bill? This concerns us, because we know that, in the past, some appointees have not always been the best candidate for the job. We also have questions about the council's structure and mandate. We have a number of questions in this regard.

Finally, we have a number of other concerns, but I want to stress above all else—and I will conclude here—the more positive aspects. We are opening ourselves up to the Asian market.

However, in order to do this, the federal government must understand the consequences of this and give the textile and other industries the time to adjust.

Once all that has been done, of course, we will support Bill C-68. The Bloc Québécois will work to improve this bill during consideration in committee.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Honoré-Mercier, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased that my colleague likes and supports the bill. I want to mention to him that he, as a Quebecker, can speak here today and discuss this bill because Quebec is part of Canada. It is Canada that is a neighbour to Asia and is at the door of that continent. It is Canada that has a direct link to the incredible and exceptional market that Asia has to offer.

My colleague will not be surprised to hear me say that his is a sovereignist party, a party that wants to separate Quebec from the rest of Canada. Today, as a Quebecker, he has a direct link to Asia, since he is part of Canada. However, if ever separation happens—although I doubt it will—there will be another country between Quebec and Asia and that is Canada.

In his view, how will Quebec's separation, his goal, help Quebeckers gain access to the Asian market?

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Clavet Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, the question from the member for Honoré-Mercier is a very interesting one and casts light on a number of factors.

We cannot, of course, deny the proximity of Asia and Canada. I do not need to give him a geography lesson, nor does he need to give me one. Quebec is, of course, still part of Canada, and that is why we are working so hard to have our own country, a country that would respect the member's country as much as it did China, Asia and the developing countries. That is the context.

Historically, I would remind the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier that Canada has not always kept its commitments. This is the same country that is known to have mistreated the Chinese workers when the Canadian railway system was built, that same system that will be affected by the Pacific gateway. Canada has made mistakes, sometimes virtually unpardonable ones.

I will not speak on behalf of Canada, but it is interesting that this bill introduced by the Minister of Transport refers to the close proximity of Asia and the fact that we need to be far more open to it. We do not want to hear any more statements about their country being better than our as yet non-existent one. This is nothing but an aberration. As the holiday season approaches, we will be seeing many such bills sprinkling millions in largesse over Quebec. Caution is required. The government may be playing at Santa, but we do not want to find any trick presents under our tree.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, I like what my colleague said and the way he answered the rather unfortunate question the Liberal member has just asked. I do not know if he has realized we are in the era of globalization. We do not need to be next door to every country in the world to do business with them. In this era, the planet is shrinking. No need to worry. When Quebec is sovereign, we will do business with everyone in the same way or even much better, since we will be representing ourselves.

There is, however, one aspect of C-68 that worries me. My colleague touched on it in expressing his reservations. I would like him to return to the option the government is again giving itself of infringing on provincial jurisdiction. We have to evaluate this reservation before supporting such a bill.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Clavet Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be brief. I thank my colleague, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain.

Indeed, the bill is not entirely clear about the provinces. I have mentioned this. I think this must be a preoccupation for provincial interests—in the case of the provinces—and we will have to make sure once and for all that they will be consulted when a potentially interesting strategy is being developed.

However, as history repeats itself, we sometimes wonder how the federal government could infringe on provincial jurisdiction, as it has a habit of doing.

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

Madam Speaker, the apparent purpose of todays's bill is to enhance Canada's competitiveness in the Pacific Rim. That is a laudable objective, but the government's current efforts to sell Ridley Terminals are not consistent with that objective. That is the issue I would like to address.

In a recent editorial, the Vancouver Sun commented on the sale of Ridley Terminals and said:

Selling Ridley Terminals for a pittance to a private operator, a junior miner with no operating revenue, without any apparent mechanism to guarantee fair and equitable treatment for all producers flies in the face of common sense and makes a mockery of Ottawa's pledge to make B.C. ports the gateway to Asia-Pacific trade.

In another article, the Vancouver Sun identified that company. It said:

The unidentified “B.C. company” teaming up with a junior mining firm to buy a federal coal terminal in Prince Rupert is an Ontario-based cement manufacturer headed by George Doumet, a low-profile Vancouver-based international businessman....

The article goes on to say:

Doumet has rarely been mentioned in the Canadian business media since Candou Industries, the holding company of the Doumet family of Lebanon, declared bankruptcy in 1983 in what was reported at the time to be one of the largest insolvencies in Canadian history.

This is curious, because there seems to be an unholy rush to move ahead with this sale. We have to wonder why. On September 29, the transport minister obtained an unusual cabinet order preventing Ridley's management from signing coal contracts longer than 18 months without his consent and is seeking cabinet approval to negotiate Ridley's sale on a hurry-up basis.

If we take another look at this company and Mr. Doumet, we have to wonder, why the rush? Justice Wood, in a decision on November 29, 1991, on another issue when Mr. Doumet or his companies were before the court, said:

The trial judge made an assessment on the question of whether the discrepancy between the share prices in 1983 and 1989 raised a reasonable inference of fraud or negligence and found that it did.

The folks that he is talking about are the folks that the government wants to sell Ridley to. The judge went on to say:

The judge below made an assessment of this question on the basis of the evidence before him, specifically that set out in Mr. Doumet's affidavit material. He concluded that that material disclosed that there is more than just a discrepancy between the 1983 sale price and the 1989 share price upon which the allegations of fraud are based.

The question is, why is the government in this rush to sell to this company? When we look at the order--

Pacific Gateway Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

I am sorry to interrupt the member at this time, but it being 5:30 p.m, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' members as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 18 consideration of the motion that Bill C-248, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (trafficking in a controlled drug or substance within five hundred metres of an elementary school or a high school) , be now read the second time and referred to a committee.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak today in the House on the bill introduced by our colleague from Prince George—Peace River. Bill C-248 is interesting and raises a number of questions. It forces us to dig a little deeper in order to understand the purpose of this bill. We have some concerns.

The Bloc has no objections to this bill being referred to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Under the bill, every person who sells drugs within one kilometre of an elementary or a high school can be charged with an offence and, upon conviction, is liable, for a first offence, to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year and, for a subsequent offence, to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years.

We have questions about two issues. Since I was a defence lawyer for over 30 years, I want to raise at the very least a practical problem with Bill C-248.

Let us imagine that I have a client who is dealing drugs on a main street, not knowing there is a school on another street less than five hundred metres away. I am not saying it is right to deal drugs. This raises a serious question concerning mens rea . The Bloc Québécois is, of course, opposed to dealing drugs, and we cannot agree to allow illegal narcotics or other drugs to be sold without a permit. We know all the complications that can come from that.

I have a problem with this part of the bill. We will be able to debate it in committee later on, but it is obvious that a person involved in drug trafficking might, like many others, not be aware that a school is located 500 metres away. In small communities, it is quite common for a school to be located off the main street.

There is more. We are gong to have a serious problem with this bill and it merits careful study in committee. The bill sets out minimum prison sentences. I do not know where my colleagues in the Conservative party come up with this, but they turn up here regularly with demands for minimum prison sentences.

To take one case as an example, today someone appears before a Quebec court for drug trafficking, marijuana for instance, and it is a first offence. No court, except in really exceptional circumstances, will ever impose a minimum one year sentence. He would have to have sold drugs by the pound, not done petty trafficking. We need to agree, because all cases are different. In this instance, a minimum is being imposed.

I have read in detail what the Minister of Justice has written. We were provided with certain information and we have made inquiries of the Justice Department as well. It appears to us that Bill C-248 might be contrary to the underlying principle of proportionality in sentencing. If the bill gets to committee, it will need to be examined very carefully before any minimum prison sentences are imposed, particularly considering the nature of the offence. We are not talking about trafficking in heroin or cocaine here, but about just any drug.

The bill talks of any person trafficking in a controlled or restricted drug or a narcotic. So it is talking of marihuana or very small quantities, not of large quantities, pounds or kilograms. It refers to any sort of narcotic sold within five hundred metres of a school. An individual found to be guilty should be punished for a criminal act and given a minimum prison sentence.

This strikes us as very heavy. The committee will have to debate this point.

We have always wondered about certain offences. Mandatory minimum prison sentences can not only create practical problems but give rise to appeals under section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section concerns cruel and unusual punishment.

How will the court interpret these various cases? A person selling narcotics in a hotel would be sentenced to six months' probation or a $1,000 fine, while someone selling the same type and quantity of narcotic within five hundred metres of a school would be sentenced to a minimum of a year's imprisonment. No doubt, the court would be called on to determine whether the sentence was cruel and unusual.

We think it important to raise this point now. When we examine the bill in committee, we will have to work very hard to come up with a solution. The bill's aim to make it an offence to sell narcotics near schools is a very good one. However, the minimum one-year sentence is clearly a problem. We will have to look at that.

Generally, in determining sentences for drug-related offences, the courts must take into consideration all aggravating circumstances, for instance, the sale of narcotics or substances to a person under the age of 18, or trafficking at a school, on school grounds or other public places generally frequented by minors. However, this bill does not take extenuating or aggravating circumstances into account and would encourage rigidity in the sentencing process. We feel that is one of the biggest constraints that need to reviewed in committee.

We have already discussed minimum sentences. Our Conservative friends tend to submit requests for minimum sentences regularly. With all due respect to my colleagues in the Conservative Party, I find that constantly asking for minimum sentences is the wrong approach. In that approach, the focus is more on repression than on rehabilitation. In my opinion, that is not the right solution.

We will not vote against the bill because we find the idea of condemning the sale of drugs near schools an important and interesting one. However, in committee, we will be able to discuss at greater length the type of sentence that could be imposed on a person who commits this type of offence, which we condemn, of course.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to have the opportunity to speak to the bill as it has some significance for me. It is an issue that concerns me a lot, as I know it concerns all members. I have spent some time in trying to understand this issue and have been involved in the this whole issue back home, the whole issue of controlled drugs and drug abuse, particularly drug abuse among children.

This concern is probably something that I inherited naturally from my father who was what I guess we could call a pioneer in the whole area of drug abuse and drug education, along with people in Nova Scotia like Marvin Burke and Ed Fitzgerald, great community people who did an awful lot of work while trying to educate people about drug abuse.

I wish to applaud my hon. colleague who proposed this for his desire to protect Canadian children and youth from dangerous drugs in schoolyards. No one questions that motivation. I can assure him that government members share his concerns about the threats posed by the rise in illegal drug use in our country.

We do take some issue with the tool with which he is attempting to address this problem, and I personally take issue with it, but let us make no mistake about it: substance abuse is cause for national concern. There have been significant increases in the use of alcohol and drugs, with 44.5% of Canadians admitting in 2004 to using cannabis at least once in their lifetime. That is actually up from 28% a decade earlier.

The Canadian addiction survey, published in November 2004, found that more than half of teens aged 15 to 19 reported using marijuana at least once in their lifetime. That number rose to almost 70% among those aged 20 to 24. Marijuana is not the only drug of choice. The proportion of Canadians reporting any illicit drug use in their lifetime rose from 28.5% in 1994 to 45% 10 years later.

Of particular concern, the number of Canadians who reported having injected drugs at some point of their life more than doubled, from 132,000 to 269,000, over the same period. Given the direct link between intravenous drug use and a host of health and social problems, substance abuse is not only a legal challenge but an enormous health challenge and a social challenge as well, a challenge that costs the Canadian economy an estimated $18.5 billion according to a 1996 study. That represents a loss of $649 for every Canadian or 2.7% of our GDP.

I suspect that many Canadians at first glance would suggest that tougher minimum sentences for convicted drug dealers will fix the problem, or in other words, we should be locking them up and throwing away the key. I do not think that is the solution. I would not say that it is not part of the solution in some circumstances. I ask members not to get me wrong, as I think enforcement plays an important role in deterrence, and curbing the street supply of drugs in our communities has to be a priority.

However, a recent study commissioned by the Department of Justice reviewed sentencing arrangements in a number of western countries and found that mandatory minimum penalties had no discernible effect on the crime rate.

Of equal concern, research shows that mandatory minimum penalties remove incentives to plead guilty, which leads to increased trial rates, case processing times and workloads. That costs money, money that would be much better spent on prevention, treatment and harm reduction both for individuals and the community. Time and again, these approaches have proven more effective.

That is why our government has adopted a balanced approach to the problem, simultaneously reducing both the supply of and the demand for these drugs. Recognizing that we need to move further and faster on both fronts, in 2003 the Government of Canada renewed Canada's drug strategy with a new investment of $245 million over five years.

The key objectives are: decrease the number of young Canadians who experiment with drugs; decrease the prevalence of harmful drug use; decrease the incidence of communicable diseases related to substance abuse; increase the use of alternative criminal justice measures, recognizing that traditional approaches alone are not resolving the problem; decrease the illicit drug supply and address new and emerging drug trends; and obviously, decrease avoidable health, social and economic costs.

There are four pillars that provide the foundation for the strategy: prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm reduction. Each pillar supports a number of activities. Let me talk a little about how the activities in these areas help to reduce the risks that children and youth will be exposed to and help in whether or not they experiment with drugs at all.

Education and prevention do work. We know that. From my own involvement with the Heart and Stroke Foundation and through being involved in the Health Charities Coalition in the effort to reduce tobacco use, I have found that we can have an effect through education and advocacy, especially with younger Canadians.

We know that effective public education campaigns to reduce tobacco use produce long term, sustained, preventive improvements in our economy as well as in our health care system. Efforts to raise awareness among children and youth of the risks and consequences of drug use need to be a top priority of the Canadian drug strategy.

Public education initiatives focusing on marijuana and alcohol represent the first phase of a longer term strategy to educate youth and parents on substance use issues. Another goal is to encourage informed and healthy decision making among Canada's youth.

As one example, Health Canada recently launched “Straight Talk About Marijuana”, an information booklet for parents and youth to encourage open, honest and frank dialogue about drugs and their effects. This fact filled booklet is based on extensive public opinion research conducted by Health Canada on youths between the ages of 12 and 19 to get a better understanding of their awareness, attitudes, knowledge and behaviour with regard to marijuana and other substances.

In addition to public education efforts, the drug strategy community initiatives fund provides financial support in the areas of promotion, prevention and harm reduction for initiatives that address a wide range of issues regarding problematic substance abuse. Under this fund, Health Canada provides $9.5 million annually for a broad cross-section of community based projects, understanding that people closest to the problem are invariably closest to the solutions.

Projects are tailored to the needs of specific age groups, key issues and regions of the country. While some projects that are funded may be national in scope, the focus is on supporting approaches that communities decide will work best for them. These initiatives are delivered on the local level by front line workers.

Treatment and rehabilitation for substance abuse is an area of provincial and territorial responsibility as well. However, Health Canada plays a constructive role by providing $14 million annually under its alcohol and drug treatment and rehabilitation program to participating provinces and territories to help improve access to effective treatment and rehabilitation. Young Canadians are the key target group in both of these areas.

I am not suggesting the areas that I have talked about here are the panacea to Canada's growing drug problem, which is a challenge that is worldwide and is shared by many countries. However, the Government of Canada's responses to drug problems, including both demand and supply reduction efforts, are constantly reassessed to ensure their relevance and their appropriateness.

We do need to do more to ensure the safety of our children, particularly as it relates to drug and alcohol and to those who would take advantage of them. As I mentioned, my father and many other people in Nova Scotia, such as the Ed Fitzgeralds and the Marvin Burkes, have done a lot of work in this area of dealing with drug and alcohol addiction. Prevention and education go along with enforcement in making sure that we can improve the lives and the safety of young Canadians.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to speak on behalf of the residents of Palliser to Bill C-248, which is a very innovative and bold step by the member for Prince George—Peace River. The purpose of the bill is to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, to impose minimum prison sentences of one year for a first offence and two years for a subsequent offence in cases where a person is convicted of trafficking in a controlled or restricted drug or narcotic within 500 metres of an elementary school or high school.

That sounds perfectly reasonable to me and it is perfectly reasonable to most Canadians watching this evening. The member for Prince George—Peace River clearly is concerned, as am I, and as are my colleagues the member for Wild Rose and the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle. I could list every member on this side of the House. We are deeply concerned about these issues. We are concerned for our kids in Canada. That is what the bill is about, a concern for families, support for law enforcement officers and a desire to see justice in Canada and the protection of victims and in this case the would-be victims.

I have been pushing the government on the issue of rescheduling crystal meth. For many months I have pushed to have crystal meth moved from schedule III to schedule I to enable judges to impose harsher sentences on those convicted of trafficking in crystal meth. Most members and most Canadians know that crystal meth is a menace in our society. Of those who take crystal meth for the first time, 85% become addicted. It is truly a terrible threat to our communities and our citizens.

I have met with parents, young addicts, police officers, community volunteers. I have seen the effects of the drug. I have received letters from some constituents. I will not share the contents of those letters, but suffice it to say they had rivetting stories of the impact the drug has had on their family members and friends. The stories are terrible beyond words.

With this bill the member for Prince George—Peace River seeks to protect children at school. The schools need to be sanctuaries for kids. They need to be temples of learning, whether it be Peacock, Central, Vanier or Riverview collegiates in Moose Jaw or Sheldon-Williams Collegiate in Regina, or elementary schools. Sadly, some predators prey on children younger than those in grade 9. They are in our elementary schools or outside our schools. Make no mistake that those people are predators. They have not simply made a mistake. Drug dealers prey on our most vulnerable citizens, the future of this great country.

We need to have some deterrence. Many members came to the House to reform our criminal justice system. We need to have some tools. The government needs to provide some deterrence. Our laws need to provide some deterrence against this type of activity, drug dealing to children near schools. Perhaps the best way to prevent people from preying on young people near our schools is with minimum sentences, with jail time. When people are incarcerated for dealing drugs to children we know that temporarily they are not going to be dealing drugs to kids. That may be the best form of prevention.

This should be a no-brainer, but many Liberals opposite have already spoken against the bill. I was surprised to hear some of the comments by the member earlier against minimum sentences. It should be a no-brainer, but it is not really surprising given the government's record of being soft on crime. It is soft on drugs.

We have seen the government's plan to decriminalize marijuana. That is something that certainly no police officer in this country wants to see. Police realize that marijuana is a gateway drug. Someone does not simply wake up one morning and say, “I think I am going to do crack cocaine today,” or “Today is crystal meth day”. It is a gateway drug.

It is just amazing. The government just does not get it. It took many months to reschedule crystal meth and the impact on individuals and families was huge in this country. The government has not yet acted to restrict the precursors, the key ingredients for crystal meth and that needs to happen. It is not surprising though, given the government's approach to crime.

We could go on about the $2 billion gun registry. The Liberals continue to pour good money after bad into a flawed plan that has not saved one life or prevented one crime involving firearms. They are supported by the member for Toronto--Danforth and the NDP in throwing the money away instead of putting it toward front line policing, education, drug awareness and treatment. These are all critical components.

The government has not protected our children by raising the age of sexual consent to 16. It thereby passively condones adults having sex with children who are 14 years old. Again the Liberal government, which has been in power for 12 years, has not protected Canadian children from predators, which is what we are trying to do here today. Conditional sentences for serious crimes, even violent crimes, is the record of the government opposite.

The member for Prince George--Peace River said that the bill is about health, mental health, education, social welfare and the future we offer our nation's children. He realizes that education and awareness are key components of what we need to do to stamp out predators and the drug problem in our society. He said that just as it would be a recipe for failure to combat drug use in our schools without education and awareness, and relying solely upon punishment and enforcement, so too is it ineffective to educate and inform without adequate enforcement. In fact, the government's own national drug strategy called for effective enforcement, but it has to have some teeth. It cannot just be empty promises like we are accustomed to hearing.

The Minister of Health is against this legislation. The member for Prince George--Peace River went out of his way to say he wanted to make it clear to members of the House that the legislation is targeted toward adults who intentionally seek to sell drugs to children or minors. He stressed adults.

The Library of Parliament synopsis of the purposes of sentencing is comprised of seven main aspects, which include deterrence through the fear of punishment for the crime and punishments against reoffending, something that Bill C-248 certainly does address.

I said earlier that perhaps the best way to ensure that predators are not preying upon Canadian children in schools is by incarcerating them so we know that they are not out in society. A prison sentence actually enables those individuals to get some rehabilitation. We can rehabilitate individuals and certainly we are not against that, but there needs to be some deterrence. We do not have to go far to know why.

Talk to the families of those people who are affected by crystal meth. Look into their eyes. Talk to police officers and community leaders about what crystal meth is doing to our kids, to our society and the future of this country. We are at war with drug dealers in this country. Maybe it is time to start treating it like a war and take some firm steps to ensure that individuals can no longer prey upon our children.

In August the Conservative Party formed a task force on safe streets and healthy communities. This task force travelled across Canada to meet with a broad cross-section of people, including victims of crime, community workers and front line law enforcement officers. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of the emergency crime issues facing our nation. I am very proud to be part of a party that has delved into these issues.

Let us hope all members do the right thing and send this bill to committee. They should consult with their constituents. If they do not vote for it and send it to committee, they will have to explain that to their constituents.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate having this opportunity to speak to this private member's bill. I compliment my colleague for putting this issue forward.

Speaking on behalf of the citizens in the riding of Winnipeg Centre, let me point out that the top of mind issues for them are crime and violence and safety on the streets.

I am not a bleeding heart. I believe the pendulum has swung too far the other way to the point where the emphasis is too much on the rights of the criminal and not enough on the rights of the victim. I say that with no fear of contradiction of my own party's policy.

This private member's bill speaks specifically of the impact that criminals have when operating near a school yard. It asks for special emphasis in terms of the criminal justice system in recognizing that added social threat. I can speak to that from personal experience. There are regions in the inner city core area of downtown Winnipeg where street crime and violence have reached epic proportions. People are absolutely fed up. Right next door to some of the worst hot spots for outbreaks of crime and violence are elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools and the University of Winnipeg.

Those individuals operating under the radar so to speak, whether they are dealing drugs, organizing prostitution or exploiting our youth in the sex trade, et cetera, and are doing so within the proximity of a school, should be treated with extra vigour by the courts through the criminal justice system.

I asked for the opportunity to join in the debate today to point out that some regions have made some progress by giving special authority to police officers and the courts to address regional outbursts. I am thinking specifically of Montreal. When gang violence was reaching epic proportions, the city augmented the authority of police officers so they might curtail that activity and not be hog-tied as it were and not have to fold their arms and watch the activity take place and have to meet a stringent burden of proof in order to interrupt that activity. That is what I am calling for in the riding of Winnipeg Centre.

Recently I wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice asking him to meet with the Attorney General of Manitoba to authorize special powers, even on an interim basis, so that police officers could do their job more effectively. That means something as simple as being able to interrupt that activity without meeting the burden of proof which exists today. Some would call this an infringement on rights and freedoms, but I think it is a fair trade-off in the case of some of the outrageous activity that goes on in my riding, in the inner city in close proximity to elementary schools and junior high schools.

If it ever comes to choosing between the rights of the criminal and the rights of kids to go to school free of interference by criminals in their neighbourhood, I will err on the side of the kids every time.There should not even be a debate about it in the House of Commons.

The member who put forward this bill did so in good faith to address a specific nuisance in his own community. I am here to tell everyone that same situation can be found all across Canada, from the downtown east side in Vancouver to the inner city of Winnipeg, to Toronto, to Montreal. We have to interrupt this growing trend.

If there is any lesson we can learn from the inner cities of other countries, and I sometimes look at the crime and violence in the United States that has blighted communities, it is that we need to intervene now while the problem is still manageable.

I am not proud of this but I have had residents come to my office to tell me that they do not allow their children to sleep in bedrooms with outside walls for fear of stray bullets coming through the walls and hurting their children. It is terrible to have to consider that the drug related gun play in some communities has reached the point that a mother has to consider where in the house the child will sleep that night to be free from danger stemming from the gun play going on.

I am not saying that it is gun play that always results in someone being hurt. Sometimes it is just these guys playing with their guns in the back alleys. Almost every night gunfire can be heard on the streets of the inner city of Winnipeg and it is punks firing off their guns in the back lanes virtually free of interference.

I will vote and be proud to vote for anything that will give our law enforcement officers the right tools to curtail this activity, and I see no contradiction in that.

I cannot imagine anyone in the House speaking openly against an initiative that would give our law enforcement officers the tools they need. The beauty of private members' business is that it is always a free vote, in my party at least. Some people have different ideas and believe we need to deal with the crime and the root causes of crime. However if we are going to look at a lasting solution, obviously we need to have balance in the way we view these things.

However there does come a time when citizens need to put down their foot and say, “We have been patient, we have been understanding and we have tried our best to meet the social ills that may be the underlying root causes of the violence that is breaking out on our streets but it is time to put safety first”. Once the streets are safe, then we can address the underlying root causes.

I do not think we can fix the problem in the midst of the maelstrom of illegal activity that happens on a day to day basis. We need to move in with swift and harsh justice to make the streets safe and then take a step back and put in place the foundations for addressing the underlying root causes of poverty, poor housing, et cetera, which may be what generated the social ills that we see in the inner city.

I wanted to take this opportunity today in the twilight moments of this Parliament to emphasize, once and for all, that when I hear the citizens of the inner city riding of Winnipeg Centre tell me that their number one concern is crime and safety on the streets, I will do all I can to support measures that will address their concerns so they can raise their children in an environment that is safe and not feel threatened in their own back yard.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to stand in the House of Commons and speak on behalf of my constituents of Brampton—Springdale.

When we talk about the issue of safer streets, safer schools and safer neighbourhoods, that is a goal that all of us as community members try to work toward. It is one of the key goals we have in Brampton—Springdale.

Before I begin, I must take the opportunity to recognize the sincerity of the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River in bringing forward this legislation to penalize those who prey on our vulnerable children who should be able to live in an environment where they feel safe and secure.

What is unfortunate is that our government cannot support the bill based on the legal grounds that were laid out by my colleagues from Justice Canada. Research has consistently found that minimum sentences have little or absolutely no effect in deterring criminal activity.

However let there be no mistake that both myself, as the member of Parliament for Brampton—Springdale, and the Liberal government share the determination of the member to protect children from the harmful effects of drugs that cause so many problems for many Canadian families and their communities across the country.

I just want to reiterate one of the reasons that we must hold back our support for Bill C-248. The bill would contravene the fundamental principle of proportionality in sentencing. By proposing the same mandatory minimum penalty for trafficking in drugs that are found in different schedules of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, it disregards, among other things, the differences in health and safety risks associated with drugs that have been found in those particular schedules.

The fact is that research has consistently found that minimum sentencing has little or absolutely no effect at all in deterring criminal activity. It is essential to realize that to deter criminal activity we must get to the root of the problem and try to create safer streets, safer schools, safer neighbourhoods and, ultimately, safer communities for a safe nation.

I realize the sincere desire of the member of Parliament to penalize those who prey on children. I assure all hon. members that the government does share his determination, which is why Parliament set out in section 10 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act the purpose of sentencing for drug offences and the requirement that the court consider any relevant aggravating factors, including trafficking to any person under the age of 18 years, and trafficking in or near school grounds or any other public place usually frequented by persons under the age of 18.

However I think it is important to recognize that it will take much more than tough penalties to make our Canadian schoolyards safe. Enforcement is one of the many areas where we, as parliamentarians and as Canadians, need to take action to protect the future of our country, which is our youth, from the devastating effects of substance abuse. We need to make major inroads in the areas of prevention, treatment and harm reduction. We can do that by working together.

The Government of Canada has already put forward a strategy designed to achieve those goals, and that is our Canada drug strategy.

The strategy that we currently have in place seeks to ensure that Canadians and our young people, the future of our nation, can live in a society that is free of the harm associated with problematic substance abuse. This strategy takes a balanced approach to both reducing the demand for drugs and the supply of drugs. It ultimately contributes to a goal all of us here are trying to achieve, and that is a healthier, safer community and environment through prevention, enforcement, treatment and other harm reduction initiatives.

To strengthen its capacity to address the growth of drug use throughout society, in 2003 the government renewed the Canada drug strategy and bolstered its funding with a new investment of $245 million over five years for ongoing measures to address the harmful use of substances. This includes an annual investment of $9.5 million in the drug strategy communities initiatives fund for the development of national, provincial, territorial and community based projects to address substance abuse and to promote public awareness of substance abuse issues. I am sure my colleagues are aware of the benefits of this particular drug strategy community initiatives fund.

Also included in our funding of $245 million was $14 million to be provided annually to the alcohol and drug treatment and rehabilitation program which would really work toward increasing the availability of effective substance abuse treatment. Young people are a primary target of all activities flowing out of Canada's drug strategy. As a former health care provider who has worked with individuals who have taken the wrong path, joined the wrong crowd or who perhaps experimented with substance abuse, I know firsthand that many of these initiatives put forward by Canada's drug strategy have actually worked.

We can take the example of some of the several public education campaigns that have been undertaken. Several of these initiatives are directly aimed at youth. They include an interactive “Be drug wise” website which has been accessed by a number of youth throughout the country. As we know, in the era of technology and the advancement of young people, they are very in tune with everything that is going on over the Internet. This is something that has provided a tremendous benefit to our young people.

We as a government, through Health Canada, have released a “Straight Talk About Marijuana” information booklet, both for youth and their parents, to address some of the common misconceptions that the use and effects of drugs have, as well as any potential legal consequences. We have tried to ensure that we get the information out to the people to whom it matters most.

In addition, the government has spearheaded the development of a national framework for action to reduce the harms associated with alcohol, drugs and other substances in Canada. Provincial, territorial and municipal governments and agencies, NGOs and many others, especially in my community of Brampton—Springdale, are coming together to develop and implement a framework that will work and that will ensure we have safer schools, neighbourhoods and communities and, ultimately, will be a positive step toward ensuring we have a structure and a national approach for preventing the use of drugs and substances among our young people.

In the process of doing this, many stakeholders across the country are sharing information about best practices and evidence based research to ensure that we can utilize optimally our Canadian tax dollars with programs that work for the intended audiences. Children and young people, urban, suburban, first nations, Inuit, Métis, whether they are gay or lesbian, from minority communities, street youth, rural youth, youth of all ages, of all socio-economic brackets and cultural backgrounds, are front and centre in this goal to ensure we work together collectively as a team to have safe neighbourhoods and safe communities.

Communities across the country are doing their part to advance Canada's drug strategy. Many of them have benefited from financial federal support that has been provided under the initiatives fund that was established in 2004. A number of initiatives have taken place whereby the western ministers of health, justice and public safety have met to address the growing concerns around the use and production of crystal meth, which some of my colleagues spoke to earlier.

I am not suggesting that the solutions we face in addressing this huge challenge are easy but we must ensure that we work together collectively as a team within the framework we have, which is the Canada drug strategy. We also must move forward to ensure we can address the issue of drug and substance abuse among our young people. We ultimately must work together to create a safe nation by building safer neighbourhoods, schools and communities.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a real honour to speak to Bill C-248. It is a bill that would impose mandatory minimum prison sentences of one year for a first offence and two years for a subsequent offence in cases where an adult is convicted of trafficking a controlled or restricted drug or a narcotic within half a kilometre of an elementary school or high school.

I would like to thank the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River for bringing this legislation to us and the member for Palliser, both hardworking members in this House, who are working hard to protect our children. We need to come up with appropriate and practical legislation that would deal with the problem.

We have just heard from a member from across the House with the typical Liberal rhetoric that we need to have education. Yes, we do. We must have a total package. However, we have a criminal element hanging out near schools and going after our children. To say that we are going to talk to them and tell them that the minimum sentences do not work, does not work. We have studies that show that. If we are going to ask them to stop selling drugs to our children, that does not work either.

This last summer, I spent time with the RCMP. I went through a one week training program, so that I could spend time with them on the bike squad. We spent a lot of time riding around, so I could see what was happening in my community of Langley, what was happening with homelessness, what was happening with the drug scene, and what was happening with prostitution.

I saw some sad scenes, but particularly, what I was saddened by was the number of youth who were being sucked into the drug culture. They would be hanging around the schools. It was the summer, so school was out. I found that a lot of parks are located near the schools. There is this practical aspect that there would be a school and a park in a similar vicinity, so that there is the use of both facilities by those attending school.

There were a lot of drug dealers hanging around the parks. As we would ride into a park on the bikes, we would see these adult drug dealers selling drugs to the kids.

This bill would limit the distance that an adult drug dealer could be from a school. It would be half a kilometre. We would take a school and draw a circle around it, 500 metres, half a kilometre. We would say that “If you are an adult and you are a drug pusher, you do not go near the school. If you do, you are going to jail, and it will be at least one year”.

We have heard from the justice minister. We have heard from the member from the Liberal Party saying that this would not work. Liberals say they have these studies that say that minimum mandatory sentences do not work. Both the justice minister and that hon. member, who just spoke, have neglected to tell us that there are just as many studies that tell us that they do work as there are that tell us they do not work. It is a very limited number of studies. What we are asking for, and what the public is asking is for, is a common sense solution.

The member for Prince George—Peace River has come up with Bill C-248. It is well thought out. If this becomes legislation, drug dealers are quickly going to find out that they are going to pay a serious consequence if they sell their drugs near schools.

I serve on the justice committee. I have heard the justice minister say many times that our children are the most vulnerable. He has stated that we need to protect our children and if we have blown it with our children, we have blown it. I would agree with that.

What is the government tangibly doing? What is it doing to protect our children? Nothing. After 12 years in government, it has a legacy of being soft on crime. If individuals sell drugs to our children, what is the consequence? They receive probation, maybe a fine, or they have the drugs taken away from them.

As we see drugs being more prevalent within our schools, I hear from parents. We each have constituents who come to us, and I am sure that there are constituents who go to the Liberal MPs, and tell us stories about their children being afraid to go to school. One of the parents came to me and said, “my son is afraid to go into the washroom because if he goes in there they are doing drugs. They are selling drugs”. Our public school system is under attack because drug dealers are in the schools.

The schools have to be creative and find ways to keep the drug dealers out. They have the doors all locked and some of the schools have even gone to uniforms. Through education and creative measures schools have tried to keep the drug dealers out. We need to give the police enforcement tools. There must be a consequence if an adult drug dealer is hanging around the school and selling drugs to our children.

Ask any person in Canada if they think it is reasonable to let these drug dealers who are going after our children, our future generation, into our schools? The future of Canada is under attack by these organized criminal elements that are going after our children. They are going into our schools and going after our children. If we ask an average Canadian if it is appropriate to give them a slap on the hand if they are selling drugs to our children, the answer is absolutely not. There has to be a consequence.

We believe in the discretion of the courts. I believe in that. We have to honour and respect our courts. What we have now is the typical consequence, the typical sentence keeps going down and down. It has gone down to the point where there is no consequence for these people. A slap on the hand is not doing it.

I support Bill C-248. I ask every member in this House to support Bill C-248 because it indeed puts a very practical and very realistic consequence for selling drugs to our kids. It should not happen. Bill C-248 will stop it from happening. The word will get out among the criminal elements that they do not sell drugs near the schools. I encourage everyone to support Bill C-248.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

To wrap up the debate, we have the sponsor of the bill, the member for Prince George--Peace River.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not really know where to begin tonight, but I want to begin first of all by expressing my thanks.

The Liberal member across the way says it does not surprise him at all. This is a serious issue, but that is the type of attitude, unfortunately, we get from the Liberal government when we talk about protecting the children of this country. That is the type of attitude that we can expect.

I want to thank my colleagues from the Conservative Party of Canada who have spoke in support of Bill C-248. Our justice critic from Provencher spoke during the first hour of debate and tonight there was the member for Palliser and the member for Langley. I thank all three of them for their support and for their kind words, and for standing up for children. That is what the bill is about. It is about standing up for children.

I was a little bit dismayed by the approach taken by my colleague from the Bloc Québécois who spoke tonight. I believe it was the justice critic for the Bloc in the first hour of debate who seemed to indicate that all private members' bills should have free votes. He was going to recommend to the Bloc Québécois caucus members that they support this bill, even though the Bloc has some concerns with it, to at least move it on to the standing committee on justice. I think that is wise.

I am not saying that the bill is perfect in its present form, but when it comes to defending our children, standing up for our children and protecting them from predators, it should be unanimous. Every member in the House would want to at least say, yes, this bill makes enough sense, and the issue is important enough that we want to send it to the committee for further study. At least we should send it that far.

Therefore, I was a little bit dismayed that the member from the Bloc who spoke tonight seemed to indicate that he personally was going to be voting against the bill. That was disappointing for me.

I wish to thank the members from the NDP, both during the first hour and the second hour of debate. Both of them indicated their willingness to support it. I suspect that is representative of their entire caucus of some 18 members.

So, it is with the Liberals. Clearly, as we have shown in this minority Parliament, we can pass this bill without the support of the Liberals. I would hope that it is going to pass. I would also hope that all Liberal members look into their hearts and think about what they are doing when they stand up to vote on Bill C-248, instead of just talking about getting tough on crime, as they have been doing the last while. They started talking about mandatory minimum sentences as if there is something to be said for that.

The justice minister has been all over this issue for the last number of months. First he is in favour of it, then he speaks against it. We do not know where he is coming from. What kind of signal does that send to the people in our schools, our teachers, our parents, the children themselves, and those people involved in law enforcement?

We have many laws in this country. The problem is they are not enforced properly. This will help. It will take the discretion away from the courts and away from the judges. We will no longer see house arrest where some animal that preys on our children in our schools is sent home with a slap on the wrist to watch colour TV.

That is what the bill is about. It is about sending a signal to organized crime and those who would prey on our children that if they do it within 500 metres of the sight of a school, they are in big trouble.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health is here again tonight. He led off the debate for the Liberals. He made a statement during his remarks that quite frankly appalled me. He suggested that one of the reasons the Liberals would not be in favour of mandatory minimum sentences, if we can believe this, is that drug dealers might be deterred from pleading guilty if they knew they would have to go to jail.

That is unbelievable and it is totally unacceptable in this country that the government's attitude would be that we do not want to put that in place because it might deter criminals from pleading guilty. We might actually have take them to trial. We might actually have to prove that they are preying on our children and send them away to the big house for a while. That is the attitude of the Liberals. They have the audacity to turn around and say that maybe they are thinking about getting tough on crime.

The government is on the side of the criminals. We are on the side of the victims and children. That is the way it will always be until we get a new Conservative government.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 6:30 p.m. the time provided for the debate has expired. Accordingly the question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 23, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, in June of this year, the Conservative Party moved a motion to fully fund and implement the Canadian strategy for cancer control. The motion was passed by the House and then the very next day the Liberal government refused to fund and implement this strategy: again, typical Liberal hypocrisy.

I have called on the government on numerous occasions to fund the strategy. This is a strategy that has the support of the entire cancer community. It is a strategy that has proven to be effective in other industrialized countries throughout the world. It is a strategy that we need to protect the lives of Canadians from this terrible disease.

When I have asked this question before, the minister has talked about a chronic disease strategy. Cancer in too many cases is not chronic, it is deadly. Because of the unique characteristics of cancer, it needs to be dealt with in a national strategy, as the cancer community has outlined.

We know the government has refused to fund the strategy. The member may come back and say that it has put some money toward the cancer strategy. For the cost of a minor Liberal scandal, we can fully fund the entire strategy, which is about $260 million over five years. The government has committed only a fraction of that amount.

The government may say that it has invested other moneys in cancer. As a member from the Cancer Society said at a recent finance committee meeting, the cancer funding from the government has been done in “an ad hoc, uncoordinated and non-time specific manner”.

It is time that we fully fund and implement this specific strategy called the Canadian strategy for cancer control. Will the government, without any qualifications, yes or no, fully fund and implement the Canadian strategy for cancer control immediately?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

West Nova
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, consistent with the motion approved by the House on June 7, the Government of Canada is committed in its effort to reduce the growing human and economic costs of cancer as well as heart disease and mental illness in Canada.

The government has a long history of domestic and international leadership in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and control. It is now furthering its work through the new integrated strategy on healthy living and chronic disease. This integrated approach is supported by scientific evidence, international experience as well as the World Health Organization.

Budget 2005 approved $300 million in funding over five years for this integrated strategy which would provide health promotion activities to encourage and support Canadians in healthy living and physical activity. As well, the integrated strategy includes complementary disease specific activities for cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In this way it will serve as a platform for federal contributions to the Canadian strategy for cancer control.

Through the integrated strategy, in partnership with the provinces, territories and other key partners, we are moving forward to reduce the burden of chronic diseases, including cancer.

Since 1999, the Health Canada portfolio has been working with stakeholders involved with cancer to establish a Canadian strategy to control this disease. A secretariat was established at Health Canada and resources provided to support planning and development.

Following comprehensive consultation in the community involved in fighting cancer, strategic priority areas were selected for purposes of planning and in depth intervention. Action groups established in each of these strategic areas then formulated expert recommendations with government and non government participation. These efforts guided and will continue to guide Canada's investment in the fight against cancer. Clearly, the government recognizes the importance of a strategic national approach to cancer control. It has worked together and in consultation with all jurisdictions with a mandate to fight cancer.

Cancer control is a complex undertaking requiring concerted efforts by the provinces, territories, municipalities and all stakeholders. It is through this cooperative multisectoral approach that the strategy for cancer control aims to reduce cancer's incidence and the suffering, disability and death it causes.

Many experts view this effort to bring together expertise to develop the Canadian cancer strategy for cancer control as an innovation in integration. As one of my fellow members observed in our debate last week, cancer is not a single disease.

To develop this cancer strategy, cancer stakeholders came together across their differing interests, concerns and experience of the different cancers to create an overarching approach. As they did so, they acknowledged that many cancers had protective and risk factors in common with other major chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The cancer strategies prevention recommendations place importance on healthy eating and physical activity as protective factors, for example. As a result, cancer stakeholders have been leaders in advocating for integrated approach for primary prevention.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, what the member has just said is very misleading and I am very disappointed.

First, the government needs to get it straight. Cancer is not a chronic disease. In the vast majority of cases it is a deadly disease. Second, the cancer community from all jurisdictions has said that this strategy needs to be fully funded and implemented.

The member in French suggested that they were still trying to work on it. No, it is already done. It has been in a document put together for over three years.

The member has refused to commit to fully funding and implementing the strategy and it is a disgrace. The government should be ashamed of itself. Will the government fund the strategy, yes or no?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada contributes to the fight against cancer in many ways. It takes an integrated approach. We are working on the primary causes of cancer, which also happen to be the causes of other chronic illnesses.

We are also working in the area of research, whether with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or with specific efforts such as our $10 million contribution to the Terry Fox Foundation.

Also $4 million annually goes to the Canadian Breast Cancer Initiative. Funds go to the Canadian Childhood Cancer Surveillance and Control Program. The Federal Tobacco Control Strategy will be funded $560 million over five years. The the Canadian Institutes of Health Research invested $93 million last year in cancer research.

We work with the Canadian Cancer Society and many other organizations in an integrated approach and in a reasonable way to tackle these long-standing Canadian health concerns.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today and follow up on a question I asked of the Minister of Justice on October 19 in question period.

My question was prompted by the outrageous comments of some of the minister's Liberal colleagues. First, there were the comments by Vancouver mayor and would be Liberal Senator Larry Campbell, who referred to concerns expressed about the growing crystal meth problem as “garbage”. Then there were the comments of the member for Richmond who said that our concerns about crystal meth were “irresponsible fearmongering”.

I raise these issues to remind the House that in the riding of the same member from Richmond three crystal meth operations were found shortly thereafter.

I want to use the bulk of my time to comment on some of the work that has been done to deal with the issue of crystal meth. I note that while the minister has committed a small sum toward education and addiction treatment, these funds although welcome, we must do more to recognize a society wide effort is needed to discourage and suppress drug abuse.

Unfortunately, the government is sending very mixed messages to society. On the one hand we have the reforms recently announced by the government to treat methamphetamine production and abuse more seriously. On the other hand we have a trend toward decriminalization of cannabis and state sponsored shooting galleries for heroin addicts.

On the one hand the government is saying that it is getting serious about treating crystal meth as a hard drug in the Criminal Code. Yet on the other hand it is refusing to adopt mandatory minimum sentences, eliminating conditional sentences and parole for violent offenders. Once again, we have the spectacle of a Liberal government that talks a good line, but fails to deliver results.

I want to tell the House that people in my riding know better than to wait for a federal Liberal promise to be fulfilled or for positive action to be taken. They have seized the initiative themselves and set up a community organization dedicated to fight crystal meth abuse.

The Surrey Methamphetamine Regional Task Force, better known by its acronym SMART, is focused on education and public awareness, health services and enforcement. Just yesterday SMART held a public meeting in Surrey to raise awareness about the drug.

Bruce Hayne, a past-president of the Surrey Chamber of Commerce, has taken a leadership role in the crystal meth battle and is chairing SMART. He was joined by several other concerned citizens, including Gary Hollick, publisher of the Surrey Now newspaper, who is leading the local education campaign and Denyse Houde and Lois Dixon of the Fraser Health Authority who are advocating for additional addiction services.

The Superintendent of the Surrey RCMP, Fraser MacRae, and Surrey Fire Chief, Len Garis, are coordinating on the law enforcement aspects of this problem. I want to congratulate these citizens for the good work they are doing.

As a member of Parliament for a part of Surrey, I also have a role to play in pushing for the kind of criminal laws that ensure we get crystal meth lab operators and dealers off our streets and away from our playgrounds.

I stand here today to demand that the government toughen up sentencing for crystal meth convicts.

Again, will the minister admit that the member for Richmond is wrong and that the would be senator from Vancouver is also wrong, that crystal meth is a scourge on our communities? Will he admit that the concerns that groups such as SMART have raised about the abuse of this narcotic are neither “garbage” nor “irresponsible fearmongering”?

Will the minister admit that the crystal meth problem has grown worse under his watch? Will the minister admit that the actions that matter are the actions that deliver results? Will he admit that his actions to the present do not address the critical issue of sentencing of crystal meth producers and dealers?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Northumberland—Quinte West
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to address the member's question because clearly there is no doubt about crystal meth and its implications. The member's original question was based upon whether we would be bringing forward mandatory minimum penalties in order to deal with this issue.

The hon. member's proposal to encourage mandatory minimum penalties for offenders involved in the drug trade is no doubt well intentioned. Liberal members take second place to no one in the House in working to ensure the protection of society. Unfortunately, history tells us that stiffer sentences alone will not achieve this.

Even though it is true that Canada's sentencing approach prefers to give the court discretion to fashion a fit sentence that is proportional to the gravity of the offence and the conduct of the offender, our Criminal Code already provides 42 mandatory minimum penalties which denounce--and I underline the word “denounce”--the acts identified therein.

As I have already mentioned, apart from the mandatory minimum penalty for murder, there are mandatory minimums of four years for the use of a firearm in 10 different listed offences.

I was present at last week's meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers in Whitehorse. Minister Cotler indicated that he was prepared to seek authority to enact additional measured mandatory minimum penalties for firearms offences to denounce such activity. That is part of a tripartite strategy. Such a strategy would include not only the legislation aspect but more effective enforcement as well as preventive and social initiatives that address the root causes of crime.

The ministers talked about ways to increase the effectiveness of sentencing, with particular attention given to a discussion of the use of mandatory minimum sentences. A special ad hoc group of officials will work on these issues over the winter.

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers also endorsed recommendations on ways to strengthen how the concerns about crystal meth can be dealt with within the criminal justice system, for in fact it is obviously a matter of some concern to all of us who are aware of the issue.

Research on the effectiveness of minimum sentences shows that they have no deterrent or educational effect according to the Law Reform Commission and that they are no more effective for crime prevention than lighter sentences are. That was confirmed in 2001 by a study commissioned by Justice Canada that found there was no correlation between the crime rate and the severity of sentences.

That refers to the study of Gabor and Crutcher, “Mandatory Minimum Penalties: Their Effects on Crime, Sentencing Disparities, and Justice System Expenditures” for the Department of Justice in 2001.

The study commissioned by Justice Canada summarized findings from a review of sentencing arrangements in a number of common law jurisdictions other than the United States and was released in September of this year. It is now available at the Department of Justice website.

The study found that in those countries where mandatory minimum penalties do exist, they are mostly for murder, and in every case they provide a court with the ability to sentence under the minimum in exceptional circumstances. That refers to the study by Julian V. Roberts, “Mandatory Sentences of Imprisonment in Common Law Jurisdictions: Some Representative Models”, from the Department of Justice in 2005.

The study also shows that recent polls conducted in Australia and the United States demonstrate that public support for mandatory minimum penalties has declined in recent years. The U.S. uses mandatory--

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the member mention in his comments the root causes of crime, because for the past few months I have been holding meetings across Canada as co-chairman of our Conservative Party's task force on safe streets and healthy communities. I have heard from police officers, youth workers and city councillors about the exploding problem of crystal meth abuse. It is becoming a scourge on our Canadian cities.

This is what the 2005 report of Criminal Intelligence Service Canada states about methamphetamine abuse in Canada:

Methamphetamine use is on the increase in many parts of the country, but primarily in Western Canada. The bulk of this methamphetamine is manufactured domestically in Canada in small clandestine laboratories...Organized crime groups involved in the illicit methamphetamine industry include outlaw motorcycle gangs, specific Asian crime groups, and independent organized crime groups.

The report quotes Chief Richard Deering of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, who states:

Substantive evidence indicates that about 95% of the property crime reported to us is directly linked to the illicit drug trade, which is, for all intents and purposes, controlled by organized crime groups that have refined the ability to profit from criminal activity to a science.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in terms of our belief that the crystal meth concern is real. I think the government has indicated that it is prepared to consider many ways of approaching this, first of course through changing the precursor regulations to deal with the specific chemicals that go into the makeup of these drugs: red phosphorous and ephedrine.

The reality is that we are trying to do whatever we can to denounce this and to make sure that this conduct goes no further. This year we have substantially increased the penalty provisions within the Criminal Code to deal with issues of a similar nature, but in fact I think where we are placing ourselves today is that we have to deal with the root causes within the areas where crystal meth is actually being used. We have to deal with the chemicals that go into the manufacture of that particular substance. We have to make sure that we deal with those chemicals in a way that will stop that flow and therefore stop the--

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question tonight refers to a question that I asked in the House quite some time ago, back in June of this year. At that time I raised two questions in the House for the ministers of democratic reform and democratic renewal.

For folks out in TV-land who are not familiar with this, there actually are two separate ministers, one for democratic reform and one for democratic renewal. None of us can tell what the difference is between democratic reform and democratic renewal. It is not part of my question, but if the parliamentary secretary chooses to finally explain the answer to that mystery at some point I would love to hear what it is.

At any rate, I asked two questions of these ministers. The first one dealt with a private member's bill which has since been defeated or withdrawn, so therefore there is no need to discuss that.

The second question related to the government's response to the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which at that time was being written, on the subject of electoral reform. The procedure and House affairs committee had at that time, in response to the response of opposition parties in the House to the Speech from the Throne, been charged with the task of designing a system for reforming Canada's electoral system.

The system recommended by the committee was then to be placed in effect and to have the effect of causing Canada to start down the road toward potentially replacing its current first past the post electoral system with some other electoral system, if it is the judgment of Canadians that it would be better. At that time, I asked the following question:

Let me ask the [minister] responsible for electoral renewal, will he be acting promptly on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding electoral reform?

A couple of weeks later, the report was indeed tabled, making recommendations. Specifically, it recommended a two-pronged process.

It recommended a public input process, in which the principles behind electoral reform would be brought forward. It would be a process in which members of the public would be selected and led by a facilitator. The second prong of the approach would be to have the parliamentary committee on procedure and House affairs, or a special committee, debate and determine a specific new electoral system.

The process would start on October 1. I initially proposed that it start on September 1 in order to give us more time. It would report early in 2006, and right about this time, maybe a little later than right now, the two groups would be meeting to review their preliminary hearings.

The schedule was to start on October 1. What happened was that the government, as far as I can tell, did not do anything whatsoever in order to act to make this happen. On October 1, it still had not responded as to what we were to be doing.

Finally, several days later, a response was tabled not in the House but rather at the Clerk's office, because the two ministers did not have the nerve to actually stand up and table this non-response. What they said was that they could not meet the deadlines. They said the deadlines were impractical and the committee should have known better.

My questions are the following.

If the schedule was unrealistic, why did the parliamentary secretary to the minister, who will be answering us today, agree to that schedule? Indeed, he helped design the schedule.

Why did he object to my original timeline, which would have started the process on September 1 and which would have allowed more time?

Finally, why did the government wait until after the October 1 deadline to even bother giving a response at all?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Liberal

Raymond Simard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, my response will be short and concise.

My hon. colleague mentioned two ministers, but there are actually three ministers responsible for various issues on this file. Three government ministers have well defined responsibilities and are working together to achieve the government's strong and well-known commitment to democratic renewal.

The Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal is responsible for engaging Canadians in our democratic institutions with a particular emphasis on young people. I hope that is very clear. We are talking about civic literacy, citizenship engagement, those kinds of issues. The Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons continues to be responsible for the Canada Elections Act. The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons continues with his responsibilities for parliamentary reform. There are three very well defined responsibilities.

Our government has indicated that we are taking this issue very seriously. It is obvious that we are, given that three ministers have various roles to play in this field. The significant resources the government has dedicated to democratic renewal demonstrate how committed we are to addressing this complex and important matter. Canada's democratic initiatives are the envy of the world. We will continue to support democratic reform.

With regard to the member's comment on how our government has reacted to the 43rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, our government's response has been extremely positive.

The government has indicated that it supports the citizens' consultation process and the formation of a special parliamentary committee to look at democratic reform. The member may not be aware of this but we have put out the request for proposal that is required for the citizens' consultation process and it is at an advanced stage.

Taking stock from our provincial counterparts, democratic reform cannot be packaged into the tight timeframe proposed in the report. Our B.C. colleagues have indicated that it took them two years to get to this point. Obviously, after having heard this testimony, it indicates that we should take our time, do it properly, and not rush this issue just to satisfy the opposition. That is our position.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government certainly was not rushing. The whole summer went by and no action was taken whatsoever.

The parliamentary secretary said that it takes two years. He was part of the process. He sat in my office and negotiated the dates. Complaining about the dates as being unrealistic when he himself designed them is just a little weird.

The Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal was supposed to go on a million dollar cross-country tour to promote voter participation, particularly with regard to youth voters. Since that relates to the first of the questions I asked last June, I will ask this. This seems to have vanished. Is this tour now cancelled? Is she not going out there, or is it still on in some way?

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I apologize but I missed part of the question.

The member indicated that I was involved in arranging a timetable in his office. That is absolutely untrue. We discussed the conditions of a possible process. That is absolutely a fact.

I have argued consistently that the timelines were extremely tight. I am sure if the hon. member would read the blues he would find exactly that. The timelines were extremely tight and I did not think they were reasonable. There was a consensus in committee that the timelines would be put forward, but I did not believe the timelines were reasonable. He will see that consistently in the blues.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
Adjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7 p.m.)