House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was saskatchewan.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Fundy Royal.

Recently the Minister of Finance said he was not surprised to hear Saskatchewan politicians united in their demand that the province's non-renewable resource revenues be excluded from the equalization formula as has been granted other provinces. The Minister of Finance, a Saskatchewan native himself, said that this was an easy thing to do. I respectfully disagree.

Getting Saskatchewan's Conservative members of Parliament, the NDP premier of the province, along with the leaders of the provincial Liberal and Saskatchewan parties united in a common cause considering their significant ideological differences is anything but an easy thing to do. Even a brief examination of the facts would reveal that this is the right thing to do.

Representatives of the people of Saskatchewan are obliged to speak out against an equalization system that penalizes our province with an over-emphasis on non-renewable resources and a complete failure to accurately measure fiscal capacity. The detrimental effects of the present equalization formula should not be under-estimated. It has and continues to have a real effect on the prosperity of the residents of Saskatchewan, robbing them of economic benefits resulting from energy revenues.

Noted Queen's University economist, Thomas J. Courchene, has stated that Canada's equalization program represents a wholesale assault on the fiscal incentive and competitive environment of Saskatchewan's energy sector. It has obvious and dramatic spillovers to the province's entire budgetary environment.

From 1998-99 to 2000-01, energy revenues in Saskatchewan increased $668.3 million, yet simultaneously, the equalization offsets over the same period increased by $835.3 million. In effect, the province saw its energy revenues clawed back at a rate of 125%.

While the federal government has attempted to ameliorate the situation with back payments, it cannot turn back the clock and recover the lost economic opportunities because of this flawed equalization formula. Courchene declared that this clawback was a key factor leading to the province's relative decline in terms of the ranking of provincial disposable incomes.

Unfortunately, finding statistics to illustrate the financial difficulties facing Saskatchewan residents is an easy thing to do. We just have to look at statistics indicating private sector job growth in the province. It was a mere .3% in 2004. Its share of total employment in Saskatchewan is at its lowest level in more than a decade. We just have to look at the fact that between 2001-04, capital investment in Saskatchewan was the worst among all provinces with an average annual growth rate of 1.8% compared with the national average of 5.6%. Other figures have shown that Saskatchewan's families have saved nothing in the last four years, instead, going progressively deeper into debt.

Saskatchewan farmers consistently reap the worst net farm income in this country. Agriculture Canada reports that the net realized farm income in 2005 for Saskatchewan farmers will be a negative $486 million, significantly lower than the negative $166 million for 2004. All this while national farm income numbers are improving.

These numbers have real implications for people in my province. Good, hardworking people whose aspirations of building and sustaining a business in Saskatchewan are being impeded by a gloomy economic reality that is suffocating economic development and opportunity in the province.

This is especially true in the agriculture sector. Terry Hildebrandt, with the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, recently spoke of good, stable farm operations throwing up an auction sale and getting out while they can while others not as fortunate, who have farmed 35 or 40 years, are re-mortgaging the farm to pay their input costs back.

For that reason, we should not be surprised that according to a recent survey conducted for the provincial government one out of every four young people in Saskatchewan is seriously considering moving to another province. One of the most frequent reasons given is to find better economic opportunities.

Those statistics and figures paint a stark picture of a province wrestling with widespread and troubling financial difficulties. However, under the present equalization formula, which overemphasizes non-renewable resources and fails to accurately measure fiscal capacity, Saskatchewan is classified as a have province, thus ensuring most of the province's non-renewable resource revenue will be clawed back.

We should consider that for a moment. What incentives are there to promote economic development and opportunities in the non-renewable resources sector when a provincial government knows that for every dollar it raises it effectively makes itself and its residents worse off financially? Answering that question is an easy thing to do. There are no incentives. There is a fundamental flaw in the formula.

The concept of equalization is to assist have not provinces. However, under this formula, we could conceivably cement the economic stagnation of some provinces, such as my own, for decades to come. The treatment of Saskatchewan's non-renewable resources under the equalization formula is, to quote Courchene, “not only inequitable, it is fiscally and economically immiserating”`. We cannot allow this situation to persist.

For that reason, I call on the government to extend the same provisions it has guaranteed other provinces in what has been dubbed the Atlantic accord and exclude the non-renewable resources of Saskatchewan and all other provinces from the equalization formula.

Skiing
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to North Bay native, Steve Omischl, who just last week captured the gold medal for the world freestyle ski championship in Ruka, Finland.

Steve performed two jumps in the event, including a quad-twisting triple somersault, which Steve claimed was the best he had ever done. This marks Canada's first men's aerials gold since 1997 and the sixth since the inaugural worlds in 1986.

Omischl's win comes as no great surprise. The 26 year old has been a dominant force on the world cup circuit for the last several seasons. He won the overall title in 2004 and finished second this year. With this victory, Steve Omischl is now considered the man to beat leading up to next year's winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

On behalf of the people of Nipissing--Timiskaming and all hon. members, I would like to congratulate Steve Omischl on a job well done. His community and, indeed, his entire country are proud of him. He should keep reaching for the stars.

Fraser River Fishery
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans tabled its report on the 2004 Fraser River sockeye disaster.

The committee rejected the minister's contention that high water temperatures alone in the Fraser River accounted for the missing fish. The committee suggested that illegal fishing, mismanagement of the aboriginal fisheries and a lack of commitment to enforcement were the key causes of the disaster.

In a separate supplementary report, I recommended a plan that would prevent a repeat of the 2004 disaster by first, prohibiting the use of destructive set nets in the Fraser Canyon; second, by ending the illegal sale of food, social and ceremonial fish; and third, by creating a new fisheries enforcement branch free of political interference, an enforcement branch with a police agency designation and more than double the current number of fisheries officers on the lower Fraser.

The Department of Fisheries failed miserably to protect Fraser sockeye in 2004. These recommendations will protect the Fraser fishery from another disaster.

Supply Management
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, 2005 marks the 40th anniversary of supply management in the chicken broiler, turkey and dairy industries.

Despite the fact that supply managed sectors provide inexpensive yet premium quality food, there are those out there who still do not get it.

Recently, when ordering pizza, one of my constituents was confronted with a sign indicating that the pizza would now cost more because dairy farmers were charging more for milk. Notwithstanding that I have never seen a sign saying that pizza prices have increased because of the cost of hydro, fuel, labour or rent, the information is erroneous.

Canadians must understand that domestic dairy goods are as inexpensive as possible. In fact, if one were to pay $14.24 for a medium pizza in a restaurant, the farmer's share would be only 61¢. Furthermore, if one were to directly compare U.S. dairy prices with ours, one would find that prices here on average are 20% less expensive than similar items in the United States.

Supply management has been a huge success and I congratulate the Government of Canada for officially recognizing this fact.

Gérald Guy Caza
Statements By Members

March 22nd, 2005 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 20, nearly 1,000 organizations in more than 100 countries celebrated the international day of La Francophonie.

One of them, the Mouvement estrien pour le français, awarded its top prize to someone from the Eastern Townships who has demonstrated his commitment to the French fact. The recipient was Gérald Guy Caza, a man who has shared his wealth of knowledge with his community and who has been outstanding in his desire to make French an essential element of today's society.

The founder of Biblairies GGC, he also established les Éditions GGC and les Productions GGC. These operations focus on the distribution of French-language educational games and books and encourage the creativity of Quebec and Eastern Townships authors, supporting them by publishing and distributing their works.

The Bloc Québécois congratulates Gérald Guy Caza and encourages him to continue his work on behalf of Quebec society with gusto.

Flyers
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a matter of great concern to me and, I would say, to all members of the House.

Flyers have been mailed out across Canada to a variety of different members' ridings stating that members are against families or are trying to destroy marriage. Even though I think that position is intolerant, I do respect the opinion. However, what I do not respect is tens of thousands of dollars being spent anonymously with absolutely no way to contact this organization.

My office has been contacted by hundreds of residents who are extremely upset. Maybe this is acceptable to the opposition but I would like to know who is behind it. We do not know who is behind it. Is there foreign money? Is there a political party behind it? These are the questions we have to ask.

To have anonymous money being spent in this way from a post office in a 7-Eleven in Toronto is absolutely unacceptable. Canadians deserve--

Flyers
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

Francis Bazinet
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to pay tribute to the late Francis Bazinet who recently bequeathed $915,000 to the Winchester Memorial Hospital which is located in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry.

Mr. Bazinet's overwhelming generosity enabled the hospital's “Renewing the Vision” campaign to reach its goal of raising $15 million to fund improvements to the hospital, including a new emergency ward, a new ambulatory care department, expanded and improved day surgery and operating rooms, new recovery rooms and improved reception areas.

I also want to congratulate “Renewing the Vision” campaign co-chairs, Bill Smirle and Mike McInnis, the foundation chair, Terry MacLellan, and all the organizers of this most successful fundraising campaign.

Finally, I want to thank from the bottom of my heart all 6,069 donors whose incredible generosity has made it possible for the patients of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry to continue to receive top quality health care service.

Holocaust
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps of World War II.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops were the first of the allies to liberate the death camps known as Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Holocaust was a tragedy for the Jewish people that resulted in the suffering and death of at least 6 million Jews. Other innocent victims included the Roma people, Slavs, Soviet prisoners of war, the handicapped, Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals.

Sadly, since the Holocaust the world has failed to prevent genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

It is my sincere hope that such events will never be allowed to happen again and that Canada will take its place in the international community to halt or prevent genocide in the future.

World Water Day
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Simard Beauport, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are marking World Water Day. This year's celebration is also the beginning of the international decade of action proclaimed by the United Nations as the Water for Life Decade.

Many organizations in Quebec, among them Développement et paix and the Eau-Secours coalition, are working to protect this resource so often misused.

In Quebec, the St. Lawrence River is a source of life. It provides our drinking water, transportation and inspiration. With nearly 6,000 animal and plant species living in its waters or on its shores, the St. Lawrence's wealth, its biodiversity, must be fiercely protected.

The Bloc Québécois calls upon the federal government to use the Water for Life Decade to incorporate the concept of sustainable development into its decisions. Maintaining the St. Lawrence's rate of flow, preserving lac Saint-Pierre, and monitoring climate change are only a few examples of the many challenges awaiting us.

We must be ready to face the challenges, because the people of Quebec are demanding a healthier, cleaner St. Lawrence—and rightfully so.

Racial Discrimination
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and yet in Canada we continue to be confronted by a rising tide of anti-Semitism.

Last Tuesday the League for Human Rights released its annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents in Canada. The data is disturbing, confirming a longstanding trend of escalation.

There was a 46.7% rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents to 857 last year. The League states that only 10% of all cases are reported, turning this alarming figure into a potentially frightening 8,570.

In my home city of Winnipeg, the number of anti-Semitic events tripled to 54 incidents. Vandalism cases increased sevenfold and five instances involved synagogues.

It is important for the general Canadian society to stand alongside their Jewish-Canadian neighbours in a united front against bigotry. We cannot turn a blind eye to this blight.

China
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, China has one of the world's most voracious economies and one of the largest armies. China has a nuclear program and a formidable missile program. As a matter of fact, 700 of those missiles are aligned threateningly along the Straits of Taiwan right now.

China has just finished a $100 billion oil and gas deal with Iran. China also has a deplorable human rights record, is actively engaged culturally against the people of Tibet and has close links with the deplorable dictatorship in North Korea.

How does Canada reward this behaviour from China? We give them millions of taxpayer dollars in the form of aid.

It is time to send a message. If Canada is serious about aid being based on good governance, if Canada is serious about China's threat to Taiwan with the anti-succession law, then it is time to cancel these millions of taxpayer dollars that we are sending to China in the form of aid and send the message that we expect good governance and respect for human rights.

Vancouver
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the first day of spring, albeit that March 21 was yesterday. In recognition of this end to the winter blues, the Vancouver AM Tourism Association has sent to each member of this esteemed House the gift of a golden daffodil and with it comes an open invitation to visit our fair city.

And fair it is. With 15° temperatures, spring indeed has sprung.The daffodils flutter and toss their golden heads in profusion. The cherry trees riotously litter the green grass with their pink and white blossoms. The birds they sing. The bees they hum. The sidewalk tables are filled with latté drinkers by day and chilled Chardonnay imbibers by night.

When T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month, he certainly could not have been thinking about Vancouver. I ask my hon. colleagues to accept the golden ray of sunshine that we in Vancouver have so fondly offered, remembering that spring is the season when our fantasies turn to thoughts of love. Colleagues--

Vancouver
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Human Resources
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, few human feelings are as compelling as the need to respond with support and care when those we love are in their final days.

Recognizing this universal urge for compassion, Parliament set up a leave provision in the EI program to help Canadians and their loved ones through this difficult period.

It is helping some loved ones, but EI compassionate leave is failing many others. Why? Quite simply because this government chose the narrowest definition possible of family.

This has left those like Neil Cohen in Winnipeg unable to access leave to care for his terminally ill brother. Sisters, brothers and grandparents do not qualify as family for this government. Neil is taking the government to court so others will not have to endure his family's pain. He should not have to do that.

There is a huge surplus in the program due to the fact that so few can use it because the Liberals' idea of family is so narrow and so out of touch with reality. We urge the government to put compassion back into compassionate leave.