House of Commons Hansard #80 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not recall in any part of my speech where I said anything about an election. Again, that is a fabrication of the hon. member. What I did say very consistently was that his government could have and should have done more when it was governing in the best of times. At low interest rates, it reaped the benefits from the GST and from a North American free trade agreement, with the greatest amount of north-south trade we had ever seen on this continent.

In the best of times the Liberals managed to do what? Find $162 million to send to their Liberal friends? I do not think that is a record of which any government needs to be proud.

With regard to the budget implementation bill, I challenge the government to separate the Atlantic accord from it, pass it forthwith and move on with the business of governing the country, if it can.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Richmond Hill
Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, first, this budget builds on the successive budgets of the government in terms of a balanced approach. We have balanced the books again. We have reduced the national debt. Canada is the only G-7 country that has paid off its national debt. We have gone from 71.5% to below 40% and are on target for 25%.

That is a pretty enviable position given the record of other countries and given the $42.5 billion deficit the government inherited in 1993. Given the fact that the New York Times in 1994-95 suggested that Canada was an economic basket case, we have done not too bad given the fact that we have had eight balanced budgets.

Some members of the House have suggested incorrectly that we have not made our targets. The previous Conservative government did not make its targets either. Unfortunately, that is how we wound up with a $42.5 billion deficit, which we inherited in 1993.

This government ensured that the deficit was eliminated. It started to invest in key social programs. It has ensured that the debt of future generations has been reduced and reduced significantly, by $60 billion in the last five years. That is very important to the average Canadian.

Some members of the opposition would like to pick and choose. I was parliamentary secretary to the finance minister for two years so I have some idea of how this works. We cannot carve out what we like. We like the Atlantic accord so we are prepared to deal with that. The government House leader suggested that if the opposition really wanted the Atlantic accord, then it should pass the budget bill and pass everything at once. After all, this is a budget for Canadians, for families and for cities. It is also a green budget, which is what I really want to talk about.

I also want to point out the fact that the members of the Conservative Party, the Alliance, paid no attention to cities for 10 years. When the Federation of Canadian Municipalities proposed a national infrastructure program in 1983, the Conservatives, when they came into office in 1984, did nothing, and they did nothing for 10 years. I happen to know that, having spent 12 years in municipal politics and as a former president of the FCM. I would not hang my hat on anything those people say because clearly they did nothing for 10 years. What did we do? We came into power, and we have had successive infrastructure programs and they have worked very well for cities.

I listened to the hon. member across the way. Some of those members would rather hoot and holler than listen. They have no respect unfortunately, but that is the way it is. They would rather try to shout down people than listen. If they have questions, they can ask the questions.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Abbotsford, BC

Sounds like an election speech.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

A member across the way said it sounds like an election speech. We are not interested in an election. We are interested in the facts. It would be nice if that party for a change lived up to its own commitments. If members want to hear the facts, then let the process work.

The budget was called the greenest budget in Canadian history. Why was it called that?

I hear the NDP chirping in the corner. Those members are supposedly the champions of a green budget. They supposedly wanted climate change dealt with. Action is better than words. That party voted against the budget. I have no sympathy for those members. They have no credibility at all because they clearly do not support a green budget.

From the beginning, we said that we wanted a sustainable and competitive economy and a green budget. I am very proud to say that the Minister of the Environment indicated from the very beginning that economic competitiveness and the environment were not mutually exclusive.

We delivered a green budget. We delivered a budget with new direction, transforming the economy in terms of a model of sustainability. Tomorrow we will unveil an enhanced climate change plan for the nation. I would suggest that all members in the House take a careful look at what is in that plan before they react.

I want members to know that we now have the fiscal instruments to do what I think all Canadians want and that is to address the serious issue of climate change in this country and indeed in the world. I am very proud that this government signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol. We will be hosting the United Nations framework conference on climate change, COP 11, at the end of the year. This will be an opportunity not only to look at Kyoto, but beyond Kyoto. It is an opportunity to look at the issues of the environment and sustainability worldwide beyond 2008-2012.

I have said that this budget strikes a balance for short term investments. For example, the environment is everyone's concern. Obviously anything that helps in terms of dealing with health related issues, whether it is asthma or anything to do with protecting species at risk, it is very important. We want to see transformative change in public behaviour and obviously in business practice. I must say that we have done a tremendous amount of consultation as we move forward to tomorrow's announcement.

The government cannot do these kinds of investments unless it has a solid economic framework. Clearly, successive governments, both under this Prime Minister and the previous prime minister, delivered that. That is why we were able to pay down the debt and invest in health care, in post-secondary education and in the environment.

Federal investments in the environment will stimulate partnerships. We are interested in partnerships. We are interested in ensuring the advancement of green technologies, not only wind power, solar power and hydrogen power and others, but also the export of these technologies. Canadians are a leader in areas such as air quality and water quality. This gives us an opportunity to work abroad, particularly in places like Asia which I am particularly familiar with. I can say that there are tremendous opportunities in places, even such as Japan, in dealing with contaminated sites as an example.

We are on the cusp of a new era in dealing with the environment and ensuring that it produces new jobs and new opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs in this country.

A healthy ecosystem provides tangible economic benefits to Canadians. This budget includes immediate investments for the protection of Canada's oceans, other important ecosystems, such as the Great Lakes, and a network of our national parks. Again, reinvesting in our national parks is also part of this budget. This is another important milestone to ensure that we not only have the best parks in the world but also to make sure that we have the most up to date facilities for people. We need to invest in our laboratories in Environment Canada. We must be able to provide the kind of tools needed to ensure that they are the best in the world.

In this budget we have market based mechanisms. We have research programs and infrastructure investments. I talked earlier about the cities. The fact is that we are providing $5 billion and at least half of that is looking at the area of a green economy, dealing with public transit as an example, along with improved water and sewage systems. These are things that municipal governments y have been asking for in terms of the gas tax. I have already said that under the previous government the national infrastructure program lay dormant.

Although there are some in this House who claim that they are big fans of supporting cities, the mayors and councils know who their friends are. They know who was there at the beginning to support them. They know who has consistently been there. We eliminated the GST costs for goods and services for municipal governments which will save them $7 billion over a 10 year period.

Eighty percent of Canadians live in cities and therefore the agenda for cities has been very important. It has been one of the most important on the Prime Minister's agenda. I can say, as a former FCM president, how proud I am to serve in a government where not only cities are being dealt with but all communities. This budget deals with the issue of communities from coast to coast to coast.

We are dealing with issues that will improve the health of Canadians with the quality of our ecosystem, which is unprecedented. We will be hosting the world at the end of the year on COP 11 because we will be able to not only demonstrate the ingenuity and commitment of Canadians but we will also able to clearly demonstrate that we are moving ahead as a country and as a government.

Environment Canada, in conjunction with Natural Resources Canada, Transport Canada, Industry Canada and others, is working effectively to ensure that all aspects of the government are green. The issue of moving forward is demonstrated with the hybrid vehicles and our very strong agreement with the auto sector. We have had 14 voluntary agreements with the auto sector, which will result in a reduction of 5.3 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

Some aspects of the budget are rather significant, such as the climate fund which was originally referred to as the clean air fund. It will create permanent, market based institutions as one of the primary tools for Canada's approach to climate change. We will be tapping the potential of the market which I think will be very exciting.

By tapping into this market we will stimulate innovation and allow Canadians across the country to take action. We will continue to encourage energy efficiency, deliver cost effective reductions and sequestration and drive the adoption of best available technologies which is one of the most important things.

We are committed to doing this. The funds purpose, which I think is rather unique, is to secure domestic emission reductions and qualifying international credits that will assist Canada in complying with its Kyoto commitments. We are not buying any Russian hot air. We are only buying credits that can be Kyoto confirmed.

Over the coming months the Government of Canada will consult with Canadians on how best the fund may achieve this particular mandate. We know that Canadians trust this government in terms of dealing with the environment agenda. Some of the members on that side do not even believe the ice age occurred. I would suggest that when it comes to the environment this government is dealing with it effectively.

The funds' primary mandate is to promote domestic greenhouse gas emission reductions, which is extremely important, and that will be elaborated on with the unveiling tomorrow. It will position Canada to compete in the 21st century. Some of the members on the other side do not even know that we have passed the 20th century. Some of their thinking on the environment is really quite appalling.

I want to point out that this clean development mechanism will be important in greening the economy. We believe that a competitive economy can be a green economy and can provide the necessary jobs, which is what the budget is all about and why the budget implementation bill is so important.

If people are really committed, actions speak louder than words. If they really support some of these key initiatives they will vote for this and make sure it goes through.

The climate change fund agency will also be an agent of the government, which means that it will carry out activities on behalf of the Government of Canada. It also will be accountable to Parliament. I point out that people have asked for a clear plan. We now have the economic instruments to do so. It is the greenest budget in Canadian history and it has provided us with tremendous opportunities.

I am pleased by this budget and the fact that the climate fund will be established through legislation. Aspects of this fund are going to be important to benefit investment, international emission reductions and give an opportunity for Canadians to see real and demonstrative change in the country.

Another aspect of the budget that I would encourage my hon. colleagues in the House to take note of is the greenhouse gas technology investment fund. It is an innovative funding arrangement that will recognize qualifying investment to research and development, as well as meeting mandatory greenhouse gas emission requirements which is very important.

The budget deals with the real issues of Canadians and one of the issues that continues to be at the top of people's consciousness is the environment.

The government will be very clear tomorrow in its plan in terms of its emission reductions, what it is doing and how it will be working with different sectors, both in the large final emitters sectors and others in the country. I think it is important that they will be able to contribute to the greenhouse gas technology investment fund in exchange for special emission credits. They will be investing and, in turn, that will provide jobs for people.

Having a green economy and no jobs would benefit no one. Having no green economy will not help future generations. We have made a balance and have demonstrated that. What we are doing, in terms of bringing everyone into the tent on this particular issue, has been well received by the minister over the last nine months.

The revenue that will be generated from these investments by large final emitters will be used to make strategic investments into new innovative technologies. Innovative technologies is important as opposed to simply relying on old ways.

One of the things that some members of the opposition have suggested, particularly in the official opposition, is that somehow this is a carbon tax. There is no carbon, climate or green tax. There is no tax at all. In fact, if we were to have a tax we would have to bring in new legislation. As the parliamentary secretary I want to point out to all hon. members in the House that they can put that rumour aside.

NRCan and Natural Resources will be the ones best placed to manage the greenhouse gas technology investment fund as part of ongoing operations. They have been dealing with the whole energy technology development file. This will give opportunities, in dealing with expertise gained over the years, to ensure these investments of the fund are allocated to projects that will yield the optimal emission reductions for large final emitters on a sector by sector basis.

This is a tremendous opportunity not only for the environment but in terms of the investments for Canadians, whether they be young people or seniors. The environment is the area which I think is particularly important in terms of moving the budget implementation bill forward.

The budget is not a smorgasbord where we come along and take something because we like it but not take something else because we do not like it. We are not here to carve up a roast. We are here to pass a budget so that Canadians will be able to prosper and we will be able to move forward in a number of these areas. We want our cities to be assured of the funding that so many mayors and councillors across Canada have supported, that environmental groups are assured of funding in terms of the environment and that assistance is provided to Canadians generally.

It is good to see that we have the bill before the House but we have a long road to go in terms of ensuring that it gets passed. I would caution my colleagues on the other side that having this budget implementation bill go through will in fact deliver not only on what we ran on in the last federal election but what Canadians have clearly said, other priorities in terms of the economy.

We have had eight balanced budgets or better, which is unheard of in Canadian history. I think that alone demonstrates the economic leadership of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, was that not a nice speech about how great this budget is? For the people out there who cannot see what is going on in here, let me point out that the Liberals are giving themselves some applause.

Let us talk a bit about how this affected the people in Abbotsford, British Columbia. We have a pretty serious drug problem in Abbotsford as well as in lower mainland British Columbia and throughout this country. The government spent $8.1 million giving heroin to addicts; now there is a great program. I wonder if the budget reflects that. There is no money at all in the budget for rehabilitation. There is no money for the rehabilitation of individuals who are addicted to drugs. There is no money for advertising. Yet, rather than get addicts off drugs, the government spent millions on an injection site to make sure that those who are addicted can go to a place to inject their drugs.

In Abbotsford, British Columbia we are still fighting for fairness in the avian flu situation. The government in its wisdom decided that it had a schedule to reimburse farmers. For instance, on the schedule pigeons were worth $30, but anybody who knows much about specialized pigeons knows that some of them are worth $2,000 each. In its wisdom, the government did not do anything about that in the budget.

Tomorrow's announcement is an interesting thing. We have a lot of pretty bad air quality emissions in the Fraser Valley. There is nothing in the budget about that.

Here is the real question. The member opposite talked about revenue that has been generated. It would be interesting to know how much more money we would have available for the projects that I have just mentioned if it had not been ripped out of the pockets of the taxpayers and given to the Liberal Party. People in my area think that is pretty disgusting.

There is another bit of revenue the member opposite did not mention. Bill C-17 here in the House of Commons is for the decriminalization of marijuana, which the government is going to be made effective for anybody over the age of 11. What the government is saying is that anybody over the age of 11 will be given a fine for carrying as much as 60 joints. That is for grades six, seven, eight and nine in our country, for over two million students. What the government really does not understand about that little generator of revenue, according to the Department of Justice, is that we cannot fine anybody between the ages of 11 to 16, so the police will not be issuing fines on the spot to anyone who is 12, 13, 14 or 15, and reasonably so. This convoluted idea of a government trying to raise money because children in grades six or seven carry joints is a bit stupid, to say the least.

Budgets are more than just standing up and making some sort of philosophical statement on Kyoto or some other thing. They are about how Canada is working. I can tell the government and the hon. member across the way right now that the budget covered nothing about drugs that was motivating, to say the least. It covered nothing about the ethics and morality of stealing money from taxpayers. It covered nothing about some of the issues that are important to my area in terms of the avian flu and our emissions problem.

Maybe the member could stand up and tell us about what other little things I missed out on that did not affect my area at all.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Again, Mr. Speaker, these people seem to be more concerned about elections than the actual delivery of programs to Canadians.

The hon. member has the audacity to stand in the House and suggest that the Liberal Party ripped off people. Maybe he has already read Mr. Gomery's report, which is not due until the end of the year. We know that allegations are allegations. I am sure the member, who has been around the House long enough, knows better. He should stand outside and make those kinds of statements.

The hon. member should know that Transparency International, one of the most respected--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy White Abbotsford, BC

Let's go.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

If you go outside I will be more than happy to deal with it, more than happy.

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I should not speak to the member.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that Transparency International, one of the most respected organizations that deals with the issue of looking at corruption around the world, looks at 144 countries every year. Canada consistently is in the top 10, one to ten being very minimal in terms of the difference, very minuscule in the difference.

The fact is that when we talk about corruption, and I do not know whether members on the other side can spell the word, I find it offensive that people would use the word “corruption”. First of all, they should read the facts before they make those kinds of outlandish statements in this place. They have a duty to Canadians to do that. They also have a responsibility.

The government cancelled the sponsorship program as its first act. The government in fact named the Gomery commission, because these people said, “We have to get to the bottom of it”. We have no problem getting to the bottom of it. We have a process in place. These people seem to forget that. They seem to forget rather conveniently in terms of due process that we will have to get all the facts on the table. In fact, we have already seen contradictory testimony this week. We have an inquiry in place.

The member asks what the budget does. Obviously I guess the member has no ecosystems in his riding. I guess the member has no issues dealing with climate change in his riding. I guess the member has no municipal governments in his riding. I guess the member has no issues dealing with health care. Clearly one budget does not do everything, but it clearly has done a lot and it continues to deliver, and I think that is what Canadians want to see. I think they are a little tired of hearing some of these terms bandied about.

Clearly what we are seeing from Canadians is that they want to see the process work. They also want to see that this budget goes through so they can have delivered what in fact this government has stood for and continues to stand for, which is honesty and integrity. I challenge anybody on the other side to say otherwise and no doubt they will.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned that he thought this budget was balanced, so I have a series of questions for him.

How can he say the budget is balanced when we have increasing homelessness across this country?

How can he say this budget is balanced when poverty is growing, particularly child poverty, which we were supposed to eliminate by 2000? There are now 1.1 million children across this country living in poverty and those numbers are growing.

How can he call this budget balanced when it does nothing to address the crisis in post-secondary education that is afflicting students and youth across this country? The average debt load now is over $20,000 because tuition fees have doubled over these past few years during the Liberal reign.

How can he say that this budget is balanced when people with disabilities are living harder and harder lives because there is no support from the government? In fact, the government has cut one of the major employment programs that addressed the issue of integrating people with disabilities back into employment.

How can he say the budget is balanced when we have a crisis in rural Canada? The government has done nothing to address the border issues that are hurting our rural communities across the country.

How can he say the budget is balanced when seniors are living tougher lives and their quality of life is eroding? This budget offered nothing but a buck a day to help seniors when they have seen their real incomes eroding because pensions are actually eroding due to real cuts.

How can he say this budget is balanced when average Canadians are earning 60¢ an hour less in real terms than they were a decade ago when this government came to power? We are seeing fewer and fewer jobs with pension benefits, fewer and fewer jobs that actually carry benefits, more and more temporary jobs and more and more part time jobs, and the average Canadian family has seen a real erosion in their quality of life.

Given all these facts, how can the member opposite possibly say this budget is balanced?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I know the member is new. I have great respect for the member. I know he probably just forgot that the government led a national campaign in terms of the issue of homelessness and invested over $640 million in conjunction with the provinces and municipal governments and NGOs.

Maybe the member forgot that 800,000 people, of which about 400,000 are seniors, came off the tax rolls because of this budget.

Maybe the member forgot that in fact the issue of rising tuitions is a provincial issue, not a federal one, but this government has done more to deal with the issue of student debt load.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that I will have only eight minutes for this speech before question period. I would like, therefore, to use this opportunity to begin my criticism of the budget brought down recently by the Minister of Finance.

First, we must condemn the fact that the Minister of Finance said that, for the first time, a Canadian finance minister would meet the critics of the official opposition and the other opposition parties to discuss the budget. I spent more than an hour with the minister explaining our party's priorities for serving the citizens. Now, we have a budget that fails to respond in any way to the priorities expressed to the Minister of Finance. I was extremely frustrated, as were all my colleagues, with this phony consultation by a minister who says he is open to new ideas for serving the community better, but failed to include in this budget any of the priorities that were expressed.

One of my party's priorities took precedence over all the others. This was the fiscal imbalance. I know that the Prime Minister has never acknowledged either the concept or the problem of the fiscal imbalance. He spoke about fiscal pressures. I do not know why this Prime Minister has an aversion to such a fine concept. However, I know very well, as chair of the House's Subcommittee on Fiscal Imbalance and having gone on a tour that took us from Halifax to Victoria by way of Toronto, Quebec City and other stops, and is still continuing, that people everywhere agree on the problem of the fiscal imbalance. People also agree on all its effects on the provincial governments and their responsibilities for health, education and assisting the most disadvantaged families.

There is agreement as well on the fact that Ottawa has too much money in relation to its responsibilities. The provinces, on the other hand, do not have enough to be the direct, front-line responders to the citizens. I thought that we would see a start in this budget on correcting the fiscal imbalance and that it would be recognized. It should be said in passing that this imbalance was mentioned in the Speech from the Throne thanks to the Bloc Québécois and the Conservative Party. We expected, therefore, that there would be an initial response in the budget. However, there was not even a hint of a response to this problem.

The Prime Minister and his Minister of Finance are saying that because of the health agreement and equalization there is no room to manoeuvre for the coming years. That is not true. There is more money than they know what to do with. Even with the commitments made in the September 2004 health agreement, even with the $10 billion in equalization indexed at 3.5% a year, even with the agreement reached with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to exclude oil revenues from the equalization calculation, over the next six years there will still be a surplus of some $100 billion in the federal government's coffers. That is a lot of money.

This is not the first time we have been in a situation like this. In 1956, the Tremblay Commission recommended looking at the Constitution, the provincial jurisdictions, and the federal government's jurisdictions and ensuring that the fiscal capacity of both levels of government was consistent with this level of responsibility. It favoured transferring these fiscal responsibilities from one level to the other, in other words, from the federal government to the provinces. The Constitution is in fact very clear on this: education, health, and helping out families in need are not the responsibilities of the federal government, but of Quebec and the provinces.

Since these are basic services we must provide in order to meet the public's demands, is it possible that we are back where we were in 1956, at the time of the Tremblay report, when we needed to look at the balance and review the allocation of taxing power between the two levels of government?

The report of the Tremblay commission led to the initial first ministers' conference in Quebec City. At that time, the first ministers were Mr. Pearson for the federal government and Mr. Lesage for Quebec.

The taxation powers of both levels of government were redefined at that conference. Why? Because, at that time, the federal government wanted to implement a pan-Canadian education system, with a loans and bursaries program, a pension fund, etc. The Quebec government refused to conform and asked for the right to withdraw with full compensation.

In 1964, it became possible to withdraw with full compensation. This compensation was then offered in the form of tax points to all the provinces, but only Quebec accepted. The tax points from 1964 and others from later years, particularly 1977 and 1978, are now worth $18 billion and the revenues go directly to the Quebec government.

Why deny the evidence? Why not admit that the current situation is identical to those in the 1950s and 1960s, and that the balance needs to be restored? There is no hint of a solution, or even any recognition of the fiscal imbalance in the budget, even though it is in the throne speech. There is nothing about it.

Year after year, the provinces record major shortfalls. For just this year in Quebec alone, we are talking about $2.5 billion that should have gone to the Quebec government but which has gone to Ottawa, due to the fiscal imbalance. If Quebec had that $2.5 billion, clearly, the underfunding of education over the past 15 years and the shortfall in the health care system would be history.

But first, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance would have to understand, which apparently is not the case at present. Our first major disappointment with the budget is this whole issue of the fiscal imbalance, which this government continues to deny. Perhaps we need to shove this question down its throat more forcefully in the next election campaign. I will come back to this after oral question period. As the saying goes, “The best is yet to come”.

Volunteerism
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, next week is National Volunteer Week when we recognize so many who donate their time to fellow Canadians.

I thank the thousands of volunteers in Guelph who do so much to better our community. Their generosity was overwhelming in response to the tsunami in South and Southeast Asia.

The Rotary Club and Valentini Hair Design hosted a cut-a-thon. Harcourt Memorial United Church staged a benefit show where many, including Robert Munsch, performed. The Guelph Storm Hockey Club and the Guelph Fire Department collected donations. Youth undertook action in their schools to help raise money. The local Red Cross alone received over $770,000 from thousands of individuals and businesses.

These fundraising efforts could not have occurred without so many generous volunteers. I congratulate them and thank them for all of their hard work.

Veterans Affairs
Statements By Members

April 12th, 2005 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, many Canadian veterans were subjected to chemical warfare testing while serving their country. Because of this the government brought forward the chemical warfare agent testing recognition program with the aim of compensating these veterans. Unfortunately, this program has become underfunded and overburdened. The government must correct this injustice to ensure our veterans are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Some residents of my constituency of South Shore—St. Margaret's who are eligible for this program have made enquiries on the status of their applications. They have been told that the line is so long they cannot even know when their application will even be looked at.

This is a shameful way to treat our veterans. This is a serious situation which needs to be addressed immediately as time is running out.

The government has proclaimed this to be the Year of the Veteran. It is paramount that we recognize their great sacrifice and ensure the best possible care for our veterans.

Pope John Paul II
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the remarkable life of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

As we mourn his death, we also celebrate his life, his incredible courage and the comfort that his faith brought to people all around the world. His Holiness was a remarkable leader, an inspiration of extraordinary faith, strength and courage to us all. He was especially graced with a very special power to bring people around the world together.

Canada was honoured when he visited our country three times. I had an audience with him some years ago in Italy and was left in awe of his radiance and the aura that surrounded him.

We were blessed to welcome the Pope to Toronto for World Youth Day in July 2002 when I had the great privilege of celebrating mass with His Holiness.

I want to express my deepest condolences to members of our religious communities, his brothers and sisters, and to all Canadians as we honour the exceptional life of Pope John Paul II.