House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cfia.

Topics

Civil Marriage Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, marriage is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. Our critics are trying their best to confuse what is a simple fundamental understanding that has existed for thousands of years. It is not about equality, a woman's right to vote, lifestyles, the charter or any other unrelated excuse that is intended to confuse Canadians.

This is about one thing. This is about protecting the institution of marriage. This is about our opponents making this a nasty fight. It distresses us all when certain individuals use the marriage debate to divide Canadians. They are using this debate as an all out attack on people who only wish to uphold family values.

While in the past people of faith have been prepared to pray in silence as our opponents shape their anti-religious attacks, the rallies held on Parliament Hill on April 9 and in various communities throughout the country were a signal that Canadians reject the desperation tactics of a minority Prime Minister who has lost any moral right to govern.

Let us be clear that this is not a charter issue. Section 15 of the Charter of Rights protects minorities from discrimination. Nowhere do the words “sexual orientation” appear. Sexual orientation was read into the charter by some activist Supreme Court judges.

The definition of marriage should never have gone to the courts. The issue is too large and too fundamental for seven appointed individuals locked away in a room in isolation to decide. This issue must be decided by the people's democratically elected representatives in Parliament and all members of the chamber with the freedom to vote their conscience and the will of the people.

A free vote is a free vote. By forcing certain members of Parliament to vote how he orders, the Prime Minister has ensured that the marriage debate will continue long after the vote, and a tainted vote is worse than no vote. This debate has been one of betrayal and deception.

In June 1999, when Parliament voted 215 to 55 in favour of the sanctity of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, the current Deputy Prime Minister stated:

--the definition of marriage is already clear in law. It is not found in a statute, but then not all law exists in statutes, and the law is no less binding and no less the law because it is found in the common law instead of in a statute.

The definition of marriage, which has been consistently applied in Canada, comes from an 1866 British case which holds that marriage is “the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”. That case and that definition are considered clear law by ordinary Canadians, by academics and by the courts

Let me state again for the record that the government has no intention of changing the definition of marriage or of legislating same sex marriages.

Those were the exact words of the justice minister during the 1999 debate. Another promise made, promise broken. That was the position of the current Prime Minister and the Liberal Party in 1999. The government sets the agenda.

People tell me all the time that they were promised by the government that the marriage debate was settled in 1999. They say that we should be talking about the shortage of doctors, child poverty, the environment and the heavy tax burden. I remind them that changing the traditional definition of marriage is the agenda of the government, not the majority of Canadians who are represented by other political parties in the House of Commons.

It is very evident in Ottawa that the fear is that if Canadians are not talking about changing the definition of marriage, they will start talking more about the startling testimony of the Gomery commission into government corruption.

On February 11 of this year I asked a question for the Treasury Board president regarding another multi-billion dollar government reorganization. I was surprised, as were all Canadians, to see that the question is now linked to the Gomery commission on the fraudulent misappropriation of taxpayer dollars. It is not difficult to understand why the government wants to use Bill C-38 to divert attention away from this scandal ridden government.

Canadians know that it was the Prime Minister, as the right-hand man to the former prime minister, Jean Chrétien, who presided over the loss of tens of billions of dollars to such programs as the $2 billion gun registry and the missing millions from the defence department.

Canadians understand that when the Prime Minister chooses to take credit for being in control of Canada's finances on matters of Canadian deficit, he is in effect taking credit for the loss of tens of millions of dollars as the one in control of the financial decisions. In control means total control, just like being in control of the agenda to hijack the definition of marriage that we find right now. Being in total control means taking credit for the deficit and taking credit for all the decisions regarding the waste of taxpayer dollars.

While Canadians are preoccupied with the debate over changing the definition of marriage, they are less apt to recall famous fiascos such as Jane Stewart's HRDC scandal and the current Deputy Prime Minister's role in the thoroughly discredited Liberal gun registry, a program she stated would cost $2 million and we are now told by the government-funded CBC that we are looking at $2 billion.

The gun registry has also been implicated in the sponsorship scandal. It is so unworkable that the Liberals bought advertisements in an attempt to confuse the public that the gun registry would curb crime. Those advertising dollars were funnelled through the same companies that now stand accused of providing the Liberal Party of Canada with kickbacks. The gun registry advertisements, which were meant to save the political lives of Liberals, have turned out to be just as ineffective as the ad scam funds were.

The majority of Canadians do not want the traditional definition of marriage to change and they fear that the only lesson the Prime Minister has learned from the Gomery inquiry into Liberal Party corruption is the consequence of getting caught.

The terrible record of poorly conceived and administered politically motivated government programs, like the gun registry and the sponsorship program, frightens Canadians. Canadians also fear the long term effects of tinkering with the actual definition of marriage.

In responding to a question I posed to the President of the Treasury Board, he stated that most of the missing million dollars in the defence department had been recovered. What was missing from that comment, and what Canadians deserved to hear in more detail, was how much and from whom.

The debate over changing the definition of marriage has been an effective diversion from the scandal of mismanagement so appropriately detailed by the Auditor General. Many people have forgotten about the missing million dollars from DND, which was front and centre at that time, and that internal government sources stated that there was evidence that it was a multi-million fraud ring involving at least two departments, National Defence and Public Works, and that for $146 million or $168 million to have been stolen others had to have been involved.

What happened to that story? Why is there no public inquiry into the amounts of money greater than what was defrauded from taxpayers in the sponsorship program? Only one person has been identified in that scandal and that person, the government claims single-handedly masterminded the fraud, is now living in the Caribbean. I am informed that he is being sued by the computer company Hewlett-Packard which got stuck with the $100 million bill for this, which is $46 million to $68 million less than what the government tells us was stolen. Who received the $46 million or $68 million that is not in the lawsuit?

Only a public inquiry with full disclosure, similar to the Gomery commission into government corruption, will provide those answers. I look forward to a government announcement of a public inquiry into what is really behind the missing millions from the Department of National Defence.

Even with the diversion of the marriage issue, Canadians are still talking about the second billion dollars that is being spent on the hated gun registry and the crisis among our beef producers, many of whom face financial ruin.

Without the marriage debate, the government has had no plan or any program to present to Canadians and certainly none to Parliament.

The challenge for us is to keep up the struggles against this systematic, gross, managerial incompetence by the government while defending family institutions. Marriage is too important for politicians or judges to decide.

Peterborough Petes
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Peterborough Petes played their first game in the Ontario Hockey League in November 1956. Next year they will celebrate their 50th year in Canadian Major Junior Hockey. This is the oldest continuous franchise in the Canadian Hockey League.

The Petes have sent more players to the NHL than any other CHL team. They include: Bob Gainey, Steve Larmer, Cory Stillman, Mike Ricci and Steve Yzerman, all of whom won Stanley Cups.

Petes coaches who won Stanley Cups include: Scotty Bowman, Mike Keenan and Dick Todd. Another, the late Roger Neilson, had a huge impact on hockey around the world.

The Petes are known across Canada and overseas as a club which provides its players with an opportunity to grow as athletes, students and responsible citizens. Petes players have been nurtured over the years by Peterborough families, high schools, the college and the university. They are part of our community and we are proud of them.

Congratulations and thanks to the Petes for 50 wonderful years. Have a great season this year. Go, Petes, go.

Alberta Scene
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, this spring Alberta is celebrating its centennial year as a province of Canada. The National Arts Centre is marking the occasion with the Alberta Scene, a 13 day showcase of Alberta culture ranging from country, jazz, hip hop, opera, punk rock, and featuring over 600 artists from my home province. It is going to be a party.

I probably should not pick favourites, but I will nonetheless highlight two acts from my constituency with unabashed hometown pride. Carolyn Dawn Johnson was born in Grande Prairie and is a gifted pianist. She is a country singer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry.

The hard-working six member band, Emerson Drive, is also from the Peace River country. In fact, they took their name from the Emerson Trail, the highway that runs past my farm near the Grande Prairie area. They were Billboard's number one top country artist in 2002 and toured with Shania Twain.

Both are performing on May 9 at the National Arts Centre.

Spelling Bee of Canada
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention of the House the accomplishment of some youngsters from Ottawa: Alok Deshpande, Pavitra Ramachandran, Amuj Dewan, Anirudh Agarwal, Christine Leung and Amirthan Sothivannan.

These children, age 6 to 16, have placed in the regional spelling bee and are going to represent Ottawa in the Spelling Bee of Canada's provincial championship that will be presented on TVOntario.

Spelling Bee of Canada is a volunteer organization that has hosted these bees for the past 17 years. The motivation is to instill within each child the love of the language, and the power of the spoken and written word.

Many of the participants are new Canadians drawn together from all walks of life. Past participants have gone on to great success and credit their experience with Spelling Bee of Canada for giving them their first taste of success and accomplishment.

One of the children is here today, Pavitra Ramachandran. I would like to take this moment to wish her luck and to remind her to have fun.

Passover
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, at sundown this Saturday, celebrations for Passover, Pessach in Hebrew, will begin. In Quebec, in Canada and throughout the world, millions of Jews will be sitting down together for the first two Passover Seders.

With these Seders, our Jewish fellow citizens commemorate the flight of the Israelites out of Egypt, led by Moses, to escape slavery and oppression. In the Seder, the elders transmit the story of this dark yet glorious episode in the history of the tribe of Abraham to the younger generations, in order to preserve spiritual memory.

These Seders are, therefore, at the very core of the transmission of Jewish identity, and ensure its continuity because, according to tradition, children play a key role in that continuity.

I encourage my colleagues to take part in these celebrations as a tangible expression of their openness and to offer their best wishes to their Jewish constituents.

To all our Jewish fellow citizens, Hag Sameach .

Tibet
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, one year ago this week Canadians were blessed with a visit by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Just two weeks ago I had the distinct honour of representing the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet during a visit to Dharamsala in India, the seat of the Tibetan government in exile. There I met with Tibetan leaders and discussed many issues of mutual interest.

It became clear to me during those discussions that China cannot stop the self-determination aspirations of the Tibetan people. Tibetans have a distinct identity and China's attempt to force Tibet into assimilation will not be accepted by the freedom loving people of the world.

While we welcome the new openness of China, we also hold it accountable for its human rights violations, especially in Tibet. We call on China to immediately begin dialogue with His Holiness to resolve the Tibet issue. Nothing short of this is acceptable to the world community.

Volunteerism
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Mr. C.J. Dick, an outstanding member of my riding of Brant.

C.J. has tirelessly volunteered for many organizations in Brant and has raised countless funds for such groups as the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Humane Society and others. In the past few months he has raised some $9,500 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

C.J. has donated his time and efforts to ensure that our local community agencies remain well funded and that these agencies continue to provide their support to those in need and their families.

Mr. Dick is an example of true selflessness. I ask all hon. members to join me in thanking C.J. for his continued efforts and to encourage others in our communities to follow his generous lead.

Volunteerism
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, volunteering means putting solidarity at the centre of our daily lives. It also means strengthening our commitment to and forging ties with our communities. Volunteering is a way to exercise our civic duty. Volunteering also ennobles character by putting others before ourselves.

This is national volunteer week, and I want to pay special tribute to the commitment of thousands of individuals in Longueuil and Boucherville, who devote their time and talents to helping the members of their community.

The Bloc Québécois recognizes the dynamic force of volunteerism and pays tribute to the volunteers who give of themselves every day in Quebec and around the world.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 20th anniversary of section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The right to equality in Canada became a fundamental principle of our democracy under the visionary leadership of the late Right Hon. Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

While there have been many sad episodes in our history, such as Canada's internment operations, the equality section of the charter is a reminder that we all must strive to support the right to equality and to live free from discrimination.

Today, with the fiscal foundations in place, we can afford ourselves the opportunity to dream an even greater dream. Let us envision an enhanced charter which would include a social charter whose three pillars, medicare, shelter and education, would provide equal life opportunities and quality of life for all Canadians, notwithstanding where or into what circumstances they were born.

This anniversary is not only a time for reflection but challenges us to envision an even greater dream.

Milton Community Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Carr Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to congratulate the nominees and award recipients of the Milton Chamber of Commerce Community Awards, which were given out at the annual evening of honour and celebration on April 2 in my riding of Halton.

The 2004 awards are in recognition of their outstanding dedication, commitment and exceptional involvement within the community. This year I am pleased to congratulate: Audrea Lear-Costigan, lifetime achievement award; Karl Reichert, citizen of the year; Rita Ward, president's award; The Halton Compass, business of the year with 25 employees or less; Granite Ridge Golf Club, business of the year with 26 employees or more; Shamim Bhimji, Ramada Inn and Conference Centre, business person of the year; and Howard Mott, Milton Chamber volunteer member of the year.

Congratulations to all nominees and recipients. Their involvement and contributions to Milton are appreciated and certainly very remarkable.

Immigration
Statements By Members

April 21st, 2005 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the claims of the Liberal government being immigration friendly ring hollow when compared to its dismal record.

Here is what Liberal policies have brought us: record waits for travel visas to Canada; five year waits for family reunification approvals; intolerable delays for compassionate travel requests; and onerous restrictions on immigrants to qualify their professional and trade skills to satisfy Canadian standards. I do not see anything immigration friendly about that record.

This is typical of the Liberal government. It brings the system to its knees, raises the frustration stage to the desperation stage, and then just before an election makes promises to fix the problem with a threat that if someone does not vote Liberal, then everything is off.

This is sleazy politics from a--

Immigration
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Ahuntsic.

Dalai Lama
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to point out that today is the first anniversary of the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Canada.

A year ago millions of Canadians were deeply touched and moved by the visit of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Many of us here in this House took part in this incredibly memorable visit to Parliament Hill. His reception at the Centre Block is remembered as one of the most powerful receptions for a world leader in recent times.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, a relentless campaigner for freedom and human dignity, a respected spiritual leader, and figurehead of the pacifist movement, he has successfully led his people in the field of education and the preservation of their ancient and unique Tibetan culture.

To mark this anniversary, the representatives of the Tibetan community, who are here today and to whom I extend greetings, have distributed khatas—a Tibetan ceremonial scarf symbolizing peace and friendship—to all the MPs. I invite my fellow parliamentarians to wear them with the humility and peace they represent.

National Day of Mourning
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, “mourn for the dead, fight for the living” is the battle cry of workers throughout Canada and indeed the world. Each year in Canada a thousand workers are killed and more than a million are injured or made sick by workplace accidents or disease.

With the passage of Rod Murphy's private member's bill in 1991, April 28 was recognized nationally as the day of mourning. Part of the continuing fight for the living is improving workplace safety and health through legislation, enforcement, education and technological change. The passage of Bill C-45, the Westray bill, is also a deterrent for employers who disregard the lives of workers.

As we continue to fight for improvements in Canada, we know that the fight must also extend throughout the world. More than 1,100 miners were killed by fires and cave-ins in China in the first three months of this year, an increase of 21%. If our country pushes trade with China, we must also press for extensive improvements in safety for Chinese workers.

As I join with workers, unions, employers, and the families of those who have lost a loved one in the workplace, I ask my colleagues here in the House to join me on April 28 mourning lives lost and committing to fight like hell for the living.

Charitable Organizations
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, tonight our Prime Minister will perform a nationally televised panic attack. He is now desperate. He has tried for months to get people to forget about the Liberal ad scam.

Now the Liberal scheme is to claim that everyone is corrupt. Citizens should learn that all politicians steal and all charities take money that does not belong to them, so goes the Liberal line.

Yesterday Liberals smeared Lawrence Cannon for his work in the charitable sector. Mr. Cannon legitimately employed a small grant to fund a successful 34 nation business meeting that brought $4.5 million in trade to Canada. None of the dollars went into Mr. Cannon's pocket. It was all put toward building our economy. This is not the same as the Liberal payola scam.

Here we have it, Liberals will now attack every charity to which they gave sponsorship money. Are they saying that all of these volunteers were involved in conniving to skim money into Liberal coffers? Canadians deserve better and soon they will have a chance--