House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Taiwan Affairs Act
Private Members' Business

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Clavet Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the colleagues who have just spoken on Bill C-357, both the hon. member for Victoria and the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia, the bill's sponsor. This is the first hour of debate at second reading. It is a pleasure for me, as the Bloc's critic for the Asia-Pacific region, to speak on this bill.

Bill C-357 provides an improved framework for economic, trade and cultural initiatives between Canada and Taiwan. Before indicating whether the Bloc Québécois supports the principle of this bill and whether it can be referred to committee, just to keep everyone guessing, I want to provide some context essential to understanding this issue.

In this regard, the Bloc Québécois wants to acknowledge Taiwan's obvious economic and political progress. No one will deny that, not even the People's Republic of China. Undeniably, Taiwan is now a free, democratic and, above all, prosperous country. It is clearly a model for the entire Asia-Pacific region.

It is interesting to note that Quebec maintains close and friendly cultural and economic ties with Taiwan. Between 2001 and 2002 alone, Quebec exports to Taiwan increased by 17%, to a noteworthy $134 million. Quebeckers are happy to have access to Taiwanese products, such as computers and semi-conductors. In exchange, the Taiwanese benefit from imports of reliable Quebec products, such as wood pulp, telecommunications equipment and iron ore, to name just a few.

I would also add that university and cultural exchanges between Quebec and Taiwan have been extremely successful. In the riding of Louis-Hébert, which I have the pleasure of representing in the House, Université Laval has extremely close ties with Taiwan. These exchanges will continue. Even some colleges maintain similar relations, with both Taiwan and China.

I would, moreover, emphasize that Quebec's relationship with Taiwan cannot in any way have a negative impact on the deep friendship and attachment Quebec feels for the People's Republic of China. I had the pleasure of working there for two years. Contacts between Quebec and the People's Republic of China have been constantly increasing for over 30 years now. There have been visits by senior officials, agreements have been signed and major trade exchanges have taken place, all of which are evidence of our ongoing good faith and good will.

As for Quebec's exports to Chine, these have increased by leaps and bounds in recent years. I have some interesting figures here also. From its level of $318 million in the year 2000, the value of Quebec's exports to China increased by 117% to some $700 million in 2002. There is nothing to indicate a decrease. Among the Quebec products of most interest to the People's Republic of China are aircraft and aircraft parts, pulp and paper and inorganic chemicals. I list these as evidence that there can continue to be very good trade relations Quebec and the People's Republic of China, and between Quebec and Taiwan. Quebec's importation of Chinese products in 2002 was not negligible either, at about $3.4 billion.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that educational exchanges between Quebec and China are also very important. Universities and colleges, Quebec's in particular, have very active relationships with China. Close to a thousand Chinese students come to Quebec every year to study.

Now back to Taiwan, since this bill deals primarily with Quebec's and Canada's relations with Taiwan.

The Bloc Québécois feels the need to support the principle of this bill because of the friendship and ties that exist between Quebec and Taiwan. In particularly, we unreservedly support its underlying principles: peace and security in the Asia Pacific region.

We in the Bloc Québécois believe that the resolution of the dispute between China and Taiwan should be peaceful and negotiated by the two parties. Nothing in this bill would lead us to think such a resolution might not be possible.

This bill should not be seen as meddling or trying to disturb a situation in sometimes precarious equilibrium—no point in beating around the bush—but rather as a means to strengthening economic, trade and cultural ties between Taiwan and Canada. Who could dispute that?

We in the Bloc have, of course, found a few shortcomings after analyzing the bill. We will thus mention a few reservations we have with respect to the bill in due course, when the bill is being considered in committee. However, at this stage of debate, two things about the bill should be mentioned, which will, in our opinion, help improve bilateral relations between Canada and Taiwan and international relations generally between Canada and other Asian countries.

First, the Bloc Québécois supports Taiwan's participation as an observer at certain international organizations. Currently, it is excluded—and we heard this again this morning— from participation in international organizations such as the World Health Organization. These organizations are technical rather than political in nature, even though their political scope is somewhat limited. We need only consider how the SARS epidemic could have been different had Taiwan had observer status with WHO. Things would have been simpler for everyone, because Taiwan could then have taken part in the organization's deliberations.

We in the Bloc Québécois also note the pacifist tone of Bill C-357. We would point out that the dispute between Taiwan and mainland China will not be resolved with prayers. It will take a disarmament agreement in the case of geographic areas of potential confrontation. No one is fooled and no one forgets the constant threat. We belive that relations between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan can improve only through dialogue and diplomacy.

We in the Bloc Québécois reiterate our affection for and great friendship with both the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. We think that a peaceful settlement of the disputes will lead to a valuable solution.

In summary, the Bloc Québécois supports this bill in principle for the following reasons. First, it will strengthen economic, trade and cultural relations between Quebec, Canada and Taiwan. The Bloc also supports Taiwan's participation in certain international organizations. The conditions for its participation can be discussed and decisions made on a case-by-case basis. Regarding the International Civil Aviation Organization for instance, major legal tangles could ensue if Taiwan's participation in that organization were not recognized de facto. Allowing Taiwan to act as an observer in major international forums will facilitate communication.

I want to refer again to the bill's pacifist tone; it does speak of disarmament and dialogue. We all agree with that. Besides, and this may be the bill's greatest strength, there is hardly any diplomatic risk involved since this bill is modelled after a 1979 U.S. bill maintaining the status quo to preserve friendly relations with both Taiwan and China.

Thus, we want to restate our feelings of friendship not only for the Chinese people, with whom we will continue to do business, of course, but also for the Taiwanese people. We believe that we must continue in this direction.

In conclusion, for all the reasons I just stated, the Bloc Québécois supports referring Bill C-357 to committee for further study, and we support the principle of this bill.

Taiwan Affairs Act
Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to participate in the debate on Bill C-357, an act to provide for an improved framework for economic, trade, cultural and other initiatives between the people of Canada and the people of Taiwan, the short title being the Taiwan affairs act, as introduced by the member for Kootenay—Columbia.

At the outset, the NDP supports the bill in principle. We want to see it go to committee where there can be a full and careful discussion and maybe see some possible improvements that we would bring forward at that time. New Democrats believe that greater clarity on these issues needs to be encouraged and that the bill will help us be clearer about our relationships with Taiwan. That would be a good thing.

This past weekend Taiwan held elections for its national assembly. It was again another demonstration of the healthy and vigorous democracy that has grown in Taiwan. I think everyone in Canada celebrates that achievement. I know many people in my riding of Burnaby—Douglas have been assisting in the development of democracy in Taiwan and it is very important to them.

A key principle of Bill C-357 is excellent relations between Canada and the People's Republic of China and Canada and the people of Taiwan. I want to quote from clause 3(a) of the bill which outlines this principle. It states:

It is hereby declared to be the policy of Canada to

(a) preserve and promote extensive, close and friendly commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of Canada and the people of Taiwan, as well as those of the People’s Republic of China...

It begins with ensuring that we maintain our relationships with both the People's Republic of China and the people of Taiwan. This principle is crucial to people in my riding originally from Taiwan and from the People's Republic of China. This principle, as well as ensuring peace and security in the region, is crucial to folks in Burnaby—Douglas. They want to ensure that our relations in this area build on these foundations.

I want to discuss a key recommendation of the bill which is found in clause 9. It deals with Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization. Three times now the House or one of its committees has called for Taiwan to have observer status at the World Health Organization. Despite support on those three occasions for that observer status, Canada opposed it last year at the World Health Assembly, the international body that discusses World Health Organization policy. Unfortunately, Canada did not act on the recommendations of the House or its committees.

The World Health Assembly is currently meeting. Hopefully Canada will support Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization at this year's meeting. We heard the member for Kootenay—Columbia say this morning that it sounds like the whole discussion of Taiwan's participation did not make it on the agenda. We hope the Government of Canada is taking steps to see that makes the agenda at that important meeting.

New Democrats strongly support Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization. Our foreign affairs critic, the member for Halifax, has a motion on the order paper which states:

That...the government should support the granting of observer status for Taiwan in the World Health Organization (WHO) and should support the establishment of a UN working group to facilitate Taiwan's effective participation in the WHO, reaping benefits for both the international community and the Taiwanese through shared knowledge and equality of access to health care information

That is a pretty straightforward statement of our hope around Taiwan's participation.

As well, my predecessor Svend Robinson last year before the election wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He pointed out some of the important reasons why Taiwan should participate as an observer at the World Health Organization. He pointed out an incident that happened in 1998. In the letter he stated:

--in 1998, an outbreak of the Enterovirus infection in Taiwan took the lives of 78 children. In the midst of the outbreak, as panicked parents turned to their government for help, Taiwan turned to the WHO. The request for information was ignored because Taiwan is not a member of the WHO, and the children continued to die.

That is a pretty dramatic example of why it is important for Taiwan to have a connection to the World Health Organization and why it is important for Canada to advocate for that.

Back on April 30, I was pleased to participate in a press conference with over 20 Taiwanese community organizations on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, along with some members of Parliament, including my colleague from Burnaby--New Westminster. We called for the inclusion of Taiwan at the World Health Organization through observer status. We were very clear at that meeting about the importance of that.

The World Health Organization's mandate is to provide assistance, service and protection in health related matters to all human beings, regardless of their political affiliations. This is very important to all of us, especially given the close connections that now exist across this planet, the easy connections and travel now possible between countries. Certainly there is ease of travel between Taiwan and Canada with many direct airline links.

The world is a much smaller place than it was in years gone by. That seems to change almost day by day. We know diseases such as SARS and the avian flu do not respect international or political boundaries. That is why it is crucial for organizations like the World Health Organization to be representative of all people of the planet.

All neighbours should participate in important decisions. It would be crazy, in any of our neighbourhoods, cities or towns in Canada, to say that certain neighbours do not have something to say about important community decisions. Essentially that is happening with Taiwan being unable to participate in the World Health Organization.

At the press conference I said that because of the importance of health considerations and because of the smallness of our planet, it was really a no-brainer that Taiwan should be an observer at the World Health Organization, and I stand by that comment. It is a no-brainer that on key issues of health, a group of 23 million people on the planet should have access to the discussions and resources of that organization. Other groups do. It would not be an unusual step, given that the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Knights of Malta, the Vatican and the International Committee of the Red Cross already are observers at the World Health Organization.

This is an important component of the bill. We need to ensure that this aspect of it, along with all other issues that it raises, is given a thorough discussion. I know the members of the Taiwanese community in my constituency would like me to highlight as well that the bill calls for the possibility of private visits by the president and other senior officials of Taiwan. This has been very important to the Taiwanese community and merits our serious consideration. We are glad this is part of the bill before us today.

We in the NDP strongly support the discussion of the bill. We support it in principle and want to see it get to the committee. We want to encourage clarity in our relationships in Asia and in our relationship with Taiwan. We think the bill is a good start to getting that on the agenda.

We look forward to participating in the discussion. We want to ensure that the people of Canada and the people of Taiwan enjoy a happy, productive and healthy relationship in the future. That is why we want to see the bill go to committee for discussion.

Taiwan Affairs Act
Private Members' Business

Noon

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to Bill C-357 today. I really appreciated the comments of the member for Kootenay--Columbia and those of members of the Bloc and the NDP.

I would like to address the question about Mongolia that was put by the Liberal member to the bill's sponsor. This bill emphasizes Taiwan, which has now become a member of the World Trade Organization. In that capacity Taiwan was closely defined and the definition excluded Mongolia or any place like that. All of the voting for democracy and presidential elections clearly includes people in Taiwan. That is the intent of governance.

The member for Victoria spoke to this legislation. He talked about Canadian foreign policy not being made in Beijing. I will place some doubt in that member's mind with something I want to present today. I think we should be taking sides and the side we should be taking is that of human rights.

Bill C-357 was tabled by my colleague from Kootenay--Columbia. He is taking some flak from status quo interests who are putting trade before principle. I have no doubt there will be members of the House of Commons who will be ducking for cover. I specifically want to offer to the member for Kootenay--Columbia my respect and appreciation for his pursuing this bill as private members' business.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Trade as well as the last two Prime Ministers have been very cute in their public statements and responses in the House of Commons on Taiwan. While they have expressed appreciation for Taiwan's achievements in human rights, freedom and democracy and respect for the rule of law, they have not stretched their necks one centimetre to reward Taiwan for its great advances. Rather, they have continued to not support World Health Assembly status for Taiwan, despite three express wishes of members of Parliament.

They have refused to sign agreements of mutual assistance between Taiwan and Canada because “they are not allowed under Canadian law”. Exactly. That is self-fulfilling. That is what Bill C-357 is all about. They have also refused travel visas for senior government officials from Taiwan, such as the president, the vice-president, the defence minister, and the foreign affairs minister. This is a blanket no.

There are now 150,000 Taiwanese immigrants settled in Canada. We know that in this population of 150,000 there are a few criminal elements who have escaped justice in Taiwan by moving to Canada. By the Canadian government's statements there is no Canadian law to authorize an agreement on mutual legal assistance to apprehend cross-border criminals. Bill C-357 would pre-empt this state of affairs.

Canada's image in the international community has certainly suffered over the last 12 years. Prior to this we punched above our weight in the international arena militarily and on human rights, freedom and democracy issues. This legacy, which was hard earned and too easily spent, is essential to recover once again. It is generally the deep-seated conviction of Canadians that we should operate from principle. Canada's posture toward Taiwan has been atrocious. Bill C-357 would rectify some of the imbalance.

We all know that Canada's treatment of Taiwan can be directly attributed to objections from the People's Republic of China. I will demonstrate how far the Canadian government will go to curry favour with the government of the People's Republic of China.

I have a letter which the government wishes I did not have. I want to read this letter into the record. It was written on June 14, 2002 by Allan Rock, who was the minister of industry at the time, to Esta Resnick, who was the barrister and solicitor for the Department of Justice in Vancouver. It states:

Dear Ms. Resnick,

In reference to our telephone conversation, May 30, 2002 regarding Lai Cheong-sing et al, I would like to take this opportunity to compliment you on your continued efforts to have these undesirable fugitives removed from Canada.

This case has significant political repercussions and potential effects on all facets of Canada's relationship with The People's Republic of China. In recent conversations with Mr. Joseph Caron, Canada's Ambassador to The People's Republic of China, the Ambassador stressed the importance of a successful deportation and extradition of these undesirables. As well, he noted this case could have direct implications to Canada's future diplomatic and trade relations with the PRC government.

Please keep me apprised of any future developments in this case and I wish you every success in your worthy pursuit.

Yours sincerely,

Alan Rock, P.C., M.P.

This letter implicates the industry minister at the time, our justice department and our ambassador to China as all being primarily concerned with keeping good future diplomatic and trade relations with the PRC government with a blind eye to human rights.

These individuals collectively passed judgment on Mr. Lai in Vancouver at a time when he was under refugee application and who to this day has never been charged with anything by Canada. This letter was requested by the legal counsel for Mr. Lai through ATI but the government could find no record of it.

The Canadian government should be looking at human rights, not economic advantage. When the former minister of industry, now the Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, Allan Rock, who has recently spoken out on human rights abuses in Africa, contrary to his behaviour in this letter, writes to the counsel of the Department of Justice and confirms a conversation with the Canadian Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, then we know that all government departments and cabinet are tilted and that when it comes to catering to China, trade trumps human rights.

As a matter of fact, the minister sounds like a good lapdog for the Chinese government. This letter makes it clear that the overriding issue for the Government of Canada is the appeasing of the Beijing regime for purely economic reasons.

The legal counsel for Citizenship and Immigration Canada was being instructed to ensure deportation despite a preponderance of evidence that the refugee claimant could not possibly get a fair trial in China and would be subject to torture. It is clear that Ms. Resnick did all of this. One has to wonder why the Minister of Industry at the time was even involved since the client for Ms. Resnick was Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

I want to go one step further. I want to talk about the actions of the counsel for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the same Ms. Resnick to whom the June 14, 2002 letter I read into the record was addressed. Ms. Resnick breached her undertaking in a Canadian court before a Canadian Federal Court judge that witnesses in China, specifically in Shanghai, whose testimony was tabled by affidavit would be protected and remain confidential.

I have brought the case of Tao Mi up in the House of Commons on two earlier occasions with no satisfactory response as to why the Government of Canada broke this promise. Tao Mi was sold out by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Contrary to its undertakings in a Canadian court she was betrayed to the Chinese police in Shanghai and has not been heard of since. There are very likely others who were betrayed in the very same case. We have no way to know for sure.

This is all quite appalling. If Canadians knew the details, they would be shocked. The role the Canadian government has continued to play in this is to try to cover it up. It is a long and sordid story.

The bill will go some way to redress what is an unbalanced situation. We should operate from principle. Canadians should be proud of this bill.

Taiwan Affairs Act
Private Members' Business

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

The House resumed from May 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C-48, an act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
Government Orders

May 16th, 2005 / 12:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss Bill C-48. At the same time, I am also sad with what has gone on. Through my presentation I will allude to that simply because we are given the opportunity once a week to go home to our ridings and gauge with our constituents, hear their views and comments, given the unusual circumstances that are unfolding here in this honourable chamber, and come back and work with our colleagues to see how we can positively move forward initiatives, efforts that the government brings forward for the betterment of our country, our people, our youth, our seniors and every other generation in between, so we can continue staying at the pinnacle where our country has been for many years.

As I said in the past, it is no coincidence that our country is recognized as one of the best countries in the world in which to live.

Today I will be speaking to Bill C-48 which proposes investments from unplanned surpluses. What this means primarily is that, as the Liberal government traditionally has done in the past, it looks to making the right kind of key investments within our Canadian society basically because Canada as a whole has been recognized and noted as a very different country, a compassionate, caring and giving country, a country that always comes to the calling and always stands up, whether it be domestically or internationally.

In past budgets the government has made significant investments in priority programs such as social programs. At the same time, this bill is simply an extension of what we traditionally have done in the past.

I will make two or three brief points of what this bill would do.

This bill, first, invests in, as I have put it in the past, the future of our country, which is our youth. In essence, it supports post-secondary education, post-secondary programs. What better investment can we make? We talk about staying competitive as a nation. We talk about creating a smart society. We talk about creating a society that is productive, peaceful, safe and secure. That is where this investment, I believe, would bear fruit.

Beyond that, what would it also do? It supports areas such as transportation, for which the cities, for example, have continuously asked us for support. We know very well that a strong city makes for a strong province and, as a result, makes for a strong country. We have that obligation.

Housing, which is important, is another element of Bill C-48. What best can families or individuals have, as we have often said, than a roof over their heads, which is the foundation of any safe society. This government, in its wisdom and in consultation with other parties, said that we must move forward on this issue and we are doing so.

Another area is our environment. If we do not look after the environment today, 10, 20, 30 years down the road we will be saying, “God, what mistakes. What did we do?” We hear how our health system is being impeded. We have an aging population. Any initiative toward protecting our environment is a great investment, and that is part of what Bill C-48 would do.

A nation is not only noted for what it does within its borders. A nation also gains respect by what it does outside its borders.

In Canada, historically speaking, Prime Minister Pearson did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize just because he was the prime minister of Canada. He received it because he stood above the rest. His initiatives then make us proud today as a nation.

We cannot just take one step forward and then take ten steps back. As difficult as it is sometimes, if we want to be international players, if I might use that word, we need to participate and there are different ways of participating. We can provide physical presence, which our proud military has done and performed so well over the years, but just being there is one aspect of it. There has to be financial support at the same time.

Bill C-48 in essence would do that as well. Our military has repeatedly said that if they are being asked to do a job and to put their lives at stake they need support and Bill C-48 would do that.

Our foreign aid contribution is toward our military. We have heard that over 300,000 people have lost their lives in Darfur. We cannot sit back and say that we do not care. We do care. Aside from caring, we talk about creating security for our nation. If we have nations that are hurting, rest assured that the hurt will be expressed in different ways, and generally it is not in a good way.

If we help these nations find peace, security, stability and economic development where their people can seek work that will give them the opportunity to provide food and shelter for their families, they then will have no need to go out and react in adverse ways which does harm to nations such as ours.

If we create a stable and secure environment in Darfur for example, or other hot spots, we would in essence create security for Canada. Those obligations are part of Bill C-48 as well.

As Bill C-48 unfolded we know the New Democratic Party was very supportive, and I believe it still is. Some very good proposals came from the New Democratic Party. It is said that in order to be a good healer one must be a good listener. The Prime Minister and this Liberal government has been listening. Maybe not all the proposes are good but surely some good can come out of listening and in this case a lot of good has come out of it, good that has been applauded by Canadians. I know because I hear about it in my riding.

Once a week, as I have said, we have the opportunity to go back to our ridings to be with our families and talk to our constituents. We receive calls, emails and letters. People in a free and democratic society, like the one we have in Canada, have the right to express their views, whether we agree or disagree is beside the point. Through Bill C-48, the message is very simple. We have listened and we have responded in the way the vast majority of Canadians want.

Another element I omitted, which is very important, is that Bill C-48 would enhance small and medium sized enterprises. When we first assumed government after the election of October 1993, we said that the engine that drives the economy is the small and medium sized enterprises. The bill contains tax reforms with respect to small and medium sized enterprises.

Larger corporations have benefits coming down the road, I believe slotted for 2008. It is not like it has just disappeared and we are only looking at one segment. Let us not forget that the vast majority of jobs have been created through the small and medium sized enterprises, and the government in Bill C-48 does that as well.

Now that I have talked a little bit about Bill C-48, I want to get into what is happening here. We have a moral obligation, if I may put it that way, to bring to this honourable chamber the views, frustrations, call it whatever, from our constituents.

In the past several weeks I have heard comments like, “God, it's like kindergarten all over again in that chamber. They are a bunch of rowdies, a bunch of grown up kids”. It makes me so sad and it hurts me to hear these comments. However I have to accept them because that is what is happening here in this honourable chamber.

One example is what happened last week when a motion was put in the House. The Leader of the Opposition, for some odd reason, did not get his way and he just got up and walked out. This reminds me of the bully on the street who comes out to play hockey and when he does not get his way he takes his ball, his net and he leaves.

That is not how we build a nation nor is it how we find compromise. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and they sit in this chamber and debate. Members stand up in the House and express their views if they want their constituents to know exactly what is going on.

Over the past several weeks people have said that Parliament is not functioning. People want Bill C-43 and Bill C-48 to move forward. There are great ideas in these bills. Bill C-43, which I will not get into, what a budget. It has been continuously applauded throughout the country. There was not one area that was not covered. Even in a small way tax relief was covered.

The reason tax relief was not covered, if I may remind my hon. colleague, is that in the 2000 budget the largest tax relief in the history of our country was put forward; a five year program of $100 billion. Today, in 2005, we are into the fifth year of that five year program. I say that it does not make sense to add another tax relief budget when this country is in the fifth year of that five year program.

This government has produced not only balanced budgets and eliminated the deficit way in advance, but we have provided seven consecutive balanced budgets. This is unheard of in the history of our country. This government has provided surpluses never heard of before. These surpluses have given us the opportunity to reinvest in the country. For example, the Romanow report, a very good report, not only did we meet that report and its request, but we exceeded that report and the expectations.

We have the cities agenda, need I say more. Supposedly $400 million was allocated in the last budget and that amount has been jacked up to $600 million. Why? It is because more money was there.

What did we do with it? We have no deficit and the debt has been reduced faster than anyone ever expected. I believe in 1993 the debt to GDP ratio was at 71% or 72% and today we are below 50%. It is projected that in the next four or five years it will be at 25% or 26%. No country out there can say that. In the G-7 we are the most advanced country in terms of job growth, surpluses and balanced budgets and we have the fastest growing economy. We have invested wisely in the new economy. We have invested in research chairs as no other country has done before.

We have these so-called clusters of excellence situated throughout the country. Universities have benefited tremendously. We have been able not only to retain the best and the brightest, but we have been able to attract the best and the brightest.

I remember visiting the Hospital for Sick Children a couple of years ago when I was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of industry in relation to an investment that we made in cancer research for youth. A highly regarded specialist from England was there and I asked him why he came to Canada. He said that it was because the best was here. He said that the government had invested, that we were on the right track and that as a professional it was here that he could do better work.

We often do not talk about these stories but the time has come to talk about these stories and really call a spade a spade.

Today we find ourselves in the very unusual situation where we come with great interest in this House to debate. Yes, we will argue with the opposition. Yes, we will debate. Yes, the temperature gets a little bit high. The nature of this environment is that we yell and scream sometimes in frustration.

I apologize for that to Canadians and to my constituents, but we only experience what we do because we are in this chamber. When we have so-called immunity, we are protected in the House and we say what we want to say and get away with it. Who are we really hurting? We are hurting the average Canadian and that is the sad part about it.

Let me give one example, if I may. The other day I was watching a news program on CBC. The member for Calgary Centre-North was on the tube and he had the audacity again to say that his constituents wanted an election. He was being intellectually dishonest by saying that because he was on the tube a week before that when the House was in recess. He went home, supposedly, to gauge his constituents and to determine if they wanted an election. The first thing that was shown on television was the hon. member unpacking and setting up his campaign office. The reporter asked him what he was doing because he was supposedly there to gauge his constituents and to get a sense of what they wanted him to do.

We have often been told by members of the opposition, the new Conservative Party, that they will represent their constituents, and say and do what their constituents want them to do. The hon. member went home and opened up a campaign office. What did he do then? He went out on the street to canvass his constituents about the election and 9 out of 10 constituents told him, on television, that they did not want an election. They did not want another $350 million wasted for an election that is not necessary. The 10th constituent did not really care because he or she was probably turned off. The hon. member then came back to the chamber and said that his constituents wanted us to have an election. That is malarkey. I dare the Conservative Party to go back and look at exactly what happened that day.

I have to get back to the bill because there is important stuff here. The transport critic made a comment. He is a good friend of mine who worked very well on committee. Look what we have done on reducing rents at airports. We see that things are different and times have changed. We are trying to accommodate, we are trying to help out, and we are trying to make things work. That is the problem.

We have been trying to get to the bill for a long time. I have been trying to get on my feet to talk about the bill for a long time. What do opposition members do? They interrupt proceedings and shut the House down.

This reminds me of a saying that the future is always affected by the past. Let us go back in history for a moment on a bill like this and what happened? We had an unholy alliance before this one. We had Mr. Mulroney, who was in cahoots with the separatists to form government. What happened? We had the birth of the Reform Party to break up the country. We have now gone full cycle and the Reform came together and kicked out the Conservatives. It is now in bed with the Bloc Québécois and all of a sudden, the country simply is not working. We have been asking for weeks to put forth Bill C-48 and we cannot do it.

The bill wants to work. The budget has so many good things in it. I have talked to students who told me they want a good education because they deserve a good education.

I ask the opposition and all members in the House to do the right thing for the good of our youth, the environment, housing, cities, and for the good of the country. These investments make sense, especially when members agreed to support the budget bill, Bill C-43.

If they support Bill C-43, there is no reason why they cannot support Bill C-48, simply because Bill C-48 has what I alluded to a couple of minutes ago. If they come back and say they do not want to support Bill C-48, they are saying they are not supporting our youth, transportation and the environment. That is what they are saying.

Therefore, I move:

That this question be now put.

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12:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The motion is in order.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Medicine Hat.

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12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to address Bill C-48. It pains me to see how bitter and angry my friend across the way is over all of this. I do not think that flatters him. These are important issues, but they should not cause people to be so poisoned that they lash out the way my friend has across the way.

I want to go to the substance of what he has said in his remarks, correct some of the things that he said, and ask if he will acknowledge that perhaps he has erred in telling the House some of the things he has said.

He said a minute ago that there is going to be money in Bill C-48 going to the military. That is not true, of course. That is absolutely incorrect. In fact, Bill C-48 will ensure that money cannot go to the military because it jacks up spending so much. Not only does this bill hurt the military, families, homemakers, small business people, children, it hurts people who care about this country and that is what bothers me. My friend is selling Canadians a bill of goods and I must correct a few of the other things he has said.

He said that this is about democracy. He made a case about why we need to deal with this right away and why we need to pass it. I must point out that the government took away the supply days of the opposition in an attempt to subvert democracy. We have not had a supply day since April 7 in this place. That is something that democracy in this country hinges upon. If people care about democracy, they cannot accept what my friend has just said.

My friend talked about Darfur and the need to get money to Darfur, but we find out that the government of Sudan has said no to the government's plan to send money and troops to Darfur. In fact, this is one of those cases where the government tried very hard to buy the vote of a single member with this big spending announcement. It was so anxious to do so that it forgot to check with the actual country that this money and these troops were supposed to go to, which I think does not really flatter the government. In fact, it sort of speaks to a hidden agenda--

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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12:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The hon. member for Mississauga South on a point of order.

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12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think that if you check with the Table, the allegation or the indictment that someone has bought off a member is clearly either a violation of parliamentary rules or at least the Canada Elections Act. This imputation of criminal activity is inappropriate and the member should withdraw that reference.

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12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

My understanding is that the hon. member for Medicine Hat was not pointing at a member in particular, but I would certainly recommend to be very prudent with such remarks.

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12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me be more explicit so that people understand. Let us just put it this way. The member from Edmonton wanted money for Darfur. The next day there was an announcement that a whole bunch of money would go to Darfur. It just happens that this is on the eve of a very important vote that could be decided by a single member, so people can draw their own conclusions.

Will the member admit that Bill C-48 actually contradicts everything that the finance minister said up to the point that Bill C-48 was announced?

The finance minister said that he could not change the budget. It could not be cherry-picked. It could not be stripped away piece by piece. He said that we had to have corporate tax cuts because corporate tax cuts were a tax on large employers. They would create 340,000 jobs for Canadians. Will he admit that Bill C-48 completely contradicts and undermines his own finance minister?

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12:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong. Let me say that name calling is the last resort of fools. We will let Canadians judge who the fools are out there.

The member talked about democracy. Solon was the founder of democracy and I know what democracy is all about. We have been trying to deliver a report on emerging markets in committee and the Conservatives deliberately, in a premeditated way, stymied that activity, therefore hurting the nation.

In answer to his question, he is wrong because this budget continues to complement what Bill C-43 did. For example, it will continue to pay down the debt. It will continue to invest in the right areas. It will continue to do the right things. It simply adds on.

It does not take away from any of the commitments that the Minister of Finance has brought forward in Bill C-43. We have simply taken it a step further by saying that we will support post-secondary education, transportation and enhance housing initiatives.

When it comes to the military, he is wrong again because it does not take away from the military. I do not think he was listening when I said that it is one thing to send troops over there and not be able to help them. These moneys have been designated under military. I believe that any individual going over to do an assignment, whether it is policing, education or peacekeeping, is part of our military, unless he wants to start dissecting and saying this military person strictly does administrative work and another military person drives a tank. No, it is all military.

I do not see where he is coming from in saying the military loses money. How can it lose money when money is being put in? That is the Conservatives' math, which Canadians have finally understood.

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12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, when I listen to the speeches from Liberal members with regard to either the NDP bill or Liberal Bill C-43, it does not matter which one we are talking about.

I have yet to hear one single word about agriculture and the destitute farmers who are standing in front of the parliamentary buildings today in the hundreds, if not thousands. There will be thousands by the weekend. These are destitute people, who have had nothing from this government or any budget except broad announcements and no cheques.

I want the member to listen to this. Just yesterday I received a photocopy of a cheque that was received by a farmer in my riding. He and his wife have been working the farm since 2003, trying to put food on the table to feed their three children, working many hours trying to maintain a farm and live off of it. They applied for the money that was announced in 2003. Yesterday, in a little brown envelope, the cheque arrived from the government. They opened it expecting thousands. It cost them a lot to even prepare this document. The sum of the cheque was $140.06.

I wonder if the member could explain to me, after all these billions of dollars in announcements, how a destitute family, which is only a small example, and if he does not believe me he can go out in front of the building today and talk to the thousands of people out there who are not--

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain Payments
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12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The hon. member for Scarborough Centre.