House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was community.

Topics

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Lapierre Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, what I said earlier did not mean that there have been no federal investments for specific projects in my riding and my region. What I meant is that there are some specific issues where there is consensus and even unanimity among regional stakeholders. That is why I question the role of the new department. If projects on which there is consensus are not eligible for funding by the department, I wonder if those which received funding were necessarily approved by elected officials and community representatives.

That was the thrust of my comments.

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the remarks of my colleague from the Bloc. I think that what he said could be the follow up of a conversation with the minister. His comments were sensible.

Seeing as that too is not really a question directed at me, I will return to the theme I was dwelling on of the politicization of these moneys.

I mentioned the case of the money for eastern Ontario, which is not a unique case. It is simply the one that happened to involve me most closely because it was my riding, among others. The announcement was forthcoming, but once it turned out that the Liberals had lost those seats, the money was not forthcoming and there were constant delays. All the moneys before Treasury Board needed approval, it was not meeting, it could not get it on the agenda. Month after month that went on and the money was not available.

Finally, in October I had my office called one of the corporations, the CFDC, to see ask what was happening. That was at 9 a.m. on Friday. I had instructed my office to say that I would be raising a question about it at 11 a.m. in question period. Almost immediately following the conversation between my staffer and the folks at the CFDC, an email announcement was put out by CFDC saying that the money would be forthcoming and that I would be asking a question about it.

The extent to which the politicization has gone on here and the extent to which money will only be given if it is something to the partisan benefit of the Liberals is extraordinary. With the amendments we have made, we hope to reduce that. Frankly, I think all members in the House should want to have the regional development money in Quebec, Ontario, wherever, be issued for the advantage and benefit of those who are in the regions and not for the advantage of Liberal contestants for public office.

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know what the hon. member thinks of the following. I find this government tendency a bit worrisome. In Quebec as in other provinces, but particularly in Quebec, there is a tendency to constantly add new levels of government, which costs a fortune. I do not know if the hon. member has any idea of the cost of that duplication. Apparently, the new department would have about fifteen offices in Quebec only.

Could the hon. member tell us how much that duplication would cost not only in terms of civil servants and administrative work in general, but also in terms of linkage and follow up between the different levels of government?

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, bureaucratization is a problem in all federal departments and economic development agencies. It is indeed a real problem.

I think these agencies need to have a number of offices. I do not know if 15 offices is the appropriate number for the regions of Quebec. However, there is a need for a large number of offices since this agency's purpose is to serve the regions of the vast province of Quebec.

As for the duplication of services provided by the Quebec government, which has a real interest in the development of its regions, it is possible to do some realignment within the department to reduce the number of bureaucrats and thus reduce the costs related to those bureaucrats, not those related to the beneficiaries of the services provided by the department.

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, I expect my speech will be interrupted for members' statements.

I would like first to salute the people of the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, especially those who work for regional economic development, including the officials of Canada Economic Development and the volunteers and officials of the CFDCs and the CLDs. A lot of people are working very hard for regional economic development.

Quebec's resource regions face major problems, specifically such important crises as those of softwood lumber and mad cow disease and the closures of plants in a number of sectors, such as textiles and aluminum. The origins of this bill have to be understood. Past regional economic development models generated employment. Raw materials could be collected and processed at full throttle. However, today, they are obsolete and should be thoroughly reviewed.

With this bill, a fine opportunity to visit the regions of Quebec, consult people working in regional development and elected officials has been missed. The government has created a structure but neglected the most important aspect, that of looking to see if today's tools are effective and will carry us through to the future.

I would also like to say that we have worked very hard on this bill. We thought we could improve the fate of the regions and substantially change this bill to benefit Quebec and the regions. I would also remind the minister and the government that, at no point, did we obstruct parliamentary proceedings in order to delay this bill. I recall that, for a month, we even discussed with colleagues from the other parties in order to negotiate amendments and proposals. This shows a clear desire, which is important, to look after regional development properly.

I can only regret certain statements by colleagues, among others, those of the member for Gatineau. At one point she said that our voting against the bill meant we had no concern for regional development. I think that in this House it is possible to have debates, oppose bills or try to improve them, but never would I say to any of my colleagues that they oppose regional development.

Currently, especially in resource regions such as mine, hard hit by various crises, petty politics would be counter productive. I would not dare do it. There is too much at stake.

I must say that the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-9 today, for several reasons. One of those reasons is that the bill ignores some fundamental principles, such as respect for what is being done in terms of regional development, all across Quebec.

There is nothing to get excited about in this bill. It does nothing more than create a structure. I refer to the Department's own documents regarding the Economic Development Agency. When we ask what will be the impact of this bill on the environment, we are told that it does not make any changes to the agency’s role and places the emphasis on promotion, development and diversification. It is clearly stated that the bill will bring no change.

A little further in the same document, the question is asked in the following terms: will the agency act affect existing programs and, by extension, the clientele the agency serves? The answer is a clear no. The existing programs will remain in place and there will be no impact.

This means that even if the House does not pass this bill, there will continue to be some economic development. We as members and the regions will continue to get the money to which we are entitled. This money is in Ottawa. The agency may take credit for delivering it to regions, but it still is our money. It is money to which citizens are entitled and which must be returned to resource regions.

As we know, there has been much debate on this bill. Things have been said, work has been done. However, the important thing is that the Bloc Québécois has gained something. There is an important premise in the bill which is different than under the former agency, and it was essential we did not support it. It is the whole concept of designated areas. Let me explain.

Through an order in council, the minister could target a specific region by giving it priority because it is lagging behind in terms of employability, or at least economically. What does it mean, “the minister may, by order”? Does that mean that depending on his mood, whether he is politically sensitive to certain people or situations, he could target or prioritize one region over another?

We feel Canada Economic Development has to operate fairly. There has to be fair distribution of the money allocated and fair intervention methods in Quebec that are based on real needs. Where are these real needs? They are in the regions that are lagging behind in terms of employability, in regions that have lost many jobs or that have a high unemployment rate due to plant closures. Those are the true concerns. It absolutely should not have been left to the mood of this minister or this government. What is this, if not a lack of vision, or at least a flag waving extravaganza, or yet another attempt to buy Quebeckers with a rash of spending?

We are pleased because we fought the battle and won. In addition, all the witnesses agreed that this designated area concept was dangerous. You have to understand that there are many regions where balanced distribution of funding is needed. Abitibi cannot be chosen to the detriment of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, or Gaspé to the detriment of the North Shore, or Huntingdon, where they are in a crisis over the textile industry. There has to be a concern for fairness and loyalty toward these people who need it and who have contributed for years to creating this type of structure through the taxes they have paid.

Other points were raised in which we made gains. I want to commend the Conservative Party for working with us on this. We agreed that no spending should be announced during the election campaign. This kind of announcement left too much room for partisanship to the detriment of regional development. This issue was raised and agreed to. There will be no announcements during that period.

Officials in the regions need to have free reign in order to do their work without political obstruction.

Nestlé Canada
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week the people of Stormont--Dundas--South Glengarry were devastated by the news that Nestlé Canada will close its factory in Chesterville, Ontario some time in mid 2006.

In one form or another the Nestlé plant has been at the centre of the economic community in Chesterville since it opened in 1918. The company's decision to close its doors will cost the people in my riding 300 quality jobs, but the net effect on the business community will be much larger.

As elected representatives of the Canadian people, we in the House must take a serious look at the challenges facing Canadian business so that we can find new ways to support our industries and curb the exodus of Canadian jobs abroad.

We in the Conservative Party believe that we can generate more wealth, create more jobs, further diversify our economy and create more opportunities for Canadians.

As the member of Parliament for Stormont--Dundas--South Glengarry, I urge the government to do everything in its power to assist the Nestlé plant and its workers. I certainly will.

Community Care
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, Community Care is the best named organization in Peterborough. In the city and county its caring services include caregiver relief, the caremobile, diner's club, home help, home maintenance, income tax clinic, information and referral, in-home and telephone friendly visiting, intergenerational programs, meals on wheels, medical equipment loan registry, personal distress alarm, telephone reassurance, transportation, wellness and health clinics, workshops and seminars.

This is community care indeed. It has bases in Apsley, Chemung, Harvey, Havelock, Keene, Lakefield, Millbrook and Norwood as well as Peterborough.

Community Care has a dedicated staff who are supported by 800 volunteers. Thank you, Community Care Peterborough.

Screen Door Productions
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House of the notable success recently achieved by Screen Door, a film production company run by two of my constituents, Mary Young Leckie and Heather Haldane.

Screen Door, formerly known as Tapestry Pictures, won the Sprockets Audience Choice Award at the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children with its film Spirit Bear: The Simon Jackson Story . The movie depicts the courageous campaign of Simon Jackson, a teenage boy from Vancouver, who embarks on a mission to save a rare white kermode bear known as Spirit Bear. Spirit Bear was the only Canadian film to win an award at this year's festival. It is the first Canadian film to win an audience choice award.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mary and Heather on their achievements and salute them for their contribution to Canadian culture by telling our stories.

City of Lévis
Statements By Members

May 20th, 2005 / 11 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Lapierre Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the residents of the City of Lévis, which was named City of the Year at the Gala des Mercuriades. It received this award from the Quebec federation of chambers of commerce and the Revue Commerce magazine, on April 27.

The City of Lévis is a thriving tourism destination, and the various services that it provides allow its residents to enjoy quality recreational activities.

Lévis is a place where companies, industries and businesses operate in a personalized environment that promotes harmonious and sustainable development.

Lévis has community organizations that are close to the public, and that work to improve the quality of life of those who are not as well-off.

This recognition is testimony to the city's economic and social vibrancy. We thank the numerous stakeholders in Lévis, including its business people, its entrepreneurs and its community representatives.

The City of Lévis is a great place to live. Congratulations.

Diamond Industry
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Wajid Khan Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's rise to prominence in the diamond industry began in 1998. The industry currently provides an estimated 4,000 direct and indirect jobs in Canada, with about 38% of the mines' workforce being aboriginals.

Diamond mine production in 2004 is estimated to be valued at $2.1 billion, making Canada the world's third largest diamond producer by value.

In addition to diamond mining, a small diamond cutting and polishing industry has grown in Yellowknife, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and in Matane, Quebec. These operations have an important training component.

Contrary to the trend observed in most other Canadian mineral and metal industries where production is falling, more diamond mines are scheduled to begin production in the coming years. These include the Jericho mine in Nunavut in 2006, the Snap Like mine in the Northwest Territories in 2007, and the Victor mine in Ontario in 2008.

These mines will help build a strong economy and a prosperous future for many regions, including aboriginal communities, and the--

Diamond Industry
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound.

VE Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Grey—Bruce—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the honour and the privilege of attending various ceremonies commemorating VE Day, the end of the second world war and the liberation of the Netherlands by our Canadian soldiers.

I participated in ceremonies in Tara, Hanover, Durham and Owen Sound in my riding of Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound. I felt an overwhelming sense of pride in our military. The sacrifices made by the men and women who left their homes to travel to an unknown place and an unknown danger are horrific and unimaginable. They deserve our utmost gratitude.

I also participated in the Remember Yom Hashoah ceremony on Parliament Hill by presenting a wreath during the Canadian Community Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony on Parliament Hill. I was honoured to take part in the very solemn ceremony and to lay a wreath at the eternal flame alongside three Holocaust survivors. They, along with the thousands of others around the world who suffered horrendous atrocities, deserve to be remembered and recognized.

The Holocaust was a tragic event which left a black mark in our history. While I was attending the ceremony and as I watched the survivors, all I could think about was what they must have gone through. I hope we never experience anything like that again.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 175th year that Holy Trinity Anglican Church has provided continuous service and worship in my riding of Thornhill. The church was co-founded by Benjamin Thorne and William Parsons. Mr. Thorne was a founding father of the Thornhill community. The church is only part of his tremendous legacy.

To celebrate the anniversary, there are many events, ranging from musical performances, summer picnics and a gala banquet to be held in October. The year-long celebrations will end with a Christmas concert in December. The music at the concert will be provided by the internationally renowned Cantabile Chorale of York Region.

The church is committed to the well-being of our community and for the last 175 years has played a vital role in that regard. The history of Holy Trinity Anglican Church is a history of Thornhill itself. In essence, Holy Trinity is a testimony to Thornhill and generations of dedicated people who have made significant contributions to our community.

I would like to congratulate all those who have been involved with Holy Trinity Anglican Church over the last 175 years. I wish the church another 175 years of exceptional service to our community.

Kyoto Protocol
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, the greenhouse gas reduction plan presented by the federal government ignores a legitimate demand of Quebec, which wants to be in charge of implementing Kyoto within its jurisdiction.

Under this plan, the federal government would use public money to buy foreign credits. These credits are necessary to make up for the reduction efforts that industries will not be asked to make.

So, instead of promoting the polluter-pays principle, this government has decided to put forward the polluter-paid principle.

The effort asked of the automotive industry is very inadequate. This is also tantamount to giving a blank cheque to the federal government, which reserves the right to set up a permit system through regulations that will not be subject to the scrutiny of the House.

The Bloc Québécois is strongly opposed to this plan, which helps emitters, at the expense of taxpayers.

Pontian Greek Genocide
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, May 19 is the date designated by the Greek Parliament and by Canadians of Greek origin as the Pontian Greek genocide remembrance day.

“Pontus” means sea in Greek and it is located in the southeastern coastal region of the Black Sea. Its connection with Hellenism stretches back to prehistoric times, to legends of Jason and the Argonauts and of Hercules, but for the Greeks living in Pontus, it all ended in tragedy in 1922. Over 350,000 were killed at the hands of the Ottomans.

I have always spoken up against these types of atrocities, these crimes against humanity, and I have fought for the recognition of genocides, including that of the Armenian genocide, on which I rose a month ago to draw attention to the first anniversary of the House's recognition of it. I will continue to speak up until the international community also recognizes the genocide of the Greeks of Pontus.

I close with the 1997 quote of Richard Beeston, diplomatic editor of the U.K. Times : “The efforts may be modest, but the importance of keeping the memory of the victims alive is more than simply an argument over history”. Member spoke in Greek and provided the following translation: ]

Long live their memory.

We will never forget.