House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-43, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10 a.m.

The Speaker

There are eight motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-43.

Motions Nos. 4 to 6 will not be selected by the Chair because they could have been presented in committee.

All remaining motions have been examined and the Chair is satisfied that they meet the guidelines expressed in the note to Standing Order 76.1(5) regarding the selection of motions in amendment at report stage.

The motions will be grouped for debate as follows:

Group No. 1 will include Motions Nos. 1 to 3.

Group No. 2 will include Motions Nos. 7 and 8.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Willowdale
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Peterson for the Minister of Finance

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-43, in Clause 9, be amended by replacing lines 2 to 8 on page 7 with the following:

“for a taxation year is

(a) if the taxable capital employed in Canada of the corporation for the taxation year is equal to or less than $50,000,000, that proportion of 4% that the number of days in the taxation year that are before 2008 is of the number of days in the taxation year; and

(b) if paragraph (a) does not apply, the percentage determined by the formula

A + B [(C - $50,000,000)/$25,000,000]

where

A is that proportion of 4% that the number of days in the taxation year that are before 2008 is of the number of days in the taxation year,

B is that proportion of 4% that the number of days in the taxation year that are after 2007 is of the number of days in the taxation year; and

C is the lesser of $75,000,000 and the taxable capital employed in Canada of the corporation for the taxation year.

(3) For the purpose of subsection (2), the taxable capital employed in Canada of a corporation for a particular taxation year is

(a) if the corporation is associated with one or more other corporations in the particular taxation year, the total of all amounts each of which is the taxable capital employed in Canada (within the meaning assigned by subsection 181.2(1) or 181.3(1) or section 181.4, as the case may be) of the corporation, or of such an associated corporation, for its last taxation year that ended in the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the particular taxation year ends; and

(b) if the corporation is not associated with one or more other corporations in the particular taxation year, the taxable capital employed in Canada (within the meaning assigned by subsection 181.2(1) or 181.3(1) or section 181.4, as the case may be) of the corporation for the particular taxation year.”

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-43 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to these motions. As they have been properly grouped, the first group has to do with tax implications and the second has to do with environmental implications.

I note overall that this budget has enjoyed a great deal of support among Canadians. It is clearly a popular budget and has resonated with Canadians. However, we live in a parliamentary democracy and the government needs to have the support of the House. In the course of weeks of debate and some period of time in committee as well, we have had to make some changes to the provisions in the original Bill C-43. If I may, I would like to speak to that first group.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Etobicoke North.

Generally speaking, these amendments have to do with two things.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order and apologize for interrupting the parliamentary secretary. Before we go any further, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could perhaps make a ruling. Would Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 not be ruled out of order for the same reasons you used in ruling out the motions that were made in my name, Motions Nos. 4, 5 and 6? I wonder if the Chair could address that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. chief opposition whip has raised a point. The fact is that in circumstances where motions could have been moved in committee, as in the case of Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 which were voted on in committee, there was a submission received from the government by the clerk, as is often the case in these things, asking for a reinstatement of those motions under exceptional circumstances and the request was granted. No such request was received in respect of the three motions that the hon. member put forward last evening, so they were not selected.

The normal procedure is for those kinds of submissions to be made to the clerks at the time of submission or very shortly after. Nothing happened and so the decision was made that there were no exceptional circumstances. This is apparently a common practice in respect of these matters and the usual practice was followed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, in view of that and the fact that we only found out moments ago that our amendments were not to be debated today, would it be in order at this stage to request that we get that extraordinary permission, so that they can be included and debated?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member who moved the motions may wish to make submissions. The Chair would not be adverse to hearing those, but he can make up his mind whether he prefers to do that in the course of the debate this morning.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I actually would make that point. You indicated that the other ones were in basically the same position as the motions in my name. You said there were exceptional circumstances. I guess that is always a judgment call on your part. I am not quite sure what the exceptional circumstances were. My understanding was that they were defeated and maybe that was the exceptional circumstance or there may be other parts to this, but I would ask for the same consideration. I would ask that you use your discretion and allow those three motions in my name to stand.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member has raised a point of order. I suggest he consult a little with the table and sort out his options.

The normal practice, as I said, was for submissions to be made to the Speaker via the clerks once the amendments are submitted. No submissions came from the hon. member in this regard and so the decision was made, as is the usual practice, and would have been the practice with respect to the other submissions.

However, a submission was received from the government House leader asking that special consideration be given to these amendments for technical reasons which are available in a letter.

If the hon. member were to approach the table and receive some advice on this, he might then choose to rise later, but we are on Group No. 1. His would not be in that group in any event, so he has some time.

Perhaps, rather than in the middle of someone's speech, we could hear his submission at a later time. I would be more than happy to consider the matter. I am not wishing to shut him off, but I made a decision based on the submissions that had been received when the decision was reached and there had been no submission.

We took it that these were standard amendments and they were not selected for that reason. It has been the practice for some time in respect of these amendments at report stage to receive submissions, if necessary, and none were received in respect of the amendments put forward by the hon. member for Niagara Falls.

Therefore, that is the simple thing, but I invite him to approach the table and raise the matter later. We will continue with the speech of the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:10 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, there is a grouping of tax amendments--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order and I extend my apologies. I tried to get your attention before the member began. I was taught as a youngster not to interrupt someone else when they are talking, so I really feel uneasy doing this.

However, I would like to have a clarification, if I may. Bill C-43 has been reported back by the committee. The copies that we have available are the ones that were printed at first reading. Has there been any substantial change on report stage in terms of what the committee has reported back and if so, could we have the revised copy of the bill?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

The committee did not order a reprint of the bill as part of its submission of the bill to the House, so it was not reprinted.

I invite the hon. member to get a copy of the committee report and compare it with his copy of the bill and he would see what changes the committee made. Beyond that, I have nothing at the table that is going to assist the hon. member in those circumstances.

Sometimes, if there are substantial amendments made by a committee, the committee orders a reprint of a bill and it is reprinted before report stage, but in this case that was not done.

I am sure that if the hon. member were to listen attentively to the parliamentary secretary, he would hear all about the amendments the committee made because I suspect he will be talking about them in his speech. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, just for my own clarification, if I may, I had initially said that I was splitting my time with the member for Etobicoke North and I think that is true. Can I assume that is true on report stage?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

The Speaker

It is limited to 10 minute speeches with 5 minutes for questions and comments, so he cannot unless he gets unanimous consent of the House. If the member wants to split his 10 minute speech and have two 5 minute speeches, he can, but he will need consent to do it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, we had some concern about that very point. I take it I am no longer splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Etobicoke North. I know we are all disappointed that we will not be hearing from the member because he speaks quite eloquently about these issues and he is quite knowledgeable. Were the member for Etobicoke North able to speak, I know he would be speaking about things such as standard of living which has, over the past number of years, increased somewhat dramatically in this country.

In fact, the Minister of Finance is currently speaking with his colleagues in the G-7. He is in a fairly enviable position because he is the only finance minister at the table who is in a surplus position. These are all of the major industrial nations of the world and Canada is the only one that will be there with a surplus position, that will have a debt to GDP ratio that is declining, that will have a projection forward, as this budget does, of five years of anticipated surpluses. Therefore the finance minister is in something of an enviable position vis-à-vis his colleagues.

He is also in an enviable position vis-à-vis Canada's productivity growth. This is something that we are very concerned about and this budget addressed over the course of both the budget implementation bill and the budget speech itself.

In the G-7 we are second only to the United States in terms of productivity growth. We would like to be closer to the United States in terms of our own productivity growth but in the industrial world Canada is second highest in productivity growth. With productivity growth goes a country's standard of living.

We are therefore very conscious of the issues arising from a competitive business environment, to wit the introduction of a general reduction in corporate taxes and the elimination of the surtax over time. The reason for the original implementation of those provisions into the budget was to maintain something of a competitive tax advantage, vis-à-vis the competition that Canadian industry faces in the United States.

Capital is highly mobile. It can move virtually in an electronic instant from one country to another. if we do not have a competitive environment for our corporations, our businesses, our exports and our imports we will not do well in terms of improvements in the standard of living of the nation and in terms of productivity.

Those were the original reasons that these budget implementation parts were put into the bill. We wanted to have a competitive tax environment. Since 1997, 25 out of 30 OECD countries have implemented statutory corporate tax relief because they are all competing for the same capital, the same increases in the standard of living.

The Government of Canada is focused on improving the competitiveness of Canada's business taxes, the depreciation schedules and various other grants and programs that can be done in order to stimulate industry in this country. That was initially started once we moved into the surplus position in 1997. We implemented shortly thereafter a five year tax reduction plan totalling something in the order of $100 billion, the corporate side of which reduced the general corporate tax rate from 28% to 21%. Were the budget implementation bill passed in its original form, that would in turn have gone from 21% down to 19%.

We are very concerned that we maintain a competitive tax advantage vis-à-vis the United States which is, of course, our main competition in business. We have that rate. We do have some time to maintain that rate but the schedule proposed by the president and congress will erode that advantage over time.

Last year the U.S. legislated a plan to reduce its corporate tax rate on manufacturing income by an equivalent of 3.15 percentage points by the year 2010. Had clauses 9, 10 and 11 of the budget implementation bill been supported by the party opposite, then we would have been able to match that corporate tax advantage.

To maintain Canada's corporate tax advantage, budget 2005 proposed a two percentage point reduction in the general corporate rate from 21% down to 19%, and an elimination of the corporate surtax in 2008. These corporate tax reductions would allow Canada to maintain its corporate tax advantage.

When the budget was introduced in February of this year, that was the budget plan. When Bill C-43 was introduced, that was the budget plan. Regrettably, the Conservative Party withdrew its support of the budget and another configuration had to be entered into. It is with some regret that we introduced Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in order to reflect that new configuration. It is, however, the intention that once the budget implementation bill does pass that these tax measures will be restored on a separate legislated track.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I really wish we could use props in the House because I do not think it is possible for my question to be answered without the use of an overhead projector, power point and a whole bunch of things, because of the complexity of it.

I would like him, if he would not mind, to please explain, so that ordinary folk can understand, the meaning of the formula where it talks about the $50 million in total taxable capital of the corporation. There is a formula there that says that in the event, and I am helping to simplify it here, the amount of capital that is subject to tax is greater than $50 million then there is a paragraph that says: a plus b times (c - $50 million) divided by $25 million. I would like him to explain, if he could, in layman's terms what that means because I know that everyone watching CPAC this morning is intrigued with this concept and would like to know exactly the implications of the measure that the government is trying to put in.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:20 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I obviously agree with the hon. member. This is a rivetting debate on the budget implementation bill. One of the parts of the motion has to do with the reduction and the general elimination of the corporate surtax.

Currently, if I may try to put it as simple as possible, the budget proposed the elimination of corporate surtax on all corporations. That was the preferred way in which we would proceed. Now the amendment to the budget implementation bill proposes that the schedule of elimination be maintained for corporations that have capital below $50 million. If the corporation's capital base is less than $50 million, the schedule proposed in the original budget, Bill C-43 without amendment, would proceed.

For those corporations that have capital less than $75 million, the elimination of the corporate surtax will proceed on a schedule that is one-half of the rate so that their elimination will be phased in over a greater period of time. For those corporations with capital in excess of $75 million, this amendment to the budget proposes to keep the corporate surtax in place that presently exists.

I hope that is helpful to the hon. member and I too would prefer some charts so that we in turn could help those who want to watch this rivetting debate on corporate surtax.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I want to say how happy I am to see that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance used his 10 minutes well. Had he only used half that time, we would not have been almost surprised to hear him clearly say that, ultimately, the only reason this motion is before the House today is to save their skin. In any case, the Liberals have no intention of keeping their end of the bargain with the NDP, since they are going to reintroduce this measure. I want to thank the parliamentary secretary for having used all his time.

That said, a very similar motion was debated in committee. This is yet another fine example of a government that does not respect the work of the House and that intends to go against the opinion of even the Standing Committee on Finance, of which the parliamentary secretary is a member. The government is introducing this measure once again, and I hope we will defeat it.

My question for the parliamentary secretary is relatively simple. How can he seriously tell us today that he will vote in favour of this motion, when it excludes 60% of all businesses and when, in any case, the Liberals intend to reintroduce the motion in different legislation in order to keep the initial wording?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is precisely because we do respect the work of the House and that the government has to enjoy the support of the majority of the House in order to govern.

We respect the work of the finance committee. In fact, the finance committee made suggestions along these very lines. That was incorporated into the budget. When we put forward the budget, these provisions were in the budget. When we had the vote on the budget, we had the support of the House. That was in the budget.

Then, politics being politics, that changed and the reality was that the opposition, particularly the Conservative Party with its friends in the Bloc, decided that the polls were going its way, so the government perceived that it no longer enjoyed the support of the House. It respected the House, so another configuration had to be entered into.

The other configuration is the one that is presently before the House. I would put it to the hon. member that in fact this does respect the will of the House and the will of the committee, and it is a reflection of the way in which parliamentary democracy works.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words at the report stage of Bill C-43, the original Liberal budget. At some point soon we will be debating the NDP budget, the companion budget. I am not quite sure how often in Canadian history we have had two budgets, but it is even rarer to have an NDP budget. That has to be a first. I am sure it will be talked about for generations to come.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:25 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Better get used to it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

I am sure generations of future socialists will look back at this moment. The NDP budget will rank right up there with changing the name from CCF to NDP or with the time the NDP had 40 seats in the House of Commons. This will be among the landmarks that socialists of future generations will celebrate: the NDP budget of 2005.

The parliamentary secretary made some interesting comments about a “configuration”. What he did not say, and what I think should be said, is whether these things are good for Canada. This is a perfect example, I believe, of where a mistake has been made.

What is taking place here is that the Liberals are trying to amend their own budget, the one that was just what Canada needed, they said, the blueprint for the last half of this decade. Then they came up with different ideas, much to the chagrin of the finance minister, I am sure. I cannot wait to see his memoirs some day, when he talks about this sorry chapter in financial planning. We look forward to that.

In any case, to accommodate this new configuration, the Liberals have made a deal with the New Democratic Party and this particular motion is one of the manifestations of this particular deal. The problem with it is that it is a bad idea. It hurts large employers in this country.

We can believe it or not, but the Liberals had it right the first time, when they wanted to assist the large employers in this country. That is one of the reasons why the Conservative Party was prepared to have it move on to the committee, because there were elements of the budget that we thought were good ideas, and certainly this was one of them.

Then the Liberals started talking to their friends in the New Democratic Party, who are of course allergic to any company making a profit. Somehow New Democrats think that is not as it should be and they are against it.

Nonetheless, at the same time that the New Democrats say they want to help workers, they cannot make the connection that when we hurt the people who employ workers that is bad for workers in this country. Putting in a competitive tax is something they do not want to see. It is part of what they cannot figure out, although I believe the government probably understands it and I believe the Minister of Finance probably has this figured out. That is why he put it in there to begin with. However, to accommodate the NDP, the Liberals were prepared to do anything. We just heard the parliamentary secretary. He said that we had to have a new configuration.

Again, the interests of Canadians and Canadian workers are then forgotten and that is too bad, because making large employers competitive and making the tax system competitive actually helps us in competition with the United States and European countries with which we go head to head to try to get a competitive advantage.

This puts us at a disadvantage. Let us figure it out. If a company wants to invest money and employ people, it will go where it has a reasonable expectation of making a profit and not having all that money taken away by the government. That is only reasonable. I do not expect anybody in the NDP to figure that out. The New Democrats figure that employers must have motives other than those of hiring people and turning a reasonable profit.

I remember when I was here in the 1980s and 1990s that every time a corporation released its financial statements showing it was making a profit, there were always long faces in the NDP. There were immediate calls to to do something about it because, they said, “Look at the money these people are making”. Basically the only thing that makes those members happy is seeing companies lose money, but they cannot make the connection that this actually hurts the employment picture.

We saw that this week with the announcement by General Motors, which I take a particular interest in because it is a major employer in the Niagara region. When General Motors has made money in the past, I have actually applauded. I think it is a good idea that General Motors or Ford Motor Corporation or Chrysler or other companies are making money. Why? Because they employ people in this country. Any tax regime that makes us more competitive also makes more sense to them for locating and staying in Canada and expanding their operations in Canada, and it is something I support.

It causes me and I am sure others quite a bit of distress when we see an announcement in the paper indicating that the company is having difficulty and has to restructure. I see that in the paper and then I hear in the House of Commons today the Liberals backing away from a fairer tax regime for these larger employers. It is too bad. It really is a shame.

I would ask them to stand on their principles. I would ask them to listen to the Minister of Finance. He had it right. He had it right on budget day. The Minister of Finance knew that tax relief for large employers in Canada was a good idea, but the Liberals have had to come up with another configuration. That is too bad, because in their efforts to stay in office and in cutting a deal with their good friends in the New Democratic Party, they have hurt workers.

That is the irony of it, because all of us in this country know it is important that employers find Canada a great place in which to do business and in which our tax regimes are competitive. If we are not competitive, those jobs will go elsewhere. It only makes sense. That is why I believe the Minister of Finance in the first place wanted to have a tax regime system similar to those of the people with whom we compete.

Again, that is not what was not done here and it is too bad. The government has made it very clear that it will do whatever is necessary to stay in office, but that is not quite the same thing as doing what is right for Canada. That is something different. What is right for Canada is not the same thing as keeping the Liberals in power, but that is the route they have chosen. They have made it very clear. They do not make any bones about it. They say, “We need to have a new configuration”.

One has to wonder where the national interest is. In my opinion, certainly, the national interest is not being served by new configurations or deals with the New Democratic Party. It is an amazing turn of circumstances.

This came about as part of a deal between the Prime Minister and the leader of the New Democratic Party. I guess it was written on a napkin in a hotel room in Toronto. Then we got the room service bill and found out it was $4.6 billion. Jeepers, talk about an expense account. Buzz Hargrove was acting as the maître d' in this, and fair enough, but again, we have to keep in mind that party and the national interests.

What has taken place here is too bad. Members of the Conservative Party, because we have to keep the national interests foremost, of course will not be supporting this.

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties concerning the recorded divisions scheduled for 6:15 p.m. on Monday, June 13, 2005, on Government Business No. 16. I believe you would find consent for the following order:

That the recorded division on Government Business No. 16 scheduled for Monday, June 13, 2005, take place at 5:15 p.m. rather than 6:15 p.m.

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House?

Business of the House
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-43, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:35 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the whip for the Conservative Party, I think he is suffering from a very bad case of NDP envy. Clearly this member is resenting the fact that his leader chose not to pursue a constructive approach to the February 23 budget and resents the fact that the NDP has been able to make Parliament work and ensure that the needs of Canadians are met.

The whip for the Conservative Party has been crying wolf over a tax cut elimination that amounts to 0.02% of GDP. Those members have been suggesting that the country will be brought to its knees, that this society will become bankrupt because of a tiny little elimination of a corporate tax cut.

We have to point out to the members opposite, who seem to be pursuing very Mickey Mouse mathematics, that the OECD has said in fact that the issue to watch and to be worried about is growth. The investment that is possible through this tax cut elimination will in fact grow the economy and create jobs.

I want to know how this Conservative Party can ignore the fact that the investment in housing, education and the environment will not in fact do anything but create jobs, stimulate the economy and meet the needs of Canadians.

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10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am fascinated by their description of this tiny little tax cut. If it is so tiny and so minuscule, 0.02% of GDP, I think, why not leave it in? Let us get unanimous consent and leave it in. If it is that small and that insignificant, let us do it. Let us listen to the finance minister.

I want to be fair to the hon. member. She said that I or the members of my party said that this one deal with the New Democratic Party was going to bring the country to its knees. I do not want to leave that impression whatsoever. I think it will take a couple of deals like that with the Liberal Party to bring the country to its knees.

It hurts, yes, this first one hurts, but I am nervous about any more trips to Toronto by the Prime Minister. I am going to check and make sure the NDP leader is not in town on the same day the Prime Minister is there. I want that on the record. It is not one deal that will bring the country to its knees, but over time that is what would happen.

If I left that impression that the one deal would do it, I want to withdraw that. It would take a little bit more than that, but again, let us give the country a break. Let us not have those two individuals get together for quite some time.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Hubbard Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker seemed to indicate that people were confused. I certainly want to ask this question because I know he was a member of the Mulroney government that was in office and looked after our country from 1984 until 1993.

Every tax has a history. We speak in terms of income tax and we go back to World War I. Probably we could ask the chief opposition whip about his relationship to that tax and the history of it as it was effected by his party.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the member is asking me for the history of these taxes, it has to be Canadian government policy that corporate tax, as well as personal tax, has to be put into a competitive framework.

That competitive framework is determined by a number of things.

It means that a company can do business in Canada, hire people and have a reasonable expectation of keeping some of the money it makes. That is the first part of it.

The other part of it is that we have to see what our major trading partners are doing. Again, I am quite sure that this escapes everyone in the New Democratic Party, but if taxation rates in Canada are considerably higher than they are in the United States or the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and other countries, that actually hurts us. It hurts us. It means that people will not invest money in Canada and therefore they will not hire individuals.

Over the years that has been one of the cornerstones of Canadian taxation policy, I think, that is, to allow free enterprise to flourish. That is what we want. At the same time we want to make sure that we stay competitive with the people with whom we trade and compete. That has been the policy over the years.

I really think this is an exception and a bad exception as well. I hope I have answered the hon. member's question.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:40 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Niagara Falls on a point of order.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, would you be good enough to revisit the question of Motions Nos. 4, 5 and 6. One of them, as you know, is identical to one that was defeated at the committee and the other two are very similar.

I would ask, as a public policy matter, that these issues should be debated by the full House. By necessity and the configuration of a committee, all members do not get the opportunity to comment. As you know, Mr. Speaker, we have independent members, and we seem to be getting more of them all the time. I always think it is fair that they get the opportunity to speak and pass judgment on some of these important issues of public policy.

I have had the appropriate consultations, Mr. Speaker, and I ask if you would perhaps give a ruling and reconsider the advisability of having those debated today.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
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10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

There being no other submissions on the matter, I am prepared to entertain the request from the hon. chief opposition whip.

With respect to Motion No. 4, I believe it is the one that is identical to the one moved in committee and I am inclined not to bring that forward again. However, I will agree to make Motions Nos. 5 and 6 ones that then could be considered. They will constitute Group No. 2. The previous Group No. 2 will now be Group No. 3. Therefore, we will have three groups for the purpose of voting in the House, if that is satisfactory. That will allow for the House to make a decision on Motions Nos. 5 and 6.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am taking it you are ruling that Motion No. 4 is still out of order and Motions Nos. 5 and 6 are back in order. On the issue of domestic credits, my recollection is a specific motion was moved in committee by the party opposite which was defeated by the overall committee. I am not quite sure I follow why this is back in.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

For the same reason the government motion to reinstate certain clauses is allowed back in. Motion No. 1 to amend clause 9 to put back in words that were deleted in the committee was allowed. I understand they are the same words. I allowed those to be debated because, as I say, the minister made submissions that indicated he thought this was a matter of public importance. I am prepared to make the same arrangement with respect to Motions Nos. 5 and 6 and I have so ruled.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the grouping that you are now proposing, will there be a separate round of debate with respect to Motions Nos. 5 and 6 or will Motions Nos. 5 and 6 be lumped in with the other matter?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

I said a few minutes ago that Motions Nos. 5 and 6 would constitute Group No. 2 and the previous Group No. 2 would now be Group No. 3.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether, for the purposes of expedience and efficiency, you might consider the grouping of those two together because they all relate to similar issues; that is environmental matters.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

The Speaker

I will take the matter under advisement, but at the moment we thought they were sufficiently separate that we would leave them as three different groups. However, I am sure we will look at the matter and if it is appropriate to lump them back together, we will do that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, let us take a look back and talk about the Minister of Finance's presentation of budget 2005. You will recall that the presentation of this budget was not the seventh wonder of the world in the minister's eyes, nor was it the sixth. In his eyes, this was the greatest wonder in the world. In his opinion, nothing so extraordinary had ever been done in Canadian budgetary history. It was magnificent.

Just a few days before the Prime Minister practically appointed the leader of the New Democratic Party the de facto finance minister in some type of shadow cabinet, the actual minister had said that Bill C-43 was perfect and would not be amended in any way.

Earlier, during questions and comments, I mentioned that a similar bill had been debated in the Standing Committee on Finance and had been defeated. I want to point out that in committee, the parliamentary secretary's presentation was not very convincing, to say the least.

Earlier I mentioned that I was quite pleased that the parliamentary secretary had used his 10 minutes of speaking time. However, although he talked for 10 minutes, I must admit he was not any more convincing in the House than in committee.

As you can see, the motion we are discussing today is one that the government itself does not believe in. The parliamentary secretary was very clear that, in any event, future legislation will reintroduce the initial presentation.

That said, the Bloc Québécois was opposed to this motion in committee and we are still opposed to it today, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is that this motion effectively excludes roughly 60% of businesses from this tax cut.

It is understandable that the NDP, in its desire to improve its profile, has abandoned its main objective for a more watered down one by entering into a pact with the Liberal Party. It is understandable that the NDP has abandoned the unemployed by entering into that pact with the Liberal Party out of a desire for votes. It is understandable that the NDP has not joined us in pushing to obtain some improvements to EI by entering into that pact with the Liberal Party.

What is more, if 60% of businesses are excluded from these tax cuts, the competitive strength of those businesses is decreased. Competition now is not just within North America, or indeed all the Americas, but global. We have had reminders of that in recent months with some very sad events.

I will touch briefly on the situation in the textile sector in Huntingdon, and the more recent one with Tembec, in the forestry, pulp and paper sector. This has had a very heavy impact, in my riding among others. So excluding 60% of businesses from the tax cuts is harmful to the economy in general, and by extension to the workers. If people are to be able to earn a living they need companies to employ them. This strikes me as pure logic.

Today we have a motion the government does not even believe in, a motion inspired by the NDP budget, one which lets the unemployed down completely, in connection with both EI and conditions favourable to creating real employment for real workers.

The other dramatic thing about this situation is that, following the tabling of the 2005 budget, companies, workers and other governments—I am thinking specifically of the Government of Quebec—have taken steps in accordance with what was presented in that budget.

When Bill C-43 was introduced, all the provinces took note of this legislation and acted accordingly.

Let us take Quebec for example. Soon after the presentation of the federal budget, the Quebec government presented its own budget. Minister Audet looked at the overall situation. He noticed that the federal government was about to bring in a corporate tax cut. With the objective of making Quebec companies even more competitive on international markets, the Quebec government took advantage of this extraordinary opportunity and lowered its overall corporate taxes.

If the House adopts this motion, it will have a negative impact on all businesses in Canada, since it will exclude 60% of them. However, this negative impact would be even greater on Quebec businesses, because Quebec tried to reduce the tax on capital. While it increased the corporate tax marginally, it primarily tried to reduce taxes in general.

So, these two motions do not promote job creation and retention in Quebec. These motions do not reflect the long term management of corporate capital and taxes. They could have very serious consequences with respect to a challenge that we will soon have to face, namely, competition on international markets.

I am thinking more specifically of China, which is really hurting a large number of industries, including the textile and pulp and paper sectors. This is not to mention the competition with the United States, which is also hurting our industry very badly. Unfortunately, despite their very liberal—in the economic sense of the term—statements, the Americans often rely on protectionist measures.

In any case, we have before us a motion in which the government does not believe. This motion would impede the creation and retention of jobs. I do not see how the New Democratic Party—which likes to think of itself as a champion of the rights of citizens—can, in good conscience, support such a measure. It seems to me that this measure includes things that NDP members should really be concerned about. Again, it is critical that businesses can continue to create jobs for workers, so that the latter can earn a decent living.

It is really unfortunate—this was discussed a few minutes ago—to bring back motions considered inadmissible, on the pretext that there are extraordinary conditions. This is the case, especially, with Motions Nos. 1 and 2. At the same time, I find it rather ironic that the parliamentary secretary is saying that, in any case, the motions will be amended in future legislation. Then he tells the House, through the Chair, that it is important to reintroduce these motions for extraordinary reasons, not apparent to us at all.

I do not see what extraordinary reasons justify the reintroduction of these motions. They were debated in committee and rejected. The government does not even believe in them and plans to amend them in future legislation. I find this rather ironic. I would almost like to say that sometimes the parliamentary secretary talks out of both sides of his mouth, but I would not go that far.

Because of the parliamentary secretary's lack of enthusiasm, both here and in committee, we realize that the Liberal government does not believe in these measures. I suggest they withdraw these motions in order to be honest with the House and with their supposed allies, whom they plan to dump in any case at the first opportunity. Even more importantly, they should be honest with the public.

In recent months, there has been a lot of talk about public cynicism with respect to the public service. These are not measures that will increase public trust in elected officials. He told us himself that he knew he no longer had the confidence of the House and that he had to present measures to please the NDP and would be taking them out. That is not responsible.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

I must inform the hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier that he will have five minutes for questions and comments when debate resumes.

Tsunami Relief
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the enormity of the tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004 continues to touch the world.

McMaster University philosophy Professor Alison Miculan and student Anushka Joseph recently travelled to Sri Lanka to see how they could help. They met women who, as a result of the tsunami, are widows. The women expressed that they dreamed of having homes and of being financially independent.

This August with the help of Relief Aid International, a non-profit organization from McMaster University, 20 to 30 people from Hamilton plan to travel to Sri Lanka. They will build a village for 50 of these women and their families and establish a local trade for the women to support themselves and their children. Professor Miculan has told us that the widows feel this project has given them back their freedom.

Congratulations to Professor Miculan and all those involved in the project for their contribution to the rebuilding efforts of Sri Lanka.

Seniors
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week is Seniors Week in Canada. I rise today to pay tribute to the millions of Canadians over the age of 65.

As more and more baby boomers retire, including of course many of us in the House, Canada will be facing new challenges and requirements. Seniors today face a multitude of issues, including pensions, health and home care, transportation, drug insurance, housing and palliative care to name just a few.

That is why I moved for the creation of a separate ministry of state for seniors in 1997 at our party's policy convention. I am pleased to see this initiative finally included in our March 2005 policy declaration and the appointment this past week of a critic to this vital portfolio.

I urge the government to consider the creation of a ministry of state for seniors to allow for easier access of government services for our aging population. Our seniors certainly deserve that.

Outers Program
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to congratulate the Atikokan High School on the 40th anniversary of their Outers Program. It is the longest running outdoor adventure education program in a publicly funded school in Canada. Atikokan is a wonderful community in the heart of Quetico.

This program is designed to present physical and emotional challenges beyond that which an average individual encounters in everyday experiences. This develops confidence and self-reliance while demonstrating the importance of creating good interpersonal relationships and teamwork to overcome adversity.

Since its inception in 1965, there have been over 2,500 graduates. The Outers Program remains the cornerstone of the educational experience at Atikokan High School and is the single most influential experience in the lives of high school students. It has been described as a rite of passage and a cultural icon. It has become a part of Atikokan's heritage. This natural progression has made the program part of the fabric of this community.

James Ratcliffe
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 7, James Ratcliffe, a volunteer firefighter from Hudson died during a water-rescue training exercise on Lake of Two Mountains. He was only 20 years old.

James was enrolled in a bachelor of arts program in Ottawa. He was very involved in his community, where he had, among other things, raised funds for the purchase of the rescue boat.

I would like to express my profound sadness to his family. James' life had meaning and purpose: to look after the well-being of others. He will be sadly missed by his family, friends, fellow firefighters and the entire community.

This incident is a reminder of the risks faced by these men and women whose mission is to ensure our protection.

Thank you, James, and farewell.

National Parks
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, today during Canadian Environment Week, I congratulate the Minister of the Environment for acting to enhance the ecological health of our system of national parks.

Canada's national parks are places of natural beauty, symbols of our heritage and identity. By protecting and celebrating this natural heritage, we provide tangible environmental, economic and cultural benefits for ourselves and for generations to come. We ensure that representative examples of Canada's unique ecosystems and biodiversity survive for all time.

Proper stewardship of Canada's national parks is fundamental to our sustainable environment. It provides Canadians with enjoyment, educational opportunities and a sense of environmental stewardship. By acting to improve the ecological health of Canada's national parks, the minister has set an example for others to follow.

Marriage
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the same sex marriage committee, I have heard from a number of witnesses who have expressed that their greatest concern is the empirical evidence which suggests that children will suffer the most harm during the government's same sex social experiment. It is time for the Prime Minister to do what the United Nations, the European Union and every other country and high court in the world, except for two, have done and recognize marriage as between a man and a woman.

Everybody knows the difference. Over 98% of the world's population understands that the word marriage is not a right. It is just a word describing a term that belongs to a set of defined facts. In Canada that word is already taken by a large percentage of people having specific religious beliefs that conflict with the group that wants to share this word.

Does the government really want to risk our children's future? It is time to do what has been done so many times in the past. It is time for the Liberal government to make another promise and break it.

Great Lakes
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Great Lakes, which straddle the border between Canada and the United States, have played a major role in the development of both countries. In fact, the Great Lakes basin contains 18% of the world's surface fresh water and almost a third of the Canadian population lives around it.

In order to prevent and resolve disputes between the two countries, the International Joint Commission is a vital part of the Canada-United States management of this shared environment. Consequently, the governments of both countries have asked the IJC to conduct a review of the Great Lakes water quality agreement through public consultation. There is a growing consensus that the agreement should be revised to reflect advances in science and new challenges to the integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

On behalf of my constituents and all citizens of the Great Lakes, I welcome and applaud this decisive action by Canada and the United States to continue the process of restoring the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes.

Phénix Environment Award
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Quebec's ministry of sustainable development, environment and parks awarded the 2005 Phénix environment award to Laure Waridel.

A researcher, lecturer and essayist, Laure Waridel personifies, through her steadfast journey, Victor Hugo's famous aphorism, “Today's utopia is tomorrow's reality”.

In 1993, with a group of supporters, she founded Equiterre, a movement that has unceasingly advocated fair trade and an economy with a human face ever since.

In a book entitled Acheter, c'est voter , or “to buy is to vote”, Laure Waridel says, “We often hear people make cynical comments about money ruling the world. But money is not the only source of economic power, and this book is about a power that is accessible to all, that of making consumer choices that foster the development of a responsible economy”.

To the Phénix environment award winner, Laure Waridel, and the 14 Phénix specialized award winners, the Bloc Québécois says well done, we thank Laure for her concern for fairness and her environmental awareness.

Nunavut Youth Leaders
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, May 27 the Nunatsiaq News published a feature called “Top 10 Under 35”. This feature highlighted several young people who have made extraordinary contributions to Nunavut and Nunavik. Nine of the honourees are from my riding, Nunavut.

I would like to make mention of these young leaders as we are so fortunate to have them as role models. The nine from Nunavut are Madeleine Allakariallak, Jolene Kuluk Arreak, Letia Cousins, Tanya Tagaq Gillis, Lori Idlout, Lucie Idlout, Jackie Price, Alexander Stubbing and Hamish Tungulak Tatty.

These young leaders come from various backgrounds, music, business, government and archaeology, among other areas. What they all have in common is a passionate interest in Nunavut and the desire and ability to make a difference.

I ask my colleagues to join me in honouring and congratulating these exceptional young people.

Rural Post Offices
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, contrary to Liberal Party policy, rural Saskatchewan is an important part of Canada. Due to geographic difficulties, the rural people of Saskatchewan rely heavily on their small town post offices, yet the Liberals are trying to destroy this important part of our communities.

The minister's hidden agenda on post office closures has been uncovered by the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association. Some 750 post offices, several in my riding, are slated for closure. In many towns the closing of the post office will be a devastating blow to the few businesses still operating on the main street. At a time when Canada Post is seeing record profits, the government is cutting back on services. Post offices in small towns serve as a town centre, a place to meet neighbours and to serve the needs of their people.

I call on the minister to abandon his hidden agenda on closing post offices. He should stand up for rural Saskatchewan and help keep our small towns alive.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the chronicle of Conservative budget shenanigans continues.

Let us go back to the beginning. First, the Leader of the Opposition said he supported the budget, but he abstained on it during the vote. Then he tried to split off various parts of the budget based on his own party's political interest. Then he tried to pull the plug on Parliament before the budget could be passed. When that did not work, he had his MPs support the budget while voting for an election that would have killed the budget just moments later.

Last weekend another member of the Conservative Party called for yet another part of the budget to be hived off into a separate bill. This time it was the gas tax portion of the budget. What irony, considering that the Conservatives have always been against a new deal for municipalities.

What will happen next? Canadians are sick and tired of these silly games. I join with the mayors of Canada's 22 largest cities and call on the Conservatives to pass the budget now.

Canadian Sovereignty
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, in its greedy push for even bigger profits, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives wants to eliminate virtually everything dear to Canadians.

Its plan for deep integration proposes to eliminate the Canada-U.S. border, impose American regulations, increase the foreign takeover of our energy resources, and create a common North American identity. That is just for starters. Goodbye Canada.

With deep integration our sovereignty and the institutions that we hold dear, such as public and universal health care, public broadcasting and affordable education, already menaced by Liberal underfunding, would exist no more. Deep integration uses security as a Trojan horse for the complete surrender of our sovereignty to North American big business.

Maintaining Canada's cultural diversity and strength is not negotiable. Maintaining social services that are integral to the lives of all Canadians cannot be traded away. Maintaining Canada as a free and sovereign nation is fundamental to our future.

Most Canadians reject this plan. The New Democratic Party will fight this threat to our nation with all our heart and all our soul.

Bullying
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, in every community across Canada there is a tragedy in the making. Thousands of children are being bullied to the breaking point. Its consequences and causes are more complex than ever. Besides words and fists, bullies often utilize the latest technology to bully via computer from the safety and security of their own homes.

It is time we all worked together to protect our children from this destructive behaviour. Parents need to step forward and take responsibility for the actions of their children. Educators need to step forward and play an early intervention role in identifying bullies and victims.

More important, legislators and judges need to step forward with action, not just words. We need to provide judges with the tools to deal with the problem. We need to get tough with bullies. Judges need to use these tools to send a message of zero tolerance. We all have a role in stopping bullying. Let us get on with it.

Info-Cult
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 25th anniversary of Info-Cult, an organization whose unique, intelligent and exemplary efforts in Quebec help prevent the exploitation of vulnerable people by cults.

Generally, the leaders of these movements use so-called new religions as a front for abusing their members. They exploit members' vulnerability, take over all their assets, or even require sexual favours. Mutilation and death can even be the final outcome. Everyone will recall the tragic events associated with the cult of Moïse Thériault as well as the Order of the Solar Temple.

The way to limit, if not totally eliminate, this type of exploitation is by amassing objective knowledge based on facts and making these known to the public. Info-Cult has been doing just that for the past 25 years.

The people at Info-Cult can be proud of what they have accomplished. I respect and congratulate them for all their efforts over the years. Long may they continue. Let us hope that it does not take another dramatic event like the Solar Temple mass suicides before the importance of such a worthwhile undertaking gains proper recognition.

Tom Brzustowski
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Dr. Tom Brzustowski for his distinguished career at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada, and for his devotion to public service and the betterment of science and engineering in Canada.

Many individuals and institutions drive the state of science, industry and innovation in this country, yet this coming September we lose a rather important one. Dr. Brzustowski has been the president of NSERC since 1995, but he will be retiring from this post in the fall.

He has always been very forthright in his opinions and in offering solutions on science, and research and development in Canada. Throughout his career he has served the goal of making Canada a country of discoverers and innovators, and for this we should thank him.

While his talent will be missed at NSERC, it will be appreciated by the world of academia to which he will be returning. I want to wish him, his wife Louise and their sons John, Mark and Paul well, and encourage him to use this point in his career to spend some time with his family and grandchildren.

The Economy
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Godbout Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, 35,000 new jobs were created in Canada in the month of May according to Statistics Canada's monthly labour market survey. This is more than double the monthly average of the four previous months and more than double the number projected by most economists.

Job creation has always been a priority of this and previous Liberal governments. Since 1993 over three million jobs have been created in the country.

Unemployment is currently at 6.8%, its lowest level in four and a half years. Let us contrast that to when the Conservatives left office in 1993. The unemployment rate was a staggering 11.2%.

Canada has the best job creation record of the G-7, the fastest growth in living standards of the G-7, the only balanced budget of the G-7, and the best fiscal performance since 1867.

Standing Committee on Finance
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, on September 26, 1996, the member for Medicine Hat said:

When a six-year old child does not accept responsibility it is bad. But when adult men and women, capable people, people who are supposedly the cream of the crop, people who make up the caucus and the cabinet of the country, refuse to accept responsibility for promises that are on paper, which they campaigned on, it is scandalous. It is ridiculous. Is it any wonder people are so disrespectful of politicians today? Hardly.

Yesterday that same member bullied, cajoled and harassed an entire panel of witnesses into silence. The transcripts show the words “point of order” were raised almost a hundred times and the word “budget” only five times.

I demand that the Conservative finance critic and his obstructionist and bullying colleagues allow the business of the finance committee to proceed, and that they shape up or ship out, put aside their NDP envy, and get on to getting things done for Canadians.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, no one in Canada is more responsible for the declining state of health care than the Prime Minister. The unilateral cuts to health care that he inflicted a decade ago do not come close to a fix for a generation that he boldly proclaimed last September.

Dr. Albert Schumacher, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said that the financial commitment was not nearly enough to provide the kind of quality health care patients deserve.

While the Prime Minister waits for his generational fix to kick in, what should Canadians do about their personal, lengthy wait times for surgical procedures, just pull out their credit cards like he does?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister provided an additional $41 billion last year to ensure there is strong health care in Canada over the next 10 years.

The members on the opposition benches have spliced out their own history on health care. They cut out the fact that they left Canada as a financial basket case and a candidate for the third world. They spliced out the fact that they called for deeper spending cuts, and are trying to erase the fact that they have been the strongest enemies of the Canada Health Act and the greatest champions of health care privatization.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is very interesting. This is what the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence had to say:

To save our medical system, we must embrace new ideas, such as allowing a separate, parallel, private system to augment and enhance our public system.

The Supreme Court said that as a result of wait lists, patients in Canada are dying. The Liberal government's cuts caused the crisis in health care, the loss of doctors and nurses, and the growth of private health care clinics. Wait times doubled on the Prime Minister's watch.

Did the Prime Minister not foresee the growth in private health care as a result of his cuts or is it, as Sheila Copps said recently, that the Prime Minister's hidden agenda was to have a two tier health care system?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I will read the hidden agenda. The Leader of the Opposition said in 2002:

Our health care will continue to deteriorate unless Ottawa overhauls the Canada Health Act to allow the provinces to experiment with more market reforms and private health-care delivery options.

That party is the enemy of health care. It is that party that wants to privatize health care.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is what the foreign affairs minister had to say about private health care:

If some provinces want to experiment with private delivery options, my view is that as long as (provinces) respect the single, public payer, we should be examining these efforts and then compare notes between the provinces.

He went on to say:

I'm saying that the Canada Health Act does not preclude delivery of services by private elements as long as there is a single public payer.

This is a government member, a minister of the Prime Minister's own government, saying that we are going down that road. How does he explain this basic, blatant hypocrisy within his own government?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I have said this many times and obviously the opposition does not remember. In September 2004 all of the first ministers individually signed a health care accord. That provided $41 billion in new additional money over the next 10 years to ensure that the kind of privatization that members opposite are looking for does not continue to happen in Canada, does not happen in Canada, and that we make our health care system stronger than ever for all Canadians.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that Canadians in the past have been most proud of is their public health care system. In fact, every survey in the last 40 years says this is one of the things that helps define them as Canadians. Liberal cuts all the way through the 1990s have jeopardized this. That is why we are in this situation today, where the public health care system has been jeopardized by Liberal cuts.

Will Liberals get up now and apologize for all those cuts, and for threatening one of Canada's cherished institutions?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this from the sanctimonious opposition which in 1995 actually wanted deeper cuts than were made by the then finance minister. Those cuts had to be made. The government was compelled to make those cuts because when the opposition was in government, it left this country in the shape of a banana republic.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, that group of people loves to quote other people. Let me quote the Prime Minister. He said, “For too many Canadians, care delayed is care denied”. It is too bad he did not do anything about it in all those years when he could have. Now all the Liberals' huffing and puffing is not going to change the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Why do they not just get up and admit that they didn't fix it for a generation, but may have screwed it up for a generation?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, using the words of the member who just stood up, they not only screwed up health care, they also had screwed up the economy when this government took over in 1993.

The fact is the 2003 accord provided $21 billion additional and the accord in 2004 provided $41 billion additional. We are on our way to setting benchmarks. We are on our way to setting comparable indicators. We are on our way to expanding home care. We are on our way to training more health care professionals in Canada. We are on our way to including more international medical graduates so that--

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I would urge hon. members to try to restrain their enthusiasm during the questions and answers. We cannot hear the answers or the questions if there is a lot of noise. I know hon. members do want to restrain themselves.

The hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health said yesterday, “We continue to talk to the provinces where there might be contraventions”.

Are we to understand from this remarks that, in light of the Supreme Court decision imposed on Quebec, a decision that, I repeat, is not welcome, the minister has not ruled out the possibility of applying penalties that will have a negative impact on funding for Quebec's health care system?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's Supreme Court ruling did not call into question the foundations of our public universal health care system or the Canada Health Act, which is still in force today.

The federal Department of Health remains in constant contact with its provincial counterparts in order to assess the situation and make the necessary corrections when there are problems enforcing this legislation.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, for two days now, we have been asking the minister for assurances that Quebec will not be penalized as a result of the Supreme Court decision.

I will give the minister one more chance. Can he provide firm guarantees to the users of the Quebec health care system that there will not be a decrease in health care funding for Quebec as a result of penalties?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, frankly, I am having trouble understanding the Bloc's questions, yesterday and today, on the funding. The legislation continues to apply as it presently stands. Furthermore, we signed a health accord last September. The Premier of Quebec has a very specific agreement for Quebec. Funds, in excess of $9 billion over 10 years, will continue to be transferred to Quebec in order to allow for future improvements.

Perhaps the Bloc is disappointed, but Quebec has a very good health minister, who happens to be a Liberal.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem of waiting lists has continued because of Liberal cuts and the fiscal imbalance, and patients in Quebec will, unfortunately, be paying the price.

Will the Minister of Health recognize, finally, that prime responsibility for the problems of the health care system rest with the federal government itself, which cut $24.5 billion in funds to Quebec and the provinces prior to 2002, just as health care costs were soaring?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, fortunately, we have a responsible Liberal government in Quebec, which considers the overall situation. It recognizes that the Government of Canada has reinvested in health care through its transfers to the provinces and that the health care system needs improvement and reorganization. Unlike the PQ, it is not calling for hasty application of the notwithstanding clause. It is much wiser. It is requesting a stay of the Supreme Court decision to allow it to adapt to the new situation.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, by denying the existence of the fiscal imbalance, the government could use the recent Supreme Court ruling as a pretext to further cut funding to Quebec.

This is why I insist the Minister of Health stop his double talk and give Quebec guarantees that it will not be penalized by the Supreme Court decision. We want firm guarantees.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, for two days now, the Bloc members have been trying to come up with scarecrows to frighten people. There is no question whatsoever of cutting any funds to Quebec. The Canada Health Act still applies.

These members want to frighten patients. They want people to think there will be cuts. They are acting totally irresponsibly toward society's most vulnerable members. It is totally irresponsible of them. I think they should be ashamed of trying to frighten people who are ill. They had better apologize, for crying out loud.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. Yesterday's Supreme Court decision opens the door further to privatized two tier health care in Canada.

The minister knows we already have private clinics in four provinces. Not only has the Liberal government done nothing about this, in many of the instances of privatization, the Liberals have been complicitly supporting it.

Will he finally wake up and take decisive action to save Canada's public health care system?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we already started taking decisive action. In September 2004 we provided $41 billion. In 2003 we provided $21 billion. Roy Romanow has said that we have provided more money than he recommended be given to the provinces and territories.

We are busy trying to establish benchmarks, set the comparable indicators, expand home care, and bring more international medical graduates into the mainstream so we have a health care system that is thriving.

We are also talking to the provinces. Where there might be MRIs or clinics, in terms of the Canada Health Act, we have ongoing dialogue with them.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are fed up with dialogue. They want action to save the system and it is crucially important to get it now.

I come back to some of the specifics. All the experts are talking about the need to improve waiting times, to keep drug costs down and to provide lower cost home care.

I ask the minister to be concrete on these three areas. What plans will he take in the near future to put pressure on the provinces to act in these areas to save the system?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, with respect to benchmarks, there is a deadline of December 3 for all the provinces and territories, including the federal government, with respect to aboriginal health care. We have to establish benchmarks and comparable indicators that are pan-Canadian.

On the issue of drugs, we have a national pharmaceutical strategy. Officials are at several tables discussing these issues, wanting to ensure that there is bulk purchasing, speedier drug reviews and that these expensive drugs, which might have catastrophic consequences for people, are dealt with adequately.

These are some of the issues--

Health
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca.

Audiotaped Conversations
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Athabasca, AB

More talk, no action, Mr. Speaker. Over the past several weeks we have been so busy looking at a single tree that we have ignored the rest of the corrupt forest.

Why does the government continue to ignore and not answer questions on why the Prime Minister's chief of staff and right-hand man was involved in an illegal vote buying scheme to keep the Prime Minister in control of the public purse?

Audiotaped Conversations
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister indicated quite clearly in the House yesterday that he and everyone who worked in the Prime Minister's office would cooperate fully with the Ethics Commissioner in terms of his work.

That is on the record, and I do not see where the problem is.

Audiotaped Conversations
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals can sing and dance anywhere they want, but it is what is on tape that matters.

It appears that some of the most senior members of the government are involved in unethical and illegal behaviour. Yet they continue to ignore the questions and deflect blame on adversaries.

If the Prime Minister, his chief of staff and one of his senior ministers were actually aware that these actions were illegal, why did one of them not report it to the RCMP?

Audiotaped Conversations
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, I was not singing and dancing and I am sure the hon. member would not want to see me singing and dancing.

It is quite clear that the member for Newton—North Delta indicated he wanted to cross the floor. The Prime Minister was aware of that. The Prime Minister said that no offers were to be made. None were made and that is that.

If the member has any information that is contrary or additional to that, he is welcome to and he should send it over to the RCMP or to the Ethics Commissioner. The Ethics Commissioner and the RCMP will do what they have to do according to their mandate.

Audiotaped Conversations
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's chief of staff and closest adviser, Tim Murphy, has gone into hiding as tapes of his illicit conversation with an opposition member have been fully released and fully authenticated.

Tim Murphy has offered no explanation, no documentation, nothing to dispute apparent Liberal offers to poach an opposition member's vote.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why Murphy's silent treatment? Is it a guilty conscience?

Audiotaped Conversations
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, if there is someone who has gone into hiding, it is certainly not the Prime Minister's chief of staff. It may be someone else on that side of the House.

However, there is mention of tapes. I still wonder how these members subscribe to the theory of pristine tapes when five independent experts, not partisan experts, have testified that these tapes have been altered, doctored, spliced, sliced and reduced from four hours to two hours.

To ask for anybody to step aside on the basis of such tapes is ludicrous.

Audiotaped Conversations
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is time they updated their talking points. A leading audio expert has confirmed that the full recordings are “clean and unedited”. What is not clean is the Prime Minister's right-hand man, Tim Murphy, who apparently offered plum government positions to poach an opposition member for a crucial vote. The government will stop at nothing to stay in power.

Will the Prime Minister finally admit his right-hand man was caught red-handed in these recordings?

Audiotaped Conversations
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will admit to no such thing because it is not the truth.

The truth is the member for Newton—North Delta sought to cross the floor. The Prime Minister was aware of that. He advised his chief of staff and the Minister of Health not to make any offers. None were made.

Now those people would want the Prime Minister's chief of staff and the Minister of Health to step aside on the basis of tapes that have been doctored, spliced, sliced and shrunk from four hours to two hours. Even their partisan experts recognize that they have been tampered with.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, the current government has a propensity to distort equalization by increasing the number of ad hoc agreements with the governments of some provinces in order to ensure its own survival.

Does the Prime Minister not realize that the only way there can be fair and stable funding of the public expenditures of the governments of Quebec and the provinces is to consider an overhaul of the equalization system instead of reacting to events as they arise, as he is currently doing?

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Jean Lapierre Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thought the hon. member, as an MP from Quebec, would have been happy with a health agreement that ensured the transfer of $41 billion to the provinces. This means $9 billion more for the Government of Quebec.

I hope he will also be happy with the upcoming agreement with the municipalities on providing help for infrastructure. This will transfer $5 billion to municipalities throughout Canada, including some $500 million to $600 million to municipalities in Quebec.

As for equalization, adjustments to the tune of $30 billion were made. This relieves some of the financial pressure—

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is sad. The government now has the report of the Subcommittee on Fiscal Imbalance in Canada. Does it not realize that its recent decisions, far from correcting the fiscal imbalance, in fact exacerbate it and will create unfair situations in the future? All of this is going to distort rather than improve the Canadian equalization system.

Taxation
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood
Ontario

Liberal

John McKay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the report referenced by the hon. member was originally referred by the House to the committee. It assumed a fiscal imbalance. Then a study was purportedly carried on by the subcommittee which assumed a fiscal imbalance. Then the witnesses appeared to be loaded somewhat heavily toward treasurers of provinces and premier of provinces, all of whom seemed to have some interest in it. To no one's great surprise the report says that there is a fiscal imbalance.

Member for Newton—North Delta
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister could save everyone a lot of trouble and make the RCMP's job easier by simply answering our questions about the timing of when he became aware of a member of Parliament trying to sell his support.

Could the Prime Minister tell us why he is stubbornly refusing to answer this very simple question? When exactly did he learn that a member wanted to get something in return for supporting the government?

Member for Newton—North Delta
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was informed of the intention of the member for Newton—North Delta to cross the floor of the House and join the Liberal caucus. He told his senior adviser and the Minister of Health that no offer was to be made, and none was made. If members opposite have any other information at this time, it should be provided to the RCMP, which will decide whether or not an investigation is required and will act accordingly.

Member for Newton—North Delta
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member confirms that the Prime Minister was informed, but what we want to know is when.

Does the Prime Minister realize that, by refusing to answer this very simple question, he is himself raising questions about what really happened in this matter?

Member for Newton—North Delta
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Minister for Internal Trade

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was informed that the member for Newton—North Delta wanted to cross the floor of the House and join our caucus. He gave instructions that no offer was to be made to this member. No offer was made.

If the members opposite, who, incidentally, have already referred the matter to the RCMP, have anything else, they should contact the RCMP. In the meantime, they should let the RCMP do its job.

Civil Marriage Act
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy, NB

Mr. Speaker, the committee studying Bill C-38 continues to hear from witness after witness that the Liberals' plan to change the definition of marriage will have an impact on basic freedoms in our country.

The minister has finally admitted what the Supreme Court told us months ago, which is that the federal government has no power to fully protect individuals from being attacked because of their beliefs.

Bill C-38 does not protect freedom of religion or freedom of conscience in any way, and the minister knows that.

Why is the minister rushing this bill through the House in spite of clear evidence and his own admission that it will have a negative impact on Canadian rights?

Civil Marriage Act
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Mount Royal
Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I agree that it will have an impact on rights and freedoms. It will protect rights and freedoms. It will protect both equality and religious freedom.

I have continued to say that the legislation is anchored in the rule of law, in the charter and in the jurisprudence of this country which protect both equality and religious freedom.

We remain open. If there are any amendments that can give further certainty to the protections already there, we are prepared, within the democratic process, to consider such amendments.

Civil Marriage Act
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Supreme Court clearly stated that Parliament could not protect religious freedoms if the definition of marriage is changed.

The minister's response is cold comfort to those who have already been impacted: Bishop Fred Henry in Calgary; the Knights of Columbus in British Columbia; and provincial human rights commissioners from coast to coast who have been told to resign because of their basic personal believes.

Will the minister do the right thing and at least wait until all provinces provide legal protection for these individuals before imposing a new definition of marriage on Canadians?

Civil Marriage Act
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Mount Royal
Québec

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would recommend to the hon. member to read the Supreme Court decision. If he read that Supreme Court decision, he would see that the Supreme Court refers to protection of religion as an expansive freedom. Indeed, former Chief Justice Brian Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada referred to freedom of religion as the firstness of our freedom.

We will protect freedom of religion within our jurisdiction. The provinces will protect freedom of religion within their jurisdiction. We invited them to do that.

What we have is a compelling protection for freedom of religion in our law, in our jurisprudence and in this draft legislation.

Child Care
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Social Development has admitted many times that the $5 billion promised for child care over the next five years represents only a tiny portion of the total cost anticipated. Using Quebec as a cost model, this national day care scheme could easily top $12 billion a year.

It is easy for the minister to wax poetically about the next great social program but Canadians want to know, overtaxed Canadians want to know, who does the minister expect to pick up the tab, the provinces, the municipalities or parents themselves?

Child Care
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden Minister of Social Development

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, many years ago people decided to invest in education. They decided to invest in health care. They knew it was important. They knew it was going to matter a lot to Canadians in the present and to Canadians in the future.

What Canadians have an opportunity to do in an early learning and child care system is to decide for themselves, now and in the future, how important early learning and child care is for this country.

Child Care
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, cash-strapped provinces and municipalities deserve to know what is further down the road on which the minister wants to take them.

I am glad he raised the issue of health care. When the Canada Health Act was introduced, Ottawa agreed to pay 50% of total health costs. Today that contribution has been slashed to less than 15%, mostly by the Prime Minister.

With the federal contribution starting at less than 10% for day care, how long until Ottawa totally abandons provinces and municipalities to carry the entire cost of this program themselves?

Child Care
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Ken Dryden Minister of Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I might remind the hon. member that the commitment of $5 billion over five years represents an increase of 48% on what all governments are currently spending on child care in this country.

If we look at individual provinces, for the province of Ontario by the third year it will represent a 69% increase. For Saskatchewan it will be a 95% increase. For Nova Scotia it will be a 90% increase. For Newfoundland and Labrador it will be a 130% increase. For New Brunswick it will be a 132% increase.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the softwood lumber dispute has now been going on for more than three years. This trade dispute with the Americans has affected many communities, workers and industries.

Could the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec tell this House what concrete measures have been taken by our government to help the communities affected by this crisis, and could he also tell us about the impact of these initiatives?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Minister responsible for the Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the program was put in place in 2003. Since April 1, 2003, in Quebec alone, 325 projects have been approved and $32.9 million has been invested by Economic Development Canada. In total, investments of $149 million have been made, 1,820 new jobs have been created, and 2,402 have been maintained.

This is not to mention the pulp and paper integrated centre, in the Mauricie region, with $23.5 million, the boreal forest research consortium, in the Saguenay region, with $2 million, or the agreements with Quebec regarding the regular programming, which amount to—

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Drugs and Pharmaceuticals
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

The court ruling is proof of Liberal failures. Let us take prescription drugs as one example and look at the costs. If we want to keep health care sustainable, we need to reduce the growing costs of prescription drugs. Have we had any action on patent abuses like evergreening? No. Basic steps, like bulk buying of drugs, have been ignored for nine years since they were recommended.

After 12 years why are we not bulk buying drugs yet?

Drugs and Pharmaceuticals
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear from the 2004 accord that all jurisdictions agreed to work toward bulk purchasing. Most of the purchasing is obviously done by jurisdictions. We want to make sure that we have a national pharmaceutical strategy that includes bulk purchasing, speedier drug reviews and includes the issue of catastrophic coverage so that no Canadians would have to pay a disproportionate amount of money to deal with the necessary drugs they need.

Health
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think the health minister should spend less time hanging out with Conservatives and more time trying to do his job.

I want to talk about home care now. We know an aging population needs national home care. We know it is more cost effective. Do we have it? No. Just a parade of Liberal health ministers talking about it. In 1997, Allan Rock called it fundamental to the future, or maybe he did not. Maybe the tapes were doctored.

Were the tapes spliced or was another Liberal promise broken?

Health
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Vancouver South
B.C.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the member that she read the 2004 accord which actually, in a very concrete way, provides money to all the jurisdictions across the country to expand home care.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, when the minister admitted before committee that the Liberal rent for nothing scam broke the law and the lease, he used ignorance as the defence. No one in the government realized that the company's CEO had become a senator. Nice try, but not true.

Yesterday we learned that the Prime Minister's office reviewed the deal and decided that this Liberal friend should get his money even if it violated the law and broke the lease.

Why will the minister not just admit that this Liberal rent for nothing scam went right to the top of the Liberal Party?

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member is wrong in the same way that he was wrong when he said there was no contract prior to lease payments because there was an irrevocable contract going back to 2001, two years before lease payments began.

The fact is that the contract said that when the building was completed and ready to be moved into, the lease payments ought to begin. They did because the government honours its contracts and pays its bills.

The hon. member makes grievous errors every day on the floor of the House of Commons and he never says that he is sorry or that he is wrong.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not sorry for exposing a scam that had taxpayers pay 10 months rent for nothing.

As part of the Liberal rent for nothing scam, the minister admits that his Liberal friend broke the law. His solution was to just cancel the law, but there is a glitch. He could not cancel the law retroactively, meaning the fines for the period of the infraction when the law was still in place still applied.

Next week I have a solution. I am bringing forward a motion that would force the government to collect the fines of $100,000-plus from its Liberal friend.

Will the Liberal government--

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Kings—Hants
Nova Scotia

Liberal

Scott Brison Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, in 2003, two years ago, the House passed a new code of ethics for the Senate. The fact is that part of that code of ethics involved the repeal of section 14.

The hon. member either does not understand parliamentary procedure or he is knowingly misleading people with these types of attacks on the other place.

Senate bashing was part of the old Reform-Alliance Party. Canadians did not buy it then and they do not buy it now. I would urge the hon. member to talk to his Conservative senators about some--

Government Contracts
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Simcoe—Grey.

China
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister said that she would speak very slowly for me. Today I am going to speak slowly for her because after 18 months on the job she still does not get it.

Her Liberal government is using taxpayer money to fund the Chinese government. The minister claims that this money is to set up a legal aid system, this in a country where people are tortured and disappear off the street. What good is legal aid when one cannot get a fair trial?

When will the minister stop giving money to communist China?

China
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Barrie
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the connections between a legal aid system and better protecting women and the poor, the connection between that kind of capability and exactly the point the member is trying to make is eluding her.

We are helping China build human rights. The manner in which we are doing that is through the very strong programs that we are running.

I will repeat this again. The Government of Canada is giving no money to the government of China. I hope that with this explanation she will be able to comprehend the situation.

China
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister should check her website for the description of the program she is talking about.

In March of this year, CIDA released a document entitled “Statistical Report on Official Development Assistance Fiscal Year 2003-2004”. On page 41 under the heading “Government to Government”, it states that China received over $33 million in total net disbursements from Canada.

Let me repeat that. CIDA says that it gives money directly to the Chinese government. Who is telling the truth and who is incompetent, the minister or her staff at CIDA?

China
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

China
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sure the minister appreciates the continual help with her answers but we have to be able to hear the answer. The minister is seated very close to me and in spite of that I often cannot hear her during her answer. I would urge hon. members on the other side who are helping her to ease up and let us hear the answer.

The hon. Minister of International Cooperation has the floor.

China
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Barrie
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, this question was brought forward from the statistical analysis that has been described by the critic's predecessor. That question was answered by my department.

I will repeat very clearly for the House, for that party and for the people of Canada that the Government of Canada does not give money directly to the government of China through our development programs.

Canada Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the strike last fall by the Canada Revenue Agency, processing delays for refunds on scientific research and experimental development expenditures continue to increase. Some companies have had to wait for their refunds for up to a year.

What specific measures does the Minister of National Revenue intend to put forward so that files are processed within an acceptable timeframe, in other words, between three and six months, in accordance with its own directive?

Canada Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Minister responsible for the Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, the minister is working very hard to shorten these delays. I am sure that the findings and results will be made public very shortly.

Canada Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, these unnecessary delays are not hurting just businesses, which face serious liquidity problems while awaiting their refunds, but are also preventing action by the Quebec government, which cannot intervene as long as the CRA has not processed the file.

I am asking the Minister of National Revenue what he is waiting for to fix a situation that is rapidly going from bad to worse and that has slowed research and development instead of encouraging it?

Canada Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and Minister responsible for the Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, obviously, the Minister of National Revenue has no intention of discouraging research and development. There are difficulties to overcome. The minister is working very hard on this, and answers will be forthcoming very soon.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, in the first budget this year the Liberals announced that they were closing a number of experimental farms across the country. One of them was in Nappan in my riding. The other day I noticed an article in the Kapuskasing Northern Times which stated, “Minister agrees to re-examine farm closure” in Kapuskasing.

These farms are almost identical. They both suffer the same problems. The complaints about the process at Nappan and Kapuskasing are very similar. Will the minister apply the same rules to Nappan that he is applying to Kapuskasing? Will he come to Nappan, visit the farm, get a feel for it and then make a final decision?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, obviously our objective here is not to reduce the amount that we are investing in science, but rather to try to reduce our overhead so we will in fact have additional dollars to put into pure science.

There were some initiatives taken in respect of a number of sites across the country. Through the representations of a large number of individuals, provinces, my own colleagues within caucus, of which the hon. member is an example, and other hon. members, we have agreed to take a look at each one of these closures, to work with the community and the producers in the area and to review the way forward.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am not talking about a new structuring with new partners. I am talking about a review of the decision like the one that is reported in the Northern Times about the Kapuskasing farm. The minister cannot have two sets of rules, one for Liberal ridings and one for Conservative ridings. These farms are almost identical. They suffer the same problems and the same complaints about the process have been made at both of them.

Again, before he makes a decision, will he come to the farm himself and meet with the federation of agriculture, the industry and the community? They have fought so hard to keep this farm open. I ask the minister to give them the respect they deserve, listen to them and then make a final decision.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member pointed out that the reductions that were announced were occurring in ridings represented by all parties. I think this clearly demonstrates that there is no bias as we are making in these decisions. I can assure the hon. member that we are dealing with all of these issues at all of these sites in exactly the same way.

I agree that the Nappan site has contributed significantly to science over the years. We will work together in the same way with all of these institutions.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Agriculture. The Canadian agricultural income stabilization program, or CAIS program, helps protect producers from drops in income. However, producers have raised with me concerns about money being tied up in the CAIS account.

Will the minister please tell the House what actions he intends to take, together with the provinces, to respond to the concerns of my constituents?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, as colleagues in the House will remember, in the budget we announced that we would be seeking a replacement for the deposit. We have been working with the provinces and the industry to move forward in this respect.

We look forward to a federal-provincial meeting in July and to having further discussions, but I am able to announce today that we have achieved an agreement with the provinces and that all CAIS money presently on deposit will be available for withdrawal. This will provide over $600 million available to producers.

Automobile Industry
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the Minister of Industry to respond to the potential loss of thousands of auto jobs in Ontario. The minister, in typical Liberal fashion, skirted the issue and failed to answer. Does the minister stand by the statement he made last November? He said:

The 80,000 workers in the automotive industry will still be there in 10 years. The number will actually grow.

I will ask the minister again. Does he stand by his guarantee that auto job numbers in Ontario will grow?

Automobile Industry
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Chatham-Kent—Essex
Ontario

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we really should look at what is happening in Ontario. What the U.S. really requires in its auto business is more corporations like General Motors has in Oshawa. We are doing very well in Ontario. We are the chief automotive group. We surpassed Michigan and Ohio in the last year. Quite frankly, the auto industry is thriving well because of Canadian government programs and Ontario Liberal government programs.

Automobile Industry
Oral Question Period

Noon

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Again, Mr. Speaker, another non-answer.

It is quite simple. Last fall the minister promised that jobs would grow. This spring he signed a deal allowing the loss of up to 28,000 jobs. Which is it? What he promised last fall or what he signed away this spring?

Automobile Industry
Oral Question Period

Noon

Chatham-Kent—Essex
Ontario

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we see the job growth in Ontario and the job growth right across this country escalating upward. There is absolutely no question that the auto industry is one of the more thriving industries. We have done everything we can within the sector to make certain it is geared for the next 20 years to do well and expand in Ontario.

Arts and Culture
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Maka Kotto Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, now that the government experts have reached agreement on satisfactory wording for the international convention on the protection of the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression, the next challenge will be to ensure that the greatest possible number of countries adopt it at the next general conference of UNESCO in October 2005.

Can the heritage minister tell us Canada's plans for participation in the international mobilization, an initiative of France, Spain and Brazil,which begins this weekend?

Arts and Culture
Oral Question Period

Noon

Papineau
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I must express Canada's extreme pleasure with what we consider a great victory for this country. We have worked with the Government of Quebec, and our success in connection with this weekend's Madrid conference constitutes a giant step forward as far as cultural diversity is concerned.

Hon. members can, of course, count on Canadian diplomacy throughout the world to play a part in this progress, which is a direct reflection of the priorities we have been promoting in collaboration with the Government of Quebec. Our embassies will ensure that a large number of countries follow us along this great path. Already, there are 45 ministers of culture in Madrid and—

Arts and Culture
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

The hon. member for Don Valley East.

International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, AIDS continues to claim millions of victims throughout the world. Canada is investing significantly in the fight against it.

Can the Minister of International Cooperation give this House an update on the progress of the “treat three million by 2005” initiative?

International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

Noon

Barrie
Ontario

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, over a year ago, Canada invested $100 million in the World Health Organization's “three by five” initiative. With this investment, Canada has become the biggest donor to this initiative, which was on the brink of folding for lack of support.

I am therefore pleased to inform the House that the “three by five” initiative is now an enormous success. Close to 1 million people are undergoing treatment, which is five times more than barely a few years ago. It goes without saying that this initiative is a great success of which Canada can be extremely proud.

International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

That will conclude question period for today.

The Chair has notice of a point of order from the hon. member for Simcoe--Grey.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

Conservative

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, during question period the Minister of International Cooperation contradicted her department's declaration regarding government to government aid to China. To assist the House in clarifying this matter, I therefore seek unanimous consent to table a document published by CIDA, entitled “Statistical Report on Official Development Assistance Fiscal Year 2003-2004”.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey have the unanimous consent of the House to table this document?

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Etobicoke North
Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 11 petitions.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Darrel Stinson North Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from my riding of Okanagan—Shuswap. The petitioners request that Parliament pass legislation to recognize the institution of marriage in federal law as being the lifelong union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present this petition on behalf of my constituents of Mississauga—Brampton South. The petition raises some concerns regarding employment insurance. It also makes some recommendations for the Government of Canada to consider on how the petitioners believe employment insurance can be improved. The petition has been signed by 69 concerned Canadians.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have two sets of petitions from Saskatchewan. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures, including the invoking of the notwithstanding clause if necessary, to preserve the correct definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my petition comes from Verona in Frontenac County. It is, as are many other petitions that have been received in the House recently, on the subject of the definition of marriage. The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as being the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I too am honoured to present a petition in the House from my riding of Cambridge and Kitchener, Brantford and surrounding ridings. The petitioners call upon Parliament to respect and uphold the current law, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Etobicoke North
Ontario

Liberal

Roy Cullen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 143, 148 and 155.

Question No. 143
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

With regard to any ongoing Transport Canada review of the possible privatization of the Marine Atlantic Inc. Crown corporation: ( a ) will there be a detailed audit undertaken to determine if any excess pension funds were spent and the current value of the plan; ( b ) were excess pension funds used to purchase the MV Leif Erickson; ( c ) were excess pension funds used to buy out union contracts; ( d ) were excess pension funds used to provide the active Marine Atlantic Inc. employees with a two year pension contributory holiday; ( e ) does the government plan to conform to term 32 (1) of the Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada and not allow any form of privatization of ferry service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques; ( f ) as to the agreement reached in 1998 between Marine Atlantic Inc. and union representatives, which grants employees a limited period of time during which they are not required to make pension plan contributions, (i) what is the government’s position on whether or not all pensioners should have received increases to their pension amounts at the same time and (ii) does the government plan to request retroactive payments from Marine Atlantic Inc. to increase the amount of the pension of some pensioners; ( g ) does the government plan to introduce specific legislation to protect Marine Atlantic Inc. pensioners/survivors and, if so, what provisions does it plan to introduce; and ( h ) does the government plan to provide legal assistance to the pensioners who were previously employed at Marine Atlantic Inc. so that all questions may be resolved to the satisfaction of all the pensioners?

Question No. 143
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, in response to

(a), no, however, Marine Atlantic Inc. conducted a financial audit in March for assets to December 31, 2004. An actuarial valuation is being completed and will be available after June 2005 for the period up to December 31, 2004.

In response to (b), no, excess funds were not used to purchase the MV Leif Erickson. The vessel was financed by a loan from the Government of Canada to Marine Atlantic Inc.

In response to (c), no, excess pension funds were not used to buy out union contracts.

In response to (d), yes, excess pension funds were used to provide the active Marine Atlantic Inc. employees with a two year pension contributory holiday.

In response to (e), the government is not planning for the privatization of the ferry service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques.

In response to (f) (i) the government does not have a position on this matter. Matters such as these are the responsibility of the Board of Directors or the corporation.

With respect to (ii) no, the government does not plan to request retroactive payments from Marine Atlantic Inc. to increase the amount of the pension of some pensioners.

In response to (g), no, the government does not plan to introduce specific legislation to protect Marine Atlantic Inc. pensioners/survivors.

In response to (h), no, the government does not plan to provide legal assistance to the pensioners who were previously employed at Marine Atlantic Inc.

Question No. 148
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

With respect to the PG4 to PG6 positions at National Defence: ( a ) how many new positions have been created and existing positions filled since January 1, 2001; ( b ) what were the language requirements and classifications for these positions; and ( c ) what language qualifications do the people currently holding these positions have?

Question No. 148
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Toronto Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, with respect to PG-04 to PG-06 positions at National Defence, a total of 90 new positions were created and a total of 329 staffing actions, existing and new positions filled, were undertaken since January 1, 2001. It is important to note that the same positions may have been filled more than once during this period of time.

Of the 329 positions filled, the language requirements are as follows: 154 were English essential, and 175 were bilingual. The classification for these positions are as follows: 207 at the PG-04 level, 96 at the PG-05 level and 26 at the PG-06 level.

While 329 positions have been filled during this period of time, there are currently 208 incumbents. Of these 208 incumbents, 186, 89.4%, meet the language qualifications of their positions; 21, 10.1%, are currently taking or awaiting second language training; and 1, 5%, is excluded from having to meet the language requirements, under the provisions of the public service official languages exclusion approval order. Under this authority, when the language profile of an encumbered position is changed, a person has incumbent's rights and is not required to meet the language qualification as long as he or she remains in that position.

Question No. 155
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

What were the amounts of dividends paid, by year, by VIA Rail Canada to the government from 1995 to 2004?

Question No. 155
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Scarborough—Agincourt
Ontario

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, from 1995 to 2004, VIA Rail Canada Inc. did not pay any dividends to the government. VIA Rail Canada Inc. is a subsidized crown corporation and as such is not in a position to pay any dividends.

Question No. 155
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 155
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Question No. 155
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-43, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Earlier this morning, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance requested clarification concerning the groupings of motions in amendment at the report stage of Bill C-43.

The Chair had suggested that Motions Nos. 5 and 6 standing in the name of the hon. member for Niagara Falls would be grouped for debate, thus creating a new Group No. 2 and, as a result, moving Motions Nos. 7 and 8 into a new Group No. 3.

The Speaker has reviewed the motions to see whether Motions Nos. 5 and 6 could be included in Group No. 1, as the parliamentary secretary suggested, but he has concluded that the arrangement of three groups will stand.

To review: Group No. 1 includes Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in respect of income tax (corporate surtax); Group No. 2 includes Motions Nos. 5 and 6 in respect of the Canada emission reduction incentives agency; and Group No. 3 includes Motions Nos. 7 and 8 in respect of greenhouse gas technology investment fund.

I thank all hon. members for their contributions to the arrangement of the report stage of this bill.

We were at questions and comments. The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my Bloc colleague. We worked together on the Standing Committee on Finance, and I appreciate the excellent work he does. However, this morning, I have a few problems with the Bloc's position.

I want to recognize that the Bloc MPs are not the same as the Conservative MPs. The members of the Bloc are consistent. They always take an official position. They do not moan and complain like the Conservative members. They usually do not do that, and they are not sore losers like the Conservative members.

However, that aside, I cannot understand the Bloc's position on eliminating the tax reduction for large businesses and corporations. In my opinion, we are talking about a very minor change that will not have a major impact on the large firms but may bring in a lot of money that could be invested in projects of great importance to Canadians, such as housing, access to education and the environment. I want to know how the Bloc member can explain this unbelievable position.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to mention that I too love to work with my colleague from the NDP. While we do not always agree on various matters, we respect each others' divergent positions.

In response to my hon. colleague, I will provide relatively simple explanations.

After a corporate tax cut was announced in Bill C-43, on April 21, 2005, the Government of Quebec brought down its own budget. That government has announced a major corporate tax reform.

In light of Bill C-43, Quebec Finance Minister Audet cut the capital tax by half for the next five years and raised the tax rate slightly for large corporations. When combined, these two measures result in a tax reduction for corporations.

This corporate tax reform in Quebec is only possible, however, if the conditions on which it was predicated remain unchanged. This means that the federal government has to maintain the same course with respect to tax relief for larger corporations, so that, in turn, the Government of Quebec can move into this tax field from which the federal government has withdrawn.

That is totally in line with what we have been calling for for months and even years, that is, to correct the fiscal imbalance.

As regards federal responsibilities, the federal government taxes way too much. It does not leave any room to the governments of the provinces and Quebec. If the federal government withdraws, the Government of Quebec can then go ahead with its corporate tax reform by moving into this tax field and thus resolve at least a small part of the fiscal imbalance problem.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this chance to speak to three amendments to Bill C-43 which are critical to the NDP's overall position on this better balanced budget. They certainly were part of the deliberations we had with the Liberal government.

Negotiations were undertaken for a very important reason. In this minority Parliament and at a time when so many needs of Canadians were being ignored, we felt it incumbent upon us to try to make Parliament work in the best interests of Canadians. I know the Conservatives have a hard time with that concept. I know they are suffering from NDP envy.

I know the Conservatives wish they had taken the opportunity to improve the budget when they had the chance starting on February 23. At that time the Conservative leader chose to glance at the budget. He gave it a cursory review, walked out of this chamber and told the world that he thought it was generally an acceptable budget. Obviously since then, the Conservatives have had many second thoughts and doubts. They have changed their position four times, back and forth and back and forth. And they talk about Liberals dithering. It really is hard to tell the two parties apart when it comes to uncertainty and indecisiveness.

Today we are dealing with some amendments that Canadians want, that will make life better for many Canadians. The amendments will actually make a real difference to the objectives we have in common for improving the economy, for contributing to growth and thereby ensuring that more people, ideally every person in this great nation of ours is able to contribute fully according to his or her talents.

That is something that is now denied many people because of a decade or more of regressive Liberal policies falling on the heels of a Conservative government that certainly had no interest in putting people before profits. Governments under those two parties over a long period of time have done serious damage to the fundamental principles of our country which allow for the values of Canadians to flourish so that people can contribute to their fullest and make a difference for themselves and their families.

These amendments before us today simply eliminate the corporate tax reduction proposed in Bill C-43. It is a relatively small step. It means that the corporate tax rate does not move from 21% to 19%. This is after years of corporate tax breaks, not the least of which was the most recent reduction from 28% to 21%, in the supposed interest of building this great country.

We have not seen the results that have been touted by Liberals and Conservatives in terms of those corporate tax breaks. Profits have soared. We are witnessing record level profits among large corporations in Canadian society today. We have seen over the last five or six years record level corporate tax reductions. At the same time the profits have been going up, tax breaks have been going up for the big corporations, and investment has been going down.

There has not been a payoff for Canadians as a result of that kind of giveaway to the corporate sector. Canadians have not reaped a benefit. Jobs have not been created. Speaking of jobs, is it not ludicrous for the Conservatives to question this small shift in the corporate tax break, this putting on hold a further corporate tax break, despite the fact that corporations are now getting to the tune of $9 billion a year in corporate tax breaks until 2010?

It is interesting to note that the Conservatives say this small amount of $2.3 billion a year for two years is going to cause layoffs and economic disaster. They point ludicrously to the recent announcement by the automakers and the suggestion that there will be layoffs in the near future. That is primarily coming from the United States, which the Conservatives claim has the lowest corporate tax rate, contrary to the facts, a goal to which Canadians must aspire for us to be competitive.

Do the Conservatives want it both ways? Do they have any kind of mathematical sense to their fiscal policies? Do they have any kind of intellectual analysis of what has transpired?

I hear nothing but fearmongering and scare tactics which are not based on scientific fact or sound fiscal analysis. I see Mickey Mouse mathematics, something the Conservatives have the gall to accuse New Democrats of, when in fact there has not been one sign of reason, one sensible analysis throughout this entire debate about this tiny shift in corporate tax policy.

The Conservatives are not going to do anything objective on this front. We have had to get feedback from renowned public sector analysts as well as private sector corporate heads who know the importance of what we are doing. They recognize that when we invest in education, housing and the environment we get double the impact. We will get measures that help people deal with the basics of life so they can be contributing members of society without worrying about how they are going to pay for tuition, without worrying about the air they breathe, without worrying about whether they have a roof over their head.

We have investment in a sector that produces jobs. Thousands of jobs will be created as a result of this relatively small investment in important areas of public policy.

In this budget process we worked very hard to convince the Liberal government to put on hold the corporate tax reduction and invest the money in programs that are in dire need of attention, but which were not covered at all in the Liberal budget. One is education, because students are facing a growing crisis in trying to access affordable education without being left with a huge debt load. Another is housing, because there are thousands of Canadians who are trying to put a roof over their heads and access affordable housing. The other is aboriginal Canadians who have been denied the right to decent, safe housing as well as the right to access education. These are areas that were missing in the federal budget despite the need.

We convinced the Liberals that they had to take some of this investment from another tax cut for large corporations that would not produce a lot of results and put it into areas that would actually create jobs. We convinced them to stop playing games with the surplus, at least to some extent, something the Conservatives have always wanted, by bringing forward legislation that would ensure in a transparent way that we are taking into account the anticipated surplus in a way that Parliament has a say and the public knows what is happening.

It is interesting that the Conservatives went to all the trouble of supporting our initiative to have independent budget forecasters make predictions so that we can be sure about the surplus dollars. However, when those forecasters come up with the forecast, which by the way shows on average $8 billion in additional surplus every year for the next three years, the Conservatives ignored it. They said that this little bit of movement from a corporate tax cut to investment in housing and education would suddenly cause us to go into debt and deficit. I hope the Conservatives will come to their senses and realize that what is being done is something Canadians want.

We have before us a better balanced budget that will serve Canadians well. I hope the Conservatives will stop playing games, tying up the House in knots, obstructing and filibustering and being disrespectful to witnesses and to officials of the House and to parliamentarians and start getting on with the job of serving Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thought I might help the hon. member out and remind her that it was not only the Conservative Party that warned about deficit spending, something that we are very concerned about with this new deal. The Minister of Finance warned the House that deficit spending was a very real possibility when we got into, as he described it, cherry-picking or taking things away from one part or adding new spending to another part. There have been irresponsible spending announcements with no real plan to announce a budget bill. Bill C-48, with just two or three lines in it, has unleashed an unprecedented amount of unplanned and uncontrolled spending.

Why is the member so afraid of job saving tax relief? We have industries in Canada that are operating under an excessive burden. Does she not realize that the vast majority of Canadians work for a company or a corporation such as General Motors, Ford, Telus or any number of companies that have to compete in a global environment with other nations and companies. We have to give them that competitive edge. It does not matter how much they invest in other areas. If Canadians do not have jobs, if they do not have employment in secure and stable industries, it will not matter. No one will be working to pay taxes for the programs about which the member herself is concerned.

Those are a couple of things she should consider. She should always remember that the finance minister, who cut this deal with Buzz Hargrove and the leader of the NDP in a hotel room somewhere, warned about deficit spending.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of Mickey Mouse mathematics that I was talking about in referring to the Conservative Party. We have not had a word of reason or sense from that group throughout the course of this debate. It is about time to set the record straight.

It is clear that if the Conservatives do not want to listen to us and do not want to realize that the Minister of Finance did come to his senses and recognize the error of their ways and was prepared to see this money invested in important job creation initiatives, then let me refer back to some experts who are unlikely allies of the NDP.

Let me in fact refer to the president and CEO of Husky Injection Moulding Systems Limited, who said:

I commend the Prime Minister for continuing to demonstrate fiscal prudence while at the same time embracing sound social policy. The social policy acceleration announced by the Prime Minister and [the leader of the NDP] yesterday should be viewed as an investment in our future, our children's future and the future of our country. It is time to stop playing politics and to start governing.

Let me also refer to in fact the famous economist Michael McCracken, who said:

What does happen when you take away four-plus billion and start spending it on people is you get jobs...You get bigger bang for your buck. Whether that's on education, on health, on child care.

That in essence is what the NDP has offered up here, a re-profiling of the budget. It moved in the direction of a being a bit more sensible than it was. We should all be celebrating this event, not commiserating about it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Guy Côté Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, naturally the two motions here lead us, indirectly, to discuss Bill C-48. We have discussed this often in committee. It is a little ironic that it is the sovereignist members who are asking Parliament to respect its own Constitution, the very one that was imposed on Quebec.

The problem with the NDP agreement is that many of these measures interfere with Quebec's jurisdictions. I hope my colleague from the NDP will understand that it is unacceptable to Quebeckers for the government to enter into agreements directly with the municipalities.

Indeed, money is being offered by the government. Their heart is in the right place, but their methods are not. This will worsen the famous fiscal imbalance, since it is an invasion into the constitutional jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, this take is unbelievable. If the Bloc's opposition to this bill is based only on the Constitution and jurisdiction, then they can certainly support amendments involving tax cuts for corporations. Why did they decide to oppose a simple amendment to eliminate the tax cut for corporations?

If there were investments, for instance, it is quite clear they would have nothing to do with the jurisdictional question. This is about investing in housing, education and the environment while still respecting jurisdiction and dealing with the request of Quebec to have its needs respected and the uniqueness of--

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 1 stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 2. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 2 stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 3. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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12:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 3 stands deferred.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 5 and 6 in Group No. 2 to the House.

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12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

moved:

That Bill C-43, in Clause 89, be amended by replacing lines 18 and 19 on page 67 with the following:

“domestic credits.”

That the Bill C-43, in Clause 89, be amended by replacing lines 23 to 30 on page 69 with the following:

“18. The Agnecy may not acquire eligible Kyoto units.”

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words on this area. I appreciate the ruling of the Speaker earlier today ruling theses motions in order. They are an important public policy issues. I am pleased that we have the opportunity to say a few words on the motion.

This is part of a whole area within the federal budget that relates to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The first question Canadians might have asked themselves on budget night was, “Why is this in the middle of the federal budget?” Generally, environmental legislation stands alone. It is introduced by the Minister of the Environment, it is debated and the House decides on it.

In my opinion, by sticking it in the budget, the government figured it might get the budget through anyway, so it might as well load it up. The government might as well have put a few amendments to the Criminal Code in the budget if it thought they might be unpopular. In any case, the government decided to go ahead with amendments in this area.

The motion that we have put forward deals with the whole question of carbon credits. The budget proposed something known as the Canadian emission reduction agency. This would be a new agency of the federal government.

It is a hot day in Ottawa. I bet that gives members a bit of a chill that a new government agency would be created. Is that not a wonderful idea and it comes with its own bureaucracy too. This is another great idea from the Liberals to deal with this. Who knows, maybe a few Liberal friends have a little time on their hands. Maybe they could help out and dole out the money. After all, it has a $1 billion budget. I bet it will be very popular.

There are some of us who think that this is exactly what we do not need. What this agency is charged with is buying, among other things, foreign carbon credits.

Incredibly, this is a plan to start purchasing outside the country the right for Canadian companies to pollute inside the country. We pay other people outside of Canada. Try to even explain this to people. Most people would find it incredulous. The obvious candidate for this is communist China. We already heard that it is the beneficiary of largesse from the Canadian government. Go figure, the more repressive the regime, the more favourable its treatment from the Canadian government.

In any case, if we buy foreign carbon credits, apparently China is on the must go to list. It does not make sense to spend Canadian money outside the country for the right for Canadian companies to pollute. We sure do not need one more bureaucracy set up by the government to dole out money. That is exactly what Canada does not want.

This is why the Conservative Party has been saying for some time to make a made in Canada environmental policy. My colleague, the member for Red Deer, has been on this case for quite some time. He has been getting excellent reviews across the country when he presents his made in Canada plan from our party and for our country. Our plan makes sense. Who should be subsidizing pollution over in China? Who should be sending Canadian dollars outside our country? It does not make any sense whatsoever.

We think any money for an agency such as this should be spent on green technology in Canada, helping out Canadian companies to reduce pollution, not to be subsidizing it and sending the money outside the country.

Our position on this is very straightforward. We want a made in Canada solution. We are absolutely committed to cleaning up the environment in our country. There are those who say take the word “Conservative”, conserve what we have by protecting Canada's natural resources and cleaning up the water, air and land. Our party stands for that and this is why we have to oppose things like this.

It should not be in the budget at all and putting it in the budget still does not make it a good idea. It is a bad idea and we have opposed this all the way along. We sure do not need one more Liberal organized bureaucracy in this town. We also sure do not need to give them any budget where they can start spending money.

We know how difficult it has been for the government to keep an eye on money that is supposed to be spent in Canada. We have had months of testimony on all the problems it has had keeping track of money. The Minister of Finance is not quite sure where all the advertising money went. He claims he was unaware of the program.

If the Liberals do not know where the money goes when it is spent in Canada, how will they figure out where it is spent when it is sent overseas? They will not know how or where that money ends up. This is a bad idea and I hope all members of the House accept and support us on these very reasonable amendments.

Those are my comments and I certainly look forward to the support of all members of the House.

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12:40 p.m.

Richmond Hill
Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I guess we need to start with the premise that the member does not believe in climate change because if he did he would know that this is an international based system. It is part of what all the signatories to the Kyoto protocol have supported and it will support Canadian technology abroad.

If the member really believes in supporting green Canadian technology he would obviously support this. He would support reducing emissions in China, in India or anywhere else.

How can the member stand in his place and suggest that somehow this will only be for emissions in Canada, when climate change is a global issue not just a Canadian issue? Does he not understand the role that Canadian companies would play in this global effort to reduce emissions?

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12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is the exact reason that we are proposing these things. Subsidizing pollution outside or inside this country does not make any sense at all. I say to the hon. member that he should start to worry about pollution in Canada and spend the money here. These are hard-earned Canadian tax dollars and I do not want them sent overseas to subsidize somebody else's pollution. That is absolutely wrong and that is not what this party stands for.

We want a made in Canada solution. Canadian tax dollars should be spent on green technology in Canada. We must work with industry. We must work with all interested parties in cleaning up pollution in Canada. That is what we stand for.

The Liberals stand for something else. They want to send the money outside the country where they will never know what happens to it. We know they cannot keep track of where the money goes now in Canada. To start trusting them with a new government agency doling out the cash to buy carbon credits, does not make sense. When it does not make sense, the Conservative Party of Canada does not support it.

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12:40 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, it is almost unbelievable that the Conservatives do not understand that air pollution crosses borders. It is as if there is a big wall that stops it from crossing borders. It is as if the global warming that is affecting our economy so dramatically does not cross borders and the emissions of China and the other countries are not harming the people in Canada in the north.

It has already been proven scientifically. Pollution is pollution is pollution and it goes around the world. Just because we stop a source that is inside or outside our border, it is still making better health for Canadians and helping Canadians.

It is also too bad that the Conservatives constantly attack our exporters. They are against the Export Development Corporation and now they are against us exporting these green technologies by doing these projects in other countries and showing that Canada can be a leader, as we are in other fields like telecommunications.

That is the benefit of the international regime and the trading of credits. We may not need it anyway. There may be enough domestic offsets that we will never get to the international trading of credits.

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12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals will never get it figured out. Part of the problem with the Liberals is that they can never put Canadian interests first and foremost in any policy. It never works out that way. Whenever they get involved with anything, we always see it is the national interest that suffers.

We have seen all kinds of evidence of it and I am suggesting that this is another example. How about all that nonsense and all that money they wasted on the ad scam program, supposedly for Canadian unity? Have we ever heard of anything so ridiculous? Those people have done more to hurt Canadian unity than anybody has in 50 years because they did not put Canada first. They were so busy lining their own pockets. Ad scam was about people helping themselves and not helping this great country of Canada.

I say to the Liberals that just for a change they should put Canada first. Let us clean up pollution here and build a wonderful society in Canada before they start worrying about everything and everybody else.

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12:45 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in this period of questions and comments around the amendment presented by my Conservative colleague.

What brings me to my feet today is not so much this colleague's speech as the government's lack of understanding of the spirit of the motion presented by the Conservative Party.

What must be understood is that we are not opposed to Canada's participation in an international emissions trading system under the Kyoto protocol. What we do not want is to see public funds, the taxpayers' money, used to buy foreign credits. If companies want to do this, that is fine. In fact, many are already doing so.

I want to ask my colleague whether that is not in fact the spirit of the motion: not to exclude Canada from the trading mechanisms, but rather to have the capital invested here, instead of elsewhere, to achieve reductions of greenhouse gases at source?

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12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course Canada cooperates with all countries in all good ideas and good proposals. No one has a better record for standing up for what is right in this world than Canada. We cooperate with other countries and we welcome initiatives to reduce pollution all over the world.

The member makes a very good point. Who thinks it is a good idea to start shipping Canadian dollars overseas? We should use that money here in Canada to develop green technology in Canada and to work with Canadian companies. Let us clean up pollution right here in Canada. The member for Red Deer has been proposing that and I totally agree with him.

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12:45 p.m.

Richmond Hill
Ontario

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, for a member who was part of a government that left us a $42.5 billion deficit, I do not think we need to take any lessons on how to invest and spend money.

Specifically, we are the government that has had eight balanced budgets or better and the only G-7 state paying off the national debt. Therefore, when it comes to money, I would suggest that is a topic the member may want to debate with me at another time.

On this particular issue, let us get it clear. Our first priority is to reduce emissions in Canada. However the member should know, if he has read the Kyoto protocol and understands it, that this is a global treaty. Canada fought hard to have a market based emissions trading system and in fact if the amendment were to go forth it would block Canada out of an international trading system. That makes absolutely no sense.

I agree with my colleague from Yukon. This is an issue that transcends borders. Although our primary concern is in Canada, the issue is that Canadian companies, which are leaders in the areas of clean air, clean water and of dealing with issues that affect all countries, will have the opportunity to work abroad. All our partners in the Kyoto protocol system are buying international credits. I therefore am not quite sure what the member does not understand.

Our priority is Canada. However, if in fact they cannot all be met within Canada, we will be able to deal with it in the trading system internationally. In terms of the actual emissions, they must be verifiable and they must be real. There is no hot air from Russia, no hot air from the Conservatives and no hot air from anyone. We are not buying hot air. They must be verifiable and they must conform to Kyoto. In other words, those have to be real reductions, which is what we have said all along.

I am not quite sure why these amendments were put forth because we are simply doing what all the other countries are doing in terms of the treaty. We are saying that it is a global problem and if it is a global problem we need to have the global instruments and, in this case, we obviously are prepared to act domestically. If there is a need internationally we will have that opportunity. We will not cut ourselves off while other countries will have that opportunity.

On the one hand the party opposite complains that it does not believe in Kyoto, that it does not even believe in climate change and that it does not believe there is a real problem and if there is it will not give us the tools to deal with the problem. It then will say that we could not solve the problem but it will because it did not give us all the options.

I do not think any good general goes into any battle and precludes certain options. We are very clear Kyoto compliant in terms of those emissions. This is something that Canadian companies support because companies in the green technology field, of which Canada is a leader, will have an opportunity. Why would we want to freeze out Canadian companies in the international system? Why would we not want to do that? Why would we not support that?

We are not spending money abroad. I really think the member has to rethink what it is he is asking because in this case it would not comply with the others. It does not assist Canadian companies and it certainly does not help on the issue of climate change globally.

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12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question for the hon. member is in relation to this particular file because I am a little bit curious. First, we have 22 forest fires that are burning in northern Alberta and my understanding is that the carbon dioxide from those fires will be greater than by all the vehicles in Canada in the next 10 years. It makes me curious as to why we are not controlling those forest fires in Alberta and the ones burning in the rest of Canada.

In the transfer of wealth that obviously the Liberal government is supporting to third world countries my question is twofold. First, why are we going to transfer this wealth to third world countries that obviously will be supporting their foreign workers and the factories owned by these foreign countries but which are not bound by the Kyoto responsibilities? They are not Kyoto signatories. I wonder why we would be sending money to them without any safety net.

As well, I am curious to know if the member agrees with the statement of the Sierra Club that the only reason we have to do the transfer of wealth, to send $5 billion in the next five years to third world countries, is that the Liberal government has done absolutely nothing since 1992 on the file. Does the member agree with Mr. Bennett, director of the Sierra Club, on that statement?

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12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not really clear. I am disappointed in this member because I have a lot of respect for him and I do not understand.

The member should know that the climate change plan released by the government on April 13 is the most aggressive plan in the G-7. We have a plan to deal with the issue of climate change but not climate change alone. We are not an island. We have to work with other countries.

The seven most polluted cities in the world are in China. Does the member somehow feel that those emissions are going to stay there and will not drift over here? I know that in the city of Toronto we are now getting particles from the Sahara desert.

This is not where walls are put up. Clearly, this is a problem. If we can assist and if Canadian companies have an opportunity to help reduce these emissions in China, India or anywhere else to help people breath better and to reduce emissions around the world, then I think that is a good idea.

I am not clear on what moneys the member is talking about. Clearly, Canadian technology is going to be used to further this. There is a real demand in the world for Canadian technology, whether it is in Japan, China, India or the Philippines. Whether it is dealing with polluted waters in Bangkok or air pollution issues in Seoul, Korea, the fact is that we have the technology.

It goes back to the premise that if we do not believe in climate change, we will think of all sorts of bogeymen to say why we should not do it. On the one hand, we have a very aggressive plan. The opposition does not want us to do some of the things that make that plan operable. It is good for Canadians and it is good for citizens of the world.

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12:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is saying some outrageous things today, through the parliamentary secretary. First of all, he says that supporting these amendments by the Conservative Party will exclude Canadian companies from the emission credit trading mechanism. That is totally wrong. The proof of this is that there are already Quebec and Canadian companies taking part in such trades. For instance Alcan, TransAlta and Pechiney are involved in a pilot project at the Chicago stock exchange.

These amendments are not intended to exclude Canadian companies, but rather to avoid the government's trying to get around respecting its greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments by purchasing pollution credits elsewhere using the taxpayers' money.

Will the government admit that voting in favour of this amendment by the Conservative Party does not mean that businesses will be excluded?

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12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not saying that at all. This amendment would block Canada out of this market based emissions trading system. That is one of the fundamental tenets of the protocol. It is one of the fundamental things that we have said. Other countries are doing the same thing.

If there are members of the House who hold a different view, and that seems to be the case, because they do not want Canada to fulfill its international obligations and they do not want Canada to be part of this, then they can vote for that amendment. We have said that we will do as much as we can in cooperation with industries in Canada to deal with our emissions problem.

However, if we need to be part of that international system, this amendment would block us. I would not want to be in that situation. I cannot foretell the future any more than that member can.

We clearly do not support this amendment because it is not good for Canada. It is not good for the environment and it would not respect, in my view, the international obligations that the House and the government have signed on to.

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12:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address Bill C-43 at report stage, and more specifically Motions Nos. 5 and 6 presented by the Conservative Party and currently before the House.

The purpose of these amendments is to ensure that the Canadian government—and I emphasize that, the Canadian government—cannot buy foreign pollution credits with public funds, with the taxes paid by taxpayers. This is not to say that Canada must not take part in the system to exchange emission credits that is already provided for in the Kyoto protocol. Rather, it means that it is out of the question for the government to use public funds to buy these pollution credits.

Why is it important to include these amendments in Bill C-43? Because we must set limits on the actions of the agency that we are talking about today.

In recent years, the federal government first off failed to meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While Canada was to cut these emissions by 6%, they have in fact increased by 20% since 1990. The government presented us with a plan in 2002 in which it provided that we would limit purchase of emission credits abroad to approximately 10 megatonnes. We could have accepted this objective and this burden.

However, we saw in the green plan the government presented in recent weeks that it had removed the limit on the credits it could purchase abroad. So, the government has increased Canada's likelihood of achieving its objectives not by reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source, but by looking for and buying emission credits abroad. That is where the problem lies.

If Canadian businesses want to purchase emission credits on the international market, so be it. I do not think it is up to the federal government to intervene in such a market mechanism. Businesses will be able to make use of a future emission credit exchange. It could be based in Chicago, as is the current pilot project, or in Montreal. It does not matter. Businesses have the time to do it.

What we do not want, once again, is for the government to go buying pollution credits, using public taxes to acquire them. The public wants greenhouse gas emissions reduced at source. They want the government to invest in sectors where we could achieve greenhouse gas reductions, whether it be in the industrial, transportation or rail sector.

That is why we must support this Conservative Party amendment. We have to support it because businesses have already taken part in this mechanism. I said it earlier. Alcan, TransAlta, Péchiney and other Canadian companies have taken advantage of this international trading mechanism that we are adopting. But, when the government says that if we agree to the Conservative Party's amendments, businesses will not be able to take part in a credit trading system, this is not true.

If this new agency acted as an international broker, it could work. However, we have no such guarantee. We want the other side of the House to guarantee that the government will not try to walk away from its commitments on domestic reductions on the Canadian market by purchasing foreign credits.

By creating this agency, we are opening this door. We simply want to close it again.

In fact, the government has told us that buying hot air or purchasing foreign pollution credits from countries that reduced their emissions as a result of an economic downturn was out of the question. We want this guarantee, which the agency does not give us.

We must support these recommendations, because they are what the government's commitment in recent years is all about. Canada has tried everything, in the wake of a policy that not only did not reach its objectives but led to a major increase in greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, an additional burden is being placed on industries that have made an effort in the past.

This plan, which has been tabled and which would allow Canada more than ever to purchase credits abroad, is unacceptable. With this plan, the government has allowed the purchase of emission credits abroad. Even worse, with Bill-43, it has established and accredited the mechanism for such purchases abroad.

If the government really believes, first, that any climate change plan should focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the source and, second, that public investments should be made here, in Canada, while preventing as much as possible the flight of capital from Canada, it will support the amendments in Motions Nos. 5 and 6. This is really only to ensure that Canada will honour its commitments.

Canada is made up of more than just businesses. It is made up of the government, businesses and citizens. This amendment would prevent the Canadian government from shirking its responsibilities by buying emission credits abroad. Greenhouse gas emission reduction targets will nonetheless be imposed on industry.

By the way, these reduction targets are unfair to Quebec's businesses and to its industrial and manufacturing sectors, which are Quebec's economic base. Quebec wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 4% and by even more in some sectors. These will have reduction targets similar to those imposed on large industrial emitters, whose greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 30%. The marginal cost to these Quebec businesses, which have made efforts in the past, is likely to be much higher than that of other businesses in major industrial sectors which sat on their hands in the past.

What is needed is a fair and equitable system. We, on this side of the House, will never support any attempt to establish a mechanism that will encourage the flight of capital from Canada and we will never support a mechanism allowing the government to buy emission credits abroad. We believe that the money of Quebeckers and Canadians ought to be invested at home, so that greenhouse gas emissions can truly be reduced at the source.

Therefore, we have to support these motions in amendment, which will prevent the Canadian government from buying emission credits abroad to shirk its responsibilities and international commitments.

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1:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to respond to some of the comments that were made by the member and perhaps pick up on some of the debate that has been going on for the last little while.

I want to remind the House that this is not merely about hot air credits and to position it as such is really a falsehood. In fact, let us look back at the genesis of the Kyoto protocol. First, if we look at the reason why Canadian industries, as the member has rightly pointed out, have so readily embraced the notion of a domestic and international trading system, it is because they know what we know, which is that the international agreement and the Kyoto protocol call precisely for an emerging international trading regime. They wanted to get the jump on their competitors and, for that matter, ahead of the regulators who would be creating such a trading system.

The second reason that the protocol embraced an international trading regime is twofold: first, to facilitate capital flows into emerging economies in developing countries that are desperately in need of enhanced receipt of capital flows. We know that private capital flows have displaced public capital flows in terms of international aid by about 500-fold. This was considered to be a major mechanism through which we would be able to facilitate capital flows into those countries. Second, to facilitate the ultimate entry of those emerging economies and those developing countries into the Kyoto protocol in due course as signatories.

Canada is doing here exactly what the protocol set out for industrialized economies, which is to be a full participant by taking a leadership role by creating a domestic system and in so doing, getting the jump on the international system.

The question I want to put to the member is clear. If Canada was not to participate in the international trading system, what would we say to those players, those actors in Canada, and for that matter in the United States on a state by state level, who want to get more experience from trading and who ultimately want to help design the international trading regime? I think most Canadians actors would say that they want to harvest a market mechanism to achieve an environmental improvement. Clearly, the other side of the House does not.

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1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has debated the subject of the agency and the creation of an emissions credit trade system. We support the creation of such a system. We have nothing against it. I would, however, have preferred to hear from the member some indication of whether he thinks Canada should use taxpayers' dollars to buy pollution credits. That is the issue being addressed in this debate on Motions Nos. M-5 and M-6, and I have not heard him say anything about them so far.

This being a government agency, the possibility of going elsewhere to buy emission credits is not excluded. Because of its very nature, it is governmental.

What are Motions Nos. M-5 and M-6 about? I am not privy to the innermost thoughts of the member. Does he truly not believe that what needs to be done is to restrict and prevent the government from buying foreign credits? This does not block Canadian businesses from doing so. In my colleague's first speech, he said and repeated, and rightly so, that business wants this system, this emission credit trade mechanism. That goes over well with us on this side, because we also support this trade mechanism.

But do these businesses really believe that public funds ought not to be going back to them in order to develop technology and to ensure that we achieve the greenhouse gas emission reductions, rather than using the taxpayers' dollars to buy pollution credits? That is the real question.

I feel that the amendments proposed by the Conservative Party do not in any way discredit or eliminate the creation of a credit trade system. They do, however, prevent the government from going to other countries to buy emission credits, though businesses are not prevented from doing so.

I repeat for the umpteenth time that, if these industrial sectors were allowed to purchase these credits elsewhere, they would be able to meet the Kyoto objectives for their sector. This would be accounted for nationally as a reduction and a step in the right direction as far as Canada's international objectives are concerned.

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1:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the amendments to Bill C-43 and to the bill in its broader context.

For the first time in many years the NDP had an active role in the development of the budget. We take great pride in the fact that we used our minority status in this Parliament to the advantage of the greater Canadian population by trying to steer this budget process toward a spending pattern that would use our tax dollars to benefit Canadians. That is the best way to sum it up.

We cannot really speak to the amendments to Bill C-43, the main Liberal budget, in isolation without speaking in extension to the changes that the NDP negotiated.

We saw Bill C-43 as not meeting the needs of Canadians. We saw it as another typical Liberal budget with great shortcomings. The Conservatives voted for the original Liberal budget as it stands, but are now moving amendments that seek to break out the environmental provisions that would seek to improve the environment.

I do not understand their thought process. I am not sure they understand fully the logic behind their approach to Bill C-43. They voted for it at one stage and then when the NDP managed to seek amendments in a completely separate bill, they cannot see fit to support either.

I find the position of the Conservative Party on environmental issues not unusual, but difficult to understand, especially the spending to help us come in line with the Kyoto accord. I have watched an agonizing process as the Conservatives, and previously the Alliance and before that the Reform Party, tried to get their minds around the issue of global warming. I should note that they started out in complete denial.

When I first came to this place in 1997, the Reform Party members were in complete denial that global warming was a problem. They would bring up all the old yarns that cow farts were more devastating to the environment than the impact of human activity. We watched that thought process evolve. The member for Red Deer had the unenviable task of trying to represent the Reform Party's views on global warming which seemed to be evolving as fast as global warming itself.

I do not envy the public watching who are trying to get their minds around where the budget is going and where their tax dollars are going to be spent because it is in a state of flux and contradiction. The Conservative Party voted for the original Liberal budget, which contained elements for spending on meeting our Kyoto targets and fighting greenhouse gas emissions. We voted against it because that budget had no spending for social issues, and the biggest deficit that Canada has today is the social deficit left in the wake of years of budgetary cutbacks.

A flip-flop took place. As soon as the NDP successfully used its minority status in this opposition Parliament to lever its agenda onto the public domain, as a good political party would do, the Conservatives reversed their position. They are now against the Liberal budget even though it has been broken into two separate bills. The original budget that they first voted for is Bill C-43 and they seem to be opposed to that now, and by extension they are opposed to any social spending.

This contradiction is not lost on Canadians. This contradiction has been partly responsible for the absolute plummet in the public opinion polls for the Conservative Party. If Canadians ever did see that party as a grassroots party here to represent the little guy, they certainly do not see that anymore.

What Canadians see is a party that is using its significant opposition status in this minority Parliament as the Queen's official opposition to no constructive purpose at all. In fact, opposition members are holding back some very good news spending for ordinary Canadians, municipalities, post-secondary education, and social housing in the very communities that they were sent here to represent.

The contradiction is glaring in our mind, for those of us who deal with it every day. However, it is glaring in the minds of ordinary Canadians too who are tuning in and trying to figure out just what the Conservatives are doing. We almost feel like saying that if they cannot do something constructive, why do they not just stay home because they are just getting in the way of us trying to do something constructive on behalf of ordinary Canadians.

It must be terribly frustrating for the voters who sent them to Ottawa to act on their behalf. The ultimate task and duty of any member of Parliament is to bring home the bacon. Well here they have an opportunity to bring home the bacon and they are obstructing. They are stalling and opposing spending for their home communities.

In other words, they think that it is squandering taxpayer dollars to invest in things such as social housing, post-secondary education, and cleaning up the environment, the very air we breathe. As Canadians are choking on smog days to an unprecedented degree, we have a budget that actually plans on spending money to address smog days, but the Conservative Party is opposing it. It boggles the mind. The plummet in the public opinion polls can be attributed in part to this confusing message that the Conservative Party is sending to Canadians.

The NDP finds itself frustrated to one degree because it would like to send Canadians a positive message before this minority Parliament adjourns for the summer break. Our party would like to say that we have used our time well, that we have used our time constructively, and that we have used what little influence we have in these 19 seats way over in this corner of the House of Commons. Our party has managed to use its political capital to lever some good news spending for Canadians and our members are very proud of that track record. Look at what we have done with 19 seats. If we only had 99 seats like the Conservative Party of Canada has, imagine the constructive good news spending that could take place.

There is one message that I would leave people with as my time expires. It is plain to see that when voters send more New Democrats to Ottawa as members of Parliament, good things start to happen. That is self-evident and abundantly clear, and Canadians apparently have taken note.

They also know that when they send 99 Conservative members of Parliament to Ottawa, it stalls progress. They are the antithesis of progressive. Maybe that is why they took the word “progressive” out of their name because progress is stalled when 99 Conservatives are standing in the way. It is like 99 bottles of beer on the wall. We have to knock them off, so we can move forward with the agenda that we have.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure the member should spend all this time beating up on the Conservatives because everyone knows they voted against all the environmental issues.

I want to talk about the Bloc and the environment. We did see a little bit of light this morning because it seems like the Bloc does agree with international trading credits unlike the Conservatives. So that is the one good news story. However, I find it inconceivable that at one time the Bloc seemed ready to support the environment, and are now voting against the largest environmental budget in the history of Canada. It sounds like the Bloc is going to vote against the ideas of the NDP on improved money for transit which of course will help the people of Quebec with air pollution. It will help them with greenhouse gases. I cannot believe the Bloc is against cutting air pollution and greenhouse gases.

I found it absolutely astonishing that the environment critic from the Bloc, who just spoke, said that it was good for large companies to reduce but not for companies in Quebec. It is great for companies in the rest of Canada, but their companies could not reduce their greenhouse gases. He said that it would somehow hurt them drastically.

It is like drugs. We want to get lower drug prices for the poor people, but the Bloc could not support that because of Quebec's drug companies. I want the member to comment on the inconsistencies in the perceived philosophy of the Bloc. The people of Quebec are really supportive of the environment, of cutting greenhouse gases, and cutting pollution, but the Bloc is not and its members are voting against it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will answer my colleague from Yukon this way. It is an achievement to get environmental issues into a budget. It took a learning process and an education process right across the country for us showing leadership to convince Canadians that the environment is enough of a priority that it deserves a significant place in our federal budget for this year.

I think the problem now is the inverse. There was a time when we had to drag Canadians along to the belief that the environment was a priority. Now it is Canadians who are demanding that their governments respond and do something. Canadians are waking up in the morning and finding that the smog situation is worse than ever before, even though cars are becoming cleaner, et cetera.

The real driver here is ordinary Canadians who are demanding better of their government. We have listened. When I say “we” I say the architects of this budget have listened and put significant environmental spending into this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague. I know that the environment has always been an extremely important issue to the NDP, as it has to the Bloc Québécois.

I wonder if, instead of buying international credits just to look good, it would not be better to invest in other resources, such as electric cars. These environmental measures may be taken on a small, medium or large scale, but they give immediate results. Among other things, there could be a tax credit for people who buy an electric car.

I would like his opinion on this.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that Canadians are anxiously waiting for is the share of the gas tax that is to go to municipalities to help introduce things such as rapid transit to reduce emissions.

We also welcome the idea of green roofs, technologies associated with demand side management. One of the elements of this budget is to introduce an energy retrofitting program for residential homes and multi-family residential dwellings so that they will use less energy. It would eliminate waste, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The trading of emission credits is one small component in the environmental details that we contemplate coming out of this budgetary spending. I have worked closely with my colleagues from the Bloc on environmental issues. This time I believe the time is right to vote in favour of this spending. It is better than nothing and it does in fact address some of the issues that we consistently raise.

Municipalities need help right now with transit issues, et cetera. There is no justification for delaying and stalling the flow of this money. We should roll out this spending now without delay.

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, since I have only three minutes, you will readily understand that I will not have time to address the whole issue. However, I will have time to at least send a message to the Liberal government about purchasing international credits.

First, as was eloquently stated in the speech by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, the Bloc is not opposed to the purchase of international credits under the application of the protocol. However, we do have two reservations. There could be more, but two are particularly important.

First, the purchase of international credits must not be at the heart of the federal strategy, which must instead focus on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions within Canada. This point is vital.

Second, the federal government must not itself buy credits with taxpayers' money. You will readily understand that we are speaking as proud Quebeckers on this point. Taxpayers' money should absolutely not be used to pay polluters. This would benefit the heavily polluting industries, such as the nuclear industry in Ontario and the petroleum industry in Alberta.

I would like to take a few minutes to talk about something that affects me particularly closely, the Belledune incinerator in New Brunswick. It is very near Chaleur Bay. This file also indicates how the Liberal government behaves in environmental matters.

It presents action plans. Period. A look at them reveals them to be a rather pale green, as in the intervention regarding the Bennett file at Belledune. At the moment, a very important decision is expected on what is to happen in this matter. Three judges will decide whether to call a halt to the process leading to a review in the matter of Bennett and Belledune.

In recent months, a federal court judge called a halt to the process that had begun, but 18 months after the fact, while it was eagerly awaited in the Chaleur Bay community and the Gaspé. It is in fact very important for this community.

The government delayed, threatening the future of an entire community, which is struggling with a matter that could cause harm, considerable harm, if it proceeds.

I will take the liberty of—

Budget Implementation Act, 2005
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should: (a) recognize all firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty in Canada; (b) support the proposed Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation mandate for the construction of a monument in the Parliamentary precinct containing the names of all Canadian firefighters who have died in the line of duty; and (c) send a message to the Senate acquainting the Upper House of the decision of this House.

Mr. Speaker, it is with great honour to speak today to my private member's motion, Motion No. 153, which pays tribute to the sacrifice, dedication and heroism of firefighters and public safety officers who put their lives on the line so that our families, our children and our communities can live in a safer, more humane world.

Canada has not always been fair to its firefighters who had to fight tooth and nail for every bit of improvement, in addition to fighting fires and saving lives. Over 800 have died since before Confederation. Where is the monument for their sacrifice? Where is the support for their families?

Motion No 153 and my proposed amendment would help ensure recognition and financial security for the families of firefighters when their loved one is killed or disabled in the line of duty. Motion No. 153 is not my motion. It belongs to all the families of the firefighters. It also pays tribute to the 800 firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice.

As we speak in the House today, the family of volunteer firefighter, James Peter Ratcliffe, is mourning the death of their loved one in Hudson, Quebec last Monday, June 6.

This motion and the proposed amendment is supported by the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation and by every one of the 180,000 full time, part time and volunteer firefighters from coast to coast to coast.

Our desire in this House today is to reflect what all firefighters and their families most certainly need and deserve. I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to present the amendment to my motion that has already been circulated to every member of this House.

The purpose of this amendment is to provide more flexibility in choosing the site for the monument. It also seeks to include in the motion a national public safety officer compensation fund. This request is very dear to firefighters, their associations and families, and to all public safety officers.

With the endorsement of the House, this amendment will allow and encourage the government to provide true financial protection to the families of public safety officers who are killed or injured in the line of duty.

I seek the unanimous consent of the House for my motion to read as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should: (a) recognize all firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty in Canada; (b) support the proposed Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation mandate for the construction of a monument in a prominent position in the national capital containing the names of all Canadian firefighters who have died in the line of duty; (c) establish a national public safety officer compensation benefit which would also compensate the families of the fallen or permanently disabled firefighters by providing them with a one-time payment of $300,000 which would function as a direct index benefit and address their financial security; and (d) send a message to the Senate acquainting the Upper House of the decision of this House.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I have a list of procedural points to indicate to Your Honour that this motion would be out of order and therefore I cannot give unanimous consent.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is sad to see that some members in the House are not supporting what firefighters and public safety officers have been wanting, needing and deserving for a decade. It is certainly not the time to play politics with the lives and well-being of firefighters and their families. I appeal to members from every corner of the House and to their sense of justice.

We are talking about firefighters and all public safety officers who put their lives on the line. Canadians want the House to work and this is a perfect opportunity to put politics aside. The amendment is what firefighters want, need and deserve beyond any shadow of a doubt.

We will be tabling an amendment to Motion No. 153 that reflects the spirit of my amendment and what firefighters want: a compensation system for firefighters killed or disabled in the line of duty that is fair and that reflects the needs of their families.

As I mentioned, as we speak in the House today, the family members of volunteer firefighter James Peter Ratcliffe are mourning the death of their loved one in Hudson, Quebec last Monday, June 6. As we speak, firefighters and their families are paying their respects before his funeral tomorrow. James Peter Ratcliffe died in the line of duty serving his community.

I would like to read into the record a passage of the report which I received from Dr. William Brooks, president of the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Mr. Ratcliffe is the story of specifically what we ask for in amended Motion No. 153. Mr. Brooks stated:

“The entire story is a story of Canadian firefighters from coast to coast pulling for the fire department. The flag will come from Toronto. Support from the Montreal Fire Department has been without compare. The fire departments surrounding Hudson have all pitched in to assist in this time when healing is vital”.

“The Hudson Fire Department is composed of a large group of young Canadians, the average age 25 or so. Men and women fill the ranks. Most are exquisitely bilingual. They have been amazing in their dedication to duty and to their fallen comrade. It has been one of my greatest privileges to be involved in a small way with their expressions of sorrow and growth”.

“Finally, Peter, Diane and Jessica, James' parents and sister, have been examples of the best that people could be as they have moved among those so torn by their loss. The entire community has acted as if it had one central nervous system dedicated to working to bring solace to each other and healing to all. It makes me so proud to be a Canadian and to see the very best of how we can all function together”.

There are countless other examples across this land. Firefighters also die from events that occur days, sometimes years before, due to chemical and toxic hazards. Even though they may seem all right at the scene of the incident, in them are the seeds of a premature and painful death.

For instance, in Saskatoon in the 1980s firefighters were called to put out a fire at a landfill site. It was later established that someone was dumping radioactive waste materials. Six of the twelve firefighters who were present have died. All the others have cancer, years later.

I will provide another tragic case. On March 6, 1987, the Kitchener Fire Department responded to a structure fire at a local industry called Horticultural Technologies Incorporated. Those at the scene reported “smoke and flame that was every colour of the rainbow”, which got into the skin and equipment of the firefighters. In total, approximately 69 firefighters participated in the fighting of this fire. The group developed a variety of cancers that were 10 times higher than the Ontario average.

Firefighters and public safety officers, police officers, correctional officers, air traffic controllers, commercial airline pilots and paramedics play an essential role in communities small and large across the country. The work these men and women are called upon to do is physically and emotionally extreme. It also carries with it many risks that few of us can imagine, let alone contemplate carrying day in and day out. Ten to twenty die every year.

Many of us saw first-hand or watched on TV the incredible work that firefighters do to protect lives, communities and property and some of the tragic consequences.The dedication of selflessness embodied by the men and women of this profession is remarkable. Firefighters are in many respects role models for us all. They rank at the top of the scale of professions They are important to the hearts and souls of Canadians.

It falls upon the House that firefighters and their families, public safety officers and their families have the support they need.

Motion No. 153, and my proposed amendment that was circulated to all members of the House, covers an important aspect of the needs of firefighters and their families, not only the symbolic recognition of the ultimate sacrifice, a monument to fallen firefighters as a tribute to the bravery and courage, but also the creation of a public safety officer compensation fund.

In the United States the American government created a similar benefit to fallen firefighters' families after the horrific events of September 11. Three hundred and forty-three firefighters died on September 11. Shortly after that the American government compensated their families retroactively to the tune of $250,000 each. The American benefit that exists now for American firefighters and public safety officers is in the amount of $274,000. It goes a significant way in addressing the financial hardship that occurs when firefighters and public safety officers die in the line of duty.

I would certainly hope, despite some procedural games that are being played, that in the end members in all four corners of the House would support, and support significantly, Motion No. 153, as amended, with the public safety officer compensation fund.

While I have a few more minutes I would like to give members of the House some of the other examples of people who are struggling and the families who are struggling because of the fact that there is not in place a public safety officer compensation benefit.

For 12 years now firefighters from across the country have given up a day a year to come to Parliament Hill to talk to members in all four parties. Members in all four parties have said, yes, that they support the principle of a public safety officer compensation benefit. At that time no members of Parliament said that they would play procedural games. All members said that they would support the principle of the benefit.

I would like members to recall that they have met with firefighters and they have offered support to firefighters and public safety officers. I implore members not to play procedural games, but to allow this type of motion to come forward so we can finally provide to firefighters what they deserve.

I will mention a couple of other cases. When a Winnipeg widow's firefighter husband died, her family income dropped by 60%. There was some group insurance money, but it was all used for funeral expenses. She had to take on two low paying jobs to try to support her family and her oldest son could not go to post-secondary school. He had to get a job right after high school to support the two younger kids.

That is the situation we have been putting the families of fallen firefighters and fallen public safety officers through. For 12 years they have been asking for a compensation benefit. It is high time that we provide their families and their surviving spouses with some compensation to survive after their sacrifice to keep us safe. They make the ultimate sacrifice. Now it is our turn to take care of their families after they have taken care of ours.

I urge all members in all corners of the House to support this motion. I urge them to make it possible to pass Motion No. 153 with the amendment calling for the creation of a public safety officer compensation benefit. This will send a strong signal to the government. This will send a strong signal to communities. This will send a signal that firefighters and their families have been waiting for for so long.

For too long firefighters and public safety officers have thought only of their communities and waited to make life better for their families in the event of their line of duty death. They have been waiting for 12 long years for action while saving countless lives. It is time for the House to act and it is time to act now.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, a little earlier today I rose very briefly on a point of order to indicate to Your Honour why the amendment in question was out of order. I deliberately made it very brief so as not to interfere with the debating time of others.

However, Your Honour, I must indicate that the amendment proposed is out of order. It offends both initiatives of the crown. First, only a minister can propose that which is said. Second, the hon. member knows it and that is why he did not move the motion.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I thank the hon. member for his intervention. However, there is no amendment on the floor. There is the amendment the member sought unanimous consent and unanimous consent was denied. Therefore, we are debating the main motion, as originally proposed by the member for Burnaby--New Westminster.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the provocation, I will get back to the original proposition because I support the motion and I support the fund. I hope the minister proposes the fund, which is exactly what I said to the firefighters who came to see me. However, that is not an excuse for us to disobey the law under which we operate. Parliamentary law is just like any other law and we must live with it. The hon. member knows that.

I think we could all work together in soliciting the minister's support for establishing a fund the way he wants it. An initiative of the crown can be generated and a government bill can be generated. The government bill then requires a royal recommendation, which is sought from the Governor General. It then is produced as government legislation. If he is willing to work with many of us to do that, I am sure there would be the support of several hon. members.

It does not matter who is listening to the debate or not. I have been around here long enough that I will not supersede the laws which govern us because of the political expediency of the moment. The issue is a very serious one.

I helped my constituents to establish Fondation Fernand Lanthier in my riding, known to some of the people listening to the debate right now. Fernand Lanthier was a firefighter. After fighting a fire, he had to have his legs and one arm amputated. With the stress of that, he suffered a heart attack and died. The man lived in Plantagenet. As far as I know, his widow might be listening to the debate. She knows the work that we all did together to establish a foundation. I started this during my days at Queen's Park and my provincial counterpart continued on with it. Eventually we won our case before the Workers Compensation Board.

In terms of the need for a fund, I am the last person around here who needs to be convinced. I was talking about this before many members ever set foot in this place, and I believe it today.

I ask the member if he will work together with all of us to generate within the law that governs us exactly that which he wants and I will support it? I know the hon. member probably knows that is how I think because I am sure firefighters have told him that too.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member well knows that it is not for him to determine whether a motion is in order or not. The amendment will come around and the amendment will be put on the table in the House of Commons. I certainly hopes he supports it when that amendment comes up. I appreciate his past work. I am sure many members in this House can say exactly the same thing.

It would have been simpler if we had unanimous consent at the outset, but it does not mean that this motion will not be amended. It does not mean that members of the House will not have the ability to judge the merit of the motion itself.

The reality is firefighters have waited for far too long. Public safety officers have waited for far too long. If we have to wait another 45 minutes before we get an amendment on the floor, we will do that.

I hope the member will support the amended motion when it comes forward and when we finally have the opportunity to vote on this, perhaps later this summer if this session is extended or perhaps early in the fall. I appreciate his comments and I hope that means he will be ready to support the motion as amended when it comes forward.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Burnaby—New Westminster for bringing this very important motion forward.

It would not come as a surprise to anyone in my community or to people I have worked with that I wholeheartedly support recognition for firefighters. From coast to coast to coast, there is not a community in this country or an unorganized township or anyone who has not experienced at first hand the dedication and the selflessness with which members of fire services across this country rise to the challenge, not only in fighting fires in our communities but also in giving aid if there is a forest fire. They are also there when there are accidents. Often, the first responders to any minor or major catastrophe are indeed firefighters.

When a young man or a young woman decides that he or she wants to become a member of the fire service, these young men and women do not think about the money, they do not think about the time off and they do not think about the glory. They do it because they want to contribute to society.

Indeed, if we look at the contributions of firefighters to the community, we will see that they go well beyond just their 8 hour, 12 hour or, in some cases, 24 hour shift. We see firefighters contributing in all aspects of life. They are coaches in our minor ball and hockey leagues. They are out raising money for charitable organizations. They are volunteers in our community.

They give of themselves 24 hours a day, whether they are on the job or off the job. Many of them have young families. Many of them have aged parents. They know when they are called to duty that at any given time it might be someone's child, mother, father, loved one or friend, or a stranger, who is in need of their assistance. As I indicated, they do this without thinking about themselves. They know they have a job to do. They know it is something that they signed up to do. It is something that they are committed to doing.

I would suggest that because of the inherent difficulties of the job, we have lost so many young men and women in the prime of their lives, just as we have lost some who are perhaps not in their prime but in their declining years when it is time for them to spend quality time with their loved ones. There are the inherent difficulties of the job, including the environmental concerns that they suffer. Many of them, long after they have hung up their boots and caps, find that as a result of toxic fumes or substances that were unknown to them at the time they are in great mental and physical distress.

The notion of having a public national monument to firefighters is long overdue. In many communities across this country there are opportunities to pay tribute to firefighters who have paid the supreme sacrifice, but we have not had a national memorial, a place here in the national capital, where, from time to time, people could gather, including firefighters, their friends, their loved ones or people who just want to pay tribute to the incredible sacrifice that they have made

Many members of the House participate annually in the recognition and tribute that police officers have. Members know that it is an incredibly moving and important part of the grieving for and the recognition of the work and the contributions of police officers. I think that firefighters deserve no less. They deserve a place where they can congregate to pay tribute and to recognize the incredible sacrifices that have been made, and where the public is reminded on a regular basis.

In our country, while we tend to grieve at the time of a tragic accident, we also have busy lives and we tend to go on with them. Without a physical place to gather at or to pass by on a regular basis, memories tend to fade. I think that does a great disservice to those men and women.

Therefore, I was very pleased when I heard that we were getting much closer to having this memorial. I know that the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation has been in negotiations with the NCC. It is my understanding that there could be a suitable site at LeBreton Flats, not far away from the National War Museum. It is a fitting locale for such a monument. The location would provide easy access and assembly at national memorial services. Let me say to the member for Burnaby--Douglas that the government is very supportive of such a monument. I hope we can get on with this quickly.

I would also say to my friends in the fire service, to my community and in fact to people everywhere that I support the creation of a compensation fund. I think it is important to investigate this further.

On one level, I can appreciate the frustration of the member, who did not get unanimous consent for his motion. I am sure the member understands that it is important for us to comply with the rules of procedure in the House. In this case, the member for Prescott--Glengarry--Russell has indicated that in his opinion the motion is out of order and does require a royal recommendation, and he is a gentleman who has had many years of parliamentary procedure. A ruling is needed on this. Whether the motion is deemed to be in order or not, I support the notion of a compensation fund and will be working with colleagues on all sides of the House to see that this takes place.

I know that members of the Fire Fighters Association would want us to do this in a way that does not break the rules and is in keeping with procedure here. That does not mean we are going to fight any less vigorously to see that it actually comes into place.

I encourage all members of the House to support this very important initiative. I encourage them to work with the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the NCC and other members of the House to finalize the arrangements to get this monument up. I hope that my colleagues here and friends across the country will very soon be able to pay appropriate tribute to our fallen firefighters at a spot on or near LeBreton Flats.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Carol Skelton Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to support a long overdue piece of legislation in the name of all firefighters across Canada, past and present. Motion No. 153, when amended, will provide important recognition, both symbolic and substantive.

As children, many of us dream of growing up to be many different things. I wanted to be a cowboy when I was little. Today young men and women want to be firefighters. The possibility of having this job that gives one the opportunity to help so many people is attractive to people of all ages.

Unfortunately, the reality is that a career in firefighting carries great risk. Hundreds of Canadians have died in the line of duty. They have died while trying to save life and property for people they usually do not know.

Today I am honoured to be able to recognize and remember the firefighters of Canada who have fallen in the line of duty. I will focus on courageous men who paid the ultimate price for our safety and security in my province of Saskatchewan.

While the national list is tragically long, we in Saskatchewan have been relatively fortunate to have lost only a few dedicated firefighters that we know of. It is a testament to their attention and detail, their professionalism and their teamwork.

Saskatchewan has lost six men in the line of duty.

In April 1944, Local 80 member Lawrence Woodhead was killed. He died overseas while serving during the second world war as part of the Corps of Canadian Fire Fighters, the civilian corps. He was an important part of the effort to save London from the nightly fires. The citizens of London took shelter below ground while brave individuals such as Lawrence Woodhead worked to have their homes and businesses saved above ground.

It is one thing to serve one's community, but it is even more inspiring to know that we have had fellow citizens willing to travel to distant shores to provide safety and protection whenever and wherever needed.

Just following the war, on March 6, 1946, Charles Martin McGinnis lost his life in his line of duty. Mr. McGinnis was initially hospitalized for severe frostbite to both feet. This was the direct result of his lengthy effort to bring a fire at J.I. Case under control. Several days later he succumbed to a heart attack in hospital. It was interesting to hear my colleagues speak about someone else who died because of a heart attack.

No firefighter in Saskatchewan was lost in the line of duty for another impressive 34 years.

For many of us, the events of 25 years ago seem like a lifetime, but I shall always remember that day as a young mother who listened to the radio and heard of the loss of our brave men in Saskatoon. For their families, I am sure it seems like yesterday.

On May 31, 1980, when the Queen's Hotel on First Avenue South caught fire at 10:50 a.m., two pumpers, an aerial unit, a power unit and 15 men responded. At 11:05 and 11:15, another 35 firefighters and their vehicles arrived on the scene. All men raced into the building to battle a stubborn basement fire. Suddenly, chaos broke out as a backdraft occurred.

In the pitch-black dark, men scrambled to locate two of their own, but it was too late. Both later succumbed to smoke inhalation. On that May day, Saskatoon lost two firefighters. Both died in the line of duty.

Victor James Budz was 47 years old at the time. He had been with the department for 17 years. He was survived by his wife Marion. In addition, four children lost their father. Debra was 24, Wanda, 22, Mark, 19, and Darrin was 15.

Dennis Aron Guenter was just 29 and had served his community as a firefighter for only two short years. When he died he left behind Lezlie, a brave young mother. She was left to raise four year old Graham and their eight month old daughter Sarah. Lezlie said last week that from time to time memories still come flooding back, and whenever a fire truck roars by, her first thought is for the firefighters and their families.

In part, because of the six children who lost their fathers that day, local 80 of the International Association of Fire Fighters established an educational scholarship in their memory.

Another firefighter was not lost again in the line of duty for 13 years in Saskatoon. On December 6, 1993, Saskatchewan lost Bill Bergan. He succumbed to injuries suffered years earlier at a fire at the Outlaws nightclub. Mr. Bergan's death was an eerie foreshadow of the dangers of modern firefighting and the deaths to come.

Modern plastics, chemicals and toxins serve as a silent, invisible, long term killer. Now, firefighters in Saskatchewan who die from brain cancer, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are considered to have died in the line of duty. These conditions are a direct result of their service.

A number of firefighters have died in the past from these conditions but it was not recognized. Just this year, Dave Williams of Saskatoon died from bladder cancer caused by his job. He died in the line of duty as well. As those before him, he was forced to leave a family behind. This time it was his wife Dorothy and their children Dwayne and Cheryl. His recent death on February 28 is still a fresh memory for the close firefighting community of Saskatchewan. He, like the rest, will be missed but not forgotten.

To ensure that others are not forgotten, the Conservative Party of Canada will be pleased to support the creation of a national monument in the nation's capital. A monument located in a prominent place in the nation's capital will demonstrate our determination to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty. It would serve as a special place of reflection for thousands of firefighters who have lost comrades, friends and often family. It can be a glorious meeting place for remembrance, celebration and recognition.

In Saskatoon, beside Fire Hall No. 6 on Taylor Street is the Saskatoon firefighting memorial grounds. This location has held a lot of importance for our firefighters. It has been an important place for them to reflect and remember.

This is what I envision for a national monument in Ottawa. It will be a memorial for the more than 800 who have died in the line of duty. A monument is long overdue and our efforts today should make it happen sooner than later. We owe it to those who put themselves in danger for our safety and protection. We owe it to their families and we owe it to their communities.

It is with a great deal of pleasure that, on behalf of my constituents of Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar and the Conservative Party of Canada, I inform the House that we will be supporting Motion No. 153, as amended. I would also like to thank my colleagues for their support.

On a final note, I would like to pay a special tribute to a Regina firefighter, Brian Desjarlais, who is the firefighter of the year for Saskatchewan. Mr. Desjarlais executed an off duty rescue during a house fire, placing himself at risk in doing so. It is this attitude that exemplifies all first responders. They may not always be on the job, but they are always on duty.

On behalf of those they serve and protect, I wish to thank all firefighters, past and present. It was indeed an honour today to recognize those firefighters of ours that we have lost in the city of Saskatoon.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that we will support this motion to erect a monument. It is surprising that we have to vote on such a motion today. In my opinion, such a monument should have been built a long time ago.

We honour those who gave their lives during the war. Each year, we also pay tribute to police officers who died in the line of duty. Firefighters are also heroes for peace. They deserve to have a monument, because they risk their lives. I should point out here that, while they risk their lives, they do so while making increasingly better judgment calls and actually risk it only when it is justified to do so.

Personally, I have had a lot of contacts with that profession and that I knew a little something about, like everyone else. I saw firefighters from very close up once, when my neighbours' house was burning. Heavens, I was happy to see the equipment they had to prevent the fire from spreading from house to house on our street. However, it was as Quebec minister of public security, a position I held for several years, that I got to know them better.

The first thing that struck me was the young people entering this profession. In many cases, it is very much like a calling, passed down from father to son, and even from father to daughter nowadays, since there are more and more women in the profession, and eventually from mother to son and from mother to daughter. They are entering the profession as if they were called to do so. All want to be heroes one day. They also believe they will have the courage to overcome obstacles if lives have to be saved. They also share the values of solidarity characteristic of the calling. They develop esprit de corps, team spirit.

In recent years, I have noticed in particular that they can increasingly make a distinction between courage and temerity. We can say that temerity is not courage. Every firefighter I know and have met was courageous.

One function I fulfilled every chance I had—almost yearly while I was the Minister of Public Safety—was to award decorations for bravery. It will come as no surprise to members that nearly half the decorations for bravery awarded were awarded to firefighters. The time I was most impressed and most deeply moved was when I awarded one of these decorations to a firefighter who had entered a room in flames. He had just heard that there was still an infant in that room. There were active flames, but he entered the room anyway and was engulfed in flames himself. He did, however, manage to protect the baby and take it out of the room.

Sadly, he will be disfigured for the rest of his life. He suffered many burns to his face, which could be corrected surgically, but only to some extent. He will also have lifelong disabilities affecting his limbs and, thus, his movements. But that was a truly extraordinary feat, an outstanding show of human solidarity. Today, the infant has grown into a child. This firefighter is still an adult, but one with disabilities.

Other firefighters have lost their lives under difficult and unpredictable circumstances. There was a terrible accident in Warwick, Quebec, where four firefighters were approaching a fire. A propane tank exploded and killed all four.

We would like to see the fewest possible names on this monument. However, despite all the precautions, despite the increasing professionalism of this job, a fire is in itself something out of the ordinary, and during the course of extraordinary events, accidents happen. People have to take well-planned initiatives and be ready to risk their lives.

Not only will this monument be erected in memory of those who have died, but it will also recognize those still living who display the same bravery as their lost colleagues.

Another thing that struck me is that the firefighting profession is increasingly becoming a true lifesaving profession. The most recent tragedy in Quebec occurred on June 6 and involved a young volunteer firefighter who was practising water rescue exercises. I noticed that among the decorations I have presented, several were bestowed on firefighters for acts of bravery, many of which occurred on the water. These acts require not just bravery, but a remarkable tolerance to pain. Some of these rescues took place in frigid waters.

Firefighters learn to save lives in a host of circumstances. They know what to do, and they do not hesitate to jump into icy water when necessary to rescue someone who would have lost their life.

Over time, this trade is becoming more professional and better developed, but the values of the past, including human courage, remain necessary. The dangers facing firefighters are increasingly varied. Other members have alluded to the toxicity of the products with which they may come in contact.

I also noted that we can trust them. We do so increasingly, and I hope that we will do it even more. Indeed, we must be able to trust this network, which is there to serve us and to take quick action under all sorts of circumstances, when lives are in danger.

In fact, these professional rescue workers are the first to respond. A number of them are now learning how to use defibrillators. Firefighters are usually closer to people than ambulance attendants and can therefore be on the scene more quickly.

I was very impressed when I travelled to New York to visit a fire station, just as I had visited a police station. I wanted to see how the role of firefighters had expanded significantly when they became true rescue workers. One thing that struck me in New York was when they told me that, most of the time, they would change crews on the road, because there were so many interventions. I have always remembered that some of the firefighters I met were among the 350 who died in the World Trade Center. This shows once again the great courage of these professionals.

The role of firefighters is growing and expanding to include prevention. I have noticed their professionalism in this regard as well. They are trying to broaden their knowledge in order to reduce the loss of human life.

Obviously, we fully support having a monument built. I am sorry it comes so late. In my opinion, it should have been done a lot sooner. Obviously, I want to see as few names as possible on it. Still, firefighters, like our war heroes, must be remembered because they are our heroes in peacetime.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to participate in the debate on the motion presented by my colleague, the member for Burnaby—New Westminster.

The motion before us is a very constructive and important contribution to our work as members of Parliament in terms of recognizing the sacrifices that others make so we can live safely in our communities without fear of loss of life or physical harm because of the threat of fire or the presence of hazardous materials.

What my colleague is doing today is gathering us all together to say that we have an obligation to acknowledge the heroism of firefighters from one end of the country to the other and to pay tribute to the sacrifices they make every day in every community. My colleague has already spoken about the 800 or more who have lost their lives while putting out fires and saving communities from the loss of physical means, as well as the loss of human life.

Today we are trying to bring members of Parliament together to acknowledge the heroism, to remember the sacrifices, to leave a lasting legacy for future generations and to remind us all about our future responsibilities by agreeing to a monument that would become a gathering place for people to pay tribute to those individuals and to never forget their heroism and contributions to our society.

We all know from TV images what happens when firefighters respond to emergencies, such as the one on September 11. We know that firefighters sacrifice everything to help others. We watched firefighters enter the burning towers in New York City after the terrorist airplanes wreaked havoc on the city. We saw them walk up the stairs of those towers to save people knowing there was very little likelihood of saving themselves.

That is the kind of heroism we are talking about. Many firefighters do this day in and day out. These images are not always on TV for everyone to acknowledge and understand so it is up to us, as members of Parliament representing 308 communities, to acknowledge our firefighters who put their lives on the line to come to our rescue to ensure our safety and security.

We cannot leave this session of Parliament without having done something so important for a group in our society that has given so much and has received so little recognition.

In addition to my colleague's acknowledgement of the work of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation and, of course, the 180,000 firefighters from coast to coast to coast, I would like to acknowledge the work of the firefighters in my own community, the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg, who have been at the forefront of our community speaking up about the tragedies that many of their members have experienced in the pursuit of fulfilling their responsibilities to our community, firefighters who have done a great service in terms of public education and awareness to help us deal with burn victims and ensure they have proper services and treatments to recover from serious burns. What firefighters in Winnipeg have done to actually build up a capacity to treat burn victims is absolutely unbelievable and must be acknowledged.

Winnipeg's firefighters have played an incredible role in moving the legislative agenda forward in the province of Manitoba. They want to ensure there is recognition that when a firefighter goes into a dangerous lethal situation, not only are there immediate dangers in terms of smoke inhalation and burns, but there are also longer term impacts as a result of being at that scene of danger. There are effects in terms of cancer, heart attacks, colorectal disease, urethral cancer, and so on.

This is all part of our quest to recognize firefighters, to put in place a monument where we can pay homage to them. Not only is it to pay tribute to them, but also to remind us of the work that must be done legislatively to ensure that workers are protected. We need to ensure that firefighters are recognized in all shapes and forms of our legislative process. We need to take action to ensure there is compensation for families who have experienced the loss of a loved one because of a fire related death. We need to ensure that we have provided for the families in the event of such a terrible loss.

In Manitoba we recently lost a dear firefighter. Just this past week there was a service in Winnipeg to acknowledge the life of brother Bruce Kitching, who had suffered a heart injury within 24 hours of a fire shift. For the last year Bruce had fought a courageous battle. He spent the majority of the year trying to deal with the situation. Even with his battle, Bruce assisted us in Winnipeg, the firefighters of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada, by being a spokesperson to ensure that we expanded our presumptive legislation to include cancers related to fire and smoke, broadening it to include the incidence of a heart attack that would happen shortly after helping put out a fire. Winnipeg firefighters paid homage to his work. We will remember his contribution for generations to come.

Let us remember what firefighters give to all of us. Let us recognize the sacrifices they make for our whole country. Let us do whatever we can to ensure that the kind of courage demonstrated by Bruce Kitching and all the firefighters of Winnipeg is always appreciated and remembered forever.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to speak to the motion.

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting and promoting Canadian heritage. Canada has a rich and diverse history and cultural heritage, which all Canadians celebrate.

In this the year of the veteran, 60 years after the end of World War II, we have also been reminded that Canadians owe a debt of recognition and respect to the men and women who have served in Canada's armed forces, particularly during times of war and especially to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation.

We have been reminded that there are too many stories that have been untold. Sadly, many parts of Canada's complex story remain uncelebrated, not just histories of the war and our veterans. One of these many stories is that of the courage and sacrifice of Canada's firefighters who have died in the line of duty, serving communities across the country. I have been privileged to attend ceremonies at Rideau Hall where firefighters have received Orders of Canada, but we need to do more.

The story of Canada's fallen firefighters is one that should be commemorated in the national capital and therefore I wish to voice my support for Motion No. 153.

I am happy to note that the National Capital Commission and the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation have agreed on a location at LeBreton Flats. The foundation itself advocates the appropriateness of the LeBreton Flats location because of the space available and accessibility. At the request of the foundation, the NCC has agreed to reserve a location for the new monument to Canadian firefighters for three years.

The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation is a long time proponent of a national monument commemorating fallen firefighters. Its main aims are: to see a national monument to firefighters constructed in the national capital; to hold a memorial service for fallen firefighters at the monument every year; to care for the families left behind through scholarships and financial assistance; to assist official efforts to recognize fallen firefighters; and, to promote initiatives aimed at increasing fire and life safety awareness.

Both the monument and the memorial ceremony have been envisioned in the most inclusive way, encompassing firefighters of every rank and region, city and country. The foundation has long expressed its desire to ensure that the monument will honour all firefighters across the country and has stated:

All races, creeds, cultures, religions will be respected and those who carry no religious connection are equally part of this Memorial.

Clearly, the intent seems to be to create a new monument that will, in honouring firefighters, also reflect what we should continually celebrate about Canada: the diversity of our land and people, and the outstanding commitment of individuals to contribute to the good of their communities and the nation.

Poll after poll tells us that Canadians want to know more about our own history and that Canadians want more opportunities to celebrate our diverse heritage and the achievements of the nation and outstanding Canadians.

Firefighters are an integral part of Canadian heritage. As well as saving lives, firefighters must also be recognized for their contributions to the economy of the country, saving the businesses and places which support the prosperity of Canadians. They keep us safe through the less glamorous, but equally, they do vital work in public safety, public education, fire prevention and accident prevention.

People are usually afraid of fire so the individuals who make it their business to step toward what any normal person fears are very special individuals.

Today the House has an opportunity to support the motion and essentially agree that the time has come for the duly elected representatives of Canadians to recognize the contribution of firefighters and to remember those firefighters who have died in the line of duty serving Canadians.

Firefighters
Private Members' Business

2:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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.

It being 2:30 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)