Debates of June 13th, 2006
House of Commons Hansard #39 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.
- Question Period
- Information Commissioner's Report
- Telecommunications Act
- Antipoverty Act
- Committees of the House
- Questions on the Order Paper
- Request for Emergency Debate
- Criminal Code
- Citizenship Act
- Cancer Screening Programs
- Gourmet Food Fair
- Automobile Industry
- Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation
- Mon amie la Terre
- Etchemin River Restoration Committee
- Bastille Day
- Official Languages
- Guy A. Lepage
- Kenneth Thomson
- Health Care
- Softwood Lumber
- Aboriginal Affairs
- National Defence
- Softwood Lumber
- Official Languages
- Canadian Television Fund
- Chinese Canadians
- Citizenship and Immigration
- First World Outgames
- The Environment
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- Official Languages
- Public Safety
- Presence in Gallery
- Request for Emergency Debate
- Citizenship Act
- Public Health Agency of Canada Act
- Business of Supply
- Committees of the House
- Criminal Code
- Committees of the House
- Points of Order
- Criminal Code
Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise today in the House of Commons to offer the support of the official opposition to Bill C-14, an act to amend the Citizenship Act, so that children adopted by Canadian parents can enter Canada and remain here as citizens without having to go through the first stage, getting resident status.
Before going any further, I would like to add that I wish to share my speaking time with the member for Davenport.
We support the objective of this bill, in spite of the fact that my party has some concerns about it, particularly in connection with the automatic immigration of children over 18 years of age, who would not have go through security and criminal record checks. However, I will deal with this question in detail a little later.
As indicated in the question I asked the minister a few moments ago, the bill is an exact replica of Bill C-76, presented in Parliament by my colleague, the former citizenship and immigration minister, on November 17, 2005.
Apparently this bill died on the order paper, in view of the fact that the election was held immediately afterwards.
I would like to congratulate the present minister for recognizing that the legislation builds on several other bills tabled previously in Parliament, dating back to 1998, since the first Citizenship Act of 1947 and, to my knowledge, the first of its kind in the Commonwealth after the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which gave Canada legal recognition as a self-governing dominion and became law in Canada. We followed it with the 1977 changes to the act.
The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has also undertaken a lot of work. I would like to particularly thank committee members for the latest report, which was submitted to Parliament last October and which called for a total revamping of the act, with a preamble to include equal treatment of Canadian born and naturalized citizens as one of our values, including the enhancement of our two official languages.
The bill has taken its time in coming, but it is finally before us in the House and we are very glad of this. Citizenship also must be given as a right to those who qualify, rather than as a privilege.
Recommendation 4 of the 12th report of the standing committee to Parliament also called for automatic citizenship entitlement for adopted children.
In 2001, the Liberals created a special policy to give these children access to citizenship. It was an interim measure taken with a view to finding a solution in which fairness and justice could prevail for adoptive parents.
Today we have an enactment that has been very slow coming, but that will finally ensure equity for adopted children.
The granting of citizenship is a gift full of emotion and of very great value, which is certainly not taken lightly by anyone.
Children born in many countries remain without a homeland, since their parents themselves still do not have clear status. They are in fact stateless, because such countries refuse citizenship if the parents were not born in the country.
Thus we in Canada live in a society that respects the rights of individuals.
Despite the current occurrence in Toronto, involving immigrants and the children of immigrants, I know the respect that is held for Canada from the many citizenship ceremonies I have attended in my riding of Laval—Les Îles and from my own citizenship ceremony many years ago.
I have listened to the stories of parents and their children. They take their responsibilities as citizens of our country very seriously. These people and their offspring, including those who have been adopted, are proud to live in a society where there is order, where the people who protect us are respected, are part of our communities and are not to be feared, as is the case in many countries known.
Many of my constituents have left behind the fear that they lived through and are proud to be Canadians. They have instilled that pride of citizenship in their children, those born here and those who have acquired citizenship.
If Bill C-14 is adopted in its current form, section 5.1(2) of the act as amended will allow people over 18 years of age who are adopted to be exempt from security checks and criminal records checks.
I understand the conditions involving a genuine relationship between adoptive parents and their children.
It is important that these genuine relationships be present before the child is adopted. If everything goes well, these relationships will continue long after that time.
It is also clear in the terms of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, paragraph 5.1(2)(a) a genuine parent-child relationship must exist before the child reaches the age of 18.
My concern stems from the bypassing of security and criminality checks for children who are now considered adults under our law, that is 18 years and over, who may have been in conflict with the law.
We have seen recently children, too young to be identified, being alleged threats to Canada. Yes, no doubt they may be influenced by much older adults because there is this need for belonging, the identification of someone who might seem to be charismatic and daring. Yet those youths may not have had the willpower, either because of a lack of positive role models in their lives or whatever extenuating circumstances, to resist the temptation of criminal activities.
I would like to make clear that there are three categories of children. There are those children under 18, who obviously are children from the time the process is put into force until they are adopted. That is not a problem in this. Where the problem lies is for youths who are under 18 when the process has started, but are over 18 when the process is finished and for those people who are between 18 and 22 during the process.
This is what I would like to look at in my remaining time.
By giving these young adults over 18 complete freedom in Canada as citizens, we could be contributing to compromising the infrastructure and the very foundations of our society that we seek to protect. I recommend that the government continue its work toward the equality of adopted children and Canadian children. However, in these particular circumstances, unless the official opposition can guarantee that security and balance controls are in place, this particular section must be modified in order to allow automatic security checks and criminal records checks for adoption after the age of 18.
Let me be clear, this has nothing to do with parent-child relationships. Parents do not always know what their children are up to. Parents cannot monitor their children 24/7, as youths would say.
Youth are adopted out of war zones all the time. It is part of Canada's humanitarian history. As we know, they can be influenced at an early age. If violence is all they know and those prospective parents have been unable to influence them enough to give them the security they crave, we might be bringing into Canada youth who might be unable to adapt to their new environment in a positive way.
I maintain that youths over 18 ought to be subject to criminality and security checks before being given Canadian citizenship through adoption. It is important to have those checks and balances in place in the world in which we now live.
The issue of security checks, from a Canadian angle, was one of the issues that had been raised by the former minister of citizenship and immigration, when he said:
Best Interests of the Child is a key consideration, but it does not outweigh all other factors. Other elements must, of course, come into play when a case officer examines the various considerations in the balance. Let us say that Best Interests of the Child are one of many important factors taken into account when officers assess cases.
I argue that the assessment of security and criminality is one of these important factors.
Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON
Mr. Speaker, I know the member for Laval—Les Îles has been one of the most active members in the chamber on the issues of citizenship and immigration.
I have a couple of questions of clarification where the member may be able to assist the House. I agree with the elimination or reducing the differentiation between adopted children abroad and children born to Canadians who are travelling abroad.
Clause 2 of the bill, paragraph 5.1(2), refers to a child who was a minor child. Then we get into a person who is at least 18 years of age, meaning under 18 is a child. I am not sure whether there is a differentiation between who a minor child is and someone who is under the age of 18. I think there was another one very similar to that.
For clarification, the member raised the issue of criminality checks for those who are under age 18, even though they are subject to the laws internationally. Is there a difference between a minor child and a person who is under 18?
Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC
Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge there is no difference. However, I feel that the member is asking an extremely important question about the legality of the definitions in the bill. Since I am a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, I will certainly ensure that this definition is very clear in the bill. According to Canadian law, a minor is a person under the age of 18.
Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on her speech. I have a question for her that deals with the immigration portfolio. It is an issue that relates to the situation with respect to work permits in Canada.
Because we have a significant work skills shortage, I want to ask my colleague if she thinks that the government should consult with other groups and develop a better system of work permits to address the skilled trades shortage we have in our country right now and to bring immigrants in certain skilled trades to Canada to address this deficit.
Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC
Mr. Speaker, I did not “plant” the question, but I must admit that I could not have put it any better myself.
Several agreements between the federal government and various provincial and territorial governments permit the provinces to apply to the federal government as to the type and number of individuals they would like to receive as immigrants in their own province, depending on the desired categories.
In future years, when the government hopefully tables a bill one day, we will have to give very serious consideration to the entire question of labour skills and needs in Canada given the role—past, present and future—of immigration in our country. That is evident.
Mario Silva Davenport, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-14, an act to amend the Citizenship Act with respect to adoption provisions.
My hon. colleagues will know that Bill C-14 is in fact a reintroduction of Bill C-76, which was of course put forward by the former Liberal government in November of 2005. I am pleased that the current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration decided just last month to bring forward the bill once again, in the form of Bill C-14.
This bill amends the Citizenship Act that became law in 1977. Clearly, for reasons of fundamental fairness and equity, there was a need to address the issue of foreign-born children adopted by Canadian parents. The current law requires an unnecessarily long and involved process by which adopted children become full citizens in Canada.
As has been noted in testimony before the Senate committee on citizenship and immigration and within this House, the current system creates an inequality between children born to Canadians living abroad and foreign-born children adopted by Canadian parents.
Indeed, in his appearance before the standing committee last November to discuss Bill C-76, now Bill C-14, Mr. Mark Davidson, who serves as director and registrar of Canadian citizenship, noted that this, again, is a matter of “equity”.
I fully agree with Mr. Davidson's assessment. This is about fairness. It is about treating children of Canadian parents with equity and equality. They deserve the same treatment as children of Canadian parents born abroad. In implementing Bill C-14, we will ensure that parents of foreign-born adopted children can immediately begin to welcome their new children into their families without the added burden of having to complete the unnecessary step of obtaining Canadian citizenship for their children.
By the time these children have been brought to their new homes here in Canada, their parents have already undergone a long and extensive administrative process. It is certainly incumbent upon their government here in Canada not to add to this process in unnecessary ways.
Ms. Sandra Scarth, president of the Adoption Council of Canada, described Bill C-14 in this way: “This is a major step forward for foreign-born adopted children and their adoptive families”. I agree with Ms. Scarth that this is indeed a significant step forward and is, quite frankly, long overdue.
I intend to support this bill because it is about fairness. It is also about practicality. Requiring families who adopt foreign-born children to go through the immigration process is not only unfair but clearly redundant. These are their children, whom they will raise in Canada, and they are Canadians. These children, by virtue of their new Canadian parents, deserve the same rights and privileges as any other Canadian child. This bill would provide them this opportunity and address an issue that has long been outstanding and is very much in need of redress.
As noted before, I am pleased that the former Liberal government brought forward this proposed change in the form of Bill C-76. I am also pleased to continue to support the principle as it is now presented in Bill C-14. This is indeed about fairness, equity and compassion for new Canadian parents of foreign-born adopted children. I encourage all members to support Bill C-14.
Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC
Mr. Speaker, the bill before this House today deals with international adoption. This is an eagerly awaited measure that we have always supported and promoted in this House.
I have the pleasure of speaking today about Bill C-14, which essentially amends the provisions of the Citizenship Act relating to international adoption. This bill will have numerous implications in the lives of all adoptive parents in Quebec as well as in the other provinces. Bill C-14 will eliminate the requirement that a sponsorship application be filed under the “family reunification” requirement.
Under the provisions that are proposed, children born outside Canada and adopted by a Canadian citizen will be able to acquire citizenship without first having to become a permanent resident and comply with the procedure associated with permanent residence. Once the citizenship application is made, citizenship will be granted if the adoption meets certain conditions. The child becomes a Canadian citizen on the day that citizenship is granted.
In Quebec, citizenship will be granted once the adoption process is finalized, before the adoption has been officially ordered by the Court of Québec.
The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-14 in principle. We waited for a long time for a bill that would finally respect Quebec’s jurisdiction in respect of adoption, while granting the children of adoptive parents citizenship more quickly. We are pleased that the explanations we have offered in recent years have borne fruit. We are particularly glad to see that the federal authorities will be respecting the jurisdiction of the Court of Québec and its role as the authority that officially orders the adoption of the child.
In Quebec, the best interests of the child is the fundamental principle in international adoptions. The Bloc Québécois members agree with that principle. In 2004, Quebec took an important step in applying that principle when it incorporated the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption.
In Quebec, all decisions concerning a child must be made in the child’s best interests and must respect the child’s rights. That rule is fundamental when it comes to adoption. An adoption must also meet the conditions set out in the law. What we generally call international adoption is referred to, in legal terms, as “the adoption of a child domiciled outside Quebec”. Quebec adoption laws thus go much further and cover both adoptions that take place in a foreign country and adoptions that take place in the other provinces and territories of Canada.
The statutory provisions that refer to the best interests of the child, and the statutory instruments that govern international adoption in Quebec, are as follows. We have the Civil Code; the Code of Civil Procedure; the Youth Protection Act; the Order respecting the adoption without a certified body of a child domiciled outside Québec by a person domiciled in Québec; the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption; the Act to Implement the Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption and amending various legislation relating to adoption; and the Order respecting the certification of intercountry adoption bodies.
These instruments establish the conditions that must be met in Quebec by Quebeckers who wish to adopt. The Civil Code of Québec also deals with types of adoption and the effects of adoption. The rules governing consent and the “adoptability” of a child are the rules that apply in the child’s country of origin.
International adoption procedures vary according to the child’s country of origin. In Quebec, there are three ways of going about it. First, there are the cases where the child’s country of origin decides in favour of foreign adoption. Then there are the cases where the country of origin decides first on the placement of the child, as happens for example in the Philippines and Thailand. There are two steps to this procedure: the parents remain the adopted child’s guardians until the child’s country of origin is satisfied that they have fulfilled all the conditions during the placement period. The third case is much less problematic. Here the country of origin has ratified the Hague Convention and its decision can be officially recognized by the Secrétariat à l'adoption internationale.
The international adoption secretariat is the central authority in Quebec and operates in partnership with approved international adoption agencies. The secretariat draws up an international adoption file containing all the necessary legal documentation and forwards the adopting parent's file to the adopted child’s country once the verifications have been completed. The secretariat ensures that the proposal is consistent with the recommendations in the psychosocial evaluation of the adopting parents.
When it is satisfied, the secretariat issues a letter of non-opposition. It is sent to the immigration authorities in Canada and Quebec and confirms that, after examining the documentation and the procedure that was followed, the secretariat has no reason to oppose the child’s coming to Quebec and Canada. Procedures are then followed in the child’s own country and the way is paved for the child’s coming to Quebec.
Adoption in Quebec confers parentage on the adopted child that replaces his or her original parentage. At that point, the child ceases to be a member of his or her original family.
Adoption decisions pronounced abroad must be officially recognized by a Quebec court to take effect in Quebec, with the exception of countries that have signed the Hague Convention. The responsibility for this task falls to the Court of Québec’s Youth Division.
The new provisions that are proposed would allow adopting parents to apply for citizenship in advance before the adoption is officially approved by the Court of Québec. Without this, adopting parents and adopted children in Quebec would not be in a position to benefit from the citizenship bill.
At the same time, another administrative measure could be applied immediately to speed up the process of awarding citizenship: rapid identification of the application at the Case Processing Centre. A special indication could be added on the application mailing envelope to specify and clearly identify that this is an international adoption application. When the child is travelling to Quebec, measures could be considered to improve communications between the different airports, to the delight of the adoptive parents who want to see administrative measures that do their job.
Each successive government has promised us major and necessary revisions to the Citizenship Act. You are surely aware of how long parliamentarians have been working on this sort of legislation, and I am pleased that we are agreeing to move quickly to refer the bill on adoption to committee.
Other citizenship measures will have to be tabled here in this chamber, as recommended by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in the last parliamentary session. For example, there is no substantive appeal in the case of citizenship applications, and the government limits recourse to judicial review in the event of a negative decision. In this regard, sponsorship under the “family reunification” class seems to offer more protection for adoptive parents. We have been told this by the organizations testifying before the standing committee.
We have been waiting long enough. We have been waiting for these sorts of legal provisions since 1998. In fact, a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal found that the government is violating section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it pertains to adoption.
In granting adopted children citizenship more quickly, the federal government is finally taking account of the best interests of the child.
The adoptive parents have to start a long series of procedures. They have had enough of long waits in dealing with the federal government to adopt a child. I am certain that speeding up the awarding of citizenship will facilitate the integration of adopted children in their new family.
I would be remiss if I did not bring up the issue of adoption treaties, and the validity of the Gérin-Lajoie doctrine and the necessity of recognizing it in this field, in the interest of the child. For Quebec to be able to exercise its adoption and civil law powers, it should be able to conclude its own adoption treaties with the children’s countries of origin. It is the responsibility of the federal government to permit Quebec and the provinces to negotiate specific international agreements in the field of international adoption. Until it does so, we will continue to see the unfortunate consequences of its irresponsible management, such as those caused by the distressing episode of the adoption treaty with Vietnam, where the federal position is bad, plainly dysfunctional and increasingly indefensible.
We have here another example where the federal government must grant Quebec the ability to fully assume its constitutional jurisdiction on the international stage. Whatever it claims, the federal government does not have exclusive jurisdiction in international relations, for the Constitution does not state which level of government is responsible for international relations.
I repeat: since the Government of Quebec is responsible for adapting the Civil Code of Quebec, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Youth Protection Act, the Government of Quebec alone is in a position to guarantee that the rights of children will be respected. An adoption treaty concluded between the federal government and a foreign country could not offer such a guarantee. It is therefore imperative that Quebec conclude its own adoption treaties.
Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate today on Bill C-14, an act to amend the Citizenship Act regarding adoption.
As we have already heard, this is exactly the same bill as Bill C-76 that was introduced last November in the last Parliament. I want to commend the Conservative government for getting it on the agenda so soon. It is unfortunate that we did not get it on the agenda sooner in the last Parliament because it is a change in our citizenship law that many families have been awaiting for many years. It is one that has been proposed in the past, long before the Conservatives adopted it as their party policy. I wanted to correct the minister's assertion on that. This is something that has been around for many years and supported in many corners of the House. It is a good thing that it is finally on the agenda and hopefully we can expedite its passage so that adoptive foreign children have the same rights as children born to Canadians.
The bill would amend the Citizenship Act to allow a grant of citizenship to a child adopted by a Canadian. In this corner of the House we strongly support the bill. It would ensure that adoptive children are treated the same as biological children under the provisions of the Citizenship Act. In doing so, it will make citizenship automatic for adopted children as it is for children born to Canadians. Children who are eligible in this regard are eligible if the adoption took place after February 14, 1997, the date of the implementation of the current Citizenship Act.
This proposal has been supported by the courts. The federal court has said that the distinctions in law based on adoptive parentage violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and specifically section 15 on equality rights. The courts have said that the legislation needs to be updated and changed in light of the equality provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the need was not there before, it clearly needs to be on our agenda now.
This points out what many adoptive parents and adoptive children have felt over the years, that they are somehow second-class citizens, that they and their families are somehow second-class because they were not afforded the same automatic citizenship that children born to Canadians were. I am glad we are finally getting around to righting that because when it comes to citizenship, there should be no distinctions. Everyone should feel like a first-class citizen and there should be no distinctions in categories of our citizenship. Any time someone feels that somehow their citizenship is less than someone else's, we need to look at that very carefully. This is one of those areas, so it is a good thing that we are moving to fix that.
Currently an adoptive child must be sponsored for permanent residence by their adoptive parent. This process would be eliminated, and we all know what a lengthy process that can be. Unfortunately, it has proven problematic for many families, so it is good to be able to remove that bureaucratic impediment to the full participation of adoptive children in Canada. Now it will still be open to people and some lawyers have said that they would recommend to clients that they still go through the process of applying for permanent resident status for the child and then subsequently to that citizenship. That option would remain but under the new legislation it would not be required.
Under Bill C-14, the adoption must meet certain criteria, and four in particular: First, the adoption must be in the best interests of the child as defined by the Hague Convention on the protection of children in inter-country adoption. We wanted to ensure the provisions of the Hague Convention were upheld and the legislation does that.
The second thing is that a genuine relationship must be created between the parent and the child, which means the building of a family and the building of a parent and child relationship.
Third, it must have been done in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction where the adoption took place and the laws of the country of residence of the child. All the laws of both the province in Canada where the adoption has taken place and the laws of the country of residence where the adoptive child was born and lives must be upheld.
Fourth, it must not have been entered into for the purposes of acquiring status or privilege in relationship to citizenship or immigration. It cannot be an adoption of convenience, an adoption that is intended to do some kind of end run around our citizenship laws.
It is a good thing that all of those criteria are included in the bill because we want to ensure this is about recognizing families, recognizing adoptions and recognizing the importance of adoptions for Canadian families.
The bill also includes specific recognition of Quebec's particular adoption process and, as we have heard already, that is a crucial part of this legislation.
The bill recognizes adult adoption if the adoptive parent acted as the person's parent before he or she was 18. We know that is also a crucial part of the legislation.
For all those reasons, we in the New Democratic Party support the bill.
I wish we would have had the opportunity to deal with this months ago. It is a shame that it came to the House so late in the last Parliament. It was almost an afterthought. It came in the dying days of the last House when so many promises had been made about citizenship. We heard, more often than not, on several occasions from ministers of the previous government, that there was an intent to go ahead with an overall revamping of the citizenship legislation, something that many of us felt was long overdue. We have not looked at our citizenship legislation since 1977.
We know the previous government tried to update the Citizenship Act three times with Bill C-63 in the 36th Parliament and, more recently, with Bill C-16 and Bill C-18. All of those died on the order paper because they were not given the appropriate priority nor the proper attention to working out the problems and dealing with the suggestions that were being made around them I should point out that both Bill C-16 and Bill C-18 would have addressed the issue of adoption and citizenship.
We could have dealt with this a long time ago if it had been given the appropriate priority by the Liberal government and if it had lived up to the priorities that it stated it had around citizenship legislation.
We are, again, looking at a very particular proposal around citizenship legislation with this bill. We need to move forward on that because families have waited too long.
It would be nice if the Conservatives' agenda were a bit broader than just this legislation but that is not to denigrate the importance of this legislation. Families and adoptive children are counting on it, but there are other citizenship issues that need to be addressed.
In the last Parliament, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration urged the government at that time to move on the issue of adoption in two reports, one in November 2004 and one in October 2005. Therefore, the government is well aware of the standing committee's enthusiasm for dealing with this matter.
There was no excuse for delaying the legislation in the past and there should be no excuse for delaying the legislation now. We need to get this to committee, get it back to the House as soon as we can so it can go through the process and families can take advantage of this proposal.
I want to make a few comments about the broader citizenship agenda that I asked the minister about earlier. We need to ensure we have this overall review of citizenship legislation. The act, as I mentioned, was passed back in 1977, and there are many aspects of it that demand our attention. I think crucial in that is the whole revocation process, the whole process where someone's citizenship can be revoked. This is another one of those areas where people feel like they are being treated as second-class citizens.
Many new Canadians have said that because their citizenship can be revoked, unlike the citizenship of someone born in Canada, it makes them feel second class. They always feel like that possibility of challenge hangs of their head. That is not a good thing to have when it comes to citizenship. When we are trying to establish people's attachment to Canada and when the citizenship process is the appropriate process for doing that, we need to ensure it meets that standard of developing attachment for people who become citizens.
The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, in a report to the House in the last Parliament, recommended that the charter should be fully applicable to the Citizenship Act. The committee recommended that the process for revoking citizenship should be a fully judicial--
The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau
It is with regret that I interrupt the hon. member. It being 2 o'clock, we are going to statements by members under Standing Order 31. There will be ten and a half minutes left to the hon. member when we come back to this debate.
Statements By Members
June 13th, 2006 / 2 p.m.
Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC
Mr. Speaker, Canadians are proud that our country is the most multicultural and diverse in the world. Our multicultural policies should focus not only on tolerance but also on acceptance. We must accept the multicultural realities of modern Canada.
Ethnic groups should not be pitted against one another. This government will not promote the hyphenation of Canadians but will help to build cohesive values and promote acceptance with a Canada first attitude.
The immigrant settlement policies announced in the budget will focus on an immediate and improved start for newcomers to Canada. Their academic and work related credentials should be recognized and put to better use for Canada as well as for new Canadians.
This government will ensure that we integrate our population, not segregate it. We all want to continue to see a united and strong Canada.
Cancer Screening Programs
Statements By Members
Joe McGuire Egmont, PE
Mr. Speaker, recently the MP for Cumberland—Colchester credited a free cancer screening clinic here on the Hill for detecting a mole diagnosed as malignant melanoma. He was lucky to have the screening and can now continue to enjoy his life.
The big cancer killers are lung, breast, colon and prostate cancers and, with the exception of breast cancer, there are no adequate screening programs in any province or territory in Canada despite scientific evidence that screening would be an effective tool to reduce both the incidence of cancer and deaths from cancer.
We as a nation continue to spend most of our health dollars treating cancer and very few dollars screening and preventing cancer. This policy has to be reversed. How long can we ignore scientific evidence that screening for cervical, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers saves lives in large numbers?
In rural areas, with the shortage of physicians, these screening programs are becoming a vital necessity. Swift and decisive action must be taken by Ottawa and the provinces to put these programs in place without delay.
Gourmet Food Fair
Statements By Members
Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC
Mr. Speaker, on May 26, the Gala des Grands Prix du tourisme québécois was held. This year, 216 regional winners were crowned. One of them, the Abitibi-Témiscamingue and northeast Ontario gourmet food fair, was awarded the gold medal in the category of festivals and tourist events with operating budgets under $1 million.
The food fair offers visitors an opportunity to discover, and most importantly to taste, some of the exceptionally good agrifood products from Abitibi-Témiscamingue and northeast Ontario, at tasting sessions and cooking workshops, and by visiting the producers’ kiosks.
I would like to congratulate and thank the devoted women and men who make the Abitibi-Témiscamingue and northeast Ontario gourmet food fair such a success. Their remarkable work helps to make our region one of the most sought-after tourist destinations.
The next food fair will take place on August 18 and 20. I invite the members of this House and people from all around to come for a visit and give themselves a treat.
Statements By Members
Brian Masse Windsor West, ON
Mr. Speaker, I rise to express concern regarding the negative impact on Canada's important auto industry of a possible free trade agreement between Canada and Korea.
Canada's auto industry already faces some very difficult challenges. It already has lost 10,000 jobs in assembly since 1998 and another 10,000 parts jobs since 2003. The high dollar, a growing flood of offshore imports and structural problems are making matters worse by the month.
Canada already buys $1.7 billion worth of automotive products every year from Korea. In return, we export almost nothing back, with just $11.5 million last year. There are non-trading tariff barriers that are a problem for Canadian manufacturers and deny us access to the market. Korea has promised in the past to remove them, but has yet to do so.
We need to stop this deal. If the government wants to be helpful, what it should do is bring in a national auto policy, one New Democrats have been calling for. It would protect Canadian jobs and assure the future of an auto industry in the technological revolution. It would make sure that we have clean, efficient vehicles on our roads, produced by Canadians and our country.
Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation
Statements By Members
Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB
Mr. Speaker, I stand today to honour an exceptional citizen of the great riding of Yellowhead. Braden Mole was only eight years old when a tumour was discovered in his brain. Since his diagnosis, he has had four brain surgeries and has suffered a stroke, but Braden has persevered.
This weekend, Braden, now 15 years old, is holding his second annual fundraiser to benefit the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation. To date, his efforts have raised over $71,000 for the foundation. This year, his goal is to raise $200,000 to provide the hospital with a rotating x-ray machine.
It is amazing what an individual can achieve with hard work and a positive attitude, whatever his lot in life. Braden's efforts are a testament to his strong character and citizenship. Instead of letting this challenge overcome him, Braden has turned it around and has given the entire community something to look toward.
I extend congratulations for his accomplishments to Braden. I will see him this weekend.
Mon amie la Terre
Statements By Members
Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB
Mr. Speaker, on April 9 I had the honour of attending a play put on by children who attend Les débrouillards child care centre and the Énergiecentre of Val D'Amours in my riding, Madawaska—Restigouche.
The play, entitled Mon amie la Terre, was performed by children who have taken part in a project designed to find techniques for intervening positively with children in order to reduce aggressive behaviour. The name of the project is “Moi, je contrôle mon agressivité”.
This activity provided the children with an opportunity to develop their self-esteem, express their feelings and practise their social skills. This means that the program provided benefits for the children, families, child care staff and schools, and also the community as a whole.
I would like to congratulate the four children who acted in the play: Anthony Maltais in the role of Virgule, Véronic Thibeault in the role of Miranda, Marie-Pier Savoie in the role of Valentine and Jean Eude Maltais in the role of Tifon.
I would also like to salute the work done by all of the organizers and volunteers who contributed to this project: Angéline Gaudet, Jean-Philippe Savoie, Yvette Levesque and Flavie Lagacé, Mona Normandeau, Lise Lurette and Patrick Gaudet.