House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was water.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the parliamentary secretary's question and the work he has done on committee as well.

I would agree that there are some fundamental problems with the existing system. We have had 12 reports from the Auditor General over the last number of years that have quoted chapter and verse all the problems with the system.

I would argue, though, that if we are going to look at taking apart the system what we in effect need to do is the consultation that I talked about earlier. We need to include first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in looking at what changes need to be made in the system, setting out some concrete timelines and a concrete action plan with no more missed deadlines. We currently have an education plan being developed with the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. Already it has missed its first deadline of June 2006. That is not acceptable. We have critical issues facing first nations, Métis and Inuit communities. We cannot wait to fix a system that may not be working. We must move forward.

I would argue that we need to do some investment, short term and immediate, and then we need to do the medium and long term planning to make sure things are fixed, but it must be done in consultation with first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I as well want to thank my colleague for her comments regarding aboriginal issues. I certainly believe that she has a real desire to have aboriginal issues advanced and to have addressed those issues that are concerning us.

One of my concerns with her speech was that she seemed to focus most heavily on the issue of communities. Right now, roughly 80% of aboriginal people live off reserve. I wonder if she could address how we could address those issues for the aboriginal people who are not on reserve so that we do not let them fall between the cracks. My understanding is that right now roughly $8 is spent for every aboriginal person on reserve compared to $1 for those off reserve. We find aboriginal people dealing with poverty and despair living in urban centres. Could she address that?

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member raises a very good issue. I do not want to get into a dispute about the numbers. We had this conversation at the aboriginal affairs committee that sometimes we are talking about aboriginal people and sometimes we are talking about first nations, Métis and Inuit. One of the things we have asked for is better information around who lives on reserve and who lives off reserve.

It is a very valid point that we cannot just look at funding and closing the poverty gap on reserve. We must also look at off reserve. That is where we enter that very thorny ground of provincial jurisdiction. We need to bring together, as happened with the Kelowna accord, the federal government, the provincial governments and the first nations, Métis and Inuit leadership across the country to ensure that we are looking at closing that poverty gap on reserve and off reserve.

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the previous question regarding on reserve and off reserve spending, is it not a bigger question to ask about the jurisdiction and the actual mechanism to fairly provide services on reserve and off reserve as opposed to the actual dollar value itself?

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, jurisdiction is a very important issue to tackle. Recently we heard that $300 million was going to the north for housing, and we discovered that it is being funnelled through the territory. Much of this money is going to be funnelled through territorial and provincial governments and may not actually result in building houses for first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

When we talk about jurisdiction over people who live off reserve, it is something in which we need to include first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in terms of discussing what the solutions may be. Currently the federal government says that off reserve is not its problem, that the provinces need to deal with it. We have seen an increased widening of that poverty gap for first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples who do not live on reserve.

The jurisdictional issue is a tough one, but we must come together with first nations, Métis and Inuit leadership, the provinces and the federal government to tackle this issue. Otherwise we will be having this conversation again in 10 years' time.

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Toronto Centre.

The motion states:

That the House recognize the urgent need to improve the quality of life of Canada's Aboriginals, First Nations, Inuit and Métis, living both on and off reserve, which requires focused and immediate initiatives by the government in areas such as health, water, housing, education, and economic opportunities and, especially, immediately moving forward with the implementation of the Kelowna Accord with its full funding commitments.

If we talked to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we would find that they support this motion. If Canadians went to Métis communities, Inuit communities, and first nations communities throughout this land and saw the shortcomings in those communities they would ask why governments are not getting together and working with these people to address their concerns. They would ask why we do not see the shortcomings in these communities, why we do not see the potential in these communities. Canadians would ask why we are not addressing these problems together rather than all levels of government taking individual initiatives. When each level of government has its own initiative, they are often disjointed and seldom reach what we would like to achieve.

What was the Kelowna accord? It was not a deal done on a napkin prior to a press release. The Kelowna accord was the result of a lot of lobbying done by people in those communities talking to the federal government, the provincial government and local municipalities. Negotiations were held among federal and provincial officials and first nations. An agreement was reached.

To cancel the accord sends the wrong message. It does not recognize our responsibilities as Canadians. It does not look at the errors we have made in the past and provide solutions for the future. The Kelowna accord was a very good initiative. It was very well supported. To be able to get the provinces, the territories and communities together to come to an understanding took a lot of work, a good plan and a lot of compromise. Now it has been cancelled.

What are we telling those communities? What are we telling the young people who have dreams and aspirations? We are telling them that they cannot look to governments for help. We are telling them that they cannot trust the Government of Canada to enter into an agreement with them because a minority government on a whim might renege on it and remove federal participation.

The situation in which these communities find themselves is unfortunate and regrettable.

People are losing their faith and see no future in using the institutions available to them. They use means that I completely disapprove of.

Nevertheless, they see no other solutions. The burgeoning difficulties and the lack of partnership make them feel that they have to barricade roads, hunt and fish illegally—hence poach—and use illegal means to boost the economy of their community.

Canadians and the federal government should recognize that they have an obligation to guarantee to them that when a document is signed or a verbal agreement is made, the agreement is honourable and will be honoured.

We hear often from members on the opposite side who tend to be very, very right wing that if we do a special agreement, it is race based. We have to recognize the specific needs of these communities. We have to work together.

Sometimes I hear it said that the court is ruling Canada. Sometimes it is because sometimes these decisions are forced by the court. Sometimes the court forces us into action only when we do not recognize our responsibilities. Generation after generation do not see what the treaties really mean and do not recognize that perhaps we have some liabilities and some responsibilities as Canadians toward those treaties. I remember a member of another opposition party saying that when we buy the dog, we get the fleas. With those treaties came some responsibilities and we have not always met them. For the first nations in most cases, it all has not worked to their advantage.

We should go to the communities and see the lands that they have lost. They were forced to live on reserves, their resources stripped from them, their potential stripped from them and they were reduced to a mere existence. That is not acceptable. We cross oceans so that does not apply to other nations, to other countries, to other peoples. We send our military. We send our aid. This is what we have to do in Canada, but not in the same way. We have to recognize the majority.

I had the opportunity to work with Bob Nault, as well as the member for Fredericton, when each was the Minister of Indian Affairs. We would want to work with the communities, to look at the fundamental problems in the governance and the administration, to look at the role of women, to look at the possibilities, to look at the shortcomings and how we can address them.

When we look at an agreement like Kelowna that gave such a sense of hope, that looked at those elements, at health care, at education, at infrastructure, at water and sewers, how can we back out of that? How can we go home and tell our people that our government has led us down this path?

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal Affairs
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but we have reached an order of the day. The hon. member has approximately three minutes left in his 10 minutes. We will proceed now to statements by members.

Millennium Excellence Award
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and congratulate two accomplished young people in my riding: Amy Florian and Jillian Kaulbach.

Amy and Jillian are recipients of the prestigious Millennium Excellence Award. This honour recognizes their academic achievement, community involvement, and their demonstrated leadership abilities.

As they begin their post-secondary studies this fall, they should be proud of their accomplishments and know that we stand beside them to offer our support as they dream big and realize their potential.

I would ask my hon. colleagues to join me in congratulating Amy and Jillian, as well as all the recipients of the Millennium Excellence Award for this important honour.

John Horman
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. John Horman, who was born in Matane and helped found the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.He was also the league manager and statistician from 1969 to 1975.

Mr. Horman was the discipline prefect, vice-president and even interim president in 1983. He also helped found the Canadian Hockey League, which heads up the three major junior leagues. John Horman was inducted into the Quebec Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Hall of Fame, which honours him by naming its executive of the year trophy after him.

I offer my sincerest condolences to Mr. Horman’s family and the fans of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who are mourning his loss. A great hockey man has passed away, but his fame and teachings will live on.

Inter Tribal Health Authority
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Inter Tribal Health Authority serves 28 first nations communities on Vancouver Island and the surrounding areas.

First nations are challenged by health issues, such as the legacy of residential schools and the epidemic of diabetes and heart disease.

The ITHA works with first nations leaders and community health staff to ensure culturally appropriate services are available even in the smallest communities. This includes state-of-the-art health information technology that will ensure modern services and programs are available that are second to none.

The ITHA is among the first in the country to work closely with first nations and Health Canada to develop comprehensive community-based pandemic plans.

ITHA is on the leading edge of health care in Canada, based on first nations initiatives and leadership through self-determination and proactive programming.

I salute its hard work and look forward to seeing even more innovation in its health care services.

Taxation
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take advantage of the opportunity this afternoon to thank the Minister of Finance who, in his budget of May 2, 2006, changed the excise tax on beer produced by microbreweries.

This tax adjustment had been requested for more than five years and will help these brewers take their rightful place on the highly competitive beer market.

Among other things, this tax holiday will enable them to create more than 2,500 jobs all across Canada. The microbrewery proprietors in my region, who helped me become very familiar with this issue, asked me to insist on its inclusion in our budget and have shown their appreciation and asked me to thank the House for resolving this.

These sentiments have been echoed all across Canada through their association. I therefore thank the Minister of Finance.

Liberal Party of Canada
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Fabian Manning Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, recently I have heard several members of the Liberal Party try to position themselves as defenders of Atlantic Canada. We are not holding our breath waiting for that to happen because the Liberal record speaks for itself.

Take for instance the member for Kings—Hants, a candidate for the Liberal leadership, who on May 17, 2003 told the Ottawa Citizen:

I believe we need to replace failed regional economic development programs and corporate welfare with dramatic corporate-tax reductions--

Or another leadership hopeful, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, who in Maclean's magazine, on December 8, 2005 implied that Maritimers were dependent on employment insurance by saying:

In the Martimes recently, I was struck by the number of people who find the rhetoric of equalization condescending, as if the only way to keep the Maritimes in Confederation is to maintain EI--

Or how about the Liberal finance critic from Markham—Unionville who suggested in Hansard, on February 9 that Atlantic Canada and equalization-receiving provinces are “mired in the world of have not clamouring for subventions”.

No, we do not need Liberals pontificating about what they would do. In Atlantic Canada we know all too well what they have done. The track record of nothing speaks for itself.

Child Care
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government successfully negotiated early learning and child care agreements with all of the 10 provinces last year.

Early childhood education is critical for the development of social and intellectual skills.

Canada's children need quality early childhood education to prepare them for the future, as in this global economy, Canadians must compete with the rest of the world for the best jobs and the best opportunities.

Giving parents a tiny taxable allowance will not contribute to a child's healthy development and future education through early learning.

The Conservative government is failing Canadians by denying our children the opportunity for early childhood education. This is just another example of the difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

The Liberals invest in opportunities for our children while the Conservatives are busy building jails.

I am proud to be a Liberal. I am proud of the plan that the Liberal government put forward and I look forward to us having the opportunity, when Liberals form the next government, to produce a national child care program.

Human Trafficking
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, on June 10 of this year I hosted a forum in Winnipeg entitled “Stop the Slavery”, a forum on the growing crime of human trafficking.

Her Excellency Abina Dann, the Canadian ambassador to Ukraine, Victor Malarek, the author of the book The Natashas, Laura Lederer from the U.S. State Department, Irena Soltys from Help Us Help the Children organization, Sonja Bejzyk of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and myself made up the list of presenters.

Over 2,000 women and children were trafficked through Canada last year alone. This is a growing crime that trafficks nearly a million women and children across the globe into the sex trade every year. Human rights groups, women and children's advocates, and police are applauding our government for announcing measures that will protect these vulnerable victims.

This is a crime our government is addressing. This is a crime we will not tolerate on Canadian soil.

Lebanese Festival
Statements By Members

June 19th, 2006 / 2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend the Lebanese community of greater Montreal held their annual festival in the riding of Ahuntsic, which I have the honour of representing.

All of Montreal was invited for three days of discovery. Tens of thousands of people had an opportunity to experience and appreciate Lebanese culture, through music and song. This year, the theme was the family.

Since I am of Lebanese origin, I can tell you that this festival gave Quebeckers an opportunity to get to know the beauty of the fundamental values that unite the Lebanese people, with their extraordinary diversity of ideas, traditions and religions.

The festival was a chance to get together and to renew acquaintances, and it was a great success. I offer my warm congratulations to all of the organizers from the Saint-Maron and Saint-Antoine churches and their 300 volunteers.

Bravo. I am looking forward to next year.