House of Commons Hansard #3 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was opposition.

Topics

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from West Nova for his question, and I will take the liberty of recommending that he carefully read the record of what his own leader said yesterday. He may realize that his position is rather at odds with that of his leader on this very important question, which has often led to heated discussions here in Canada.

If the member would like to know the NDP position on this issue, he need only read the important bill on child care. It contains a very clear provision which exempts Quebec from the application of this legislation, since Quebec already has a position. That is what the NDP leader clearly stated yesterday.

I can also say to the member that what is being proposed here does not create any difficulties for us, quite the contrary. If he were to examine NDP history, he would see that for the past 30 years we have always clearly understood that Quebec is a nation. It is not just a nation in a vague and vacuous sense. There must be meaning to this expression.

That is an indication that this position will restrict federal intervention in areas of exclusive jurisdiction, bearing in mind the different definitions that have been proposed. We are all waiting to see—

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to take part in the debate. It is a privilege for me to speak in the House on behalf of my constituents in Parkdale--High Park in Toronto.

The riding that I represent in the west end of Toronto is bordering on Lake Ontario and it is home to many newcomers to Canada who make their home in Canada's largest city. It is also home to many young families who are squeezed by the high cost of housing, the lack of child care and the erosion of community spending.

Many seniors in our area, who have worked hard all their lives to build our country, now believe our country is leaving them behind. We have many artists and people who work in the cultural sector who are very concerned about the government's lack of vision and support for the arts.

Our community is also concerned about climate change, food safety and clean water. Many of our young people are facing a difficult future because our city has lost over 125,000 industrial-sector jobs in the past five years. Moreover, tuition fees and student debt are skyrocketing.

I am proud that our caucus is guided by its principles and knows what it believes. Like most hard-working Canadians, we believe that the government is taking this country in the wrong direction and the agenda laid out in the throne speech continues to take Canada down the wrong path.

It is breathtaking that the government has massive financial surpluses and yet does not even mention the needs of cities in the throne speech, even as our cities are cash-strapped, our services squeezed and our infrastructure crumbling.

Toronto is our largest city. We pay a lot of money in taxes and yet our city gets to keep only 6¢ out of every tax dollar as the province and the federal government get the lion's share.

In spite of calls from our citizens, the big city mayors, the boards of trade and many others, the government refuses to recognize that Canada is the world's second most urban country with 80% of our population living in cities.

With an estimated infrastructure deficit of over $100 billion, our cities are in dire straits. Our federal government is rolling in cash but it would prefer to use our tax dollars to fund a combat mission in Afghanistan than to invest in our communities.

Rather than cut the GST by 1% at a cost of $5 billion, the government could have used that money to help as many citizens as possible by investing in our cities.

It is astounding that the throne speech does not mention the arts or culture when so many Canadians believe in the need for us to tell each other our stories. Living next door to the largest cultural exporter in the world, surely the government needs to lay out its vision for supporting our artists and our culture.

Artists will continue to produce art. They will do this anyway, even though most of them are living in poverty, but fewer and fewer of us will have access to these stories if our government does nothing to encourage Canadian stories and Canadian voices.

A handful of members of the elite are benefiting from the current economy, but nobody else is. CEOs are banking stupendous salaries and incredible bonuses, but paycheques for everyone else have not changed, and, for many families, they are getting smaller. The government's agenda has made it harder and harder for middle-class Canadians to make ends meet.

Yes, there are more than a million people in Toronto who live below the poverty line. Many of these people go to work every day but they are working for poverty wages, often in multiple jobs, and they simply cannot make ends meet. I see them and their children at community kitchens and food banks. I see them leaving very early heading out for jobs as caregivers and in hotels and restaurants. Many are newcomers with excellent credentials being ground down in low wage jobs in the bitter deception that they would be welcomed for the education and skills that they bring to this country.

Even for families who are doing better, parents ask me why we cannot build a community centre in a neighbourhood full of kids. Why should a swimming pool close down and our kids and seniors be denied a chance for healthy exercise and life-saving classes? Why are we threatened with less transit service rather than promised more? Why is traffic gridlock a blight in our city and more kids are developing asthma?

The average Canadian is working 200 more hours each year than he or she did just nine years ago. The income gap is growing and it is at a 30 year high. Something is fundamentally wrong with this picture and Canadians know it.

The direction we are taking is absolutely the wrong direction. The prosperity gap is growing and putting middle class families further and further behind.

The government could have chosen to reduce the gap between the rich and the rest of us. Reducing the gap should have been a priority for the present session. Instead, the Conservatives chose to do nothing.

They have not acted to alleviate the manufacturing crisis. On the contrary, they are continuing the Liberal plan of negotiating a free trade agreement with Korea, which would make the disastrous manufacturing trade deficit within this country even worse and destroy more Canadians jobs.

What we need is real leadership in key economic sectors, but the Conservative agenda offers no hope to families and communities that have experienced massive job losses because of the government's destructive policies.

Canadians are also concerned about the crisis of climate change and what it will mean for the future. They are angry that the current government and the preceding government failed to get Canada on the right track for tackling the crisis of climate change. The air we breathe is getting dirtier, not cleaner. We are facing an unprecedented global crisis and inaction is simply inexcusable. We must act.

We need to work harder to honour our national obligations to stop climate change and blaming the previous government is simply not good enough. It is time to act.

Canadians want to be proud of Canada on the international stage.

Lots of people have told me that they are against Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan. They do not think that this is the role Canadians want their country to play on the world stage.

Canada has been a consistent voice for peace, reconstruction and aid. We speak on behalf of millions of everyday Canadians who want the government to change direction in Afghanistan and bring about real peace and security and a peace that is lasting. Only the NDP has been clear and consistent on this issue, which is that it is the wrong mission for Canada. We are the only party calling for an immediate troop withdrawal.

I have a mandate to support the goals of my community and, therefore, I must oppose the direction of the government and the agenda laid out in the throne speech. It takes Canadians in the wrong direction and we should not support it.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the hon. member and, as in the past, it appeared that the member did not do her research very well. I would like to point out to her that the throne speech specifically mentions a phenomenal infrastructure program with an historic amount of money for our cities.

Now that the member knows that the throne speech does address that, is she willing to phone her riding and the city of Toronto and explain why she intends to vote against the program she is criticizing?

I have heard the hon. member criticize the government before on affordable housing for aboriginal communities, for the homeless and those who are in need. I want her to agree to phone her constituents and admit to this House that she intends to vote against these positive initiatives so that we can remind her of that when she criticizes the government the next time.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am a little astounded by the member's comments given that the throne speech does not mention cities once. Would the hon. member show me where in the throne speech cities are mentioned? Where is the urban agenda? It is breathtaking that the government has no vision for the cities of our country where the vast majority of Canadians live and work.

Our transit systems are not growing with the needs of our communities. Our cities are in gridlock. We have a crisis with respect to homelessness. The Conservative government is turning its back on the needs of the vast majority of Canadians.

I not only will vote against this throne speech but I will stand with pride with my NDP caucus to vote against it. I am proud to defend our principles and to show the constituents of my riding that the government is moving in the wrong direction for Canadians.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with one thing the member for Parkdale—High Park said and that is that the direction the government is taking is fundamentally wrong.

My colleague talked about housing, child care, seniors, climate change, student tuition, cities, urban transit, student summer work programs, et cetera. The NDP made some recommendations with respect to all of these issues for the 2005 budget, which the Liberal government accepted at that time, so why did she betray her constituents and vote against the government at that time? The reason the Conservatives are in power today is because of the NDP. Why did she betray her constituents?

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am little confused by the hon. member's question since I was not elected in 2005 and, therefore, was not in the House to vote one way or the other. I am a little baffled by the arrogance of the hon. member who would presume to undermine the democratic process and the will of Canadians who exercise their democratic right to elect some members and not elect other--

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

We will now have statements by members according to Standing Order 31.

I recognize the hon. member for Kitchener--Conestoga.

Waterloo Regional Police Chief
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I want to pay respect to one of the most honourable men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

For the past 15 years, the residents of Waterloo region have enjoyed safe streets and a safe community, thanks in large part to the leadership of Waterloo Regional Police Chief, Larry Gravill.

Chief Gravill is Canada's longest serving police chief and he has served as the president of both the Ontario and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

Having met Larry as a fellow student at Waterloo Oxford District Secondary School many years ago, I have always known him as a man of exceptional character. Larry has served his community as a leader, as a public servant, as a man of character, integrity and honesty. Sadly, for all of us, he has announced his retirement from the Waterloo Regional Police force effective December 12 of this year.

It has been an honour to know Larry and to work with him. I thank him for his dedication and public service. As the sun sets on this chapter of his life, I am confident that it will rise and shine brightly on what lies ahead for Larry, Debbie and their family.

Status of Women
Statements By Members

October 18th, 2007 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I would like all members of the House to join me in congratulating the hon. member for Mississauga—Brampton South on the birth of his daughter at 3 a.m. this morning.

On this day in history, the British Privy Council decided in 1929 that women were persons under the law. Persons Day should be something to celebrate but, unfortunately, after this week's Speech from the Throne, Canadian women do not have much to celebrate these days.

Women were not even mentioned in the speech in spite of the fact that women constitute 52% of the population. Today, women still earn 77¢ for every dollar a man earns in Canada and 41.5% of single, divorced or widowed women over the age of 65 live in poverty.

According to the throne speech, the serious problem of theft ranks as a high priority for the Conservatives rather than the economic--

Status of Women
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher.

Order of the Daughters of Isabella
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in this House to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Order of the Daughters of Isabella, Marie-Marguerite circle No. 1351 in Longueuil, which will celebrate this event on October 20 with a mass and a dinner.

Through their various civic and charitable activities, the Daughters of Isabella work in unity, friendship and charity. The objectives of the group, for the women who are members, are to get to know one another better, broaden their circle of friends and pool resources so that they are better able to help one another.

On behalf of the people I have the honour of representing, I would like to recognize their spirit of mutual support, their commitment and their dedication within the Church, society and the family. I would like today to thank all these women for their involvement in the Longueuil community, and particularly to thank the regent of the order, Marie-Claire Brazeau, for her many years of dedication to its members.

Canadian Forces
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, recently I had the opportunity to join in the members of Parliament military exchange tour with the men and women of the HMCS Preserver and the men and women of the HMCS Iroquois.

I am here to tell my colleagues in the House of Commons that if they ever have the same opportunity that I did last month, they should take up on it because the men and women on board these two vessels showed an outstanding display of competence, professionalism and sense of duty to their country.

I want to personally congratulate Rear Admiral Dean McFadden of MARLANT for the professionalism on board those two vessels and the rest of the fleet in Halifax. I also congratulate Colonel Bruce Ploughman at Shearwater for the outstanding work of the Sea Kings when they landed and took off on the deck of the Iroquois. The professionalism was simply outstanding. The respect toward women on board the vessels is something the navy can teach us in civilian society of how women should be treated in our country.

I stand here as a proud individual of the House of Commons who took a wonderful opportunity. I encourage all my colleagues to do the same.

Bravo Zulu to the men and women of the HMCS Preserver and the HMCS Iroquois.

Burma
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Williams Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the House passed a motion to confer honorary Canadian citizenship on Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi for her self-sacrifice, commitment to democracy and for refusing to capitulate to a corrupt dictatorship.

She has been denied the opportunity to lead her people even though she convincingly won the election in 1990. Now the people of Burma are running the gauntlet of beatings, arrests and killings by the dictatorship. What is next? More violence, anarchy or civil war?

One thing is obvious: If people are denied the right to peacefully and democratically choose their government, they will march in the streets. If they are denied the right to march in the streets, violence will follow. If protests are violently suppressed, anarchy or civil war will follow.

There are brave people in Burma and I salute those who accept the dangers of challenging the gun-toting goons of the dictatorship to claim their democratic rights. The people's voice cannot be silenced, it will eventually be heard.

Manufacturing Industry
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to highlight the challenges facing Canada's manufacturing sector. Our country desperately needs a manufacturing strategy that is innovative and robust, and one that helps to protect high-paying jobs in Canada.

Canada needs the kind of innovations that were proposed in the previous parliament, when the User Fees Act, Bill C-212, was enacted and brought into force. In cooperation with Canada’s Chemical Producers, a law was enacted so that federal departments and organizations would take the impact on competition and responsible service standards into account in cost recovery mechanisms.

This so-called new government could learn from the Liberal caucus' approaches to innovation and demonstrate that it is interested in reducing redundant red tape and in providing an optimal investment environment for our manufacturing sector.