House of Commons Hansard #111 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was care.

Topics

Remembrance Day
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition, signed by over 1,000 constituents, supports Remembrance Day as a national holiday.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

February 15th, 2007 / 10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 169 will be answered today.

Question No. 169
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

What funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees has the government issued in the constituency of Nanaimo—Cowichan since February 6, 2006, including the 2006-2007 Budget and up to today, and, in each case where applicable: (a) the department or agency responsible; (b) the program under which the payment was made; (c) the names of the recipients, if they were groups or organizations; (d) the monetary value of the payment made; and (e) the percentage of program funding covered by the payment received?

Question No. 169
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office has contacted all departments and agencies to ascertain whether they have the electronic capacity to search for and sort financial information such as funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees by federal electoral riding. The results of the survey indicate that the majority of departments and agencies do not have this capacity. A manual search would require an inordinate cost and length of time. For this reason, the government is not able to provide a comprehensive answer to this question.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--Government Policies
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government is failing to act in accordance with the democratic and open values expected of its office by imposing a narrow minded, socially conservative ideology as reflected in its approach to the judicial appointment process to dramatically increase the influence of right-wing ideology in the judiciary, its refusal to honour Canada's international obligations under the Kyoto Protocol including a refusal to act immediately to introduce regulations under the Canada Environmental Protection Act, its misconception that Canadians don’t want or need a dramatic increase in child care spaces on a national basis, its budget spending cuts directed at aboriginal people and silencing advocacy work done on behalf of women and the most vulnerable Canadians even in the face of budget surpluses, its failure to protect and promote linguistic and cultural diversity, and its undemocratic assault on farmers who support the Canadian Wheat Board.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

We have a motion in the House today that calls on all of us to take a hard look at the government's record. It is a moment to ask some questions. What is the big picture? Where is the Prime Minister taking the country?

The official opposition is concerned about the direction the government is taking and this is the day on which the House of Commons gets to call it the way we see it.

We on this bench start with the standard that we set in government. We have been nation builders. We create the institutions that make our country strong: the Canada pension plan, old age security, employment insurance, medicare, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Kelowna accord and a national child care program, that is until the Prime Minister scrapped both of them.

Thanks to Liberal leadership, Canadians benefited from sound public finances and enviable economic growth. The contrast between the Liberal record and the record of this minority government is striking.

This government has no plan for economic growth, no plan for employment, no plan for post-secondary education and no plan for investment in science and research. That means no plan for Canada's future. That means no plan to help Canadians succeed.

This Prime Minister is governing only to win the next election. He has forgotten his country's future, and the future will judge him.

The government just does not understand that we cannot have a successful and united country unless we have a just society and a just society is one that offers everyone in Canada an equal chance.

Canadians have built a society with less poverty and less crime, a society that sends more young people to college and university and fewer to prison.

Canadians have abandoned the 19th century notion of a single dominant culture in favour of a constitutional and institutional framework that promotes a bilingual and multicultural diversity of peoples, including our aboriginal fellow citizens.

We on this side of the House have come to see that our differences are our strengths, unlike the Conservatives who see differences as wedge issues to exploit.

Thanks to the Liberal governments in the 1990s, Canada has had a budget surplus for a decade now. All Canadians should be proud of what we have accomplished together. These achievements are now threatened.

After just one year in office, the government has shown its true colours. The Prime Minister is turning back the clock on the social reforms of the last 30 years. It is not surprising that the Conservative Party decided to drop the word “progressive” from its name. That means we are no longer faced with the conservatism we know but with an ideological conservatism, a movement conservatism that will take Canada backward.

Bit by bit, the Prime Minister is shaping Canada into his vision and it is less progressive, less fair, less just and less equal. He cut funding for women's advocacy groups, and he was wrong to do so. If we want Canadians to have an equal chance, we need to do more to reduce economic and social inequality between the genders and not less.

In the last election, the Prime Minister told Canadians that our court system would protect them from the Conservatives if they pursued an ideological agenda.

But then he cut the court challenges program, the very program that funded a number of important cases that sought to advance equality rights. Abolishing this program is a serious step that directly reduces Canadians' ability to defend their charter rights.

The government also wants to appoint socially Conservative judges and rig the judicial appointment process to shift our courts to the right. Just yesterday, the Prime Minister told the House that he wants to choose judges on the basis of whether they support his criminal justice agenda. This fails to respect the separation of powers that is the basis of Canadian freedom. Governments pass laws, judges enforce and interpret them. One branch does not seek to bend the other branch to its will, except under the present government.

I again urge the Prime Minister to reverse the changes he has made in the way the government selects judges. I urge him to stop trying to politicize our judiciary.

The Prime Minister has even politicized the issue of equality in our country. He tried to reopen the same sex marriage debate and most Canadians regard this as a settled matter. We need to ask why a sitting Prime Minister would want to put into question the equality gains made by his fellow citizens.

The Conservatives have also cut funding for adult literacy programs, calling such programs “repair work after the fact”. For the government, adults who cannot read do not count.

This government inherited a $13 billion surplus, but still made $1 billion in cuts, mainly at the expense of those people who need help the most. These Conservatives have promised to cut another $1 billion before the next budget. What other social programs will be axed? When will it be enough?

This is a government that has plans to build more prison cells instead of child care spaces.

This is a government that has scrapped the historic Kelowna accord between Canada and its aboriginal citizens. For this government it appears to be acceptable to break faith with aboriginal Canadians once again.

Yesterday evening, this House adopted Bill C-288, which requires the government to step up to the plate and introduce a plan to achieve the Kyoto protocol targets. Instead of a plan, all we are seeing is fear and denial. This is not leadership. This is not governance. It is shameful. We need action and a comprehensive sustainable development plan, with accountability and targets, and we need it now.

This is a government obsessed with cutting taxes, not tax cuts that create jobs or enhance Canadian competitiveness or make it easier for Canadians to make ends meet, but tax cuts which weaken our capacity to build a just society for all. The Conservatives will strip back the government until the cupboards are bare in Ottawa and across the country, and that will weaken Canadian citizenship and it will weaken the national unity of our country.

The Prime Minister will try to hold onto power by using so-called wedge issues in the hopes of dividing Canadians. When will these politics stop? Canadians do not want a country where the values of a right-wing minority are imposed by stealth on a progressive majority. Canadians sense the reactionary drift of their government. They can feel the daily descent of their country into a place where opportunity is shrinking.

This is a progressive country, a place held together by faith in compassionate, smart and accountable government, and we are not going to get compassionate, smart and accountable government from a party that loves power but actually dislikes government.

We are not going to get national unity from an ideologue. We are not going to get the country pulling together under a party that governs for its base and not for all the people.

I urge all the opposition members to vote for this motion and send a clear message to this Conservative government and the people of Canada.

Let us declare that it is the opinion of this House that the government is failing to act in accordance with the democratic and open values expected of its high office. Let us draw a line in the sand. Let us say together that enough is enough.

Enough is enough.

My fellow parliamentarians, this country deserves better.

Opposition Motion--Government Policies
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to the just society. I now want to go through a few things. Pierre Trudeau was the person who brought in the War Measures Act and imprisoned hundreds of innocent Canadians without reason.

It was Mackenzie King who interned thousands of Japanese Canadians and took away their property rights and every civil right they ever had. It was Mackenzie King who rejected German Jewish refugees who sought refuge in Canada.

John Diefenbaker brought in the Bill of Rights, the first recognition in this country of protecting fundamental individual rights. John Diefenbaker gave aboriginal people the right to vote almost 100 years after Americans were freed from slavery.

I would also point out to the former professor from Harvard that it was Earl Warren, a Republican who was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, who finally brought sanity to the segregation laws in the United States and struck down its segregation laws.

The professor can try to be a professor to people in here, but he obviously was seeking refuge from this country for 30-plus years, from Liberal rule and so on. For him to come back here and lecture us about what a just society is leaves a lot to be desired.

Opposition Motion--Government Policies
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am slightly surprised by this line of attack. In this House there has been consistent bipartisan support for the rights and freedoms of Canadians. The member refers to the legacy of Mr. Diefenbaker. That is a tradition that is held in respect on this side of the House.

It therefore seems strange that he should cast aspersions on the record of Prime Minister Trudeau, a man who commands the respect of all Canadians and left as his legacy a Charter of Rights and Freedoms of which all Canadians can be proud.

Opposition Motion--Government Policies
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague's deliberations. I find the motion very difficult to understand, first of all because of the number of priorities. We saw this with the last government and the last leader it had, when they had a very difficult time trying to come up with the priorities.

Now we see a supply day motion coming into the House in which we have the same sort of situation, where the hon. member talks about judges, the environment, child care, aboriginals and the Wheat Board. I have a difficult time with a motion like this, but let us just take these one at a time.

First, on the environmental record, the hon. member talks about all the good things that the past government did, but the record is 35% more emissions than when Canada signed the Kyoto accord saying we would reduce them. We can compare that to other industrialized nations, such as the one south of the border, whose record is much, much better than ours.

The member talked about child care. Not one new child care space in 13 years was created by the previous government.

When it comes to aboriginals, we still have third world conditions on aboriginal reserves in this country after 13 years of Liberal government.

When it comes to the Wheat Board, I do not hear the Liberals advocating that the Wheat Board should be in control of the barley and wheat grown in Ontario or Quebec, so I am--

Opposition Motion--Government Policies
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. We do have to give the hon. member some time to respond before time runs out. The hon. deputy leader of the opposition.

Opposition Motion--Government Policies
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has raised issues about the environment. Last night, the House passed by an overwhelming majority a motion that asked the government to get serious about Kyoto. This side of the House is not going to take lessons in environmental compliance from that side of the House.

Everything we have heard from that side of the House has been one long excuse about why the Conservatives cannot do anything. They have been in office for a year. That is the point of this motion: to draw attention to the fact that after their year in office we are still awaiting serious, reliable, credible, deliverable action on the environment.

The hon. member brings up the issue of child care. This seems to me to have been a tactical mistake on his part. That is the charitable way to put it, because I was in this place when specific promises were made to Canadians that the government would create actual child care spaces. Unless I have missed something, my fellow members, I see no child care spaces at all delivered by the government.

Opposition Motion--Government Policies
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I feel privileged to be able to discuss this motion introduced by the official opposition. To my mind, the points and themes raised in the motion are subjects at the heart of our society and our Canadian values.

With respect to judicial selection committees, my colleague for Etobicoke—Lakeshore spoke of changes the Conservative government has made that enable it to put in place the only plan it has managed to develop.

In a matter affecting all Canadians, the government’s plan is to ensure that our judiciary becomes ideological, that is, that the judiciary share this government’s ideology. I am not alone in saying this; all the members of the Liberal caucus and all the country’s legal experts, the Quebec Bar and the Canadian Bar Association say so, too. The Prime Minister himself has also said so.

Indeed the Prime Minister finally put his cards on the table yesterday during question period. He proudly affirmed that his intention was to appoint judges who shared his intransigent opinions respecting justice.

He clearly stated the reason why he changed the composition of the selection committees created for the first time in 1988, under the leadership of the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney; this gives him full power to ensure that the candidates qualified for appointment to the judiciary share his ideological point of view.

The Prime Minister admitted with great pride that this is a point of view based on law and order, the limitation—indeed, restriction—of judicial discretion, the increase in the crown prosecutor’s discretionary power, and the assurance that all scientific facts pertaining to our Criminal Code and its effectiveness with respect to sentencing should be completely discarded.

The dress has been taken off and we now get to see the ugly face of the Conservative Party which is now in power.

The Prime Minister was very proud to announce that he had changed the composition of the selection committees. What was the composition prior? There were seven members. One member came from the judiciary, three members came from the legal profession, and three members from the community at large appointed by the government. Each of the seven members had a right to vote. The government has now removed the right to vote from the judge who chairs the committee, added on a fourth so-called member from the community, and in so doing ensured that its appointees have the majority vote on the committee.

That was not sufficient. Under the previous system for the selection of judges, the JACs, as I have heard the Minister of Justice refer to them, the judicial advisory committees, were required to evaluate potential candidates and to actually label them as highly recommended, recommended, or not recommended.

The government, I guess, is so afraid that it does not have enough individuals who share its ideological bent who would meet the designation of highly recommended that it has now wiped out those designations and now it is a pass or fail.

This is clearly unconscionable. This is what we call lowering the bar. Our judiciary is heralded throughout the world for its excellence, independence and impartiality. By removing the designations, highly recommended, recommended and not recommended, the Conservative government is ensuring that Canadians will no longer have the guarantee that those appointed to our judiciary are highly recommended. They will not know if a person received one point above the passing grade.

There are parents today who are arguing with their provincial governments in an attempt to change the evaluation and the school marks system of pass or fail because they have no way of judging exactly how well their children are doing. This is happening in Quebec now. Now we are seeing this neo-conservative government lowering the bar. But that is not all.

My colleague from Etobicoke--Lakeshore made the point that the Conservative government is not willing and not interested in governing for all Canadians. It is only interested in governing for those who share its own ideological bent. What better way than to look at what the government has done with programs, plans and agreements that the previous Liberal government had negotiated and signed following widespread consultation, whether it be the Kelowna accord or the early learning and child care agreements with 10 provinces and two of the territorial governments.

Just on that last issue, the government said by scrapping those agreements and by instituting in place of those agreements $100 a month per child under the age of six, which would amount to $1,200 a year, this would provide choice to families who choose to have one of the parents stay at home, and choice to those families who decide to have only one of the parents work full time and the other one possibly work part time.

In fact, as is the case, and the Conservative government has shown it over and over again, it did not tell all of the truth. It did not tell all of the facts to Canadians. That $100 a month, or a total of $1,200 a year, is taxable. The Conservatives neglected to put that in big bold print in those ads they took out in major national newspapers.

They talked about $100 a month per child, and we had to go down to the bottom of the page and in minuscule letters we had to use a magnifying glass in order to determine that it was taxable. Guess who is going to have to give back the most? It is the poorest families, not the richest families.

I ask members, how more ideologically bent can a government get than to design a program that is in fact not to help families have real choice? If we want families to have real choice, then we ensure that families have access to early learning, for instance in play groups. For those individuals who are private providers who wish to upgrade their skills, we ensure that when they are taking care of children in their homes or in the children's homes, they have the proper training and skills. Whether it is just to babysit a couple of hours or not, the spaces must be there. They must be created and that has not been the case.

I will conclude by saying simply that I have rarely seen a government develop all its policies and programs from an ideological point of view that excludes, rather than includes, the most vulnerable.

I am ready to answer questions, if there are any.

Opposition Motion--Government Policies
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I am just wondering if either the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore or the one who just spoke can tell us if there is a typo here because everything that is being referred to are failures of the former government.

On the judicial appointment process, for instance, Allison Hanes reports this morning:

In 2005, the government named at least nine loyalists to the bodies that help choose federal and provincial superior court judges, including a president of the federal Liberal party's B.C. and Manitoba wings, a contender for the presidency of the Nova Scotia branch, a former Newfoundland Cabinet minister and unsuccessful provincial candidate.

That is just on the judicial process. As far as Kyoto, the Liberals did not follow any of it and we are 35% below the levels that we should be. It is this government that created child care spaces. They created none. As far as aboriginals, it is this government that has provided a $3.7 billion increase over two years, more than four Liberal budgets altogether, and as far as an assault on the farmers being undemocratic, it is the former government that put farmers in jail related to the Wheat Board.

Also, would the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore be willing to apologize, because in the litany of things he said the Liberals did, much like Al Gore said he invented the Internet, he said that unemployment insurance was created by the Liberals. That was actually brought in by R.B. Bennett in 1935. He also took credit for creating the health care system. My dear friends in the New Democratic Party I am sure took tremendous offence to that because in fact it was Tommy Douglas who first brought that to the Canadian scene.

Would the Liberals be willing to acknowledge some of these? I am sure they were honest errors. Would they be willing to acknowledge them, including the typo that it should be the former Liberal government that is referred to in this motion?