House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Don Valley East.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Wajid Khan Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

On this day we commemorate the Sharpeville massacre in which 69 demonstrators were gunned down for protesting peacefully against the apartheid regime in South Africa. This event marked the beginning of the end of apartheid and has been commemorated by the United Nations since 1966.

Canada was one of the first nations to support the UN declaration. To mark this day the Government of Canada supports young people in numerous activities which raise awareness of the harmful effects of racism and demonstrates clearly the commitment and leadership of the federal government to foster respect, equality and a greater understanding of our cultural diversity.

Through their participation, Canadian youth continue to speak loudly and eloquently. There is no place for racism in their lives and in our multicultural country of Canada.

Persian New Year
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the beginning of the Persian new year, Norouz. I wish the Iranian community in my riding and across Canada a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

Norouz is a rich and ancient tradition celebrating life, renewal, family and spring. This joyous holiday is celebrated with great enthusiasm, warmth and inspiration. Norouz enhances the cultural fabric of Canada, enriching our community and the diversity of our country.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Norouz celebration that showcased performances by young students of the international languages Farsi program under the exemplary leadership of Pary Missaghi held at Thornlea Secondary School.

In the coming days I look forward to participating in the numerous celebrations taking place in my riding of Thornhill which has benefited significantly from the vibrant spirit and contributions of the Iranian Canadian community.

Best wishes and a happy Norouz to all those celebrating at this very special time of year.

Arab and Lebanese Communities
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight the dynamic integration of the Lebanese and Arab communities in Quebec, particularly in Montreal.

These communities must be involved in all areas of society. I would like to salute the work of leaders who are contributing to the unity of these communities and to their integration into our society.

As a result of their efforts, Montreal now plays host to events such as the Lebanese festival, which gathers together almost 80,000 people from all over for four days. We are also seeing the rise of institutions such as the Lebanese Islamic centre, the Muslim cultural centre of Montreal, the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Canada and the Muwahiddun Druze community.

In the spirit of unity and respect for differences, these leaders are putting an end to counter-productive views and fostering the kind of communication that is vital to allaying fears and discovering the beauty of the other, who is, essentially, our neighbour.

Iran
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier this month women across the globe gathered to celebrate International Women's Day. The meetings were a chance for men and women to show solidarity with their sisters around the world, except in Iran, where 33 women protesting peacefully were arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned.

Ironically, those women were protesting the violent arrest and detention of five women at last year's gathering. These five women are still in jail. I am extremely concerned about the welfare of these women, who were simply exercising their right to protest against Iran's terrible human rights record and its discriminatory laws. This cannot be tolerated. We should all be outraged.

Arresting women on bogus charges is more than unacceptable. It is disgraceful. Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs commit today to make representations to the Iranian government on behalf of these women and all women in Iran and their human rights?

Mental Health
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, when the prebudget consultations visited my hometown of Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, the finance committee heard a heartfelt and very compassionate presentation by a local man, Mr. Don Boddy, on behalf of the Canadian Mental Health Association. He called for the establishment of a national mental health strategy.

This week with budget 2007 this government listened to Mr. Boddy and to others. I was thrilled when the national mental health strategy was announced. I was thrilled for Mr. Boddy because he is a family man who took the time to come and present his views to our committee. He did not hire a lobbyist in a fancy suit. He is too busy building his community and working for his family. He challenged this government to act on mental health and we did.

This is a government that listens and reaches out. This is a government that acts. This is a government that is breaking down the welfare wall because it is the right thing to do. This is a government that supports parents with disabled children because it is the caring thing to do. This is a government that is acting to reduce hospital wait times because it is the compassionate thing to do. This is a government that listens and then acts on what it hears.

I want to pass on my congratulations to Don Boddy and all those who aspire for a better Canada.

Aboriginal Communities
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, I would like to commemorate the 1960 massacre in Sharpsville, South Africa, where 69 people were slain while participating in an anti-apartheid demonstration.

Today, the Liberals remember the Kelowna accords signed between aboriginal chiefs and provincial and territorial premiers on November 24, 2005.

Today, I call on the Conservative government to put an end to apartheid and to eliminate discrimination against aboriginals by honouring the Kelowna accords and contributing the $5.1 billion promised for health care, housing, economic development and education.

Today, a new chapter in Canadian history must begin with the elimination of all forms of racism and discrimination and the recognition of the new face of multiculturalism in Canada.

The Budget
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I want to express my appreciation to our provincial and municipal colleagues. Conservatives believe that each level of government should have adequate resources to deliver the services for which they are responsible. Our Minister of Finance has listened and responded to their requests for fairer treatment and more predictable funding.

One example is the GST rebate for municipalities. Until now, the rebate was only 57%. Now it is 100%. This may not sound like much, but for a single large purchase, such as a $200,000 grader, savings will now exceed $5,000.

Another example is the extension of the gas tax fund. Municipalities now have a seven year commitment to help them develop their capital plans. In my riding, Kawartha Lakes will receive $1.7 million this year, $2.2 million next year and $4.5 million each year thereafter to meet local infrastructure needs.

We respect and value our colleagues at the provincial and municipal levels. We are doing our part to help them do their jobs.

Raynald Fréchette
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that we learned of the death of Raynald Fréchette, former MNA for Sherbrooke and retired judge.

A lawyer by training, he was the founding president of the Société de criminologie de Sherbrooke. He got involved in politics in 1966, first with the Union Nationale in the riding of Sherbrooke, and then with René Lévesque's Parti Québécois team. He returned to practising law after being defeated in the 1985 election, and was appointed a judge in the Superior Court of Quebec in 1988. Justice Fréchette also co-authored a book published in 1989 called Les députés de Sherbrooke au Parlement fédéral et au Parlement provincial 1867-1989.

The Bloc Québécois pays tribute to this politician, who was known for his mastery of the French language, and offers its sincere condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues.

The Budget
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that Quebec stakeholders applaud the Conservative budget tabled by the Minister of Finance.

The vice-president and chief economist of the Conseil du Patronat, Diane Bellemare, believes that the budget “contains a large number of concrete measures that will stimulate investment and wealth creation”.

According to Jean-Luc Trahan, president and executive director of the Quebec manufacturers and exporters association, “the federal government heard the call of the manufacturers”.

With regard to the $800 million investment to strengthen the quality and competitiveness of the Canadian post-secondary education system, the president of the Fédération des cégeps, Gaëtan Boucher, stated that “a significant step forward has definitely been taken”.

According to Robert Coulombe, first vice-president of the union of Quebec municipalities, the investments in infrastructure programs and extension of gas tax funding for municipalities “are definitely the measures of most interest to municipalities”.

Because the budget restores the fiscal balance and invests in Canadians' priorities, federal Liberals from Quebec should pull together and vote in favour of this budget.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, it has been more than a year since the government broke a campaign promise to aboriginal Canadians and cancelled the $5.1 billion Kelowna accord.

The government has since insisted that issues such as the first nations child welfare crisis and a lack of access to clean water are not money issues. These are related to a shortage of fiscal resources. There is nothing for social housing, nothing for post-secondary education, nothing for child welfare. Where there is a lack of a plan, people perish.

The government just delivered a budget that does little for Canadians, but delivers virtually nothing for aboriginal people. The government should be ashamed of itself for its indifference to first nations, Métis and Inuit Canadians.

It is time to restore the Kelowna funding.

Trucking Industry
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, our budget will achieve results for Canadians.

One industry in particular will benefit from the decisions taken in this budget. The trucking industry is vital to my riding and across Atlantic Canada and I am proud that we are getting results for truckers.

The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association has commended the federal government's plan to increase the amount of meal expenses deductible by long haul drivers. The deduction will increase from 50% to 80%.

Peter Nelson, executive director of the APTA, had this to say:

This is a positive step forward recognizing the valuable contribution long-haul truck drivers make to our everyday lives in Canada. It will also be helpful in our recruitment and retention initiatives.

I could not agree more. I am happy to be part of a government that is getting things done for the industry that contributes so much to the economy of Tobique—Mactaquac and Atlantic Canada.

Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we have heard, today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, but sadly, despite the sincere hope and the real values of ordinary Canadians, today we still see examples of hate and racially motivated crimes.

Unfortunately, we have seen very little concrete action from the government. We need to be officially recognizing the bicentenary of the end of the Atlantic slave trade, but the government has not. It is only through understanding the root causes of racism that we can examine and address the social and economic inequality that breeds hatred and bigotry.

We need a budget from a government that does not ignore our human rights responsibilities. We are failing to meet our international commitments, particularly as they relate to aboriginal people and women, but this week's budget puts nothing toward improving our human rights record at home.

I know I speak on behalf of the NDP caucus when I demand that we not only mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racism but act to eliminate racism.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, all aboriginal people lost when the Conservative government refused to implement the Kelowna accord, but perhaps the greatest loss was felt by all aboriginal women.

For the first time ever, aboriginal women were at the negotiating table to develop a plan of action that would have closed the gap in education, health, housing and economic opportunities. The Kelowna accord provided women with an opportunity to gain more equality in their lives.

The list of initiatives under the accord was impressive: strengthened social foundations, better education opportunities, housing and health care. Most important of all was that women would be included in any future policy development. Women's voices finally would have been heard.

The Conservative government's refusal to implement the accord speaks volumes about how it really feels about aboriginal women and their role in building a stronger Canada. To add insult to injury, our people were forgotten in the recent budget.

Culture
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to point out that while the Conservative government continues to be mistaken about the role of culture in our daily lives, while it refuses to provide adequate funding to the Canada Council for the Arts, while it stifles the vitality of Quebec and Canadian museums, while it hinders the development of the Quebec film industry, the cultural world is sounding the alarm.

The UNESCO convention on cultural diversity came into force this past Sunday. The day after this historic date, the cultural world expected a significant gesture from the Conservatives in their budget speech. They thumbed their noses and showed their true colours.

A great deal of hard work went into this historic convention. It deserves the respect and support of the Government of Canada. Enough with the misleading arguments. The people in this place and in Quebec have their eyes open and are watching the government. They are waiting and so are we.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, today the House will vote to implement the Kelowna accord.

Since cancelling the accord, the Conservative Prime Minister and Minister of Indian Affairs have ignored the ugly reality and desperation of aboriginal poverty. When faced with damning facts like the number of children in care, 27,000 of them, the minister has the gall to put the blame on first nations, Métis and Inuit families. When faced with calls to address the poverty gap by implementing the Kelowna accord, the government denies it ever existed and says it never promised anything.

The Kelowna accord does exist. It is a viable, workable plan to help first nations, Métis and Inuit address poverty and third world conditions. It is a disgrace that the government continues to put partisan politics ahead of an opportunity to make poverty history for aboriginal communities.

I say to the Conservatives that if they have any decency, any shred of honour and any compassion whatsoever, they must abide by the will of Parliament and implement the Kelowna accord.

The Budget
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, budget 2007 is delivering Saskatchewan its best deal since Confederation. My home province will receive $878 million in new money, the largest per capita gains of any province in Canada.

Under the previous Liberal government, there was no plan. In fact, the member for Wascana repeatedly denied there was any such thing as a fiscal imbalance. Not only would he refuse to fix the problem, he did not even admit there was a problem.

That member spent 13 years in cabinet and did not get it done, but what is even more shocking is that the member now is prepared to vote against the budget. By voting against the budget, the member for Wascana will be voting against $878 million in new money and $250 million in money for Saskatchewan farmers.

The Liberal House leader has betrayed the people of Saskatchewan. He is prepared to do it again by voting against this budget. The member should be ashamed of himself and ashamed of the people that he represents.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this divisive Prime Minister--

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Where's Joe? We want Joe.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. Members do not choose who they want. The Speaker does. The Speaker has recognized the Leader of the Opposition. He now has the floor.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, this divisive Prime Minister has broken his promises so often that this budget is only adding to that.

This first example is from January 4, 2006, and this what the Prime Minister promised the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador: “We will remove non-renewable natural resource revenue from the equalization formula...”.

He committed to do that. Why did he break his promise to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition should know that is the arrangement that exists presently in the Atlantic accords, which this government has protected in their entirety. This government has adopted as well the exclusion of offshore resources as part of the general equalization formula for every province.

Once again, this is an example of why the Leader of the Opposition should have read the budget before he took a position on it. If he had done that, he might find that he does not have to kick out members of his own party who understand that this is a good budget for Canadians.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, maybe the Prime Minister should read the budget. He will see that it is 50% on non-renewable resources that is taking effect. He very clearly broke his promise.

There is another one that he broke. He promised to create 125,000 new child care spaces. Last year's budget created nothing and this budget creates probably zero.

How come the Prime Minister has tabled a budget that breaks such an important promise that is so vital for Canadian families?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, if he had read the budget he would have seen that there is a tax credit for businesses that open up new child care spaces. There are new transfers to the provinces for the creation of new child care spaces. Of course, there is also, from last year's budget, the $1,200 a year allowance for every Canadian family.

I know the Liberal Party wants to take away all these things, but once again, the Leader of the Opposition did not know what he was talking about on the security issue and he does not know what he is talking about on the budget issue. That is why he cannot get his own caucus to stand behind his positions.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Not a single space, Mr. Speaker. That is another broken promise.

There is a third one. I have only three questions, so I will give three examples, but there are so many. He broke his promise to the retirees of this country. He did not protect their savings in the income trusts. This is the comment he made: “A Conservative government will...preserve income trusts by not imposing any new taxes on them”.

Why did he break his promise? Why did he not use the budget to correct the harm this did to so many Canadian families?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition knows the answer to that question, which is that we made sure that corporations pay their fair share of taxes and that there is income splitting for seniors, and the Liberal Party voted against both of those things.

I must also point out that the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie said that it is a good budget. In Quebec, only the leader of the federal Liberal Party and his band of federal Liberals do not support correcting the fiscal imbalance. It is a shameful position.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government believes there are two classes of Canadians. There are those who might vote for the Conservative Party and there are those who do not count.

A prime minister is supposed to unite and not divide, and a federal government is supposed to act on behalf of all Canadians, so why is it that the people of Saskatchewan, B.C., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador are wondering today, “Why don't we count?”

Why did the government introduce a budget that so obviously divides the country?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the deputy leader of the Liberal Party knows full well that the fiscal balance solution is based on the advice of an independent expert panel, in fact one appointed by the previous government. We modified those recommendations specifically for our platform commitments. Every province gets more money under this budget and a lot more money as the years go by, $39 billion more.

This budget rewards families, it rewards seniors, it rewards truckers, it rewards farmers, it rewards soldiers, and I could go on and on. The one thing that unites members of the Liberal Party is they are voting against all of them.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will try again in French. On Monday, the Minister of Finance announced rather arrogantly that the bickering between the provincial and federal governments was over. It is not over at all.

Why did the government not know that half of the provinces would reject its budget? Why did this government drive the provinces apart, rather than bring them together?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that this is the first question in French from the official opposition today. My answer is clear. It is this band of centralizing federal Liberals who are against correcting the fiscal imbalance. It is the centralist philosophy of a Liberal government that would collect all the money in Ottawa so that it can tell the provinces what to do. That is not our philosophy and that is not the philosophy of a good Canadian federation.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services confirmed our fears. In an interview, Senator Fortier said that nothing is ever permanent in politics and that, “Changes may occur in any program”. The minister is unable to guarantee that the money earmarked for Quebec to resolve the fiscal imbalance will be renewed year after year.

In light of the statements by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, does the Prime Minister realize that in order to truly resolve the fiscal imbalance there absolutely needs to be a permanent transfer of tax fields?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the current arrangement is a long-term arrangement for seven years. There are different ways of transferring money, but it is true that the best guarantee for transfers to the provinces, and good relations with the provinces, is a Conservative government that advocates decentralization for this country.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the definition of fiscal imbalance is simple: Ottawa gets too much money for its responsibilities while Quebec does not get enough to deal with its own jurisdictions. If the government really wants to resolve the fiscal imbalance, it is clear that the tax base has to be shared in another way and not come from a decision made every year by a government that cannot predict whether it will still be here in seven, eight, nine or ten years. No one can do that, especially not in a minority situation.

Why does the government not commit to truly transferring the tax fields based on tax points, GST points, or a combination of the two? This would be clearer, simpler and would resolve the problem.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, quite simply, there are a number of ways to resolve the fiscal imbalance. We can transfer money or we can transfer tax points. The disadvantage of tax points is that they have different values for each province, while transferring a dollar to each province is transferring a dollar. That may be fairer. We are still prepared to consider the possibilities. To have such fiscal relations with the provinces, it is necessary to have a federalist government in Quebec and a government here in Ottawa that respects provincial jurisdictions.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in reference to money transfers and tax point transfers to the provinces,the Prime Minister said, “In the end, the result is the same”. But that is wrong. It is not the same thing, and the Prime Minister knows it full well. In fact, he just pointed it out.

Can the Prime Minister deny that there is a huge difference between the transfer of money through tax points and the transfer of cash, which would give Quebec and the provinces permanent, reliable and independent revenues that Ottawa would not be able cut at will, as has been the case in the past?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there are differences. One of those differences is that a tax point transfer is worth less for Quebec than a direct transfer of cash. That is one consideration. I should also point out that the reaction to the way we settled the fiscal imbalance issue is very positive in Quebec.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Will the Prime Minisiter admit that, by choosing to transfer money instead of tax fields, he wants to maintain control over Quebec and the provinces, and he wants to keep them under the control of the federal government by keeping them at the mercy of Ottawa's good will? Come to think of it, this is what the Prime Minister is saying.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely false. This government clearly respects provincial jurisdictions. It is prepared to meet with the new provincial government—which I hope will be a federalist government—to control federal spending power.

The problem for the Bloc Québécois is not a fiscal imbalance issue, but a separation issue. We have settled the issue of separation. Quebeckers do not want Quebec to separate from the rest of Canada.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative budget ignores the basic needs of families, because tax the deductions primarily benefit large corporations and the wealthy. Tax cuts do not hire nurses, reduce tuition fees, create daycare spaces, or build affordable housing.

Does the Prime Minister realize that his budget does nothing to reduce the social imbalance that is adversely affecting middle class families and the poor?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not accept that at all. The government has brought in a number of important initiatives for working Canadians and for the working poor, the working income tax benefit for example, the new savings plans for disabled Canadians. We have also brought in a child care credit for families and the vast majority of that will go to very modest and middle income families. These are all things NDP members claim to support.

It is about time, instead of criticizing and asking for more spending, they actually voted for some of the things that help working people.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is in denial. The budget does nothing about the growing prosperity gap that is evident in the country.

To give several examples, there is nothing for affordable training that people need for the 21st century economy. New Canadians were promised that they would have their credentials recognized and we have pathetic action on that front, which will not amount to a hill of beans. What about ensuring that people have a decent wage? Why is the government not taking action to bring us a $10 minimum wage across the country, something we should have in Canada, and in Ontario, right away?

Why will the Prime Minister not act to do something that is fair for working families for a change?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let me quote what the Vancouver Sun says about the knee-jerk opposition of the NDP:

How could the opposition have faced the nation after defeating a budget that allocated $300 million to an immunization program to protect women against cervical cancer, set aside money to help the RCMP protect children from sexual exploitation and trafficking, created a savings plan to help parents put aside money to care for disabled children, and funded the establishment of a Canadian Mental Health Commission?

NDP Leader Jack Layton explained that his party wouldn't support the budget because it left only crumbs on the kitchen table, and put the rest on the boardroom table. But he's wrong. There's a whole loaf on the kitchen table...

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, Judy lives in my province of Ontario. She is a busy single mother who raises her seven year old son. Life has not been easy on her and she works as many hours as she can. It is difficult without the benefit of an affordable national child care system. She will earn about $22,000 this year working at various jobs, too much for the working income tax credit, too little for the child tax credit.

Could the Minister of Finance explain why his budget does nothing for Judy?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, in last year's budget we introduced the $100 per month universal child tax benefit, which would be received. We have also now introduced the benefit for the—

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden York Centre, ON

Spin, skate, spin, skate.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Does the former goaltender not want me to answer or does he want me to answer?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

We will move on. The hon. member for Don Valley East. We will have a little order, though, please.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, shame on the minister. He could have had the courtesy to answer the question.

Marie is 56 years old and an active member of her community in Cranbrook, B.C. Her late husband, Kevin, passed away three years ago and left her a pension of $40,000. She continues to live in a house where they raised their grown children. Right now she is busy volunteering her time to ensure that this year's summer festival is the best one ever.

Could the Minister of Finance explain why his budget does nothing for Marie?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the universal child benefit, there is also the benefit, costing $1.4 billion, introduced for children under the age of 18 in budget 2007. This is a major reform and a major step forward to encourage families.

Lots of families in Canada struggle. At the end of the month, they have trouble paying their bills, with the cost of gas, the cost of energy and the cost of electricity in many places in Canada. We understand that struggle by middle class families in Canada

Seventy-five per cent of the tax reductions in the budget go to people earning less than $75,000, about 50% to people earning less than $33,000—

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. member for Markham—Unionville.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, Marc and Mylène are a young couple with no children renting a one-bedroom apartment. Marc lost his job when the Prime Minister broke his promise to keep the mail sorting centre in Quebec City open. He found another much lower-paying job, and now they each earn about $25,000 per year.

Can the Minister of Finance explain why his 2007 budget does nothing for Marc and Mylène?

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to correct the facts, because the member is mistaken. Not one person at the Quebec City mail sorting centre lost their job. His preamble is misleading, just like his question.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker—

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The noise level is a little excessive. I know it is Wednesday, but perhaps we could just tone things down while we proceed with today's question period.

The hon. member for Markham—Unionville has the floor.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, Jim and his wife raised their three teenage sons in Whitby on a family income of more than $300,000. This lucky family just got a $930 tax credit?

Why, in the name of tax fairness, do decent, hard-working Canadians of modest means, like Marie, Marc, Mylene and Judy, get absolutely nothing from this budget, while Jim, who already rakes in—

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. The right hon. Prime Minister.

The Budget
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, once again, has his facts wrong. In his first question he was wrong about the postal centre in Quebec City.

In this question he tries to imply that people have to have an income of $300,000 to get the full benefit of the new child credit, when in fact the full benefit kicks in for an income earner of only $37,000.

These are the kinds of mistakes and the kinds of attacks we get from a party that has made up its mind on the budget and does not even understand what is in it. It has made up its mind without knowing the facts.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, when questioned, the Minister of National Defence insisted that he never discussed Afghanistan with the president of the Red Cross when they met last fall. Even though he has often indicated that the Red Cross was in charge of monitoring the orderly transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities, it has never occurred to the minister to discuss the matter with him.

What did they talk about? Did they talk about the scheduling of blood banks in Canada or about the registering process for first aid courses?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensure that detainees are treated properly in Afghanistan. That is why we have made a recent agreement with the human rights commission, which will go into the Afghan system and verify that detainees are treated properly.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, might I remind the minister that he has mislead this House not just once but several times. In so doing, he has broken the trust we had in his word. The minister should not delude himself into thinking that he will get off the hook that easily. It would be too easy to twist the truth, misinform the House and simply apologize for all to be forgotten. Well, we will not stand for that.

What is the minister waiting for to resign?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said, we have recently signed an agreement with the Afghan Human Rights Commission. That commission will go into the Afghan system and monitor our detainees to see how they are treated.

Meanwhile, I was in Afghanistan last week with our hard-working troops. I met the Afghan human rights representative. He gave me his personal assurance that the Afghans can do what we ask of them.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, because the agreement between Canada and Afghanistan is inadequate, the Canadians Forces have no idea how the individuals they have turned over to Afghan authorities so far have been treated.

Instead of directing his efforts at trying to justify his lack of action, what is the Minister of Foreign Affairs waiting for to follow the lead of the Netherlands and enter into an agreement with Afghanistan, whereby the government would be kept abreast of how the individuals captured are being treated and could intervene in this regard?

It is the responsibility of the Minister of Foreign Affairs to enter into such agreements. Let him take his responsibilities.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Minister of National Defence has answered that question. The situation is clear. There is now more protection afforded to those in such situations in Afghanistan.

I am convinced that the Minister of National Defence now has the control and information necessary to monitor the situation.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I know that the Minister of Foreign Affairs does not want to get involved and would rather let his colleague, the Minister of National Defence, deal with the problem but, logically, the Minister of Foreign Affairs should be the one signing agreements with foreign countries. In fact, in the United States, Condoleeza Rice, whom the minister is rather fond of, is the one who signs those kinds of agreements.

What is the minister waiting for to sign a comprehensive agreement with the Afghan authorities to meet our international obligations?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, just to inform the hon. member, it was actually the Chief of the Defence Staff who signed the original agreement.

Since that time, we know the Minister of National Defence has travelled to Afghanistan and met with the necessary officials from the human rights commission there. The Minister of National Defence has this clearly in hand. He knows now what the situation was that had to be addressed. He has taken action on that. The government stands four-square behind its Minister of National Defence who is doing a great job on behalf of Canadians.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, a striking contrast: the Kelowna accord versus budget 2007; working cooperatively versus confrontation; and eliminating the prosperity gap versus perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

The Conservatives call their budget document “Aspire”. They should have called it “Betrayal”. The minister once called aboriginal poverty the most pressing social issue that we face as a nation.

How can he be anything other than ashamed over his government's inaction plan to combat aboriginal poverty?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, in 2007-08, the spending of the Government of Canada on aboriginal programs and services is going to crest over $10 billion for the first time in Canadian history. This is $1 billion more per annum than the last Liberal government spent in the last Liberal budget.

My friend has somewhat of a moral dilemma. She speaks of betrayal. If she ascribes to her own rhetoric, she will break ranks with her leader and support this budget.

What is it going to be? More Liberal hypocrisy and rhetoric or is she going to stand with aboriginal Canadians?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister mixes legal obligations with program dollars.

First nations organizations are concerned that core funding for the Assembly of First Nations, perhaps as much as $8 million, may now be in jeopardy.

Will the Prime Minister explain what the government has done to the core funding of the Assembly of First Nations and will he guarantee that it will not be put at risk?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I am not mixing anything.

The hon. member stands opposed to matrimonial property rights for first nations women. She stands opposed to Bill C-44 to provide first nations women with human rights protection for the first time in Canadian history. She does not support the $300 million on reserve private housing initiative. She does not support what is in the budget for specific claims.

It is just more Liberal rhetoric and empty promises. She does not stand in favour of aboriginal people in this country at all.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, first nations, Métis and Inuit leaders want to close the prosperity gap. Instead they get insults. They get nothing in this Conservative budget. I want to read a quote:

I have seen the face of aboriginal poverty. I have seen the face of aboriginal despair, the despondency of fetal alcohol syndrome and of teenage suicide. I am unashamed to say, as a citizen of Canada, that I have wept in the face of the poverty I have seen on first nations.

It is the current Minister of Indian Affairs who said that. Did he weep around the cabinet table when the Prime Minister said no to aboriginal funding?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member faces the same moral dilemma. This budget contains $10.1 billion of expenditures this year for aboriginal programs and services. Does the member support this or not? This includes on reserve expenditures of about $16,500 per citizen, $66,000 per family of four. Is the hon. member going to stand and support this budget, or is he not?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, today my colleagues and I will proudly vote for the member for LaSalle—Émard's private member's bill supporting the historic Kelowna accord.

It is shameful that the government is widening the economic, educational and social gaps between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians, and there is only lip service and misleading in this House.

Now that former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says that he supports the Kelowna accord absolutely, will the government reverse itself and support Bill C-292 unanimously?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, it just continues, the Liberal tradition of empty promises and rhetoric to aboriginal Canadians. The Liberals need to have the facts straight with respect to this budget, and no one on this side of the House has been able to respond.

This budget provides $1 billion more than the previous Liberal government provided in its last budget, so what problem do opposition members have with supporting the budget? Are they afraid of their leader? Are they afraid to be kicked out of their caucus in the same way as the member from Thunder Bay? Why do they not stand in favour of Canada's aboriginal people?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week, the Liberal leader suddenly took an interest in LNG tankers using Head Harbour Passage. This interest is surprising, given that he had the lead on the file in the previous government and did nothing.

In fact, the now Leader of the Opposition said in 2004 that his government had not received any information that required it to change the policy that would allow the passage of LNG tankers through Head Harbour Passage.

Could the minister advise the House what the government has done to indicate Canada's opposition to the use of Head Harbour Passage by LNG tankers?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, Canada's new government has indicated forcefully that we oppose the transit of LNG traffic through Head Harbour Passage. The Prime Minister has stated this. The veterans affairs minister has championed this. I have raised this with Secretary Rice. Ambassador Wilson has formally conveyed to the United States strong opposition to LNG tankers passing through Head Harbour Passage because of navigational, environmental and public safety concerns.

We welcome the flip-flop of the Leader of the Opposition. Perhaps he will now see the light on a number of other files. He will recognize a government that is getting a job done where he failed and perhaps he will visit another New Brunswick landmark, the Reversing Falls.

Military Medals
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, in Canada right now we are about to lose some cultural and historical artifacts.

Mr. Conn Smythe, the founder of the Maple Leafs in the NHL and a World War I prisoner of war and a World War II veteran, as well as F.W. Curzon, one of Canada's first war artists during the Northwest Rebellion, have something in common. Both of their medals are up for sale on the auction block on the Internet by profiteers who want to steal the valour of others.

I ask the cultural affairs minister, the heritage minister, to stand up in this House and tell Canadians that these very important Canadian historical artifacts will not leave our country.

Military Medals
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, military medals recognize the valiant service that our military provides to Canada and Canadians. Those medals are the property of the recipients or their heirs.

The government does not intervene when the medals are sold within Canada. If they are sold outside of Canada, then the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board will make a determination, and a reasonable and responsible process will be followed.

Military Medals
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is absolute nonsense. My parents were liberated by the valour of Canadian soldiers, airmen and sailors.

The medals they wear are not currency on their chests. They represent valour, honour, duty and remembrance to those who died and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Nobody should profit from the valour of other people.

I say to the government one more time, if it will not stand up and stop the sale of these medals, then it should stop these medals from leaving this country once and for all.

Military Medals
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Durham
Ontario

Conservative

Bev Oda Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, military medals are part of Canada's recognition of service by our armed forces.

Upon their passing, they pass to the heirs or the estates of those military personnel. We respect that the families and the heirs of these valiant men and women want to and should be able to choose how they either retain or dispose of these medals. We respect the family's decision, but we do have a process in place if they are to potentially leave Canada.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, after months of misleading Canadians, the defence minister wants us to believe that he only recently learned how wrong his statements were on the role of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, even though he and the foreign affairs minister received a personal briefing last September.

Now, access documents show that if he had bothered to read his own ministerial briefing books, he would have known since October that the Red Cross only has the right to visit detainees and is not responsible to monitor them.

How can the minister expect Canadians to believe his so-called distortion was not deliberate when his answer was at his fingertips for months?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I have said, our government is committed to ensuring that detainees are treated properly in accordance with military law.

For that we have engaged the Afghan Human Rights Commission that will go into the Afghan system and check to see how the detainees are treated. It will report back to us if there is any maltreatment.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, what we have here is an incompetent minister who misled Canadians, who is not being transparent in these matters and whose excuses will not make one bit of difference.

We have a general who is incapable of reading his notes or understanding a two-page agreement that clearly explains the role of the Red Cross.

What we have here is a former arms dealer who is now in charge of decisions about what kind of military equipment our troops need, the kind he himself was trying to sell to the government.

Why should we trust him?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, all that blather is not going to change the fact that we will make sure that detainees are treated properly. We have engaged the Afghan Human Rights Commission. It will go into the Afghan system and report anything wrong with respect to detainees.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there are few things that are more important for the honour of a country than its duty to protect human lives, including war detainees. It is clear that the Minister of National Defence failed in his duty, even though he has often been briefed on this.

I have no other choice than to ask the Prime Minister to ask his Minister of National Defence to do the honourable thing and resign.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said in previous statements, my statements here in the House were made in good faith and based on the understanding that I had. I have taken action to ensure that our detainees are treated properly.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has to see that his minister was negligent and incompetent with respect to a very serious issue for a country like Canada: the protection of the human lives we are responsible for.

The Prime Minister cannot keep his Minister of National Defence, not unless the Prime Minister is telling us that it is not important for Canada to protect the human lives we are responsible for.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence has provided a clear explanation to the House of Commons. As the member knows, this government was at the time operating under an agreement signed by the previous government. We have since entered into a new arrangement with the Independent Afghan Human Rights Commission.

I can understand the passion that the Leader of the Opposition and members of his party feel for Taliban prisoners. I just wish occasionally they would show the same passion for Canadian soldiers.

Saint-Hubert Airport
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, Développement de l’aéroport Saint-Hubert de Longueuil, also known as DASH-L, is piloting an important project in partnership with Pratt & Whitney Canada, in order to allow that company to continue to test its new engine models in Quebec.

One possible solution for Pratt & Whitney is to concentrate all of its engine test flights in Saint-Hubert, but on the condition that the main runway is lengthened and repaired.

Does the Minister of Transport intend to respond favourably to DASH-L, by allocating the $70 million needed for the project?

Saint-Hubert Airport
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to speak with the hon. member who raised this matter. Our programs are subject to certain standards. Within the budgets under my responsibility, there is no money set aside for those requests. However, since the government corrected the fiscal imbalance, contrary to the official opposition's claims, perhaps within those funds, we could find what is needed to allow Quebec to flourish within a united Canada.

Saint-Hubert Airport
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, time is running out. Pratt & Whitney Canada of Longueuil must make a decision this spring.

Is the Minister of Transport aware of the significant and lasting impact that such a project would have, not only for the consolidation of the aerospace industry in Quebec, but also for the economic development of the region?

Saint-Hubert Airport
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am fully aware of the impact that such a project could have for the industry in the greater Montreal area. As we all know, the Bloc Québécois recently criticized my colleague, the Minister of Industry, regarding how certain spinoffs are going to be distributed across Canada. Pratt & Whitney is a world-class company that will be able to make its way in the world and that obviously deserves to have us look at this project.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister made two shocking statements. First, he said that the government does not care about human rights and, second, that the official opposition does not care about Canadian soldiers.

The Prime Minister must understand that he has insulted the entire Parliament with his statement and he should apologize.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said absolutely no such thing. What I clearly said was that the government does care about this issue, which is precisely why the Minister of National Defence, upon learning the information he learned, acted to correct the situation. We will continue to monitor the situation to ensure we make progress.

The only other point I want to make is that I would like to see more support in the House of Commons from all sides for our Canadian men and women in uniform. I think Canadians expect that from parliamentarians in every party. They have not been getting it and they deserve it.

Health
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, mental illness affects one in five people in Canada. In Monday's budget, the Minister of Finance announced the creation of the Canadian mental health commission, including long term funding and the appointment of former Senator Kirby as chair.

Could the Minister of Health provide details and the reaction of the mental health community to this announcement?

Health
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, I first want to congratulate the hon. Minister of Finance for creating a national mental health commission to help Canadians who need help to deal with this challenge.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association had this to say, “This is an important first concrete step toward getting a mental health strategy for Canada”. The Mood Disorders Society of Canada said, “We applaud the government on this important decision”.

We got the job done. The Liberals, in 13 years, did not get it done. Why will the Liberals not support and help those living with mental illness?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, the spring flood season is upon us and the people of Kashechewan continue to wait for the government to live up to the signed agreement to move them on to safe ground on their own territory. They have tried to work with the minister and have given him report after report. Last week the minister slammed the door on Kashechewan. They are being left on the flood plain with no plan and no commitment.

If he had no intention of living up to that signed agreement, why did he play political games with a desperate community for over a year?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that I met last week with Chief Solomon and members of the Kashechewan community. I reviewed at that time the document that they put in front of me. I indicated that I would get back to them within a two week period responding to what they had put before me.

In the meantime, we have sent people into the community to ensure that the water system is functioning properly, which I am advised it is, and that the dike is safe. We are taking all steps to ensure that is the case.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am so tired of the political spin I have been hearing from the minister.

We remember when he was in opposition and he stormed across the floor, threw down the book and demanded the Liberal minister's resignation for doing nothing. Here is the nub. He is sitting on a report that says that the dike will likely fail and that human life is at risk. He has done absolutely nothing to guarantee the health of these people.

What will it take for him to take action, deaths in Kashechewan?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, my friend goes too far, even by the standards of rhetoric in this place. I can assure him that I have met with the chief and specifically asked him if he was content with the steps that the department was taking. I inquired specifically about steps that needed to be taken to ensure the engineering safety of the dike. We discussed that. We struck a committee to ensure that work is being undertaken.

The water system is up to standard. We have spent a significant amount of money in the community with respect to housing and water. We are acting on the situation.

Comments by Member for Winnipeg Centre
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.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, I rise on a point of order in regard to an incident that occurred in this House during debate on a concurrence motion on Friday, March 2.

The NDP member for Winnipeg Centre said, “the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, who we call II Duce because Mussolini has nothing on this guy”. This is clearly unparliamentary language. In fact, page 150 of Beauchesne's 6th Edition has the word “fascists” listed as unparliamentary, and for obvious reasons.

The fascist regime committed untold atrocities during World War II and for any member of this House to compare another member to anyone in the fascist regime is unconscionable.

The statement by the New Democratic Party member is a slur against the good character of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and, in fact, is a slur and a condemnation about the membership of this place in general.

Even more troubling is the fact that over the past several months the New Democratic Party has stood in this House and in committee and has complained about the lack of decorum and civility in this place.

In light of that rhetoric, I would assume that the NDP can only be considered as sanctimonious and hypocritical. I would ask the member for Winnipeg Centre to apologize immediately, unreservedly, and withdraw his remarks.

Comments by Member for Winnipeg Centre
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I do not see any hon. member rising. I will take the matter under advisement and return to the House in due course.

The hon. member for South Shore—St. Margaret's on a different point of order.

Comments by Member for Timmins—James Bay
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, during a discussion in the House, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was speaking and the member for Timmins—James Bay made a very unparliamentary comment. We are talking about parliamentary language in this place. I would offer the member for Timmins—James Bay the opportunity to stand and apologize, first to the minister and second to the House.

Comments by Member for Timmins—James Bay
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a question of unparliamentary language but I think it speaks to a larger issue, which is the complete disgraceful response from the government to deal with one of the most desperate communities that we have in this country, desperate, shameful conditions, the suffering and the deaths that they have endured over this last year and the young people who have gone. I have seen the problems because nothing has been done by the government.

However, I will apologize to this House for saying something unparliamentary but I will not apologize to that party for the disgraceful misrepresentation of the facts on the James Bay coast.

Comments by Member for Timmins—James Bay
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, as a follow up to that point of order, the privilege in respect to this is personal and I would expect a personal apology from the member for Timmins—James Bay.

Comments by Member for Timmins—James Bay
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will take the minister's request under advisement. I will speak with the leadership and the people of Kashechewan and I will take my direction from them because they were at the meeting with the minister. I will come back tomorrow and say what I should respond. If it is necessary for me to make a personal apology, I will be more than willing, but I will be asking the chief and council of Kashechewan what they felt from their meeting first.

Comments by Member for Timmins—James Bay
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I think that brings to a conclusion the points of order and questions of privilege for today.

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2005-06 annual report issued pursuant to section 25.3 of the Criminal Code.

This report covers the RCMP's use of specified provisions within the law and within that law enforcement justification regime where it is set out in sections 25.1 to 25.4 of the Criminal Code. This report also documents the nature of the investigations in which these provisions were used.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.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, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to three petitions.

Public Safety and National Security
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security.

In accordance with the order of reference of Friday, October 20, 2006, the committee has considered Bill C-286, An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act (protection of spouses whose life is in danger) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, and has agreed to report it with amendments.

Finance
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Pallister Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the obligation and the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions), with amendments.

As is my privilege, I would like to go on record as saying that I believe this is not the committee's best work. I believe that in hindsight many members of my committee will, on further consideration, regret the conclusions they draw within this report.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, entitled “Elimination of Discrimination against Women in the Employment Insurance Program”.

Canadian Heritage
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 17th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, entitled “The Funding Crisis of the Canadian Television Fund.” Pursuant to Standing Order 109, my committee requests a government response.

Mr. Speaker, I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage relating to the nomination of Mr. Konrad von Finckenstein to the position of chairperson of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Scrutiny of Regulations
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 108(4) I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations. The report has to do with the Broadcasting Act, particularly section 11 and more particularly the broadcasting licence fee regulations, 1997.

In brief, the courts have found that fees levied under the prescribed regulations in fact are excessive and constitute a tax. In its findings, the court's central concern must be to guarantee respect for constitutional principles. One such principle is that the Crown may not levy a tax except with authority of the Parliament or the legislature, Constitution Act, 1867. This principle of no taxation without representation is central to our conception of democracy and the rule of law. When the government collects and retains taxes pursuant to ultra vires legislation, it undermines the rule of law.

The committee fully agrees with that viewpoint, which reflects the fundamental nature of Parliament's authorization for the lawful collection of fees and taxes.

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-413, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (leaving province to avoid warrant of arrest or committal).

Mr. Speaker, there is a large problem in Canada with warrants that are issued across the country but are unenforceable because they are non-returnable warrants.

Eighteen months ago, the Vancouver police found on city streets over a three month period 726 people who had a total of 1,582 warrants against them for crimes committed elsewhere in Canada. A quarter of them faced multiple outstanding charges and 84% of them had lengthy criminal records with an average of 19 convictions per person.

My bill would address this issue by amending the Criminal Code of Canada to provide that every person who knows or believes that a warrant of arrest has been issued or will be issued to them and leaves the province of jurisdiction before or after a warrant of arrest or committal has been issued will be guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years less a day.

This is an issue that has been going on for a long time. It is of prime importance in my province of British Columbia where I suppose people travel to a kinder climate to flee these warrants. We must address the issue.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

(Bill C-286. On the Order: Private Members' Bills:)

October 20, 2006--Second reading of Bill C-286, An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act (protection of spouses whose life is in danger) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act—Mr. Steven Blaney.

Witness Protection Program Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the members know, last spring I tabled a bill to protect spouses whose life is in danger, in particular, to protect women from their violent ex-spouses. Since then, I have had several meetings with the Minister of Public Safety and representatives of Human Resources and Social Development Canada, and last Friday, measures were initiated to take action, after years of waiting.

This is why I seek the unanimous consent of the House to have Bill C-286, An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act (protection of spouses whose life is in danger) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, standing in my name in the order of precedence on the order paper, withdrawn and the order discharged, since our government is implementing a single program for victims of abuse.

Witness Protection Program Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse have the unanimous consent of the House?

Witness Protection Program Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Witness Protection Program Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Order discharged and bill withdrawn)

Marriage
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by hundreds of constituents in my riding and throughout Saskatchewan.

The petitioners state that they support the traditional definition of marriage, the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. They state that healthy societies are built on the foundation of healthy marriages and families, relationships which cannot be replaced by legally recognized gay unions. They ask for the traditional definition of marriage to be reinstated under law in Canada.

Age of Consent
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I rise to present a petition from the constituents of Welland riding. The petition calls upon the House to protect our children from sexual predators as a top priority. As 14 and 15 year olds are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation, the petition calls upon Parliament to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age.

Canada Post
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of submitting today two petitions signed by a total of more than 5,000 citizens who, contrary to what the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities thought, are calling for the post office in the city of Noranda, in the municipality of Rouyn-Noranda, to remain open. This post office serves an older population. We therefore ask that it stay in operation.

Passports
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House to present a petition from hundreds of residents of the city of Timmins, Ontario, where the issue is the need for passports for travel.

The delays at Passport Canada have caused applicants to part with valuable documents for long periods of time. Passport Canada returns to applicants by mail entire documents and applications due to any number of reasons, such as rejected documents or photographs, causing further unnecessary delay.

The fact is there is no fully operational passport facility or expedited service for the residents of northeastern Ontario. This lack of service is hampering the economic opportunities in our region, which is dependent a great deal on mining. There is a lot of travel back and forth to different countries.

Whereas people in southern Ontario already have fully operational walk-in centres with expedited services, including 24 to 48 hour emergency services, citizens in my region have to drive at least eight to ten hours to get such services. The residents from the Timmins region are calling upon Parliament to approve the granting of a fully operational passport office in the city of Timmins, Ontario to serve the people not just in Timmins, but in all of northeastern Ontario and to alleviate the current workloads and delays we are seeing at Passport Canada.

Rights of the Unborn
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a petition on behalf of the residents of Kitchener—Conestoga.

These petitioners recognize that the Supreme Court on January 28, 1988 stated that it is for Parliament to enact the appropriate defences of its legitimate interest in the lives of all subjects, including those yet in the womb. Therefore, the petitioners are requesting that Parliament consider restoring to the Criminal Code the prudence it held prior to 1968 by removing the words “after becoming a human being” from section 223(2).

Summer Career Placement Program
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table a petition signed by 679 residents of the riding of Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, which I have the honour of representing here, in the House of Commons. This petition deals with the cuts to the summer career placement program.

These petitioners note mainly that, financially, students really need to work over the summer and that these cuts will prevent many of them from finding summer employment. In addition, because they will not be able to rely on funding from this program, the community agencies which are working very hard to try and provide services to the community might have to reconsider providing some services.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Conservative government to maintain and even enhance the summer career placement program.

Cadets
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present two different petitions today. One is from a very committed and passionate group of parents of navy cadets and sea cadets who are looking for a permanent home in Surrey. They currently have a home which has been purchased by the RCMP E Division. They are asking the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and the House of Commons to designate a portion of that land at which they are currently located, at 9800-140th Street, Surrey, B.C., for cadet and community use.

Housing
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from a group of people concerned about British Columbia's $1.5 billion leaky condominium crisis. It calls upon the federal minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and the House of Commons assembled to design a compensation package for those 65,000 homeowners in B.C. who own leaky condominiums.

Age of Consent
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition on behalf of the people of Wainwright, an area which calls for the protection of our children from sexual predators. The petitioners say that should be a top priority of government. They note that studies have shown that 14 and 15 year olds are the most vulnerable to sexual exploitation. They call on Parliament to pass legislation to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age. I am sure the petitioners know that our government has legislation which would do that, if the opposition would allow it to pass.

Summer Career Placement Program
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present in the House today two petitions signed by more than 500 citizens of Berthier—Maskinongé, a riding I am honoured to represent.

The petitioners denounce the Conservative government's decision to make major cuts to the summer career placement program. This program enables a number of non-profit organizations and small businesses to hire summer students and provide them with work experience in their fields of study.

The petitioners are calling on the House to keep and improve the summer career placement program for the future of our youth and our communities.

Federal Minimum Wage
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today on behalf of hard-working families on Hamilton Mountain who are increasingly recognizing the existence of the prosperity gap in Canada. They do not feel they are benefiting from the economic growth they keep hearing about. This is especially true for the many Hamiltonians who are working full time but are still living below the poverty line.

To that end, they have asked me to table a petition calling on the House to restore the federal minimum wage which the Liberals eliminated in 1996 and to pass NDP Bill C-375 to set the minimum wage at $10 an hour as a first step in moving toward a living wage. I am delighted to present this petition on their behalf.

Medical Expenses
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of constituents who call upon Parliament to amend the allowable medical expenses list to add pre- and post-natal education, breast pumps, first aid and CPR training and first aid kits.

Summer Career Placement Program
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present four petitions today from my riding of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord regarding the cuts to the summer career placement program. The hundreds of people who signed these petitions are calling on the House to keep and even improve the summer career placement program.

The petitions come from a number of organizations, including the Centre historique des Soeurs de Notre-Dame du Bon-Conseil, the Carrefour communautaire Saint-Paul, the Société historique du Saguenay, the Maison Ephata and the CDC des Deux-Rives. All those who signed are very worried about the intentions of the Conservative government.

I support these petitioners in calling on the Conservative government to cancel its planned cuts to the summer career placement program.

Canada Labour Code
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by constituents from London--Fanshawe. The petitioners call upon the Parliament of Canada to reverse the elimination of the minimum wage by the former Liberal government and ensure that workers in federal jurisdictions are paid a fair minimum wage by passing Bill C-375, the private member's bill from my colleague in Parkdale--High Park.

Canada Labour Code
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to table three types of petitions today.

First and foremost, I have a petition urging members of this House to vote for Bill C-257, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers) during the vote at third reading, in a few hours. This bill is extremely important.

Several hundreds of signatures are being added to the thousands that have already been tabled here in this House.

Summer Career Placement Program
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my riding, many people—almost a thousand—are very concerned about the summer career placement program. They signed a petition to denounce the cuts that they feared the federal government would make and which have now become reality.

In fact, there has been quite a change to the summer career placement program, which completely changes the nature of it.

Canada Post Corporation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the postal union has asked me to act on its behalf to table in this House a petition signed by several hundreds of people who are asking Canada Post to put an end to any plan to close postal facilities in rural regions.

I am very pleased to act on behalf of these thousands of people to represent their views.

Canada Labour Code
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to the House a petition of 239 signatures from my riding of Parkdale—High Park in Toronto on the federal minimum wage. A poll released last week showed that three out of four Canadians believed the minimum wage should be at least $10 an hour.

The petitioners recognize that the federal minimum wage was eliminated in 1996 by the Liberal government, that a $10 an hour minimum wage just approaches the poverty level for a single worker and that the importance of a federal minimum wage would extend beyond the number of workers covered by it because it serves as a best practice for labour standards across the country.

They call upon the Parliament of Canada to ensure that workers in federal jurisdiction are paid a fair minimum wage by passing my Bill C-375 to re-establish a federal minimum wage and set it at $10 an hour.

Social and Environmental Ethics
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I am pleased to rise for the first time in this House to present a petition signed by 57 people from Bellechasse.

The purpose of this petition is to make the government aware of the social and environmental responsibilities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries.

This petition was spearheaded by Mrs. Denise Prévost, a member of Development and Peace in Saint-Charles, which is in my riding. I met with her and Mr. Jean-Pierre Lalonde at my office.

The petition asks that legal means be developed requiring Canadian companies to be accountable for their actions abroad and enabling the government to refuse to assist mining companies that do not respect international standards with respect to human rights and the environment.

I support this petition and am pleased to table it on behalf of the citizens of my riding.

Social and Environmental Ethics
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The honourable member for Lévis—Bellechasse did mention that this was the first time he was presenting a petition in this House. The member made a major mistake in his presentation. In fact he stated that he supported this petition. The member may present the petition, but he is prohibited from indicating whether or not he supports it. I hope he will not make this mistake again in the House.

The hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam also has a petition to present.

Child Care
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand today and present a petition signed by families in New Westminster, Coquitlam and Port Moody.

The petitioners say that high quality child care is a benefit to all children, enhancing their health and school readiness, reducing family poverty and promoting social inclusion and workforce productivity.

The petitioners call upon the government to achieve multi-year funding to ensure that publicly operated child care programs are sustainable for the long term. They are asking the government to bring in a child care act similar to the Canada Health Act.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.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 following questions will be answered today: Nos. 168 and 170.

Question No. 168
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

With regard to programs and spending by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) within the riding of Burnaby—New Westminster: (a) what was the amount spent in 2006; (b) what is the projected budget for 2007; (c) how many CMHC-funded housing units for singles and families currently exist; (d) how many CMHC-funded housing units for singles and families are planned for 2006 and 2007; and (e) what is the amount that CMHC has provided to housing co-ops in the riding for maintenance over the last two years and what will be the amount over the next two years?

Question No. 168
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, with respect to programs and spending administered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, within the riding of Burnaby-New Westminster:

Social housing: CMHC currently administers 890 co-operative housing units which provide housing for singles and families. These co-ops received annual subsidies of $1,290,496 in 2006. Under program design, there is no CMHC funding specifically earmarked for maintenance. Co-operatives set housing charges at levels sufficient to cover project operating costs including maintenance expenses and the provision of an allocation to a capital repair reserve fund. The funding provided by CMHC is used to offset or reduce these project operating costs and/or to subsidize housing charges for households in need.

In addition, CMHC provided funding to another 1,048 units in the riding of Burnaby-New Westminster, committed under various programs, which provides housing for singles and families. Of this total, there are 618 units benefiting from a preferential interest rate and some of these units are also benefiting from a forgivable capital contribution grant equivalent to 10% of the original project cost. The remaining 430 units received annual funding of $540,851 in 2006.

The administration of these 1,048 units was transferred to the Province on January 15, 2007, under a social housing agreement, SHA, with the province of British Columbia signed in 2006. CMHC annual funding contained in the Canada-B.C. SHA is currently some $140 million. The Province also received a one-time lump sum amount of $24 million for risks associated with future inflation, changes in interest rates and loan losses. The amount of subsidy available in 2007 is governed by the agreements between CMHC and the various sponsor groups and assumed by the British Columbia Housing Management Corporation pursuant to the SHA.

There may be additional units located in the riding that received on-going federal assistance in 2006 under various federal-provincial programs already administered by the province of British Columbia prior to this summer’s signing of an SHA which are not included in the above unit counts. The province has the lead role for these units and does not report subsidies by project to CMHC. For the first nine months of 2006 the province had claimed federal funding of some $75 million on these programs, covering some 27,000 units across the province. These units are also covered by the SHA. Effective October 1, 2006 funding for these units is being provided through the annual funding of $140 million contained in the SHA.

Renovation programs: On December 19, 2006, the Government of Canada announced a $256 million, two-year extension of the housing renovation and adaptation programs, effective April 1, 2007. The funding will help improve the quality of housing for an additional 38,000 low-income households in all regions of Canada. For 2006/2007, British Columbia’s allocation for these housing renovation programs is approximately $16.2 million.

Under federal renovation programs in the riding of Burnaby-New Westminster, some $296,000 has been committed for 22 units in 2006. CMHC is unable to provide a forecast of how many units and dollars will be committed in 2007, since this will depend on the number of applications approved.

Affordable housing initiative/Canada-B.C. affordable housing program agreement: Under the $1 billion affordable housing initiative, AHI, over $130 million has been allocated to British Columbia. As of December 31, 2006, 4,432 affordable housing units had been committed or announced in British Columbia, representing federal funding of $126.4 million. The province of British Columbia and others are matching federal AHI investments.

British Columbia Housing (B.C. Housing) administers the Canada-British-Columbia affordable housing program agreement. According to information provided by B.C. Housing, there have not been any commitments under this program in the riding of Burnaby-New Westminster in 2006. B.C. Housing is not required to provide forecasts of units planned by riding to CMHC, but it does report on projects approved during the year.

Housing trusts: The 2006 budget provides for a one time investment of $1.4 billion towards helping Canadians find safe, adequate and affordable housing in all provinces and territories. This investment is being made through three housing trusts with provinces and territories to invest in affordable housing. This includes an affordable housing trust of $800 million, a northern housing trust of $300 million and a trust for off reserve aboriginal housing of $300 million. Funding for these housing trusts, which was confirmed on September 25, 2006, will be allocated over three years. B.C.'s share of this funding is $156.9 million.

Question No. 170
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

With respect to programs and spending administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) within the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan: (a) what were the projected and actual spending amounts of CMHC in 2006; (b) what is the projected budget for 2007; (c) how many CMHC-funded housing units for singles and families currently exist; (d) how many of those units are on reserve lands; (e) how many CMHC-funded housing units for singles and families are planned for the remainder of 2007; and (f) how many of the planned units are on reserve lands?

Question No. 170
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, with respect to programs and spending administered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC, within the riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan:

Social housing: In 2006, CMHC provided funding to 992 units in the riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan, committed under various programs, which provides housing for singles and families. Of this total, there are 291 units benefiting from a preferential interest rate and some of these units are also benefiting from a forgivable capital contribution grant equivalent to 10% of the original project cost. The remaining 701 units are receiving annual funding. The planned subsidy for 2006 was $1,874,025 and the actual amount disbursed was $1,924,950.

Of these units, 242 units are located on reserve lands. The level of assistance planned in 2007 for these 242 on-reserve units is basically the same as in 2006 at or about $512,000. There may be adjustments to this level of assistance due to changes in mortgage interest rates for renewals occurring in 2007.

For the 750 off-reserve units, the administration was transferred effective January 15, 2007 under a social housing agreement, SHA, with the province of British Columbia signed in 2006. CMHC annual funding contained in the Canada-B.C. SHA is currently some $140 million. British Columbia also received a one-time lump sum amount of $24 million for risks associated with future inflation, changes in interest rates and loan losses. The amount of subsidy available in 2007 for these 750 off-reserve units is governed by the agreements between CMHC and the various sponsor groups as assumed by the British Columbia Housing Management Corporation pursuant to the SHA.

There may be additional off-reserve units located in the riding that received on-going federal assistance in 2006 under various federal-provincial programs already administered by the province of British Columbia prior to this summer’s signing of the SHA which are not included in the above unit counts. The province has the lead role for these units and does not report subsidies by project to CMHC. For the first nine months of 2006, the province had claimed federal funding of some $75 million on these programs, covering some 27,000 units across the province. These units are also covered by the SHA. Effective October 1, 2006, funding for these units is being provided through the annual funding of $140 million contained in the SHA.

Renovation programs: On December 19, 2006, the Government of Canada announced a $256 million, two-year extension of the housing renovation and adaptation programs, effective April 1, 2007. The funding will help improve the quality of housing for an additional 38,000 low-income households in all regions of Canada. For 2006/2007, British Columbia’s allocation for these housing renovation programs is approximately $16.2 million.

Under federal renovation programs in the riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan, some $605,000 has been committed for 62 units in 2006. Of these 62 units, 5 are located on reserve lands and received $54,633 in contributions. CMHC is unable to provide a forecast of how many units and dollars will be committed in 2007, since this will depend on the number of applications approved.

Affordable housing initiative/Canada-BC affordable housing program agreement: Under the $1 billion affordable housing initiative, AHI, over $130 million has been allocated to B.C. As of December 31, 2006, 4,432 affordable housing units had been committed or announced in B.C., representing federal funding of $126.4 million. The province of British Columbia and others are matching federal AHI investments.

British Columbia Housing (B.C. Housing) administers the Canada-British-Columbia affordable housing program agreement. According to information provided by B.C. Housing, in 2006 there has been one commitment for 16 units and $1,120,000 in CMHC funding under this program in the riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan. B.C. Housing is not required to provide forecasts of units planned by riding to CMHC, but it does report on projects approved during the year.

Housing trusts: The 2006 budget provides for a one time investment of $1.4 billion towards helping Canadians find safe, adequate, and affordable housing in all provinces and territories. This investment is being made through three housing trusts with provinces and territories to invest in affordable housing. This includes an affordable housing trust of $800 million, a northern housing trust of $300 million and a trust for off reserve aboriginal housing of $300 million. Funding for these housing trusts, which was confirmed on September 25, 2006, will be allocated over three years. B.C.'s share of this funding is $156.9 million.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.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, if Questions Nos. 145 and 165 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 145
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin Sault Ste. Marie, ON

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

(Return tabled)

Question No. 165
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Kenora, ON

With regard to the cost and outcomes of the on-site audit procedures conducted under the provisions of the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program's claims processing contract: (a) what is the total number and cost, including expenses such as accommodation, travel and meal expenses, of all on-site audits conducted of the dental benefits portion of the NIHB Program; (b) what are the details about the types of fraud uncovered by any on-site audit the government has conducted regarding the dental benefits portion of the NIHB Program between 2000 and 2005; and (c) for each of the fiscal years 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2004-2005, what is the detailed accounting of the amounts recovered by the government in each category of fraud as a direct result of these on-site audits?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, given that I would like to listen to the debate, could you please ask the member for Lévis—Bellechasse to sit down?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Speaker does not control the movements of the members in the House. It might be a good idea, but not today.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.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, Notice of Motion for the Production of Papers No. P-9, in the name of the hon. member for London—Fanshawe, is acceptable to the government, subject to the usual reservations concerning confidential information, and the documents are tabled immediately.

Motion No. P-9

That an Order of the House do issue for copies of all studies that were done and the list of people who were consulted, thus far during the 2006-2007 fiscal year, regarding the efficiency and administrative costs of: (a) Status of Women Canada; (b) Court Challenges Program; (c) Canada Volunteerism Initiative; and (d) the Law Commission of Canada.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Subject to the reservations or conditions expressed by the parliamentary secretary, is it the pleasure of the House that Motion No. P-9 be deemed to have been adopted?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all other notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 20, consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Rivière-du-Nord.

In my speech, I will be focussing on how the federal government continues to exercise its spending power in Quebec's jurisdictions. As far as the Conservative government is concerned, the fiscal imbalance has been resolved. As far as the Bloc Québécois is concerned, this is not so. The Minister of Finance, in his budget, definitively resolves just one aspect of the fiscal imbalance, and that is the equalization formula. For the rest, including transfers for health and post-secondary education, nothing has changed much in this budget. In fact, there may even be slightly less money for health in 2006-07 than in 2005-06.

Let us not forget that there is nothing—absolutely nothing—in this budget on asymmetrical federalism or the end of federal spending power. Let us not forget that the solution for Quebec is to transfer tax points or GST points.

Is Quebec the spoiled child of the federation? To that question, even if the government argues that Quebec's share of federal transfers will be much larger than its population, it is certain that these transfers merely help Quebec catch up and do not constitute a favour. When we look at the evolution of federal transfers, we see that from 1993-94 to 2007-08 transfers have increased by 55% in Quebec, and 66% in Canada without Quebec, while federal revenues have increased by 91%. Quebec, therefore, is not the spoiled child of the Canadian federation.

Let us consider the so-called federal spending power. Like the Séguin commission, the Bloc Québécois is asking that Ottawa stop spending in non federal jurisdictions. Accordingly, the Bloc Québécois continually asks, and will continue to ask, for Quebec to have a real right to withdraw with full financial compensation from all federal programs, or parts of programs, that encroach on its jurisdictions.

The 2007 budget perpetuates the so-called federal spending power simply by providing a framework for it. It proposes that new cost-sharing programs, in areas of provincial jurisdiction, be agreed to by a majority of the provinces. This is totally unacceptable to us. In other words, the Conservative government has announced absolutely nothing that makes it possible to set limits on federal spending power, much less put an end to it.

What has struck me since I was elected in this House in 2004 is the great number of bills that come to us week after week and to which we must constantly take exception because they intrude on Quebec's areas of jurisdiction. It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but the fact remains that we must constantly fight to ensure respect for the Canadian Constitution. In passing, I would remind this House that Quebec has still not signed this Canadian Constitution.

As critic for intergovernmental affairs, I wonder, among other things, about the Canadian securities commission that is mentioned in this budget. In the 2007 budget plan, on page 179, the Minister of Finance wrote:

A move to proportionate, more principles-based regulation will be a significant undertaking that would be difficult to achieve under the current, fragmented structure of securities regulation. A common securities regulator will create the opportunity to deliver this new approach. It will help improve investor protection, cut red tape, reduce costs for market participants and give an equal voice to all participating jurisdictions. The plan also proposes to modernize the legal framework for financial transactions.

Must we remind the House that Quebec's securities commission is working just fine? The OECD has given it a favourable recommendation, saying that Quebec's securities commission worked in an exemplary fashion. We must remind the House that Quebec and the provinces are responsible for regulating the securities market and that Ottawa has nothing to do with this.

Why does this show up in the minister's budget?

The federal government's desire to create a Canadian securities commission is beginning to look like an obsession. Jean Chrétien's Liberals talked about it regularly. The current Minister of Finance was after it last year and is after it again this year. The federal government has never succeeded in making Quebec withdraw from the finance sector only because this issue is none of its business and it has no power to intervene. The regulation of stocks and bonds falls exclusively within provincial jurisdiction.

In Quebec, the legislative framework for the securities sector is based on the Civil Code, not on the common law. Provincial securities commissions are involved in ongoing discussions to harmonize many of their practices and to ensure that businesses are registered with provincial exchanges. One might wonder why the government so desperately wants a Canadian securities commission when the Americans, among others, have a securities commission in each state. It works very well. Let us use that model as our inspiration. To my knowledge, the United States is known for intervening in all financial sectors.

Quebec wants nothing to do with the minister's initiative. This is not a divisive issue for the parties in Quebec. On June 4, 1996, the National Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution that read as follows:

That the National Assembly clearly affirm Québec's wish to continue, with the other provinces, the harmonization process with regard to securities, which is in conformity with the objective of preserving the Canadian economic space, and that it request that the Federal Government abandon its plan to create a National Securities Committee, which constitutes interference in a provincial area of jurisdiction.

It could not be any clearer than that. I think it is very important to clarify things and abandon the ridiculous notion of a Canadian securities commission.

Now, I would like to talk about a few glaring omissions in this budget. We, the members of the Bloc Québécois, will pay particular attention to these issues.

Let us begin with regional development. The budget does not include any measures for regional development. The budget respects the Conservative philosophy, whereby if we reduce corporate taxes, then economic issues will disappear, thanks to the market's invisible hand. Market forces are cruel. With globalization, we can see, among other consequences, that our businesses are experiencing serious economic problems, particularly in the regions of Quebec. My riding of Trois-Rivières has had some major difficulties, whether we are talking about the furniture, textile or forest industry. Thousands of jobs were lost. Unfortunately, this budget does not include measures that would help regional development, that would help our businesses to overcome the problems they have in recruiting qualified people, dealing with high transportation costs and, particularly following the gas price increase, controlling the cost of their products.

Before concluding, I want to say a word about infrastructures. The Bloc Québécois recognizes that the government is making significant investments in infrastructures. The Bloc Québécois is generally pleased with these efforts. However, even though these investments are fairly predictable, the Bloc would have liked to see guarantees that funding for these programs will be uninterrupted, particularly as regards the gas tax fund, because this is not always the case. That is a request made by the Union des municipalités du Québec.

We believe that the government should be careful not to infringe on the exclusive jurisdictions of the Quebec government and of the provinces.

In conclusion, the Bloc Québécois will support this budget, even though it only partially solves the fiscal imbalance issue, because the taxes paid by Quebeckers must be returned to the Quebec government, so that it can meet its responsibilities.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for her very interesting speech.

I will be following a certain chronological order. It is important to remind this House that neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals acknowledged the existence of the fiscal imbalance. In fact, they have yet to acknowledge it. It does not exist for them.

As a result of the work of the Parti Québécois since 1998—April 17, 1998 to be exact—the fiscal imbalance was discovered. The Séguin commission did indeed identify that there was a fiscal imbalance in Quebec.

Since then, the Bloc Québécois has taken on the challenge, in this House, of defending the existence of the fiscal imbalance, because it was absolutely necessary for the government to be aware of it and to understand that it existed in Quebec. At that time we were dealing with a Liberal government; now we have a Conservative government.

Having said that, after the election of the Conservative government, there was recognition finally that the fiscal imbalance existed in Quebec and solutions were put forward.

There are some good things in this budget and, as we have said, we will vote for it. We will not turn down money for Quebec, which really needs it. I will provide some glaring examples.

In the health field alone our needs are great. Our hospitals are overflowing and emergency departments cannot cope. How many Quebeckers cannot find a family doctor?

There is a danger: the creation of a two tier health care system. We do not want that in Quebec or in Canada. We are fighting as hard as we can to avoid that. What is needed is for our tax money, which is sent to Ottawa, to be returned to us.

Health is an area that is wholly and entirely under the jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces. The administrative decisions are therefore up to us. The needs are truly great.

My son works at the hospital in Saint-Jérôme; this is a regional hospital serving a regional population. I can say that there is no shortage of work there. But there are shortages in many other areas, including hospital staff, nurses, doctors and emergency department space. As I said, there is a shortage of family physicians.

My riding is the one that has undergone the highest population growth. I have just received this information from my riding office. In barely five years the riding's population has increased by some 11,000 residents. The Laurentians is the region with the highest growth in Quebec.

And the health needs follow. This means that we need more pediatricians. Young families often come and settle in our region. That is why we need the money.

It would be great, of course, to get something back in certain areas, but it should also be done on a permanent basis. It is not right to keep playing this kind of give and take game in areas as important as heath and education. The fact is that there is not much in here for post-secondary education.

I would have a great deal to say on the matter. It is very important that measures be put in place to really help students. I can tell the hon. members about my daughter, who is currently a student. I have calculated how much my daughter's education will cost from the CEGEP to the master's degree and, without her mother's help, she would rack up a major debt.

There is talk about a scholarship program but we are not sure what it will look like, whereas we already have our own bursary system in place. You may not have been here at the time, Mr. Speaker, but you probably remember that we doggedly opposed the millennium scholarships because the program, in our opinion, overlapped one we already had in Quebec.

Send Quebec the money, but make it something permanent. We will manage it based on our own needs, those of our students, to ensure that they get a good education and a higher education.

I know hundreds of young university students who must drop out of school because they do not have the means to pay. Or else the students go into debt and spend 10 years after graduation paying off their debts. This is unacceptable. A student will not necessarily find a well-paid job right after graduating from university. First they have to prove themselves. All of this must be taken into consideration. So, I think we must get our priorities right in the areas of health and education.

I would also like to talk about what is missing from this budget. It is good that we were given a little something to spend. Hopefully this will be done under a Parti Québécois government, which will likely be elected next Monday, and which has very good policies for Quebec.

I want to talk about what was left out. For a long time, we have been asking for an independent employment insurance fund. There are enormous surpluses in this fund. We could reinvest in employment, reduce the number of hours required and increase income. Instead of being 50%, we could increase the income to 55% or 60%, depending on the surpluses generated by the employment insurance fund. These surpluses should be reinvested in the employment insurance fund to serve the unemployed, or be reinvested in training programs. This could be done in different ways. But this is not what is going on now. Surpluses from the employment insurance fund are spent wherever. The unemployed do not benefit like they should. It is too bad this was not in the budget.

There is also the whole matter of the textile, furniture and aerospace industries. In Quebec, there have been an incredible number of closures. These companies will never reopen, some are closed for good. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs. We have to take care of these people. Often, entire villages shut down because it was the companies that were sustaining them. When a company closes its doors, workers are left with nothing. They are the forgotten ones. That is why we asked for a program for the older workers, like POWA—which existed under the Liberal government—to help older workers take their retirement a little sooner. If a company closed, they could have some money to carry them through until their retirement. Unfortunately, there is nothing for our older workers. It is truly a shame.

There is also the social housing issue. Social housing is something I have already defended here in this House. I have been here for 13 years and I have been a critic for a number of files. In Quebec, there is a social housing crisis. It is important to recognize it in a region such as my riding with a population growth as a great as I mentioned. In five years, receiving 12,000 new people in a single riding is quite significant. This also means more housing. Not all of these people require social housing, of course, but the need is there. In Saint-Jérôme, the regional capital of my riding, the need is greatest. Low-income earners need social housing. Often it is single women and single older women who need this type of housing.

In closing, we will vote in favour of the budget, even though there is still a lot of work to be done. The voters can count on the Bloc. We will never stop fighting for what is rightfully ours, rightfully Quebec's. We are not beggars and we know full well that the money is here and that it comes from our taxes. We will get back what is rightfully ours in order to live better, in order to live well in Quebec, and to live in health and happiness in our Quebec.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the speech by my colleague from the Bloc Québécois.

She said that some people were overlooked. Perhaps she should have read the budget properly before venturing to say such things.

In fact, for post-secondary education alone, more than $245 million will be invested in Quebec. Furthermore, although she said that Quebeckers who have completed their university studies were possibly the most heavily in debt, I would remind the House that Quebec has the lowest tuition fees in all of Canada, even North America. Thus, the members opposite appear prone to exaggeration.

There is something else I would like to point out. With respect to labour market training, $117 million will also be invested in Quebec alone, for the training of workers.

No one is saying that we are going to force our workers who are 55 and older to retire. We are saying that we will help them find new jobs, so they can live with dignity.

Also, at what age would the Bloc Québécois like to make our workers retire?

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I used extremely polite vocabulary in my speech. I do not like being accused of exaggeration. Our party does not exaggerate, quite the contrary. Maybe those accusations can be attributed to the lack of experience of the member opposite. We can excuse him for his mistake.

I am not talking about forcing people to retire because of their age. When a 50 year old worker loses her job because the company she was working for closes its doors, and the only work experience she had was with that company, and she is too young to collect pension benefits, we must help her. That is the kind of situation I am talking about.

I talked about post-secondary studies. It is true that students in Quebec might have less debt than students in other provinces, but they have debt nonetheless, and they must pay back their debt. Thus, there is no doubt that we must reinvest in and help our young people, so they can continue to study.

It is not enough simply to toss $245 million at us. This is not enough money. Yes, we will take it and, yes, we are happy to have it, but it is not enough. It must also be permanent. It cannot be just one part, one time, one year. It cannot be money given simply to placate Quebec and to clear the conscience of the Conservatives, who can now say that they did a good job, because they gave money to Quebec. I am sorry, but these arrangements must be permanent.

Ottawa is raking in astronomical surpluses. We know this, because we can add them up. The Bloc Québécois has always been the best at doing so. Therefore, this money must come back to us, and be allocated to the files in which we would most like to invest. This does not mean that other provinces will want to invest in the same areas.

Thus, let us decentralize things, as the Prime Minister likes to say. If he wants to decentralize, he has an opportunity to do so. I wish he would decentralize and allow us to invest, with our own means, where it is needed most, where our citizens have the greatest needs. In Quebec, the areas that need the greatest investment are health, education and our workers. We would like to help all these people, but it is up to us to decide and not up to the federal government.

We want to take control of our own affairs, we want to make our own decisions. That is what it means to be independent. And one day we will be a country, we will be sovereign, and when that day comes, we will have everything we need to function.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to answer my colleague from the Bloc. Her party was supposed to be here for only one or two terms. No wonder, then, they have become such experienced members of Parliament.

How much longer does the hon. member think that the House will be able to benefit from her experience?

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, as long as the population from Rivière-du-Nord will see fit. I have been democratically elected. Our fellow citizens can count on our presence and on our experience to defend Quebec's interests here in Ottawa until Quebec becomes sovereign.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House today and offer a few comments on the recent budget speech. I am also pleased to be sharing my time with my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre.

This is the second budget that we have seen from the Conservative minority government. The first example of Conservative management of the public purse raised the tax rate in the lowest tax level for the poorest members in our communities. This most recent Conservative budget distinguishes the present finance minister as the $236 billion man, Canada's biggest spending finance minister ever.

I have been in the House long enough to recall times when Canada's coffers were not so plentiful and I have to tell the House that this budget makes me nervous. Governing is more than writing cheques. Canadians expect leadership and vision. They want a strategy for long term national growth. They want investments for the prosperity of Canadians and a commitment to fairness to each and every citizen.

What we have in the budget that was just tabled by the government is a budget that ignores the plight of the poor, the less fortunate and the homeless. At the very least, the barest of minimums, the largest spending budget in Canadian history should offer something for everyone. This budget does not.

When I return to my home in Kitchener Centre this weekend, I expect to be asked what is in the budget for ordinary people. It is a natural response to a federal budget. Canadians contribute. They expect and they deserve a return on their tax dollars.

I will have to tell the single mother that she will have to wait for child care spaces for her two young children as the current government does not look at children, our future, as a priority. Of course, she will be grateful for the $310 per child in tax relief, but it is not enough for child care even if she can find spaces for her two children.

Waterloo region is home to multiple post-secondary institutions and they are outstanding institutions. We have Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.

I am incredibly disappointed that the Conservative government did not announce an extension of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. This foundation delivers $350 million in needs-based grants on an annual basis. It is another example of how lower incomes are simply ignored as a group by the government. The best and brightest are not always the richest, and as a result, students are carrying an enormous debt burden.

We all want to feel safe in our home and on our community streets. When I think about building a safer Canada, I think about crime prevention and I think about the important work of the council.

It is my experience that many members of the government feel strongly about crime. They feel strongly about punishment. But they only have a cursory regard for crime prevention.

There is no doubt that it is important to invest in the anti-drug strategy that has been announced in the budget and in efforts to combat sexual exploitation of children as well as combating human trafficking.

Recently, I reviewed research conducted by the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Council in Waterloo region, and it calls for a reduction in violence by enhancing human and social development.

The tools to reduce violence are extensive and sensible. It is an increase in early childhood education with a focus on the underserviced and low income areas. Studies show that centre-based child care prepares children for school and a successful school experience will lead to fewer dropouts. By providing supplementary nutrition and supportive counselling to low income pregnant women, we contribute to better life outcomes. Low birth weight is a risk factor for violence.

Crime prevention is key to a strong, safer, and better community. Child care is a part of that solution. Support for women is part of that solution. Support for lower income people is also part of that solution.

The fact is that the budget makes no mention of poverty. It does nothing to address homelessness. This is a glaring omission. As a matter of fact I find it astonishing.

We should think about how we Canadians spend our paycheques. Our first priorities are where the needs are the greatest. The necessities are food and shelter, but when the Conservative finance minister sets out to spend more money than any other finance minister has spent before him, he ignores these needs. He does not even mention necessities such as food and shelter. He says he wants to help those who are huddled around the kitchen table, but he completely neglects Canadians who are huddled around the heating grate or the alley dumpster behind the local restaurant.

There is no doubt in my mind, when prosperity enables us to spend, we should spend it where the need is the greatest. While those on that side of the House may disagree with me, I believe that there is much agreement about those huddled around Kitchener Centre kitchen tables and in constituencies right across this country that we need to reinvest in those who have the greatest need.

Despite the tremendous resources the government has at its disposal, the budget does little for the average working family. There is nothing to position Canada for the 21st century. On this side of the House we cannot stand up for such a narrow, ineffective budget, particularly at a time when Canada faces enormous challenges on competitiveness, the environment and social justice.

In Ontario, we shall have to wait till 2014 for fairness on federal health transfers. That is simply too long for patients and others who are waiting for surgery, and it breaks a Conservative campaign promise to address wait times immediately.

Further, there is still no long term predictable funding mechanism to address public transit, which leads to more ad hoc projects as opposed to an integrated, comprehensive plan to reduce gridlock. This is of particular concern in my community where a partnership with the region's light rail transit proposal would connect the region and present extensive economic growth opportunities. The budget is silent on those kinds of projects.

It is through fiscal prudence and responsible spending of Liberal governments that Canada eliminated a deficit and went on to build one of the strongest economies in the world. I am astonished at the level of spending in the Conservative budget and I am completely disappointed by the haphazard manner in which this money has been disbursed.

Preparing a budget, whether it is for a household or a nation, is a delicate balancing act of many competing priorities. As a member of the Liberal Party, I have consistently advocated for support for Canadian families while promoting fiscal responsibility in building a strong economic foundation for the future. I find the budget to be irresponsible, shortsighted and lacking vision, and because of these reasons I cannot support it in the House of Commons.

Canadians deserve better.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to what the member opposite was saying and I would like to make a suggestion. Perhaps she would be able to support the budget if she actually read it.

A number of the comments she made regarding what is not in the budget are simply factually incorrect. A number of the things she has mentioned, such as the child care issue, homelessness, education, all of those things that she mentioned, are actually in the budget.

This is a budget that will have a positive impact on 90% of Canadians. It is very bothersome to listen to someone talk about something that actually is not in the budget. We have all of these things covered beautifully and the problems she is raising simply are not in the budget.

I would be very interested to hear how the member opposite, who has just finished speaking, would like to answer the fact that there is money in there for homelessness. There is money in there for child care. There is money in there for all of the things for which she stated there is no money in there.

Again, I go back to what I said originally. Perhaps she should take the time to read the budget and then she would recognize that those things are covered.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the helpful manner with which the government member has asked me that question, but I want to assure her that I have read the budget. What is alarming about this budget is that it divides community against community. It divides high income Canadians against low income earners.

She is quite right. There is some money. I have read the budget. There is some money there for master's and Ph.D. students.

However, there is no financial relief for undergrad students. Members can correct me if I am wrong, but generally speaking one has to get a B.A. or a B.Sc. before one goes on to a master's and a Ph. D., so indeed, this is providing no student relief for those early years and that fundamental basis.

There is no money there for literacy, a building block whereby we start on innumeracy and we start to be able to be functioning members of society.

This budget is stunning in what it is lacking and some of the moneys that are put in are so far out; I will return to the health care money for Ontario: 2014. I ask the member, how is that reasonable when this is a 2007 budget?

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my Liberal colleague's speech. Of course there are many shortcomings in the budget and I agree totally with her. We will vote in favour of the budget because it resolves the fiscal imbalance—in part. I say “in part” because a lot remains to be done before that problem has been completely solved. By resolving one part of the fiscal imbalance, we also solve part of the problems in the health, education and social sectors. That is something the Quebec National Assembly can say to Quebeckers when accepting the money.

However, there are shortcomings in the budget: EI has not been mentioned and has not been improved. Workers have been asking for years that that system be enriched and they have been asking the same for the measures for older workers which have not been improved despite the numerous plant closures.

I would like to hear the member on that. Could she explain to me why the Liberals did not improve EI when they were in power?

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, after we had paid down an inherited $42 billion deficit and paid down the debt so we could start reinvesting in the Canadian economy and priorities of Canadians, under our watch we indeed did reduce the EI contribution on behalf of both the worker and the employer, every consecutive year. We also invested in training for older workers and issues that dealt with the changes in the manufacturing bases.

Another thing that is lacking in this budget is vision. There is no plan for the changes and the challenges that face the manufacturing structure. That sector is hugely impacted in my riding of Kitchener Centre and right across this country.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I too rise to speak about budget 2007, a document with so much potential but with possibilities squandered.

On Monday an opportunity afforded itself to the minority Conservative government. Awash in cash thanks to 13 years of sound fiscal management by the previous Liberal government, the Conservatives had available to them many options. They could have championed accessibility to post-secondary education, research and development, cities, and regional economic development. They could have said that their legacy would be that of eliminating the prosperity gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

Indeed, they had many options available to them. All of them could have strengthened Canada and made it a more vibrant Canada, increased its productivity and increased its competitiveness, and made it a better Canada for my children and most particularly for my grandchildren. Such an opportunity, I regret to say, was wasted. There was no grand vision, no plan to bolster our economy and no plan for the future.

More money was spent than ever before but one might ask about a sprinkling here, a dash there, a pinch for this, a pittance for that, attempting to appeal to all Conservative supporters, fooling no one and failing everyone. We must look through the smoke and mirrors to see the truth.

Aboriginal Canadians have been abandoned, ignored, insulted and outraged. Students are told to fend for themselves, that they do not fit the government's target demographic. Single people and single senior women have been told, “Our strategists say we don't need you, so we ignore you, good luck, don't call”.

To working parents it said, “One of you should be at home with the kids, and that's where we think you are best off, but our strategists tell us that some of you feel that you have to work”. There is a little money for child care, said the government to working parents, and it knows it is far too little and far too late but it is hoping that working parents will not notice. We must look through the smoke and mirrors and look at the truth.

In my province of Manitoba, where the first early learning and child care agreement was signed in April of 2005, the government has shortchanged the people of that province significantly. The previous government promised $174 million over five years. That was $34.88 million per year. We all know what happened when the Conservative government took over. Child care came through the mail. Day care spaces were not created. Working parents, those who most needed day care spaces, could not find them.

One wasted year later, the Conservative minority government finally accepted its failure on this front and pledged some money for child care, except that while the government was too busy applauding itself Manitobans saw its child care plan for what it was: 75% less than what was signed and agreed to in April of 2005. It is a sprinkling, not enough to solve the problems, but Manitobans might not notice, the Prime Minister hopes. I say, do not underestimate Manitobans, Mr. Prime Minister, they see through the smoke and mirrors and they see the truth.

On to Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba's beloved Lake Winnipeg. For generations of Manitobans, it is the spot of their vacations and family gatherings and memories. For many people it is a source of livelihood and economic development. A previous government commitment was made to see it restored with $120 million over 10 years. The lake would be cleaned and intensive research would be conducted. It would be a viable destination for Manitobans for generations to come.

When it became obvious that the government was going to be slow to react, I introduced a private member's bill to ensure that this cleanup occurred. Now, a wasted year later, the government responds, but in typical fashion its actions are far too little, with $7 million over two years, which is not enough to solve the problems. Perhaps Manitobans will not notice that, the Prime Minister hopes. Again I say, do not underestimate Manitobans, Mr. Prime Minister. They do see through smoke and mirrors.

For the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a showpiece for the city of Winnipeg, the legacy of the late Israel Asper, the previous Liberal government committed $100 million. There was not a word in this budget despite a commitment from the Prime Minister during the last election campaign.

Today's Winnipeg Free Press said the following about the deafening silence from the government on the museum:

It's time for the federal government to put its cards on the table.

If nothing else, Mr. Harper should tell Ms. Asper privately to continue her efforts--

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I urge the hon. member, even when she is reading quotes, to replace last names.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I should have caught it. I apologize.

I will continue:

If nothing else, the [Prime Minister] should tell Ms. Asper privately to continue her efforts because Ottawa will support the project in the future, or he should tell her and the thousands of others who are working for its completion to take their money, their time and their talents somewhere else.

An issue of concern to all Canadians, not just Manitobans, is the plight of aboriginal people in Canada: shameful living conditions; no running water; housing atrocities; schools falling apart, forcing teachers to indeed teach out of their living rooms; and rates of aboriginal children in care that should be shameful to all Canadians, with more children in care than there ever were in the residential schools.

If the government really had wanted to solve some of the problems facing aboriginal Canadians, the opportunity was there. The blueprint, the Kelowna accord, was in its hands. It simply had to honour the committed funding. The money was ready to flow.

We know what the Conservatives did. They cancelled the money, they killed the accord and then they had the audacity to say that it did not exist, which was an insult to the hundreds of people and leaders who spent 18 months working on this accord and who came together to approve it.

To think, they did all this with a minister in charge who once said that “the fight against aboriginal poverty is the most pressing social issue that our country [currently] faces, and as Conservatives, we believe that something has to be done”.

They did do something. They set back relations between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians for decades. They created a climate of distrust. They dismantled all of the hard work and relationship building that had gone into the Kelowna accord while at the same time smugly declaring that they would put “wheels on Kelowna”. They have also abandoned the legal obligation of the duty to consult.

Let us look in depth at the budget commitments as they relate to aboriginal Canadians. There is $300 million over two years to encourage private home ownership on reserve. It is a re-announcement of an announcement made during last year's budget. In playing with figures, misrepresenting the realities of spending for aboriginal peoples across the country, legal responsibilities and administrative costs become program dollars.

There is $105 million over five years for job training for aboriginals. It is a start, but what the government is hoping is that we forget it cancelled the labour market partnership agreements in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Had those agreements not been cancelled, they would have done the same thing for more people with a greater investment of funds.

Let me quote what the aboriginal leadership of this country is saying about the government and its treatment of aboriginal peoples from coast to coast to coast. National Chief Phil Fontaine said:

We don't see any reason to believe that the government cares about the shameful conditions of First Nations. We have tried dialogue and tabled a rational plan to address it.

Beverley Jacobs, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, called the Conservative government's approach to aboriginal issues “racist”.

John Ibbitson, columnist with the Globe and Mail, said:

The Conservatives lack the political courage to confront, head on, the overriding social policy challenge of our time: eliminating aboriginal poverty on and off reserve.

Manitoba MKO Grand Chief Sydney Garrioch said the Prime Minister's budget is widening the economic, educational and social gaps between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians.

Mary Simon, from ITK, said:

There are no Inuit specific announcements...apart from the announcement of a program for restorative justice for Aboriginal People, the huge social and economic problems facing Inuit and aboriginal populations seem stuck in the too-hard-to-do category [of this government].

Canadians are angry about this treatment of aboriginal Canadians and I say to the Prime Minister, do not underestimate them. They see through smoke and mirrors and they see the truth.

This Conservative government governs for some of the people all of the time, but a government should aspire--and I repeat, aspire--to govern for all of the people all of the time. This government does not have the will to do it. I say to the Prime Minister, do not underestimate Canadians.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is fascinating to sit here and listen to the Liberals criticize the Conservatives for their own problems, deficiencies and shortcomings.

I do not fully disagree with what the member from Winnipeg said or, for that matter, the member before her, the member from Kitchener, but I will come to that.

In overall terms, what the Liberals are asking for today is what we were pleading with the Liberals to do for a decade. Does the member know how many questions I asked the Liberals in the House about a child care program? Does she know how many times we asked the Liberals not to gut the core funding for women's programs? Does she know how many times we pleaded with them to enact their promise on child care? This was a promise that goes back to the 1993 federal election and was repeated every single election since then.

All the while the previous Liberal government played with smoke and mirrors like no one else I know. The Liberals told us that the surplus dollars could not be spent on child care, aboriginal people, education, housing and the environment.

Every time we asked the Liberals why they took $80 billion above and beyond the money they put against the debt and refused to spend it on programs, they said that they could not because they had to worry about paying down the debt before they fixed our leaky roof. Why--

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am left breathless by the audacity of that member being critical of the previous Liberal government.

That member and her colleagues played a critical role in bringing down the previous Liberal government, which cost us Kelowna, child care, Kyoto and pay equity. Had we had the additional four months, those programs and those initiatives would have taken root and aboriginal Canadians would be far better off today. Children in Manitoba and across Canada and their parents would have much better options for child care and for looking after their children.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my question to my colleague with regard to not just what was not in the budget, but the expectation that was set in the previous election prior to the budget. The government has had two swings at it now with two budgets to deliver on some of its campaign promises.

Certainly the people in Atlantic Canada are hearing loud and clear the shortcomings from this past budget for example.

I guess the question would be better addressed to one of the Atlantic ministers but apparently the Minister of Justice has enrolled them in the witness protection program and we cannot find them to get answers from them. We know in Atlantic Canada how we on the east coast have been short-sheeted by this budget.

What about the people in Manitoba, some of the expectations that have been set and how this budget has fallen far short?

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the citizens of Manitoba have been shortchanged. We did not hear one peep out of the government as it relates to Manitoba until the last month when there was a sudden flurry of spending and the government has suddenly discovered that the people of Manitoba have needs and hopes.

The initiatives that the government is taking in Manitoba are what we read in a national newspaper the other day. It is using dollar bills as pamphlets to buy the votes in Manitoba but I do not believe Manitobans will be taken in by it.

Financial statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, Aboriginal Affairs.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to question the supply motion that is on notice in the name of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

I want to advise the House that the government agrees with the intention, that is the substance in terms of supporting justice bills that are before the House, but disagrees with the proposal being presented to the House in the manner and the form using the procedure that is being utilized.

Normally, when one seeks to have a motion for consent to have a bill approved outside of the normal process, that is, a government order, it is done by unanimous consent of the House. This is the only way in which that is done.

The core principle is very simple and it can be found in Standing Order 40(2), the rules by which we follow, under the heading “Process of Debate”. It states quite clearly:

Government Orders shall be called and considered in such sequence as the government determines.

The intention of this supply motion from the Liberals is to take control of the government's agenda, take control of those bills and call them in a fashion and in a process that they are utilizing and that is not open to them. The Liberals are seeking to do so through the mechanism of an opposition motion on a supply day to which I would draw attention to Standing Order 81(2) which states quite clearly, and I will read the reference note on the side:

Business of Supply takes precedence over government business.

The Standing Order reads:

On any day or days appointed for the consideration of any business under the provisions of this Standing Order, that order of business shall have precedence over all other government business in such sitting or sittings.

That, of course, being supply and the opposition motion. However, it is quite clear and implicit that the regular government orders of the day are a different matter. They are a different beast and I will speak a few times to the notion of fish and fowl being different and we cannot cross them over.

What would happen if this motion were allowed to stand in its current form and the House were prepared to considered it, is in effect a constitutional amendment to this country, to our parliamentary traditions, to the way in which we operate. It would be a move away from our traditions of responsible government to one of congressionalism whereby any member of the House at any time on an opposition day could take control of the government's agenda and effectively legislate in a fashion that is not contemplated.

We have Standing Orders that provide ways in which that can happen through private member's bills, through the government orders, but to do so through an opposition supply day to effectively convert what is an intended motion into effective legislation is a major modification, a change in our process.

I want to return to the question of unanimous consent. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, such motions have been moved frequently by unanimous consent. That is entirely appropriate. It is the only way in which such motions could be moved.

On page 502 of Marleau and Montpetit and citation 19 of Beauchesne's, the case is made that nothing done by unanimous consent constitutes a precedent. I would also reference a Speaker's ruling from Journals May 3, 1977 at page 1030.

That said, the attempt to move several government bills through several stages with an opposition motion on an allotted day is unprecedented. It has not been done. It has not been done before because it is not an acceptable process. It is not in accordance with the rules of this place. It is not in accordance with the practices and traditions of this House.

Before we go down that road and establish this very dramatic precedent, I would like the Speaker to consider a few points.

The motion, as I said, treads on the prerogative of the government to move government business. These bills contained in the member's motion are not in the name of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, but are in the name of the Minister of Justice. We have a distinct process and rubric for business that can be moved by private members and business that can be moved by ministers of the Crown. They are different. The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine is attempting to indirectly move the minister's and the government's legislation. As you have said many times, Mr. Speaker, you cannot do something indirectly that you are not permitted to do directly.

My second point is that the motion is attempting to circumvent the legislative process in an unprecedented way. Again, I am not referring to unanimous consent motions but rather to this.

The closest examples, or parallels, of motions that set out expedient measures to dispose of government legislation outside of what the Standing Orders allow are motions dealing with back to work legislation. We had an example in this Parliament. When the motion was challenged by the member for Windsor—Tecumseh on February 23, 2007 on the grounds that the motion was attempting “to do all stages from first reading and printing of the bill to be considered in the same sitting and possibly, unless a minister rises to ask for it, without adjournment”, the Speaker gave a comprehensive ruling reinforcing other examples and allowed the motion to stand.

However, we cannot compare the motion that the Speaker referenced dealing with back to work legislation because that motion provided a procedure that still respected the Standing Orders of this House and that still respected separate debates and votes for each stage of the bill. The Standing Orders of this House were not prejudiced and the ability of the government to maintain the initiative was not prejudiced. That is very different from what we are seeing in the motion from member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine here today. It goes far beyond that.

Mr. Speaker, you may well hear that there was some implication that in the past the Speaker has been reluctant to interfere with any motion from the opposition. That reluctance, however, and those rulings relate to an earlier time when the only opposition motions that one was dealing with were ones that dealt with matters of confidence. Obviously it is a dramatically different issue here rather than one that reinforces the confidence of the House.

For that reason I suggest those do not apply.

I would say to you, Mr. Speaker, that to give effect to this motion, to allow it to be in order, would effectively amend the Constitution of our country and the way in which it operates, the way in which this Parliament operates.

It also could potentially have the impact of suppressing the minority in Parliament. We have rules in place that allow certain protections to the minority. When we allow for the rules of the Standing Orders of the House to be overcome, that is by unanimous consent, that is an order to protect the minority. However, should this be allowed as a precedent, there is every possibility that any opposition party could bring a motion together with the government and, through that motion, deny the minority parties or any minority member of the House the opportunity and protections that exist in the Standing Orders for a full debate to proceed, for their ability to address the legislation and for the processes that exist to be respected. In so doing, should this precedent be set, we would be opening the door to future suppression of the minority in the House by any opposition motion.

Being mindful of a House that has had as many as five official parties at one time recognized, this is a very real risk that we have to be cognizant of. Were we only in a two party Parliament, one might think differently, however that risk is a very real risk and the door would be opened if this motion were allowed to stand.

Finally, of course, this would have the effect of amending the Standing Orders through precedent to dramatically change the way things work in a way that contravenes the fundamental principle that government orders shall be called and considered in such sequence as the government determines.

For those reasons, I would ask that the motion by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, which has been set down for tomorrow's consideration during the opposition supply day, be ruled out of order.

However, I would also suggest that we could give effect to the intent of that motion. I should say that the intent of that motion and the various elements of it have been the subject of discussion among the House leaders regarding the potential for unanimous approval of the bills at all stages. Therefore, I propose to move four motions right now seeking unanimous consent.

On the first one I believe, based on the discussions, that you will find unanimous consent. I move that, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification, be deemed to have been amended at report stage, as proposed in the report stage motion in the name of the Minister of Justice on the Notice Paper of Tuesday of March 20, 2007, concurred in at report stage and read a third time and passed.

We have been advised by other House leaders in earlier discussions that it is appropriate and would receive the support of the House.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was just about to make a suggestion that it might be more useful to understand exactly what the government House leader had in mind, if he could put his complete proposition before the House and then we could consider what he has to say.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

Perhaps the government House leader can finish outlining what his proposals are. He mentioned he had four. Perhaps we could deal with each one separately once he has outlined all of them.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe I finished on the point of order and had moved on to the proposition. I believe we had dealt with Bill C-18. The proposal was to go through the four items of legislation that were identified in the motion of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and use the process, which is the accepted practice in the House, and seek unanimous consent for their approval at all stages as appropriate, based on where they are right now.

This is the process that should be followed and I did want to put that to the House at this time.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I believe the House has heard the intent of the government House leader. Perhaps I could ask the government House leader to repeat his request for the first motion and then we will proceed.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to be helpful here for the sake of clarity.

It seems to me that the proposition the government House leader is now making relates to the request of one by one by one for unanimous consent pertains to the four pieces of legislation. It would seem to me that whether this is necessary or not depends upon the Chair's ruling on the government House leader's point of order. He is making the proposition for unanimous consent because he has concerns, as expressed in his point of order, about the validity of the motion that is on the order paper for the opposition day tomorrow.

First, it would be useful for the Chair, either now or after some reasonable time for consultation, to make a ruling on the point of order and then we would have a better idea as to whether the items requiring unanimous consent are in fact necessary.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to be very clear on what it is that we are dealing with here. We were dealing with a point of order on the Liberal opposition day motion, which the government has questioned. I certainly would like to make comments on that.

If we are to proceed, I would like there to be some debate on the point of order and then you can make a ruling. If there are other motions as a result of that for unanimous consent, usually we have discussions among the House leaders and we agree where there is unanimous consent on something or not. However, if the government decides to put forward something, that is its prerogative.

We should be dealing with this point of order and have that concluded before we deal with any other motions.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, like the two members whose just spoke, a Liberal and an NDP member, we would also like to see order in the debate. A point of order was raised on the nature of the opposition day motion presented by the Liberals for tomorrow. We have heard the arguments made by the governing party's representative. I would certainly like to hear the arguments of the official opposition. We also have arguments to present as I am sure the NDP does.

Once the Speaker's ruling is known, if the Chair has not accepted the arguments presented by the Opposition, since we will oppose the point of order presented by the government, we could perhaps agree on another way to work this out. However, as we speak, we have to proceed in an orderly fashion and discuss the government's representative's point of order first.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. government House leader does not need a ruling on his point of order to proceed with requests for unanimous consent. However, since he did begin his statement addressing the point of order, perhaps if there are any commentaries from other parties to address his point of order, we can deal with that and then come back to the request for unanimous consent.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving us the opportunity to comment on the point of order raised by the government House leader.

I will make two specific references and then cite one historical precedent that I hope will help the Chair come to the conclusion that the point of order is not well based and in fact that the motion for tomorrow is perfectly in order and should proceed.

I first draw to your attention to Standing Order 81(13), which says:

Opposition motions on allotted days may be moved only by Members in opposition to the government and may relate to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada and also may be used for the purpose of considering reports from standing committees relating to the consideration of estimates therein.

The latter part of the citation is not relevant here, but I would underscore the language in paragraph 13, which says that the motions moved on allotted days “may relate to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada”. It seems to me that is very broad language. On a plain meaning of that language, it would appear to me perfectly evident that the subject matter raised by the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine is, in terms of its content, a matter that relates to the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada.

That point is reiterated in the House of Commons Procedure and Practice by Marleau and Montpetit, at page 724, when we find similar language:

Members in opposition to the government may propose motions for debate on any matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada, as well as on committee reports concerning Estimates.

That is found in the section of Marleau and Montpetit which refers to opposition motions.

Accordingly I think we have very clear evidence on the plain meaning of the words that are contained in Standing Order 81(13) and we have confirmation of that very plain language as it appears on page 724 of Marleau and Montpetit.

However, I also note that a matter relating to a procedural issue was, two Parliaments ago, moved on an opposition day, by the party that is now the government, objecting to this procedure. If the House could bear with me for a short time, I will find that precedent where in fact the official opposition, on an opposition day, used the occasion of one of those opposition days to propose a motion, which was at that time ruled perfectly in order, that is of the same genre as the motion that proposed today by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

Accordingly, because the words in the standing order are crystal clear, because the language and that crystal clear interpretation is reiterated and made plain for us all by Marleau and Montpetit and because there is historical precedent two Parliaments ago for exactly this type of proceeding, I make the argument that in fact the motion is not out of order, it is perfectly in order, and that the debate tomorrow should proceed as planned. Should it be the good wisdom of the House that the motion is approved by a majority of members in the House by the end of the day tomorrow, we could see a terrific expedition of the agenda before the House related to justice matters.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I look forward to seeing the copy of the precedent the opposition House leader referenced.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the point of order, page 724 of Marleau and Montpetit reads as follows:

The Standing Orders give Members a very wide scope in proposing opposition motions on Supply days and, unless the motion is clearly and undoubtedly irregular (e.g., where the procedural aspect is not open to reasonable argument), the Chair does not intervene.

Therefore, for all opposition motions, unless there is a clear irregularity, the Chair does not intervene. However, there have been precedents, and I would like to review them. On November 5, 2002, a motion adopted on an opposition day amended the Standing Orders of the House of Commons with respect to the election of committee chairs and vice-chairs. A motion presented on a supply day amended the Standing Orders of the House with respect to the election of chairs and vice-chairs.

On April 18, 2005, the current Chief Government Whip gave notice in the order paper of a motion to set opposition days for the rest of the supply period ending June 23, 2005. It turned out that this motion was never debated because the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons decided at the last minute to withdraw opposition days.

My argument is this: as per the November 2002 precedent, which amended the Standing Orders, it is possible during an opposition day to amend the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Furthermore, when they were in opposition, the Conservatives thought—and I agree—that it was possible to introduce a motion on an opposition day to change the Standing Orders of the House, as evidenced by the April 18 notice of motion by the Conservatives themselves.

It is therefore possible to amend the Standing Orders, and it is also possible to change the Standing Orders by means of a motion introduced during a supply day. The motion before us today proposes a change to the Standing Orders of the House in order to accelerate consideration of certain bills. In light of the precedents, I see nothing unusual about the official opposition's proposal.

The issue here is not whether or not the Bloc Québécois will support the motion of the official opposition. The issue here is the latitude that the opposition parties have to present motions on supply days. I am among those who will always defend the extraordinary freedoms and privileges the opposition parties have in the House of Commons, which enable them to bring any subject before the House that they think is important, interesting or that needs to be debated. Under no circumstances do we object to the government's power to bring up any subject they would like to debate here in the House. But the counterpart to this great power are the 22 little supply days, 22 opportunities during a session here in the House, when the opposition decides on the debate.

The precedents are very clear, and unless there is something very wrong with the motion, unless it is absolutely out of order, it must be agreed to.

We can amend the Standing Orders and we can depart from them. The motion we are discussing today proposes to depart from the Standing Orders, but there is absolutely no reason to doubt that it is in order.

I think it is perfectly in order. Ruling it out of order would strike a great blow to the privileges of the opposition in this House.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, this issue has sparked quite a discussion. It is an important issue that requires serious consideration in terms of what kind of precedent is being set and how we consider the Standing Orders, the rules of the House.

I would note that while we are not debating the merits of the motion which is slated to be the opposition day motion tomorrow, I would point out that the four bills coincidentally that are in the motion were actually the subject of discussions which took place among the House leaders. There is a process whereby the parties can get together and decide whether or not there is agreement to fast track a certain bill or a number of bills for speedy passage. We often do that by unanimous consent. The very bills that are referred to in the motion have been the subject of those kinds of discussions.

I certainly have some concerns that we are now segueing into another procedure. Discussions by the House leaders were taking place in the usual manner and we were to get back to the government about where there was agreement, and I think there is agreement that we may be able to pass some of the bills unanimously, but suddenly, we have been confronted with a motion that bundles things together. The motion is doing through the back door what otherwise would be done through another process. We certainly want to voice some concerns about that in terms of what sort of precedent it sets in the House.

For example, on one of the bills, Bill C-22, the age of consent legislation, we are still in a position where witnesses have not yet been heard.

We are here to debate legislation. We are here to do the public's business. We are here to give due process to things. While that does not preclude any of us from seeking unanimous consent to get something done, I believe that this is a very irregular procedure. On that point, it is something which should be seriously considered as to whether or not it is in order to do business in that manner, especially in the context that these precise items were already under discussion or were already being dealt with using the procedures that we have before us and in a way that everybody understands and in a way which every party partakes.

If that procedure in the motion is approved, this is the kind of thing where we in the NDP, the smallest party in the House, would be the ones who would often be the victims of this kind of procedure as the smallest party. I do not think that is intended.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to consider the points that have been raised. I would ask you not to just give a quick ruling on this, but to actually consider the precedent that is being set here and the fact that it is in some ways subverting the usual procedures that we have established to deal with this kind of business.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to respond to some of the issues raised by my friends.

First, the opposition leader referenced Marleau and Montpetit and in particular the Marleau and Montpetit suggestion that on an opposition day any matter can be proposed for debate, not to legislate, but to debate. That is the meaning of that section.

What we are facing with this motion is something very different. It is an effort to legislate through an opposition day motion, and that simply is not appropriate. That is not what is contemplated by saying that any matter within the jurisdiction of Parliament can be debated. Effectively, if this is permitted, there will be an amendment to the Standing Orders implicitly by ruling this in order that will allow an abbreviation of our legislative process and all the protections that it creates.

When I do go through those motions later, I believe you will find, Mr. Speaker, that there will not be unanimous consent for all of them. You will find unanimous consent for one of the four items of legislation, but not for the other three. The reason there will not be unanimous consent is that there is at least one party in each case that wishes to see the matter dealt with through the parliamentary process that is established in the Standing Orders.

Much as we would like that to move quickly, much as we would like to see those bills pass quickly, the fact remains the Standing Orders exist as their protection, that this Parliament will work in the fashion that it does. To allow it to move faster than that in the traditions of this Parliament has always required unanimous consent. That is the process by which we have worked.

Should this device be opened up, there would be a new process that has never before existed for eliminating and effectively treading over those rights of the minority parties in the House. That is something which the Speaker has to think about very carefully before making a ruling that represents such a precedent.

The House leader for the Bloc suggested there have been precedents in the sense of opposition motions having dealt with amendments to our Standing Orders. That is a very different matter. Our Standing Orders are adopted by a vote of the House only. Standing Orders do not go through three different readings in the House. They do not go through reference to a committee necessarily and report stage. That is not a requirement for Standing Orders. Absolutely, the committee on procedure and House affairs can study it if it wishes, but the process is not one of a statute. It is one of the rules of procedure in the House. They are Standing Orders. That is entirely different than legislation. I think that one can easily distinguish that precedent. That is something that is very different.

There is one precedent, however, I would refer to and that is a decision of Speaker Jerome on November 14, 1975. Again, this was in a time when motions were confidence motions, but there is a phrase here that I think is very important:

I feel it only fair to indicate that the closeness and similarity of the subject matter of this motion--

--this was an opposition motion--

--and the bill require a caveat from the Chair that under no circumstances could the consideration of this motion or the vote upon this motion...be taken in any way to prejudice the progress of Bill C-73.

There was a clear recognition there of a different world. Even if we are going to debate an opposition motion the subject matter that might be in a bill, it is different than the bill. We cannot legislate through an opposition motion. The Speaker made clear the sense that that is a very different matter.

We have differently set out our rules of procedure in our Standing Orders. We have government orders. That is the legislation the government brings forward. That is the tradition of responsible government. We have private members' bills. That is the opportunity available to other members, including opposition members, to legislate. Then we have supply day opposition motions. They are motions. They are not opportunities to legislate. I think that has always been very clear.

Should this motion be ruled in order in its present form, I believe, Mr. Speaker, you will have effectively amended the rules of order of the House, the Standing Orders; you will have effectively amended our practice and traditions; you will have amended the Constitution of this country. Mr. Speaker, you will have changed from an approach to responsible government that has served us well for many years to one that is dramatically different from that.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, when I was on my feet earlier in this discussion, I indicated that there were precedents for motions of the genre that the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine has proposed.

I noticed in the course of his remarks the House leader for the Bloc made reference to one of those precedents, which was the same one that I had in mind, and I have since been able to find the exact reference. It appears in the Journals of the House of Commons for Tuesday, November 5, 2002. There was a motion put forward, interestingly enough moved by a member of the Conservative Party and seconded by a member of the New Democratic Party to change the Standing Orders of the House in that particular case dealing with the election of committee chairs.

The point is this. Like that motion from two or three years ago, the motion which we hope will be before the House tomorrow is a motion that proposes to change certain procedures under Standing Orders. That is the nature of what is being proposed, just as was the motion of a few years ago.

One might logically ask, what is more normal or natural for Parliament to do than to deal with its own procedures and Standing Orders in order to expedite the public business of the country? That surely is a matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada.

The government House leader has tried to circumscribe those words to say they mean something less than a plain, common sense meaning of those words would conclude. We should bear in mind what the words themselves say without circumscription; they say “any matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada”. That open and broad interpretation is confirmed, indeed, by Marleau and Montpetit and there are precedents, including the one to which I have just referred, which indicate that Parliament before has taken the kind of action on an opposition motion on an opposition day as that proposed for tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, I would also point out that in 2005, when the party that is now the government was the opposition, there were a number of motions on the order paper standing in the name of the Conservative Party that proposed similar types of action. We would have to check the record to see if any of them actually proceeded at that time because there was a long list of various measures put on the order paper, but the important thing to note is that those proposals made by the Conservative Party at that time were of a very similar nature to the kind of proposal that we are discussing.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I would make the point that once you have given this matter thorough reflection, you should in our view conclude, and we hope you will conclude, that the motion in the name of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine is perfectly in order and the debate tomorrow should proceed as scheduled.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a couple of additional points. The House leader of the official opposition and the House leader for the Bloc are making the argument that the overriding issue is the magnitude and scope of an opposition day motion and that overrides everything. This is an argument to be made, that the opposition supply days should be open, should be broad and should be unfettered. I agree with that.

However, I think there are other issues and principles that come into this discussion. It is one thing to change the Standing Orders, but we are talking about a supply day motion that changes legislation. I do not think it was ever contemplated in Marleau and Montpetit or the Constitution, for example, that members of the House would lose the right to propose an amendment to legislation, without the consent of the mover, which is what would happen in this case. This is definitely a problem.

When we deal with legislation, we have a right to move amendments. In committee we have a right to move amendments at report stage. If this legislation is bundled together in kind of an omnibus bill in a motion, then we are forfeiting the right to move an amendment unless we get the consent of the mover of the motion, which I think is a real problem.

The other point is when we, through the usual procedures, seek agreement on a bill, we do it through unanimous consent. On this basis, using a supply day, we would be doing it on the basis of a majority vote, which is an entirely different procedure.

I understand the arguments that are being made, but there is another principle. Again, as a smaller party, this is something that would affect us very much.

This has to be part of the weighing up of this issue, that it is not just a matter of the scope the opposition has in terms of an opposition day. It is the rights of members to move amendments and whether something can be done through unanimous consent or a simple majority.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

hMr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her comments. However, I would like to point something out. We can do whatever we want on an opposition day, a supply day. We can abolish programs, create others and make recommendations to the government. We can even bring a government down. We can do anything during an opposition day. The opposition party can choose the subject and the content of the debate it proposes.

Mr. Speaker, in 1994, you were the House leader of the New Democrat Party when the hon. Herb Gray, who was the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, decided to amend the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. He did not modify the need for unanimous consent. He modified a whole series of sections to change the legislative process, short-circuit some stages, make some things simpler and others more complex. In short, using its majority in the House, the government proposed some amendments to the rules of the House of Commons. This rule could have been changed at the same time, but it was not.

At that time, Minister Herb Gray proposed a series of about ten amendments to the Standing Orders. Later, with the support of the Conservatives, who were in opposition while the Liberals were in power, we proposed changes to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. We voted on these changes and they came into effect.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you a question. Why is it possible for the government to use its majority and propose any necessary or imagined amendments to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons but it is not possible for a member of the opposition to initiate the same process?

To rule in favour of the government's arguments would mean establishing here, today, that there are two kinds of members in this House: those who can amend the Standing Orders by a simple request of their political party and those who cannot amend the Standing Orders by a simple request of their political party.

Why can the government, with the majority of the House, amend the Standing Orders as it pleases, whereas the opposition, with the majority of the House, cannot amend the Standing Orders as it wishes? I am one of those who claims that there is only one type of member in this House. All members are equal and have access to the same procedures. One of these procedures was used by the hon. Herb Gray and by many other House leaders prior to today. It may also be used by the House leader of the official opposition.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a very short point to distinguish what the Bloc House leader has said. He is referring to amendments to the Standing Orders. He was not referring to legislation.

What we have before us is a question of dealing with legislation. In fact, the precedent referred to by the hon. member for Wascana indicated quite clearly that it would be open to an opposition member to move and to have the House adopt changes to the Standing Orders. That is entirely different than what we are talking about here. We are talking about legislating through an opposition day motion, something not contemplated by the Standing Orders.

Business of Supply--Opposition Motion
Points of Order
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair has heard the arguments advanced by hon. members and is quite anxious to give a ruling on this matter. In view of the imminence of the debate, this will have to be dealt with tomorrow.

I also would like to give reasons for this, which I am not going to expound on now, tempting as that might be. I am going to reserve my right to give reasons at a later date and I will come back to the House with reasons, but in my the view the motion is unacceptable in its present form.

My reservations centre on two aspects. One is it deals with legislation in the House and amounts to a form of closure on legislation, which we have a procedure for in the rules already, and this would amount to closure on three bills which, in my view, would be out of order if the government were to propose it. Similarly it would be out of order for the opposition to make a similar proposal. I am concerned about doing it with one bill because it is a more abrupt form of closure than we have currently, where the government can introduce one of these motions on its own bill and after a day a half basically of debate on closure, force it through.

We recently witnessed a similar motion introduced in respect of some back to work legislation that was debated one afternoon. It could have been closured if the government chose to do so later and have passed, specifying the time that was allotted for each of the stages of the bill. I think it is possible for a government to do that in relation to one bill by one motion, but not three. This motion deals with three.

I am going to rule now that the motion will not be allowed tomorrow, but I will come back to the House with reasons on this matter in due course.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It being 5:15 p.m. it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of the subamendment now before the House.

The question is on the subamendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the subamendment?

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
The Budget
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment to the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #130

The Budget
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the amendment to the amendment lost.

The House resumed from March 1 consideration of the motion that Bill C-252, An Act to amend the Divorce Act (access for spouse who is terminally ill or in critical condition), be read the third time and passed.

Divorce Act
Private Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-252 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #131

Divorce Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from March 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-280 under private members' business. The question is on the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #132

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am sure that you would like to strictly adhere to the rules of voting. Since the member for London West was not in her seat when the motion was read, I think you would not want to have her vote recorded on the vote just held.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was here for the last vote, but I was not here for the one before it.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I do not know what the facts are in this case, but the hon. member for London West knows that hon. members must be in their seats when the question is put to the House. That is the point made by the hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park.

I have no knowledge of the matter. The member says she was here. That appears to be the end of the dispute.

But I would remind hon. members that that is the rule of the House and they will want to comply with it in every respect.

The House resumed from March 19 consideration of Bill C-257, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motions at report stage of Bill C-257. The question is on Motion No. 1.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #133

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the amendment lost.

Since two motions had been selected by the Chair, namely Motions Nos. 1 and 3, the next question is on Motion No. 3.

(The House divided on Motion No. 3, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #134

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 3 lost.

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

moved that Bill C-257, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers), as amended, be concurred in at report stage.

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #135

Canada Labour Code
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from March 20 consideration of the motion that Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be read the third time and passed.

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at third reading stage of Bill C-292 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #136

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Kelowna Accord Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I wish to inform the House that, because it is getting late, the period provided for private members' business is cancelled. Therefore, the order is deferred to a future sitting.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question tonight is a follow-up one to one I asked the Prime Minister on February 19, regarding the Prime Minister's broken promise to compensate the survivors of the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school. I had asked the Prime Minister the question, but he refused to answer. I hope perhaps the parliamentary secretary can be helpful.

I was happy that the minister acted in response to my statement on October 30, 2006, regarding the Primrose Lake Air Weapons Range agreement and then honoured the agreement. I hope this type of cooperation can occur again.

Here is what the Prime Minister promised in a campaign radio ad that ran for a week before the January 23, 2006, federal election, “Under a Conservative government, we will address issues important to aboriginal people. We'll ensure aboriginal war veterans are properly recognized. We'll provide full compensation for residential school survivors, including those who attended the Ile-a-la-Crosse school”.

Unfortunately, not only did the Prime Minister break his promise to aboriginal veterans by quietly ignoring it, his broken promise to compensate survivors of the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school is heartless in the way that it was not honoured.

Let us review the facts.

First, in December 2005, the former minister responsible for the residential school negotiation stated that the boarding school did not qualify because the agreement only covered federally funded schools.

Second, on December 7, 2005, the former Conservative member of Parliament in response to the minister stated, “the Conservatives won’t make that same distinction if they’re elected to power”. He went on to say that the Conservatives would give the $10,000 base and $3,000 per year compensation to the boarding school survivors. This clearly established that the Conservatives knew at that time about the agreement's limitations.

Third, to further demonstrate the former member of Parliament and the minister knew the school did not qualify, I present the following. The former MP stated that he and the current Indian affairs minister co-wrote the residential school agreement. If they did indeed co-write the settlement, they would have known that the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school did not qualify.

Now I go back to the promise. Remember, the Prime Minister said, “We'll provide full compensation”. On November 28, 2006, I asked the minister if his government intended to keep its promise to the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school survivors. He responded, no, because the school did not qualify.

Then, on January 19, the minister stated in a CBC interview:

—[t]he full knowledge of facts that we have today, confirm that the school doesn’t qualify....The ad takes a different assumption that was in error and that’s unfortunate but when one knows the facts of the school, it simply doesn’t qualify under the agreement, and...that full knowledge wasn’t available at the time that the ad was run.

I repeat the minister said, “that full knowledge wasn't available at the time the ad was run”. Not only was full knowledge available, the Conservatives had all the facts, as I have demonstrated. They knew the school did not qualify, as demonstrated by my presentations, but despite that they still made the promise and ran that ad until January 23.

The minister's claim “that full knowledge wasn't available” is misleading to Canadians and, in particular, to those Métis survivors. He is either completely incompetent or he is being deceitful.

To review this, the Conservatives knew the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school did not qualify. They promised compensation anyway, a full month and a half after knowing the school did not qualify. They broke that promise. They then proceeded to cover everything up.

If this is not a scandal, I do not know what is. This is an issue of trust. The minister wilfully made statements that he knew were not true.

If there is new information that perhaps the parliamentary secretary can shed on his web of deceit and shadowy conduct, please indulge me.

7:10 p.m.

Winnipeg South
Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in response to the question put to this House by my colleague, the member for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, regarding the Ile-a-la-Crosse Boarding School.

I will begin by saying that this government is committed to a fair and lasting resolution to this sad chapter of our history and recognizes the importance of bringing closure to the legacy of Indian residential schools in order to move forward in partnership with all aboriginal people.

The Indian residential school settlement agreement, which has just received final approval by the courts in all nine jurisdictions, includes all former students of federal residential schools, whether they are Métis, Inuit or first nations.

The settlement agreement includes a detailed list of the eligible residential schools based on specific criteria. This list was agreed upon by all parties to the agreement, including legal counsel and other representatives of former students of federal residential schools.

The government understands that the question of which institutions to include is complex and the historical record is not entirely complete. Therefore, article 12 of the settlement agreement sets out a process by which anyone can request that an institution be added to the list of eligible residential schools.

Following the implementation of the settlement agreement, the government will research the institution in question and make an initial decision whether it should be added to the list of eligible schools. If for some reason the decision is not satisfactory to the requester, an appeal may be made to the National Administration Committee and, ultimately, to the courts.

With this in mind, it should be noted that research has already been undertaken by the Government of Canada regarding the boarding school at Ile-a-la-Crosse. It was found that there was a federally operated school at Ile-a-la-Crosse until 1906 when this school burned down. At that time, children in the federal care were relocated to the Beauval Indian Residential School, which is included in the list of eligible residential schools.

It is also important to point out that there are no surviving students from this federally operated boarding school at Ile-a-la-Crosse. It is unlikely that the provincially operated boarding school located at Ile-a-la-Crosse would be added to the list using the process outlined in article 12 of the settlement agreement.

In closing, I would like to reiterate the government's commitment to the implementation of the Indian residential school settlement agreement and the individual and collective measures it provides. We are confident that the settlement agreement will be a source of healing for former students and their families and will strengthen relationships as the government moves forward in a partnership with aboriginal communities across Canada.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I guess that is all fine and dandy but when we look back at the promise, clearly they knew that this school did not qualify. In fact, as the former Conservative member of Parliament stated, “The Conservatives won't make that same distinction if they're elected to power”.

After this broken promise and ignoring the Métis nation for two straight budgets, there is no doubt that the Conservative Party is not ignorant of the Métis nation, it is simply disrespecting them.

I ask the parliamentary secretary to the minister and the Prime Minister for two things.

First, I ask them to keep the promise they made knowing full well the extent of the promise they were going to make. They knew the facts.

Second, I ask them to apologize to the Métis survivors of the boarding school for being so heartlessly disrespected and unfairly treated by the government.

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, to comment on the assertions of the member opposite, I do find it somewhat dubious for him to make the claim that there was any sort of tampering with the electorate in terms of this approach that was taken. Of course, he would know nothing about tampering in elections.

Clearly, the Métis people of Saskatchewan are important to the Government of Canada, which is why I have taken a very active role in assisting the MNS in being able to have a new election. I have been very active in Saskatchewan as we would like to see the Métis people in Saskatchewan have their former government restored as soon as possible.

I take great offence to his assertion that our government is not in fact supportive of the Métis people.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:15 p.m.)