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

March 21st, 2007 / 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.