House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, given the desire of Canadians that this Parliament meaningfully address concerns about air quality and climate change, the government should call Bill C-30, Canada's Clean Air and Climate Change Act, for debate and decision at Report stage and Second reading as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Victoria this morning on this most important and imperative debate.

We have seen much chicanery and seen the government playing with time. As we know, the government has chosen to reduce the hours of debate on this important topic from eight hours, which has been the tradition through most of Parliament's history, to two hours. This is a choice the government has made for--

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Yvon Godin

It's in the guide. They have a guide to do that.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

I think it might actually be in the guide, Mr. Speaker. There apparently is a 200-page guide available to the Conservatives. It may be 500 pages according to the parliamentary secretary.

While there might be some fun to be had with this, this is also a serious issue. This describes a government unwilling to face the key issues of the day, the issues that Canadians are calling on us to address with most haste.

There has been a general agreement that there must be a calling for a state of the nation for Canadians when we realize what is happening to our planet, what is happening as a result of our actions on climate change.

Due to the Liberal's failure and the current government's continued denial, delay and inaction, Canada finds itself at least 35% above our international obligations under Kyoto. Government officials, the minister himself, and others have admitted to the fact that we will not meet our obligations by 2008 or 2012, but perhaps we will meet them by the year 2025.

It is incredible to me and to other Canadians, when we look at our international competitors in the European Union, Japan, Australia, and the United States, that we find Canada performing worse than all of them. Canada has given itself a record to the world saying that we will not abide by our signature on an international agreement, and we will not play a full role. We are telling the world that we will not pull our weight or contribute our fair share to battling what has truly become an international problem.

We received one important piece of testimony from witnesses when we were debating the clean air act. They asked us to consider the Kyoto framework and the protocol as an economic pact rather than simply an environmental one. This is an important designation for all members to realize here today.

The government has been asked to assess the threat of climate change to our economy and to the health of Canadians, and yet there has not been a single study performed by the Conservative government, or previous ones, to understand the impacts and the threats to our country with an increase in greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. There has not been a simple understanding of what that impact will be like on all of our communities.

As we have watched the pine beetle devastation roll through our communities in British Columbia, devastating community after community by attacking the forests, a source of livelihood, we realized once and for all that the affects are real, that we must do something about it, and the time for inaction has long since past. The forestry councils of British Columbia have directly related this to the impact of climate change.

I would contend that every generation is met with a great challenge, whether it is seeking rights for all individuals, whether it is the emancipation of slavery, or whether it is fighting great despots in foreign lands. Every generation is judged by future generations as to the quality of handling that challenge. How did we respond to that challenge? How did our forebearers respond to the challenges of their day?

Every Remembrance Day we stand with pride and recognize the service of our veterans. We recognize that when that generation was met with a challenge, they faced that challenge. We look to previous generations and wonder how they responded to the challenge of finding the right spot for first nation women and minority groups.

Our generation's challenge is finding a way to conduct ourselves, conduct our economy, to live our lives in such a way that we do not do harm to ourselves or to our planet. I would contend that by the actions of the previous government and by the continued delay and denial of the Conservative government, future generations will hold us to account.

Future generations will decide when they look upon our record that it was simply for another CEO's bonus cheque in a Calgary office tower that we were unwilling to take the appropriate actions, that we were unwilling as a generation to move in the direction that was most needed and most called for by our children and their children.

Clearly, this issue of the environment and climate change must not be all that important to the Liberal Party as members can attest by their overwhelming attendance here this morning. It is an important issue for the New Democrats. For New Democrats this issue for our leader from Toronto—Danforth has been front and centre year in and year out, as we have seen governments bend to the will of inside corporate lobbyists rather than to the interests and needs of Canadians every day.

When the government first brought Bill C-30 forward, the clean air and climate change bill, and it was simply called the clean air bill in those days, that was one change we had to make quite quickly, it was dead on arrival. I remember standing in the foyer with all the media and the then environment minister who has since been replaced to much fanfare and much expectation that this bill would be the solution. This would be the silver bullet and finally some action.

As I flipped through the bill, as did other Canadians, we found that there was no serious action on climate change until the year 2040, as if we somehow had the luxury of time, the luxury to delay even further into the future.

The bill was dead on arrival. It met with no support from any other party in the House. There was no consultation with any other party in the House and there was not a single environmental group or a group of interest in the country who supported it in its measures.

I can also recall the day when the member for Toronto—Danforth, the leader of the New Democrats, stood in his place in the House of Commons and asked the Prime Minister to move the bill to a special committee. I recall the Conservatives guffawing and slamming their desks and laughing and calling out names of derision.

The Prime Minister stood in his place and said, “All right. Let's let a minority Parliament do its work. Let's let a process happen whereby each party will contribute their best ideas”. It was suggested that we bring forward the best witnesses we can from across the country and that no single party would win, but the best ideas would be allowed to win. Here was a novel concept for Canadians watching politicians, one of the most derided forms of occupation that could be had in this country, that they would somehow put aside partisan interests for a moment and allow a process to go ahead where every party would be allowed to move amendments, make changes and recommendations. Lo and behold, that is what happened.

Every party in this place made recommendations to the new revised bill. Every party voted for a majority of the sections of this bill. Yet here we find ourselves. All the media and the lobbyists and members of the government said that this could not be done, saying this simply cannot be done. But we got it done. We were able to find a place of consensus where everyone got something and everyone gave up something.

It is an old adage in negotiations that a good agreement is one where everyone gives something up. That is exactly what happened when we rewrote this bill and then renamed it.

The minority government's response to this has been to simply pretend it never happened, as if Canadians did not witness this experience, as if people are uninterested in the issues that we brought forward and that all the time and money that Parliament spent in good faith rewriting this bill simply did not exist. That is simply not true.

There was all sorts of sabre rattling as we entered into the spring session with the Prime Minister ready to go to the polls and, lo and behold, his numbers slipped in those very same polls and we do not have an election.

The Conservatives scrambled about the place and brought in another green plan. They stepped up to the plate for their second opportunity and it was another dud. Not a single environmental group in the country, not a single group, is interested in this at all.

The results of moving forward and what we were able to accomplish in a new and revised clean air and climate change bill were that national housing standards have an absolute lead and national targets for the first time have been placed into law that the cabinet cannot undo.

There are industrial targets for each sector and allowing those industries to use every tool available, unlike the government's bill which restricted the use of tools available.

Air pollution standards for the first time in this country will have national standards placed in the bill. The bill provides the ability to build the best vehicles in the world, the best cars and trucks for Canadians to drive, with the lowest emissions and the highest quality. This is what Canadians expect from us and this is what we delivered.

The government should bring the bill back to the House for a fair and free democratic vote today.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley is too kind to me in giving me openings like pine beetles and talking about how we did not listen to the NDP-friendly environmental groups.

Speaking of pine beetles, back in the early 1990s the then NDP provincial government listened to those NDP-friendly environment groups, and now what we do have on our hands? A massive pine beetle infestation, because the environmental groups would not let the government of British Columbia go into the Tweedsmuir park and fix the pine beetle. That is what those environmentalists did.

The former Liberal government sat on its hands for 13 years--

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is rising on a point of order.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, my point of order seems to be rather moot right now. I had not been advised, due to the absence of members opposite, of whether there was any boycott by the Liberal Party in having no members in the House, but I see that one now has arrived so I will withdraw my point of order.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. The parliamentary secretary is well aware that referring to the absence of members is out of order. He would not want to do that on a point of order and blunder into all kinds of mistakes.

The hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George has the floor, but we must have a little order so the hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley can hear the question or comment.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, while the NDP would want us to continue striking committees and special groups under this bill to study this more, the Conservative government is taking action.

In the next three to five years greenhouse gases will stop increasing. By 2020 they will be down by 150 megatonnes. The Liberals did nothing to fight air pollution and the NDP wants to continue with more studies.

This new Conservative government is doing something for the first time ever about greenhouse gases, air pollution, water pollution and contaminated ground and soil. Under our environment minister, this Conservative government is doing something for the first time in 13 years.

Those NDP members stood and watched the Liberal government do nothing for 13 years and now suddenly they think are going to save the world. I do not think so. We are doing something. This Conservative government is fixing the environment and we should be proud of what our environment minister has done.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, where to begin? First, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, unfortunately there was a contribution made to our national average right there and it was unhelpful of the member from Prince George. This grassy knoll theory that the environmentalists are somehow to blame for Canada's poor record on the environment is fascinating. What a strange confabulation.

When the B.C. First Nations Forestry Council comes to Ottawa, perhaps the member from Prince George should attend the meetings and find out that it is the forestry council that makes a direct link between climate change and the pine beetle devastation going on in our province right now. He should pay attention to the foresters and leave his grassy knoll theories for another day.

In terms of action, what studies? Perhaps he should read the resolution for today. The NDP is calling on the government to act on the bill that we created together in Parliament. It is a minority Parliament, I will remind the government, which means that a 200 page manifesto on how to disrupt committees is unhelpful.

What is helpful is to actually listen to the work of the committees whose members work together to solve an issue that does not have a right and a left, but that does have a right and a wrong, and the government is wrong on this issue.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I can agree with the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley on one thing, which is of course that climate change has been contributing to the pine beetles. There is no doubt about it.

However, back in the early 1990s when the provincial NDP government had a chance to go in and stop what was then a small infestation in the Tweedsmuir park, their environmentalist friends told the government it could not or it would lose their support. That is the legacy the NDP has to live with when it comes to pine beetles in the province.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the continuation of these theories is incredible. Despite what the First Nations Forestry Council in British Columbia is saying, despite what the environmental groups are saying, and despite what the scientists within the department of the government are saying, somehow the theory is that the pine beetle devastation is due to a handful of environmentalists in British Columbia.

That is what is happening. Those members are not realizing the truth of the matter, which is that we must fundamentally change course in this country. We must alter the economic reality for this country and start to build the type of green economy that Canadians have been asking for.

Bill C-30 would allow us to do that. Why the government refuses to listen to the will of Parliament, just like the Prime Minister used to call for when he was in opposition, is beyond me and beyond Canadians, but the Prime Minister will feel the retribution when it comes.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak about this bill, which was drafted by a committee with representation from all the opposition parties as well as the governing party. This committee was inspired by the NDP.

This bill, which the committee renamed Canada's Clean Air and Climate Change Act, offers an environmental plan that is far superior to what the Conservatives are proposing. They would have us believe that their targets will mean tough control over greenhouse gas emissions. The reality is different. The reality is that with intensity-based targets, greenhouse gas emissions will increase. That is why the committee took the Conservatives' shoddy bill and amended it to give Canadians a really effective plan. That is what Canadians want.

I condemn the government for not having the courage to introduce its own plan in the House for a debate and a vote. That is why the NDP is introducing Bill C-30 today.

To shut down this debate through procedural trickery, to bring it down from eight hours to two, is all about stifling the good ideas and progress made in Bill C-30 on an issue that Canadians are progressively increasingly concerned about. Canadians are angry about the inaction of their governments over the past decade.

For a government that purports to want to bring democracy to other countries, this action is profoundly undemocratic and disrespectful to the majority of Canadians who want real action on climate change. There is no issue about which I have received more mail from my constituents in Victoria.

This is a government that is increasingly and dangerously unwilling to accept the majority will of Parliament and of Canadians. We have seen this on committees throughout the last week.

Instead, the Conservatives jet-set around the country to introduce one idea per town, small half measures that fall far short of what is needed, without a real plan to reduce greenhouse gases.

One would think some of the best scientific minds on this planet would have been able to shed light in the Conservative mind--

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

An hon. member

A dark place.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Yes, a dark place.

One would think some of the best scientific minds on this planet would have been able to shed light in the Conservative mind about the most urgent issue our generation faces. One would think the Conservatives would understand the threat to our children and the urgency to act.

Yet the Conservatives and their friends in the oil patch dismiss the impact of our actions in Canada. They say that our emissions represent only 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, but they fail to understand that we are 0.5% of the world's population.

In other words, we are a dirty bunch, spewing out four times more emissions than our share. This is not the “punching above our weight on the international scene” that most Canadians have in mind.

We are told that this is the case because of our economy, so we get rich at the expense of the environment and at the expense of the rest of the people who inhabit it. This is certainly not the role that Canadians want to play in the world. It is a disgrace.

Bill C-30 offers a real possibility for a shift in direction. We are the only western country whose emissions are still rising, and the Conservative plan does not change that until 2020.

The Conservatives have us stuck on an escalator going ever upward. We are the only western developed country whose emissions are still rising and we are looking over at everyone else who is on the escalator going down.

The environment minister has said that he understands the urgency of the situation, yet given the lack of urgency of his actions and his plan, it is clear that he does not understand. He runs around claiming that the economic sky will fall if we aggressively tackle climate change.

However, a couple of days ago, a Canadian financial leader speaking at the Rideau Club said the following about those countries and those businesses who are too slow to join the green economy. He said that “the last into this will pay through the nose”. His company, VanCity Savings, is in the process of becoming carbon neutral by 2010. What that means is the act of doing business in a way that does not contribute to global warming.

One would expect that the Conservatives, who make themselves the apostles of productivity, would understand that those who transition early to a green economy will benefit. Yet with their ludicrous, discredited, intensity based targets, they remain firmly anchored in an old way of thinking and in an old economy that separates us from the possibility of real solutions.

There are real solutions. Other countries are putting them forward. We are being left in the dust.

Our excellent NDP energy critic, the member for Western Arctic, said that “any credible plan needs to be accompanied by real investment in renewable, sustainable, and green energy”. He continued, saying, “We must develop a national energy strategy which invests in renewable energy, supports conservation and creates an east-west energy grid so Canadians can share clean energy with each other”.

That is the kind of thinking that will allow us to change paradigm. What we need is a vision for what a green economy will look like and the determination to be the first ones to get there, which is precisely what the Conservative minority lacks.

If there were genuine political will to get something done beyond the mere appearance of action, the crucial first step would be to set the necessary political signals and framework conditions to achieve a more climate friendly development in the time to come. However, that does not mean making the tar sands slightly less dirty per barrel. It means a full shift in the way we produce energy. It means making stable, long term investments in conservation and development of renewable energy sources, instead of the spontaneous flash-in-the-pan window dressing projects that were given by the Conservatives, and the Liberals before them. It requires making a transition to triple bottom line decision making where social, economic and environmental objectives are given equal weight and all decisions must meet these objectives on each front. It does not mean doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

This is the principle that Norway has adopted. Norway produces only 0.2% of the world's emissions, but the country's leaders understood that it was part of the global family and needed to do its part.

The five countries that produce the most emissions account for half the world's emissions. However, as the Norwegian commission on low emissions has stated, if all the countries with relatively low emission levels rely on the major producers to reduce their emissions, we will never control climate change.

We can also follow Germany's example. Years ago, German political leaders seized the opportunity to build a strong, green, sustainable economy. They had a vision of the future that is being realized today.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Parliament is not allowed to sit if there is no member of the official opposition in the House. Is that not the case?

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. minister knows very well that is not the case. It does not matter who is in the House as long there are 20 members here. The Chair has no views on this. The hon. member knows that it is also improper to refer to the absence of members in the House. I have just chastized the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader for doing the same thing, so I know he will want to set an example and refrain from such activity.

The hon. member for Victoria has the floor.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish the Minister of the Environment, instead of being disruptive, would focus on environmental solutions.

But that would be asking too much.

I was saying that German political leaders took the opportunity to build a green, lasting and strong economy. That is what Canada is not doing and should be doing. For example, Germany has become the world leader in wind energy and it plans to gradually eliminate all of its nuclear energy by 2020. Canada is going in the opposite direction.

In closing, it is not just countries, but also Canadian and U.S. companies that are calling on the government to take action in order not to miss out on this opportunity to be competitive.

For example, the CEO of the Atlanta based carpet manufacturer Interface Incorporated, Ray Anderson, has adopted incorporating energy efficiency as a fundamental tenet of business and that it can mean financial success. This is something the Conservatives do not seem to understand.

I am pleased that the NDP pushed the climate change clean air act back on the floor of the House.

Hon. members spent months developing this bill and it required much negotiation, cooperation and hard work. What we have before us now reflects the best the four parties—

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but her time has run out. We will now move on to questions and comments.

The hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, since every province and every industry emits greenhouse gases at different rates, I would like the hon. member to say a few words on the polluter pays principle.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his question. If the bill is passed that is exactly what it would propose. That is exactly how it would apply. We are currently compensating the big polluters, the major emitters of pollution. For example, the government is proposing exempting the oil sands, which will continue to pollute. On the contrary, Quebec has adopted a green plan and many other provinces want to move forward. The NDP strongly supports this.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, many of us were very heartened by many of the remarks the member made and the tone of optimism in her voice that we as a minority Parliament may come together and do something meaningful in the context of the environment and climate change. I thank her and my colleague from Skeena for both the tone and the content of their speeches.

As a member from the province of Manitoba, I would like to focus on one thing she mentioned that is of critical import to us, and that is the idea that we must get busy with an east-west grid so that we in Canada can have our own Canadian system of sharing green renewable resources. My province of Manitoba and the province of Quebec have surpluses of hydroelectric power which, although not benign, is a heck of a lot better than the coal-fired and diesel-fired generating stations or the tar sands.

Could the member expand on her vision of how an east-west grid may become a reality and may be the most important nation-building exercise that this 39th Parliament constructs, period? I wonder if we could encourage the minister while we are at it.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is encouraging that the minister has put his paper down at least for that. I am very pleased to see that.

We should all remember that the railway going across Canada was one of the infrastructures that really brought Canada together.

This is a time when provinces are struggling to address climate change. My province of British Columbia has made it a requirement that any new coal-fired plant must have zero gas emissions. I know Ontario is struggling to meet its own goals in terms of reducing pollution. An east-west grid would allow those kinds of efficiencies between provinces that are not possible at the moment.

Those are the kinds of solutions that we need to implement but the government, after a year and a half in government, has not yet taken or made any serious moves to implement. This is the basis to developing a national energy strategy. It is the most basic aspect of what would be required to get our country working together, rather than one province against another.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the member from Skeena—Bulkley Valley, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, May 29, 2007, at 5:30 p.m.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House has heard the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Fort McMurray—Athabasca, a member who has served on the Bill C-30 legislative committee and one of many Conservatives who is working hard for a cleaner environment.

I also want to thank the minister who, I believe, will go down in history as one of Canada's greatest environment ministers.

I am pleased to participate in today's opposition day debate introduced by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, well-known as the member with over the top rhetoric and theatrics in the committee. It kept the committee very interesting.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Oh, yeah. How about blaming the pine beetle on environmentalists? Brilliant.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Martians are next.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

He is still at it, I can hear him.

On December 5, Parliament referred Bill C-30 to a legislative committee of the House of Commons for review. As we all know, Canada's Conservative government worked in good faith in committee on Bill C-30 to try to improve the clean air act.

In committee we supported amendments brought forward by every party to improve and strengthen Canada's clean air act. We even brought forward amendments of our own. Sadly, in most cases we were opposed by the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc.

Vehicle emissions is one example. We brought forward a reasonable amendment to achieve tough vehicle emission standards based on North American market standards, standards that would be supported by labour. What did the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc do? They voted against it and then knowingly imposed standards that would be impossible for industry to meet without shutting down the Ontario auto industry. As for the Liberals' plan, Buzz Hargrove said that it would be disastrous but they did not listen.

We also cannot ignore the unrealistic targets that were put into the bill by the Liberals and the NDP. The Liberals played politics by inserting Kyoto targets into the bill with no realistic plan to achieve them. The NDP supported that irresponsible action. It is difficult to stomach such gall from the Liberal Party. It is also clear that the Leader of the Opposition did not support Kyoto. His colleagues have repeatedly said this.

Liberal environment ministers, David Anderson, Christine Stewart and top Chrétien advisor, Eddie Goldenberg, told Canadians that the Liberal Party had no intention of meeting the Kyoto targets, that they were only paying lip service to Canadians on Kyoto. It is hard for Canadians to believe that the Liberals had a plan to achieve Kyoto five years ago and it is even harder today. The member for Halton said so. He stated:

I heard [the Prime Minister] yesterday in a speech say, in one breath, that action must be taken, while in the next he added that reaching Kyoto targets would be “fantasy”.

Is he right? Technically, yeah. We’re so far behind now that catch-up is impossible, without shutting the country down.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Who said that?

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

That was the member for Halton, a Liberal member.

Even when the Liberals were in government, it was easy for them to offer whatever people wanted but they had no intention of ever delivering.

Now that the Liberals are no longer in government, it is clearly easier for them to tell Canadians what they want hear, which is that they want to achieve the Kyoto targets, when in fact they cannot and had no intention to. It was 13 years of mismanagement.

The NDP takes the same position but it is hard to tell what the NDP's position is on short, medium and long term targets for greenhouse reductions because in the last six weeks it has supported two different positions.

First, there were the targets that it wrote with its Liberal buddies on Bill C-30. These targets would cost Canadian families and businesses over 275,000 jobs and send gasoline prices soaring over $2 a litre. These targets would be disastrous for the economy and the NDP supported them.

The NDP then introduced even tougher targets in a private member's bill sponsored by the leader of the NDP that would harm the economy even worse. Those targets were so over the top that when it tried to write them into Bill C-30 even the Liberals said that they did not make sense because they were so obviously over the top.

Canada's new government is committed to improving the environment on behalf of all Canadians. This includes concrete and realistic industrial targets recently brought forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the air that we all breathe.

Let us look at what happened with the clean air sections of Bill C-30. The opposition members gutted those clean air sections. We asked them to work with us to protect the health of Canadian children, the elderly and those suffering with respiratory illnesses. What did they do? They gutted those important sections out of the clean air act.

What did Canadians lose in the opposition's rush to gut the bill? Led by the NDP member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and the Liberal member for Ottawa South, what did Canadian's lose? They lost mandatory national air quality standards, and members opposite are applauding that those were lost. Canadians lost mandatory annual public reporting on air quality and actions to achieve national air quality standards. Canadians lost increased research and monitoring of air pollutants. Canadians lost tougher enforcement rules of compliance to air quality regulations. Finally, the opposition removed regulations that would have improved indoor air quality.

We heard from Health Canada officials at the environment committee yesterday about the importance of indoor air quality. Allow me to quote from their presentation:

Canadians spend about 90% of their time indoors.

In the built environments where we live, work, go to school, and play, Canadians are exposed to a variety of contaminants such as airborne moulds from excessive moisture, emissions from household products and building materials, and carbon monoxide from poorly vented oil and gas appliances.

These and other indoor air contaminants can cause or exacerbate many different ailments, including asthma, respiratory infections, and allergies.

Under the Clean Air Agenda announced last fall, the Government committed to develop a priority list of indoor air pollutants in partnership with provinces and territories, which will lead to guidelines and other measures to protect the health of Canadians from these pollutants.

Tragically, the opposition members removed indoor air regulations from Bill C-30. What did they add instead? They added delayed action by requiring six months of consultation around a new investment Bank of Canada, before we could move forward on tough new regulations for industry. They added complex and unworkable requirements that would make it harder, not easier, for government to act on air pollution.

Even worse, the Liberals, supported by the NDP, inserted a clause that would allow political interference into air quality standards. The Liberals would allow the environment minister to exempt economically depressed areas from air quality standards for two years. This would allow the environment minister to engage in political interference in setting air quality regulations. That is something Canadians certainly do not want.

It is also interesting to note that at the House of Commons environment committee yesterday, officials from Health Canada testified on the importance of national air quality standards as opposed to the regional patchwork as proposed by the NDP members and their Liberal buddies on Bill C-30.

Bill C-30 was key to protecting the health of Canadians and the environment. It is clear that the opposition picks politics over the environment.

The Liberals also inserted their carbon tax plan into the bill, a plan that would lead to zero greenhouse gas reductions. Unlike the Liberals, we believe actions speak louder than words. That is why we introduced the toughest, most realistic plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the world today.

For the first time ever, Canada's new government will force industry to reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. We have taken immediate action to implement mandatory targets on industry so that greenhouse gases begin to come down.

Canada needs to turn the corner because we went in the wrong direction under the Liberals. Since the Liberals promised to reduce greenhouse gases in 1997, they have only gone up.

Canada's new government is turning back the hands of time on the disastrous Liberal record and we will cut 150 megatonnes by 2020. We will impose mandatory targets on industry so air pollution from industry is cut in half by 2015.

The government is serious about tackling climate change and protecting the air that we breathe for Canadians today and tomorrow. Our plan is real. It begins now, immediately, and will lead to concrete results with challenging but realistic targets for industry.

There is no doubt that we all need to work together if we are to address our growing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. Unfortunately, the motion seeks more delay and more debate, and that is why we will not support it.

The time for talk is over. The time for action is now and I look forward to getting support from all opposition parties to implement our tough new regulatory framework on air emissions.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I almost rose on a point of order to allow the Conservatives a chance to read the bill that has been rewritten and revised. The parliamentary secretary, who I thought was there during the process, seems to have missed the critical elements, the fact that air pollution standards are set out as national standards, not vague objectives as they were originally written. The national binding standards cannot be undone, for NOx SOx, VOCs, particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen oxide, gaseous ammonia and mercury, all within the bill. Somehow he has invented some new fiction as to what happened and did not happen, but the bill exists. It is in the government's hands.

If he would like to have an option for Parliament to choose between his government's performance on the environment and the one that all parties wrote together, I encourage him to bring both of them forward, but he will not do it.

The Liberal failure on the environment is no longer an excuse for Conservative inaction and delay. That is just not a valid excuse for this. Limiting debate on this most critical issue from eight hours to two hours is not good governance. Canadians want to know what the government's plans are on climate change and they want the government to give Parliament the option of voting for a real climate change act.

The leading threat to our economy right now, as seen by many countries around the world, is the impacts of climate change. When we asked Finance Canada and Environment Canada officials if the government engaged any type of analysis either on the impacts to our economy of climate change or the benefits to our economy in creating a green and truly sustainable economy, it had not done a whiff of it. It has not even looked at the issue. It has not done any serious analysis since 1992.

Could the parliamentary secretary justify not even looking at the issue of the impact of climate change on our economy and the health of Canadians? Second, would he take the time to read the legislation that we rewrote together on air pollution, on indoor air quality and on climate change? All members of the House had input into.

Why has he not bothered to take the time to read it and why does he continue to mislead this House as to what is in the bill? It is there in black and white. It is there for him and all Canadians to read, that the national targets and standards are set. They are put into law. They cannot be undone by cabinet behind closed doors. They must be redone by a Parliament, which no Parliament in its right mind would ever do in the future.

It finally sets Canada on the path so real standards are put in place and so a sustainable economy can be created. The polluter pay principle is enshrined into law in Canada. Polluters can no longer get off the hook, as is the suggestion in the new Conservative plan that allows the oil sands to increase their volatile organic compounds by 60%, when every other industry in the country has to reduce.

There is no more justification for this. Will he bring the bill back for a fair and open debate? If the Conservatives are so into democracy, present their bill. We will present the bill that was issued by all members of the House and will allow a democratic vote to decide. This place exists for that. That is why people sent us here.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I grin when I hear the rhetoric from the member. Maybe he did not notice what was happening. He was busy ordering a cake for the end of Bill C-30 and meeting with his media buddies. Maybe he should have paid more attention.

Maybe he should have paid attention to the witnesses. Every one of the witnesses said that what he was proposing could not be done, except for one, but he ignored that and got busy ordering a celebration cake.

This is what was said in the Globe and Mail right after Bill C-30 ended and while he was cutting his cake:

— what the opposition parties, especially the Liberals, did to this bill in committee before they returned it to the House of Commons...made a bad law worse. With dozens of amendments, they slapped a hefty carbon tax on industry and then assigned the money from that tax to a new agency with the clout to give it back—if satisfied with the polluter's progress—or to spend it elsewhere. Their overhaul was so drastic that they even amended the name of the legislation.

Bill C-30 was severely damaged. He talked about the national air quality standards. We support national air quality standards, not regional standards where there can be political interference. All Canadians deserve to have air quality, not just some areas.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

I am going to have to cut him off partway through his remarks because of the interruption at 11 a.m., which I know will be a disappointment for him. However, I am warning him advance that he will have to divide his speech into parts.

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I was on the committee that looked at Bill C-30 and I listened intently to the witnesses. I went to every meeting and I spoke to NDP members at length in relation to what they were proposing. Today, we see they are asking us to call Bill C-30. I am prepared to call it something. I would call, quite frankly, a collection of really bad ideas and a couple of good ones. What the government is going to do is take the good ones and put them to work for Canadians.

I am also pleased to address the House on the issue of what our government has done regarding the establishment of greenhouse gas and air pollution reduction targets. This is very important to Canadians.

The government has brought forward a comprehensive and integrated regulatory framework, which not only addresses greenhouse gases, but which also calls for concrete action to reduce air pollution which affects the health of Canadians every day.

Canadians have probably heard this one time or two times before, but Canada's new government did inherit a mess of ineffective and counterproductive strategies for air pollution and greenhouse gases. The previous government's strategies just did not deliver what Canadians need, that is healthy air and a healthy environment. This government is committed to do that.

The inaction by the previous Liberal government and the failure to set and follow up on plans and priorities for greenhouse gases and air pollution reduction requires a more realistic approach. We want to get results. We are done with talking, and the motion calls for more of that. We are not prepared to do that any longer. We think it has happened enough and we will get results for Canadians.

That is why the government has brought forward a regulatory framework to significantly reduce GHGs and air emissions from industrial sectors. That is why we have and will continue to introduce additional measures as time goes to fight climate change and to fight air pollution, which is so important to Canadians.

For those people who are listening, do not take my word for it and do not take the word of the member opposite. Look at the legislation, look at the website and talk to the experts. Canadians will see that this government is taking real concrete steps to help the health of Canadians.

I underline the point that we are putting in place regulatory reductions, not voluntary reductions as the previous government did, of greenhouse gas and air pollutants in place. We are setting stringent targets, but achievable sector based targets for emission reductions. What is more, the government's approach ensures that there is actual accountability. We stand for accountability on this side of the House and these steps and this approach ensures accountability as well as flexibility to accelerate these actions, as required by this government. We are taking real steps and we are going to continue to do so.

I will turn my attention now to what I consider some key aspects on what this government approached is based, aspects that set it apart from the lack of actions that was taken before by the previous government.

Our goals are the goals of Canadians. We have listened intently to the goals of Canadians. The legislation we have proposed and the continued changes and advancements that we will making are clearly what Canadians want to protect the health, the environment and the prosperity of Canadian jobs.

We are getting the job done and getting it done the right way, for our future, our children and our grandchildren. Our government has set targets which contribute to significant reductions, not only of greenhouse gases but also of air pollutants which are so important. These reductions will provide immediate and long term health benefits for Canadians. Often the air pollutants and the greenhouse gases come from the same source, so it makes sense to do this as a collection of ideas that work toward a better quality of life for Canadians.

I want to also take this opportunity to emphasize the importance of regulating reductions in air pollution at the same time as we regulate greenhouse gas reduction. The health impacts of poor air quality are very evident. Until people are touched by those poor air quality standards and the health effects of those, people do not realize what is important to them. As a government we realize what is important to Canadians. Approximately 5,900 deaths or 8% of all deaths in eight Canadian cities can be linked to air pollution every year. The government will get the job done for Canadians to protect their health.

We are also aware of reported increases over the last few decades of certain diseases affecting our population. I have even seen it in my community and in my own family. This is a significant cause for concern and one that in certain instances can be related to the quality of the air we breathe.

We know that asthma is increasing in our population. In fact, over the past 20 years it has more than tripled in children zero to 14 years of age. According to the 1996-97 national population health survey, over 2.2 million Canadians have been diagnosed with asthma by a physician. That is right, some 12.2% of children and 6.3% of adults have complaints of asthma. My youngest child Michael has asthma. Until we see what takes place with somebody with serious asthma and how it affects the qualify of life, we do not realize how important the steps are that this government is taking for Canadians.

It is clear that we need to take action now, not some six months or six years later as the NDP has proposed. We need to take action now to reduce all potential causes that increase incidences of illness and death, especially those which affect our children.

This government's approach--

Opposition Motion--The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am reluctant to interrupt the hon. member, but I believe the time has come for that. I wanted to give him reasonable time to complete his remarks, but he will have four minutes remaining in the time allotted when the debate on this matter is resumed later this day.

Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair has been thrilling crowds for more than 100 years. Growing from a community rodeo to an internationally renowned event, Cloverdale has become the place to be on the May long weekend.

This year's rodeo and country fair promises to be bigger and better than ever before, including live family entertainment, the Fraser Valley's largest midway, one of the best livestock, horticulture and agriculture exhibits in western Canada, and of course, exciting rodeo competitions featuring some of North America's top cowboys.

This weekend's celebration is an important part of Surrey's heritage. Even in today's rapidly expanding city, Surrey remains home to more than 500 farms. We have one of the country's richest growing areas, blessed with favourable soils, a mild climate and a long growing season.

I invite everyone to come out and celebrate our agriculture past and present and enjoy one of British Columbia's great Victoria Day long weekend traditions.

Assisted Human Reproduction Agency
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, next week is Infertility Awareness Week in Canada.

Parenthood is a joyful, challenging and enriching experience and one that most Canadians take for granted.

For 600,000 Canadians coping with infertility, building a family can feel like an insurmountable hurdle.

For these people, being unable to conceive a child can be the biggest physical and psychological problem they have ever had.

As a family doctor, I watched some of my patients struggle with infertility and tried to process the options available to them.

The new Assisted Human Reproduction Agency is to ensure that Canadians, like my former patients who need help forming families receive that help in a safe and ethical way.

It is imperative that the agency be composed of scientific experts and patient representatives, but that has not yet been accomplished. There are still three empty spots on the board. I urge the government to fill them as soon as possible to ensure that families struggling with infertility receive the most complete and informed guidance.

Warwick Cheese Festival
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, recently, we were honoured to learn that the Canadian Intellectual Property Office has granted the trademark “Warwick capitale des fromages fins du Québec”.

I am certain that this designation of Warwick as the fine cheese capital of Quebec will make the 13th Warwick cheese festival, to be held from June 14 to 17, even more exciting. The theme of the festival is pride in the flavour of Quebec cheeses.

Warwick and its cheese festival have a solid reputation. This year, the event will feature the Quebec fine cheese competition, concerts with famous performers, and activities such as cheese sculpture and the “happy cheesemakers olympiad”. Organizers and the 500 volunteers are expecting over 40,000 people to attend.

I invite all the hon. members and everyone, in fact, to participate in the festival. They will no doubt be pleased to see how hard the people of Warwick have worked to make this unique event a big success and how proud they are of their festival. Long live the fine cheese capital of Quebec.

Mackenzie Gas Project
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, according to a report in yesterday's Financial Post, talks are under way which may result in the federal government becoming a major partner in the Mackenzie gas project. If this is so, then Canada must, as part of its participation, insist on the development of an overall industrial strategy for the Mackenzie Valley.

Government and industry have called the pipeline a basin opening project. Unfortunately, instead of an overall guiding plan for the careful development of the pristine Mackenzie Valley, the Liberals and Conservatives have allowed the huge multinationals a free rein.

If the hard-earned dollars of ordinary Canadians are to go to support this project, then it only makes good business sense to have a long term vision for the future.

In the private sector it is well known that failure to plan means planning to fail.

Our territory needs to be developed sustainably, carefully, with a maximization of benefits to Canadians and northerners, and with full protection of our environment.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that this coming Monday, May 21, marks the 90th anniversary of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Canadian agency of the commission is responsible for the commemoration of 19,000 brave souls who gave their lives in the service of their home and native land. These distinguished men and women rest in more than 3,300 cemeteries and are remembered on five memorials in North America.

However, the commission's work goes far beyond those statistics. Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries in Europe, Asia and Africa will agree that these sites are remarkable for their serenity and beauty.

Those who sacrificed their hopes and dreams for our freedom, democracy and rule of law have a final resting place that befits their solemn commitment and duty to their country.

Congratulations to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on its remarkable work.

Master Corporal Allen Stewart
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Hubbard Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, May 11 a special memorial service was held at St. Mary's Church in Miramichi for Master Corporal Allen Stewart who had lost his life in Afghanistan on April 11. Father Fowler hosted the service organized by Dean Lawrence and the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association. The service was attended by hundreds of Miramichiers including present and former members of the Canadian armed forces.

Master Corporal Stewart was only 30 years of age. He was in his twelfth year of service, his fourth overseas tour and a second tasking in Afghanistan. A proud member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Allen was from the small rural community of Trout Brook on the northwest Miramichi. After graduating from NSER High School in 1995, service to Canada was his career. His devotion to duty is so reflective of many rural Atlantic Canadians who are serving in our forces.

On behalf of all Miramichi constituents and Canadians, I extend condolences and appreciation for his duty to his family, his mother Blanche Gilks, his father John Stewart, his widow Christa Le Furgey Stewart, and especially his two young daughters Brittany and Sarah.

Museums
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, May 18 is International Museum Day.

This year's theme, “Museums and Universal Heritage”, provides an appropriate opportunity to reflect on the diverse heritage preserved and displayed in museums across Canada. Canada and its museums recognize the shared responsibility among the nations of the world to protect our common patrimony.

Canada's museums, whether small local community museums or large national institutions, have played and will continue to play an essential role in the life of this country.

Our government is committed to meaningful ongoing support and partnership. Our first priority must be to our federal museums that maintain the story of Canada as a country. In fact, our commitment to Canada's museums totals $267 million.

Cultural expression is vital to our nationhood and a thriving cultural sector is an essential part of strengthening Canada's quality of life.

Alcan Inc.
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Alcoa has set its sights on the Alcan aluminum company. Alcan's American rival has plans to create a world aluminum giant. This takeover is raising a lot of concerns in Quebec and the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region.

Alcoa has offered some good guarantees with respect to maintaining primary aluminum transformation activities, thanks especially to the Government of Quebec, which is insisting that certain conditions be met before it offers any help.

However, with regard to research and development, which are crucial for long term economic development, Alcoa's guarantees cover only primary transformation. The people of the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean are worried about the development of initiatives in the secondary and tertiary aluminum transformation industry and about the future of Alcan's research centre.

I would like to remind the Minister of Industry that he is no longer a spokesperson for the Montreal Economic Institute. I would like him to recognize that he is responsible for industrial development.

Victorian Order of Nurses
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, during this National Victorian Order of Nurses Week, I would like to pay tribute to nearly 16,000 employees and volunteers of the VON, who, day in and day out, give freely of their time to help their fellow citizens.

VON is a not-for-profit health care organization and registered charity offering health care solutions, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Founded in 1897, the organization is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year and has a network of branches that deliver health care solutions in 1,300 communities across Canada.

With its colourful history, VON will remain a dynamic organization in our communities, an organization that works in partnership with local populations to identify their health care needs and find appropriate solutions.

On behalf of the thousands of Canadians who benefit from the services provided by VON caregivers, I thank the VON and wish it continued success.

Annie Pootoogook
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this time to congratulate Annie Pootoogook of Cape Dorset.

Annie is a well-known artist in Nunavut having worked with the West Baffin Cooperative since 1997. Last November Annie was awarded the 2006 Sobey Art Award for outstanding new artists in Canada.

The Sobey Art Award is Canada's top art award for young artists under 40. This is a tremendous honour for her as she is a third generation artist, as both her mother and grandmother are master graphic artists.

Annie has a distinct artistic approach. Her compelling drawings portray life in today's Arctic in a very realistic way.

Annie is becoming well known internationally as she will participate in the Documenta show in Germany this summer and was part of the Glenfiddich artist residency in Scotland last year.

I congratulate Annie on behalf of my constituents of Nunavut and myself.

Burma
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, since Tuesday the military government of Burma has arrested nearly 50 peaceful activists. Among them was Su Su Nway, a dissident and member of the national league for democracy.

Su Su Nway was arrested along with more than 30 other Burmese for peacefully conducting a prayer service to draw attention to the ongoing arbitrary detention of the leader of the national league for democracy, Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

I know that every member of this House will join me in saluting the courage of Su Su Nway in her struggle against the totalitarian Burmese regime. Canadians across the country call on the Burmese government to free Su Su Nway as well as all other advocates of freedom who have been unjustly imprisoned by the country's undemocratic military regime.

Winnipeg North
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, this weekend marks the 100th anniversary of Luxton School, named after Mr. W.F. Luxton, Winnipeg's first public school teacher. This school has been a beacon of light and learning in Winnipeg's north end, graduating many world renowned personalities like Monty Hall and Burton Cummings, who will actually join us at our celebrations this weekend.

Congratulations to Principal Tom Rossi and all those who have created a classy celebration for this historic occasion.

I also want to acknowledge another upcoming historical event. On behalf of the House of Commons I salute the Maples Collegiate Unity Group on its 12th annual walk against racism. A dozen years of standing up to be counted, fighting against all forms of racism, hatred and discrimination.

Today I stand in solidarity with members of the Maples Unity Group and say that their courage is an inspiration to all of us. They are a shining example for our whole society to build for the future a community and a country based on equality, dignity and peace. Congratulations to Chuck Duboff and the Maples Unity Group.

Canadian Executive Service Organization
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour the Canadian Executive Service Organization, CESO, and Ms. Norma McCormick, an inspiring individual who lives in my riding.

CESO is a not for profit organization that has been promoting sustainable economic development in Canadian communities and abroad for 40 years. It does so by pairing skilled volunteer advisers like Norma McCormick with clients to promote development, build economic capacity, and support sustainable businesses to render communities more self-sufficient.

Ms. McCormick joined CESO as a volunteer adviser in May 2004. She recently completed a CESO international assignment in Serbia and Montenegro where she assisted with the harmonizing of Serbian laws with the European Union legislation on occupational health and safety. This is an example to all of us that one person can truly make a significant difference.

Please join me in congratulating CESO and Norma McCormick for their efforts in stimulating development in our country and in disadvantaged economies around the world.

The Environment
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, following the example of the young cyclists from Sherbrooke who braved the winter cold to send a message to the Minister of the Environment with their “Kyoto à vélo” initiative, students from the Collège Sacré-Coeur have also joined forces to send a message to the Prime Minister about environmental issues.

On the initiative of a teacher, Bryan Teasdale, the students have sent some 400 letters to the Prime Minister, calling on him to comply with the Kyoto protocol. Their aims are, first, to give a voice to future generations and, second, to obtain concrete commitments from the Prime Minister. The students want to remind him that the earth does not belong to him; rather, it is on loan from future generations.

I wish to join with these young people, a true source of inspiration, and I invite all Sherbrooke schools to take part in this act of solidarity. I invite the students to write to the Prime Minister, to share their concerns with him and let him know what action they think he, as Prime Minister, should take.

Congratulations to these young people who went ahead and took action.

Canada Summer Jobs
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, many students look for summer work through organizations using funds from the Canada summer jobs program. Unfortunately, as a result of close to $12 million in Conservative cuts, many worthy organizations and community groups in the health, education and service sectors find themselves without summer jobs funding, while students find themselves without necessary employment opportunities.

For example, Maison Shalom, a specialized home for intellectually and physically disabled children and young adults in my riding, Mount Royal, was refused funding for the first time. The Conservative cuts are having a negative impact on groups like this.

Why is the government harming organizations, such as Maison Shalom, which seek to protect the vulnerable? Why is it closing off opportunities for student summer employment? Why should Canadians be deprived of these worthy benefits?

Goods and Services Tax
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal finance critic, the member for Markham—Unionville, is openly musing about whether the Liberals are planning to raise the GST. He said it is an option and that all he could say was that it was consistent with their approach.

Consistent with their approach, Mr. Speaker? Does the member mean the same approach they used when they promised to scrap the GST, then did nothing? Or is like their approach to raising taxes?

The member for Kings—Hants is on the record approving an increase to the GST as what most economic advisers would suggest. More recently he was asked, should he become prime minister, if he would repeal the Conservative GST cut. The member said, absolutely.

The Liberal leader also suggested in June 2006 that he planned to raise the GST to pay for other measures consistent with the Liberal approach.

Canadians know all too well what is consistent with the Liberal approach. The question Canadians are now asking is, how high do the Liberals plan to raise the GST?

Summer Jobs Program
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the human resources minister admitted what Liberals have been saying in this House for a long time. His new summer grants program is a disaster. It is a disaster for students and for scores of not for profits across Canada. His own ministers are now saying the same thing, one in New Brunswick as we speak.

The previous program was working. This new one is not, denying autism organizations, seniors and disability groups, youth recreation, child care agencies, and thousands of others.

Will the minister adjust his criteria today and follow the Leader of the Opposition, who yesterday announced that a Liberal government would immediately restore full funding to the summer career placement program?

Summer Jobs Program
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the member that the entire $77.3 million that was dedicated last year to not for profits has been dedicated to not for profits again this year. That is an important point.

I also want to remind him that every year groups must apply and demonstrate that they are providing good quality jobs for people. The point of this is to provide jobs for students.

As I said yesterday, in some cases there are sympathetic groups who appear on the face of it to meet the criteria, but have not been approved. We are looking at those groups.

Summer Jobs Program
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, three months ago I asked the minister about these cuts. At that time he said, “It is kind of hilarious that the member would be concerned about a few million dollars in cuts”. Hilarious. Well nobody is laughing now.

Organizations across Canada are facing a crisis and students are out of luck. Once again befuddled Conservatives, like Premier MacDonald of Nova Scotia, are shaking their heads at the heartless government. His own MPs are again afraid to face their constituents for good reason.

When will this disgraceful situation be resolved?

Summer Jobs Program
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely true that we reduced funding. In fact, we cut it to Wal-Mart and some of the large international companies that were receiving it.

It is a little rich to hear the member across the way talking about his concern for students when his government, when it was in power, cut $25 billion to universities and colleges without any regard at all for students.

Summer Jobs Program
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

He called for deeper cuts at the time, Mr. Speaker.

The government can play with the numbers. It can recite the fortunate few who made the cut. The fact is a successful program was killed, a flawed new one was introduced, the funding was slashed, and for no reason other than politics.

As the Conservative government stumbles toward summer it has put the summer plans of students and organizations in peril. Those members know they have made a huge mistake and they are scrambling to cover up.

When will the government announce changes to the program? When will it restore full funding to the summer career placement program as our leader did yesterday?

Summer Jobs Program
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to making sure that students get the best quality jobs they can get.

Under the old program, thousands of jobs were funded for three weeks. That is not a summer job. That is not even a month long job. Under the new program, students are being funded for a longer period of time. They are getting the best quality work experience they could get.

Why does the member not support that kind of thing for students? It is about students.

Summer Jobs Program
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, a number of community groups have not received a response from the government for the Canada summer jobs program, and the minister is refusing to announce which groups will receive funds. Earlier, he told the groups they may have to way one month before receiving a response. The problem is that for these groups and the students, it will be much too late.

What does he have against community groups and students? Why is the minister going after students?

Summer Jobs Program
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong of course. Thousands of groups have been notified and they know exactly the situation they are in.

I know the member does not like to hear the facts because they do not flatter her case, but the truth is that thousands of not for profits will be the beneficiaries of this new program and tens of thousands of students will be rewarded. The member should support that.

This is about making sure that students get the best jobs they can get. That is happening under Canada summer jobs.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, francophone minority communities are feeling targeted by this Conservative government. The last budget cut the funds allocated to the Action Plan for Official Languages by $80 million. The government cancelled meetings of the Standing Committee on Official Languages because it did not like the negative testimonies. It appointed an ombudsman for victims of crime and a chairperson of the National Capital Commission who are not bilingual. Today, we have learned that only one of the twenty-one franco-Manitoban organizations that benefited from the Canada summer jobs program last year has been accepted.

When will the government stop this vicious attack on francophone communities?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, again the member is completely wrong.

One of the criteria in the Canada summer jobs program is that the money be weighted toward minority language communities. I do not know what more we can do. We are also providing the same amount of money to not for profits in Canada summer jobs. Many thousands of students are enjoying the benefits of the new Canada summer jobs program as a result.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned this morning that the Conservative chairs of committees received a manual on how to create chaos in order to avoid dealing with issues the government does not care for. It suggests interrupting witnesses, filibustering or leaving the chair unexpectedly to stop proceedings.

Does this not prove that the paralysis affecting the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, the Standing Committee on International Trade and the Standing Committee on Official Languages is not happenstance but a deliberate plot by the Prime Minister's Office?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the opposition is obstructing Parliament.

Let us look at the justice agenda: Bill C-10, the mandatory penalties for gun crimes bill, a very important part of the agenda, was held up for 252 days in committee by the opposition parties, particularly the Liberals and the Bloc members; Bill C-23, the amendments to the Criminal Code, was held up for 214 days at committee by the opposition parties; Bill C-22, the age of protection bill, 175 days; the DNA identification bill, 148 days; and the conditional sentencing bill, 139 days.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the will of the people elected a minority government, which means that the Conservatives cannot do as they please. They must also understand that, in a minority Parliament, the parties must work together even if their ideologies clash.

Does the government realize that its party is the only one in this House to refuse to work with the others?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we wish to work with all the parties in the House, but we also made promises to Canadians in the last election, which we must keep. We made promises with regard to the court challenges program, minimum sentencing and others. The obstructionist opposition has caused considerable delays in these matters.

We want to proceed with our agenda and we want to deliver on our commitments. It is the opposition parties that have been delaying our justice agenda and, in some cases, for 252 days at committee.

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, in an effort to follow the Prime Minister's handbook to the letter, the Conservative chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages canceled two committee meetings. Yet at the parallel committee, two witnesses from SOS Montfort spoke about the importance of the court challenges program. In particular, Michel Gratton, former adviser to Brian Mulroney, stated that abandoning this program would be illegal and unconstitutional, because it could encourage the assimilation of minorities.

Does the government plan on reinstating the court challenges program, the purpose of which is to defend minorities?

Official Languages
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Beauport—Limoilou
Québec

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, everyone in this House knows that this case is before the courts and I will not comment on it. The opposition made an emotional decision that unfortunately had consequences for all those who care about official language minorities. The Bloc is certainly not in a place to be giving lectures on this.

Access to Information
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, they pulled the same kind of trick on the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. The government is doing everything it can to hide a censored report about torture in Afghanistan from the committee.

It is ironic that a government that campaigned on transparency is now trying to muzzle opposition members of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Access to Information
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her question. It is very clear that bureaucrats were responsible for deciding what was redacted.

As I have said many times, these decisions around what is redacted are made internally on reports circulated internally. They are done in the same way that they have been done for years with respect to this report and other reports.

These are decisions made internally, not at the political level. The member opposite should know that. I am stating it unequivocally today that these are not political decisions.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, so much for blaming the opposition for the obstruction of Parliament. Now we learn that the monkey wrench gang has had a plan all along, and not just any plan, a 200 page playbook on how to frustrate, obstruct and shut down the democratic process.

Is this what the Conservatives meant when they said that they would make the minority Parliament work? Does the government House leader have the courage to show Canadians their anti-democratic tactics? Will he table the obstruction playbook in this House today?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the obstruction playbook was written by the opposition, which has held up, as I said, justice bills at committee, not in the rest of the House, 252 days for mandatory penalties for gun crimes, 214 days for the Criminal Code and 175 days for age of protection.

Those are things we committed to do for Canadians and those are things Canadians want. They want stronger communities and safer communities. The opposition pulls out every stop it can to obstruct and then it gets upset when a matter gets debated for two hours at committee.

We will work hard to get our agenda through because Canadians want to get tough on crime.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, let us get real here. The 200 page playbook came from the Conservative government. It is too bad that its so-called climate change plan was not as comprehensive.

The Conservatives have a plan on how to manipulate witnesses but no plan for job losses. They have a plan on how to obstruct debate but no plan on how to deal with skyrocketing prescription drug costs.

I am asking the government House leader to table this playbook so Canadians can see just how petty, vindictive and undemocratic the government really is.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, let me say what Canadians want to see this Parliament do. They want to see this Parliament deliver on legislation to make their communities safer by getting tough on crime. They want to see us deliver on Senate reform, the term limits in the Senate, that has been stalled for a year by the Liberals in the Senate.

When they have something they want passed, in 43 seconds they pass a Liberal private member's bill without allowing one Conservative to speak. That is not exactly what I would call deliberative consultation.

On Senate reform, a year without even touching it is the Liberal approach to delay and obstruction.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, two Canadian brothers, Mohamed Kohail who is 22, and his 16-year-old brother, Sultan, are being held in a Saudi Arabian jail facing execution.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell this House if any Canadian officials have visited these two brothers, what condition are they in and what is being done to ensure that these Canadian citizens receive due process?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his genuine concern. We have had four visits now with the boys in Saudi Arabia. We are very concerned about allegations of mistreatment there.

They will have continued consular access as well. They have legal representation there. We have made representations to the Saudi government about our concern for their well-being and we will continue to do so.

The member does know that this is a case that is before the court and, for privacy reasons, I will not get into the details of the case itself.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister had indicated that they will receive attention. I, as well as the member for Pickering—Scarborough East, have written the minister about these two brothers.

The government's track record, of course, is of concern to this side of the House and I am sure to all Canadians with regard to situations in China, Mexico and the United States.

Therefore, I would ask the minister to assure the House that appropriate legal representation is being provided and, in particular, that our officials in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia visit the brothers and monitor this case on a daily basis.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I certainly will provide those assurances. We will continue to have consular access.

As the member knows, the legal representation is not provided by the Government of Canada. However, we will continue to work with our officials at the Saudi Arabia embassy and with the two young Canadians.

As well, we are having political consultations with the Saudi Arabian government. We have in the past, as the member would know, expressed concerns about allegations of torture. I can assure the member that we do take these allegations very seriously and have expressed that specifically to the Government of Saudi Arabia.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government makes no effort to respect the fact that Canadians elected a minority Parliament. It is instructing Conservative chairs of parliamentary committees to obstruct and disrupt those committees for partisan advantage. It condones and rewards abusive behaviour. It even counsels witness tampering and intimidation. This is contempt for democracy, akin to Richard Nixon.

Why will the minister not at least be honest enough to table his manual of dirty Conservative tricks?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:30 a.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 have already talked about the success of the Liberals in resisting our agenda to make our streets and communities safer on justice. I have talked about their resistance on democratic reform. On the private member's bill the other night the Liberals refused to even allow Buzz Hargrove to speak at the Liberal dominated Senate committee. That is their idea of an open, full process.

A year of delay and obstruction over there and yet they can get their own bill through in 43 seconds. I guess the senators want to keep the month of May open. I do not know what they have in mind. It must be busy over there in May.

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals offered to expedite over 70% of the justice bills in the House. It is now public that the government's deliberate plan is to cause a dysfunctional, chaotic Parliament.

The Conservative budget is a failure, its political leadership on the Afghan mission is in disarray, its climate change policy is a complete dud and its 200 page plan to intimidate Parliament is twice as long as its whole strategy on science and technology.

Will the minister just admit that he is trying to blame Parliament for complete, utter Conservative incompetence?

Committees of the House
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

No, Mr. Speaker, but I am happy to blame the Liberals for complete, utter delay and obstruction, as they have done in the Senate. I have talked about their unwillingness to deal with Bill S-4, which they have punted off until June. They dealt with Bill C-288 in 43 seconds.

I found out why the Liberals want the month of May available. I saw this memo that says that the Senate has reserved the services of Mr. Jean Luc Lavallée. Mr. Lavallée will be giving chair massages every Thursday afternoon during the month of May in the Senate, May 17, 24 and 31, from 1 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. I thought they were sitting then but apparently they are sitting in massage chairs at that time, which is why they cannot deliver on Bill S-4.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Quebec's intergovernmental affairs minister, Benoit Pelletier, publicly called on the government to withdraw its electoral boundaries readjustment bill because he says he is concerned by the decline in Quebec's weight in the House of Commons.

Does the government intend to take action in response to Minister Pelletier and withdraw its bill?

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, our approach is based on principles. I want to quote an article by Jean-Marc Salvet, in Le Soleil, where he says:

—the bill to readjust electoral boundaries rests on indisputable logic. It is based on a sacred principle in parliamentarianism, which is equal representation of the people.

Our bill is fair. That is our government's approach.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister also mentioned protection for Quebec and accommodations that take into account its status as a nation.

Does the government intend to go back to the drawing board and introduce a bill that takes into account the motion of this House that recognizes Quebec as a nation?

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, we are proud of our motion recognizing Quebeckers as a nation, but we are also proud of our bill on democracy and democratic representation.

I want to quote Jean-Marc Salvet in Le Soleil:

What would happen if the ridings in Quebec had more people than those elsewhere in Canada? We would hate to see the vote of a Quebecker have less weight than the vote of an Ontarian. We would demand corrective measures. As it turns out, the members from Ontario represent 21,000 more people on average than members from the other provinces. Disparities like that do not—

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Arnold Schwarzenegger's environmental advisor says that Canada's plan to fight greenhouse gases is a bad plan, because it too closely resembles the American plan, which tries to water down the Kyoto targets and does not take immediate action on the problem of global warming.

Why does the government insist on copying the American plan, thus weakening the world consensus regarding the Kyoto protocol?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the long rant by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie is inaccurate. We have a real plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, in absolute terms, over the next 13 years. Canada's efforts will surpass those of all countries. It is good news to know that Canada will participate in global initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This the first time any real measures have been taken since the Kyoto protocol.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is the only person who is defending this version of the plan. Everyone is against the government's plan. Rumours are circulating about the government's possible purchase of the Mackenzie pipeline, which is currently owned by private interests, to save it from potential bankruptcy.

Is this purchase not another way for the government to help out its friends in the oil sector? Would it not do better to spend our billions of dollars on developing clean, renewable energies, such as wind energy?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, one of the Bloc's nearest and dearest—a man who talked about the importance of supporting the Bloc during the last election—is at the head of a large union. I am referring to Buzz Hargrove.

Of the plan put forward by the Conservatives, he said:

It's realistic. They understand it is going to have to be a long-term solution that will take some time.

For 13 years here in Ottawa, the Bloc has failed to reduce greenhouse gases. The good news is that there is a new team from Quebec in town and it is delivering the goods for Quebeckers.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, reports this week suggest that senior American and Canadian officials are refusing to endorse a G-8 statement supporting the reduction of greenhouse gases to 50% below 1990 levels by 2050. Worse, they will not allow the G-8 to recognize the United Nations as the best body to negotiate future action on climate change.

Will the minister demonstrate that he actually understands and supports the findings of the International Panel on Climate Change and guarantee that Canada will say so at the G-8?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I certainly support the science and findings of the report released by the United Nations a few months ago in Paris. I had the chance to hear from some of the scientists first-hand. Many of them are Canadian. They spoke passionately about the need to take action.

I have to say when it comes to the G-8 that this government does not believe that a 50% reduction by 2050 goes far enough. We think we can do better.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is only because the government takes 2006 as its starting point, not 1990.

Canada remained silent for weeks and our reputation suffered internationally. The Prime Minister and President Bush share several viewpoints and even share some advisors. They also have in common their refusal to take action on climate change.

Will Canada take appropriate action and bring the Untied States back to the discussion table or will the government go along with Mr. Bush's attempt to undermine the fight against global warming?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this government always acts appropriately. It will push all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What we will not do is follow what happened with the Liberals. I was reading some quotes by Sheila Copps the other day. Sheila Copps said, “I remember very well when” Jean Chrétien “was getting tremendous push back from...all of those attached to the natural resources”, including the member for Wascana. She said that they “were viciously against Kyoto”.

This is not a Conservative and not one of our union boss friends, but the former Liberal deputy prime minister, the former Liberal minister--

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Churchill.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government completely gutted the $5 billion Kelowna accord and virtually excluded new spending for cash-strapped first nations in the last federal budget.

Why does the Minister of Indian Affairs not follow the lead of the previous Liberal government, the provincial premiers and National Chief Phil Fontaine and begin constructive talks to resolve the real issues facing first nations?

Rather than blaming the national chief, will the minister sit down with aboriginal leaders to address the real concerns on poverty, housing, health and education?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:40 a.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 assure the member opposite that this government and our Minister of Indian Affairs have been in discussions with National Chief Phil Fontaine since we took office.

However, I also need to point out that unlike the previous government, which simply wanted to throw dollars at problems, we believe there is a systemic issue here, a system that needs reform. It is something that we have begun and that we are going to continue to do, such as we are doing, for instance, with Bill C-44, which the Liberal Party is not supporting. This extends human rights to first nations people on reserve. We would like to see that happen.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government does not seem to understand consultation. In the 15 months that the minister has been in government, he has managed to poison relationships with first nations people.

Chief Fontaine said about the Kelowna accord that “for the very first time, we had...a plan...based on reason, thoughtful consideration”. He said, “That deal was set aside, dismissed”.

When will the minister stop his divide and conquer approach and work with aboriginal leaders to improve the quality of life for first nations people across the country instead of allowing tensions to escalate?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

11:40 a.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, unfortunately the member is representative of the Liberal Party, which had a number of years, over a decade, to address some of the very serious issues that face first nations people. Unfortunately, the very last moment of its reign, which did not end soon enough, was the very moment when it put forward its quasi-plan, which we all know was just a press release.

We are moving forward with an actual plan that will bring about real, important changes for first nations people. We have done that by recommending a new process for land claims and we are going to make sure that it happens very soon.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Fabian Manning Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, last year Canada took a tough stand at NAFO and brought about sweeping changes to punish vessels that choose to break the rules on the high seas. Armchair philosophers and naysayers dismissed these changes and said they would never work.

Could the minister update the House on how these new rules are doing exactly what the minister said they would, which is to send offending vessels packing and hit these skippers where it hurts the most, in their bottom line?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

St. John's South—Mount Pearl
Newfoundland & Labrador

Conservative

Loyola Hearn Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, ever since I have been in the House, at this time of year there would be a barrage of questions, complaints, protests and even motions about foreign overfishing. This year we have not heard a peep.

Since the new regulations were brought in, we have had one serious infringement. It occurred last week with a Spanish vessel, which has now been ordered back to Spain. Our inspectors were there to observe the offloading. Spain moved in immediately and took action, as the new regulations of NAFO say it should.

We have put teeth in NAFO, whereas we had nothing--

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Burnaby--New Westminster.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, this new document that reveals that the Conservative government is secretly working to paralyze this Parliament shows to what extent the Prime Minister refuses to see the real problems facing Canadian families, such as rising gasoline prices.

In Montreal, the prices are rising higher and higher for no reason and have reached $1.20 per litre. Oil company profits are hitting record highs and Canadian families have been abandoned.

Why is this government letting oil companies gouge Canadian families?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands
B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the real question is how all three opposition parties in this House can support gasoline prices of $2 a litre. That is exactly what they are advocating.

They make a lot of noise and they deny it, but those are the facts. Under the Liberal environment plan, Bill C-288, the price of gasoline will rise by 60%.

They may want to go back and talk to their own constituents and see if they would support paying up to $2 a litre as the price of gasoline.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the real question is how the government can do nothing when consumers in greater Vancouver are paying $1.30 a litre.

The NDP is laying out a concrete plan to combat rising gas prices, including creating price monitoring protection for Canadian families, but that is the difference between us and them. The monkey wrench gang just wants to wreck. We want to work in this Parliament and we want to work with Canadian families.

I have three simple questions. Will the Prime Minister stop big oil from bullying Canadians? Will he commit now to protect Canadian families from gas gouging in B.C. and across Canada? Will he act?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Saanich—Gulf Islands
B.C.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, everybody here knows that the price of gasoline is dictated by market forces, but the real question is how all three opposition parties can be such hypocrites.

They stand and ask these questions when they know darn well that Bill C-288 would drive the price of gasoline in the member's own riding to over $2 a litre. Those are the facts. They are confirmed by independent economists such as Don Drummond, Mark Jaccard and others.

Those members do not like the truth.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the committee of the whole held last evening in the House, we learned that the mission in Afghanistan has cost taxpayers $6.1 billion so far, that government officials can no longer stop the meter from running and that the mission's budget has already gone up by $400 million—and that does not even include equipment. In fact, let us talk about that.

On April 12, the minister announced the procurement of 100 used tanks with a maintenance contract for $650 million. Now he is saying it will cost twice as much. Twice!

Why should Canadian taxpayers pay this $1.3 billion bill to cover the incompetence of this compulsive spender?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the capital cost of the Leopard 2 fleet is $650 million. In that is also included five years of support. Last night I also pointed out that it is another estimated $650 million to support the Leopard 2 fleet into the future in the long term.

I must point out that currently we have a Leopard 1 fleet. It will be replaced by a Leopard 2 fleet. The net cost to government will be minimal.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would have thought this minister would be an expert when it comes to arms dealing, with his experience in the field, but apparently incompetence knows no bounds when it comes to the Minister of National Defence.

The facts are clear. The minister told us that his used tanks would cost $650 million. Now we learn that the cost is closer to $1.3 billion.

First he bungles the treatment of Afghan detainees. Then he takes taxpayers to the cleaners by sole sourcing the procurement contracts. Now money is no object for his tanks. What does this minister have to do to get fired?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:45 a.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 reluctantly simply because I cannot accept the unacceptable smear, the personal smear, that the member continues to engage in by calling our dignified Minister of National Defence, who has served for many years, an arms dealer. It is unacceptable.

Let me tell the member why we have to fund the military now. It is because over the past 13 years Liberal governments cut back resources to the Canadian Forces “because a philosophical choice was made to diminish the military's place in Canadian society”. Who said that? The Liberal Party's democratic society task force on the military. Its members said this themselves. That is why we now have to make up the funding for the shortfall and support our military.

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government does not appreciate that it must serve all Canadians and not only those who voted for it. Today, another eloquent example of cheap politics is provided by the analysis of the distribution of grants and contributions awarded by the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. It seems that the minister has a particular fondness for his region as well as the Quebec City region. Coincidentally, that area is home to some Conservative members.

Is the minister punishing the regions that did not vote Conservative?

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, every Quebec region has an envelope for regional economic development. Every region submits its application. Sometimes the project estimates are greater than the envelope for the region. Then we turn to the central fund, as in the case of the Massif in the Quebec region.

Recently, in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec was asked for $10 million to support a sizeable cruise ship dock project. Other regions will soon be asked to submit their applications to this department.

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the figures speak for themselves: grants approved in the minister's region jumped by 42%. In the Quebec City region, the increase was almost twice that, at 80%.

All regions that did not vote Conservative were penalized. The Outaouais, Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec regions had their shares cut by about 30%.

Will the minister admit that, in the end, the only criteria used by his department to approve government assistance is that the project must help re-elect Conservative members?

Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I categorically deny the member's statements. The main thing we are doing is helping economic regions experiencing difficulties, helping vulnerable regions to increase their economic activities in order to better diversify their economic activities and spur the growth of businesses and of the regions themselves. Of the 14 Quebec regions, we have targeted the seven most disadvantaged and most vulnerable. Naturally, we try to provide greater support for these regions as per the department's mission statement, which was established by the previous government in cooperation with ours.

Summer Jobs Programs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the new Canada summer jobs program, which has replaced the summer career placement program, will deprive tourism offices in Quebec of student jobs, when students are especially needed in the summer.

Does the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development realize that he is harming the tourism industry in Quebec and the regions, and will he correct this serious problem by revising the criteria for his new program?

Summer Jobs Programs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question because it is a serious issue. I want to remind the member that we are providing $77.3 million to the not for profit sector again this year, like we did last year. We are maintaining the funding.

The applications are ranked on the ability of the applicant to ensure that the student will get a quality summer job. It is about the students.

That said, I am sensitive to some of the concerns raised by members. We are looking into some of these individual cases.

Summer Jobs Programs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, when someone makes a mistake, he should acknowledge it, apologize and correct it.

The minister is creating a real crisis in Quebec. Quebec's tourism industry might be unable to provide services in areas such as the North Shore, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, Laval, the Laurentians and Mauricie.

What is the minister waiting for to correct this mistake as quickly as possible?

Summer Jobs Programs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Medicine Hat
Alberta

Conservative

Monte Solberg Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, again, I appreciate the concern raised by the member. I point out for her that the exact same amount of money that went to the not for profit sector in Quebec last year will go to the not for profit sector again this year. There is no change in the funding.

Some groups have found ways to demonstrate that they are going to provide a superior work experience for students. This is part of the youth employment strategy. I would think the member would be very supportive of wanting to give students the best possible work experience.

CP Rail
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, approximately 3,200 track maintenance workers at CP Rail are currently on strike. In spite of this, CP is saying that it will continue operations with mostly office and clerical staff.

Less than 300 of them have actual on-track experience and of those, only half are licensed track inspectors. This is a far cry from the normal workforce of 1,200.

Given the ever-increasing number of derailments and rail related deaths across the country, is the minister not concerned about the current work stoppage? Will he guarantee that CP Rail is operating safely and that the public has nothing to fear?

CP Rail
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure the hon. colleague and, indeed, all members of the House that Transport Canada officials who do the inspection are rigorously following the procedures. They are following this work stoppage, this strike. They are ensuring that those people who are directly or indirectly touched by this strike and those who are working on this are the people who do the inspection. We will follow it with a lot of vigilance, an extremely important aspect to it.

Justice
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the very simple bill raising the age of protection from 14 years to 16 years spent months in the House, with opposition members finally joining with us to send it to the Senate.

The track record of the unelected, unaccountable Liberal senators on passing simple bills is not good. Could the Minister of Justice say whether this important bill, which seeks to protect children and youth from sexual exploitation, will receive royal assent before the summer?

Justice
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for her unwavering support for our criminal justice agenda.

The issue of raising the age of protection from 14 to 16 has been driven by members of the Conservative caucus for over a decade, and it took a Conservative government to take action on this important issue.

The House of Commons held fulsome debates on Bill C-22 and the committee thoroughly studied it. It is now up to the Senate. We call on senators to get the job done by respecting the will of Parliament and passing C-22 before they rise for the summer.

Public Transit
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Montreal announced an innovative transit plan to improve air quality and quality of life. The plan calls for more public transit, pedestrians and cyclists.

The Bill Clinton Foundation announced millions of dollars for Toronto to improve the energy efficiency of the city's buildings. Mr. Clinton emphasized the Conservative government's failure to help cities.

When will the government deliver the goods and implement a national public transit strategy?

Public Transit
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we had the opportunity to learn more about the transit plan introduced by the City of Montreal. Naturally, we are very interested in their transit plan. This plan calls on officials throughout the Greater Montreal Area to implement it.

In its latest budget, the Conservative government not only reconfirmed and renewed the gas tax amounts but also increased them to make a noticeable—

Public Transit
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Public Transit
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, a one time election style announcement just will not cut it. What cities like Toronto and Montreal need is long term stable funding so they can plan for the future.

We have already seen two consecutive smog days in Toronto. Skyrocketing gas prices are squeezing working families and traffic jams are hurting the economy. There is no better time than now to introduce a national urban transit strategy, like the one called for by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Big City Mayors Caucus and the Toronto Board of Trade.

Why will the monkey wrench gang not just do it?

Public Transit
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

I find that rather unfortunate, Mr. Speaker. What the municipalities are looking for is action, and we are delivering on that.

We delivered on Brampton. We delivered on Mississauga. We delivered on Spadina. We delivered also on Durham. We delivered in Montreal. We delivered all through the country. We delivered on the Canada line out in British Columbia.

We are getting the job done. Budgets 2006 and 2007 committed an unprecedented $33 billion to that.

Passports
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, two days ago the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs was asked about the passport fiasco. He said, “We are working very hard to ensure the backlog is completed by the end of the summer”. Well, whoopee, just in time for the travel season to be winding down.

The government thought it could work out a deal with the U.S. on passports, and that fell apart. Now the next deadline requiring passports at land border crossings is fast approaching.

When will the government take serious action on a failure that continues to needlessly inconvenience Canadians and cost them time and money?

Passports
Oral Questions

Noon

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to see the hon. member here. He would know that the government has taken enormous efforts, in particular the effort to address the 20,000 passports a day that come in. We have a 40% increase in capacity because of the hard work of the professional, dedicated public servants working at Passport Canada.

We have taken steps to keep offices open later. We have taken steps to increase the number of passports that we can produce. We are continuing to do so at every step of the way. Those numbers are coming down increasingly, satisfaction is going up and we are getting the job done.

Science and Technology
Oral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Waterloo I had the privilege of attending an announcement made by the Prime Minister, along with the Minister of Industry, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

The Prime Minister made an announcement regarding enhancing our science and technology assets and expertise. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry please explain how this program will improve Canada's standard of living and build a stronger economy for the future?

Science and Technology
Oral Questions

Noon

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada's new government announced our science and technology framework, mobilizing science and technology to Canada's advantage. Our national science strategy is a practical, realistic plan to boost our international competitiveness.

Our government understands that science is key to a stronger economy and to a stronger Canada. That is why our government has stressed the importance in “Advantage Canada” and has budgeted $9.2 billion for science and technology expenditures in the current fiscal year.

Our government is charting a new direction for innovation in Canada, a direction that leads the competitive energy of our entrepreneurs to the creative energy of our sciences—

Science and Technology
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

That will conclude question period for today.

The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine is rising on a point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, while I was asking questions of the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, the President of the Treasury Board made the comment,“Take your medication”. He was clearly referring to me. The member for Hull—Aylmer also heard the President of the Treasury Board.

That would obviously be an inference that any member of Parliament who takes their responsibilities seriously and who communicates the anguish, the anger, the frustration of their constituents, and in this case it is a whole list of organizations in my riding that are still awaiting responses from the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development on the summer jobs program as to whether or not their applications have been refused. The fact that I show emotion and outrage at the fact that these organizations are still awaiting a response and would require medication, I believe is unworthy of this House. It is disrespectful to every single member sitting in this House who is elected to represent the wishes, the desires, the wants and the needs of their constituents. I intend to do that to the best of my ability.

I do not appreciate having a minister of the crown make an inference that because I attempt to properly represent my constituents that I would need some kind of medication, implying either mental illness or some other condition.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask through you that the President of the Treasury Board have the courage, the intellectual honesty, to admit to what he said and to apologize to me and to every other member in this House.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I was sitting here listening to the minister give an answer and all I heard was absolute screaming and yelling from the member. The member has a practice and a habit of absolutely screaming and yelling. This is what she consistently does throughout question period. I am sure members sitting around her can attest to the fact that that member specifically screams and yells on all occasions. What I indicated to her is perhaps she might want to take some medication.

I do not know what the issue is over there, but I have never in my time in this House heard a member act in such an irrational way. Perhaps that member might seriously consider something.

If she feels that type of conduct is appropriate, I can only say that I think most other members would disagree. This is not an isolated issue. This is a consistent pattern of conduct by that member.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am not sure there is a point of order here.

The honourable member for Bourassa also has a point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, June 2 will be my 10th anniversary as a member of this House. I have always worked hard, passionately and with great determination.

During question period, we ask honest questions. We are now spending $6.1 billion on a mission, and we support our troops, yet we have a minister who says that it costs a certain amount of money, then comes back the next day and says that it costs twice as much, so I think it makes sense to ask about that during question period.

I invoke Standing Order 18. The government whip cast aspersions on my passion and my patriotism by calling me an idiot. He said:

“Tell that to the troops we are supporting, you idiot”.

I would ask the government whip, who often gets carried away, to withdraw his comment.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I too have been here quite some time now, about 14 years or close to it.

I have, as my colleagues have, for the past number of weeks listened to the member for Bourassa denigrate and personally attack our Minister of National Defence. The member says he has been asking these questions properly. The Minister of National Defence is a man with an outstanding 35 year career serving our country in the Canadian armed forces. The member has called him an “arms dealer”. Today he called him a “spendthrift” for the minister's efforts to rebuild the Canadian Forces and to give it the equipment it needs, to give it the tanks it needs.

If he wants me to apologize, I will apologize. I should not have called the member an idiot because even an idiot would support the Minister of National Defence.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, when my colleague from North Vancouver got up to ask a question, I could not help but hear many colleagues opposite refer to his absence from the House. Even the Minister of Foreign Affairs in his answer in a rather unorthodox manner referred to it.

I would hope that all colleagues, and I am saying this for the benefit of Canadians who may be watching us from the gallery or on television, that all colleagues would take good advantage of next week when the House is in recess to cool their tempers.

If someone is absent from this House for medical reasons, I would hope that members from all parties would avoid making reference to that in a denigrating manner, as I have heard today.

Bill C-44
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House the government House leader was talking about Bill C-44 and he indicated that the bill was going to actually provide access to human rights under the Canadian charter of human rights.

I hope the government House leader would correct the record by indicating that Bill C-44 is actually a repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Bill C-44
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 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, if I said that, I misspoke. Of course the provision in the statute is as the member said, one that right now denies to first nations on reserve the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The purpose of Bill C-44 is to give them the rights that that act provides to every other Canadian. It was not under the charter. It is indeed the Canadian Human Rights Act that we are trying to restore their rights under Bill C-44.

When I was referring to the efforts by the opposition to delay that legislation over the summer, it was not with regard to the charter. It was with regard to denying first nations people the human rights code protection.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs just made allusions to my attendance in this House. Earlier this year I was absent for a short period due to a personal medical illness. I would like to thank my colleagues in the Liberal Party for their support at that time.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that I take very seriously my responsibility to attend in Parliament and to serve here and on the committees to which I have been appointed. I ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs to apologize for that remark.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sure the member's comments will be duly noted.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 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 response to two petitions.

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

In accordance with the motion adopted on Wednesday, May 16, 2007, your committee recommends that the government issue a directive to Canada Post Corporation with respect to letters intended for delivery outside of Canada.

International Trade
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on International Trade entitled “Bulk Water Removals”.

I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on International Trade entitled “Main Estimates 2007-2008: Votes 15 and 55 under Foreign Affairs and International Trade”.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the order of reference of February 27, 2007, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food respecting the 2007-08 main estimates.

National Security Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-447, An Act to establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce this bill which would establish a committee of parliamentarians to oversee and scrutinize national security within our Canadian parliamentary precincts. The committee would be a joint committee of senators and members of the House.

This bill is similar in format to that which had all party agreement in the last Parliament and which was introduced and died on the order paper at the time of dissolution of the last Parliament. I am hoping this bill will also have all party agreement in this Parliament. I am looking forward to the response of the government to this policy initiative.

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

National Security Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions and I believe if you seek it you would find unanimous consent for the following motion, “That this House officially apologize for the injustice of the 1914 Komagata Maru incident, and that this House further call on the Government of Canada to honour this apology by creating a permanent memorial in British Columbia to remember this incident”.

National Security Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Surrey North have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

National Security Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

National Security Committee of Parliamentarians Act
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There is no consent.

Summer Career Placement Program
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, together with the member for Compton—Stanstead, I am tabling another petition asking that the summer career placement program, which the government modified and renamed Canada summer jobs, be maintained and improved.

These signatures indicate that people are interested in creating good jobs for our young people and that they think the government made a mistake by cutting this program and centralizing it in Montreal and Ottawa. The Conservative government has also upset a lot of non-profit organizations and students who just want to be involved in their communities.

These 800 signatures are in addition to the thousands my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I have already tabled. The government must pay attention to these voices.

Alternative Energy Sources
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the grade five students of James Keating Elementary School in the great town of Penetanguishene in my riding.

The petitioners of course are actually the parents of these well-informed students. They draw the attention of the House to their concern about our continued dependence on fossil fuels and its impact on the quality of our air and on climate change. Of particular concern are the effects of climate change on polar bears' habitat in Canada's Arctic and how it is contributing to their depleting population.

They therefore call on the House to encourage the development of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and that all research and measures necessary to assure the survival of Canada's wildlife population which are impacted by climate change be conducted on a timely and urgent basis.

Falun Gong Practitioners
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting three petitions.

The first is from several dozen community members in Burnaby—New Westminster and other locations in the Lower Mainland of B.C. who call on the government to condemn the Chinese government's persecution against Falun Gong practitioners.

Autism
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls upon the government to amend the Canada Health Act and corresponding regulations to include IBI and ABA therapy as a medically necessary treatment for children with autism. The petition is signed by residents of Burnaby—New Westminster and other areas in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

Refugees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the final petition is signed by a number of constituents in Burnaby—New Westminster and other parts of the Lower Mainland. They call upon Parliament to accept the larger number of refugees and to lift barriers that prevent refugees from reaching Canada.

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions today that I would like to present to the House. The first petition deals with the victims of human trafficking which we have talked about here.

The petitioners, all from Burlington, request the government continues to work to combat trafficking of persons worldwide.

Visitor Visas
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition is signed by a large number of members from the Polish National Union Branch 17 in Burlington, Ontario. They are asking in the petition that the visitor visa requirements for the Republic of Poland that are now in existence be removed.

Taxation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my final petition requests that the Government of Canada consider bowling to be considered an eligible sport under the children's fitness tax credit.

World Police and Fire Games
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by over 100 residents in my constituency of Burnaby—Douglas and some from neighbouring ridings who call on the government to extend generous financial support to the 2009 World Police and Fire Games by, at a minimum, matching the support extended to the last Canadian host city of these games.

They further point out that the World Police and Fire Games provide an important opportunity to support law enforcement and fire personnel who provide such important services to our communities, often at risk to their personal safety and lives. They also note that the World Police and Fire Games will have a significant and positive economic impact for the many communities hosting the event on the lower mainland of British Columbia.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:20 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 ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Royal Galipeau

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been discussions between the parties and I believe you will find unanimous consent to the following motion. I move:

That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of this House, that the current debate on the motion from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley be extended to 1:30 p.m. this afternoon.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Is it agreed?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

(Motion agreed to)

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When the House last considered this motion, there were four minutes left for the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport and he has the floor.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca
Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, you will notice the great cooperation from this side of the House in relation to that last motion, and indeed that is what we are trying to do with Canada's environment.

We want to take serious steps to make the environment, the air that Canadians breathe, better. As such, I am going to continue on, notwithstanding that I said this just before question period. I am going to continue from where I left off, and that is, on the issue of asthma and the health of Canadians.

We know that asthma is increasing in our population and in fact, I stated that it more than tripled in children aged zero to 14 over the past 20 years. According to the 1996-97 national population health survey, over 2.2 million Canadians have been diagnosed with asthma by a physician. That is 12.2% of children and 6.3% of adults in Canada. Indeed as I mentioned, my youngest child has asthma.

The quality of life for these people is dramatically affected by not taking action on the environment, by the previous 13 years of the previous Liberal government not taking action. That is why this government feels that we cannot accept what the NDP has put forward.

We want to take action now. We are done consulting. We want to make Canadians' health better. Indeed, it is clear that we need to take action to reduce all potential causes that increase incidents of illness and death, especially those which affect our children.

This government's approach will provide us with the authorities and tools which are so necessary in order to launch this fight against those terrible pollutants, to address the sources of both indoor and outdoor air pollution while setting in motion a very realistic plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I am proud of this government's motion, of these great steps that this Minister of Environment has taken, and the real action plan to come forward. Our mandatory reductions will reduce the impact of greenhouse gases and air pollution on the environment and the health of Canadians, which is so important to all Canadians.

These regulations will have real tangible benefits and I think many people do not realize how important these benefits will be. The estimated benefits by 2015, from the Conservative agenda for the reduced risk of death and illness associated with our air quality improvements, will be over $6 billion annually. That is correct, over $6 billion annually.

This puts the health benefits from air pollution reductions in the same broad range as the economic costs of meeting the air pollution and GHG emission targets. These have been calculated at less than 0.5% of our annual GDP. Thus in the short term, the GHG emission reduction strategy that we have put in place is balanced by the air pollution benefits.

This government's objective is to minimize or eliminate risks to the health of Canadians posed by environmental contaminants in the air. That is our goal. It is a very aggressive agenda, but we will get it done. As has been seen by Canadians, we do get the job done and we will continue to get the job done.

I sat in on Bill C-30 and I saw what the NDP was doing. I saw what the Liberals were doing. I saw what the Bloc was doing. What they were doing was playing politics with Canadians' lives, with the health of Canadians, and we in this government are not going to let that happen.

I looked at the aggressive agenda of the NDP to play politics. It is sort of like watching a person play Twister, not getting anything done but making a lot of confusion in the process, and indeed that is not what this government is going to do.

That is why our government has introduced one of the toughest plans in the world today on turning the corner on greenhouse gases and air pollution. Our government is bringing in mandatory, not voluntary, targets. We are going to get the job done for Canadians on the issue of the environment.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened carefully to the remarks of my colleague from Fort McMurray—Athabasca. I find it somewhat disgraceful that he would suggest that the members on this side of the House were playing politics, cheap politics.

The reality is that our three political parties in the opposition represent a majority of the Canadian people. We stand for the hope that Kyoto will be respected once and for all. When the government says that it has introduced one of the toughest plans on greenhouse gas reduction, allow me to have my doubts.

Take for example his own riding, which is very specialized in oil sands extraction and oil production from oil sands. How can he state with any certainty in this House that his government will meet the objectives set out in its plan, when we know full well that there will be a high growth of oil sands production in coming years? By 2015, this production will have tripled from one barrel of oil per day produced from oil sands to three barrels per day.

My question is simple. How can he tell this House today that the plan introduced by the government is a real solution in response to climate change, when we know full well that oil sands production will be increasing steadily in coming years?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting and humorous, actually, because the Bloc members are never going to be in a position to do anything for the people of Quebec. Indeed, all they want to do is cause problems and create division between Canadians. We know that is their agenda.

The NDP's agenda, quite frankly, nobody wants to even talk about, besides the fact that their plan is to put gas at $2.00 a litre for Canadians. Canadians are not going to accept that. That is why they have this Conservative government. The Bloc and the NDP, with their friends from the Red Green Show across the way, want to increase the price of gas for Canadians to an outrageous amount.

We are not going to let that happen. We are going to stand up for Canadians, their environment, their economy, and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. That is what this government is going to do.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I want to address my hon. colleague whose riding actually borders on mine. I live in the community next to the border of his constituency so I, too, understand the nature of air emissions from the McMurray tar sands and I have dealt with them for years.

The Conservative Party's plan for the next five years is to just simply allow these emissions to increase. My hon. colleague speaks of his daughter with asthma. My concern is what is going to happen in this region if we allow the kind of development that is in place now to increase by fivefold. In the next 10 years, the air emission increases are going to be extraordinary. The health problems of northerners and people from northern Alberta are going to increase.

How does my hon. colleague feel that his plan is justified for the people of the region that he represents: the people, not the corporations?

I will remind my hon. colleague that in a recent poll in Alberta, 70% of Albertans were in favour of hard caps on emissions from industrial developments.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, very clearly, there is so much misinformation. The realty is that the oil sands sector has projected reductions of 250%; not all this rhetoric about increases and increases.

There is nothing more important to me than the air we breathe and our water. I have been up in that community since 1968 and I have continued to enjoy the water and the air. I fish there regularly. I have many family, including aboriginal family, as the member knows, within a very short distance of his own riding. Indeed, I am more serious about the protection of water and air than any member I have heard across the way, especially in my region, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for that. That is why I support the government's plan. It is real action with real results.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the motion put forward by the New Democratic Party today. The opposition parties are united in their desire to see Bill C-30, the clean air and climate change act, re-emerge from the government's politically induced coma, the coma that started when the environment committee substantially rewrote its weak and original effort.

Where can one begin on the merits of Bill C-30? Bill C-30 gives us a consensus based realistic plan that aims at meeting our Kyoto targets, something the government has adamantly refused to do. In fact, as every day progresses we learn that the government is ripping us out of the Kyoto protocol by stealth, by subterfuge and by the death of a thousand cuts.

Bill C-288, the Kyoto implementation act, passed this week in the other place. Now we hear that the new president of France is considering taking to the European Union trade sanctions and potential carbon taxes on countries like Canada under the present government, which would presume to unilaterally change the terms and conditions of our Kyoto obligations.

In committee yesterday, we discovered that massive amounts of money have been spent by the government attacking Bill C-288, millions and millions of taxpayer dollars in a shock and awe communications campaign, mounted by the Minister of the Environment, not to bring any kind of light to the issue but to generate way too much heat.

When asked, government officials concluded and confirmed yesterday that there had been no analysis whatsoever of any kind, economic, environmental or social, on the government's own bill, Bill C-30.

Bill C-288 restates Canada's commitment to the Kyoto protocol process. The government signed the protocol, and Parliament ratified it. Now that Bill C-288 has passed through the House of Commons, the democratically elected members have shown twice that we are fully committed to this goal. The minister's comments were defeatist. His confused rhetoric talked about a more realistic way forward. What he meant was that he is not willing to show any leadership whatsoever. He could not get the job done and neither could his predecessor who was summarily dispatched for failure to do anything in the first year of this government's short life.

After saying that Canada needed a new clean air act, the Conservatives presented a plan that will allow emissions to continue to increase for the next 10 years. To do so, they decided to use the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, completely contradicting their claims that Bill C-30 was needed.

The irony is simply too rich: the Conservatives' bill, their legislative committee, their admission that Bill C-30 was fatally flawed, centre overhaul, without a single substantive amendment put forward by any member of the government's caucus.

Thankfully, a lot has changed over the past few months. On February 8, the minister said that “This is bill is essential to protecting the environment and the health of Canadians”, referring, of course, to Bill C-30. If he really meant that, I guess we would be debating it today, and not as an opposition day motion.

However, the government, as we have seen and learned today, is more interested in censorship around the national climate change response than it is about putting forward a reasonable and defensible plan.

The minister said instead that our targets will be the toughest, a subjective word that he plucked out of a hat, and he is ridiculed for it by the United Nations head of the climate change secretariat, to guffaws of laughter in the 168 partner nations that have signed with us into the Kyoto protocol.

The numbers he shows are weak, and even these targets have no credible plan through which we can reach them.

We learned just yesterday that the mandatory, cabinet decreed, environmental assessment of the government's own climate change plan has not been performed. It has not been performed by the PCO, by Finance Canada, by Environment Canada, by Natural Resources Canada nor by Health Canada. There is no environmental assessment on this plan. It is in breach of its own cabinet decree.

The minister's comments are nothing short of defeatist. His confused rhetoric talks about “a more realistic way forward”. What he really meant was that he was not willing or, more likely, he was not allowed to show leadership because the PMO staffers who pull his strings tell him that he should control the message that more closely.

He cannot get the job done. His history of working to obstruct, no, to undermine, Kyoto is well-written. In partnership with thePrime Minister, who is an isolationist, triangulating between Canberra, Washington and Ottawa, a Prime Minister who is viscerally opposed to a multilateral, the only single multilateral response we have to an international phenomena.

Bill C-30 is the way forward. The centrepiece of it is a functioning carbon budget for Canada. Every family understands the importance of a budget. Income and expenditures need to be balanced. If we save, we can invest in our future, it is time to adopt such a strategy in order to reduce carbon emissions.

A balanced carbon budget is an innovative and bold plan enabling large industrial emitters to reduce, in a tangible and significant way, their carbon emissions. Our plan provides a concrete and effective strategy for significant reductions in carbon emissions.

It would also serve to stimulate the development of green technologies here in Canada, second only, globally, to the emerging ecotourism trade as one of the fastest growing sectors of the international global marketplace.

We know our businesses will seize those opportunities to promote environmental technologies. We know that Canada will seize the opportunities to become a green superpower.

Our companies are aching to take advantage of a new green economy, but only if they have certainty and clarity. They need to know in which direction our country is moving, especially those that have moved so aggressively to reduce their emissions of those greenhouse gases since 1990.

I will leave it to my colleague to follow up with some of the details in Bill C-30, which is the culmination of the cooperation, negotiation and mediation of 65% of the members of the House of Commons. We speak for Canada. The government does not.

It is important for viewers and Canadians to know that the government was bluffing when it brought the clean air act to Parliament. Worse than that, it deceived the Canadian people, an art of deception mastered by the minister at the heels of his previous political mentor, the former premier of Ontario.

The government was not ready but we were. It counted on what it excels at, division. We were not divided. We are united.

The Conservatives are isolated. They have struck out twice with two different ministers and it is now time for the House to accept nothing less than Bill C-30.

We call on the government to bring Bill C-30 back to the House transparently and accountably so Canadians can see that if it refuses it will speak volumes for the party opposite to defy the will of Parliament and remain foolishly silent.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam
B.C.

Conservative

James Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Pacific Gateway and the Vancouver-Whistler Olympics

Mr. Speaker, I have a question about gas prices and gas consumption and obviously, therefore, the consumption of fossil fuels and what that means for our environment. I hope the member can actually answer this question.

Maybe it is just the time year where it is that silly season part of politics where everyone seems to stand up and ask a question and everything has to be couched in political intrigue and “You guys are muzzled because the PMO says this and you guys failed”.

I want to try to have a conversation with someone who, in the past, I have respected for substantive interventions in the House. I know he supported the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore when he ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party. During that leadership campaign, the member proposed the idea of considering increasing gas taxes, increasing the price on gasoline to drive down consumption as a way of reducing CO2 emissions and trying to do something for the environment. This is not an uncommon idea. Many people share this view. David Suzuki and others believe very strongly in increasing the cost of gasoline as an effort to reduce consumption and, therefore, take action with regard to the environment.

The NDP historically has held this view. I remember, for example, the member for Vancouver Centre in the previous Parliament voting against a motion that we put forward at the time to reduce gas taxes because she said that lowering gas taxes and gas prices would increase consumption which is bad for the environment.

As that has traditionally been the Liberal position, I have a question for the member. Does the member believe, as the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore did and as the Liberals used to believe, that cutting gas taxes and lowering the price of gasoline is a bad idea because lowering gas prices will increase consumption and, therefore, it will be bad for the environment?

We seem to have duelling messages from the Liberals over the past number years. On the one hand they have said that we need to reduce CO2 emissions, that we need to reduce our carbon footprint on the world and that we need to preserve our fossil fuels but, on the other hand, we hear questions in the House from Liberals suggesting that we should cut gas taxes as a result of defending the interests of consumers.

It seems to me that they cannot have it both ways. The member has in the past, as I have said, supported the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore in his idea of increasing the price of gasoline. It is not a heresy. A lot of people believe in that idea. It is not an irrational idea. I do not happen to believe in it but I want to know if my colleague believes in cutting gas taxes. Or, does he believe, as his choice for the Leader of the Liberal Party does, in increasing gas prices in order to reduce consumption?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a very difficult question to answer in the little time I have because everything about it is founded on the lack of understanding of, first, what my colleague, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, said, and secondly, I think the member is very confused about the notion of a carbon tax.

What we have now witnessed is that only carbon tax that has surfaced in Canada to deal with climate change is the $100 to $200 per tonne charge that his colleague, the Minister of the Environment, blurted out after getting off a plane in Vancouver, as the charge that would be levied on Canadian large industrial emitters that do not comply with its regulated levels under the plan. The only party that has put forward a carbon tax is the Conservative Party.

The second thing that is important to remind Canadians about is that the Prime Minister, who led the fight against the Kyoto protocol for 12 years in Canada, also promised, not once, not twice but three times publicly, that he would cap excise taxes after fuel prices exceeded 85¢ per litre. He said that the excise tax applied by the Government of Canada would not be applied.

The third thing to remember here is that after extraneous questioning yesterday and the day before with senior officials from Finance Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Environment Canada and Health Canada, a number of things were revealed to us. First, no environmental assessment was conducted on the government's own plan in breach of the cabinet decree that requires it to do this before it is made public.

Second, there is a four to five-fold increase contemplated in exploitation in the oil sands. The government has yet to reconcile anything around its carbon taxation strategy and a four to five-fold increase in those oil sands.

When it comes to inconsistencies in positions, the government is in charge. It wants to act like a majority government but it is not. It is a minority one. It is up to the government now to explain to Canadians how it intends to actually reduce greenhouse gases when its plan indicates that gases will increase for at least a decade.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, historians looking back at the tangled story of Bill C-30, the government's so-called clean air act, will probably say that the chief lesson to be derived from the whole sorry exercise is “be careful what you wish for”.

Historians—and that is my profession, I must say, my occupational bias—will certainly take notice of the Conservative government's initial skepticism regarding the science of climate change.

Historians are going to recall a Prime Minister who described the Kyoto treaty as “a money sucking socialist scheme”. They are going to recall a Prime Minister who asked how we could possibly predict the climate when we could not tell the weather in three days. They are going to recall a Prime Minister who said about the science behind global warning, “It's a scientific hypothesis and a controversial one”.

This may be a lot of fun for a few scientific and environmental elites in Ottawa, but ordinary Canadians from coast to coast will not put up with what this will do to their economy and lifestyle when the benefits are negligible.

Historians will also recall that it was the previous Liberal government that signed and ratified, in December 2002, the Kyoto protocol against the fierce opposition of the Reform/Alliance/Conservative, call it what we will, party that were in turn allied and abetted by most of the provinces at the time and a large section of the Canadian business community, which collectively rejected the very concept of climate change.

It is so ironic for the Conservatives now to say that we did not get the job done when it was their most fervent wish that we not get the job done since they opposed the very concept of the fight against climate change.

Historians, while noting that the Liberals certainly might have done more, will also recognize that the previous Liberal government did bring forward, in 2005, a green plan, which regulated and would have put in place regulations for large industrial emitters by 2008.

It was the Liberal government that negotiated an agreement with the auto sector up to 2011, which has been honoured and kept by the Conservative government.

It was the Liberal government that brought forward a number of other measures which would have helped provinces, such as the partnership fund, do their part to reduce greenhouse gases, and there were major projects foreseen in Ontario and Quebec.

The Liberal government created a climate fund for us to buy into projects in Canada to reduce greenhouse gases and to use international-UN mechanisms under the Kyoto protocol to do our part to reduce greenhouse gases.

The Liberal government created a plan that supported the energy retrofit program, including EnerGuide for low income houses, to help Canadians save money.

It was the Liberal government that put $1.8 billion over 15 years into the wind power production incentive and the renewable power production incentive.

The Liberal government put in money for the sustainable energy and technology strategy.

All of these things were cancelled when the Conservative government came into place and then, with complete cynicism, brought back in a weakened and in feeble form in many cases, when it finally realized that it was out of step with Canadians.

Bill C-30 and its accompanying notice of intent to regulate only appeared in October 2006 as a desperate attempt by the Conservatives to reverse their previous strategy because polls told them that Canadians took climate change seriously and that they were on the losing side of history.

The Conservatives response was completely cynical. First, they muddled, deliberately, the issues of climate change and air pollution. Second, they did as much as they had to and as little as they could get away with. Hence we have Bill C-30.

The bill was so feeble, so universally condemned by non-governmental organizations, the media, opposition parties, and public opinion, that it was withdrawn in disgrace and sent to a special legislative committee after first reading, with an invitation by the government to the three opposition parties to re-write the bill to meet all of the objections that had been raised. “Be careful what you wish for”.

Following intensive and frequent meetings in February and March of this year, the three opposition parties joined forces, something rather rare in this House, to push for some amendments and respond seriously to the challenge presented by the Conservative government. Together, the opposition parties produced a much stronger, more serious and better bill. It is still Bill C-30, but the bill is now called Canada’s Clean Air and Climate Change Act.

Now irony of ironies, the government refuses to produce its own much improved bill, confirming the cynicism of those who said at the time, as my colleague from Ottawa South noted, that Bill C-30 was never necessary in the first place, that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act provided all the resources, all the power necessary to regulate both greenhouse gases and air pollutants.

On April 26 of this year, the government confirmed what we the official opposition had been saying since October 2006, by issuing a weak and incomplete climate change and air quality package of regulations, which was entirely dependent on the existing legislation, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. There was not in that document a single reference to Bill C-30, which the government had previously insisted was necessary in order to accomplish the changes through regulation of greenhouse gases and air pollutants.

The three opposition parties have acted in good faith. They did improve both the climate change sections of the bill and the air quality provisions of Bill C-30, as the government asked us to do. “Be careful what you wish for”.

Canadians need to compare the strengthened, improved and ambitious new Bill C-30 with the pathetic, loophole ridden, muddle-headed, unambitious plan of April 26. However, we can only do that in a formal sense if the bill is brought back to the House as it should be.

Historians and Canadians will look back on the first year and a half of Conservative inaction on the climate change file and note the following: a 180° turn on the whole subject and a 90° turn on the Kyoto protocol itself.

What we notice is the replacement of one ineffective minister of the environment, who was undermined at every turn by the Prime Minister's Office, with an aggressive, partisan, and I have to say, uninformed and ultimately discredited and ineffective new minister.

We notice Bill C-30 introduced, discredited, withdrawn, reintroduced, amended, improved, withdrawn again. We notice the regulations introduced, discredited, withdrawn, amended, reintroduced, discredited, and the dreary cycle continues. We notice over the top attacks on phantom bills no one introduced in the first place. We notice the apocalyptic Chicken Little attacks on a fantasy and a phantasm.

Meanwhile there is complete silence and no analysis by the government of the serious carbon budget plan introduced by the Liberals as part of the new Bill C-30 and endorsed by the Bloc and the NDP.

The final judgment of historians may well be that by May 2007, after having been in power for 16 months, the government had run out of bullets and credibility on the subject of climate change. It has run out of new plans to introduce. Having used up all its ammunition attacking a phantom plan, it has nothing left to say about the reasonable carbon budget plan of Bill C-30.

Having attacked the Liberal green plan, then reintroduced in feeble form many of its elements, no one believes a word the Conservatives say.

The true colours of the government have been revealed. There is nothing more to do, nothing more to say, nothing more to hide. “Be careful what you wish for”.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member and the member before him should be very careful in how they mislead the House on the new Conservative government's environmental plan.

For example, they have said that the government has not done any environmental assessment plans. That is wrong. On May 16, at the House of Commons standing committee, officials from four government departments said that the environmental assessment had been done, that they had the economic analysis and that they had done the health and benefit analysis.

Here is an another interesting fact regarding this intensity based phrase that the Liberals throw out. It was officials, in that same standing committee meeting of May 16, from four government departments who confirmed that the Leader of the Opposition's 2005 project green was based on intensity targets. Surprise, surprise.

Let us just say that in our wildest dreams, and this is important, we can imagine that the Liberal government prior to us actually did know something about the environment. Let us say that this was some sort of a fact. It begs this question. If the Liberals knew the damage that was being done to the ozone layer, if they knew the damage that was being done to the water, the air and the ground, why on earth, in 13 years, did they not do anything about it? How can they stand there like hypocrites and demand from this government, which is doing something—

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member should know that when the Speaker gets up, he sits down.

We have had an expression of interest from other members, so I would appreciate it if the answer was shorter than the question so we can get to other questioners.

The hon. member for Don Valley West.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two points.

First, on the environmental assessment that was referenced in the hearings, the question was whether they followed the full cabinet proceedings, which necessitates an environmental assessment of a certain kind, and the answer was no.

The second point, which is on the intensity target, is we recognized that project green was intensity based when it came to large final emitters. We also realize that is no longer sufficient because we have lost time and we now go to an absolute based system, as we should, in the new Bill C-30.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for talking about the historical aspects of Bill C-30. However, he needs to recognize that when Bill C-30 first came to the House, the Liberal Party supported it to get it to a committee. It was our colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley who objected to it, saying that it was terrible, that it needed to be rewritten and that it needed to go to a special committee.

The Liberal Party at that time, along with the Conservatives, said that it could not be done. The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley proved that it could be done, and we want to thank him very much for it.

However, I would like to give another shot at the Conservatives for the fact that they have been climate change deniers for years. The member for Red Deer, their environment critic, said that global warming was a myth. Does he believe the Conservative Party still believes that?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to return to what the initial question was. It is basically a who said what.

Our position from the get-go was that Bill C-30 was not necessary to achieve the objectives that were put forward. We agreed with the NDP that this was so.

We then agreed with the NDP to give it a try, to bring the bill to a legislative committee after first reading, although we always had grave doubts about this. Those grave doubts have been fully satisfied by the behaviour of the Conservatives. We never thought for a moment that they would accept a modified Bill C-30, but we worked with the NDP and the Bloc to give it our best effort.

As we said from the get-go, we did not think the Conservatives would do it. They did not need to do it, and we have wasted about six months doing nothing.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great joy that I am taking part in this debate on the New Democratic Party's opposition day.

The opposition motion reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, given the desire of Canadians that this Parliament meaningfully address concerns about air quality and climate change, the government should call Bill C-30, Canada's Clean Air and Climate Change Act, for debate and decision at Report stage and Second reading as soon as possible.

From the outset, I would like to indicate to this House that the Bloc Québécois intends to vote in favour of this motion, which, according to our party, is essential. It is essential for facing the climate change phenomenon, which will have consequences for the environment, our ecosystems and our natural resources.

Global warming will have a very negative economic impact if we do not soon start to correct the situation, if do not soon force those who are considered major industrial emitters responsible for increasing greenhouse gas emissions to commit to a real change in their production methods, and if we do not soon reduce our dependence on oil. Major economic consequences will result from our inaction.

We needed to proceed with consideration of Bill C-30 quickly. It was the responsibility of the opposition to amend the bill to meet the expectations of the people of Quebec and Canada. On October 19, 2006, when Bill C-30 was introduced in the House of Commons by the former Minister of the Environment, this government tried to have people believe that Bill C-30 was an adequate solution to combating climate change and that just because this government introduced a bill on air quality, which did not integrate the Kyoto protocol targets or targets for the short and medium terms, that the public would give it a blank cheque.

The response was exactly the opposite. In Canada and Quebec, there was an unprecedented angry outcry against this government, a government that decided to scrap the Kyoto protocol targets. Quebeckers reacted strongly, in the streets of Montreal, for example. They reacted through their civil society, through community organizations, as well as in the business community, the Cascades company, for instance, and through other Quebec businesses that saw that the government's decision to do away with the Kyoto protocol would have serious repercussions for the Quebec economy.

This became clear when the new President of France, Mr. Sarkozy, clearly indicated during a debate and again following his election that he planned to impose a carbon tax on all countries that refuse to comply with the Kyoto protocol. This is no trivial matter for Quebec. Forty percent of Canadian exports originate in Quebec. What is this, if not a telling blow against inaction? To not take action against climate change will not only decrease business opportunities for Quebec companies that wish to sell carbon credits they have amassed as a result of changes made to industrial processes, but the tax will also have repercussions for our economy, if the WTO deems such a tax legitimate.

The government is trying to make us believe that implementing the Kyoto protocol will lead Canada into one of the worst economic recessions ever; however, the opposite is true, Madam Speaker.

We have had a change in the chair occupant. We seldom have a woman in the chair, and I congratulate you.

It is not true that implementing the Kyoto protocol will lead to economic catastrophe. Some say that it will be worse than the 1929 crash. That is what we were told in recent weeks by economists hired by the government. We would have to look back 60 or 70 years to find a catastrophe of such proportions. The reality is quite different. It is inaction that will lead to economic decline.

It will be a lasting decline because we will not have adjusted to this paradigm shift, the change in the development of our economy, which was originally based on investment in natural resources. Given that climate change is a phenomenon which must be addressed with urgency, it is not right that we learn today that the government is thinking of buying the Mackenzie pipeline. Two years ago, it was valued at $7 billion and today we learn that it is valued at approximately $16 billion.

What hope do we have of this government fighting climate change when it is thinking of saving from bankruptcy a project whose sole purpose is to develop the oil and gas industry, which, in future, will contribute to the increase in greenhouse gases? It makes no sense for the government to table a plan that looks at greenhouse gas reductions in terms of emission intensity and not in terms of absolute results. It does not make sense to promote reductions by production unit. It is not right to try to make Canadians believe that they want to decrease greenhouse gases by 18%. On the contrary, the facts show that greenhouse gas emissions in one industrial sector alone—the tar sands—will increase by179%, and that increase will have an impact on the Canadian economy and the Canadian reality.

So, this is a government that must side not only with Canadians, but also with international opinion and consensus. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change keeps releasing new reports. There is confirmed scientific evidence that the increase in greenhouse gas emissions is, at 90% to 95%, an anthropogenic phenomenon, that is, caused by human activities. There is increasing evidence to that effect, yet the government refuses to take action in the short term. That is totally unacceptable.

That is unacceptable, because we, the opposition, had decided to act responsibly, despite what the government would have people and the public believe. As early as November 1, after accepting the Prime Minister's invitation to refer Bill C-30 to a legislative committee, the opposition had decided to act responsibly. The word “responsible” must be remembered, when we look back to the review of Bill C-30. We set aside the partisanship that sometimes comes into play here. In this House, we do not always agree with the Liberals or the New Democrats, but the one thing on which we do agree is that climate change requires immediate action.

We will not accept a plan—or a bill such as Bill C-30—which pushes back to the year 2050 the greenhouse gas reduction targets. We, on this side, and this includes the NDP and the Liberal Party, are making a solemn commitment to make the fight against climate change a priority, and rest assured that we will remain focused on that objective.

We made that commitment consensually, by telling the government that we want greenhouse gas reduction targets of 6% based on 1990 levels. We did that by setting a medium-term greenhouse gas reduction target of about 20% for 2020, again based on the 1990 levels. We also increased this Parliament's sense of responsibility, by setting a longer term objective of between 60% and 80% reductions.

We did not limit ourselves like the government did by setting a long term objective because we set short and medium term objectives and we also reiterated our commitment to setting up a carbon exchange. This is essential for Quebec and it is the best tool available to help us achieve our greenhouse gas reduction targets. This is a growing market, and we think it will be worth over $70 billion in a few years.

The government believes in implementing the market system, yet when it is time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to apply this market theory to environmental policy, the government is not on board. The reverse must be done.

If it works for Europe, which has six exchanges that enable it to meet its environmental targets while keeping the impact on its gross domestic product below 1%, why would it not work for Canada? If we continue to delay, Canada might no longer be competitive in foreign markets.

Protecting the environment is not a constraint. Since when have development and technological innovation been an economic constraint? On the contrary, this is a golden opportunity for Quebec to develop new markets. We must not leave this to others. If we take up this challenge, Quebec and Canada will come out on top. Canada has every opportunity to become one of the most competitive countries in foreign markets.

We believe in this exchange because it is better than a carbon tax. I think this exchange will enable better trading. The European experience has shown that the exchange can meet the targets. We believe in absolute targets, and we reject intensity targets. Large industrial emitters emit between 40% and 50% of our overall emissions, which means that implementing a system based on intensity reduction targets does nothing more than let big industrial emitters off the hook and make it more difficult for us to achieve our greenhouse gas reduction targets.

So we must jump into this fight and push for absolute reduction targets. We must also actively and confidently jump into a carbon market system currently estimated at more than $20 billion by the Business Development Bank of Canada. We must give an opportunity to companies like Biothermica in Quebec, which wants to sell its credits outside the country, and which wants to be recognized for the efforts it has made in the past as part of a Canadian plan.

We must also let Quebec implement its own approach and plan. We must trust the provinces, who are responsible for natural resources. Quebec and Manitoba are examples of what a province can do when its government decides to attack climate change. Quebec's previous governments have shown this, from Robert Bourassa to Jacques Parizeau. All of Quebec's governments, regardless of their political affiliation, have shown that when we implement a plan to fight climate change with clear goals, we can succeed in keeping greenhouse gas emissions in check. We are also able to strive for and respect our Kyoto commitments.

This is what Bill C-30 is calling for. Some people think that the Bloc never makes any progress. But after negotiations with the Liberals and the New Democrats, the Bloc was able to incorporate a territorial approach into Bill C-30. Under this approach, if a province, such as Quebec, decides to meet its greenhouse gas reduction target, it can implement its own climate change plan.

Why are we demanding that? Not because we are so attached to the principle of sovereignty, but simply because this is the most effective way of reducing greenhouse gases. For every dollar invested in the fight against climate change, we must maximize greenhouse gas reductions.

It is not true that a dollar invested in Quebec will lead to the same reduction in greenhouse gases as if it were invested in Alberta. Quebec does not have the same energy policy as the rest of Canada. We generate 95% of our power from hydroelectricity; 95% of our energy comes from renewable sources. When we invest in energy efficiency in our homes, that does not reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whereas in the rest of Canada, increased home energy efficiency reduces the use of fossil fuels and consequently greenhouse gas emissions.

This example shows that we need a shared commitment in Canada, but that each province needs to take its own approach to meeting that commitment so that this plan to fight climate change is adapted to the realities across the country. That is what Europe did when it set a reduction target of 8%, negotiated in Kyoto in 1997. I was in Kyoto. I saw the Europeans come prepared. All the sovereign members of the European Union were in agreement at the time. They had a plan and targets. They knew how to address climate change because they had reached agreement with their partners, because they had understood that there could not be a target for Europe without equitable territorial reduction targets.

That is the commitment the Bloc Québécois made when it introduced this territorial approach, which aims to set a common target for Canada—we hope it will be the Kyoto target—but with a different approach for each province. Some greenhouse gas-emitting provinces have made huge profits in recent years. How did Alberta get rich? By developing an industry that, unfortunately, causes pollution. What we are asking for with the territorial approach and an emission credit trading mechanism is that the government apply the polluter-pay principle rather than the polluter-paid principle.

That is what we want. We want Quebec's efforts—because Quebec did not sit on its hands—to be recognized. Furthermore, we believe that Bill C-30 meets that expectation and we want it to be debated and voted on as soon as possible.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's comments. He said that the committee acted in a responsible manner as its members dealt with this bill in committee. The previous speaker from the Liberal Party said they gave it their best effort. I am sure this is the expectation that all of our constituents have of us as parliamentarians.

However, instead of improving this bill, those members actually gutted it of many of the important elements relating to the preservation of the health of Canadians. We all know that air pollutants cause undue hardship for thousands of Canadians. In fact, the David Suzuki Foundation agrees. It states there is strong evidence that:

Air pollution is the most harmful environmental problem in Canada in terms of human health effects, causing thousands of deaths, millions of cases of illness, billions of dollars in health care expenses, and tens of billions of dollars in lost productivity every year.

Given the seriousness of air pollution, why would the members allow these key elements to slip away from the bill?

For example, through the opposition amendments, we have lost mandatory national air quality standards. As well, we have lost mandatory annual public reporting on air quality and actions to achieve national air quality standards. We have lost increased research and monitoring of air pollutants. We have lost tougher enforcement rules for compliance.

Why did the members allow these important elements to slip away from the bill?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I seldom see a member from the Conservative Party promote reports in this House.

We have always striven to lighten the administrative burden. What we want to see in this place is not reports, but action. That is what is expected from the government. The hon. member is right; air pollution is a serious problem that has to be dealt with. However, the government and the member have to recognize that if we tackled global warming, we would be tackling the issues of smog and air pollution at the same time. The most pressing problem right now is global warming. Global warming being the most pressing problem, it has to be dealt with. Certainly, we can walk and chew gun at the same time.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

We have five minutes left in this period and I have expressions of interest from various corners of the House so we will try to keep all questions and answers short.

The hon. member for Ottawa South has the floor.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, in light of what we have seen in this government in the past 16 months, I have a very specific question for my colleague on the implications to Canada's international reputation following decisions made by the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment.

First, we saw the Minister of the Environment, as president of the conference of parties in Nairobi, send staff to weaken the post-2012 Kyoto negotiations. Today we heard that the Canadian and U.S. negotiators are working to water down the G-8 press release. Some 169 partners are starting to ask questions. France's President Sarkozy clearly said that France will look into the possibility of implementing a carbon tax on countries such as Canada which are effectively dropping the Kyoto protocol.

What does the hon. member think of this important matter regarding Canada's international reputation?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I well remember when former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore denounced the Conservative government's plan to fight climate change. The Conservative members and ministers scoffed at his statement.

I well remember that Sunday when journalists called me for comments from the Bloc Québécois. At the time I said that Al Gore's statement was a sign of an international outcry to come. We then saw the head of the UN climate change secretariat, Mr. de Boer, indicate in the days following that the Conservative government was not on the right path.

David Suzuki is not the only one opposing the government; the worlds' leading climate change experts are as well. The government started out in Nairobi by sabotaging the Kyoto protocol and it is getting ready to do the same thing at the G-8 + 5. This is totally unacceptable.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, my thanks go to my colleagues in the NDP for ensuring that Bill C-30 sees the light of day.

My question concerns previous comments made by a Liberal colleague who said that this bill in fact was unnecessary and that the Canadian Environmental Protection Act ensures environmental protection.

It is my understanding that one of the reasons the previous Liberal government failed to act on the environment, even after signing the Kyoto accord, was because these decisions had to be made under this act, under CEPA, behind closed doors, and even the environment minister could not get support for initiatives on the environment.

Could my hon. colleague comment on the changes in Bill C-30 and the importance of public accountability on environmental issues?

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has one minute left for questions and comments.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, of course, every member in this House knows that, although it is in force, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act is little enforced. I would say that, since 1997, Canada's greatest failure has been this inability on the part of the federal government to work together with its provincial partners, which have jurisdiction over natural resources and their management.

The answer is clear. Let us recall what the former Commissioner of the Environment, Ms. Gélinas, said. She said that it was imperative that it create partnerships with the provinces. Why? Simply because the provinces are responsible for producing and distributing energy. Energy consumption comes under the purview of the provinces.

As far as I am concerned, it is clear that as long as we do not have a federal government capable of working together with the provinces, we are likely to see this Canadian failure repeat itself in the future.

Opposition Motion—The Environment
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 1:30 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m.

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately adopt a child first principle, based on Jordan's Principle, to resolve jurisdictional disputes involving the care of First Nations children.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present Motion No. 296 to the House, which calls on the government to immediately adopt a child first principle based on Jordan's principle. This motion has been motivated by the need for this country to look at ending discrimination against first nations children.

Before I speak about the circumstances, I want to specifically acknowledge Jordan and his family, the many people who have stood behind them and the Norway House Cree Nation in bringing this matter to the House's attention. Others like the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Assembly of First Nations, and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada have all worked tirelessly to ensure that we truly do put substance behind the notion that children should be first in this country. Amnesty International has also stood behind the people working on this very important matter.

I want to tell the House a bit about Jordan and who he is. Jordan was born in 1999 with a complex set of genetic and medical conditions. For the first two years of his life he was in hospital and required a wide variety of medical services. The unfortunate story is that because of the lack of services on the reserve, his family had to make the decision to give the child up so he could access the best possible care.

After two years of being in hospital, the medical team determined that Jordan was able to leave the hospital and go to a special foster home where he could get the kind of care that would substantially improve his quality of life. Unfortunately, during the two years when Jordan could have gone into a home and had all the sights, sounds, senses and the love that a home environment would provide, Jordan spent those last two years in hospital.

The reason he spent that time in hospital was because governments had to argue, wrangle and discuss who should pay for Jordan's care. We talk about children being one of our most valuable assets, about being a country that cherishes its children, and yet we allowed that child to die in a hospital without the benefit of a home setting.

I would argue that appropriate care is one of the most fundamental of human rights in this country. Just in case we thought that perhaps it was going to be far too expensive to put Jordan into a foster home, I want to quote from a paper called “Honouring Jordan: Putting first nations children first and funding fights second”. It was a paper written by Trudy Lavallee.

In the paper she talks about the fact that it was not that foster care was more expensive and that the remedies were not available to provide this child the benefit of a home. She stated:

If the use of public funds in a responsible manner were at the centre of the storm of government disagreements, it was not evident because they paid the hospital twice the rate of what it would have cost to place him in a foster home.

If we are talking about accountability, governments would have been far more accountable to provide this child with a home than to allow him to languish in hospital until he died. I cannot imagine, as a mother and grandmother, what it must have been like for his parents to know that their son did not have access to a home in the final two years of his life.

I wish I could stand here and say that the situation has changed. Here we are two years later and there are still first nations children living on reserves who do not have access to the same quality of care that other children in this country have access to.

There was a recent release by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs dated April 3, 2007 entitled, “Disabled children lose services because governments won't pay”. It is about Norway House and states:

Thirty-seven profoundly disabled children on this First Nations reserve will lose essential services--

Again, this is because of ongoing jurisdictional disputes.

Further on down in the paper it says:

A recent research report in Manitoba found that First Nations parents often place their children with disabilities in child welfare care, so they can be sure the children get access to the specialized services they so desperately need. Yet children whose parents want to keep them at home may suffer physical pain without those services.

Even today mothers and fathers are having to give up their children to the state in order to ensure that they receive adequate care because we fail to provide, as a federal government, adequate funding to ensure that these children get the care they need in their homes.

We often speak in Canada about how proud we are that we are a country that has a high quality standard of living. Under the United Nations human development index, Canada is rated as number six. However, when we actually factor the plight of aboriginal children and their families into the complex system that talks about well-being in this country, Canada is ranked 78th, and that rank places us between Lebanon and Kazakhstan.

We have had international agencies looking at the plight of children and families on first nations reserves in this country. They talk about the water, housing, health care, and certainly the issue around child care, access to protective care and welfare services for children.

The Assembly of First Nations has actually filed a Canadian human rights complaint about the lack of funding for first nations children. Right now we have more than 27,000 first nations children in care in this country from coast to coast to coast.

We have more children removed from their families than at the height of the residential schools system. I cannot imagine the grief that this causes to families because they do not have the support they need in order to care for their children.

Much has been made of the fact that many of these children are removed from their families, but they are removed from their families because of issues around poverty. They are removed from their families because their families do not have the resources to provide that adequate housing and other services.

We had something called least disruptive measures. In our country the federal government will fund to have children removed from their homes, but it will not fund those least disruptive measures.

Many provinces have already agreed that this is the most effective way to work with children who need some additional services, but our federal government has failed to provide that.

These are the key findings from the “Wen:de we are coming to the light of day and the journey continues” report. This is a summary that was put out on March 12, 2007. In that summary it says:

The primary reason why First Nations children come to the attention of the child welfare system is neglect. When researchers unpack the definition of neglect, poverty, substance misuse and poor housing are the key factors contributing to the over representation of First Nations children amongst substantiated child welfare cases.

Further on in this report it talks about the fact that an additional $109 million is needed in year one of the proposed formula to redress existing funding shortfalls along with the levels of funding indicated for subsequent years.

They also talk about the fact that jurisdictional disputes between and among federal and provincial governments are substantial problems with 12 first nations child and family service agencies experiencing 393 jurisdictional disputes in this last year alone. These disputes often result in first nations children on reserve being denied or delayed receipt of services that are otherwise available to other Canadian children.

In a country that prides itself on its human rights record, I would argue that by having children continue to not have access to services on reserve that we take for granted in every other part of this country is truly a violation of human rights.

In a recent report that the other place is been putting out, it looked at the UN convention on the rights of the child. In that UN convention on the rights of the child report, we are again cited internationally for what is happening to aboriginal children in this country.

There are a couple of points I want to raise from that report under child protection issues. It says that one of the most prominent and recurring themes with respect to aboriginal children in Canada is their disproportionate representation within the child welfare system.

Not only are children overrepresented, but as we have seen in the case of Jordan, we cannot even agree upon what adequate services would be and then fund them.

There were lots of experts in Jordan's case who talked about the fact that he needed access to a wheelchair, a special shower head, and yet the federal government would not come to the table and put Jordan's needs first. They refused to say that this child needed the care that he needed and that they would worry about who would pay later.

Again, in the UN Convention on the rights of the child it talks about the fact that a report released by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada in August 2005 stated that between 1995 and 2001 the number of registered Indian children entering care rose by 71.5% nationally.

The organization's 2005 one day report found that there are three times more first nations children in care now than at the height of the residential schools era in the 1940s. It goes on to say that the situation is particularly dire in British Columbia where over 50% of children in permanent care are aboriginal, and in Saskatchewan and Manitoba 80% of children in care are aboriginal. These numbers are startling.

The work that the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and Norway House Cree Nation have been doing over the years has all fallen on deaf ears. This has been going on for decades, but Jordan's case arose in 1999.

It is through their efforts that finally in 2007 this matter is finally on the floor of the House of Commons.

How many other children in the last six years have ended up being removed from their homes and not receiving the services they need because of this wrangling?

I would urge each and every member of this House to support the motion I have brought before the House to say that first nations children in Canada on reserve truly should come first and should receive the same care that other children in Canada receive.

I will close with a quote from a release by Assembly of First Nations National Chief Fontaine. He said:

The motion asks a simply question: Do Canadians accept the fact that their health care system treats certain children differently because of the race or community they belong to? And further, do Canadians accept that this double standard can result in death or disability? This practice should not be allowed to exist or be accepted as a normal business practice. We must stand together to protect and nurture the health and well-being of all children across Canada.

I would ask each and every member here to support this important motion and say that first nations children on reserve do deserve to be treated fairly, equally and with justice in this country.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the speech from our hon. colleague over in the NDP wing of the House. I certainly sympathize with the view that she is presenting.

Whenever we see children that are suffering through no fault of their own, but because of the circumstances that they are in, it makes us think that we have to do something.

I know in our family our son and his new wife went to Rwanda to help look after the orphans after that very difficult situation. So many of these children lost their parents, either because they disappeared or they were killed. Our kids went there with our blessing and support because these are children that needed to have that help. I appreciate what the member has said.

What I would like to ask the member is, does she have any idea about the real root causes for this negligence? It is easy to say that it is the government's fault that it has not been looked after properly. Perhaps that is part of it. I sometimes think that perhaps there is a deeper societal element that we need to look at, and see if we can identify the root of the problem and look at corrective measures from that regard.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would argue that if the member wants to look to the roots for the despair and poverty in many first nations communities from coast to coast to coast, he would only need to look back over 150 years at the policies that practised assimilation, and some would even argue genocide.

We have had report after report, and we only have to go back to 1996 to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. If we want to right some of the wrongs of successive governments in the country, parties of all political stripes need to own their responsibility around this issue. We need to work hand in glove with first nations people, Métis and Inuit people across this country to develop the solutions.

We know that part of the solution certainly is money. There has been a 2% cap in place for over 10 years, which has limited the ability of first nations communities to respond to the pressing and urgent needs in their communities.

I would argue that what we need to do is to sit down in a meaningful way, in a true partnership, in a true nation to nation way with first nations across this country and develop the solutions to the problems that exist today.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, continuing on in that vein, there is a common misunderstanding around these issues. Somehow there is blame attributed to the communities.

As the member mentioned, very clearly it is a systemic issue that has never been addressed. Could the member inform the House about the initiatives, the types of efforts that first nations have been taking to address this devastating issue in a very responsible and responsive way?

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are many creative and innovative solutions in this country, again from coast to coast to coast.

Just to step back a little bit, around children and care, the numbers clearly show that first nations agencies that provide services and care for children are 22% underfunded. That is well documented. Yet we can look to many other nations, like Westbank and Membertou, and the work that is happening in my own community, Cowichan Tribes, where people are putting together solutions. They are looking at culture and language training, which is revitalizing their communities, and which respects their traditions. They are looking at providing on the ground services. We have seen many examples of healing circles and restorative justice that are working very effectively in communities.

There are many good examples on which we can build.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Before I recognize the hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul, I would like to thank the hon. member for Victoria who occupied the chair for part of the speech by the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, one of the rare times when a woman occupies the chair in this 39th Parliament, and she did it in an exemplary way.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to explain why I will vote in favour of the motion introduced by the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. The motion calls on all levels of government to place the interests of first nation children above jurisdictional considerations.

This government is determined to continue to make improvements in the lives of first nation children, women and families, and certainly supports a child first principle. The child first approach espoused by Jordan's principle is both noble and laudable.

Children are precious. They represent Canada's most valuable resource and should be cherished. But far too often first nations children have not been and are not now accorded the same respect as other Canadian children. This situation is tragic and we must work to change it.

The child who inspired Jordan's principle became caught in the tangle of regulations and funding mechanisms that underpin first nations child and family services. The quality and availability of these services vary widely across our nation. So do the nature of service agreements and how they are administered.

This government acknowledges that the current first nations child and family services program had been in need of modernization and improvement, and we have worked hard to that end.

Two recent reports have shed new light on the complex issues at the heart of this matter. In 2005, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada commissioned the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada to conduct original research into these issues. The result, known as the Wen:de report, for the first time clearly illustrates the challenges facing first nations child and family services across Canada and provides good direction for change in such a critical area. A second study just completed by the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights and entitled “Children: the Silenced Citizens” was tabled on April 27.

Both reports are useful to us in our work. As they make all too clear, there is no simple solution to the problem of first nations child and family services. Resolving the issue will require a prolonged and concentrated effort. It will require creativity and commitment, and it will require the collaboration of first nations, provinces and territories, and the Government of Canada. It was these essential elements that contributed to a historic partnership announced in Alberta last month.

This partnership between the federal government, the province of Alberta and Alberta first nations is based on a model of child welfare introduced by that province some six years ago. The Alberta response model focuses on prevention and collaboration. In essence, the model gets professionals, administrators and families to work together toward meeting the needs of children at risk. This collaboration has ensured that appropriate services are being delivered before a crisis erupts, and when a crisis does occur that the response is timely, effective and culturally appropriate.

In the six years since the introduction of the enhanced prevention model, child intervention caseloads in communities served by the province of Alberta have dropped by an average of 22%. This includes seven first nation communities where interventions have decreased by 10%. During the same period, the caseloads of first nations child and family service agencies, which are not under the model, increased by 4%.

All of the parties involved, the province, the Government of Canada and Alberta first nations, are determined to achieve similarly positive results for children living on reserve.

It is worth noting that before the province could implement the Alberta response model, it had to amend the provincial legislation that governs child and family services. The old law focused on crisis intervention. Service agencies could intervene in families only once a formal complaint had been lodged. The new law, known as the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, enables provincial agencies to be more proactive, to offer services such as parenting courses or respite care. The enhancement act effectively places greater emphasis on prevention services, while continuing to empower agencies to intervene to protect children.

Under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, agencies are now placing an at risk child with other family members, often grandparents, uncles or aunts who maintain healthy, stable households. In this way, a child's connection with the community and the larger family is not necessarily severed.

During the 1960s, first nations children were often removed from their homes, if they were subjected to neglect or abuse, and placed in non-aboriginal foster homes. While such moves typically protected children from neglect or abuse, they were also disconnected from their cultures. Many of these children struggled in a no man's land of sorts. They had little familiarity with the culture of their forefathers and grew up in a culture that has not always treated aboriginal peoples well.

Now, with the provincial response model in place, at risk first nations children are more likely to be placed in suitable foster homes with family members.

To support the implementation of the new model in Alberta first nations, this government will be contributing an additional $15.3 million in support of this partnership. This government is keen that first nations in other parts of the country also have access to modernized child and family services. In order for us to achieve this goal, we must all show the same type of collaboration and creativity that produced the agreement in Alberta.

I am happy to report that federal and first nations officials are working with their provincial counterparts across the country.

The modernization of child and family service systems is only one part of this government's plan to improve the lives of first nations people. The plan also includes targeted investments and initiatives to enhance the quality of life experienced by first nations peoples and families.

A few weeks ago, for instance, this government invested additional funds, more than $50 million, for improved educational facilities in first nation communities. Furthermore, to support the network of shelters that help first nations women and children escape family violence, we invested $6 million in the family violence prevention program last fall.

On the legislative front, a bill granting first nations in British Columbia greater control over on reserve education gained the unanimous approval of this House late last year. Another bill now before the House proposes to repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and better protect the fundamental rights of residents of first nations communities.

This government believes that first nations people should have the same opportunities as other Canadians. They should have access to a quality education, clean drinking water and adequate housing. Their rights should be respected and their children should be afforded the same level of protection available to other Canadian children.

This government recognizes the vital importance of providing for children, for their physical, emotional and educational well-being. There is no more valuable effort we can undertake. That is why we are re-examining the first nations child and family services program to ensure we are delivering the best services possible. That is also why we support Jordan's principle.

A child first principle calls on all levels of government to work together and treat first nations children with greater respect. I am glad to proclaim my support for the motion introduced by the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I feel especially privileged to speak in the House today to this private member's motion put forward by the NDP member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. I thank her for her effort and for bringing this to the House. It is my most sincere hope that we listen to this issue today and move forward on it in a non-partisan manner.

I would first like to acknowledge Jordan's memory and Jordan's family; the people of his home community, Kinosao Sipi, Norway House Cree Nation, and their counsellor, Mike Muswagon, who is here today; the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs; Grand Chief Ron Evans; and Trudy Lavallee of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs who is also here today. Also here today is Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada.

I would like to also acknowledge Amnesty International and the court challenges program.

When the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan raised this matter she was articulate, thorough and concise in her request. The Jordan principle is simply about putting the child first. It is the child first principle which is, of course, a basic standard of international law.

This is an issue that is incomprehensible to me. I have been well aware of the hard work that has been done to bring international attention to Jordan's principle and, domestically, to have governments commit to the principle and funding agreements.

Jordan's principle reflects a practice of neglect which has had the most devastating of devastating impacts. I have met with families, child welfare workers, educators, community leaders and regional leaders from the first nations in my riding and it is, without a doubt, the most shameful situation that, in our country, first nations children are not entitled to the same services as other children.

What has been most disturbing is that as the battle has been waged interdepartmentally between Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the First Nations and Inuit Health branch, and interjurisdictionally between the feds and the provinces, these same governments have had no hesitation in doling out costs, often much higher costs, for care than for family or community based care, and those costs would go to institutions.

We heard that Jordan never left the hospital and that the cost of keeping him there far exceeded the cost of having him in his home community, in a home setting. It is reprehensible that first nations children are forced to be separated from their families and communities rather than set funding arrangements and policy to ensure that children with complex medical needs or disabilities have access to services.

Members will note that I did not use the term appropriate services because there are no services for these children and their families.

I want to be very clear. There is no funding mechanism to deliver services for these children in first nations. The federal departments responsible for services and programs in first nations, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the First Nations and Inuit Health branch, volley the issue claiming that it is either a social cost or a health cost, and the provinces will not provide service on reserve. It is not their jurisdiction.

In my riding of Churchill, five first nations child welfare agencies have for years and years worked with families and, as in Jordan's case, the children must come into care to access services. The agencies have been under enormous sustained pressure to negotiate adequate services for the children once they are in care, on a case by case basis, because, as I mentioned earlier, there are no funding agreements or policies.

Earlier today at a press conference about Jordan's principle, hosted by the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, we heard Councillor Mike Muswagon from Kinosao Sipi, Norway House Cree Nation, speak about flood moneys that had been used to provide services for more than 30 children in his community.

The flood moneys he was referring to were under a compensation agreement with Manitoba Hydro. These moneys will be unavailable and it is uncertain as to what will happen with the 30 children and, most likely, they will also be forced into care to access services.

Under the previous Liberal government, a national policy review committee was working with agencies, researchers and the federal government to ensure a delivery mechanism was established.

It is the responsibility of the current government to hear what is being presented today, to heed the story and the memory of Jordan's life, and to ensure that we, the country of the charter and a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, respect not only the aboriginal treaty rights of first nations but the principle, which is simply the dignity of respect for the child first principle in Jordan's principle.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to motion M-296 introduced by our colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan, British Columbia.

I will take the time to read the motion:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately adopt a child first principle, based on Jordan's principle, to resolve jurisdictional disputes involving the care of first nations children.

First and foremost, I want to assure all the members of the House of Commons that the Bloc Québécois supports our NDP colleague's motion in principle.

However, it is important to remember that Quebec and some provinces have already put in place legislation and assistance procedures. Still, we support this motion.

The federal government must therefore do its part by helping to fund services for first nations children.

The basic question is this: who will pay for child protection? Quebec's youth protection legislation includes a provision whereby first nations communities play an active role in youth protection.

I would also point out that Motion M-296 allows for the protection of children based on the child first principle, while waiting for the federal government and provincial governments to reach an official agreement on the various terms and conditions on services, and the payment of services, provided to children from first nations communities.

Jordan's principle is worth discussing. Jordan's principle is the name given to the child first principle, which puts the interest of the child before constitutional conflicts when it comes to access to services. The Canadian Constitution does not specify which level of government is responsible for providing services to first nations children. Thus, there are many legal conflicts concerning the protection of children.

Under the Constitution, who is financially and morally responsible for first nations children? The debate centres on this fundamental question. The answer to this question will have an impact on the availability of services and programs intended for aboriginal children.

I would like to share a statistic that illustrates the shortcomings of democracy in this country, when it comes to recognizing the rights of a minority made up of first nations peoples from Canada and Quebec. This statistic was taken from The Joint National Policy Review on First Nations Child and Family Services by McDonald and Ladd, published in 2000.

That report says:

The average Canadian gets services from federal, provincial and municipal governments at an amount that is almost two and a half times greater than that received by First Nations citizens.

This is one of my main reasons for being here today. We must put an end to such situations. This is unacceptable. According to several stakeholders, the best way to manage jurisdictional conflicts is to prevent them. Jordan's principle represents a provisional measure, while waiting for the federal and provincial governments to reach an agreement on jurisdictions.

The Bloc believes, and people will agree, that Quebec sovereignty is the best solution. Indeed, our position on first nations peoples began to change back in 1977, under the Lévesque government, which adopted provisions concerning first nations children within this large territory, the future sovereign country of Quebec.

We nevertheless wish to comment on jurisdictions and responsibility, and I continue in that direction.

We will present a brief overview of the jurisdictional difficulties that Motion no. 296 will not resolve. However, it will place first nations children and families on an equal footing with Quebec and Canadian children and families by enabling them to receive social and health services.

As stated in the report of the Joint National Policy Review on First Nations Child and Family Services, from which I quoted earlier, the different government levels are passing the buck with respect to jurisdiction.

The federal government has said that the provinces are responsible for providing child services to first nations, in accordance with Section 92 of the 1867 Constitution. Participation by the federal government in the provision of programs and services, in its view, is quite simply discretionary.

As for the provinces, they believe that the federal government is responsible for reserve Indians, pursuant to section 91(24) of the Constitution Act.

Thus, provincial and territorial governments are concerned that the federal government is offloading on them its responsibilities with respect to aboriginal peoples and argue that:

—the federal government has the constitutional, historical, and fiduciary responsibility arising from the treaties with aboriginals who live on and off reserves.

According to a report published in 2005 by the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada, the first nations have adopted the same position as the provinces.

The first nations are the only peoples to suffer from the lack of responsibility and accountability of the federal government and to ask that it maintain:

—its tutelage and its fiduciary duties towards the first nations, including its children, families and community services.

The federal government funds first nations child and family support agencies pursuant to Directive 20-1—hence a matter of administration— and not, in its view, because of its fiduciary responsibility. The federal government refuses to change its position and has stated that the delivery of programs and services to first nations is discretionary.

There is nevertheless an important vision to be presented here. First nations children are entitled to be treated with respect and Canada, in its current structure, must ensure that these children are respected, as requested by stakeholders, the chiefs and governments of the first nations and with the insight brought by the first nations and the provincial governments to a federal government that must assume its responsibilities in full.

Therefore, I hope and pray that Jordan's principle will be applied.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to support Motion No. 296. It is unconscionable that we would rank 78th on the United Nations Human Development Index in terms of first nations children.

People call this Jordan's principle. There are some other principles that go along with this. How about principles that say patience not paper? How about some principles about kids first, not bureaucracy first?

When we talk about the treatment of children, in this case first nations children, whatever the agency of first contact is, it provides the service. I do not care which one it is. We can figure out later who pays the bill. It is not fair for a young child to have to lay in a hospital bed waiting for something which adults are bickering about, or they cannot decide on, or they are shuffling papers or they are arguing over jurisdictional issues. There is nothing moral about that.

I want to talk a bit about some experiences I have had in this area. As the minister of health, the minister of education and the minister of children and families in British Columbia, I have heard many heart-rending stories. However, I will go back some time before that.

I am a pediatric nurse and I worked at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. There were young toddlers, two, three, four, five year olds, on the surgical floor. Many aboriginal children came to that hospital. In those days it was almost the only hospital with intensive pediatric experience. Children from northern Ontario and northern Manitoba would come to the hospital and they would be there for extensive lengths of time.

Let me talk about a child I will call Michael, although Michael is really a composite of a number of children that I knew. Michael was from northern Ontario and he came to the hospital have surgery. His surgery was very complicated. He needed rehabilitation after the surgery and then other surgeries later. It involved orthopedics. By the time I met him, he had been there for about 22 months.

It was Christmastime. Anybody who knows Toronto, knows the Santa Claus Parade used to go down University Avenue. The windows of the Hospital for Sick Children face University Avenue. We would gather all the children in front of the window so they could watch as the parade went by. Like many hospitals, people try to take as many people home as possible. By Christmas Eve the ward was fairly empty, except Michael was there as were other aboriginal children.

Where was Christmas for them? They had seen Santa Claus go by, they had heard the other children on their ward getting excited about being home and talking about their stockings and being with their families. Michael and other aboriginal children were in the hospital in beds and cribs.

I remember going to work at midnight and checking to ensure everybody was asleep. There were probably two or three of us tiptoeing around, hanging stockings on the ends of beds and cribs and filling them with toys so in the morning those children would know that somehow Santa had found them.

Michael was there for another year and a half. There was no money for his parents to visit. None of his family could visit him. There was no Ronald McDonald House at that time. One might say that I was nursing a long time ago, and I was, but it is not substantially different now. His family could not come down to visit him and he could not be flying back and forth, with the kind of surgery and rehabilitation he was having.

What do children that age think when they have not seen their parents in a year and a half or two years? They think they have been abandoned. They think it is their fault. They think they have done something wrong. Because they have not seen their family, they think nobody loves them.

Eventually Michael went home, but I am trying to imagine the kinds of family support services and resources that would have had to be there in order to build that family again for a child who had been away for that length of time. Those services were not in place then and many of them are not in place now.

There were other children with Michael who could not go home because no one could decide where they could go. They were “in care”, but no one could make the decision about what foster home it would be, funded by whom, where it would be, and whether it would be in their home community, so they just continued to stay.

These are children at their most formative ages.

For a minute I want to look at this through the eyes of Michael. Michael has seen on television and read books about what home is, but he has never seen one. He has heard the kids on the ward talk about what a home is and what they do at home and where they play at home, but he has never seen one. What does Michael do? He wonders what is wrong with him that he cannot have the same home that the other children do. Why is he different? What is wrong with him that nobody wants him?

First nations agencies should have all the capacity and resources they need to provide all of the services that first nations children require, and I repeat, all of the capacity and resources. In some provinces some of that is starting to work, but my Lord, it has been far too long in coming, and for many aboriginal children it is not anywhere close to being there yet.

If we are truly child centred, then it is about the child. Everyone knows that I am an adopted only child, and sometimes folks suggest they could guess that without my telling them, so I have no extended family. The potential for extended family support for first nations children is huge. It is something that I and my children will never experience.

As a mom, I cannot imagine not having the experience of going in every night to tuck my child in and of tiptoeing in before I go to bed to see if they are asleep. That is what these first nations parents cannot do. That is the joy that comes from parenthood.

How can there be any reason whatsoever that we cannot support this? If we cannot treat a child immediately under all circumstances, then as a country we have failed and as a society we have failed. Jordan cannot have waited or died in vain. Let no child wait again.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to voice my support for the aims of the child first approach in responding to the needs of first nations children. There can be no doubt that the various levels and agencies of government are struggling with many issues, including cross-jurisdictional issues, when it comes to the health and safety of at risk first nations children.

Let me add that I applaud the efforts of my colleague from Nanaimo--Cowichan to improve the lot of first nations communities and individuals all across Canada. I have the privilege of serving with her on the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Jordan's principle proposes a direct approach to ensuring that first nations children get the care they need. By putting the needs of children first, it advances a straightforward solution which should ensure that services are delivered in a timely fashion.

For these reasons, I am keen to endorse this private member's motion and the principle it espouses.

However, despite my enthusiasm about a child first principle, I recognize that there are some limitations to our ability to adopt this motion immediately.

Jordan's principle is about results, not processes. It is not a solution to the problems surrounding the delivery of services to at risk first nations children. It does, however, provide invaluable guidance about the nature of that solution.

Acknowledging Jordan's principle and starting to work on cross-jurisdictional solutions is the first step toward resolving these issues. However, the principle does not address the root causes, and only by resolving these underlying problems can we arrive at a sustainable solution.

This government believes that the only way to resolve many aboriginal issues is to address root causes, whether jurisdictional or legislative. Since taking office, the government has adopted this approach on several key issues such as unsafe drinking water in first nations communities and poor educational outcomes in on reserve schools.

Although the issues are radically different, the same critical factor stands in the way of an immediate solution. Policies and programs in these areas, as well as child and family services, require structural reform so we can ensure that we are meeting the needs of first nations communities and families.

In a nutshell, child and family services fall under provincial jurisdiction. However, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada pays for the delivery of child and family services to first nations on reserve. In many cases, the services are delivered by first nations agencies pursuant to agreements negotiated with the provinces. In other cases, provincial and territorial agencies deliver these services.

Given this complexity, it should come as no surprise that the quality and availability of first nations child and family services vary widely across Canada. Despite the best efforts of the talented and dedicated men and women who provide and administer services, the system sometimes exacerbates the difficulties of children such as Jordan, the three year old boy, now deceased, who inspires the principle at the heart of the motion under debate.

The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has directed his officials to work with their provincial, territorial and first nations counterparts to improve the systems currently in place. I am glad to say that we are beginning to see some improvement.

Late last month, the Government of Canada, the province of Alberta and Alberta first nations established an historic partnership. This partnership establishes a new foundation for first nations child and family services in the province. There is every reason to believe that this new approach to child welfare will provide a lasting solution.

In essence, this partnership validates a project launched by the province of Alberta more than six years ago. The project aimed to improve the province's child welfare system by implementing something called the Alberta response model.

This model involves a major shift in emphasis for child and family services. Rather than focus on crisis intervention, this model emphasizes prevention and collaboration. The idea is to get professionals, administrators and families working together to prevent a crisis.

Since the province of Alberta adopted the model, the number of child interventions in the communities served by the province has dropped significantly, by some 22%. This included seven first nations communities in which the interventions decreased by 10%. By way of comparison, the number of child interventions in first nations communities not under this model increased by 4% during that same period. Under the agreement reached last month, the Alberta response model will be implemented by all first nations child and family services in Alberta.

This government is confident that the Alberta response model will lead to better results for first nations children over the long term. We have invested $15.3 million to implement this new approach over the next year.

The government has also taken decisive action to make constructive changes to the existing framework and other areas to better support first nations children and families. For example, late last year a bill that transformed on reserve education in British Columbia earned the unanimous approval of this House. First nations in that province are now able to design and implement appropriate curricula, set relevant standards and engage residents of their communities in the vital work of educating children. There is no doubt that this legislation will lead to improved outcomes for first nations students in British Columbia.

The government is determined to improve the quality of life experienced by all first nations in Canada. By taking careful stock of our existing programs and services and implementing structural or legislative change where necessary, we will make measurable progress.

I endorse the motion introduce by the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, with the note of caution that we are unlikely to resolve the jurisdictional issues merely by saying so. We do want, however, to send a message that this is the direction we want to move in and move in that direction as quickly as possible.

Aboriginal Affairs
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

When Motion No. 296 returns for consideration of the House, there will still be four minutes left for the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

It being 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, May 28, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)