House of Commons Hansard #173 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post-secondary.

Topics

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When we were last discussing Bill C-31 there were six minutes left in debate for the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. Unfortunately, there are only five minutes left in debate and he has the floor.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

6:25 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, when I last spoke to this issue, slightly more than three hours ago, I was talking about the five general categories of amendments that the Senate brought forward on Bill C-31. I dealt with the one amendment that we wish to oppose and we will be sending it back to the Senate for its consideration. That dealt with the timing of the coming into force provisions of the bingo cards.

The Senate had suggested a 10 month period of time be given to Elections Canada to develop these bingo cards for the use of all parties and candidates. We are suggesting that it should be done and could be done in six months.

There are two other general areas of amendments that the Senate had suggested. One deals with the use of birthdates on the election lists themselves. This was a hotly debated point of contention in committee. Members of the New Democratic Party and members of the Conservative Party opposed this but it was an amendment brought forward by a member from the Bloc Québécois, supported by the Liberals.

That amendment was to put not just the birth year but the birthdate, day and month, as well as the birth year on the election documents in an attempt to better determine whether or not someone purporting to be a voter actually was the voter. The thinking behind this amendment was simply to say that if someone came into a voting station saying that he was, for example, John Smith, age 51, but that he clearly looked 20 or 30 years old, the deputy returning officer and the scrutineers would be able to challenge the right of that voter to exercise his vote because they would be able to point to the fact that he was clearly not the age that was specified on the forms.

However, as well-intentioned as that might have been, there were some really serious concerns about privacy laws. Therefore, when it got to the Senate, members of the Senate, and I will name one in particular, Senator George Baker, a Liberal senator, said that they had to fix the mess because it was a travesty of privacy considerations. He blamed members of the government for bringing this amendment forward to the Senate and he stated quite unequivocally that they had to fix the mess.

I would like it to be put on the record, as several of my colleagues have already done, that it was not the Conservative Party in committee that recommended this change. It was the Bloc and Liberal members who recommended that birth years and birthdates be placed on election documents. It was one of those amendments that we quite vociferously opposed, as well as members of the New Democratic Party.

I think it is quite disingenuous for Senator Baker to start blaming the government for an amendment which we had no part in crafting. I think Senator Baker would be well advised to check with his own colleagues on that side of the House, for whom he seems to not have much respect since he does not really listen to any of their advice or instructions. However, he should check with members of his own party before he starts making claims and allegations dealing with amendments to this particular bill.

Finally, the last provision of the amendments brought forward by the Liberal senators deals with penalties for misuse of election documents or personal information. This is something we wholeheartedly agree with because, if anyone, whether it be a member of one political party or whether it be an election official, chose to give some of the confidential information contained in election documents to anyone outside of the election confines, they should be penalized and punished.

Originally, we had proposed in the bill that penalties of either one month in jail or a fine of $3,000 or both would be a satisfactory and an appropriate punishment for people who misused personal information. The Senate examined this provision and came back with an even stronger provision stating that it should be one year or $5,000 or both if anyone were caught misusing personal information during the election process.

We wholeheartedly agree with that amendment, as we agree with 10 other amendments. It is only the one, the time for coming into effect of the bingo cards, that we disagree with.

In conclusion, let me say that once again Bill C-31 deals with integrity of the voting process, something that all people in Canada should applaud. I hope this House tonight will approve that bill.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 6:30 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion relating to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-31 are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to 6:30 p.m. today.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Pursuant to order made earlier today the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion concerning the appointment of Mary Elizabeth Dawson as Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #207

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner
Routine Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion concerning the Senate amendments to Bill C-31.

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

Vote #208

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I declare the motion carried.

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

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like today to remind the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec about the sad situation in the manufacturing sector in Canada and especially in Quebec.

Last March 23, I asked the minister why he did not get anything additional in the last budget. He promised that he would get something this year, but we see by the pitiful results that this was a promise he did not keep.

If a company is located in the minister’s own region or Quebec City, chances are that it will get some financial help. Outside of Conservative ridings, though, there is no salvation. Many regions have been waiting for the hon. member to alight from his rented airplane with some good news, but in vain. He still does not know that there are other regions in Quebec that need financial help.

The manufacturing sector in Canada is going through a major crisis. Ontario and Quebec have been especially hard hit. Statistics show that the manufacturing sector has lost 200,000 jobs in Canada since 2002. How can the minister do nothing in view of all the factories that are closing? How can he sit there doing nothing while so many Canadians are losing their jobs?

In the course of the hearings of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement du Québec in February 2007, the Association des Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec made a presentation. It explained why people should be concerned about our manufacturing and exporting companies. This is what it said:

This is the sector contributing the most to GDP (21%); it is responsible for 86% of our exports; it is also responsible for two-thirds of the private research and development that is done; it drives regional development; it has a major multiplier effect; it provides 575,000 direct jobs.

So what is the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec doing for a sector that is so vital to the Quebec economy? He is flying back and forth between his riding and Ottawa.

The Canadian dollar is continuing its steep rise and at this rate will reach parity with the U.S. dollar. Without wanting to speculate on the repercussions of this situation, we know that manufacturing will suffer much of the negative effect.

Who will be directly impacted by this crisis? Once again, it will be the workers in our manufacturing industries.

More factories will close and there will be other bankruptcies. The manufacturing sector has had to face some huge challenges and needs more than a few tax-related promises. It has an urgent need for investment. In view of all the challenges facing the Quebec economy, how can the minister explain the total lack of new money in the last two budgets?

Are his six new programs not just smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that the Conservative government does not really believe in economic development? This is all the more evident in view of the fact that the government not only has not provided any new money but has even taken some away, as in the case of CANtex.

When will the minister finally respond to the companies’ cry for financial assistance, especially for workers in the manufacturing sector in Quebec?

7:10 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague, the Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, allow me to respond in greater detail to the question raised recently by the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

The member expressed his concerns regarding the financial support provided to the regions of Quebec by the Economic Development Agency of Canada. As the hon. member knows, the Minister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec is a staunch defender of the regions. He has a well-known reputation for this.

Since becoming minister, he has put forward six new economic measures aimed specifically at helping the various regions of Quebec, and especially those that are struggling. Those measures include: the venture capital fund for business start-ups in the regions; the capital fund for business succession; the community economic diversification initiative—vitality; community economic facilities for the regions; partnering with enterprises for commercialization; and advisory committees.

Canada Economic Development's mission is focused on regional economic development and supporting businesses—our SMEs. The department assists Quebec SMEs directly by providing counselling services and financial assistance. It also encourages regional business communities and the organizations that support them. Other federal partners participate in this mission to varying degrees.

Had the member done his homework and taken the time to read our government's latest budget, he would have found, on page 200, that we plan to provide a total of $105 million to seven centres of excellence that focus on priority areas of research and commercialization for Canada, including the National Optics Institute in Quebec City.

Examples of how our government has been helping the regions of Quebec abound. I could list a whole range of them, but that would only serve to emphasize how unfounded the member for Hull—Aylmer's allegations are. We are helping the regions in many different ways.

Since coming to power, our government has made a historic effort to revitalize infrastructure and improve quality of life in various Canadian communities.

The 2007 budget allocated unprecedented amounts of money in this area, and the regions of Quebec are among the first to benefit. We are talking about $16 billion in new money for a total of $33 billion over the next seven years.

Our government is determined to apply policies that will promote economic growth and new business opportunities in all regions of Quebec. Resolving the softwood lumber crisis is a concrete example of that.

That was also what motivated our government to create Advantage Canada, a strategic plan to improve our country's prosperity, which depends on the prosperity of our regions. It also motivated our Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada to launch new economic measures for the regions of Quebec.

I would conclude by saying that we are confident that the measures the minister has announced over the past few months and the changes to the department's financial assistance programs will make a real difference in the very near future.

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister does not have an answer or a realistic solution for Quebec manufacturers. He has no idea of the seriousness of the situation. More businesses will have to close their doors and more workers will find themselves without a job.

The Canadian dollar continues to climb. Why does the minister not realize the urgency of the situation? Do we have to spell it out for him?

He has not been able to secure new monies in the last two budgets and is not at all embarrassed about using the budgets of the Economic Development Agency of Canada as a cash cow for his riding and his region. Does he believe in economic development or simply in the re-election of his Conservative friends?

Canadians in the manufacturing sector work very hard to earn their wages and are proud workers. However, this minister's failure to take action is jeopardizing an even greater number of jobs on which Canadians and their families depend.

Can the minister explain his lack of haste and the fact that he still does not have new budgets to deal with this major crisis?