House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Alleged Conduct of Member for Calgary East
Privilege

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with some regret and with a sense of responsibility that I rise on a matter of privilege.

More specifically, yesterday I was threatened and intimidated by the member for Calgary East while at a meeting on Parliament Hill. In Marleau and Montpetit on page 83 under the section “Freedom from Obstruction, Interference, Intimidation and Molestation” it states:

Members are entitled to go about their parliamentary business undisturbed. The assaulting, menacing, or insulting of any Member on the floor of the House or while he is coming or going to or from the House, or on account of his behaviour during a proceeding in Parliament, is a violation of the rights of Parliament. Any form of intimidation...of a person for or on account of his behaviour during a proceeding in Parliament could amount to contempt.

With regard to dealing with a matter of privilege, Marleau and Montpetit states on page 121:

The House of Commons is certainly the most important secular body in Canada. It is said that each House of Parliament is a “court” with respect to its own privileges and dignity and the privileges of its Members. The purpose of raising matters of “privilege” in either House of Parliament is to maintain the respect and credibility due to and required of each House in respect of these privileges, to uphold its powers, and to enforce the enjoyment of the privileges of its Members.

That includes the freedom of speech.

On Thursday, June 7, at approximately 6:30 p.m., I attended a meeting of a parliamentary friendship group in room 308, West Block. Prior to that meeting commencing, I advised the chair of the group, the member for Calgary East, that I had a concern in regard to the process and would be raising a point of order during the meeting. He immediately put his finger in my face and started yelling at me, saying, “If you raise anything during this meeting, just watch what happens to you. Don't start with me”.

During his intimidation and his threats, I raised my point of order during the meeting. After that meeting had concluded I came upon the member for Calgary East, who was telling another senator, “She is just being a cry baby”. Upon hearing this, I immediately told him that “I am not a cry baby, I was simply trying to follow the rules and the procedure”.

The member again lost his control, put his finger in my face, and yelled, “After what you did to me, just watch what I do to you. I am going to smear you and your reputation”.

During the second incident a number of senators, MPs and staff asked him to calm down. However, he refused to listen. He continued with his threatening and attacking behaviour. The second incident was witnessed by a number of individuals, including the member of Parliament for Scarborough—Rouge River.

I have raised this question of privilege because I do not think that any member of this House should be intimidated, should be threatened, or verbally abused.

Being approached by another member and being threatened handcuffs our ability as parliamentarians to carry out our necessary responsibilities. If we are subject to some sort of retribution when we are doing something that we believe is right, we cannot function.

I believe that this incident has satisfied the two conditions in regard to a matter of privilege, first, in regard to making a case that it is a prima facie breach of my privilege as a member not to be threatened or intimidated by another member in the performance or conduct of my duties; and second, having it raised with the Speaker at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, should you find a prima facie case of privilege, I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Calgary East
Privilege

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to defer your decision until the member for Calgary East is available to comment on the comments made by the member opposite.

Alleged Conduct of Member for Calgary East
Privilege

10:10 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The point raised by the hon. member for Brandon—Souris is certainly a legitimate one. I think that before any final ruling is given by the Chair, we will hear the hon. member for Calgary East, for the sake of having both members of Parliament who are in this dispute have their say on the floor of the House of Commons.

I would say by way of anticipating what might be the final ruling that it does also say in Marleau and Montpetit:

The Speaker has no authority to rule on statements made outside the House by one Member against another.

I make no judgment in the matter, how regrettable or inappropriate or whatever, concerning certain things that happen outside the House and ironically in friendship groups. It may be that the Chair has no particular authority in the matter.

We will hear from the member for Calgary East. A final judgment will be made at that time.

The House resumed from June 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007, be read the third time and passed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand in the House in order to support the bill before us today, Bill C-52.

As many members here know, I have for a long time been very interested in finances, particularly as they pertain to ordinary taxpayers, small businesses and families. This was one of the things that drew me into the parliamentary part of my life.

There are so many things in this bill that I could speak for probably several hours if the rules permitted, but I shall speak only for a short time. I would like to first of all mention my very enthusiastic support for the principle of income splitting for pensioners. This is long overdue.

Particularly in my generation, there were many families that had only a single income and that was our case as well. We made the choice that my wife, the mother of our children, would be a full time mom for our kids. I really value that. I think she probably contributed more to the well-being of our country by doing that than I did going to work every day, even though I may have gotten up at four o'clock in the morning.

I will also mention that we had perfect children. I do not know if other members did, but ours were. I know, for example, that right after they were born, I declared quite seriously that they never cried at night. They never once awakened me. My wife, on the other hand, I think may have some other stories to tell in that regard.

The bill, among other things, would allow income splitting for pensioners which would bring them into a lower tax rate. I think that is very important because most people who have made these choices also have half the income throughout their lifetime and half the pension when they retire. This is really part of the theme of tax fairness.

The other thing that is relevant here is the new tax credit of up to $2,000. Our government, this party and certainly I as an individual recognize not only the value of families raising children but also the tremendous expense that entails. Therefore, having a new tax credit of up to $2,000 is a tangible recognition of that. I applaud our finance minister and our government for introducing measures like that.

The other measure that I also support is making the equality of the spousal deduction equal to that of the single wage earner when there is but one wage earner in the home. It is another very pro-family measure that is being taken.

I do not want to sound in any way negative about this, but the money needed to support a person is really independent of whether or not the person works outside the home. In our experience, my wife actually spent as much money as I did and probably more because she managed our household expenses. As a matter of fact I used to say that we have specialization in our family. I earned the money and my wife spent it. The object of this was for me to be just a little better at my job than she was at hers. However, there definitely are expenses that are involved in the support of a spouse who is not working. To make that basic exemption equal is just a measure of fairness and I support that wholeheartedly and enthusiastically.

Because I believe so strongly and firmly in the merits of the bill, I therefore move:

That this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing for me to hear that the member wants to stifle debate on the budget, probably the most important item. However, I would simply ask him to clarify his statement with regard to what he described as income splitting for pensioners. It is pension income splitting, not income splitting because pensioners do earn other income that is not from a registered plan.

I would also suggest to him that 70% of seniors do not have registered pension plans. In fact, the personal exemption at the lowest rate is $36,500 plus the $2,000 pension income deduction. It means that this will only benefit those who have a pension income of over about $40,000.

When we take that into account, as well as where the other spouse has some pension income, the calculations from the experts before the finance committee have indicated that only 14% of seniors will benefit at all from pension income deduction.

This was brought in as a measure to distract from the fact that the government broke its promise on income trusts and decided to tax income trusts when it said it would not. Somehow $25 billion of the value of pension assets of about two million Canadians were wiped out permanently by that broken promise.

How does the member rationalize that a benefit to some high income pension earning seniors, only 14% of all seniors, is somehow an appropriate offset to the extraordinary damage done to over two million Canadians when the government broke its promise and taxed income trusts?

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member is on this theme all the time but he does not acknowledge that it is necessary to have tax fairness in our country, which is what our government's policies are all about. This includes the fact that big businesses need to pay their share of taxes so that the rest of us do not need to pay a whole bunch more. I think the member is sort of off track on this.

With respect to all of these wipeouts, I read recently that some of these income trusts are actually valued higher now than they were before October 31. Therefore, it is a myth when he says that this was all wiped out.

With respect to the income splitting, I think I used the words income splitting for pensioners. That was not 100% accurate and I acknowledge that he is right there. It is for pension income for pensioners. However, I would rather do something than nothing and the fact that our government is going forward in these measures is nothing but positive in my view.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, listening to the hon. member's comments on his idyllic lifestyle of the past, he talks about something that my generation has not experienced in a large way, and that is the one wage-earner family. For my children and the next generation, we have and will have more and more highly educated young people who, when they get married and start a family, will both need work to make ends meet.

The hon. member's point of view is a thing of the past. The Cleavers are now a rerun. The parents in a two wage-earner family are working sometimes more than one part time job to make ends meet, working more and earning less, with all the expenses they have, the higher housing costs and those kinds of things. The government's budget is based on spend first and then get a rebate but these families cannot afford to do that so they are left out. They find themselves having to scramble to make ends meet.

I am just wondering why this budget did not include a national child care program that was affordable and that would be accessible to families, instead of this $100 a month that gets cut off when a child turns six; a national housing program that would help make housing more affordable for ordinary Canadians; and free prescription drugs for ordinary families.

In their election campaign the Conservatives talked about having a catastrophic drug plan and about home care for our seniors who would rather be in their own houses living in dignity, and yet we have seen nothing. I am wondering why the budget did not include those kinds of supports.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, I look at the bigger picture.

First, I thank the member for acknowledging my being in another generation. I am rather proud of the fact that I am an old guy. I remember when I turned 50, I said to my dad, “Remember when I was a kid and you used to say, 'When will you grow up?'” At my 50th birthday I said to my dad, “Do not give up, Dad, I think soon now it is going to happen”. I am glad to be in the generation above.

When I was a youngster, it is true, most families had only one wage earner. That was true for about 50% of the people in my generation. That is a reality and that is why it is so important for us in this budget to acknowledge that by offering an additional tax credit for children.

It is not dependent on how many wage earners there are. It is so important for us to lower taxes in general. One of the reasons both parents need to work is that they have such a huge tax bill. I am committed, and I have been since 1993, to working hard at reducing that total tax bill for families and for individuals. We should be working toward that. We need to do more and more on putting forward that part of our financial agenda.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is indeed a family friendly budget. It is a budget that is good for seniors with the pension income splitting. The seniors in my riding, those who have worked for General Electric, Quaker Oats or General Motors, and those who perhaps were nurses or teachers, this is a big win. It is a big savings and it will really help them.

It is always incredible to hear the Liberals stand in the House, the party of the sponsorship scandal, the party of the fiscal imbalance, the party of inequity for Ontario, the party of inequity for Quebec, the party of inequity right across this country and the party of regional division, say that they do not like this budget. What is that based on? It is based on nothing.

This is a budget the Liberals never could have delivered. They never would have delivered fairness to Canadians. They never delivered more money for health care. They never delivered more money for post-secondary education. They starved the services Canadians want.

I want to know from the member who gave the speech, and I really appreciated the speech, whether he acknowledges that this budget is in line with what the constituents in his riding were looking for.

I know it is well within the desires of my constituents. They wanted fairness. They wanted an end to the fiscal imbalance. They wanted clean government. They did not want a sponsorship scandal. Is this what the member's constituents were looking for?

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether my colleague has ever been a teacher but I was for many years. One of the best skills one can use as a teacher is to promote the thinking of the students. What he has done, through his question, using the Socratic method, he has basically delivered for me the answer to it by giving all of those correct answers.

I am so proud and very pleased to be part of a party that has gained the trust of Canadians to the point where they asked us to form the government. I am very proud to be a part of group that is committed and dedicated to all of the things the member mentioned in sharp and abrupt contrast to the party opposite in the 13 years that it mismanaged the affairs of this country.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to the recent hot air from those members. They talk about raising taxes or not raising taxes. In 2005 the tax rate was 15% when we were in government. In 2006, for anybody who wants to go back and look at their tax forms, it was 15.25% for the minimum taxation. This is the tax rate that affects the most vulnerable and all of the people that we on this side of the House care about very much.

Frankly, the reason the Conservatives came into office with an $11 billion surplus was because of the great work that our government did here. That is why they had all that money and a strong economy. That is from the 13 years of work that we did on this side of the House after the Conservatives left us with a $42 billion deficit. They do not need to tell me about what we did because I can give them a list of all the great things we did in the 13 years we were here.

Anyway, in spite of the efforts from my colleague on the other side of the House in trying to stifle and end the debate on this budget, I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to it because it is very important, both for what is in it and what is not in it. I am going to talk a bit about what is not in it and the implications of that for all of us as Canadians.

Clearly we are faced with another divisive budget, which puts one Canadian against another; a speciality of that government. It puts provinces against provinces and one Canadian against another Canadian. It puts the wealthy against the poor. It puts those with children against those without children.

Governing is far more about governing on important issues for Canada than it is about writing cheques. It is about real leadership. It is about identification of what are the issues that matter to Canadians. Canadians do not want a country in which everyone is forced to fend for himself or herself. They want a strong and united Canada led by a government with a real commitment to meeting our country's challenges and making all our lives better.

Sadly, this minority Conservative government has proven time and time again that it does not understand the challenges of working families. It certainly does not understand the riding of York West and the need for many in my riding to improve their quality of life, just as many other areas across Canada do.

As well, the Conservatives' second budget does little for my province of Ontario. My constituents will have to wait until 2014 for fairness on federal health transfers. That is simply far too long for patients and others who are waiting for necessary surgery. I ask members to imagine telling people they are going to have to wait until 2011 for their surgery to happen. That is not the Canada that we all are proud of.

This breach of trust breaks a Conservative campaign promise to address wait times immediately. Whatever happened to that fifth priority of health care? We certainly do not hear anything about that ever since the Conservatives got elected. Did the Conservatives really think that Canadians would not notice when they carefully turned their backs on investing in health care? We are not hearing anything about it in any of these budgets.

There was absolutely no mention in this budget of homelessness or the need for affordable housing, an issue that clearly resonates across all of Ontario and in many parts of Canada.

The government also needs to invest in the infrastructure that we are going to need to be competitive for Canada's future. One example is the need for a Windsor-Detroit border crossing, which one of our colleagues has been working on for a very long time. It is one of the things that we have committed to in regard to improving that infrastructure.

Clearly there already is a private investor who is ready to swoop in and make a fortune by providing twinning. Is this an issue that we want to see go ahead without government support? Do we want to see it put into private hands? I do not think so. I am sure Mike Harris's buddy, the finance minister, would not want to be in a debacle such as the 407. He had a front row seat for that charade. Let us make sure that we look at that twinning issue for the Windsor-Detroit border as an important issue for all of us. It is time for the government to start taking some concrete action on some of these issues.

When it comes to investing in our cities, the government clearly will not put its money where its mouth is. The previous Liberal government committed over $800 million to public transit. but sadly, transit has fallen off the Conservative government's radar screen. The minister said last weekend, “This national transit strategy is not about new funding”. How, then, are we going to get buses and railway cars? Are his speeches going to supply them? I do not think so.

I asked a question of the minister this week on that issue of infrastructure and investing in transit. I am still waiting for an answer, but that is how typical of how things are dealt with here. As we go through question period and try to get answers, we get a lot of the same old same old kinds of answers from them about what we did and what we did not do. It is time the Conservatives recognized that they are the government. It is time they started producing instead of simply pointing fingers.

The budget also ignores the Conservative campaign promise to lower airport rents and address the issue of ground fees at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, one of the biggest airports in all of North America. Toronto's Pearson drives the greater Toronto area, Canada's economic engine. That is just a reminder in case the Conservatives have forgotten.

Airport ground rent makes up a considerable component of airport costs and factors prominently in the setting of annual airport fees and charges. Perhaps if the Conservatives had won a seat in the GTA, our airport would get the deal it deserves, but clearly they did not, and we are going to make sure that they do not.

The Conservative budget is a colossal disappointment for Canadians. The Liberal Party clearly cannot support such a narrow, ineffective budget, particularly at a time when Canada faces enormous challenges on competitiveness, the environment and social justice. When the finance minister was crafting his budget, he clearly was far more concerned with positioning the Conservatives for an election than with improving the lives of Canadians.

Instead of demonstrating a real commitment to meeting Canada's challenges, the Conservatives squandered this budget on short-sighted measures clearly aimed at an early election that Canadians did not want. Canadians told us through whatever polls were being done that they were not anxious to see another half a billion dollars spent on an election campaign. They wanted us to spend our time governing and leading Canada forward.

However, after seeing their plummeting poll numbers, the Conservatives readjusted the muzzles, crawled back into their bunkers and decided they had better hold tight and figure out what else they could possibly do to win the hearts of Canadians. They still have not managed to do that.

This budget fails to offer real tax relief. Taxes began to go up, as I indicated earlier, the day the government took power. The lowest income tax rate was 15% in 2005, and we have the forms to show that, but in 2006 it went up suddenly to 15.5%, which attacks those at the very lowest income tax rate who really need our help more than anyone else does.

The Conservatives also decreased the amount that could be earned tax free in 2006. On the whole issue of raising or lowering taxes, clearly the Conservatives are going after the lower income earners and giving the tax breaks to the higher income earners. If they really cared about the most vulnerable in our society, the least they could have done was reverse some of those tax hikes.

This budget maintains the Conservative tax hike on the first $35,000 of income. The cost of this tax hike was $1.4 billion and it clearly cancels out the benefit of their new child tax credit, which the Conservatives are so proud to talk about. Overall, the tax relief for hard-working Canadians is a measly $80 per taxpayer with the new child tax credit.

The budget fails to help Canadians safeguard our environment or fight climate change. The Conservatives have finally acknowledged that there is a problem when there is snow in Calgary and it is 32° Celsius in Toronto. That tells us there is something going wrong with our climate and we had better start paying attention to it.

The budget cuts back our energy commitments to renewable energy to 4,000 megawatts from 5,500 megawatts of support for clean and sustainable production. The budget keeps tax breaks for new oil sands expansion in place until 2015 to help with the plan for explosive growth. It slows our planned cleanup of lakes and waterways. It replaces rewards for those who make energy savings changes with gimmicks that cost thousands of dollars for every tonne reduced, but I guess they are easier to sell to the taxpayer.

This budget also fails to offer new support to the provinces and territories. The Conservatives cut nearly $10 billion from projected federal, provincial and territorial transfers through 2010-11 by killing the Liberal child care agreement, something that was extremely important. We were very proud to see it going ahead. It was a major social program of investing in our children and providing them with opportunities for the future.

The Conservatives also scrapped the labour market partnership agreements and reneged on much of the Canada-Ontario agreement that would have brought millions of dollars into Ontario for a variety of investments for everything from immigration to housing to meet some of the social needs we have in our province.

In place of these agreements, the government put back $11.1 billion in new funding, so the net benefit to provinces over the next five years is about $1.1 billion. Clearly they are getting short-changed.

The budget fails to position Canada for the 21st century global marketplace. In 2005 the Liberal government put forward the CAN-Trade strategy, which provided $485 million over five years to help Canadian businesses succeed in emerging markets, remembering that the success of our businesses is the success of our country. Investing in our businesses provides jobs and ensures that we will have a healthy Canada for our children and our grandchildren.

I note that we have a lot of children visiting us here today. I think it is important for them to know that we all care very much about ensuring that Canada stays strong and is able to provide a lot of opportunities for them.

The Conservatives scrapped that trade initiative and have now replaced it with $60 million over the next two years.

The Conservative budget also cuts $970 million from the indirect costs of research program, which provides support to Canadian universities, a very important program that we were working on. It was important for us to continue with that opportunity for our young people who wanted to focus on investment and research in everything from renewable energy to biomedical issues and other things that are important in the research community. Those kinds of cuts severely hurt those industries.

The Conservatives are failing to offer new support to students, which I am sure will be of interest to those who are in the House today. The budget does not put a penny in the pockets of Canada's undergraduate students. What a shame that is, because again, that is an important investment in our young people. There is money for Canada's top 4,000 graduate students but the vast majority of our students will get no help at all. How is that investing in our young people? Is it that only our special ones get investment, never mind all of the rest of them who are struggling to put themselves through university?

The budget fails to help working families. In 2006 the Conservatives promised 125,000 new child care spaces over five years. Eighteen months into this mandate, Canadian families are still waiting. When is the government going to realize this promise? It was not worth the paper it was printed on. There have been zero spaces created in the past year and many families are still waiting.

What is worse, the so-called universal child care benefit, which is neither universal nor child care, I would like to note, is fully taxable, and the government will rake in an average of $400 more per family. How is that supposed to be a child care program?

The Conservatives simply do not understand the pressures facing low income and middle income families and they clearly do not care either. Once again, the government is turning its back on the majority of hard-working Canadians.

The Conservatives implement tax policies that look helpful on the surface, but their benefit is cancelled out quickly by the tax hikes on low income and middle income Canadians hidden in last year's budget, which still have not been reversed.

The Leader of the Opposition has called on the Conservatives to demonstrate a real commitment to meeting Canada's challenges by using the upcoming budget to set a long term course for success instead of squandering the budget on short-sighted measures aimed at an early election that they so badly wanted.

Because of their desperation for a majority, the minority Conservative government wasted a year cutting spending and breaking promises instead of making progress on critical challenges and moving Canada forward.

The Conservatives' reversal on income trusts cost Canadians $25 billion of their savings. Let me repeat that line to make sure it is clear: the Conservatives' reversal on income trusts cost Canadians $25 billion of their savings. The majority of those Canadians were pensioners and seniors living on fixed incomes who had invested their money and were relying on the income from those income trusts.

The Conservatives' softwood lumber deal, which they boasted was a huge success, left $1 billion dollars of Canadian businesses' money in the hands of their U.S. competitors.

The Conservatives decided to cut $1 billion from crucial social programs, despite a $13 billion surplus. I do not know how they sleep at night, knowing they had an opportunity to do so much for our country and ended up doing so little.

Now the Conservatives are on a spending spree, repackaging many of the programs that they cut and misleading Canadians by re-announcing the programs as new, in a cynical strategy in an attempt to fool Canadians. We clearly know from the polls they are not fooling very many people.

Canadians are smarter than that and they will not be fooled. They see what damage the government is doing. Look at the students summer jobs program for example. Conservatives cut that, then they put some money back. When everybody started hollering about all the cuts to serious programs that would not happen in ridings across Canada, they quickly had to do an end run and try to find some money to put back into that program.

The Conservative government's repackaged and reduced summer jobs program has left community programs across the country in jeopardy. Programs that have existed for years will be unable to run this year and many students will be robbed of valuable employment opportunities.

We have to recognize Mr. McGuinty and the Ontario government for what they have done. They rescued a Toronto camp for autistic children, which is an important camp for many young people whose parents could rely on as a good solid program for their children. It was left on the chopping block by Conservative cutbacks.

What about all the other programs that were not so lucky? I am not talking about large corporations, I am talking about small community groups that depend on government support to hire students, support they have enjoyed every summer until the government took it away.

In my riding we had many summer camp programs that not only ensured our children had a safe summer and a learning opportunity, but they also employed many young people in the riding so they would not have idle hands over the summer and find themselves getting into trouble. They would have a structured program every day of which to be part. Maybe their first job for the summer was working at one of these camps operating out of one of our local schools. In many ways we were helping in giving our young kids an opportunity over the summer to be busy and having an enjoyable summer. We were also providing a young person with a career opportunity.

Many of these people, who worked on summer camp programs across the city, ended up going into teachers college. They found that was where they wanted to go ultimately. It was a great career opportunity. Unfortunately, many of them are going to be denied that this summer. The government must undo the damage it has done. I and many of my colleagues are still calling on the government to restore full funding to all federal summer jobs programs.

On the subject of Conservative incompetence, after being caught red-handed trying to engineer a patronage program with funds destined to support cultural events, the Conservative heritage minister's paralysis is endangering the future of some of Canada's great cultural events. In its budget, the Conservative government budget announced a new program to support cultural events, which we all supported. Then it said that it would be unable to deliver it until next fall. The government has failed again. It does not seem to understand, given Canada's climate, that most of these large events take place during the summer.

Never before has a government done so little with so much. Despite the tremendous resources the government has at its disposal, the budget does little for the average working family and it does nothing but pay lip service to issues of competitiveness, the environment and social justice. It does nothing to position Canada for the 21st century.

That is the Prime Minister's Canada. I want to live in a proper Canada. We all want to have a strong Canada that provides opportunities for all our young people to move forward, takes care of our seniors and ensures that they have a good health care system for all. Clearly, that is not the direction I see us going in right now.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am a little confused to when she talks about wait times guarantee and asks where we have been on that. The Wait Time Alliance provided us with a report card in the spring. It gave us a B, up from a C, with respect to joint replacements. It also gave us a B, up from a C, with respect to sight restoration.

She also has said that there is nothing in the budget with respect to wait times, which is absolutely not true. Budget 2007 tackles wait times with over $1 billion in funding, $612 million in patient wait times guarantee trust, $30 million in wait times pilot projects, $400 million in the Canada Health Info Highway, which is an independent, non-profit corporation that helps advance the use of health information technology across the country.

We are spending money on health care. We are working on the wait times guarantee. Obviously it is not an easy thing to do. I think the member across the way would say that it is not easy. If it were easy, maybe the Liberals would have done something over the 13 years they were in power. Our health care system deteriorated under their tutelage.

We are working on these issues. We have tackled these issues. We have budgeted for these issues. We are making a difference.

Is the member saying that the Wait Time Alliance does not know what it is talking about?

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we keep hearing about this 13 years. I remind the member that when we took power in 1993, we thought we were taking over from a reasonably fiscally responsible government. However, we found that we had a $42 billion deficit, that our country was at the point of bankruptcy. Imagine Canada being at a point of bankruptcy as a result of the previous Conservative government.

Canadians and our government had to make significant cutbacks to the provinces, to our social transfer, to try to get our house in order. It was in the last five or six years that we were starting to reap the benefits, as those members are now, with a $9 billion surplus.

We had already signed agreements with the provinces and had invested in a 10 year program on the whole issue of health care. We invested a lot of money. If wait times are going down now, they are going down as a result of the good work and planning that we with the provinces.

Those members should not try to take any kind of credit for any reduction in the numbers. They are not adding anything extra with the budget. They are continuing on the same Liberal plan. I am quite proud of what we have done.

The reason the Conservative government has money to invest in all of their programs is because of the work that we did and the good administration on this side of the House when we were government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member does not like to hear about 13 years, but I am going to say it again. The Liberals had 13 years in power and they were just about to take off. They were suddenly going to right all the wrongs.

They talk about the deficit that they assumed. Study after study has proven that the deficit was merely the interest on the previous Trudeau debt. McGill University very specifically said that former Prime Minister Mulroney's government had the best financial record of any government in the last century in Canada. Those are the facts. That is what the studies demonstrate, but the Liberals do not like to hear that.

I will tell the House something else about which the Liberals do not like to hear. The member mentioned health care. Health care wait times doubled under the Liberal government. That is a fact. Health care wait times under this government are going down.

The Liberals do not like facts. They do not like to hear about increased spending for things like health care. I do not even think they like things like the ecotrust fund, which will help the provinces clean up their act. The Liberals did nothing on this. The Liberals do not like to hear about the fiscal imbalance. They do not like to hear that Dalton McGuinty is very happy with this budget, and he is a Liberal in Ontario.

They also do not like to hear about promises from people like John Tory, a man who will keep his promises on things like autism, and deliver real treatment for kids in Ontario with autism, something the Liberals have never done and never would do.

I am really quite offended that the Liberals would stand in the House and vote against the budget, a budget that is good for post-secondary education, a budget that is good for families, a budget that is good for health care and a budget that is good for Canada.

Why is the member voting against it?

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that his side of the House voted against a national program on the issue of autism, something we all care about very much.

He seems to have a lot of energy to expel when he is in here, and I am being positive when I say that.

I am really proud of what we accomplished over 13 years. That is the reason why Canada is doing so well now. If we start going downhill, it will be because the Conservatives' priorities are not the priorities of Canadians.

I remind the member that over the last campaign his leader made all kinds of promises. He promised that he would not tax income trusts. He promised to honour the Atlantic accord. He would say anything and do anything to get elected. Now that he is in power, he has found out he cannot do that. A promise is being broken every week. The Conservative government and the Prime Minister cannot be trusted.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on her presentation today. The energy coming off the other bench today is something else.

There are all these nuggets that come from the other side in the midst of debate. Yesterday the member for Wascana was in the midst of debate, talking about the cuts to students. We know the community groups have been devastated by the cuts to students. We know that cuts to the summer student job placement program have students hurting.

The member for Peterborough talked about all the good things the government is doing for students. The Conservatives have ripped about half the jobs away that students had last year.

The government House leader indicated that the government had put more money into students this year than it did last year. That is because the government botched the program so badly. It had to face the uproar across the country from coast to coast. Therefore, it had to go back to try to straighten it out and put the fire out. The Conservatives ripped the guts out of community groups and they tore the hearts out of students, and it is costing them money. Maybe they have put more money in the program, but that money has to come from somewhere.

There is an envelope of money in HRDC. I know she has communities within her riding that rely on HRDC programs. Is there a fear that they will be hurt because the government botched the student program so badly that it had to take money from other programs? Is that at risk?

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been hearing for the last several weeks, as many other members have, about the amount of programs that are not receiving funding under the summer career placement program.

When we talk about building a strong Canada, we have to start at the beginning, which means we have to start investing in everything from early learning at zero. We have to provide children with the chance to have great opportunities for learning. We need to invest in our children and our programs.

The summer career placement program, the youth internship program are small examples of the things that were cuts. Another example is $5 million were cut out of the Status of Women Canada. It was helping women through advocacy and giving women a voice.

Many of these programs continue to be cut. Clearly, Canadians will see the impacts. That is why the polls are reacting the way they are.

I am very proud, and I will repeat it again, of everything that we did as a government. Canada is in the shape it is in today because of the work that we did and our Liberal government did.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the bill. I think New Democrats have made it amply clear that we oppose the bill.

I will talk about Bill C-52 from a couple of different perspectives. I think some of my other colleagues have talked about health care, transportation and some of the needs of Vancouver Island north. I will focus on some other issues in British Columbia and talk about first nations, Métis and Inuit people in our country.

Many of us are well aware that a number of major issues are facing British Columbia, including housing, improving the provincial infrastructure and strengthening the B.C. economy. Although people will note that the B.C. unemployment rate is quite low, a number of communities are going through enormous transitions as a result of the softwood sellout.

In many of our forestry communities jobs have been lost. Last week there was an announcement in Port Alberni of another 185 jobs being lost. I know a number of the mills on Vancouver Island have faced curtailment because they could not get fibre supplied. Although some communities are doing quite well, a number of our communities are in a great deal of difficulty.

Under the new 10 province standard for equalization B.C., falls above the cutoff and will not receive equalization. Despite the increased needs, the budget does not address such things as affordable housing. I will talk briefly about Nanaimo in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan.

In a November 8, 2006, paper called “Advancing Social Development in Nanaimo: Directions for Moving Forward”, an organization in Nanaimo undertook to survey a number of groups that provide services. A couple of startling things came out of that which were tied to housing, employment and income.

One of the things that was noted was respondents cited the high levels of poverty, including child poverty in Nanaimo. They also stated that the community was becoming more polarized between rich and poor, with the latter having few options to improve their economic circumstances. This relates directly to housing.

One of the respondents to the questionnaire said, “Shelter is a basic need. It is the foundation upon which stable lives are built”. Respondents cited the increasing cost of housing, both owned and rental. They also cited the increasing incidence of homelessness and raised concerns about the kind of stock of market rental housing. They also noted that the market rental housing and the house vacancy rate had decreased from 3.4% in 2002 to 1.4% in 2005.

What that adds up to is an increasing number of people in Nanaimo—Cowichan cannot find a place to live.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I am sorry, but I have to interrupt the hon. member at this point. The hon. member will have 17 minutes left in a 20 minute speech whenever the House returns to this bill.

Trade
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, in 13 years the previous Liberal government did little on trade and allowed Canada to fall behind.

Our government has delivered by concluding free trade negotiations with the four countries of the European Free Trade Association.

This is Canada's first free trade association in six years. The previous Liberal government negotiated for nine years but failed to get an agreement. Under Conservative leadership, Canada has secured a deal.

This is also Canada's first free trade agreement with European countries and represents an important step in strengthening commercial ties with the European Union. This follows a successful trip by the Prime Minister at the EU summit, where he announced Canada and the EU will look at closer economic integration.

Our government is also committed to closer ties with Latin America. Our new free trade negotiations with Colombia, Peru and the Dominican Republic will help strengthen our competitive position in the Americas.

Thanks to the leadership of our government, Canada is back in the game.

Sri Lanka
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I continue to hear from my constituents who are very concerned about their family and friends living in Sri Lanka.

Increased violence in Sri Lanka has led to people being displaced, and we are hearing about terrible human rights abuses.

Recently a UN envoy and Nordic truce monitors have also raised significant concerns about human rights abuses amid renewed civil war.

It is time for the Canadian government to step up and take on a leadership role in finding a resolution to this conflict once and for all.

Canadians expect their government to take action without delay in light of these atrocities and will accept nothing less.

It is essential that we act now to ensure an immediate end to the violence which has cost so many innocent lives.

Élie-Carrier Community Centre
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, for 10 years, the Centre communautaire Élie-Carrier in Coaticook has been offering various activities to seniors.

Many seniors are faced with the same reality of isolation and solitude, and this concept of leisure activities, approved by doctors, is a winning formula that is attracting more and more participants.

By offering an outing, a network of contacts, varied and accessible activities, lectures and plays, the Centre communautaire Élie-Carrier gives seniors an excellent opportunity to have fun and break out of their isolation.

Congratulations to Maurice Salois, founder of the project and former president, to Micheline Michaud, current president of the centre, as well as to all the volunteers. We wish continued success to the centre, so that it can keep offering our seniors a better life.

Atlantic Accord
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, in 2004 the government made a promise in the Atlantic accord to exempt for 14 years offshore oil and gas revenues from Nova Scotia's and Newfoundland and Labrador's equalization calculations. It was a good deal, a done deal, and now the government is hell-bent to make it a broken deal.

Atlantic Canadians are furious and will fight tooth and nail to force the government to honour its signature on this political and legal document.

In this House we have challenged an Atlantic minister, any minister, to fight for the Atlantic accord, but so far neither the member for Central Nova nor the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl have shown the guts or the integrity to stand up for their constituents or for their region.

We want to work with the government across party lines, across jurisdictions to fix the broken promise, but make no mistake, Atlantic Canadians will continue fighting until the budget is fixed and the Atlantic accord promise it kept.

David Suzuki Foundation
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a speech on Monday, David Suzuki alleged that the David Suzuki Foundation was being “hounded by the current government” through Revenue Canada audits, due to his criticism.

However, Stephen Hazell, the executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada, said that the trend predates the current Prime Minister's government. He said, “This is something I would not blame the Conservative government for”.

World Ocean Day
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, today is World Ocean Day. Created in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, World Ocean Day is an opportunity to celebrate the life-giving role of oceans worldwide. This year's theme is “Oceans...only a river away!”

Our oceans shape every aspect of our lives, where we live, work and play, what we eat and the climate conditions we experience.

Our oceans and coastal and marine waters confront us all with serious challenges: habitat loss, water quality and quantity issues, the threat of invasive species, and of course, climate change.

On this World Ocean Day let us all remember the immeasurable value the world's oceans bring to us and think about what we can do to protect them.

In this spirit, I call on the Conservative government to give up its climate change denial stance and take some real action to protect our environment and to defend our oceans.

Seniors
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, imagine my surprise recently at hearing the Bloc members for Repentigny and Sherbrooke express concern about seniors in the Eastern Townships. This is ironic because the Bloc is a powerless party forever relegated to the opposition benches. Let us examine the facts.

Since 1990, the Bloc has introduced 234 private members' bills; only two of them were passed, and neither one was about seniors. That is one bill every eight years. Those are the facts. The Bloc's record is pathetic.

Since coming to power, our government has given over $1 billion in tax relief to seniors and pensioners. We created the National Seniors Council. We announced measures to ensure that the Canada pension plan and old age security meet the needs of Canadians today and in the future.

While the—

Seniors
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Laval.

Nancy Girgis
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, on May 25, 2007, Nancy Girgis, a journalist with The Chomedey News, won two awards at the 26th annual convention of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

Ms. Girgis was awarded first prize in the “best environmental story” category for her article on contamination of Laval pools. The judges said the article was well written, educational and, most importantly, it guided the reader through the available information, explaining the complexity of environmental sciences.

She also won third prize in the “best business story” category, with her article on the labour shortage facing local employers.

Bravo, Nancy. Your professionalism and integrity as a journalist are unmistakable. Thank you for putting your talents to work for the people of Laval.

Jean Gauvin
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Jean Gauvin who passed away on Wednesday evening at the age of 61.

Mr. Gauvin served the province of New Brunswick as a member of the legislative assembly from 1978 to 1987 and again from 1991 to 1995. He will be fondly remembered for his heartfelt concern for fishing issues, which he championed while serving in the Hatfield government as fisheries minister.

In 2000, Jean and I were both candidates in the federal election when I ran in Fundy Royal and Jean ran in Acadie--Bathurst. I witnessed firsthand his continued commitment to improving the lives of New Brunswickers and in fact all Canadians.

On behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada, I extend my sympathy to his family and his friends at this difficult time.

Official Languages
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the action plan for official languages, which was created by the Liberal government, will expire in 2008. Francophone groups across Canada and anglophones in Quebec have repeatedly told us how crucial this program has been to the development of their communities. They are concerned about the plan's survival and wondering whether the Conservative government plans to extend it. The Prime Minister recently stated: “The new government is committed to supporting bilingualism and linguistic minorities across the country”. Is this another empty promise?

As the Commissioner of Official Languages said: “The government’s message has been very positive. Unfortunately, the actions this government has taken in the past year do not reflect this message”.

The Leader of the Opposition promises francophone and Acadian communities that he will implement an even stronger action plan than the one he put in place in 2003, when he was Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Douglas Jung
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago on June 10, 1957, Canada's first Asian Canadian was elected to Parliament. As a Conservative, Douglas Jung was nicknamed the “Giant Killer” when he took out the Liberal minister of defence in that election. It was just one milestone in his notable career in Canadian public life.

Born in Victoria in 1924, the two term MP was the first Chinese Canadian to argue a case before the B.C. Court of Appeal and serve Canada at the United Nations. Despite not being recognized as an official citizen of Canada, Douglas Jung enlisted in the Canadian Forces in World War II.

The patriotism that he and his fellow Chinese veterans displayed ultimately paved the way for the repeal of the Chinese exclusion act, and to full citizenship rights for Chinese Canadians. Chinese Canadians continue to be leaders in many fields of Canadian life.

I call on members of the House to join me in celebrating the achievements of Mr. Jung in this place five decades ago.

Crime Prevention
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to expose the Conservative crime plan as an attempt to import a failed American style justice system into Canada. What has not worked in the U.S. is not going to work in Canada either.

The reality is that the Conservative scheme is simplistic and costly because the government refuses to use the most effective crime prevention tools. Using those tools means fewer victims.

When the Conservatives say “tough on crime”, they mean funneling taxpayer dollars solely into incarceration, not prevention. The truth is that for every dollar invested in crime prevention, six dollars are saved in policing and incarceration costs and there are far fewer victims.

Instead of just being tough on crime, we need to be smart on crime. The NDP wants to see tough penalties for violent offenders, but even more important, we want to invest to ensure that crimes are never committed in the first place.

We need to cut crime at the roots. The solutions are to fight poverty and addiction, invest in education, support our youth, build stronger communities and strengthen our police forces. That is being smart on crime.

Child Care
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the status of women committee has recently completed a study on the economic security of women. Women from across the country repeatedly spoke about the need for quality child care so that they could go to school or go to work and know that their children were safe and cared for.

In Winnipeg South Centre there are more children on wait lists than enrolled in child care centres. Eighty per cent of the centres have lengthy wait lists.

The Conservatives' 2006 platform said that the Conservatives believe in freedom of choice in child care. Where is the choice?

In 2005 the Liberal government offered a national plan and signed the first early learning and child care agreement with Manitoba worth $176 million over five years. Now they get $9 million. Instead, the government shamelessly cancelled the agreement.

Wait lists and a small taxable allowance are not choice in child care. Families in Canada deserve better from the government.

Philippe Aumont
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the city of Gatineau is home to an 18-year-old pitcher, a major league baseball prospect. His dream has come true. Yesterday, Philippe Aumont was selected by the Seattle Mariners.

According to experts, Philippe Aumont was very likely to be chosen in the first round. He was in fact the seventh pitcher chosen. Only two other Canadians have been selected higher than Philippe: Adam Loewen by Baltimore and Jeff Francis by Colorado.

Thank you to his family and to the Gatineau amateur baseball association for the support they have given Philippe.

The Bloc Québécois joins me in saying to Philippe Aumont that we are proud of his rise to the major leagues. We wish him the best in his career. Philippe is a role model for young Quebeckers who also play their favourite sport.

Sidewalk Art
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with great pleasure that I took part, on June 1, in the 12th annual Fleurs de macadam happening.

This is a great community event that stimulates imagination, creativity and joie de vivre in thousands of children and adults.

More than 3,500 children from nursery, primary and secondary schools in the area gathered together in Aylmer. Everywhere I went, coloured chalk drawings transformed the grey sidewalks into a giant outdoor art gallery.

The Optimist Club of Aylmer served lunch to over 3,000 students, parents and teachers who took part in this unique cultural activity.

I would like to congratulate the president of the Optimist Club of Aylmer, Marcel Rainville, and his entire team for their dedication and excellent work. Tomorrow the club is celebrating its 35th anniversary of serving youth in the Aylmer community.

Congratulations and long life to the Optimist Club of Aylmer.

Senate Tenure Legislation
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian public still awaits a public display of leadership by the Liberal leader regarding term limits for senators.

In May 2006 he expressed his support for term limits by saying that the best way to deal with Senate reform would be to “require Senators to agree to sign an agreement promising to step down after six years”. Later that same month he said, “senators should be placed on fixed terms of six to 10 years”.

In December he said, “I'm not against the idea to have a mandate for senators between eight and 12 years”. In February he declared that the Liberal Party supported term limits and said “a term limit is a good idea if it's not too short”.

Quite simply, the Senate must change and everyone knows it, including the Liberal leader. When will he put an end to privileged Liberal entitlements and tell his senators to pass the bill to limit the terms of senators and finally, for once, show some real leadership on this important issue?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Bush administration says it feels vindicated today after G-8 countries chose to endorse its go slow approach to climate change: no firm targets; no clear limits; no real action.

It did not have to be this way. The Prime Minister could have rallied his G-8 partners around the German chancellor's original goals. He could have held up Parliament's clean air and climate change act to the world as a model for real action on the environment. Instead, he helped to build a bridge to nowhere. Why did this Prime Minister fail the world?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 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, on the contrary. The G-8 meeting was, I think, a great victory for Canada, where the G-8 declaration actually holds out Canada as a model to the world of where to go on climate change. That was something endorsed by all the G-8 leaders.

I read in the media today that there are positive reports. The Montreal Gazette states:

[The Prime Minister] looked quite sure-footed this week...[the summit declaration] has Canada's fingerprints all over it. [For the Prime Minister] it's a leadership moment, one in which he has reclaimed Canada's modest but sensible role as honest broker in the single most important club in the world.

It is a great success for Canada. We are showing leadership again for a change.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Some model, Mr. Speaker. A model toy train, perhaps, but nothing serious for the planet.

This Prime Minister failed the G-8 summit leadership test. He refused to adopt absolute emissions reduction targets, deciding that he would rather promote a resolution that will do nothing more than “seriously consider”—maybe, someday—a world greenhouse gas reduction target.

Seriously, what is there to be considered?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 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, thanks to our government's plan, we now have the credibility we need to play a leadership role on a global scale.

I would like to quote Jean Lapierre, who was a minister in the previous Liberal government. This morning, he said that this is not a failure, it is a success because it is realistic, a success because the European Union recognizes the role of the United Nations in the fight against climate change, a success because we can finally create a true global plan.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister even refused to support the simplest measures, such as improving energy efficiency by 20%.

All of the Prime Minister's photo ops and the Minister of the Environment's self-congratulatory attitude cannot hide the fact that the Prime Minister let down both Canada and the world at the G-8 summit: no targets, no limits, no action. Canada should have been a leader at the summit.

Why did the Prime Minister choose to promote the George Bush-Republican Party plan?

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 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, according to the statement released by the G-8 leaders, Canada is a leader in environmental issues.

We are cited as a leader. Canada is seen as a model of what should be followed. We have been able to work toward the real step for long term climate change improvement: that of bringing in the big emitter countries like China, the United States and India.

That is why Angela Merkel, president of the G-8 for this meeting, declared it a big success. No one can escape this political declaration. It is an enormous step forward. We have very great progress and an excellent result.

I know the opposition does not want to believe the head of the G-8 and the head of the European Union. But guess what? We think that is a pretty good vote of--

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Kitchener Centre.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the science is clear: allowing the Earth's temperature to rise more than 2° C will spell disaster. It will mean severe heat waves, floods, droughts and hurricanes. However, Canada fought to ditch any reference to these 2° which was a major goal of this G-8 meeting. Canada fought the science.

Why does the government reject science which tells us what must be done?

The Environment
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, on the contrary. There is absolutely no effort to fight the science. In fact, one of the accomplishments by Canada at the G-8 declaration and with the EU has been to be able to have all the parties agree on the science, agree to look at the intergovernmental panel on climate change as an example of why this is a matter of concern, and to agree that when it comes to science, science means achieving real reductions.

That is why Canada's plan and Canada's approach is a real model for real reductions in climate change. It is held out in the G-8 declaration as something that will produce real results for the environment.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the Prime Minister's race to the basement he has even poured cold water on the next round of global climate change talks in Bali. The Prime Minister simply does not get it.

There is only one approach to combating climate change and that is aggressive, ambitious, early action which is guided by clear limits and firm targets. The government refuses to do that. Its own plan allows emissions to continue to rise beyond 2020.

Why did the Prime Minister even bother getting on the plane? Clearly the Bush administration could easily have represented this Conservative government on the world stage.

The Environment
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 Liberal Party made Canada irrelevant on the environment when it allowed our emissions to go up 33%. Now it is making itself irrelevant by being incapable of comprehending our plan which actually for the first time ever produces real reductions in greenhouse gases.

It is a good plan. Do not believe me, believe Hans Verolme, director of the environmental group World Wildlife Federation, who said:

The support by the EU, Japan and Canada to cut carbon pollution 50 per cent by 2050 means we are a step closer to taking real action for the world’s climate.

Believe the WWF. Do not believe those guys.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will no doubt return from the G-8 claiming to have succeeded in getting across his climate change views. His only success will have been lowering the bar. Even if he claims to have fought for real, mandatory targets, what we are looking at is a failure, because the final declaration of the G-8 did nothing but pay lip service and offered no real, binding commitments for the future.

Will the government admit that we are far from playing the role of mediator that the Prime Minister sought and that, at best, he was nothing more than George Bush's pawn?

The Environment
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, it is true that there is a lot of work to be done. It is a problem for everyone, and the biggest problem is the absence of the major emitting countries, major polluters such as China, the United States and India. We now have a solution, a process in place to attract the major polluters and to deliver real results for the environment. This is a big success.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Greenpeace condemned the G-8 leaders, saying that they had failed to live up to their historic responsibility to the Kyoto commitments.

By playing the same game as George Bush, is the Prime Minister not showing this government's complete lack of will to respect the Kyoto protocol and to truly fight climate change?

The Environment
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 are truly fighting climate change. That is exactly what we have done in a declaration of the G-8 that holds out the European Union, Canada and Japan as models that should be looked at because we will deliver real results.

Again, the House does not need to believe me. It can listen to somebody like the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. I know some members may not have a lot of respect for the United Nations, but let us look at it. He said that he wholeheartedly welcomes the fact that the G-8 leaders have agreed on strong and early action to combat climate change. The fact is everybody in the world is applauding the results achieved at the G-8 as a great step forward.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order. The hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the flowery rhetoric and solemn commitments that amount to nothing at all, the Prime Minister is so unwilling to establish binding targets that he is already referring to a future meeting that will be held in Bali next December, which will be another step towards adopting binding targets.

Will this government admit that the Prime Minister's approach to the environment looks more like an attempt to pass the buck, rather than a genuine desire to achieve concrete, measurable results?

The Environment
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, we have a plan for Canada with real, up-to-date targets that are entirely achievable. The plan commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2010, with an even greater reduction by 2050. This is the same commitment made by other countries, in the European Union and Japan, and it serves as a model. It is the model we want, and one that other countries want to follow.

The Environment
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says he is optimistic, despite this new report. Since the Conservatives came to power, their strategy has been to extend the deadlines as much as possible. Action on the international stage is the same as action here in Canada: the deadlines are being extended.

Instead of waiting for India and China, why not improve the government's green plan with a view to reaching the Kyoto targets?

The Environment
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, we have real targets and we want other countries, including major polluters such as China, India and the United States, to adopt up-to-date, realistic and achievable targets, as well.

I want to quote a few other people who said good things about what happened. Tony Blair called it a major step forward. Then in the Vancouver Sun it stated:

But [the Prime Minister] is a serious man who devoted his attention to the work of the summit--peace and security, climate change and energy, economic partnerships, regulatory cooperation and other joint initiatives.

He is there showing leadership once again for Canada on the world stage. All Canadians are proud today that Canada is once again a leader.

Passports
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. government will suspend its rules requiring its citizens to carry a passport when flying in and out of Canada because of the massive backlog it has, but this decision to waive the rule is not being extended to Canadians. The decision proves that the program is dysfunctional and unfairly hurts Canadians. We know that officials here are swamped with passport applications and are not keeping up.

Will the government ask for the same exemptions for Canadians? Will it stand up for Canada on this issue?

Passports
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 appreciate the question from the hon. member, particularly knowing, coming from the west coast, this has affected all Canadians.

She is correct that there was an announcement yesterday that the U.S. government has in fact invoked changes with respect to the requirement of travel documents. We are disappointed that thus far it has not extended that to Canadians. We are taking this matter up with officials in the United States in the hopes that we can bring about some greater alleviation with respect to the implementation of the western hemisphere travel initiative.

I can assure the hon. member that we are going to continue to work on behalf of Canadian citizens to see that passports are produced in an efficient and timely way.

Passports
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, this passport fiasco is creating major havoc for Canadians and border communities. The government is too busy helping George Bush water down G-8 commitments to do anything about it.

I want to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs, will he phone the U.S. ambassador and tell him that if the backlog for passports in the U.S. is a good enough reason to exempt U.S. citizens for six months, then the backlog here in Canada is a good enough reason to exempt Canadian citizens for six months as well?

When is he going to clean up this mess? When is he going to ensure that there are not long lineups and look at extending the length of validation for a passport?

Passports
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 know the hon. member and members of her party are fixated on George Bush, but I will do her one better. I am not going to call the American ambassador. What I will do is call my counterpart, the secretary of state.

I can assure the House that the Canadian passport office is doing everything it can. In fact, we will be making some specific announcements today that will further discuss the streamlining, the efficiency and the production of passports. We are doing this with the cooperation of Passport Canada officials, who have been doing exemplary work. In fact, to date they have been able to produce 40% more passports at this time than they did last year.

Africa
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, in Canada's 2005 federal budget, at page 213, this country made an explicit commitment to increase our foreign aid to Africa to reach $2.8 billion. The Conservative government now says that Canada will invest less than that promised amount and, further, that Africa is somehow no longer in Canada's “neighbourhood”, no longer a focus for Canadian assistance.

The poorest people on the face of the earth in Africa should not be shortchanged by Canada. Specifically, why has the government decided that Africa is no longer a Canadian priority?

Africa
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, that is factually incorrect. In fact, Canada is very much on track to meet its Gleneagles commitments. Canada will double its international assistance from 2001 to 2010, with assistance to Africa also doubling in that timeframe.

According to a report released June 1 by the University of Toronto, G-8 research groups and Moscow State University, Canada is in full compliance with its commitments on African debt, relief and security.

Reading from an article in the Globe and Mail by Alan Freeman, it states, “It emerged yesterday that [the] former prime minister's government quietly reneged on its--

Africa
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Africa
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. A supplementary, the hon. member for Wascana.

Africa
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canada made a clear commitment to Africa in the budget in 2005. It was $2.8 billion. It was in the budget. That budget was passed by this House and it was not changed.

Why is the Canadian position at the current G-8 summit to downplay Africa, to reduce Canada's financial commitment and to shift Canada's primary foreign aid focus away from Africa? That is the public policy question. Why does the government believe that shortchanging Africa is good public policy?

Africa
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, we would all like to know from the member for Wascana why his government did just that. He admitted in an op ed written by his own hand yesterday that his government did not spend all the money it apparently had budgeted for Africa. It went on to say that the level of aid provided by Canada to Africa in the last fiscal year was expected to reach $1.4 billion.

The hon. member knows that his budget was $350 million short. The member for Wascana and his budget commitments can best be described as out of Africa. Maybe he should take up Mr. Geldof's position as the leader of the Boomtown Rats.

Africa
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Africa
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre. Order, order.

Human Rights
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, indigenous people around the world are the most disadvantaged in society. The Departments of Foreign Affairs, of Indian Affairs, of National Defence, all three opposition parties, along with Kofi Annan and Louise Arbour publicly support the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people.

Contrary to all advice, the Conservative government, in a betrayal of this country's position, has been one of most aggressive opponents of the declaration.

How can the government say that it is a protector of human rights when it opposed the rights of indigenous people around the world?

Human Rights
Oral Questions

11:30 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, the Government of Canada's position on the draft declaration has been consistent with the previous government's position over the last 10 years that this draft declaration has been negotiated. It is hoped that it will continue to be negotiated so that it is in a format that works for Canada.

I find it very surprising to hear this from a member whose party has yet to support our government's initiative to extend human rights to first nations people on reserve. I would like to see this bill passed before the summer. Hopefully, the Liberal Party will come on board with this.

Human Rights
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, meaningless words when the member speaks of human rights and ignores the best advice from all government departments.

Despite the international nature of the declaration, we now know that for some reason the Minister of Indian Affairs has displaced the foreign affairs minister in the lead role.

Why does the Minister of Indian Affairs insist on substituting his own political bias instead of following the advice from the officials in the Department of Indian Affairs, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defence?

Human Rights
Oral Questions

11:30 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 opposite's government previously did not support the draft declaration. Its position was very consistent that the draft declaration needed work. Our government is proceeding with real initiatives for first nations people. I support human rights for first nations people on reserve.

I would very much like for the member to stand with our party, our government and actually extend human rights to first nations people on reserve. She has the opportunity. Before going home to spend time at the cottage, maybe she can think about first nations people on reserve.

Festivals and Special Events
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the spokesperson of the Canadian Festivals Coalition, Luc Fournier, left a meeting with the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women completely discouraged. He stated that the door had been shut and locked and that nothing could be done or even attempted.

What is the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women waiting for to take immediate action when she knows full well that she is jeopardizing several hundred festivals throughout Quebec?

Festivals and Special Events
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, my minister has stood in this House time and time again pointing out the fact that we have committed $60 million over the next two years which is new money, new money that requires the ability of being able to track it and ensure it is going to the people who need it. It is that simple. It is new money. The money that is presently flowing is from the current program.

Festivals and Special Events
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women stated, “It is a new program; there will be new rules and the program will not be strictly limited to festivals”.

The coalition spokesperson, Mr. Fournier, is afraid they will have to start all over again and, at this rate, it will take two years.

What is the Minister of Canadian Heritage waiting for to transfer the monies for festivals to Quebec, given that all the needed infrastructure for managing them is in place?

Festivals and Special Events
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia
B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous administration, our government takes taxpayer dollars very seriously. We will ensure the program is well designed and is properly under control.

However, I would point out again that in 2006-07, the government has funded 247 projects in the province of Quebec. We have given $13 million to events and festivals.

The money under the current programs is flowing. We will get the new program right and ensure that Canadian taxpayers--

Festivals and Special Events
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The hon. member for Papineau.

1995 Referendum
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, Chuck Guité has confirmed that the federal pamphlet promoting the federalist option was paid for by the Privy Council at a cost of several million dollars. Curiously, the government claims that it cannot put an exact figure on this one operation.

Since the government is saying that it cannot put a figure on its propaganda expenditures, is that not a good reason to set up a public inquiry to clarify things for the government?

1995 Referendum
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about something that happened 12 years ago. The government has changed since then. Canada now has a government that is working closely with the Government of Quebec in the spirit of open federalism. That open federalism is resulting in positive solutions for all Quebeckers and Canadians.

1995 Referendum
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Federal institutions are funding the government's federalist propaganda. The HistoriCanada game has a direct link to Historica Minutes, which present a biased version of Canada's reality.

Will the Conservative government acknowledge that despite its claims, it is still making propaganda, as the Liberals did before it?

1995 Referendum
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I had the opportunity to be in Quebec City to take part in the swearing-in of the new Lieutenant Governor, with my former National Assembly colleagues.

When I saw my former National Assembly colleagues, I remembered the 1980 referendum, when the Parti Québécois government flooded Quebec with advertising and signs with slogans such as “Je m'attache au Québec”. Has a figure been put on those expenditures?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, since the Minister of Foreign Affairs has conveniently forgotten his inconvenient words of a couple of weeks ago, allow me the opportunity to remind the House. He said:

We will not throw a member out of caucus for voting his conscience. There will be no whipping, flipping, hiring or firing on budget votes....

Is this 180 degree flip more an example of the lack of influence that the minister has at the cabinet table or did he actually think that his former caucus colleague would surrender his principles, as the minister did?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has been here for awhile he should know that was not in fact the budget vote. The budget vote will take place next week.

However, with respect to that particular comment, I had hoped and fully expected that the hon. member would continue to work with other members of the Atlantic caucus and with the Minister of Finance to see that we follow through in finishing this discussion with the Province of Nova Scotia, with our premier, direct discussions which I continued yesterday.

The member opposite may be chirping from the cheap seats but, unlike him, we are actually getting the job done for Nova Scotia.

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, that is certainly no consolation for my colleague from Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley.

The one thing about screwing up time and time again is that people get upset when the government screws up and does not admit it, and then tries to sell them that it is doing them this great favour.

The people of Nova Scotia are not stupid. They know up is not down and they are not buying what the minister is trying to sell. The minister has done nothing but hurt Nova Scotians since he assumed his responsibility. When will he finally do something that will benefit Nova Scotians and resign?

The Budget
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I will ask the hon. member to try to keep his Celtic temper in check. I know he is getting very exercised over there and the rhetorical flow is starting to come. He is smiling now that he has sat down and is off the camera. The righteous indignation is leaving his body.

As we all know, the budget delivers $95 million more this fiscal year and millions more next year. We have delivered deals on health care, the environment and transportation. The money is flowing into the province of Nova Scotia, more than we have ever seen, certainly in the last 13 years under the abysmal representation of that member and his government.

Atlantic Canada
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I can hear the lines from the mouth of the Minister of Foreign Affairs this weekend when he goes home to face the music for his actions up here. They will go something like this: black is white, night is day. Conservatives haven't the slightest hope in Atlantic Canada in the next election.

However, a hard dose of reality awaits the member and his colleagues. A new poll shows that Conservative support in Nova Scotia has gone down the toilet.

My question is simple. What did the Conservatives expect? What did they expect when they turned their backs on Atlantic Canada?

Atlantic Canada
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, what has gone down the toilet, as we have seen this week, is the quality of questions coming from members opposite. The hon. member has his cute quips. He can put on his floppy shoes, his red nose, throw a tent over the whole opposition and continue the clown show but the reality is that Nova Scotians know full well that the representation they are getting in this country today from this government far surpasses anything that happened under the corrupt, arrogant and entitlement days of the Liberal Party.

Atlantic Canada
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, we Cape Bretoners are not buying that. Nova Scotians are not taking it either. The minister needs to go back and ask them. They know the Minister of Foreign Affairs has betrayed them. The complete inability of the minister to defend his province is now plain for all to see.

I will give him another chance. When will he resign as minister of neglect for the province of Nova Scotia?

Atlantic Canada
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the member should quit while he is behind.

As the words are falling from his mouth, he knows they are not true. As the words are falling from his mouth trying to defend the terrible record of the government he was a part of for so many years in comparison to the transparent, straightforward, getting the job done government of the Conservative Party, he should be ashamed.

The member should go back to Cape Breton and back to egg farming where he knows he might be able to crack a few eggs.

Agriculture
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, for years Canadian farmers have had a difficult time competing against unfair U.S. subsidies.

As a result of years of Liberal inaction, our corn producers in particular have been hit hard. I know the corn producers in my riding of Kitchener--Conestoga have been battling hard to scratch out a living and to raise their families.

Would the Secretary of State for Agriculture tell this House what our government is doing to stand up for producers against the U.S. and its unfair subsidies?

Agriculture
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Secretary of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, these subsidies continue to pose economic harm to our producers, especially our corn growers. This is unacceptable and we encourage action.

That is why I am pleased to announce that our government will be requesting a WTO dispute settlement panel be established on the issue of U.S. agricultural subsidies. Canadian farmers deserve a level playing field.

While the opposition talks about supporting Canadian producers, this Conservative government is getting the job done.

Africa
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, our Prime Minister wants to wear the mantle of mediator. He imagines himself to be a bridge.

After this week's sorry display of weak leadership and rehashed promises at the G-8 summit, Canadians know that Canada's place in the world is more diminished than ever.

We stand with the nations that water down their international promises. Two years ago the world promised $50 billion to Africa. We are $30 billion short. Now the richest nations are saying that they will up it to $60 billion, but we are not to ask for details or deadlines.

When will the government announce details and deadlines for aid to Africa?

Africa
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as we have seen on so many important files when it comes to international aid, the budget is going up for Africa. In fact, the aid for Africa reached $1.7 billion last year. The numbers are going up. The base line budget has increased again this year.

Canada is well on track to meet its Gleneagles commitments. Canada will double its international assistance to 2010 and will in fact double its international assistance to Africa by 2009.

Africa
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, millions of people will go without food today and 16,000 people infected with HIV, malaria and TB will die today while the leaders of the richest nations bid farewell at elegant cocktail parties and slap each other on the back for a self-proclaimed job well done.

Promises made four years ago have not been kept. G-8 promises from two years ago in Scotland have not been kept. We are $30 billion short of the goal, with no way whatsoever to determine which nations owe what and when. Why did Canada not insist on real goals with real results for Africa?

Africa
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, I am sure that the hon. member had breakfast this morning. I am sure that the hon. member herself has been to a few of those cocktail parties that she tries to show such disdain for.

In fact, with respect to Africa, this government has made significant commitments that increased the funding, with $450 million to support efforts to strengthen health care systems and $250 million to the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, $150 million of which will be specifically focused on Africa.

The Prime Minister also announced support for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. There was World AIDS Day money announced by the Minister of International Cooperation, with $120 million for 20 projects in Africa. These initiatives--

Africa
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Mississauga East—Cooksville.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, in December 2005 the Prime Minister gave his word to 150,000 veterans that they would receive immediate and full compensation for potential exposure to defoliants at Gagetown.

The Minister of Veterans Affairs promised to deliver a compensation package by fall 2006. In January he said it was weeks away, then it was the spring, and then this week he voted for a budget that did not identify a single dime for agent orange compensation.

I ask simply why he cannot keep a deadline and why can he not keep a promise and keep the Prime Minister's word to Canada's veterans?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to resolving the agent orange problem. The issue is in the cabinet process at this time. At an appropriate time, an announcement will be made.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

Mr. Speaker, we might as well be waiting for Godot. We have heard that promise before.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

That's when you were in government, I believe.

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Mississauga East—Cooksville, ON

The minister might think that he is the Artful Dodger, but the government is sounding more like Fagan.

The minister was fond of saying when in opposition that studies are just a way for the government to get to the next election without offering compensation. Now that the election is delayed, he says that these fact-finding missions are important.

I ask the minister directly, does he have no plan at all? Is he stalling until the next election or was his plan rejected by the Prime Minister?

Veterans Affairs
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, we are committed to resolving the agent orange problem. This issue will be resolved as soon as possible.

Transportation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Quebec, the granite and monuments industry is the lifeblood of entire towns such as Stanstead and Saint-Sébastien. The skills of Quebec sculptors, cutters and polishers are a tremendous asset in dealing with increasingly fierce competition from Asia. However, Transport Canada is forcing them to face this competition with their hands tied behind their backs.

Why is Transport Canada ordering blocks of stone, imported and washed according to the rules, to be turned back when they arrive at the port of Montreal, thereby denying the industry its raw material?

Transportation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is raising an issue. I will be pleased to look into this matter. I presume that these measures were very likely taken under the previous government. Since I am not certain about this, I will verify everything and report back to this House.

Transportation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the transport minister should know about this. The granite industry has written a number of times to his department.

The port of Montreal claims that it is turning back granite blocks to avoid soil contamination, but these blocks are washed and inspected thoroughly before being shipped to Canada. With granite blocks being turned back at the port of Montreal, companies are failing to deliver on export orders and losing customers.

How is the industry supposed to work without raw materials? Will the transport minister wait until the Quebec granite industry is driven out of business before taking action?

Transportation
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague has mentioned, there are so many answers that we could give here concerning blocks and inertia, but as I have mentioned to my colleague, I will look into the matter and I will be very pleased to come back with an answer.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find it ironic that the Minister of National Defence is using the Access to Information Act to build on his culture of secrecy. We learn that officials at the Department of National Defence are using the Access to Information Act to unduly extend deadlines for publishing documents that have already been evaluated, thereby denying the public's right to information.

How can the government, which claims to be transparent and accountable, accept such behaviour from the Minister of National Defence?

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, our department follows all the processes in accordance with the law. In fact, recently a report came out assessing the access to information law within the government and the defence department was given a higher grade than last year.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, are we to understand that the new access to information guidelines in effect at the Department of National Defence have a single objective, and that is to extend deadlines in order to protect the Minister of National Defence? For the past two months the minister has shown his inability to inform this House appropriately on the increasing number of cases of torture among detainees in Afghanistan.

National Defence
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the department follows all the procedures with respect to access to information, and I do not interfere in the process at all.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Glen Pearson London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned from the media that Dr. Munir El-Kassem, a well respected professor of dentistry and community leader in London, Ontario, was detained, fingerprinted and subjected to four hours of indignities at the border. He was asked if he personally knew Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and if he loved God or Allah.

When will these indignities end? I have known this good man for years. He is beyond reproach in our community and deserves better.

Will the Minister of Foreign Affairs seek an apology from the U.S. administration, undertake an investigation of this incident, and discover why news of this indignity took a month to see the light of day?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. As the hon. member has pointed out, this was a very, very unfortunate incident.

Our society is built on a foundation of respect for cultural diversity, religious and ethnic differences and certainly tolerance. Followers of all religion should be accorded dignity and respect, and in matters of border security, we expect Canadian citizens to be treated with respect and in a manner that does not target them on the basis of any faith or cultural background.

We will take this matter up with the U.S. authorities. I have done so in the initial stages. With respect to the timing of this, I would appreciate any information the hon. member has and I would like to hear directly from Dr. El-Kassem so that we can sort out this very, very unfortunate incident.

Status of Women
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, the truth is out. The Liberals were out of touch with women.

When the Liberals were in government, they commissioned a Status of Women Canada report. In reports, the agency's own staff labelled it “a relic of the past” and said, “We're not showing results”. The reports concluded that gender equality was no longer a headline political issue for the federal government.

Can the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women say what our Conservative government is doing for women?

Status of Women
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Blackstrap
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Status of Women I appreciate the member's question and would like to remind her that the Liberals continue to deceive Canadian women. In fact, they ignored a report they commissioned when they were in government, and that report did say that they were not showing results.

This Conservative government delivered. We delivered $20 million in additional funds over two years, the highest amount of funding for women in Canadian history. We remain focused on goals with concrete and measurable outcomes and we prioritize actions--

Status of Women
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Order, please. The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

Whistleblower Protection
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government came into office boasting that it was going to clean up politics, including protecting whistleblowers. However, the brave public servants who exposed serious wrongdoing in past governments have yet to be compensated.

Thirteen months ago, I received assurances in the House from the former President of the Treasury Board that the government would “look at each case and seek a speedy resolution”. To date, the government has done nothing to follow up its words with actions.

Will the President of the Treasury Board inform the House of what process his government has put in place to resolve this black mark on its record?

Whistleblower Protection
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for his continued work on behalf of whistleblowers everywhere. He works hard to represent the public servants who live in his Ottawa Centre constituency.

We have worked to protect whistleblowers by passing ironclad protections for those whistleblowers in the Federal Accountability Act. The member knows that the cases he is talking about all emanated from past wrongdoing in the previous Liberal government.

I see that those members are expressing some pity and shame for their behaviour, but on this side of the House we have passed into law ironclad protections so that never again these things--

Whistleblower Protection
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

Whistleblower Protection
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that might be good enough for this government. It is not good enough for Husein Jeewanjee, Shiv Chopra, Allan Cutler and many others. These innocent public servants did the right thing in the name of better government. They deserve better treatment than broken promises from an increasingly arrogant government.

Has the government not broken enough promises for one week? How many more years for this minister's so-called “speedy” resolution? When will it happen? When will he right this wrong? When will the government deal with these cases as it said it would? That was 13 months ago.

Whistleblower Protection
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Once again, Mr. Speaker, one of the great challenges that the government faced was cleaning up all the corruption that was left behind by the previous Liberal government.

We are investigating corruption at the RCMP that occurred under the previous Liberal government. We are now investigating corruption involving polling from the previous Liberal government. Now the NDP is asking us to clean up corruption and intimidation against whistleblowers who spoke out against the previous Liberal government.

The point I am making to the member is that he needs to be patient because we can clean up Liberal corruption only so quickly.

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the former Liberal government had a proud record of developing strong relationships with our cities and communities. Desperately needed financial support was flowing to cities like Toronto to fix crumbling infrastructure and to assist them in providing services that Canadians need and deserve.

The current government has abandoned our cities and communities.

My question for the Minister of Finance is simply this. When will the government and the minister show some respect and give some help to the communities across the country?

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Transport

The truth, Mr. Speaker, is that not only has the government committed to communities and cities in the last budget, budget 2007, we extended the gas tax to its maximum amount, which is going to see us flow over $8.2 billion to our cities and communities.

Last week I was in Calgary at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting, where I had the opportunity of announcing the government's commitment to an urban transit strategy for Canada in the coming years.

On the contrary, we are getting the job done where they did not.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the aboriginal affairs committee the opposition parties continued to block Bill C-44, further preventing Canada's aboriginal people from enjoying the same human rights protections as the rest of Canadians. Even though they have run out witnesses to hear, they are trying to continue the delay by calling the same witnesses back again.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs please tell the House why after 30 years it is time to take action on delivering human rights to aboriginal Canadians?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

Noon

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, the opposition parties have shown no class and no ability to move forward on human rights for first nations people. They continue to dither and delay, much like the previous government did on so many fronts.

Thankfully, this government, with the Minister of Indian Affairs, is moving forward and extending human rights to first nations people. I am very proud to be part of that process.

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

Noon

Bloc

Louise Thibault Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, my riding covers over 8,000 square kilometres. Thirty-eight of the 41 municipalities in my riding are rural and located far from the main urban centre. Gasoline prices have an impact on my constituents' everyday lives and the economic vitality of the key sectors that affect them. Constant price hikes are putting rural communities at a real disadvantage. Once again this summer, it is likely that the rising price of gas will cost us dearly.

Given that in rural regions, nearly all travel is by road, and given that the price of gas affects agriculture, tourism and forestry, when will the Conservative government take action to address this problem that is hitting us especially hard?

Gasoline Prices
Oral Questions

Noon

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, gasoline prices depend on factors including world market trends, the price of crude, and local variables, such as competition and transportation costs. In Canada, only provinces and territories have the power to regulate gasoline prices. If it were up to the opposition parties, they would let the price of gas rise by 60% under Bill C-288. The opposition parties want Canadians to pay between $1.60 and $2.00 per litre.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

Noon

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan 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 seven petitions.

Geneva Conventions Act
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-61, An Act to amend the Geneva Conventions Act, An Act to incorporate the Canadian Red Cross Society and the Trade-marks Act.

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

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations and I believe that if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent of the House for the adoption of the following motion:

That, in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1757, this House send a message to the Parliament of Lebanon to urge it to reconvene in order to establish the Special Tribunal to try those accused of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

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

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

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

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

(Motion agreed to)

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of this House to adopt the following motion. By the way, this motion is taken almost word for word from the motion unanimously adopted yesterday by parliamentarians in the National Assembly, which is the solemn symbol of a nation, as we know.

That in the opinion of the House, the government agree to the unanimous motion adopted yesterday by the National Assembly of Quebec, asking that it amend its bill amending the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, the Wage Earner Protection Program Act and chapter 47 of the Statutes of Canada, 2005, so that it fully respects Quebec's legislation, namely the provisions of the Civil Code and Code of Civil Procedure pertaining to the inability to seize RRSPs and RRIFs, as well as the jurisdictions of Quebec in this matter.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

Is there unanimous consent?

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

No.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Chair

No. There is no unanimous consent.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Wascana on a point of order.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. This item with respect to wage earner protection has been before the House now for many weeks and months, and various efforts have been made to try to find a way to break the impasse and make progress on legislation that all parties in the House say they support but recognize at the same time that there are some technical challenges.

I wonder if I could ask the government House leader, if the opposition parties can arrive at a consensus on the appropriate method to fix this problem, will he agree to take it up with the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Industry in order to see if we can finally break this impasse and get this legislation properly in force?

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Bill Blaikie

I am not sure that the member can ask the government House leader a question in the guise of a point of order, but the government House leader could rise on the same point of order and just by happenstance answer the question.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to do that on the same point of order.

It was understood in November 2005 when the original legislation was passed that the legislation would be subject to further review to address certain technical issues before coming into force. In December 2006 the Minister of Labour filed a notice of ways and means motion, which is necessary before introducing the technical amendments to chapter 47.

I understand that the Minister of Labour does intend to table the ways and means motion and the bill once we have achieved all party support, and that is, as the Liberal House leader has pointed out, the barrier right now.

I do encourage all members to support the legislation and to get behind a process of meeting. I know we have discussed it in the past and I will continue to encourage the Minister of Labour and the representatives of the respective parties to resolve it. I do not think that is something that is going to be resolved on the floor of this House in the fashion that has been attempted several times this week by the Bloc Québécois. I do not think it is something that can be resolved among the House leaders. I think it requires the expertise of the individual critics and the minister responsible.

Suicide Prevention Strategy
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to table a petition presented to me by hundreds of my constituents. They seek a national suicide prevention strategy.

There must be an increasing awareness and understanding about the impact of suicide on Canadians. There is a great need to develop, coordinate and build upon programs that reduce suicides across this country. That is why I rise today to present this petition on that subject. The petition has been presented to me by a very diligent group of constituents who are concerned about the issue. They are calling upon this Parliament and our government to act in order to prevent future suicides and help families that have been victims of those sorts of terrible tragedies.

Visitor Visas
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition that comes to us from the board of directors of the Canadian Polish Congress, representing 800,000 Canadians of Polish heritage.

The petitioners call upon the government and Parliament to lift the visitor visa requirements for Poland, given the fact that Poland is a member of NATO and it is a member of the European Union.

Refugees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, the other petition I have pertains to welcome the stranger. The petition talks about the need for Canada to increase the number of refugees that Canada accepts into Canada annually and to make it easier for them to reach Canada.

Court Challenges Program
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a series of petitions signed by concerned people in our country calling upon Parliament to reverse its decision and re-establish the court challenges program in its entirety, including the necessary funding.

The court challenges program is an extremely important program that constitutes a unique means of access to the exercise of constitutional rights in Canada.

This program guarantees implementation of linguistic rights of Canada's official language minority communities, including access to education and government services in their own language.

I call upon Parliament to recognize the constitutional rights of all Canadians and re-establish the court challenges program.

Income Trusts
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I present this income trust broken promise petition on behalf of Rosemary Helmer from Ontario, who remembers the Prime Minister reflecting on his apparent commitment to accountability when he said that the greatest fraud is a promise not kept.

The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts. But he recklessly broke that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax which permanently wiped out $25 billion of hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly seniors.

The petitioners therefore call upon the Conservative minority government to admit that the decision to tax income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions; to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and finally, to repeal the punitive 31.5% on income trusts.

Terminator Seed Technology
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to present a petition signed by a number of members in my riding. I believe there are 210 signatures on it.

The petition calls on the Parliament of Canada to enshrine in legislation a permanent national ban on terminator technologies to ensure that these are never planted, field tested, patented or commercialized in Canada.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

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, Question No. 199 will be answered today.

Question No. 199
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

With regard to marriages for immigration purposes: (a) how many individuals have been deported or had their permanent residence status cancelled by Citizenship and Immigration Canada for entering into a fraudulent marriage or a marriage of convenience for immigration purposes in each of the last 10 years; and (b) to which countries were they removed?

Question No. 199
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA, recognizes that some Canadians and permanent residents are deceived by foreign nationals into marriage for the purpose of acquiring permanent residence. The scope of the issue is unclear, however, because our computer system does not track this information. The system only recognizes misrepresentation in general and does not allow for differentiation between specific types of misrepresentation, including fraudulent marriages and marriages of convenience. For this reason, it is not possible to identify the number of people who have been deported or who have had their permanent residence status cancelled by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, CIC, for reasons of fraudulent marriages or marriages of convenience in the last 10 years, or to which countries they were removed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

When Bill C-52 was last discussed in the House, there were 17 minutes left for the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, and she has the floor.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, before question period I talked about the dire need in the country for affordable housing and for a range of housing. I talked about the fact that an organization in Nanaimo said that housing was a part of a stable community. In the south end of my riding in the Cowichan Valley we also know that affordable housing is a crisis.

Homeless shelters have opened up. We have had some tragedies where people were squatting in buildings and the building caught fire. We desperately need affordable housing and not only in Nanaimo—Cowichan or British Columbia.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report said:

Increasing income inequality has further aggravated housing affordability issues for many Canadians. The rental market has stagnated in terms of supply, with a net increase of only 2,000 units across all of Canada between 1996 and 2001

The CCPA recommends the development and implementation of a national housing strategy which should be drafted in consultation with first nations and aboriginal groups where appropriate.

The budget does not contain the kinds of long range fundamental solutions to our affordable housing crisis and money that has been earmarked for housing is often flowed through the province with no accountability measures put into that flow through of money.

The budget also does not do enough to address questions of improving infrastructure of Canada and B.C. in particular. The federal and provincial transfers have declined by 37% in the past decade. Not only does the Conservative government have responsibility for this, so does the previous Liberal government.

As a result, Canada's municipal infrastructure debt is estimated at $60 billion and growing by $2 billion each year. An additional $21 billion is needed to improve urban transit. When we talk about infrastructure, that infrastructure includes roads, sewers, water treatment plants and also important heritage items.

In my riding we have a very important heritage item called the Kinsol Trestle, which spans the Koksilah River in the southern Cowichan Valley. It is one of the largest and highest wooden trestle bridges in the world. It was built in 1921, though there was an unfortunate fire and a number of years of neglect of this important artifact. That kind of infrastructure money is part of a trail system and infrastructure money has not been earmarked. We can designate things like the Kinsol Trestle as a heritage site, but there is no money to maintain it.

The budget also does not provide money more broadly on other infrastructure items. I point specifically to the flooding that is going on right now in British Columbia. There is a long term need for dealing with the dike system in British Columbia. That has been neglected year after year. This year flooding is removing people from their homes and cutting communities off. I encourage the government to take a look at that longer term need.

I will talk about forestry for a moment. My riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan has been reliant on the forestry sector for its economy for a number of years, and has been in transition. Over the last several years, between softwood lumber and raw log exports, we continue to see jobs lost in many communities in Nanaimo—Cowichan and Nanaimo—Alberni. I mentioned earlier that 185 jobs were cut last week. We continue to see lack of adequate attention paid to the forestry sector in British Columbia.

When we talk about economic prosperity, we need to ensure that we foster economic prosperity and make the kind of strategic long term investment. I would argue that British Columbia's forestry sector deserves that strategic long term investment.

When we talk about the pine beetle in the House. We have had nothing but hollow promises to deal with the pine beetle epidemic, which is decimating forests in B.C. Although there have been promises, that money still has not flowed. I will to read from an article dated Friday, June 8, entitled “We say when will the feds give a damn about beetle?”. In this article it says, “This is a disaster that directly affects the finances and pocketbooks of individuals every bit as much as other natural disasters like floods and ice storms”.

It goes on to say, “This is the case no matter how we might quibble over the definition. People struggling with the pine beetle devastation aren't asking for a free ride. They would simply like an indication that the federal government gives a damn. They would be grateful to receive even a small percentage of the cost”.

The article talks about the fact that there are $62,000 from the federal government toward the continuation of the Kamloops beetle wood pickup program, and that is it. We know we need to have a long term view of what is happening in British Columbia. Forests are being cut because they need to be, but what is the long term economic survival of the community? What is the transition plan for workers in those communities? We must pay attention to that. Thousands and thousands of hectares have been impacted.

It is clear when we look at housing, the forestry sector, fishing, health care and seniors in British Columbia, many of these issues critical to the health, safety and well-being of our communities, that they have not been a priority in this budget. It is also clear that citizens in British Columbia have not been a priority for the government.

I will turn my attention for a moment to an issue that confronts us on a national scale, which is the aboriginal peoples of our country. As the aboriginal critic, I was particularly interested in what the government saw fit to put in the budget. When it comes to first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples,we see there is very little commitment in the budget.

Close to one million Canadians identify themselves as aboriginal peoples, including over 600,000 first nations, 300,000 Métis and 50,000 Inuit. The aboriginal population is young, incredibly diverse and growing much faster than the rest of Canada, yet the government continues to miss the opportunity to pursue programs that benefit both aboriginal peoples and ordinary Canadians.

A budget is, at its core, a set of numbers that demonstrate a government's priorities. Canadians expected fairness toward first nations, Inuit and Métis people to be a priority, but as this budget clearly shows, it was not.

When adjusted for inflation and population increases, the INAC budget has dropped in real terms by 3.5% since 1999-2000. As a result of the discriminatory 2% cap, core services, which include education, social development, capital facilities and support of self-government for first nations people, have declined by 13% in real terms during the same period.

There are more numbers. Aboriginals make, on average, only 60% of what ordinary Canadians make. They are two to three times more likely to be unemployed. They are three times as likely to live in poverty. Aboriginals are two to three times as likely to suffer chronic health conditions and live in inadequate, crowded housing. This is an embarrassment for Canada. It is time we refocus on the issues that are central to Canada's aboriginal communities, good housing, good jobs and a bright future for their children.

When we talk about this we often forget there is a natural face. In a speech that National Chief Phil Fontaine gave on Tuesday, May 15, he put a face to the conditions in Canada. I will quote from his speech. He said:

We must admit that First Nations People in Canada live in the most disgusting and shameful conditions imaginable in any developed country.

In...Northern Manitoba, Chief Shirley Castel tells us that some two-bedroom homes have as many as 28 people living in them. People are forced to sleep in shifts and many parents often go without sleep to ensure their children are able to learn and play.

The Conservative answer to that is to put $300 million into market housing, but no additional money into on reserve affordable housing and no additional money into off reserve affordable housing. The fact is that $300 million in market housing only addresses one small part of what is needed in first nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

Further in National Chief Fontaine's speech he says:

The UN Human Development Index ranks Canada at about sixth in the world. First Nations on reserves rank somewhere around 63rd, according to Indian and Northern Affairs...

The Department's own officials have warned the federal government that First Nations' socio-economic status will continue to worsen and the gap widen—yet these warnings have not been heeded.

Later in Chief Fontaine's speech, and I noticed that the Ottawa Citizen ran a story on this very sad tragedy that took place in Ottawa, he says:

And so where is the public outcry about the loss of Kelly Morriseau...especially now with the Robert Pickton trial underway in B.C.

It's estimated that more than 500 First Nations women have disappeared or died violently during the past 30 years.

That is a litany of the tragedies facing many first nations communities in our country.

When the Assembly of First Nations put out a report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, it gave an overall grade of meeting their recommendations in that report as F. In one section of the report called “First Nations Homes”, and I talked a little about homes, but I will read the statistics. It says:

In addition to a higher rate of overcrowding, First Nations homes are about four times more likely to require major repairs compared to Canadian homes and mold contaminates almost half of First Nations homes.

1 in 3 First Nations people consider their main drinking water unsafe to drink, and 12% of First Nations communities have to boil their drinking water.

Six percent (over 5,000 homes) are without sewage services, and 4% lack either hot water, cold water or flushing toilets

I remind the House that this is in Canada. We would not expect that many citizens in Canada are living in third world conditions. When I talk about the international stage, I want to turn to a report that the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination published in March, pointing out Canada's shameful record in a number of areas in dealing with first nations, Métis and Inuit people.

Under Item 21, it talks about the commitments made in 2005 by the federal, provincial and territorial governments under the Kelowna accord. It goes on to say:

—the Committee remains concerned at the extent of the dramatic inequality in living standards still experienced by Aboriginal peoples. In this regard, the Committee, recognising the importance of the right of indigenous peoples to own, develop, control and use their lands, territories and resources in relation to their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, regrets that in its report, the State party did not address the question of limitations imposed on the use by Aboriginal people of their land, as previously requested by the Committee. The Committee also notes that the State party has yet to fully implement the 1996 recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

In the same report we have heard Conservative members talk about the fact that Bill C-44 will address human rights on reserve. What they fail to acknowledge is that Bill C-44 does not allocate any additional resources to the things that might arise in human rights complaints around water, housing, adequate education. There is no remedy and this report cites, in fact, that without those remedies, human rights cannot be addressed on reserve.

We have often heard talk about the 2% cap. Again, I want to turn to the government's document. In a cost drivers report it indicated:

The rationale is that after nine years of a 2 percent cap the time has come to fund First Nations basic services costs so that population and price growth are covered in the new and subsequent years. Over the period of the 2 percent cap departmental per capita constant dollar expenditures for basic services have declined by six percent.

This is the context of the fact that population both on and off reserve continues to grow. Aboriginal population in the country is the fastest growing of any population in the country, and yet we have seen a net decline of 6%. This is the government's document.

I would suggest that when this budget was developed, surely the government would have received advice from its own departments in developing a budget that would adequately address even a minimum standard of care in the country.

Later on in the same cost drivers report, it talks about socio-economic influences. It talks about the fact that:

The real costs associated with First Nation schools implementing programs that assist those students affected by adverse socio-economic conditions, in achieving school success, however that may be defined.

It says that is a problem.

It includes things like remedial programs relating to basic skills, nutrition programs, extracurricular programs associated with sports and recreation, after school programs and so on.

It talks about the fact that when we compare the services of on reserve schools with off reserve schools, there is a funding gap of $64 million in the band school system for the year 2004-05. We know that the gap has continued to grow.

I could continue to talk about the overcrowded housing, the lack of clean drinking water, the lack of mould remediation programs and the lack of education. The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the spring completed a report on post-secondary education. The committee called upon the government to recognize the 2% funding cap, to address the serious shortfalls in post-secondary education. There was no new funding.

We know that one of the ways that economic disparity can be addressed in first nations communities, Métis communities and Inuit communities across this country is by making sure that education is accessible.

With our aging population, it is really important that we invest in the skills and labour shortage. Although there was some money in the budget for the skills and labour shortage, I would argue that it was not nearly sufficient to meet this country's needs. If we fail, as this proposed budget does, our economy and society will not only forego this great potential, but also continue to incur large social costs. I have called for more funding for skills and development training, but it has to be a much broader base than what is in the current budget.

Justice Thomas Berger's report on Nunavut's education system pointed out that indigenous language training is vital to developing a skilled workforce. There is no money for indigenous language training in this budget. In fact, the program was gutted by $160 million. Many of the indigenous languages across this country are in serious trouble, so it is important that we continue to support language training because it helps the health and well-being of communities.

Perhaps one of the most important elements of any community is the hope that it has for its children. Yet, this budget robs aboriginal children of this hope.

There is no funding to provide child welfare on reserves to meet provincial standards. It is $109 million short. In fact, there has been a human rights complaint filed because of that funding gap.

We continue to see a 2% gap on programs and services, a 3% gap on health care, and there are countless other ways that this budget nickels and dimes aboriginal people. There is no additional funding for friendship centres. There is not the kind of support for infrastructure that is required for water or housing.

We have seen many broken promises over the years. This budget is just a continuation of the broken promises to first nations, Métis and Inuit people in this country.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I have heard so many times before from members from the NDP, they just seem to think that unless everything is 110% perfect, we should vote for zero.

The people of British Columbia will benefit from this budget in a great many ways. In this budget there are $3.1 billion in Canadian health care transfers, $1.3 billion in Canadian social transfers, almost $250 million for infrastructure, and almost $40 million to help fight cervical cancer in women. Yet, that member wants to vote against that. In this budget there are $410 million for the Asia-Pacific gateway corridor, tax savings for farmers and fishermen, and money to clean up the environment.

Every day in this House we hear members of the NDP crying about a crisis. I will admit that there are some areas where we do need more money, but we have to look at the entire country and divide the money that is available in a very responsible and effective way. We have done that with this budget. This is a great budget for Canada. It is a great budget for Canadians. It is an incredibly good budget for Atlantic Canada and B.C.

I want to know what the member has against hazmat training for firefighters? What does the member have against cancer therapy for women and all the things in this budget? Is the member actually going to vote against these things because the budget is not perfect? Is the member going to use some common sense and get what is good in this budget for Canadians, and move forward for Canada and work with us in these areas that she feels are deficient?

Is that member really going to stand here and play political games and vote no because her party considers everything a crisis? Let us have some common sense from the member.

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, of course, I do not have enough time to touch on every point that the member for Cambridge raised. However, he did talk about firefighters.

When we are talking about firefighters, I wonder where is the commitment for the police and fire games that will be taking place in British Columbia. That is a very important sport and recreational activity that contributes to the health and well-being of our firefighters and police officers. It also provides economic spin-off in our communities.

We talk about health care. I had a very interesting call from an emergency physician the other day. What the emergency physician talked about was the very serious overcrowding in emergency rooms. Part of that was a lack of access to trained nurses.

We have been calling over a number of years for a national human resource strategy for health care professionals. We have been asking for accountability for the federal dollars that flow into provinces around health care and that just simply has not happened.

When we talk about crisis, the CCPA talks about the fact that the gap between the rich and poor is at a 30 year high in after tax terms. It is the fastest growth in 10 years under economic conditions that traditionally should lead to it falling and there is a greater polarization of incomes.

We are talking about a huge percentage of Canadians who are actually seeing their quality of life being reduced. The government is not taking these issues seriously.

We have seen the auto manufacturing sector in Ontario being decimated. I know the member from Windsor has called on the government to develop an auto sector strategy that deals with some of the very serious concerns and the loss of manufacturing jobs. Surely the government needs to pay attention to those kinds of problems.

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan for actually laying out the reality of where the budget has failed so many people on very basic issues, whether it is on housing, the cost of prescription drugs, the environment or aboriginal people. The list goes on and on.

We heard the member for Cambridge chattering and saying, “The budget is almost perfect and why would you vote against it?” Come on, I think the member for Nanaimo--Cowichan has laid out the significant gaps and omissions in the budget that are failing people on very basic issues.

I would like to ask the member this, because I know she is our aboriginal affairs critic and this is an area that is very near and dear to her heart and her community. In the budget one of the massive failures is that it does not meet the commitments that have been made to aboriginal people in terms of very basic issues like housing, health care, clean water, education and quality of life. Is that reason alone enough to vote against the budget?

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Vancouver East for her very important question, but I also want to raise another issue.

Another matter regarding firefighters of course is the fact that we fail to provide adequate compensation to firefighters who die on duty and fail to support the families when something has happened to officers on duty.

In terms of first nations, Métis and Inuit people, we have been embarrassed on the international stage. We have international non-governmental organizations who have come into communities in northern Ontario and issued reports about the desperate conditions around housing, water and education.

There are over 600 reserves in this country and many of those reserves are living in third world conditions. In a country as rich as Canada and as resourceful as Canada, surely we should be able to invest some of the billions of dollars in surplus into first nations communities.

I do not disagree that there is always a challenge in terms of spreading the money around, but we have some of the poorest of the poor who are doubly disadvantaged in terms of their ability to lobby and advocate on their own behalf the government, and their ability to get a fair and equitable part of the resources in Canada.

Therefore, I will be voting against the budget. It does not address some of the serious income inequalities in this country.

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12:35 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will quickly ask a question of my hon. colleague from Nanaimo--Cowichan who does tremendous work on the aboriginal committee of the House. She talked about the living conditions of first nations and how there is no new funding to address these terrible conditions. I have seen that firsthand in my community of Vancouver Island North. Many reserves are in those conditions.

I met with the chiefs in my riding to talk about the budget because I wanted to know what they thought about it. They were so frustrated and angry at the lack of any significant funding. No new funding for them means cuts to programs that are already in place.

They also told me that there was no money in the budget for treaty settlements. That is something that they have been working long and hard for. There is no incentive by the government to settle treaties.

What impacts does my hon. colleague see that this will have on first nations who are living in crisis today?

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12:40 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, coming from British Columbia, we know that, first of all, very few treaties have been settled. There has been a treaty process in place for a number of years. There has been some minimal progress made, but the reality is that we will be looking at decades before those treaties are signed.

There is an enormous backlog of specific land claims and we know the cost that is having on communities across this country. There has been virtually no additional funding put into place to deal with this very important issue.

There is also the issue around self-government agreements. In speaking to first nations from Yukon, it is one thing to get a treaty signed, but to actually have it implemented and have the terms and conditions of the treaty respected and honoured has been an enormous challenge. I would argue that there needs to be additional money put into the self-government agreement because there are shortfalls throughout the treaty and self-government process.

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12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a tremendous honour to speak today to this budget, which is a tremendous budget for Canadians. I have been on the record several times in this House complimenting the Minister of Finance for the incredible job he did making the very difficult choices that, I believe, do put Canada on the road toward becoming a stronger, safer, better Canada.

The opposition parties are working very hard to cloud the issues around the budget. They do not really want to talk about the positive effects of the budget because they are trying to come up with a reason as to why they would not vote in favour of it. Quite frankly, there are not very many reasons that one could legitimately stand in this House and say that they would not want to vote in favour of the budget. Instead, they come up with things that perhaps are not in the budget.

However, we know that budgets are about choices. We know that there is a finite amount of resources with which the government has to work and we know there is an infinite demand for those resources.

Often one of the things that we do not talk about is how these resources come into the government. We do not spend a lot of time talking about how tax dollars are raised, the tax dollars that then provide the services to Canadians and provide the capacity for the federal government to provide the services. It is important that we keep both of those in mind and that is exactly what this budget does.

In continuing with the trend established in budget 2006, the finance minister and this government were very clear. We said that Canadians pay too much tax and we have continued to reduce the tax burden. With over $20 billion in tax reductions last year, 655,000 low income Canadians were completely removed from the tax rolls in budget 2006. In this budget year, we further increased that number to 885,000 low income Canadians. The people who many MPs in this House claim to stand for have been completely removed from the federal tax roll, and that is notwithstanding the GST reduction that was a tax break for all Canadians.

The finance minister has said time and time again that he believes Canadians pay too much tax and he has delivered on tax reductions for all Canadians.

However, that is not all. We have also made significant commitments to health care. Canadians are constantly asking us to please support the health care system. They say that it is something they believe in and that it is what sets us apart as Canadians.

The budget has done that. Record funding for health care has been set aside in this year's budget and it is set to increase exponentially each and every year. However, we went a step further. We also brought in money for the new wait times guarantee of $650 million. We have also provided $400 million for the establishment of the new Canada Health Infoway. This will help us to improve the efficiency of the health care system because now we will have the capacity to put everybody's health care records on an electronic system. This means that when people visit a hospital and their health care cards are swiped, all their health care information will be readily available. This is a great thing for Canadians. I know a lot of the members in this House, who will be voting against this budget, are very much in favour of that.

Just a few moments ago the hon. member for Cambridge said that members should not vote against the budget because there may be a few things they do not see in it. I know members from the NDP support this expenditure on health care. I cannot believe that they will stand and vote against these things that are so incredibly important.

There is also incredible support for the municipalities in this budget. Last year we set in stone the full exemption of the GST for municipalities. That meant over $700,000 just in my area, in Peterborough county. That is a lot of money for Peterborough county. The support for municipalities continues because we have extended the gas tax, which grows exponentially each and every year, up to 2014.

The extension in the gas tax rebate to my municipality meant some $26 million just for Peterborough. My goodness, that is a fortune for Peterborough. The municipality will be able to do a lot of good things with that money.

Canada has a robust economy and is enjoying great success. Often when the finance minister speaks--

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12:45 p.m.

Carolyn Bennett

Thirteen years.

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12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

--he speaks about the economy, the environment and energy.

One of the opposition members just mentioned 13 years. That seems to be a continuing trend in here. I remember 13 years of inaction, 13 dark years. There is no longer 13 dark years in this House. We are aspiring for a better Canada on this side of the House.

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12:45 p.m.

Carolyn Bennett

Unemployment.

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12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

I know that member, in good conscience, probably wants to support this budget but is being prevented from doing so.

However, I just want to get back to speaking about the economy, the environment and energy and how these three are intrinsically linked. We cannot talk about one without talking about the other. We cannot deal with them in isolation.

We know that the opposition parties want to deal with the environment, for example, in isolation. They want to ram through Bill C-288. We know what the effects of Bill C-288 would be and how devastating that would be to the Canadian economy and to Canadians in general. However, they do not care about that. They want to replace 10 years of inaction on the environment with 10 years of a bad economy and 10 years of hardship for Canadians.

This government does not want to do that. We want to act but we understand that the environment, the economy and energy are intrinsically linked in Canada.

When we talk about the economy, perhaps the biggest challenge that we face is productivity. We hear a lot about how productivity is affecting Canada's economy. Why? A number of things have been indicated as to why productivity in Canada is lacking. The Certified General Accountants of Canada point the finger at the former federal government and say that the Liberal sponsorship scandal really damaged Canada's overall productivity because there was no focus on productivity.

There is focus now. In this budget we talk about support for manufacturing. In fact a unanimous report submitted by the industry council made recommendations to the finance minister as to how we could support manufacturing in Canada. Virtually all of those recommendations are contained in this budget. We respected them. We moved forward on them because we believe in manufacturing and in the success of manufacturing.

In my home province of Ontario, manufacturing is incredibly important. The number one private employer in Peterborough is General Motors in Oshawa and I am committed to its success. I am also committed to the success of General Electric, Quaker Oats, Fisher Gauge and to the success of all manufacturing in my riding. I support this budget because it is good for manufacturing.

The budget also makes record commitments to infrastructure because we know that if we want to improve Canada's overall productivity we need to invest more in our roads and in our transit. We need to invest in border crossings.

One of the members from the Liberal Party mentioned earlier that a new crossing at Windsor would be a great thing. My goodness, we have been talking about that for more than a decade. The Liberals did not get it done. We will get it done because we understand how incredibly important that is, certainly to the auto industry in Canada, but to every industry in Canada. It is absolutely paramount that we deal with the infrastructure deficit in Canada if we are going to move forward on productivity.

Another important factor to productivity is education. We know that in 1993 the Liberal red book committed to making post-secondary education more affordable. The Liberals committed to making it easier for people to get into. I know the NDP Party, for example, has long argued for investment into post-secondary education. It has long pointed out the failures of the former government in owning up to what it committed to do. The Liberals committed to investing into post-secondary education but they cut the heart out of post-secondary education.

In this budget, we commit an additional 40% immediately in additional money to post-secondary education. The president of Trent University, Bonnie Patterson, said that they could not have asked for more in this budget than what has been delivered. In addition to the 40% increase this year, there is a 3% annual inflationary increase to the post-secondary transfer.

We also have specifically indicated how much money we are putting into the post-secondary transfer. When we spoke to post-secondary educational officials across the country, they talked about the need for a dedicated transfer. They needed to know how much money was there so that they could then go to their provincial governments and ask about the shares and the buy-ins.

Those officials now know exactly how much money is available, which helps them to deal with the provincial governments and ensure that post-secondary education is the priority in Canada that it deserves to be, and it will improve our productivity.

On the environment, as I said earlier, the former government did not have a plan. Now it wants to ram through a plan that would just absolutely derail our economy. This government has a plan. We have made significant commitments, such as the $1.5 billion for the ecotrust program that we will be sharing with the provinces. This will have significant short and long term benefits.

Ontario will be able to use that money to bring in clean hydroelectric power instead of the coal-fired power that we have had to rely on because the former government provided no support whatsoever to the province of Ontario to replace that power. This government will do that and all the provinces will be able to direct the money as they see fit to help clean up the environment in their backyards.

We need to face the fact that cleaning up the environment is always local. We tend to think about things on a global basis but we need to clean up things in our own backyards if we want to clean up the nation. This money will specifically assist the provinces to clean up our own backyards.

The budget contains money to clean up invasive species and to clean up the Lake Simcoe watershed which is something the hon. government House leader has been arguing for over the years.

The government has committed a total of $4.5 billion to the environment so that it can turn the corner on the environment. The previous government did not get it done. Those are not my words. Those are the words of the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. This government will get it done. As we hear coming out of the G-8 summit, this government, this Prime Minister, is a world leader on the environment.

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12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

You sold out.

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12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

I know it is difficult for the Liberal Party to hear these words coming from respected environmentalists from around the world that Canada is now a leader on the environment. It is difficult to hear these things but, quite frankly, sometimes the truth hurts. However, the truth always is the truth and sometimes it needs to be said. Today is one of the days when the truth must be said.

In addition, I want to get to the last of the three Es which, of course, is energy. Canada is an emerging energy superpower, and there is no question about that. Canada has been blessed with natural resource wealth, the likes of which no other nation has been blessed.

We need to be responsible in how we deal with Canada's energy and resource wealth but we also need to take a serious look at the types of energy that we are consuming, which is why the government committed $2 billion toward a new renewable fuel strategy. Organizations have run commercials thanking Prime Minister Harper for keeping his promise. This is not us saying that we keep our promises. We know we keep our promises.

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12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Peterborough will remember that I often chastise members of other parties when they mention members of the House of Commons by their surname, and it applies to him also.

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12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

He is a rookie.

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12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

My sincere apologies, Mr. Speaker. I get so excited when I talk about the record of the government on keeping its promises, cutting taxes, cleaning up the environment and improving the health care situation. Sometimes I get so excited I want to refer to the Prime Minister by name, because he is not just my friend, he is a friend of this country and he is a tremendous world leader. Sometimes I just get too excited.

I want to talk about energy and the investments we are making into renewable fuels. This will not just help us clean up to reduce our carbon footprint, but it will also breathe new life into areas like Peterborough where agriculture now has an additional market. We are talking about taking things that can be grown in the field and converting them into energy, clean energy, energy that will have long lasting benefits for all Canadians. The farmers in my riding are really excited about this.

Last year and in years past it was certainly very difficult for agriculture in Canada. I have often said that agriculture in Canada suffered for more than a decade of failed leadership and planning on behalf of the former government. That may be difficult for the Liberals to hear. They will not be happy that I said that, but it is a fact. When they brought in the CAIS program, it cut the heart out of agriculture in Canada and they did not support our farmers.

This government clearly does support our farmers. The new renewable fuel strategy has created almost a bidding war for dirt in Peterborough. People want to plant crops because they see that they can make money at it again. That is all our farmers want. They do not want handouts. They want a market. This government is creating a market.

I also want to talk a little about tax fairness. We know, among other things, that the Liberals do not stand for a democratically elected and accountable Senate. They stand for the influence of big money in politics. They do not believe that they should ever have to tell Canadians where the sponsorship money went. We know that this is a fact.

We also know that based on the testimony they have made in the House time and time again, they do not support tax fairness. They do not believe that all Canadians, in fact, all corporations, should pay their fair share of taxes. We know that from the words of the Leader of the Opposition himself and many members of the Liberal Party. They stand alone on that.

I would like to recognize that the Bloc Québécois and the NDP both support the government's decision. It was a difficult decision, but when we made the promise in the last election to stand up for Canada, that meant we had to protect the tax base. It meant that we had to provide tax fairness for all Canadians.

Indeed, if we want to continue to assist seniors, families and low income individuals in this country, we simply cannot allow people to escape paying their fair share of taxes, because the burden gets placed on people who cannot afford to pay it.

Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made in government. We understand that. The former government did not. The Liberals did not understand that difficult decisions had to be made. In fact, they often avoided difficult decisions.

The member for Scarborough—Guildwood the very day that the former finance minister made his announcement not to tax income trusts was on CBC saying, “Yes, we must move to tax income trusts”, and the former finance minister did not do that.

Everyone knows the government certainly has access to the departmental information that clearly demonstrated tax leakage. All provinces came forward and said there was tax leakage. The Governor of the Bank of Canada said the way that things were going would lead to lower levels of investment, lower levels of productivity, less employment. It was bad for Canada. We have moved to fix that.

Budget 2007 has the title “Aspire”. It is about aspiring to a stronger, safer, better Canada. I will say that again because it makes me feel good: a stronger, safer, better Canada. I would love it if people stopped and considered that. I would like them to absorb it.

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12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

It is a George Bush slogan.

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12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

This government has long said that we are getting things done for all of us.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

No, you're not. You're getting everything done for George Bush.

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

The slogan of the Liberal Party could have been “getting things done for some of us”.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

What about prorogue?

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, our party does not believe in getting things done for some of us. We believe in getting things done for all of us. We do not pick favourites in the budget. We do not pick winners and losers.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

They're all losers.

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

We believe that fairness--

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1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please. The hon. member for Peterborough has the floor for another minute and a half. If we can all be patient, there will be 10 minutes of questions and comments afterward and I will recognize as many members as are interested in asking questions. For the moment, he has the floor and I would like to hear him.

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate that you want to hear what I have to say because it is important. Canadians at home want to hear about how good this budget is for them.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

No they don't. They want you out.

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Yes, they do. Even Dalton has said that this budget provides capacity to the province of Ontario so that we can address child poverty, so we can address homelessness, so we can address the mess that was created in health care, so we can address the fiscal imbalance.

We know the former government did not believe that fiscal imbalance existed. However, our government has moved to solve the fiscal imbalance. Quite honestly, the province of Ontario, in fact all provinces are better off after this budget. More is more. More money means more money. It is more money for every region, even Saskatchewan. In fact, it is a lot more money for Saskatchewan.

We know that the Liberal government tried to make a lot of ground by saying we are giving less, but it is really more. Our government is giving more so that the provinces can do more. We are giving them more so they can provide more services, better health care, better post-secondary education.

We are standing up for Canadians. We are standing up for the provinces. We are standing up for Canada. We are--

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1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please. The member's time is really up now.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Saint Boniface.

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1 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very anxious to ask the member a few questions.

First, the only things that those members seem to be able to brag about are surpluses, low unemployment and a strong economy. Does the member actually think that the Conservatives had anything to do with that? The Conservatives have been riding on the Liberals' coattails on that for the last couple of years.

Second, the Conservatives campaigned on a promise that they would not have a budget that would be higher than inflation. The budget actually was over 6% and the baseline budget had an increase of 11.5%. I would like the member to explain that to Canadians.

The last time the Conservatives had an actual budget that was not attributed to somebody else was in 1923, not during Diefenbaker's time, not during Mulroney's time, but in 1923. When they get up and talk about the prowess of the Conservative government when it comes to budgets, I find it very laughable.

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1 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is laughable is that the Liberals constantly take credit for it being their money. It is not their money. Actually, I think it is Canadians' money.

What is really laughable is when a government decides it is not going to pay its bills and it creates a huge fiscal imbalance and significant problems in all of the provinces with their capacity to pay for things that Canadians depend on, like education and health care, and to deal with homelessness. When a government takes credit for that and calls it sound fiscal management because it is not paying its bills, I guess that is the Liberal thing to do.

We do not believe in that. We believe in fixing the fiscal imbalance.

The Liberals talk about $42 billion. I want to tell them what the $42 billion is. That $42 billion is only the interest on former prime minister Trudeau's debt. He was the prime minister who created the national debt. This is not up for debate. This is a fact, but the Liberals do not like facts.

Sometimes I find it really hard to listen to some of the Liberals' criticism. They often campaign like the NDP, but we know that is not what they stand for. I acknowledge that I have some philosophical differences with the NDP, but I will also acknowledge that the NDP members legitimately believe in what they speak about. The party opposite clearly does not. The Liberals say one thing and do another.

We have a clean government now. The Liberals should celebrate that. There are no brown envelopes with cash in them being passed around.

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1:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I can only say that the member's intervention shows what kind of dysfunctional, delusional and incestuous discussions they have within the Conservative caucus.

What he said is simply not true. Eighty per cent of Canadian families are actually earning less now than they were in 1989. The delusion that somehow Canadians are prospering when it is only the banks, the oil companies and the very wealthy that have any money just shows to what extent the Conservatives are out of touch.

I was interested in what he said about financial management. The Department of Finance did a study of governments and actually found that the NDP manages money best, the Liberals are the worst and the Conservatives are just as bad as the Liberals in many cases. It did a long term study and it turns out that the NDP manages money better.

The budget has a number of elements. First, we know P3s are much more costly to the taxpayer than simply investing in good public infrastructure. Second, there is the billion dollar subsidy to the oil and gas industry. It is the most profitable industrial sector and the Conservatives keep shovelling money off the back of a truck to that sector. There is $9 billion in corporate tax cuts. What a ridiculous situation it is when there are record corporate profits and the Conservatives are shovelling more money at that sector. Finally, there is the $400 million that Hollinger was supposed to pay and the Conservative government said, “We forgive. You don't have to pay taxes if you're wealthy”. That is $400 million on their watch. The Conservatives forgave that money.

How does the member think the Conservatives have any financial management credibility whatsoever when all we see from them is the same boondoggles we saw under the Liberals?

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess this is where the philosophical division that I spoke of a moment ago begins.

The member mentioned families. This government has specifically reached out and assisted families. We provided to all families a $2,000 tax credit for children under the age of 18. We provided the universal child care benefit to families. My brother and my sister-in-law have two young daughters, two and four, and that $200 a month comes in very handy. We are helping families.

I would also say that it is very easy to be a sound financial planner or a sound fiscal manager of funds when one does not generate any. We know the NDP policies would be catastrophic for the Canadian economy. They would not generate any money. It is very easy to manage nothing because that is what the NDP would create: less manufacturing, less wealth, less employment. That is what it would lead to. We cannot follow that strategy.

When we talk about reducing corporate taxes we talk about that because we are competing in a global economy. We have to be competitive. At the same time by reducing taxes it has been proven that we are not reducing the overall tax revenue because tax fairness leads to more people working with the tax system, indeed avoiding the tax system to a much lesser extent and paying their taxes.

With high taxes we find tax avoidance. Corporations will invest a lot of money into figuring out ways to avoid taxes. When we bring in tax fairness, when we ensure that the tax rates are as low as they possibly can be for all Canadians, there is less tax avoidance. Indeed it is a hotter economy that generates more revenue overall.

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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the presentation by my colleague from Ontario about what the budget does for Ontario.

I have a few things that I would like to point out for the province of Ontario. We are restoring the fiscal balance with federal support of $12.8 billion in 2007-08. This includes: $8.1 billion under the Canada health transfer; $3.8 billion under the Canada social transfer, including additional funding for post-secondary education; $664 million for infrastructure; $205 million available to the Ontario government for the patient wait times guarantee; $117 million available to the Ontario government to implement the human papilloma virus immunization program; the $574 million that will be paid to the Ontario government for outstanding commitments under the Canada-Ontario agreement; $298 million for gas tax funding for municipalities in Ontario; $400 million for a new road access for the Windsor-Detroit border crossing; and $963 million to fund transit projects in greater Toronto. That is only about half of what I have here.

I ask my colleague, is this budget good for Ontarians in 2007?

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1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, we could read the same list for every province and territory in the country. Budget 2007 is about that. It is about sharing the wealth of resources of the federal government with all Canadians, sharing it equitably among the provinces, coming up with a principled formula to share federal revenues.

I know the House has been talking a lot about equalization of late, but the much larger portion of funds that the federal government distributes comes under the Canada social transfer. That has been dealt with in a very equitable, fair manner. In fact, I have not heard a single province indicate it has any complaint whatsoever on the Canada social transfer. It has been dealt with in a equitable manner. It is good to Ontario, but it is also good to every province. It is good to everybody within Confederation.

Budget 2007 makes significant investments in all sorts of things. In my riding it means that Highway 407 will be completed back into Highway 115. I cannot tell the House how much that will mean to the economy in Peterborough. This budget is getting that done for the citizens of my riding. It is getting a lot done for the citizens of every riding.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recognize the member is new to the House, but when he talked about debts and deficits, what he failed to mention was this. The total national debt left by the Liberal government when the Conservatives came to power 1984, was $200 billion. In nine short years, after a record deficit, that $200 billion debt ended up being a $500 billion debt, a $300 billion increase.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals often forget that the national debt actually increased in their time in government. I hate pointing that out, but it is a fact.

The member is voting against the GST refund on school buses in his own riding, something his school board has been fighting for, for I believe seven or eight years. That is what he will vote against, money returned to his own school board.

Honestly, I find it incomprehensible that the members opposite—

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Before we resume debate, I would ask the cooperation of all members to check their cell phones and BlackBerries and turn them off. We are just about to hear a speech from the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso who has the floor.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, this has been a great Friday debate. There has certainly been an interesting exchange of views.

I want to go on record and say that the budget put forward by the government is not completely horrible. It is horrible, yes, but not completely. Some aspects of the budget, such as the tax incentive and capital gains provisions for fishermen, who are moving licences, make sense. However, it misses the mark so much and hurts so many of the most vulnerable Canadians that in no way can the official opposition support the budget.

The previous speaker, the member for Peterborough, indicated that governing is about making difficult choices, something that the official opposition did not know about when it was in government. That is just not right.

We talked about the $42 billion deficit. The previous government made the difficult decisions on behalf of all Canadians. It sent home 45,000 federal employees in order to balance the books. It made cuts in every department. Every Canadian felt those cuts. They were tough choices, but in doing so, we balanced the budget and righted the fiscal ship of the country. From 1995 on, we began to experience some real fiscal growth.

The bar has been set by the previous government for what it takes to provide financial leadership for the country. We can look at eight surplus budgets, tax relief in all those budgets going forward for every Canadian, reinvestment in important programs such as infrastructure, health care, education. We saw an attack on the accrued debt . Each year that debt was paid down to loosen up additional operational funds for the federal government.

The template and opportunity was there for the government to fall in line and continue to provide good fiscal management for the people of Canada, but it missed the mark. If the government's budget was a road map to prosperity for Canadians, it would be comparable to the people at Rand McNally doing a road map from Ottawa to Toronto and ending up in Boise, Idaho.

The government has missed the mark completely, especially when we factor in the fact that it inherited was the single best set of books ever been transferred to an incoming government. There was a $13 billion surplus. How does anybody mess that up? How could anybody possibly mess that up? However, it did and it hurt a great number of people. That is why I feel obliged to go on record today and identify the some of shortcomings in the budget.

I will speak about a group that I really do not believe has had a voice, certainly off the government bench. It is not talked about much. It is a community that means so much to us as Canadians, and that is the sporting community. If anybody was shortchanged in this budget, it is the sporting community.

The government loves to beat its chest. It made two promises. One promise was a personal tax deduction of $500 to anybody who registered their son or daughter in a sporting activity. What that really equates to, once the deduction is made, is probably between $80 and $90 a year.

I know, Mr. Speaker, you are the father of elite athletes. If you sit down at the kitchen table, I think the conversation goes a bit deeper than saying, “the Tories are offering me $80 and I cannot miss that opportunity”. We know it is good to involve our children in sports and that is what will motivate us. The $80 is a joke. It has no impact at all.

I have three boys myself who play competitive sport. Am I going to use it? Yes, I am, but they are going to play anyway.

The tax deduction has no impact to motivate parents to enrol their kids in sport. We know that if we can keep our youth active, if we can keep them involved, it is positive in so many aspects, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. It reaches into all aspects of those young lives and it is a positive thing, but the tax deduction does not do it.

The other promise that the Conservatives made was that 1% of their health care budget should go toward sport and physical activity. Where is that? Nowhere. There is no sign of it whatsoever. The sporting groups were let down. The sporting groups thought that they might have an opportunity with this promise.

This is what I got from the group called Sport Matters Group. It is from Ian Bird, senior leader for the Sport Matters Group. The Sport Matters Group is a collective of provincial and federal sport leaders that work toward improving the future of sport in the country. Ian Bird said:

Budget making is the central opportunity for governments to fulfill their commitments to Canadians....There had been clear indications from successive Ministers for Sport that today’s budget papers would how the government would invest in its own promise. We’re still waiting.

And they still will be waiting.

What we have seen is a shell game going on within the government in how it approaches sport. Had the government invested that 1%, it would equate to about $540 million annually that would go toward sport.

The template is there. The sports community knows what has to be done. We need a long term athletic development model, taking an active approach to investing in youth from the playground to the podium, working with the provinces and giving the provinces the resources they need, human and financial resources, so they can help deliver on these very important programs. They cannot do that if they do not have the money.

We understand fully as Canadians how important it is that we have heroes. Before there was a Sidney Crosby, there was a Mario Lemieux and a Wayne Gretzky, who was Sidney Crosby's hero. Before there was a Katrina Lemay-Doan or a Marc Gagnon, we knew that Gaétan Boucher was the greatest speed skater to come from Canada. It was his efforts and his gold medal performances in the Olympics that motivated these young skaters. We need the ability to create those heroes to further motivate our younger people to engage in sport.

The Conservatives took that away. Money was accelerated for the own the podium program. Was there any new money? Absolutely not a dollar. The Conservatives pulled the rug out from under the road to excellence program, which would provide funds to our summer athletes going to Beijing in 2008. The Conservatives turned their backs on our summer athletes by taking away those funds.

The Liberal Party talked about in our platform a specific envelope of money that we could invest in very specific sport facilities. I spoke on Wednesday night in Moncton at the Maritime Recreation Facility Conference. These are good people who work their tail off day in and day out to try to provide opportunities for our youth and for our populous to engage in sport. They work trying to keep costs down, keeping registration fees at a reasonable amount. However, the costs continue to rise and accumulate.

Infrastructure, refits and retrofits are expensive. We talked about an envelope of money that we could work with through the provinces so that investment could be made and the costs could come down. The buildings would operate in a more efficient manner, helping the environment and the operators on an annual basis.

The sporting community put this forward. It advocated very much for this type of opportunity to work with the federal government. There is no sign of this initiative whatsoever in this budget from the government.

It is not that the Conservatives just turned their backs on the initiatives that were being put forward by the sporting community, but they also did not deliver on the promises they made to the sporting community. It is shameful.

I would be remiss if I did not address a number of other things in my speech. Literacy, of course, is something that I think has impacts right across this country. Almost 45% of adult Canadians still have a challenge in reading, writing and communicating. If we give an adult the opportunity to engage in the economy, and to engage in the community and in education, we know that every increase of 1.5% in literacy increases the productivity of this country by 2.5%. That is a pretty significant return on our investment.

However, here is what we saw from this government with regard to the $13 billion surplus fund. The government said that of course what it had to do was cut literacy and make it tougher for the people who find it hardest to engage in our economy and our society. Let us make it a little bit tougher on them, said the government. The government carved money out of the literacy fund.

This should not have surprised anybody when the current Minister of the Environment is on record as saying that it is a waste of time teaching adults to read and write. If that is where the essence of it comes from, we are in a sad state here. Certainly this party on this side is concerned about the most vulnerable in our society and where they are going to arrive if we continue to see the reign of that government.

As well, we know that this has been discussed on a number of occasions over the last while. The previous speaker stood up and beat his chest about what they are doing for students. One of the single greatest things we can for our young people is offer them an opportunity to hold a summer job. It contributes to that student's life in so many ways. Many times, a summer job is the first work opportunity they have. They have the opportunity to put together a few dollars to go back and re-engage in the fall in their education.

We witnessed a debacle here over the last number of weeks with this government in regard to the money that was carved out of the summer student employment grants. Not only did that devastate community groups, but it as well just ripped the soul out of job opportunities for students across this country.

There is a question that has to be asked on the issue of the budget because there is a finite envelope of money in the HRSDC and Service Canada funding. The Conservatives have had to go back to try to clean up the mess because the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development has been inundated. I know that the opposition certainly has been pounding him on a regular basis to fix the mess he has made.

I think it was his predecessor that set the template, and the trap was sprung on the current minister, but he is wearing it and it is his job to fix it. He has to go back and fix it. The company line over there is that the government always goes with this second round of funding. Yeah, right, tell me that one now, I say. The Conservatives are going back to try to fix the mess. Any community groups that had a grant last year and have a current valid application on file are going to receive funding. They should receive funding. They should have received funding in the first place.

The government is going back to fix the mess, but it is going to cost this government a great deal of money. Where is that money going to come from?

I remember the Minister of Fisheries when he was in opposition. He was a pretty noble member. He would talk about all the fish plant employees when they would lose their jobs. He would beat the government, asking what it was going to do for those out of work fish plant employees and what it was going to do for the communities most affected. We have not heard a word from him since then.

Is HRSDC going to have to steal the money out of the money that should be going toward helping people like those in Canso, like those in the outports of Newfoundland who have seen their fish plants closed, those people who need that help and those retraining moneys now? There is only one envelope of money and these are the people who are going to suffer as a result of this budget and the actions in this budget.

We have talked about rural communities. It is unbelievable to see how the rural communities got dealt out of this budget. Let us talk about CAP sites. I am sure that all members in this House have received interventions from their constituents about CAP site closures. Now the Conservatives have come back to say that they will keep the sites open one for more year, one more time, but then, we know, there is a drop-dead date. These communities get a one year reprieve on the CAP Sites. CAP sites are essential in rural communities and this opposition will fight to continue to have CAP site funding provided for those essential services.

Regarding access to broadband, through Industry Canada we had an excellent program, the BRAND program, that allowed Canadians no matter where they lived in this country the opportunity for communities to partner with various agencies and stakeholders to bring broadband to these communities. It was a tremendously successful program.

Infrastructure is not just about water, sewer and roads. Access to high speed broadband is essential. If we want to grow those rural communities, the government should be investing in it, but we have seen no movement at all and no investment at all, and it is the rural communities that are going to suffer.

If I could have another 10 minutes on the accord, I would love to wrap up a Friday on that one, but my time is getting close to expiring. As I have said, this budget brings a great deal of pain to the people I represent, and certainly I come here each week to Ottawa to represent the views of my riding and its situation. In no good conscience could I stand and support this budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business.

When Bill C-52 returns to the House, there will be three minutes left for the hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso, plus 10 minutes of questions and comments.

The House resumed from April 24 consideration of the motion that Bill S-214, An Act respecting a National Blood Donor Week, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

National Blood Donor Week Act
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of Bill S-214, which if passed would recognize national blood donor week. Every year the week of June 14 would be designated as national blood donor week. This campaign would go a long way to ensure that safe blood will always be available to every patient who needs transfusion as part of his or her treatment.

It is fitting that this issue is before the House today, as Canada has been selected as the host country for World Blood Donor Day on June 14 by the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Society of Blood Transfusion, and the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations.

Giving blood really is a priceless gift. Every year, Canadian blood donors save thousands of lives. This year's theme “Because of You” grants the 17 million Canadians who have been touched by the need for blood a special chance to say thanks to donors across Canada.

On average, every minute of every day in Canada someone needs blood or blood products. Hundreds of thousands of people every year receive blood components or products following accidents, during surgery or for cancer treatments, burn therapy, hemophilia and other blood related diseases. The maintenance of the collective blood supply depends entirely on the generosity of people who care about sharing the priceless gift of good health.

I would like to share some facts about the gift of blood donation. Over half of Canadians at some point in their lives will require blood or blood products for themselves or a family member. To meet our nation's requirements, one million units of blood must be collected from about 600,000 Canadians.

Canada has the safest blood supply system in the world. One of the major reasons for this fact is that 100% of the blood is donor supplied.

I remember as a family doctor being awoken very early one morning by a patient who had been travelling in another country. She called me and was worried because she was told that she needed a blood transfusion. At that time, that country's blood supply was very much in question and in the news. I remember saying to the patient, because of where she was, that at all costs, it was just so risky for her to accept a blood transfusion in that country at that time. I think I even asked her if she could lift her head off the pillow and if the answer was yes, I told her, then she did not need the blood transfusion, but she should rest in bed, drink plenty of fluids and take her iron pills. It was so risky for her to accept a blood transfusion in that country at that time.

Blood donations in Canada are gathered here by volunteers and from volunteers at 45 permanent collection sites. There are also more than 17,000 special mobile clinics held across Canada. These are operated by almost 6,000 employees and in excess of 40,000 volunteers. On an annual basis, nearly 1.1 million units of blood are donated from over half a million Canadians.

I would like to add that blood donor clinics are regularly held here on the Hill, including next Thursday in Room 200, West Block. I encourage members and all House of Commons staff to donate.

As a Canadian, I am proud to report that our national blood supply system is admired by other countries as a model to emulate. Health Canada’s membership in the newly formed WHO Blood Regulators Network will provide Canada the opportunity to share its expertise in this area worldwide.

As an MP from Toronto and Ontario, I am proud to say that almost 50% of blood collections are obtained from Ontario blood donors.

Canadian Blood Services ships blood products to nearly 750 hospitals across Canada. However, less than 4% of eligible Canadians donate blood every year.

This bill aims to inspire even more Canadians to step forward and participate in this experience, which helps literally thousands each year with the gift of life. No one likes needles and it really is an invasive procedure, but we need at least a week a year to celebrate those who do roll up their sleeves, and we will help make their example contagious.

Today I particularly want to sing the praises of a former patient of mine, Richard Lewis, who passed away last week. It was during his blood donation that his leukemia was discovered. As a regular donor of platelets, he reported often to the Canadian Blood Services to give his donation. It was in that manner that his leukemia was discovered. He fought a brave battle over the last eight months.

This week, I know that all in the House will send his family, Jan Silverman and the children, their best wishes. We honour Richard Lewis today for that loss early in life, and also, it is due to blood donation's preventive nature that so many lives are saved because of people like Richard.

I encourage all my colleagues to support this important piece of legislation, Bill S-214.

National Blood Donor Week Act
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and deeply honoured to have the opportunity to express my gratitude to all the donors who contribute every year to the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of Canadians, through this simple yet generous act of giving blood. What hope would remain for so many sick and injured people, and their loved ones, without these donors? It is time for the House to declare the second week of June “National Blood Donor Week”.

We Canadians are very lucky. Our blood transfusion system is one of the safest in the world. We owe this safety to the efforts made by professionals and volunteers alike and, above all, to the fact that giving blood in Canada is a completely voluntary act. Fewer than 25% of countries can say the same thing.

I have no doubt that Canadians are fully aware that giving blood means giving life, and that they understand the importance of this simple act. That is what they would say if they were asked. But we do not necessarily find ways to express this gratitude and understanding in our daily lives. Like so many good things, giving blood is a simple reality that is often taken for granted.

We need to be aware of how fortunate we are as Canadians. We should not assume that donors know their generosity is appreciated. We cannot take our voluntary donation system or its sustainability for granted. We must continue promoting blood donation as a positive gesture and encourage Canadians who can to roll up their sleeves. That is why Canada, as a nation, must take action, express its appreciation for our blood system and thank the people who run it.

To recognize donors and encourage other people to become donors, the House must adopt Bill S-214. Canada's Parliament must show its support for this country's donors and recipients, as well as for the other levels of government that have made the second week of June national blood donor week. In doing this as a nation, we are joining with cities like Kingston, Ontario, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Bay Roberts, Newfoundland and Labrador, which declared at different times that the second week of June would be blood donor week.

This week has been celebrated in communities across Canada since 2005, and there is no reason this House should wait any longer before adopting Bill S-214. As I said earlier, Canadians are extremely fortunate, but human nature being what it is, we sometimes take our good fortune for granted. To help raise awareness of just how fortunate we are, I would like to share some thoughts about blood systems in other countries where blood donation is not entirely voluntary.

Imagine a system where blood is bought and sold. That is the sort of system that most people in the world have to deal with. The sad reality is that if people are forced by economic circumstances to sell their blood, they will be far more likely to keep quiet about aspects of their medical history. Canadians are fortunate that people here voluntarily roll up their sleeves to share the gift of life.

Now imagine a system where a family member who receives blood creates an obligation to replace that blood. Many developed countries have this sort of system. If a person needs several transfusions or transfusions for life, that could place a very heavy burden on that person's family.

Canadians are lucky to have volunteer donors and a system that does not have such obligations. To see a family member with a problem requiring a transfusion can prompt a person to donate blood, which is a very generous thing to do.

Some areas of world are trying to implement a system that is completely voluntary and coordinated on a national level. They are making progress, but despite their system and the progress they have made, they still have to rely on paid and mandatory donations.

Even with a donation rate of slightly less than 5%, or the percentage required to meet our needs, our system works, promotes sharing and will never need to resort to paid or mandatory donations. We should celebrate this system and the volunteer donors to whom we owe its existence by designating the second week of June national blood donor week.

People who give blood in Canada, like other volunteers, are motivated by the desire to help their peers. This celebration in honour of those who give blood voluntarily also celebrates Canadian communities. How many Canadians would have to worry about blood if they needed a transfusion in this country? Very few. Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec submit all donations to essential tests. Canadians have trust in this system.

Now imagine a system that combines voluntary, paid and mandatory donations. What would happen to that trust? In my opinion, it would be broken or seriously shaken. Canadians are lucky to be able to trust the volunteer donation system in our country. To strengthen this system of volunteer donations and increase the pool of potential donors, we must pay tribute to these people. Making the second week of June national blood donor week can help us recruit and maintain the number of donors required in Canada.

I will submit another fact for us to consider for a few moments, that is the vastness of our great country, Canada, which extends from one ocean to another, from the 49th parallel to the far north. Although its population and donors are not distributed equally, we are fortunate to have a system that is coordinated nationally so that the blood of volunteer donors in Quebec can be transfused to a patient in Nunavut. Without national coordination of the blood system, the regions of our vast country would be left to their own devices to determine and meet their respective needs and to establish and administer their own safety protocols. Imagine what that would mean for remote areas.

We are fortunate to have a system that can quickly send blood donated in densely populated major centres to rural and remote areas. The scope and the impact of Canadian blood donations extend beyond the mobile or walk-in blood donor clinics. Giving blood is, in a way, an integral part of our society and should be commended.

As we all know, Canada is a cultural mosaic, reflecting the magnificent diversity of all regions of the world. We can imagine how hard it would be if our country could not count on volunteer donors from different blood groups and ethnic origins. These people, while building up the national blood bank, play a vital role in terms of special needs. To celebrate donors is to celebrate Canada.

Today I emphasized how lucky Canadians are to have such a blood system. Our system is coordinated nationally, and all the blood comes from volunteer donors. Because of this, the blood is safe, and we can trust our system. Our biggest challenge is to increase the number of donations to meet our needs. We would need 5% of healthy adults to regularly donate blood.

By passing Bill S-214 and designating the second week of June national blood donor week, we will be taking a big step in the right direction.

National Blood Donor Week Act
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to voice my support for Bill S-214, declaring the second week in June to be national blood donor week. This simple act would not only provide Canada with a dedicated week to celebrate the generosity of donors and the needs that they respond to, but it will also help people gain a greater understanding of just what blood donation is all about.

I recently found out a few interesting things about blood and blood donation that I would like to share with my colleagues. It certainly helped me to understand what the “gift of life”, as we call it, really means and why we need a variety of volunteers to donate on a regular basis. It is really important.

The most important observation I have made is that we cannot leave blood donations up to everyone else. Saying another person will do it simply does not fill the need for blood donations in our needed blood supply in Canada.

I would like to begin by recognizing that blood donation is not simply blood. Each donation is made up of and broken down into several parts, mainly red blood cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. Patients do not just get blood. They get specific components from specific donations based on their need and blood type. Clearly we need many volunteer blood donors all year round to meet a need that can really only be known for sure on a patient by patient basis.

I would now like to share some information about the blood components I just mentioned. This will help illustrate just why we need all eligible Canadians to step up and roll up their sleeves. I might add that declaring the second week in June to be national blood donor week would go a long way toward getting that message out loud and clear in every part of this country.

I will begin with plasma. Plasma makes up 55% of total blood volume and does many things, such as transporting blood cells and nutrients throughout the body and defending against infection. Plasma is often needed by burn victims or hemophiliacs. Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are suspended in blood plasma.

Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. A drop of blood the size of a pinhead, and this is unbelievable, carries about five million red blood cells. It is amazing that these incredible tiny entities can do such a job.

People who have lost a lot of blood through accident or surgery or who have anemia may be given red blood cells. Did everyone know that, once more, we are not all the same? Between 43% to 49% of men's blood is composed of red blood cells while it is 37% to 43% in women.

White blood cells are slightly larger than red and protect the body by moving in to fight infection. If anyone has ever been ill and felt oneself getting better, that is the white blood cells at work. Yesterday I had a sore throat and knew I had a little infection. I could feel those white cells or something working and by doing the research on this speech, I now know what it was. I am going to have a little different view about getting better. It is the cells working in one's body.

Sometimes white blood cells are needed by people with weak immune systems as well. To meet this need, white blood cells can be collected through a process call apheresis, whereby white cells are separated from plasma and removed from the donor. There are 6,000 to 8,000 white blood cells per cubic millilitre of blood. However, it does not end there.

Finally, I want to talk about a component of blood that might be in a way a little more familiar to us as we have all moved through the bumps and scrapes of growing up.

Platelets are a component of blood that contribute to wound healing. When a person cuts a finger, for example, or if a child skins his or her knee, we can see platelets working as part of the healing process. They are even smaller than red and white blood cells. Approximately two tablespoons of platelets come from a single blood donation. Cancer or organ transplant patients may require these platelets.

As we see, a blood donation is not simply a blood donation. It is the generous giving of several parts and maybe it makes sense now how a single donation can be used to help three individuals with entirely different needs.

Declaring the second week in June to be national blood donor week can help to spread our knowledge of the science, so that people can understand how they too are helping to save possibly three people with each donation of blood that they make.

I have just talked about some different components of blood. All healthy blood has those components. That is what makes it the same, but blood is also different from person to person.

We all probably have heard the term blood type at some time in our lives and although we might not know which type we are all of us know that indeed we have a blood type. A member's blood type is probably not the same as that of his or her colleague sitting next to him or her, or any of the pages sitting in Parliament today.

What we may not know is that certain blood types are more common than others and that there is something called a universal donor and a universal recipient.

Blood O type positive is the most prevalent while AB negative is the least. Donor and recipient blood must be compatible, of course, otherwise the recipient may reject the transfused blood component.

The universal recipient is type AB positive. Patients with this type of blood can receive any of the other blood types. Universal donors are type O negative which means their donations can be given to any person in need.

While Canada's blood system obviously needs plenty of O negative donors, we also need a good supply of the other types.

We can see that a single blood donation, just one-half of a litre, and I know my colleagues in the House donate blood on a regular basis and if they do not they should, contains a lot of variety and packs a significant punch. It really is quite incredible.

By declaring the second week in June as national blood donor week we can go a long way toward helping people to better understand on many levels how and why giving blood on a regular basis, a regular donation of their particular blood type, can make a big difference in the lives of their fellow Canadians. It is something that we should do as Canadians.

I did not have to go far to find this little bit of information I shared with members today. This information and more is available on the websites of Héma-Québec and the Canadian Blood Services.

Making volunteer blood donations the focus of a single week each year can draw attention to these websites and educate potential donors not just on the importance of donating but on the wonders of what blood is really about.

In addition to sharing that science, national blood donor week would be an opportunity to answer the questions that may keep Canada's healthy adult population from donating blood on a regular basis. It is a normal human condition to be shy or fearful of something new.

Potential donors could ask their friends and family members, who have donated before, what happens during a blood donation visit. They could make a quick phone call to their nearest blood donor clinic and ask a few questions or they could just drop by and talk to an outreach representative. But many just do not get around to it. That is too bad because Canada's blood supply needs to be sustained.

National blood donor week would be an opportunity to answer many of these questions. People could find out that only adults over the age of 17, for example, can donate blood, but they can do so until at least age 71 and even longer for some people. Potential donors would find out that they need to weigh at least 110 pounds, be in good health and feeling well enough to donate. They would also learn that they can donate every 56 days.

People like to know what will happen when they venture into unknown territory. The same would apply to first time volunteer blood donors. National blood donor week will accomplish this by getting the message of how important blood donations are on a regular basis. I ask all members to support the bill.

Suspension of Certain Standing Orders--Bill C-52
Business of the House
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Given we ran out of time today to complete the debate on Bill C-52 and given that the failure to adopt Bill C-52 by both houses before we adjourn for the summer will result in the loss of some $4.3 billion in 2006-07 year-end measures, pursuant to Standing Order 53.(1) I move:

That the House continue to sit beyond the ordinary hour of adjournment today to consider Bill C-52.

Suspension of Certain Standing Orders--Bill C-52
Business of the House
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe that this motion is out of order because we are into private members' hour.

Suspension of Certain Standing Orders--Bill C-52
Business of the House
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The motion of the chief government whip can be moved at any time. This is a matter of an urgent nature. The question is on the motion.

Would those members who object to the motion please rise in their places.

And fewer than 10 members having risen:

The motion is adopted.

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2 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that I had risen on a point of order before you had finished reading that and I would also like clarification on whether or not this is debatable.

I would point out that the House is not scheduled to rise until June 22, so I fail to see the rationale of extending this day when we have before us another two weeks to debate this issue. As important as the government feels it is, the House can rest assured that our party is more than happy to point out the things that are missing and the failures of the budget which is why the Liberals of the House will not support the budget.

Given that we have two weeks further to sit, I see no emergency necessity to extend the sitting hours today. It was my understanding that this could not be done at this point in time.

Therefore, I would ask for clarification from the Speaker as to whether or not this is indeed in order and whether or not it is debatable. I feel that there are many good points that can be made to the other side to indicate that we do not have to extend the sitting today, given that we have a full two weeks.

I know our colleagues in the other place would be more than happy to sit after June 22. As a matter of fact, they have said so publicly in order to get through very important pieces of legislation, dare I point out, like the private member's bill of one of my Liberal colleagues on the Kelowna accord, as well as other important pieces of legislation.

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2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I thank the hon. chief opposition whip. According to Standing Order 53, the motion of the chief government whip is in order and in response to the question raised by the hon. chief opposition whip, it is debatable for one hour.

On debate, the hon. chief government whip.

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2 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, also on a point of order, in my reading of Standing Order 53.(1) through 53.(5), Standing Order 53.(4) says:

When the Speaker puts the question on any such motion, he or she shall ask those who object to rise in their places. If ten or more Members then rise, the motion shall be deemed to have been withdrawn; otherwise, the motion shall have been adopted.

Mr. Speaker, it is my reading that you put the motion and less than 10 members rose in objection. Therefore, the motion has been adopted by the House and we will proceed now not with debate on the motion but debate on Bill C-52.

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2 p.m.

Liberal

Blair Wilson West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to draw the House's attention to Standing Order 53.(3), where it says:

Proceedings on any such motion shall be subject to the following conditions:

(a) the Speaker may permit debate thereon for a period not exceeding one hour;

b) the motion shall not be subject to amendment except by a Minister of the Crown;

(c) no Member may speak more than once nor longer than ten minutes; and

(d) proceedings on any such motion shall not be interrupted or adjourned by any other proceeding or by the operation of any other Order of this House.

Therefore, I would agree with the Speaker's first ruling that there is one hour of debate required before this gets brought any further.

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2 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps it would help if we read Standing Order 53 in its entirety, but I do not intend to do so. As I pointed out, Standing Order 53.(3)(a) states that “the Speaker may permit debate thereon for a period not exceeding one hour”.

You did call the question. Fewer than 10 members rose, and you can look for clarification from the table officers and the clerks, but I still contend that this issue is done. Fewer than 10 members rose to object to the motion and therefore the motion was adopted. Therefore, we are now going to debate Bill C-52.

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2 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, where my hon. colleague and I depart is that I would again reiterate that I stood on a point of order. I was standing in my place and I was asking if this motion was debatable. I would say, from the reading of the Standing Orders, that this motion is debatable and the question be put at the end of the hour of debate.

I would ask for the Speaker, with obviously the aid of our knowledgeable clerks, to rule on whether or not we are indeed debating for one hour before this question is put to the House.

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2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the whip of the opposition party, where Standing Order 53 says that proceedings on any such motion may proceed, that would be in the case if the opposition were to rise with 10 members, in which case we would go into a possible one hour debate at the discretion of the Speaker. The fact is that 10 members did not stand, so as the chief government whip says, the motion is deemed to be adopted. There are no proceedings that can entail that motion.

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2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I must say that even though we support Bill C-52, we strongly object to this use of Standing Order 53(1). With respect to the matter at hand, we do not agree with how the procedure is being used and we are not at all interested in whether or not there is a precedent in this case. We would ask that you reconsider your decision.

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2:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, Standing Order 53 reads:

In relation to any matter that the government considers to be of an urgent nature...The Speaker may permit debate thereon for a period not exceeding one hour.

I would ask that the Speaker re-rule and permit the one hour of debate that is required on this.

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2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I very much appreciate the advice from all members. I will again recognize the hon. the chief government whip, but I will be making a ruling on this very soon.

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2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

I hope you do, Mr. Speaker. My point is that you have already ruled that this motion was adopted when fewer than 10 members rose. There is no such thing in our Standing Orders about re-ruling.

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2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, this proceeding is impaired to a considerable extent because, until a moment that is just about to arrive, copies of the motion that was put before the House have not been available to any members of the House in order to deal with the subject matter. I had asked for a copy of the motion and it was provided to me and then taken away. I would like to have the copy again returned to me forthwith so I can see the language of what is being proposed here.

It seems to me that a condition precedent for this matter to proceed to the floor of the House of Commons is this question of urgency. The proceeding under Standing Order 53 specifically contemplates that the matter be urgent. In fact, the Chair is not in a position to even consider this item until the issue of urgency is established. The fact is that the motion does not, on its face or in anything that has been said so far, establish the condition precedent of urgency.

Let me inform members of what the motion says. It reads, “Given we ran out of time today to complete the debate on Bill C-52 and given that the failure to adopt Bill C-52 by both Houses before we adjourn for the summer will result in the loss of $4.3 billion in 2006-07 year-end measures...”, et cetera.

This is hypothetical. This is trying to anticipate events a full two weeks into the future.

The fact is that the issue is not urgent. Bill C-52 has been before the House of Commons for some time. However, let me point out that this Parliament began in the last week of January. The government did not bother to present a budget until March 19. It did not bother to present the budget bill until the end of March. How can it now argue, with two weeks more to go, that it is urgent?

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2:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I need to raise a serious objection to the manipulation and the blatant misuse of the rules of this House that is taking place. Frankly, I am astounded that you, as the Speaker, have already made a ruling ignoring the rules and the procedures that are in place.

We come into this House to debate and to have proper functioning of the House. I have not even seen the motion. I just heard it described to me by the House leader of the opposition, and I am glad he took the time to read it into the record.

However, we need to know what urgent situation exists here. We just began debate on third reading of the budget bill on Wednesday. Nothing is being held up here. The House is not meant to adjourn until June 22. If the government had wanted to bring forward the bill at some earlier time, it had ample opportunity to get it through the House, and what happens in the other place happens in the other place. In terms of our business in this place, this manoeuvre that is being pulled by the government is incredibly manipulative.

Mr. Speaker, I implore you to uphold the traditions and the procedures of this House and not allow this blatant political manipulation to go on of using the rules in a very subverted way for something that we know is not urgent. It rests with you, Mr. Speaker, to follow the traditions of this House, to ensure that all members are fairly heard, to ensure that debate properly takes place and to ensure this kind of political manipulation does not occur. That is the role of the Speaker and we expect you to uphold that on behalf of all members.

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2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

I see four members rising on a point of order. I will recognize the hon. Chief Government Whip, with the understanding that the other members will also be recognized.

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2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, research will show you, as it has shown me, that it is up to the government to define what is urgent under Standing Order 53. All of the arguments aside, from the House leader for the official opposition and the House leader for the New Democratic Party, it is not up to the opposition to decide what constitutes urgent under Standing Order 53. That has never been the way when this has been used.

Just for the viewing public at home, this is a Standing Order of the House. It is under the rules of the House and it is there to be used when necessary. We believe it is necessary and, upon review, I believe, Mr. Speaker, you will see that this order was adopted because the opposition did not have even 10 members in the House when you called the question.

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2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would point out that I do not envy you in your position because it is a difficult one. However, I would like to point out that I was standing in my place and I was calling, “point of order”.

Mr. Speaker, the heckling you are hearing from the government benches is the same heckling that was going on when I said, “Mr. Speaker, point of order”. I will not name the member but it was a government member who said, “Oh, just keep reading. Ignore her”.

Mr. Speaker, I was indeed standing in my place before you had ruled and government members were heckling because they saw that I was rising on a point of order to ask if I could debate this issue. If you were to look at the sequence of events, Mr. Speaker, you will have auditory verification that I was indeed standing in my place.

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2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Davenport is rising on a point of order and then the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country will be recognized. I hope that these will be the only ones.

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2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was at my desk when the chief government whip put this motion forward and, if my recollection is correct, I do not believe you stated whether there were 10 members in the House who would rise. It was after the fact. I think that is what I heard.

If we are to believe that the procedures of the House do matter and that the government and the House want accountability, then I believe, Mr. Speaker, that you have an obligation, before making a ruling, to ascertain whether there are 10 members in the House who have objection to this.

I am very concerned about the government raising this as an urgent matter. The government had all the levers of power and all the mechanisms available to it to introduce Bill C-52 any time it wished. It had the last two weeks to do that but it did not. For the government to wait until the last minute on a Friday afternoon is quite shocking to me. If the government really cares about accountability, it should not be trying these types of sneaky manoeuvres.

Mr. Speaker, I have been here listening to you and I do not believe that you have made a ruling. I would ask that you at least ascertain whether there are 10 members present who object to this.

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2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country. This is the last piece of advice I will hear on this matter today.

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2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Blair Wilson West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to deal with the three issues here that deal specifically with the motion that was put before the House.

The first issue I want to deal with is the very substantive nature and the facts behind Standing Order 53.(1).

The second point that I would like to talk a bit about is the heavy-handedness that this Conservative government is using to squash debate here.

The third point, and I have (a), (b) and (c) on my point of order, is dealing with the urgency.

All of them deal with the validity of putting this motion forward.

Mr. Speaker, if I could draw your attention to Standing Order 53.(1), it says:

In relation to any matter that the government considers to be of an urgent nature, a Minister of the Crown may, at any time when the Speaker is in the Chair, propose a motion to suspend any Standing or other Order of this House relating to the need for notice and to the hours and days of sitting.

In order for him to propose this motion, he must suspend any Standing Order or other order of this House. At the time the motion was put forward, we were dealing with private members' business. I would question the validity of putting that motion forward during a time that we were dealing with private members' business.

The second part of my dispute with respect to this motion has to deal, obviously, with the heavy-handed nature that this Conservative government is dealing with debate in the House.

It says here specifically, and I am quoting from the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, that “the Speaker may permit debate thereon for a period not exceeding one hour”. It is up to the Speaker's discretion whether or not he or she is going to allow a debate. Mr. Speaker, you obviously already ruled from the chair that you would allow one hour's debate.

I know it is a Friday afternoon, but I will tell members that I will stay here as long as it takes to debate any motion the government puts before this House. So I would ask the Speaker to extend that.

The third issue that I have dealing specifically with this motion deals with the urgency of this matter. How can the chief government whip stand here and say there is an urgent matter he has to deal with when the federal government now has a $9.2 billion surplus? I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, with a $9.2 billion surplus, there are a lot of things that I think are very urgent: the Kelowna accord being--

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2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Order, please. I would like to remind all hon. members that I am standing right now. I would appreciate it if other members would sit.

I wish to thank all members for their advice on this matter. It is the first time since I occupy this position that I am being put in this position. Maybe none of you will like what I will say, but I will do it in good faith, in respect of the traditions of this House, as I understand them, and in respect of the Standing Orders that I have heard quoted from all sides.

Whether there is urgency or not is in the eye of the government to decide, not in the eye of anyone else, not even me.

However, I think that I was too precipitous in counting the 10 members that might object or might not object. I should have allowed for one hour's debate and that is what I am doing now. There will be, as of now, one hour's debate.

I recognize the hon. member for Newton--North Delta.

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2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I was supposed to attend a convocation at Simon Fraser University in my riding, but I saw the tactics being played by the meanspirited Conservative government. The Conservatives ran on issues of accountability and transparency. I am on the access to information committee and I see how the Conservative members operate on that committee.

Today the Conservatives are saying the debate on Bill C-52 is urgent. The reason is very simple. The Conservatives want to kill two important issues, the Kelowna accord and the Kyoto accord. Canadians fully support those accords. The Conservatives want to prorogue the House after pushing the budget through, so that these two important issues will die on the order paper.

If the Conservatives really believe in democracy, transparency, credibility and accountability on which they ran, they should debate this issue to the fullest. They should be transparent and open to Canadians and not act in this scandalous way. A situation such as this one is totally scandalous.

There is not a single member of Parliament on that side of the House who will be able to face his or her constituents on this issue. They are trying to push through the budget legislation on a Friday afternoon.

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2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

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2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative members can speak when it is their turn, but they should let me talk now. I was supposed to take a flight this afternoon. We have important things to do in our ridings.

The Conservative members are acting in total panic mode in the House. It is a very sad situation and is totally scandalous.

I have never heard of a government in all our history acting the way the minority Conservative government wants to act. The Conservatives think that Canadians have given them a trust, but they forget that Canadians only gave them a conditional trust. They are betraying that conditional trust now by not listening to the Chair or the members of the opposition parties.

The Conservatives should remember that only 36% of Canadians voted for them. Two-thirds of Canadians did not give a mandate to the Conservatives. The government has to listen to those two-thirds of Canadians and respect the House and have a fair debate.

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2:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I regret to have to rise on this very cheap and tawdry trick by the government to try to slip the budget through. It is very clearly an acknowledgement of the fact that the Conservatives realize this budget does not fly.

We have seen the destruction of the Atlantic accord and we have seen the reaction from the Atlantic provinces. We have seen the reaction of British Columbia where the Conservatives are now in third place in the polls because of their complete disregard for the interests of British Columbians. As we know, the finance minister when he presented the budget initially talked about Canada going from the Alberta Rockies to Newfoundland and Labrador, completely excluding British Columbia.

The government very rapidly has managed to alienate virtually every single part of the country with this budget. So it is no surprise that the Conservatives would try to invoke this special emergency Standing Order to try to slip it through on Friday afternoon as they do with so much of their despicable legislation. When they know the public will not accept it, they try to slip it through on a Friday afternoon. That is not appropriate for a budget vote and it is not appropriate for something of this magnitude.

I am not going to speak too much on the budget because the NDP is on the record. We know this budget gives billions away to the corporate sector, as always. The budget does not deal with the real problems that real people are facing from coast to coast to coast. I would like to touch on the issue of invoking Standing Order 53, which is a Standing Order that is supposed to be invoked in times of emergency and where the government normally needs to make an immediate call to the House.

Traditionally up until a few years ago this was used in a prudent way by governments. We saw in the 1960s this special order being invoked in an immediate outbreak of hostilities in Cyprus and the immediate need of Canada to send a peacekeeping force to Cyprus. Lives were in danger at that time, and it would be normal to invoke Standing Order 53 when lives are in danger.

In the 1970s it was invoked when air traffic controllers were not at their positions because of a labour dispute. Regardless of how we feel about the merits of how the government treated the labour dispute, one could say that lives were in the balance then.

We fast forward to the 1990s and we have seen the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party invoke Standing Order 53 as a cheap and tawdry procedural trick to try to get legislation through that would otherwise not get through.

There is no doubt this budget is in trouble. We have seen the outcry from Atlantic Canada this week and discussions on how there was a complete and total betrayal of Atlantic Canada. We have seen the reaction from the Saskatchewan government. We have seen the reaction from British Columbians. We have seen alienation throughout the length and breadth of this land. So the government in desperation now on Friday afternoon, shortly before adjournment, invoked Standing Order 53 because it seems to be incapable of managing its own agenda and seems to be incapable of bringing it forward in a measured and effective way.

We have seen how the Conservatives have managed the summer employment program for students. We have seen how they have managed the festival program. We have seen complete incompetence in sector after sector. Now we see this cheap and tawdry invocation of a Standing Order that was put in place for when lives are in the balance. Lives are not in the balance on this budget. What is in the balance is billions of dollars of corporate tax cuts that the Conservatives hand out like candy to their friends and lobbyists in the oil and gas industry, in the pharmaceutical industry, and the banks. They love handing out corporate tax cuts; it is their favourite occupation.

The finance minister will not do much for health care or access to post-secondary education. He will not do anything for housing except for the NDP money that we forced through in the last budget. No, the Conservatives will not do anything for those issues that affect real working families from coast to coast to coast. They do absolutely nothing to address the catastrophic hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs. One quarter of a million jobs have been lost. In the last few years a quarter of a million working families have seen their jobs disappear, replaced by flipping burger jobs, minimum wage jobs, jobs that are temporary, jobs that are part time. Now Canadians have to put together a couple of part time jobs just to keep a roof over their heads.

What is urgent is 300,000 Canadians sleeping in the parks and on the main streets of our towns and cities across this country, but the government has never invoked Standing Order 53 to address that crisis.

What about the softwood lumber crisis provoked by the government's foolishness, recklessness and irresponsibility in shoving through the softwood sellout that has resulted in 6,000 jobs being lost so far? Did it ever address that crisis? No siree, there was no invocation of Standing Order 53 there.

What we have seen time after time are real crises getting nothing but lip service from the government, and now we see this cheap, tawdry trick to try to get a budget through, a budget that the government knows is experiencing massive problems, with rejections from Saskatchewan, rejections from the people of British Columbia, and rejections from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. There are rejections throughout Atlantic Canada, great hostility in Quebec, a reaction from the Ontario government and the Ontario legislature, and a reaction from coast to coast to coast, which I think symbolizes how quickly the government has eroded the trust that was placed in it last year.

We have never seen such a rapid reversal. The government said it was going to stand up for Canada and instead we have seen capitulations to the Bush administration. Time after time we have seen the sellout of working families. There has been no action on some of the key issues like the pine beetle in British Columbia.

Now we see the invocation of Standing Order 53. And for what urgent reason? What is the urgent reason? The government does not have an urgent reason. We know very well what the precedents are on this. Speakers have actually disallowed this kind of tawdry procedural trick in order to get a budget through.

Conservatives are admitting today that their budget is in trouble. They are admitting today that they are having problems from coast to coast to coast. There has been an erosion of public confidence in the government, which has occurred so rapidly because the Conservative government works in exactly the same way that the former Liberal government worked. That erosion has led to this invocation of Standing Order 53.

Is it appropriate to invoke it? Absolutely not. It is not like sending an immediate crisis team of peacekeepers to Cyprus in order to save lives. It is not like the government tried to act to make sure that air traffic control is maintained and that lives are saved in the balance.

There is absolutely nothing to the invocation of this standing order. It is simply a very cheap, very tawdry, very irresponsible and very reckless way of getting a budget through, a budget that Conservatives now know Canadians do not accept and want to see defeated. That is why they have done it. That is why in the NDP corner of the House we are standing up to say that this is absolutely inappropriate. It shows the desperation of the government.

Rather than taking action on the pine beetle, rather than taking action on the floods we are seeing now in British Columbia, rather than addressing the concerns raised in Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada, rather than actually addressing the crisis in manufacturing jobs, the crisis in homelessness, the crisis in the health care system and the crisis in post-secondary education, rather than addressing any of those using Standing Order 53, they try to pull off a cheap, tawdry trick that only a magician who has lost his licence would dare to raise in the Parliament of Canada.

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2:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was quite a spiel. I guess one might call that a tawdry spiel.

I could go on for 10 minutes, as other colleagues have, on this particular use of Standing Order 53, but I will not, because if I do, then other people, I am sure, will want to add their words of wisdom on the appropriateness, urgency, et cetera, of the use of this standing order. I could certainly defend what I believe is its urgent nature, but I will not.

What I will do instead, Mr. Speaker, given the hour, is ask you to seek unanimous consent of the chamber to put your question now and do the head count that is necessary. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I believe that immediately thereafter if you sought it you would find unanimous consent to return to Bill S-214, which was being debated when I interrupted the proceedings with my point of order. If you seek it, I think you would find unanimous consent to pass it at second reading.

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2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

For the sake of simplicity, I will do this one at a time and a little slower than I did last time. Does the hon. minister have the unanimous consent of the House to move his motion?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

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2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Will those members who object to the motion please rise in their places.

And 10 or more members having risen:

More than 10 members having risen, the motion is deemed to have been withdrawn.

(Motion withdrawn)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-214, An Act respecting a National Blood Donor Week, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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2:35 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Secretary of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I think if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent of the members present in the chamber to support private member's Bill S-214 at second reading.

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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

Does the House agree?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

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2:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau

It being 2:38 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2:38 p.m.)