House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was legislation.

Topics

David Dunlap Observatory
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, despite the bitter cold and mounds of snow, I, along with members of our concerned community of Richmond Hill came out to voice our concerns regarding the sale of the Dunlap Observatory.

The David Dunlap Observatory has been a research centre for the department of astronomy and astrophysics since 1935. In 1972, the first black hole was discovered by the observatory.

It is a valuable site to our community. My goal is to ensure that it remains a working teaching and educational centre for astronomy.

I recently had a meeting with the president of the University of Toronto, David Naylor, and other key officials to press for an extension until mid-May for the request for proposals. The purpose of the extension is to provide the consultants, Lord Cultural Resources, more time to do a thorough study of the site. I was pleased with the meeting.

The Dunlap site is one of historic significance. My ultimate goal is that the Government of Canada will protect and purchase the site for a national urban park, to preserve its legacy for future generations to enjoy.

Social Housing
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, in its brief to the Standing Committee on Finance, Quebec's Réseau SOLIDARITÉ Itinérance described the critical shortage of low income housing in 2007. In 2005, 35,000 households in Quebec were on a waiting list for low cost housing.

Since 1993, the federal funding shortage has denied the homeless and those living in substandard housing nearly 43,000 social housing units in Quebec. Currently, it is estimated that an additional $2 billion per year is needed to address the need across Canada. That is less than 1% of the federal budget.

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended that Canada consider the severe housing shortage to be a national emergency. The government must accept the Bloc Québécois' recommendations immediately and allocate $1 billion of the CMHC's current $7 billion surplus—

Social Housing
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.

Prebudget Consultations
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister is beating the election drums, the Liberals are silent. On the crucial issues that affect countless ordinary Canadians, the Liberals are still figuring out what they believe. They are busy strategizing their way out of an election that they think they will lose.

Seniors and hard-working families do not deserve to be treated like pawns in this political chess game. They deserve to have their concerns addressed in Parliament.

I asked everyday people in Hamilton Mountain about their priorities for the upcoming budget. Seniors want income security, protected pensions, accessible health care, and drug and dental coverage. These are all things that were included in my seniors charter. It was adopted by this House, yet seniors are still waiting for the government to act.

Working families told me they want decent paying jobs, access to education and training, child care, concrete action on the environment, and property tax relief through federal investments in infrastructure.

None of this is pie in the sky, but just as we are heading into an economic downturn, the cupboard is bare. Last fall's mini-budget gave away over $6 billion in corporate tax cuts to big business. Unbelievably, the Liberal leader said that he would go deeper on that.

It is time for real leadership. It is time to put the needs of ordinary Canadians first.

Grammy Awards
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 50th Annual Grammy Awards show took place on Sunday. This year more Canadians than ever before were nominated for an award. I wish to congratulate the Canadian winners at this year's Grammy Awards. Canadian artists who won an award include:

Joni Mitchell, best pop instrumental performance for her song, One Week Last Summer. Mitchell was also the muse for the winner of the best album of the year and best contemporary jazz album by Herbie Hancock for River, the Joni Letters.

James Ehnes, a world-renowned violinist and Brandon, Manitoba native, best soloist with orchestra for his work with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bramwell Tovey.

Michael Bublé, best traditional pop vocal album for his album, Call Me Irresponsible.

The lifetime achievement award was given to The Band, a group made up of almost all Canadians.

Congratulations again to these fine winners. We are proud of them.

Student Debt Load
Statements By Members

February 11th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, representing over 6,000 medical students across Canada, is visiting Parliament today. The students are here to discuss their rising debt load. A first year resident in Ontario has an average debt of $158,728.

These debts are stressful and interfere with medical residents' ability to serve Canadians well.

Furthermore, this financial situation prevents some young people from going to medical school, discourages medical students from choosing to specialize in family medicine, and makes it more attractive for new graduates in medicine to practice in the United States to pay off their debts.

As we are facing a doctor shortage crisis in Canada, we should be doing everything we can to support our medical students.

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students is asking the government to take action and provide some relief.

I do not understand why the Minister of Health is refusing to talk about this fundamental issue.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week auto parts supplier Nemak announced it is closing its Essex aluminum plant leaving 600 jobless in 2009. It is difficult news we are concerned about. It is harder to accept when Nemak opened a new plant in China only a few months ago.

If the Liberals and NDP had their way, more closures would be in Windsor's future. They support greenhouse gas emissions targets for Canada post-Kyoto that force our industries into deep reductions, but give industries in China and South Korea a 20 year pass to belch CO2 and keep their export costs low at the cost of Canadian jobs.

Our government's approach is based on science, a tough emissions target that is Canada's fair share while ensuring all major emitters take on the share that real science demands.

We cannot change China's low currency or the low wages that give its manufacturers an edge over ours, but we can start to level the playing field with a new global accord that requires its polluting industries to pay more.

While the opposition favours China's manufacturers and workers, this Conservative government will fight climate change and protect Canadian workers.

Black History Month
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, each year, in February, we are invited to celebrate Black History Month. Through the involvement of many community organizations and artists, the people of Quebec will gain a better appreciation of the richness and diversity of Black communities, and the unique contribution of a number of their fellow citizens.

I would especially like to congratulate the Maison de la Famille des Maskoutains, a family support organization which, as part of Black History Month, is hosting in conjunction with the Saint-Hyacinthe school board and the local media a gathering where citizens coming from various countries will talk about life in their country of origin in front of students at Larocque elementary school.

On behalf of myself and my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois, I encourage my fellow citizens to take part in the activities marking Black History Month, thus promoting the development of closer ties with that community.

Afghanistan
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to voice my support for a motion on the mission in Afghanistan. The motion reflects the recommendations of the Manley report.

Despite the fact that the Leader of the Opposition was part of the cabinet of the previous government that sent our troops to the most dangerous battlefields of Kandahar, he now wants to handcuff our soldiers. Military specialists have all said that the Liberal position is unrealistic.

The NDP plan is to cut and run. Canada has a proud military history. Imagine if we had decided to cut and run during the Battle of Britain, or at Vimy Ridge, or on Juno Beach.

Canadians are serving bravely and sacrificing for all of us so the Afghan people can have a better future. The choice is clear. It is time to decide. We need to stay and finish the job and help the people of Afghanistan realize their dreams in a free and open democratic society.

I encourage all members to stand with our brave men and women, support this motion and have the courage to stand up for what is right.

Canadian Forces
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, throngs of people gathered at the Greater Moncton International Airport last Wednesday to recognize the service and commitment of four servicemen returning from Afghanistan after six months of field duty.

These brave men—Corporal Mattieu Jacob, Corporal Joël Richard, Trooper Martin Cormier and Master Corporal Emanuel Gaumont of the 8th Canadian Hussars—have done their province and their country proud. Greater Moncton supports them and all Canadian troops.

As we underscore their courage, let us not forget the sacrifices of those who have fallen in combat and their families.

Let us remember something else. The government has not yet articulated a clear mission statement in Afghanistan even as it puts the flower of Canada's youth in harm's way. It has not bothered to secure the resources necessary to deal with the rising incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder among our servicemen and servicewomen returning home.

All Canadians, but especially our returning heroes, deserve better.

Job Creation
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite my opposition colleagues' dire predictions about how the economy was going to be destabilized, a new Canadian job creation record was set in January.

More than 46,000 new jobs were created in January, which is proof that more Canadians have work thanks to the leadership of our Prime Minister.

The unemployment rate reached its lowest point ever. These new jobs are full-time jobs that pay nearly 5% more than last year, which is twice the rate of inflation.

There is also good news for Quebec. The unemployment rate is at its lowest in 33 years. In January, more than 24,000 full-time jobs were created in Quebec, including 17,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Fortunately, Quebeckers are not as negative when it comes to their future as the members of the eternal Bloc opposition. They know that the economy will continue to shine as brightly as the north star thanks to our Prime Minister's leadership.

Credit Card Interest Rates
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP wants the government to show leadership and fairness by taking action for working and middle class families.

Hard-working Canadians deserve protection as consumers. The government should be capping credit card interest at no more than 5% above prime. Here are five reasons why credit card rates and the banks should be reined in.

One, today's interest rates are outrageous. Nineteen per cent or higher interest rates unfairly hurt working families.

Two, consumer debt is six times higher than in the 1980s, at $300 billion, and total household debt driven by high interest debt is over $1 trillion.

Three, families that used to be able to save 15% to 20% of their income now can only save an average of 2%. That will not be enough to retire on.

Four, the high costs of medications, training and of course child care are driving up the cost of essential items, forcing more hard-working families into debt.

Five, big banks are making record profits and are heading toward another $20 billion year as they gouge consumers.

The Conservative government has given massive corporate tax cuts that have benefited the big banks. The NDP wants to see the banks reined in, with capped credit card interest rates so that hard-working Canadians can meet the needs of their families.

Grandmaître Award Gala
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the recipients of the Grandmaître awards at the 8th annual gala, which was held February 7, 2007. Among the winners were André Brisebois, young person of the year, Jean-François Picher, educator of the year, and Alain Vachon, citizen of the year.

Le Patro d'Ottawa was recognized as organization of the year, an award that has been well earned, as the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary. Congratulations to its executive director, Denis Bédard, and his predecessors.

Dr. Harvey Barkun was recognized as francophile of the year. After a brilliant career in hospital administration, he became a board member of the Montfort Hospital in 1998 and has been actively contributing to its development ever since.

I would especially like to congratulate Pierre De Blois, a good friend, who was awarded the Grandmaître prize. After over 35 years of activism, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for the Festival franco-ontarien, homogeneous school boards in Ontario, the important role played by the University of Ottawa in the francophonie, and I could go on.

Bravo, Pierre, and my sincere thanks.

Manufacturing Industry
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, last January, Cabico announced a third wave of staff reductions at its Coaticook plant. This flourishing company once employed just over 800 people. Today, Cabico has only 300 workers.

As it exports 90% of its production to the United States, this kitchen cabinet manufacturer is facing very difficult market conditions given the manufacturing crisis.

The Bloc Québécois believes that the $1 billion aid package is not enough and should be increased to $4.5 billion. The Bloc Québécois is proud to have convinced the government that the situation was beyond urgent and that immediate action had to be taken. However, the aid package must be improved and the government has the wherewithal.

The Bloc Québécois will continue to press for assistance for this region and all others affected by this crisis and will continue to defend the interests of workers.

Non-Profit Organizations
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was recently contacted by a constituent who shared a sobering message regarding the current government's increasing neglect of non-profit organizations across this country.

This constituent, who works to promote and support volunteers and volunteerism in her community, said, “It is becoming a real struggle for non-profits. Since the Conservatives have taken over, funding has basically dried up”. She went on to express her concern for the continuation of non-profits. She said, “Many volunteer centres across Canada are currently in survival mode”.

I do not know why the Prime Minister wants to be remembered as the cruellest ever. Does he not see that volunteers and non-profits across this country are the backbone of a caring society? Will he use the upcoming budget to provide funds to help the non-profit organizations?

I call upon my parliamentary colleagues to join me in expressing our appreciation for the volunteers across this great country.