House of Commons Hansard #46 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.

Topics

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I actually have no surprise at hearing what the member has mentioned, in part because this is how the entire Kelowna concept first came about. It was rushed and last moment, previous to an election call.

It was from a government which knew that it had accomplished nothing in relation to aboriginal peoples over its entire tenure. It had to rush out this very ill-conceived press release at the last moment. The Liberals often speak about it as something that was an accord. Of course I know that accords are signed. There was actually no agreement as to how those proposed dollars would be spent among first nations leaders, but of course everyone knew that it was right before an election. It has received that type of stature, but it unfortunately is only a shameless attempt at trying to establish some degree of credibility on the file.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say at the outset that I will be sharing my time with the very effective member for Trois-Rivières.

On the occasion of this debate on the prebudget consultations, I would like to say that the Bloc Québécois position is the result of consultation. The Bloc Québécois consulted people in the various ridings it represents. Since most of the ridings in Quebec are represented by Bloc members, we believe we represent the opinion of most Quebeckers. We consulted businesses as well as socio-economic and community groups.

People were unanimous in saying that the government must put money into helping companies and individuals by using the portion of the surplus that is available to invest. However, the government will have to invest heavily in Quebec's priorities in the upcoming budget.

We announced certain conditions pertaining to certain key sectors. It is important that the budget respond to calls from Quebeckers and the Bloc Québécois by providing $1 billion in aid for the forestry industry and not aid shared by the forestry and manufacturing industries. The budget must provide $1.5 billion to help manufacturers purchase more productive and efficient equipment, which will boost productivity.

Another important area is transfers to municipalities. Municipalities have an urgent need for assistance to renovate municipal infrastructure.

Creation of an independent employment insurance fund is another priority. The Bloc Québécois has been suggesting this for quite some time. Successive governments have paid down Canada's debt out of funds generated by workers, whose contributions make up the bulk of the fund. When the government takes this money, which belongs to workers, and uses it to pay down the debt, these workers are entitled to expect much better and much more respect from their government.

The government also needs to set up an income support program for older workers. The Conservative Party made this promise during the last election campaign. To date, there has been no indication that the Conservatives intend to keep their promise. Yet they made a very firm commitment. Once again, workers and seniors are being shortchanged by the government.

There is also the issue of funding for social housing. Each year, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation generates a surplus of several billion dollars. It is important for the government to come up with a strategy for reinvesting in social housing.

I would like to talk a bit more about the sectors I mentioned. With respect to help for the manufacturing sector, the Bloc Québécois, through its participation in the Standing Committee on Finance, generally approves of the direction that the committee proposed. Several measures proposed by the Bloc Québécois were accepted by the committee, but others were rejected, even though some of them were essential. Among those accepted by the Standing Committee on Finance, which means that they were accepted by Liberal, Conservative, New Democrat and Bloc members, are some important measures worth highlighting.

The Bloc believes that the government should not stall in following up on some of the proposed measures because even Conservative members of the committee agreed to them. The committee recommended that the government allocate $1 billion to the forestry sector. I think the government should act on this measure. One billion dollars for the forestry sector alone.

Earlier, I said that the trust that was announced and voted on this week was for $1 billion to be divided between the manufacturing and forestry sectors. It is important to point out that difference. There are a lot of similarities between the two sectors.

Quebec's forestry sector is in such a state of crisis that it requires special consideration. The Standing Committee on Finance agreed to that and recommended it.

The committee also recommended that $1.5 billion be redistributed to manufacturing industries through tax refunds and tax credits so that these industries can buy new equipment and become more productive. If we want these companies to compete in the global market, we have to help them prepare for it.

All members of the Standing Committee on Finance agreed to that measure, and they also suggested that the federal excise tax transfer be raised to 5¢ to help municipalities become more competitive. The committee also recommended that this measure come into force not in 2010, but right now. This is an important element that the Standing Committee on Finance approved of and recommended to the government in its prebudget report.

With respect to the employment insurance fund surplus, the Bloc Québécois finds it unfortunate that an independent fund cannot be created to help cushion the blow for workers who lose their jobs temporarily or, sometimes, indefinitely. That money should go back to the workers who paid into the fund before it goes anywhere else.

Another important element has to do with the dignity of seniors. Earlier I mentioned the Conservatives' promise during the last election campaign to make the guaranteed income supplement for seniors fully retroactive. The government did not get it done. It did not agree and it broke its promise to seniors. The Bloc Québécois is very disappointed that the Standing Committee on Finance did not agree with this measure. This is a real shame for seniors; we owe them a lot. These people often live below the poverty line. The government and society are indebted to them, and we should respect that.

The fiscal imbalance is also important. It really must be settled. We called for $3.5 billion for post-secondary education funding, because it has been cut in recent years. It is vital that we get the funding we used to get if Quebec is to move forward and to properly educate all the students under its jurisdiction.

In terms of social housing and the status of women, the Standing Committee on Finance, once again on the Bloc's initiative, agreed to have the government use some surpluses from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to invest in social housing.

By acting on this very interesting report we can give back to a number of people, including aboriginals, so that they can once again live with much more dignity. The CMHC must dip into its surplus to provide money for social housing and to create an improved program, so there is more adequate social housing throughout Quebec.

Obviously, in its supplementary report, the Bloc Québécois was also severely critical of the ideological cuts made in recent years to status of women programs and to the court challenges program. The Bloc recommended that these measures be reinstated, but the committee did not agree. It is a terrible shame, and that is why we included this recommendation in our supplementary report.

I would like to conclude with the issue of funding for culture, where there is a huge lack of money. Over the past two years, we have not felt that the government was committed towards developing culture.

Prebudget Consultations
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

We have five minutes left for questions and comments. We will come back to that when debate resumes, after oral question period.

Youth Exchange Programs
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the great benefit that government supported education programs provide to our youth.

Last May, students from my riding had the opportunity to participate in an exchange to Ontario through SEVEC, an organization supported by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Youth exchange programs funded by our government allow young Canadians to explore other traditions, share new ideas and broaden their appreciation for our country's great diversity.

Programs for youth on Parliament Hill, such as the page program and internship programs, allow students to get a first-hand look at how Parliament works.

I am delighted that youth in my riding are taking advantage of the many educational programs offered by our government and I hope that they take what they learn from their experiences out with them into the world and use it to make Canada an even better place.

Reginald Gulliford
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute and honour a truly heroic person, Sergeant Reginald Gulliford from Buchans, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Early in his career, he was stationed in Manitoba. In 1986, Reg and his partner, Constable Thomas, were at a gas station to assist an individual when that person fired on them killing Constable Thomas and striking Constable Gulliford with three bullets.

However, Reg was never the type of person to give up. He survived. He underwent 29 operations and by September 1987 he was back on his feet. Incredibly, he returned to work with the RCMP in St. John's the following January.

Recently, at the age of 46, Sergeant Reg Gulliford passed away after battling with cancer. As always, Reg faced this terrible disease with strength of character and always a positive approach.

Yesterday, I spoke to Reg's mother, Bernice , who lives in Buchans. She was very proud of her son and misses him very much. He was a great son and, like his colleagues, he was a proud member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and truly a great Canadian hero.

Teachers' Week
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is Teachers' Week, and I would like to thank and pay tribute to those whose energy, dedication and perseverance is key to the education of our future citizens.

Teachers are precious. Their understanding, commitment and competence help prepare students for future challenges. Every day, these educational professionals have a positive impact on the daily lives of our children. In recognition of just how much work teachers do and to pay them proper tribute, the Commission scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Mille-Îles in my riding launched a contest called “My Teacher” for the second year in a row. What a great initiative.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to salute all our teaching professionals, who really care about the progress of Quebec society, and congratulate the school board on this wonderful initiative.

Aboriginal Affairs
Statements By Members

February 7th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, at a recent meeting with the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation and the lieutenant governor of B.C., Chief Mike Maquinna addressed His Honour Steven Point on the present situation of his people.

He recalled the history of generosity that his people have exhibited since that first meeting in 1792 when Captain Vancouver sailed into Friendly Cove and made contact with the ancestors of today's residents of Tsaxana. That generosity was once against demonstrated in the festivities of the day.

It had not escaped their attention that many of the visitors had stayed and made great fortunes from their land. The same could not be said for his people. He expressed their collective hopes that, in light of the B.C. 2010 Olympics and in just plain return of favour, it would be appreciated if the Mowachaht/Muchalaht could share in the wealth.

The chief asked representatives from government who had been invited to bear witness to their meeting to carry this message to their parliaments. I am privileged today to do that.

The Canadian government must start treating the Mowachaht/Muchalaht and all first nations in this country with a lot more respect and allow them to participate in Canada's wealth.

Child Care
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, once again, NDP members are refusing to debate their own child care proposals. Why do they not want to discuss their plan for Canada's children in this House? Have they finally realized how offensive and unworkable their bill really is?

The opposition wants to take away the universal child care benefit from families and, instead, create additional government bureaucracy to establish a network of government run day care centres.

That is offensive to the thousands of private day care operators and others who provide excellent child care across the country. It is incredibly offensive to the relatives, grandparents and parents of children who choose to provide care in their own homes. It is offensive to the provinces, all of which object to using taxpayer dollars to create additional bureaucracy rather than new child care spaces.

We will not permit the opposition to sacrifice the well-being of our children to the self-serving interests of its friends nor to its insulting belief that without government direction parents cannot choose what is right for their children.

East Coast Music Awards
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the East Coast Music Awards will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend in Fredericton.

The ECMA showcases and honours the many professionals dedicated to the promotion of east coast music. Thanks to the organizers and many volunteers, ECMA events will take over the city from today until Sunday.

I wish all the nominees good luck, including Fredericton's own Thom Swift, Ross Nielsen, Richard Paul, Evangeline Inman, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, The Fredericton Playhouse, Dolan's Pub, Kyle Cunjak Photography and CFXY 105.3 The Fox.

Denise and I will be celebrating Noah's second birthday by attending the ECMAs, and I urge everyone to come out or tune in for the stellar lineup of east coast artists who will be celebrated this weekend in Fredericton.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, one thing is clear: the Bloc is doing nothing to help our dairy farmers. It has nothing to offer.

However, at noon, the Secretary of State (Agriculture) and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food spoke at the Dairy Farmers of Canada conference. They reiterated the firm stand taken by the Conservative government in support of supply management at the WTO.

They also pointed out the government's positive actions, particularly in establishing cheese composition standards. And if this were not enough, at noon, the minister announced special safeguard measures.

I am proud of Quebec members' efforts on behalf of Quebec farmers and dairy producers and I am proud that our Conservative government takes action and defends so vigorously the interests of our dairy producers and farmers.

International Development Week
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, during International Development Week from February 3 to 9, 2008, the City of Ottawa is hosting a meeting of the Advisory Group on CSOs and Aid Effectiveness. Several NGOs there are calling for an end to a model that does not target poverty reduction and excludes civil society.

Excluding NGOs makes no sense, since those organizations have in-depth knowledge of local realities and generally have strong roots in the communities receiving assistance. Involving them directly in development programs helps reinforce democracy and promote savings in societies that are often marginalized.

It is time to speak out about the fact that Canada is still far from reaching the development assistance target of 0.7% of GDP. There is room for improvement.

Tackling Violent Crime Act
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to keeping our communities and streets safe, which is why it is imperative that members on that side of the House come to their senses and do the right thing and pass the tackling violent crime act which imposes mandatory jail time for serious gun crimes, cracks down on drug and alcohol impaired driving, increases the age of protection for sexual activity from 14 to 16 years old and ensures that high risk and repeat offenders face tougher consequences when they are convicted.

Our government is committed to keeping our promises and committed to passing Bill C-2. By stalling the passing of this bill in the unelected and unaccountable Liberal Senate, the Leader of the Opposition continues to put our communities and children at risk. Canadians demand more. They demand cooperation on a bill that affects the lives and well-being of all our loved ones.

It is time that the opposition stopped playing its petty partisan games and work with us to better protect our children. It is time that the Liberal leader do just that: lead, follow or get out of the way.

Chinese New Year
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer warm greetings to Canadians across this country who are celebrating the Chinese New Year. I welcome everyone to the Year of the Rat.

The Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays, with festivities to ring in spring until the rising of the full moon. It includes customs that date back thousands of years.

This celebration has become an important part of our cultural landscape. It should remind us that the Canada we now have today would not be the same without the role played by Chinese Canadians. This is a time for all Canadians to appreciate all that multiculturalism brings to this nation and to remember that our diversity is our strength.

On behalf of the Liberal Party, I wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year and may the new year bring health and good fortune to all.

Tackling Violent Crime Act
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is increasingly apparent that the Liberals have been misleading Canadians regarding their stance on the tackling violent crime act.

Let us consider the facts. Although they voted for the bill, some Liberals have talked openly about repealing sections of it if they return to power.

At every opportunity, the unelected and unaccountable Liberal senators have obstructed initiatives to protect Canadian families, while waving politically motivated nonsense like Bill C-288 through in mere seconds.

And now it seems just a matter of time until the Liberal Party forces an election, leaving this important bill to die in the Senate.

There is a simple reason that getting tough on crime was prominent in both the Conservative election platform and in our Speech from the Throne: it matters to Canadian families.

In a couple of minutes, the Liberal leader will stand up, cheered on by his team of Liberal lemmings. I hope he will use this opportunity to tell the House that in his long-awaited first act of leadership he is demanding that his unelected Liberal senators stop playing political games with the safety of Canadians.

Energy Security Initiative
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's misguided policy of selling out Canada's energy security through the North American energy security initiative, boldly promoted on the Prime Minister's own website, is being viewed as a total failure by all sectors of Canadian society.

Business leaders, academics, labour leaders, respected energy experts, provincial governments and municipalities, the consensus is overwhelming that the Conservative government is on the wrong track. They all agree that we must develop a Canada first energy security strategy.

Working Canadians cannot wait until all of our oil and natural gas is completely committed to the United States. We need to move now. We need leadership on how best to invest over the next 25 years in energy systems that will create a green and energy secure Canada.

We need leadership to get Canadians to reduce their energy consumption. We need leadership to increase the use of renewable energy.

That is a tall order, one the Conservative government is not up. The Conservatives would rather hide behind the false image of our energy superpower status.

Working Canadians want a--