House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the participation of the member for Yukon in the debate today, because he always ensures that he represents his riding in a very respectful way.

I would like to answer the question about the issue around the process. I will go back to the idea that there was a process in place, which was very encouraging. I have to wrap this up, so I will just say that I am really disappointed that we have not responded to or continued that process. I look forward to hearing from people at committee.

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the message from the official consultations on matrimonial real property was very clear. As the Native Women's Association stated:

There is nothing in the legislation that addresses the systemic issues of violence many women face that lead to the dissolution of marriages nor is there any money available for implementation. In the end, we end up with a more worthless piece of paper.

In June 2006, the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women heard from Bev Jacobs from the Native Women's Association. She stated:

...legislative and non-legislative policies are required to alleviate the underlying issues of poverty and violence against women and children.

The government fails to see the real solutions. It refuses to sign on to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, even though this House endorsed the declaration and demanded the Government of Canada sign on.

The government has failed to address the systemic discrimination that first nations, Inuit and Métis women face, and it has so far failed to issue an official unqualified apology for the survivors of the residential schools.

Reconciliation cannot happen until there is an acknowledgement from the Government of Canada that first nations peoples suffered and continue to suffer from the legacy of those horrific actions, which, in the words of survivors, included being beaten for speaking their language, being torn away from their families, living in isolation from their communities and traditions, and, because of their vulnerability, they often were victims of sexual molestation. In the worst cases, children died in unexplained circumstances and were buried in unmarked graves.

I have spent a great deal of time as an MPP and an MP working with first nations communities. Most recently, my work has taken me to My Sister's Place in London which serves many first nations women. One sister from the Six Nations community told the story of the residential schools. They called it the “Mush Pit” because it was a place where children were literally destroyed. She talked about one disabled child, a child who could not walk and needed crutches but there were no crutches. The child was left unable to get around. One day a woman went to the woods nearby to find a stick for her friend so she could at least manage to get around the school but she was beaten for doing that. She was beaten for interfering. The child was left defenceless and finally was thrown into the cellar underneath the stairwell. She was down there for many days. She cried, wailed and pleaded to be let out but then she just disappeared. There was no real explanation about the disappearance and, clearly, no concern. A child had disappeared and her family was told that she had run away. A child who could not even walk had run away and no one seemed to be all that concerned.

That is the legacy we live with. For those children who did return home, they were strangers to their parents and to the customs and traditions that are the strength of first nations communities. No wonder there is still so much despair. To our great shame, we have done so little to make up for the sins and abuses of the past.

The government had the opportunity in the past two years to correct a great wrong but instead ignored the advice of the extensive consultations and did not consult on the actual legislation that we see before us today.

I would like to read from the Native Women's Association of Canada peoples' report entitled, “Reclaiming Our Way of Being: Matrimonial Real Property Solutions”. I would like to read from this report because it is important for the voices of first nations women to be heard in this House. I do hope that parliamentarians are listening to those voices. The report states:

Violence is the single most important issue facing Aboriginal women today. NWAC knows that violence against Aboriginal women can take many forms, including violence in the home, violence in relationships, and violence on the streets. Statistics Canada has reported that Aboriginal women are more than three times more likely to be the victim of spousal violence than other women in Canada.

The report goes on to state:

There are many stories about abuse on the reserve, women are stuck in homes of misery.

The experience of violence affects not only the woman and her children, but also her family and her community. One woman described this cycle:

“Generations to generations; I am a survivor of a mother that had to run away, all the way to the city of Toronto, take her five kids and move there for domestic violence as she was scared for her life. She was chased out of her house and out of her community and I see that”.

Violence against Aboriginal women is compounded by the lack of understanding and utter indifference from community members, service providers and society in general.

Another survivor said:

Even if we get something big, wonderful, all encompassing beautiful document that’s going to help us forever, how do you enforce it, especially in the isolated communities? Hey, you’ve got a gun at your head and there’s no police around you, what do you do? You take off and you leave. So I mean the enforcement to me has to be well thought out and we have to have the cooperation of the justice systems in this.

Another said:

When my marriage broke down I felt like I had no where to go and no one to guide me.

There should be some type of transitional houses on reserves… this would enable members to stay in their communities.

The report goes on to state:

Many participants talked about the lack of policing in First Nations communities. Women spoke of situations where they had asked law enforcement personnel for assistance, but were unable to get help.

Another survivor stated:

But the fact that we don’t have help, not only just with family law, but in a lot of areas on reserve, in reserve life there are no laws.

There is no authority right now, he can walk in and beat her up whenever he wants and that is how it is.

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am sorry to cut off the hon. member but she will have 13 minutes left to finish her remarks after question period.

Now we will move on to statements by members. The hon. member for Peterborough.

Pedal for Hope Team
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, each year since 2005, the Pedal for Hope team has cycled 1,000 kilometres through Peterborough, Haliburton and Northumberland counties in Ontario to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.

Founded by Constable John Townsend of the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service, the team is comprised entirely of police officers with one notable exception.

Today, I am pleased to welcome from the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service: Constable John Townsend, Sergeant Mark Habgood, Sergeant Tim Farquharson, Sergeant Mark Elliott, Constable Lindsey Wallwork, Constable Keith Calderwood and Auxillary Constable Scott Masters. From the Ontario Provincial Police we have Sergeant Gerry Smith and Constable Dave McNab, and from the RCMP we have Constable Rick Allen and NHL alumni John Druce.

The members of the Pedal for Hope team selflessly donate their time and raise money for a cause that all members in the House support. I invite all members to join me in congratulating the Pedal for Hope team in completing this year's ride and surpassing $500,000 in fundraising since 2005.

Israel
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, I, along with thousands of Canadians, celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel's statehood at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto. Generations stood together to support Israel and its people. Together we celebrated the remarkable accomplishments of Israel.

As the Liberal leader said recently:

Since its official establishment in 1948, Israel has not only inspired the international community with its commitment to democracy and freedom, it has enriched our world with its vibrant culture and traditions.

Canada's longstanding friendship and support for Israel is unwavering.

Israel has a fundamental right to exist in a secure and peaceful Middle East. Canada, as always, stands with Israel against threats to its existence. May it go from strength to strength.

Yves Michaud
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to sincerely congratulate the Mouvement d'éducation et de défense des actionnaires, a shareholder advocacy group, and its president, Yves Michaud, on winning the opening round against the very powerful Power Corporation.

Recently, the Superior Court of Quebec ruled in Mr. Michaud's favour, stating that shareholders of a company have the right to be informed not only of that company's financial details, but also of those of the company's subsidiaries and other corporate entities. According to the decision, each company must keep these records at its headquarters and make them available to all shareholders.

The lawsuit began in May 2006 when Mr. Michaud asked Power Corporation for permission to consult Gesca's financial statements. When the company refused to disclose the information, Mr. Michaud took the matter to court. Last Friday, he attended Power Corporation's annual general meeting to learn more, but to no avail.

I know Mr. Michaud, and I know that he will continue the fight. Congratulations on this first victory.

Health
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the city of Toronto, swimming pools are threatened with closure because of a lack of school board funding. I have joined with the community to protest because we cannot sit by and let this happen.

Our parents and grandparents built these pools in much leaner times and it defies logic that, when our country is wealthier than ever, we cannot find the funds to maintain them.

The Canadian Ministry of Health website recommends swimming as an excellent activity for health promotion. We know it develops coordination, fitness and confidence. It helps prevent obesity and is therapeutic for seniors. Knowing how to swim saves lives. A swim program is a better crime prevention tool than the law and order crackdown by the government.

We need more than a website to promote public health. We need federal funding. Rather than reduce our fiscal capacity with tax cuts to very profitable corporations, we need to invest in our people and communities.

I have introduced a motion calling for federal funds for sports infrastructure, such as soccer fields, cycling paths, and swimming pools. Let us use our common sense as a country to invest in the resources that will help our children develop to the best of their ability and help everyone stay fit and healthy.

Volunteer Firefighters
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, during the last few weeks, I had the privilege of attending events honouring the service of volunteer firefighters in my riding. The ceremonies for Keswick Ridge and Bath fire departments highlight why volunteerism is a fundamental part of healthy communities.

These firefighters give much of their time in order to help our families in times of need. They take training courses so they can deliver better quality service in any emergency situation.

This contribution is shared by volunteer members and their families who support the many hours of effort it takes to be the best they can be.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Chief LeBlanc of Keswick Ridge and Chief Armour of Bath and all the fire chiefs in the region for their leadership. I also want to congratulate Clarence Coffey and Greg Gilmore for their long service to the Keswick Ridge Department and to Roy Demerchant of Bath for his 46 years of service before retirement.

On behalf of the good people of Tobique--Mactaquac, I would like to thank the firefighters for undertaking the very important work that makes our rural communities a safer place to live, work and raise a family.

Cycle to Walk
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, great Canadians Rich Hanson and Terry Fox embarked on epic cross-Canada fundraising journeys. On April 12, a third young Canadian hero, Ramesh Ferris, legs crippled with polio, started his cross-Canada crusade.

Millions of children around the world, and shockingly 11% of Canadians, are not vaccinated and could be crippled for life if we stand by and do nothing.

For only 60¢, the cost of a quarter cup of coffee, we could prevent a life of misery for a child in Nigeria, India, Pakistan or Afghanistan. We could help wretched souls, who have had to crawl around in the dirt and mud for their entire lives, to now stand and walk for the first time.

This is why this courageous young man started from Whitehorse and Victoria to a hero's welcome. This is why I want all members to welcome him with a hero's welcome when he arrives in their community and give generously to cycletowalk.com to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.

Veterans
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, Mr. John Babcock, our last known first world war veteran, became a Canadian citizen today at a ceremony at his home in Spokane, Washington. This is in recognition of his military service to Canada and his expressed desire, at age 107, to become a citizen of the country where he was born. The hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs is in Spokane today to witness Mr. Babcock taking his oath of citizenship.

Mr. Babcock's contribution to our collective understanding of the first world war experience is immeasurable. He is well known across Canada and the United States for his humour, his storytelling and his energy, which he credits to his training in the army.

He has shared his experience with youth in schools to ensure that the contribution of those who served their country is remembered for all time. Mr. Babcock is our last personal connection to a remarkable generation of Canadian heroes. As he said this morning, “I was born in Canada and now I am a Canadian. This completes the circle of my life”.

Welcome back, Mr. Babcock.

René Laurin
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to inform the House that a former member, the current mayor of Joliette, René Laurin, was awarded the Quebec National Assembly medal.

Mr. Laurin received this recognition for his achievements as mayor of Joliette. Those achievements include the opening of the Rina-Lasnier library, and the redevelopment of the downtown area and Manseau Boulevard, the city's main artery. He also does an outstanding job in his role at the regional level, and his leadership and dynamic nature are positively infectious. He was chosen as the 2007 personality of the year by the Lanaudière newspaper L'Action.

He is known for his love of arts and culture, and under his initiative, the city of Joliette has forged partnerships with the major institutions of our region, including the Joliette art museum and the International Festival of Lanaudière.

René Laurin served as the member for Joliette in the House of Commons from 1993 to 2000 in the Bloc Québécois caucus. He is a patriot in every sense of the word and, in my own name and on behalf of my colleagues, I would like to congratulate him on this well-deserved honour.

Bravo, René.

Irena Sendler
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I pay tribute to a remarkable woman who touched the lives of over 2,500 people while unselfishly risking her own. At the age of 98 Irena Sendler passed away yesterday in Warsaw, Poland.

During World War II Irena led an underground Polish group that rescued 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during the Holocaust. She was honoured for her bravery as the 2003 winner of the Jan Karski award for valour and courage and then was nominated for the Nobel peace prize.

Last month the Prime Minister visited Auschwitz. In the museum's book of remembrance he wrote:

We are witness here to the vestiges of unspeakable cruelty, horror and death. Let us never forget these things and work always to prevent their repetition.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I offer my deepest condolences to Irena Sendler's family and to all who were forever impacted by her generosity and selflessness.

Science Fair
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in this chamber today to commend five students from the province of Prince Edward Island on their accomplishments in the field of science. Brandon Doyle, Daniel Larson, Emily Ross, Simon Trivett and Rebecca Wolfe are in Ottawa this week participating in the Canada-wide science fair.

This national fair, presented by the Youth Science Foundation Canada, is a showcase of our nation's brightest young minds. This fair will focus attention on the commitment of our nation's young people to science and technology and as such, it is an opportunity for us to celebrate the imagination and innovation of Canadian youth.

I would like to congratulate these five young Islanders, as well as all participants from across the country, for their accomplishments.

I would ask all members of Parliament to join me in saluting this group of young students from across the nation as they are the next generation of great thinkers and trailblazers of science in Canada.

“Your Canada in 2050” Contest
Statements By Members

May 13th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, what will Canada be like in 2050? What policies would improve our society so that it reflects our highest aspirations?

Young people in Lévis, Bellechasse and Les Etchemins entered the “Ton Canada en 2050” contest and answered these fascinating questions.

The members of the jury were impressed by the creativity and energy of these secondary students and the teachers who got involved.

Today, we welcome to the Hill more than 70 students from École Marcelle-Mallette in Lévis who entered the contest. They include Clara Turcotte, whose entry focuses on social commitment, Justine Bernier-Blanchette, who talks about research and development, and Josée Turmel, who wants to eliminate the use of plastic bags.

I want to congratulate all of the students and thank them for taking part in the contest. I am very proud of them. With young people like them, who may one day take our place, Canada is in good hands.

World Food Crisis
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, no issue in recent memory has risen as dramatically in the public's consciousness as food security. Literally, within a matter of weeks, Canadians everywhere have started to talk anxiously about the world food crisis. And it is indeed a crisis.

The issues that are affecting the supply, and hence the cost, of food right now are creating the perfect storm. The rising oil prices, collapse in food stocks, price increases driven by speculators, market concentration within the food system, climate change, the world's population increase, and the new emphasis on biofuels, all have combined to create global food scarcity.

Many of these problems are systemic and they will not go away unless we, as politicians, turn our minds to addressing the fundamentals. We just recently had one such opportunity when enabling legislation for biofuels was before this House. Only the NDP voted against the bill, not because we do not support energy alternatives to petroleum but because the legislation gives the government a blank cheque to feed cars instead of people.

The bill will come back to the House for a final vote. I urge members to reconsider their support. The world food crisis should give all of us food for thought.