House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was climate.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord on a point of order.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among all parties and I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion:

That, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the Member from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to Tuesday, November 24, 2009, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord have unanimous consent of the House to present the motion?

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, Canada should commit to propose at the Copenhagen conference on climate change:

1. reducing, through absolute reduction targets, greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized countries to 25% lower than 1990 levels, by 2020;

2. the necessity of limiting the rise in global temperatures to less than 2oC higher than in the preindustrial era; and

3. supporting the developing countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this Bloc Québécois opposition day motion regarding climate change. We have already been hit by a food crisis and a financial crisis, and evidence shows that the economic, social and environmental impact of climate change is getting worse and worse. As a result, we must shoulder our responsibilities and ensure that Canada becomes a leader in the fight against climate change. This motion seeks to ensure that Canada, which is becoming more and more isolated on the international scene, does not show up empty-handed in Copenhagen this December.

That is why the Bloc Québécois is moving the following motion:

That, in the opinion of the House, Canada should commit to propose at the Copenhagen conference on climate change:

1. reducing, through absolute reduction targets, greenhouse gas emissions in industrialized countries to 25% lower than 1990 levels, by 2020;

2. the necessity of limiting the rise in global temperatures to less than 2oC higher than in the preindustrial era; and

3. supporting the developing countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change.

On October 22, 2008, the United Nations Environment Program introduced its “green new deal”, an initiative to stimulate the economy by encouraging investment in clean technology and natural resources. Climate change makes entire populations and ecosystems more vulnerable by making them less resilient, and it has a direct impact on populations that depend heavily on natural resources to meet their needs. For a long time, we have looked at climate change as a technical problem, but now it is clear that it is inextricably linked to social, cultural, economic and political problems.

The scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, agree that if we want to minimize the magnitude of the disasters expected to befall the planet, we must prevent average global temperatures from increasing to more than 2oC above pre-industrial averages. That means that we need absolute greenhouse gas reduction targets to bring emissions down to between 25% and 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

The government has stubbornly refused to implement a plan guided by current scientific data, so we feel that Parliament must now make up for the lack of government leadership in the fight against climate change.

This green economy initiative is designed to create green jobs and establish policies and market tools to accelerate the transition to a sustainable economy. The UN gave nations 24 months to prepare a plan for making this essential transition. Canada must answer the UN's call. Unfortunately, Canada is still lagging behind. The Pembina Institute, which looks for alternative solutions to environmental problems, last spring issued a damning report on Canadian policies. The U.S. administration, on the other hand, has invested six times more per capita than the Conservative government in environmental research and the development of new technologies. The U.S. economic recovery plan that Barack Obama signed included nearly $76 billion in spending in areas as diverse as energy efficiency in public and residential buildings, high-efficiency vehicles and the search for alternatives to oil and coal.

For example, nearly $24 billion will be invested in research and development to electrify cars and the American government fleet, while Canada announced only $500 million.

While the Obama administration announced nearly $2 billion in tax credits to make American homes more energy efficient, as well as a series of measures totalling $25 billion, the Canadian government will invest $800 million in this area. Similarly, the U.S. will spend 14 times more per capita than Canada on renewable energies such as solar and wind power. Unfortunately, the saying that when we look elsewhere, we feel better about ourselves no longer applies.

In addition, according to the United Nations environment program, which set out to determine what proportion of economic stimulus funding went to green investments, including infrastructure to preserve water quality and renewable green energy projects such as solar, wind and geothermal power, the Republic of Korea leads the world, as it has invested 80% of its economic recovery money in environmental solutions such as renewable energies, low-emission vehicles and rail.

China has allocated 34% of its investments to green solutions. These two countries lead the pack of the world's green public investors. Canada, in the meantime, is second to last on this list ahead of Japan and Spain, with a measly 8%.

There is no use looking for the good things the Conservative government has done for the environment. Not only has it never understood the urgent need for action, it simply does not believe in the importance of fighting climate change. Fighting global warming invariably means changing our mindset about energy, especially when it comes to fossil fuels. We will reach our objectives by balancing the economy and the environment.

A recent joint study by prominent economists and ecologists showed that it was possible to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 1990 levels using absolute targets. Not only is this achievable, but it will only have a small impact on the Canadian economy. Rather than consider these proposals objectively, the Minister of the Environment described them as irresponsible and unacceptable. This goes to show that he is choosing to ignore the much higher cost of doing nothing about climate change.

By refusing to take any action, the Conservative government is choosing to protect polluters and place the burden on others, especially in Quebec.

Yesterday, more than 200 companies in Quebec joined forces with other investors around the world who are calling for a sound and ambitious commitment from governments. They are calling on the government for “immediate and deep economy-wide emission reduction commitments which are much higher than the global average reduction target” and which are supported by credible strategies.

According to these Quebec companies, economic development cannot be sustained for the long term if the climate is not stabilized. It is vital that we get out of this recession by laying a solid foundation of low carbon growth and by avoiding the trap of a high-carbon future.

Poor results in Copenhagen could cause a great deal of uncertainty and undermine confidence.

The world's entrepreneurs, investors and visionaries have quickly realized that when the time comes for humanity to make a number of choices, new technologies have extraordinary potential. And Quebec, like other environmental leaders, must seize these new opportunities offered by green energy and the development of alternative modes of transportation.

In March 2007, the Bloc Québécois put forward a plan to reduce our dependence on oil. Encouraging the use of alternative energies, modernizing industrial equipment, providing tax incentives for building renovations and heating system retrofits, and raising energy efficiency standards—these are tangible measures.

Last week, the Bloc Québécois demanded that the federal government allocate funds to encourage electric car research and marketing. Greenhouse gases attributable to road transportation are too significant for us to ignore this sector. Starting now, we must use all available tax mechanisms and the market instruments deemed affordable by the OECD in order to make the bold move into a more sustainable economy. Now is the time to make real choices and it is vital that we go green.

Despite the fact that action is urgently needed, the government has never stopped justifying its inaction by pointing fingers at the previous government's failure. From the very beginning, the government has pointed to the previous government's failure as the reason for its inaction. The reality is that they are pinning responsibility for the problem on the previous government in order to wash their hands of the matter and avoid making any commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.

The Conservatives have been in power for nearly four years now and they have given one thousand and one excuses for not taking up this fight, which is the greatest challenge of the 21st century.

The Conservative government rejected for the third time in four years the entry into force of credible regulations, thus preventing the Montreal carbon exchange from getting off the ground. And yet a real cap and trade system would make it possible for Quebec companies that have already made many efforts, in good faith, to reduce their environmental footprint and benefit from the credits to which they are entitled.

By establishing a plan based on a special reference year—2006 rather than 1990—and intensity targets not shared by anyone else, the Conservatives have voluntarily created an impasse with respect to the proposals made by the international community. This lack of leadership is unfortunately in keeping with the Conservative strategy on climate change, which can be traced back to 1997, when, during the Kyoto protocol negotiations, the Reform Party denied the existence of climate change. After making dramatic statements about the socialist nature of the Kyoto protocol, the Conservatives obviously did not hesitate to tarnish Canada's image and renege on its signature.

What we are seeing here is a charade, and the Conservatives are becoming more and more creative in coming up with new excuses. One of the most striking examples goes back to the Bali conference, when the Conservatives introduced the vague notion of “national circumstances”. Now they are using our harsh winters as an excuse to justify their inaction and suggesting that Canada should not have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions as much as other countries.

The Conservative government is also accumulating awards. At the conference in Barcelona held from November 2 to 6, Canada came first in every category of the "fossil of the day" award, which is given to the countries that are impeding consensus the most. The Conservative government did everything it could to thwart negotiations on a new agreement for Copenhagen, and again came back with the excuse of national circumstances, which basically can be summed up by the fact that Canada is colder, our population is growing and Canada is developing the oil sands. Thus, Canada has opened the door to any excuse and is giving carte blanche to other countries, like China and India, which could also be tempted to invoke their particular circumstances.

Last week, Canada was a sore loser at the APEC summit and was denounced by experts for refusing to set binding targets before the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen. Lastly, this week in Copenhagen, the Minister of the Environment announced that we should not expect the Conservative government to bring forward any regulations on greenhouse gas emissions immediately after that international summit on climate change.

That is the background to Canada's nihilistic strategy for fighting climate change.

We learned today that France, Denmark, Germany and Brazil are launching an extensive diplomatic campaign to mobilize the international community to meet challenging and ambitious targets. China and the United States want Copenhagen to be a success and have agreed to take real action against climate change. And now Russia has committed to targets similar to European ones that would cut its greenhouse gases by at least 20% based on 1990 levels, by 2020.

More and more countries are prepared to show leadership and seriously attack greenhouse gases. Canada is becoming increasingly isolated.

While most industrialized countries, which were initially among the most hesitant, are now showing leadership and getting serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to save the Copenhagen conference, the Conservative government is incurring the wrath of environmental groups and of all those who believe in showing goodwill.

The Conservative Party is recommending a 20% emissions reduction, in terms of intensity targets, by 2020 and 60% by 2050, using 2006 as the reference year. To be clear, this is equal to a 3% reduction by 2020 compared to 1990. By using 2006 as the reference year, the government does not seem to understand the importance of the fight against climate change. The reference year used in the Kyoto protocol is 1990.

I would remind the House that the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997. Under that international agreement on climate change, Canada committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 6% by 2012, compared to 1990.

While Quebec has successfully reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.6%, Canada, mainly because of its oil industry, has increased its emissions by 21.8%. That is why Canada is now recognized as the world's worst polluter. While Quebec also has everything to gain by reducing its oil dependence, which costs it billions of dollars every year, Canada defines itself as an oil nation. So it is not surprising that Canada is desperately trying to prevent a binding agreement from being reached in Copenhagen. What the Conservatives seem to be forgetting is that sooner or later, we will pay the price.

A Quebec aluminum company that has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 15% in 1990 terms will have to agree to the same reduction in emission intensity as a company operating in the oil sands in Alberta, whose greenhouse gas emissions have doubled since 1990.

Furthermore, plans like this based on intensity targets will not utilize the full potential of a carbon exchange in Montreal. Companies will be allowed to reduce the intensity of their emissions without regard for their total emissions, and that reduces the attraction of the carbon credit market. This means that Quebec’s manufacturing industry will be doubly penalized because it will not benefit as much from its efforts as it would have under a system with absolute targets.

As I said, Canada must not show up empty-handed at the Copenhagen conference on climate change. It must come up with a proposal, which is why we are moving this motion. We are issuing a formal appeal to all parliamentarians, from the NDP to the Liberals, basically, to everyone who believes we must not give up in Copenhagen.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois for the motion tabled today in the House and take this opportunity to ask him a few short questions about the status quo in Canada today.

For a few weeks now, or even months, we have been examining Bill C-311 in the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. The purpose of the bill is to address the need to have a real plan of action when it comes to climate change.

Perhaps my colleague could help Canadians and Quebeckers understand the question that has been asked of every expert witness who has appeared before the committee in the past few months. How is it that four years after the Prime Minister and the Conservatives came into office there is still no plan? Yesterday, we asked the Ambassador of the European Union that same question. The Europeans tabled a plan nearly 1,000 pages long, which is available on the Internet. Canada has no plan for climate change.

How is it possible that after four years, two or three weeks before the Copenhagen process is to be ratified and finalized, Canada has ended up in this situation?

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have to remember that, since 1997, Canada's approach to climate change has been based on a voluntary approach, on agreements with Canadian companies and industrial sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Now we have to face the fact that Canada's approach, the federal approach to fighting climate change, has produced no desirable results since 1997. Now we have a government that not only has no plan, but denies the existence of climate change.

Since 1997, that party, which was in opposition and then came to power, has believed that climate change is the result of a natural phenomenon. This despite all of the scientific studies and all of the IPCC reports indicating that 95% of the changes observed are related to human activity. So it is not surprising that we now find ourselves without a climate change plan.

However, in the course of the committee's study of the NDP's Bill C-311, we heard from scientists and environmentalists. They all told us that we have to prevent global temperatures from rising any higher than 2oC above average temperatures in the pre-industrial era, which is what this motion proposes.

Today, I would like the member who asked the question to recognize that we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 and that we need strong consensus among opposition parties to make up for the lack of leadership the government will show in Copenhagen.

I would therefore urge my colleague to read the motion carefully and to get on board with the Bloc Québécois so that our voice in Copenhagen will be strong enough to make the international community understand that this government and its positions do not represent the wishes of the majority of the people of Quebec and Canada, a majority represented by opposition parties.

I urge my colleague to support this motion, which I believe is in line with the wishes of most Quebeckers and Canadians.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the comments of my friend and colleague across the way, as well as the Liberal member's comments, and much of what was said was not accurate.

I want the member to comment on what we have all heard from every witness at the committee that has been studying Bill C-311. Every witness said that there should be a continental approach. The government's plan has been to have a continental approach.

Yesterday, we heard from witnesses from the EU and the U.K. who shared how Europe has a collective target. Twenty-seven different countries are within the EU target and they are doing it collectively. Some are higher and some are lower in their commitment but they have a collective. There was a real logic. I asked the witnesses why they would not do it separately and whether there was not a logic to do it collectively and they agreed that it should be done collectively.

This is what Canada is doing now through the clean energy dialogue with President Obama and the U.S. administration. A strong leadership from Canada is providing for a collective North American strategy. Together, we are harmonizing our approach to tackle the issue of climate change.

Why is the member opposed? Why does he continually vote against and speak against having a North American collective harmonized target for fighting climate change?

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are not opposed to having a harmonized North American approach.

Let us look at the initiatives that have been taken since the new U.S. President took office. The high point in the Obama administration has been the economic recovery plan. The United States decided to invest six times more per capita than Canada in renewable energies. It is clear that we do not have a government that wants to harmonize with American policies. When it comes to economic development, we have a government that wants to keep on living in the stone age by continuing to give tax incentives to the oil industry and refusing to introduce regulations. It knows full well that regulations on climate change would offend its economic and political base in the west. That is a fact.

Here in Canada, we have always favoured the European model, under which Canada negotiates a single greenhouse gas reduction target on the international stage, but individual provinces have different targets based on specific criteria. That is exactly what we want. We should apply the European model here in Canada, so that we can have a shared and separate approach and recognize the efforts that businesses in Quebec have made since 1990.

But the government is carrying on with an approach and a policy that favour only one sector of Canada's economy: the oil industry. As I said, this is because Canada is an oil nation. In both politics and international negotiations, it always looks to its own interests. And the interests of the Government of Canada are oil interests.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his very thoughtful and very forward-thinking comments today on his motion.

I would like to ask him a simple question. Perhaps he could say a bit more about how the Conservatives want to wait primarily for the United States and also would like us to be last of all the 192 countries around the world. It seems that they want to see where the political winds are blowing across the entire planet before they worry about the winds of climate change. Does this make sense?

I would love to hear the member's thoughts on why the Conservatives are taking this reactive rather than proactive approach.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we must recognize that, in the past, Canada provided a certain degree of leadership in environmental matters on the international stage. In recent days, weeks and months, the government has not responded to the call of the UN, which has proposed a green new deal to move towards a greener and more sustainable economy.

Even today, countries such as Denmark, but also China and the United States, want a comprehensive and immediate agreement in Copenhagen. that is a very different approach from the one taken by the Conservative government to date. While France and Brazil undertake major diplomatic efforts to convince industrialized countries to adopt greenhouse gases reductions of 25%, we have a government that is ignoring the appeals of its partner to the south. It is also ignoring the appeals of France, Germany, Denmark, China and all countries that want to put together a strong agreement in Copenhagen.

This country depends on its oil resources. It is not prepared to engage in a necessary shift that will allow Canada's economy to be competitive as we enter the 21st century and to create real green jobs.

If Canada does not understand this reality, if it is not prepared to uphold a rigorous agreement on climate change in Copenhagen, I can guarantee one thing: Quebec will be in Copenhagen to defend renewable energy and it will convince the international community that Canada's beliefs are not those of Quebec.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with one of the most respected members of Parliament in this House, the Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women.

Climate change is one of the most important public policy issues and global challenges of our time. That is why the Government of Canada is taking a multi-pronged approach to addressing the challenge of climate change through domestic, continental and international efforts.

The government has committed to reduce Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions by 20% from 2006 levels by 2020. By 2050 we are planning for a 60% to 70% reduction.

This government will reduce greenhouse gases in a way that will achieve real results. Canada's economic action plan, tabled as part of budget 2009, is very clear on that.

The plan builds on previous investments by providing almost $4 billion in additional funding to support a cleaner and more sustainable environment and to help meet Canada's climate change objectives. This includes $1 billion over five years for a new green infrastructure fund to support projects such as the generation of sustainable energy.

Under the clean energy fund that was launched in May of this year, another $1 billion is provided over five years for clean energy research and demonstration projects, including carbon capture and storage. We are world leaders in this technology. This support alone is expected to generate a total investment in clean technologies of at least $2.5 billion. Per capita we are number one in the world on carbon capture and storage.

The government is committed to achieving our target by taking actions that are comparable to those of other industrialized countries in the global fight against climate change.

South of the border, the American clean energy and security act, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill, has passed the House of Representatives. This bill sets a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. The Kerry-Boxer legislation has commenced its journey through the U.S. Senate. The Kerry-Boxer bill currently talks of a 20% reduction below 2005 levels by 2020. Both of these bills are similar to our Canadian target of a 20% reduction by 2020.

The U.S. bills require utilities to generate 15% of electricity from renewable sources and show annual energy savings of 5% from efficiency measures.

Canada has set a very ambitious energy objective. By 2020, 90% of Canada's electricity needs will be provided by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal or wind power.

This ambitious clean energy objective, as well as a host of other policies and measures, are clearly demonstrating our commitment to undertake efforts that are comparable to those of our international partners.

Internationally, Canada is working actively and constructively through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen, we will work with our international partners to lay the foundation and the framework for an effective and ambitious post-2012 global climate change agreement.

Canada's position at COP15 in Copenhagen is built on five fundamental principles. We will focus on the development of an effective international climate change agreement that, one, balances environmental protection and economic prosperity; two, has a long-term focus to fight climate change; three, supports the development and deployment of clean technologies like carbon capture and storage; four, supports constructive and ambitious global action; and five, includes commitments from all major economies. We all have to participate in this fight against climate change.

This government's resolve to have a successful outcome in Copenhagen is evident in its international engagement in a myriad of international negotiations and meetings.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment actively participated in discussing the challenges of climate change with leaders from the G8, the G20, and the 17-member United States-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate that was launched by President Obama in March of this year, as well as with leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, and most recently, at the pre-COP15 ministerial meetings in Copenhagen that the minister just returned from. It was hard work along with our international partners, and it was very successful.

Earlier this year the G8 leaders agreed to an aggregate global greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 50% by 2050. This implies that global emissions will need to peak as soon as possible and decline thereafter. On top of this, the G8 leaders also committed to reducing the aggregate greenhouse gas emissions from developed countries by 80% or more by 2050 from those of 1990 or more recent years.

In July of this year, the leaders of the Major Economies Forum committed member countries to work together before Copenhagen to identify a global goal for substantially reducing global emissions by 2050. The declaration also announced the establishment of a global partnership to drive transformational low-carbon, climate-friendly technologies. The partnership's goal is to dramatically increase public sector investments in research, development and demonstration of these technologies, while recognizing the importance of private investment, public-private partnerships and international cooperation.

At both the G8 and the Major Economies Forum, Canada and other world leaders acknowledged the broad scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2°C.

The Government of Canada recognizes that robust domestic actions and international engagement are not enough. Any international agreement to fight climate change will need the participation of the United States. Without the United States, it will be impossible to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere at a safe level.

Given the environmental, economic and energy interdependence between Canada and the U.S., we need to ensure a harmonized approach within a continental commitment to fight climate change. I am glad that the member said he does support the government's commitment to a continental approach. I am actually quite surprised, because traditionally he has voted against that.

We are working with the United States to create an effective North American climate change regime with national policies that are harmonized and consistent as well as a continental system composed of national policies and regulations that are equal in value and of similar effect, so we foster fair competition and maintain free trade in the integrated North American market.

We are well down the path of policy harmonization. In February President Obama and our Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Canada-U.S. clean energy dialogue. This will serve to enhance collaboration in the development and deployment of clean energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change.

Our government has been very clear on our commitment to fight climate change. Our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 is very ambitious and comparable to all the other industrialized countries. We are working closely with President Obama and the U.S. administration through the clean energy dialogue to ensure that all of our energy policies will be harmonized through a continental approach.

Canada wants an international binding target that includes all the major emitters. One hundred and ninety-two countries will be at the negotiation table in Copenhagen. Our government will ensure that any agreement that comes forward will include Canada's economic, geographic and industrial realities. We will not sign a deal that is bad for Canada. Quebec is part of Canada.

I have appreciated this opportunity to describe Canada's commitment to a new international agreement on climate change. We are confident that our ambitious actions and committed leadership on this important topic on the domestic, continental and international fronts will contribute toward the collective effort to address this global challenge.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his contribution to this debate.

I listened to the five principles that his government will defend in Copenhagen in December: economic prosperity, a balance between environmental protection and economic prosperity, long-term focus and development of clean technologies.

However, my question is the following. How is it that that these five principles do not include that important rule related to the importance of limiting the rise in global temperatures to less than 2oC higher than in the pre-industrial period? How is it that the government did not include the 2oC rule as an important principle to be negotiated in Copenhagen come December?

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, during my speech I did say that, at both the G8 and the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, Canada and all the other world leaders acknowledged the broad scientific view that the increase in the global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed two degrees.

That is known. That is committed to. That is an international understanding. There is science that supports that. We asked this member to support a balance in order to ensure that jobs are not destroyed in Canada and that we also have a healthy economy and environment. This member knows very well that if his target of 25° is accepted, it would mean dramatic increase in cost to every Canadian through energy prices.

The witnesses are saying that we would have to adopt the prices that Europe is spending. It would double the price for gasoline and to heat our homes. There would be massive increases in energy costs and a major loss of jobs. Our government's plan is a balanced plan to protect the environment and protect jobs in Canada.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was dismayed to once again hear a reiteration of the rubber stamp approach to policy in one more area by the Conservatives, who rubber stamp U.S. policies. Years ago, they wanted to rubber stamp the policy of going into Iraq. They have been rubber stamping the U.S. policy of going into Afghanistan and staying there. Now, they want to rubber stamp the policy of waiting to see exactly what the Americans will do and do not quite do as much here in Canada.

I will limit myself to one specific question that really has me scratching my head. The hon. member talked about clean coal. That is an oxymoron if I have ever heard one. Apparently, there is hope about the emerging technology of carbon sequestration. If carbon sequestration can work, that is great. Many scientists and I are dubious, but if it can work, that is great.

If carbon sequestration is so likely to be successful in sufficiently reducing greenhouse gases and work well, then why are the Conservatives so nervous about applying it and committing to it to actually reach the minimum targets recommended by scientists from around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020?

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member well knows that Canada first came up with the target of a 20% reduction by 2020. The United States is following the lead of Canada in adopting very similar targets. Canada was also the first to introduce new fuel efficiency tailpipe standards for automobiles. Again, the United States are following our lead. The 2011 model will have very similar standards.

At committee, he heard the witnesses from the U.K. and the EU. They said clearly that the world is counting on Canada to commercialize the technology of carbon capture and storage. It has been demonstrated in Canada. Canada has the number one per capita financial commitment to see commercialization of carbon capture and storage.

We are so proud of what we are doing. The world recognizes that. They recognized that at committee yesterday. We will get it done. We will make carbon capture and storage affordable so that other countries that are burning coal will be able to capture that carbon and put it back under the ground from whence it came.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Beauport—Limoilou
Québec

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, climate change is an important part of our government policy, and is one of the most important challenges of our time.

On November 10, André Pratte wrote an article in La Presse called “Canada and Copenhagen”, a great title, and I will read an excerpt:

Canada has developed a strategy that could compromise an agreement in Copenhagen”, according to the Bloc member [for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie].

These types of comments distort reality. If there is no agreement in Copenhagen next month, it will certainly not be because of Canada.

...In the main British, English and American newspapers covering the talks, there is not a single mention of our country.

...The main obstacles in the way of an agreement are primarily:

—the United States' delay in announcing the greenhouse gas reduction targets it would be prepared to agree to;

—the absence of firm commitments from China—

That is why the Prime Minister is currently working to ensure that all countries that are major greenhouse gas emitters work together to find the best possible solution.

Our government is committed to reducing our country's total greenhouse gas emissions by 20% based on the 2006 level, by 2020. By 2050, we have a reduction target of 60% to 70% based on the 2006 level.

Our government is doing what needs to be done to significantly reduce greenhouse gases. Canada's economic action plan, which was introduced as part of Budget 2009, is clear on this point. The plan builds on previous investments by allocating an additional $4 billion to support a cleaner, more sustainable environment and help Canada achieve its climate change objectives. This includes a $1 billion investment over five years in the green infrastructure fund for renewable energy production and other projects. Through the clean energy fund, which was launched on May 19, 2009, we will invest another $1 billion over five years in clean energy research and demonstration projects, including carbon capture and sequestration. That funding alone is expected to generate further investment of at least $2.5 billion in clean energy.

The House of Commons bill will also require public utilities to produce at least 15% of their electricity using renewable resources and to reduce their annual energy consumption by 5% through efficiency measures.

The Government of Canada has also set ambitious goals in terms of energy production. By 2020, 90% of our electricity needs will be provided by non-emitting sources, such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal and wind power.

This clean energy goal, along with a whole series of other policies and measures, demonstrates our willingness to work as hard as our national partners.

Our government remains committed to reducing Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Our target is ambitious but realistic, because it takes into account Canada's growing population and our very energy-intensive industrial sector.

The Government of Canada's approach to fighting climate change will produce tangible economic and environmental results and will benefit all Canadians.

Our government is committed to working with provincial and territorial governments and other partners to develop and implement a North American cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.

Harmonizing Canada's climate change policies with those of the United States is in both countries' economic interests.

We are working with the provincial governments and our partners to develop and implement a North American system.

We have already announced the publication, under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, of a notice of intent to regulate vehicle exhaust emissions and Canada's offset credit systems.

The Copenhagen meeting marks the beginning of a major international collaborative process to set achievable targets. We must ensure that we do things properly and not just deal with them in record time.

Canada's economic action plan includes more than $2 billion in green investments to protect the environment, stimulate our economy and transform our technologies.

For example, the clean energy fund will invest $850 million over five years to develop promising technologies and $150 million over five years for clean energy research and development.

In addition, the green infrastructure fund will provide $1 billion over five years to support targeted investments in green infrastructure that will help improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions.

Our government intends to ensure that 90% of our electricity comes from non-polluting sources by 2020.

In keeping with our commitment to consult the provinces and territories in preparation for the conference of the parties to the United Nations framework agreement on climate change, which will take place in Copenhagen, our minister has held a series of meetings with the premiers and many of his provincial and territorial counterparts to discuss synergies between the federal, provincial and territorial approaches to fighting climate change.

Our consultations with the provinces and territories are part of the work we are doing to harmonize Canada's climate change plan with that of the United States.

The Government of Canada has invited the provinces and territories to attend the Copenhagen conference as members of the Canadian delegation. Their role will be to advise the minister and the lead negotiator, who will represent Canada during the negotiations.

Opposition Motion—Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sorry to have to interrupt the hon. member, but it is now time for statements by members.

She will have nearly two minutes left to conclude her remarks and five minutes for questions and comments.

Fraser River Sockeye
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, in 2004, after a disastrous sockeye season on the Fraser River, I moved a motion calling on the government of the day to convene a judicial inquiry. Unfortunately, the Liberals voted against our attempts to address this troubling situation.

In 2006, the Conservative election platform reaffirmed our commitment to call a judicial inquiry into the decline of the Fraser River sockeye salmon. On November 5 of this year, the Prime Ministerdelivered on that promise.

To hear Liberal MPs from B.C. talk now, one would think this was all their idea. Unfortunately for them, the record is clear. The member for Vancouver South and the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, along with every other Liberal MP, voted against a judicial inquiry. It just shows once again why the Liberal Party of Canada continues to lose support in B.C.

The Liberals did not get it done. The NDP cannot get it done. It is once again our Conservative government that is delivering results for British Columbians.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, today marks Sir Wilfrid Laurier's birthday. Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the second Liberal Prime Minister after Confederation, and the first Quebecker to assume that title.

Nicknamed “silver tongue” for his eloquence, we can all be inspired by the principles that guided him.

His time in office was not without its challenges, including for example, the Manitoba schools question and the Boer war.

He welcomed Alberta and Saskatchewan into Confederation.

Almost a century before the fact, Laurier promoted free trade with the U.S. through reciprocity accords.

At the dawn of the 20th century, Laurier predicted that it would be Canada's century; as history has shown, he was right. If we want the 21st century to also be Canada's century, we must adopt a Liberal principle that Laurier held dear: the future is always more important than the past.

Teaching Exellence
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, Collège Letendre in Laval is extremely fortunate to have an exceptional teacher on staff. Evelyne Lussier is one of the recipients of an award for teaching excellence.

Ms. Lussier has been teaching French at the secondary 5 level for only five years, but she has already made her mark in education. Her accomplishments and contributions have been remarkable. For instance, she created an elective course in communications and journalism, and put together the editorial team of the student newspaper, La Jazette, which won an award at the 2007 Québec Entrepreneurship Contest.

Her students won the Governor General of Canada Medal for obtaining the best overall average. She also volunteers at the Sainte-Justine UHC and at the not-for-profit restaurant Robin des Bois, and leads workshops she created herself for the parents of her students.

Along with her past and present students, my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to congratulate Ms. Lussier on her many accomplishments.

Poverty
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are facing a crisis of inequity, as about one in six seniors lives in poverty. That is close to half a million Canadians.

We in the NDP believe that their health and welfare, their very dignity, depend on increasing their GIS.

We can eliminate seniors' poverty with an investment of $700 million in the guaranteed income supplement. We can pay for this investment in seniors very simply, by stopping the January tax cut of $1.2 billion for highly profitable corporations.

We are not asking to increase taxes but to forgo the January tax cut and to use those tax revenues corporations are already paying to government to protect seniors. This is certainly the right thing to do.

It is a question of need. Do our profitable corporations need tax relief at a time when the people who built this country are living in poverty? The question answers itself.

To allow these tax cuts to go through in such circumstances is, at best, a case of misplaced priorities and, at worst, an indictment of the government and, ultimately—

Poverty
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please.

The hon. member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the serious matter of euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The number of people in my riding who have contacted me to express their opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide greatly exceeds, by far, those who contact me regarding any other subject.

Who are the people most at risk when it comes to euthanasia? They are the vulnerable; they are the elderly, the handicapped and the sick.

At present, the primary role of the doctor is to cure, heal and comfort. This important doctor-patient relationship is built upon trust. With the legalization of euthanasia, doctors would have the authority to take the lives of their patients. In short, the legalization of euthanasia would give doctors the right to kill. Vulnerable Canadians deserve proper medical care and comfort so they will willingly choose life over death.

Let me assure my constituents that I will be voting against each and every attempt to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Every single human life is precious from the moment of conception right through to natural death, and—

Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please.

The hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche.

Talya Doucet
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the work of Ms. Talya Doucet, a young student at Polyvalente Roland-Pépin in my riding, who has won the 2009 Environmental Leadership Award, individual youth category. This award acknowledges the contribution of an individual to the environment.

Talya Doucet's contribution to various environmental organizations is impressive. By participating in her school's environmental committee, school recycling initiatives, cleanup efforts, tree sales and training workshops, Ms. Doucet has helped to preserve our beautiful planet.

Ms. Doucet is known for her perseverance and tenacity. She knows what is at stake and is prepared to go to great lengths to make people aware of the importance of the environment.

On behalf of all citizens of Madawaska—Restigouche, I wish to congratulate and, above all, thank Thalia for being involved in our community.

Thanks to Talya. She is the pride of Madawaska—Restigouche.

Gus Mitges
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I want to remember Dr. Gus Mitges, an exemplary parliamentarian who served the people of Bruce—Grey and Grey—Simcoe in a distinguished manner for nearly 21 years.

He will be missed by his beloved wife, Yolanda, and his many children and grandchildren.

Gus will be fondly remembered by the people of Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound, who I know would like to extend their sympathies to Gus's family and their thanks for his service to them and to Canada. Gus was elected repeatedly by the people of Bruce—Grey and Grey--Simcoe. He served them well as a member of many House committees, including agriculture, veterans affairs, public accounts and the Library of Parliament.

Born in Greece, Gus had a true Canadian experience, coming to Canada and working as a veterinarian. Gus garnered the respect of his entire community.

It is rare for someone to serve so long in federal politics and to be able to continue to get the support and appreciation of the people.

I ask all members of the House to join with me in saluting and remembering a great Canadian. Many thanks, Gus.

Climate Change
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is a broad scientific consensus not only on the extent of climate change, but on the targets to reach in order to avoid the worst. More and more countries, even the most resistant at first, such as the United States and China, are realizing the urgent need for action.

While Quebec has already made considerable efforts and continues to favour binding measures for fighting climate change, the Canadian government, on behalf of the oil companies, is trying to sabotage negotiations to adopt an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction agreement in Copenhagen.

The Canadian government has done nothing to achieve the Kyoto protocol objectives; on the contrary, greenhouse gas emissions increased by more than 21% between 1990 and 2007.

It is the eleventh hour. We have to get this government to listen to reason. It is embarrassing Quebec on the world stage by scuttling concerted efforts to fight climate change.

We must take action. We must take action now. We must take action to—

Climate Change
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.

Jewish Canadians
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, Jewish Canadians know that our government is standing up against anti-Semitism in all its forms.

We created the security infrastructure pilot program, which helps protect synagogues and Jewish community centres from anti-Semitic attacks and vandalism.

We provided $2.5 million to commemorate the St. Louis incident, a sad moment in Canadian history when a previous government under Prime Minister Mackenzie King turned away Jews seeking refuge from the Holocaust.

We joined the international Holocaust task force. This task force was set up when the previous government held office; but inexplicably, it refused to join.

We cut off funding to the anti-Semitic Canadian Arab Federation, over Liberal protests. We led the world in boycotting the anti-Semitic Durban II conference.

Maybe that is why Jewish Canadians are increasingly seeking the Conservative Party as their best hope in the fight against the scourge of anti-Semitism at home and abroad.

Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Martha Hall Findlay Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind's record of accomplishment for the many Canadians affected by vision loss is extraordinary.

I have personal knowledge of its good work because my aunt, Nancy Hall Field, devoted many years to volunteering with the CNIB, doing so well into her eighties, translating works into Braille and teaching others to do so, and as a draughtswoman and artist who was a driving force behind the tactile program.

It was wonderful to see the CNIB on Parliament Hill this week, raising awareness of its excellent work among parliamentarians and legislators.

I will add that a good number of the CNIB representatives were of the four-legged kind, the seeing eye dogs. They single handedly or, I should say, “single-pawedly” raised the tenor of behaviour and discourse here on Parliament Hill through their hard work, calm, and attention to others and, first and foremost, their respect for their role in helping and protecting others.

I ask my colleagues in the House to join me in congratulating the CNIB for its many decades of contribution and to offer our best wishes for many more.

The Economy
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, our government is focused on the economy and the need to help Canadians. That is why we continue to implement our economic action plan to help combat the effects of the global recession.

Along with provinces, territories and municipalities, we are investing in infrastructure projects, creating jobs and making communities across Canada better places to live, work and raise a family. We have reduced taxes on families and businesses and have implemented measures such as the home renovation tax credit and the first time home buyers' tax credit. In addition, we are helping the unemployed by extending EI benefits. But the global economic recovery remains fragile.

Earlier this week, the Liberal leader once again showed Quebeckers and Canadians that he has a serious lack of judgment. The Liberal Party even voted against a bill that would contribute to the economic recovery. Our government is taking more action for Quebeckers and Canadians than the opposition parties ever will.

Transgender Day of Remembrance
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, around the world and in Canada, in hundreds of cities and towns, people are gathering today to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, to remember the members of the transsexual and transgendered communities who have died because of transphobic violence.

In the past year, we know of 121 trans people who have died violently around the world. The actual number is much higher. Trans Canadians face violence and harassment, and also discrimination on the job, in housing and health care.

Given this, explicit human rights protection is needed in law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. Parliament will soon have the opportunity to debate these changes and MPs will be able to speak out and take action.

Recognizing and celebrating the life experiences of trans people today and throughout the year, New Democrats stand in solidarity with the transsexual and transgendered communities and recommit to working to end violence and to establish full human rights for trans Canadians.

Israel
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by quoting the former ambassador of Israel to Canada, Alan Baker: “We're seeing the leaders of opposition parties marching in Montreal under Hezbollah flags—Hezbollah, which is an organization, a terrorist organization, that's been outlawed by Canadian law”. Baker was referring, of course, to the Liberal member for Bourassa.

The Conservative record, by contrast, is one of consistent support for Israel in her fight against her enemies and, therefore, ours. We cut off funding for the anti-Semitic Canadian Arab Federation, even though the Liberals criticized us. We also led the world in boycotting the Durban II conference. Our government stands alone in voting no on the UN Human Rights Council motion singling out Israel for special criticism.

Only the Conservative Party can be counted on to stand up consistently, without hesitation or reservation, for Israel in its fight against the forces of terror and nihilism.

Universal Children's Day
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to remind everyone that today is Universal Children's Day. This year is special, because it also marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Hon. members will recall that 20 years ago, on November 24, the House of Commons adopted a motion that called for completely eliminating child poverty by the year 2000. We all know that successive federal governments have made too little progress to date toward meeting that goal. According to a UNICEF report, child poverty has even risen by 20%, and Canada has the highest rate of juvenile detention among comparable industrialized nations.

I want to recognize the phenomenal work the community organizations in my riding and throughout Quebec are doing, despite extremely limited resources. These organizations certainly understand that children are the greatest treasure the Quebec nation possesses.

National Child Day
Statements by Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, today is National Child Day, and today I have shared with my colleagues blue ribbons made by some of the leading advocates for early learning and child care, Pat Hogan and her staff, from my home riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

Today is also the 20th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states:

In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

The Liberal Party of Canada, through the Leader of the Opposition, fully supports a national early learning and child care program based on the principles of quality, universality, accessibility and affordability.

Today is about children and the need to provide opportunity for all children, too many of whom grow up in an environment where early quality care is simply not available. A strong national child care program will lead to healthier, happier and more productive children, and a stronger economy for us all.

I want to thank all the champions of our children, many of whom, like Pat Hogan, have dedicated much of their lives to quality early learning and child care. Let us reward their lifetime of work and really invest in their cause of early learning and child care.

Liberal Party of Canada
Statements by Members

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, while some in the Liberal Party today think of the former Liberal era as the golden age of politics, Canadians got a reminder yesterday of its defining legacy.

Former Liberal minister, David Dingwall, high-priced lobbyist, David Dingwall, Liberal appointee, David Dingwall, and exhibit A for why our Conservative government introduced the Federal Accountability Act, billed the taxpayers of Canada nearly $40,000 to appear at a Commons committee in 2005.

For my Liberal friends who may have forgotten what the former Liberal minister told us, let me remind them of the old Liberal standby. He was ”entitled to his entitlements”.

It is because of the Liberal Party's time in power that this government was elected to clean up the way government did business. We introduced the Federal Accountability Act, which has removed big money from politics and limited the influence of lobbyists.

This Conservative government understands that it is an honour to serve in the House. We will continue to offer Canadians an alternative to those who continue to believe that they are entitled to their entitlements.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the defence minister was out to shoot the messenger, but the more he called Richard Colvin a liar, the more the minister contradicted himself.

After four years of denials, he now admits that he did in fact receive and read at least one of Richard Colvin's reports. He also admits that at least part of Colvin's story has been corroborated by the Red Cross, the Canadian ambassador and the Canadian Forces.

Why will the government not help Canadians get the whole truth in this matter through a full, independent judicial inquiry?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that in his testimony before the committee earlier this week, Mr. Colvin confirmed that he never witnessed abuse first-hand. His allegations are nothing short of hearsay, sometimes second-hand or even third-hand information, or worse yet, information that came directly from the Taliban. He will not even identify the sources from which he makes these allegations, and that is unfortunate.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government's reaction is so aggressive, so nasty and so personal it smacks of desperation.

The defence minister slandered Richard Colvin as unbelievable, but in the same breath he says that he eventually acted on Colvin's information. The minister depicts Richard Colvin as naive and irresponsible, but Mr. Colvin continues in Canada's senior intelligence post in Washington.

The contradictions are rife and the government cannot be the sole judge of what is credible and what is not. How can the truth be found without a full inquiry?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is not just the government. I noticed in the news reports this morning that well-respected former diplomat, Paul Chapin, said the following:

I think that what set me back is how serious the allegations are and how flimsy the evidence...It would have been rather more reassuring had [Colvin] been able to provide some of the detail that would give credibility to these very serious allegations.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, serious allegations have been made by a high level diplomat with at least some corroboration. Canada's reputation is now at stake. Until those allegations are resolved, Canadians serving in Afghanistan may be at greater risk and Canada's credibility on human rights issues is compromised. Decent democratic governments are not afraid of transparency. They get to the bottom of tough issues.

If a proper inquiry has not been launched by the time the Prime Minister goes to China, what will he say about human rights to President Hu Jintao?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I think what he would say is that when we get credible evidence we act, but we require proven, substantiated and credible evidence to act.

Again, there was no credible evidence in Mr. Colvin's testimony, not a shred of specific evidence. It is called facts and a government needs facts with which to act.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, exactly two years ago to this very day, November 20, 2007, the Prime Minister stood in the House to answer my question. He looked me in the eye and brazenly stated, “there has been no evidence of any abuse involving the transfer of Canadian prisoners until one case recently”.

How is it conceivable for the Prime Minister to claim not to have been aware of Richard Colvin's reports of which all involved departments were aware, including his own national security adviser?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the facts that are before us, there is an absence of evidence. This government requires credible, specific, substantiated reports from which to act, and none are before the House and none are before the government.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I asked the government a very specific question. How can the Prime Minister pretend that he did not hear about or see Mr. Colvin's reports when his closest advisers did? I did not get an answer to that specific question. If there is an inquiry, the government will have to answer the question.

Is this government opposing an inquiry because it is afraid of having to answer to Canadians, of having to answer their legitimate questions?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, when asked if the allegations could be trusted, respected former diplomat Paul Chapin said, “No. Until he comes forward with something rather more substantial for me to get into”, and I share that view.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, beginning in May 2006, Richard Colvin, who was second in command at the embassy in Kabul at the time, sent reports to the Prime Minister's closest advisers, including Margaret Bloodworth, his national security adviser, about allegations that Afghan detainees were being tortured.

In December 2006, Ms. Bloodworth participated in a Privy Council meeting specifically to discuss cases of torture carried out by the Kandahar governor himself.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he was aware of the situation as of May 2006 and that instead of doing his job, he tried to make the issue go away by covering it up?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, that is quite outrageous. In his testimony before the Common's committee earlier this week, Mr. Colvin confirmed, and let me underline this again, that he never witnessed abuse first-hand.

His allegations are nothing short of hearsay. They involve, sometimes, second-hand and even third-hand accounts and information. Even worse, some of the information could have come directly from the Taliban. He will not even name or identify his sources.

Even worse, when asked why he did not raise this with one of the number of ministers who came through Afghanistan during his tenure, he said he did not want to do so. He said, “I've met several ministers, but I did not raise these issues with them. It would be a bit—

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Joliette.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is simply that Mr. Colvin followed the hierarchical chain of command. He thought that the information had arrived, which indeed it had, because in 2006, members of the Prime Minister's inner circle, namely David Mulroney, his defence advisor, and Margaret Bloodworth, his security adviser, were discussing the torture of Afghan detainees. The Prime Minister, who is well-known for controlling everything in the government, knew.

Will the Prime Minister admit that, instead of assuming his responsibilities under international conventions, he did his best to bury the affair by trying to muzzle Mr. Colvin in 2007 and now, as well?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we have to deal with facts. We have to deal with specific allegations. We have to deal with substantiated charges. Regrettably we do not have them.

Mr. Colvin was asked why he did not raise this issue with the number of ministers who visited Afghanistan when he would have had the opportunity to raise it specifically with them. He said that while he met several ministers, he thought it would be a bit inappropriate to mention these issues because, “it would ruin a minister's visit”.

This certainly does not add credibility to the serious allegations he makes.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, the government shot the messenger by attacking the credibility of diplomat Richard Colvin.

Let us talk about credibility. On one hand, we have a government that is trying to hide the fact that it breached its international obligations by handing detainees over to torture. On the other hand, we have a career diplomat who is adding his voice to a number of credible organizations, such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross, to denounce the harm caused to the Afghan detainees.

Does the government realize that the only way to re-establish what little credibility it has left, is to be transparent—

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Transport.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear. When we get credible, substantiated and specific evidence, we act.

Look what former, well-respected diplomat Paul Chapin said, “I think that what set me back is how serious the allegations are and how flimsy the evidence”: flimsy evidence.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of clearly explaining itself before the Military Police Complaints Commission, the government chose to use every trick in the book to bury the truth. The government prevents witnesses from appearing, orders reports on torture to no longer be written down but to be made over the phone, and intimidates those who agree to come forward to work for justice.

Does the government realize that only a public inquiry will help uncover the truth?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, with respect to not allowing people to come before committee, Mr. Colvin testified just this week before the House committee. In that testimony he did not present any substantiated, specific allegations of what he claimed.

We are required in government to act on fact, not on hearsay, not on second and third accounts and certainly not on information that came from the Taliban.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' enemy list now includes Amnesty International, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and, get this, the U.S. State Department.

Mr. Colvin was not the only diplomat who saw evidence of torture. Nicholas Gosselin saw evidence that a detainee was beaten with electrical wires and a rubber hose.

Is the government suggesting that Mr. Gosselin was also in league with the Taliban? Will the government finally help Canadians sort out this truth and fiction story, get to the facts and call a public inquiry?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, despite the loud voice of my friend from Ottawa Centre, he himself just said “truth or fiction”.

In regard to a public inquiry, this government is only going to look at specific, substantiated facts. We will not base our government's actions on hearsay, on gossip. We will not base them on unsubstantiated allegations and certainly not on information that comes from the Taliban.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, instead of attacking Mr. Colvin, the government should be congratulating him.

The problem is that this government prefers to shoot the messenger. The Conservatives prefer to attack senior officials and diplomats rather than face the truth. We must put an end to this cover-up.

When will there be a public inquiry?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of the messenger. It is a question of the message.

We are required in government to deal with facts before we make decisions. There has not been any evidence brought forward by Mr. Colvin with respect to the serious allegations that he has made. They are unsubstantiated. They involve hearsay. They also contain information that comes from the Taliban. We are required to act on a higher standard than that.

I should remind members opposite that there has not been a single, solitary proven allegation involving a transferred Taliban prisoner.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said that Canadian officials have made 182 visits to Afghan prisons to assess and monitor conditions in them. Yet the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the United States State Department say that torture still remains commonplace in these prisons.

Canadians need to have confidence that we are not violating international law in this matter.

Will the government make public the reports by Canadian officials who have visited Afghan prisons, or will it continue to claim that everything is all right without revealing the facts?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, Canadian officials over the years have underscored the need for authorities to treat detainees both humanely and in accordance with Afghanistan's international obligations.

Again this week at the inauguration of President Karzai, the Minister of Foreign Affairs underscored that the new administration must continue to attack these human rights challenges.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, Richard Colvin is the latest in a long list of honest Canadians who have had the integrity and courage to speak out on government wrongdoing; to name a few: Linda Keen, Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission; Adrian Measner, Canadian Wheat Board; Matthew Bramley, environmentalist. All of these individuals have been personally attacked as a defence for government inaction.

Instead of listening and taking corrective action, the Conservative government engages in character assassination after character assassination.

Is there nothing the Conservative government will not do to people who come forward and expose its shortcomings?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

As I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Colvin testified before committee and presented no specific evidence. He presented only hearsay, second-hand and third-hand information, information that came from the Taliban in some cases.

We have acted in the past when we have gotten specific evidence. We must have substantiated evidence. Look at what Rick Hillier has said. Look at what Lieutenant General Michel Gauthier has said, the actual commander on the ground. He said, “...why any of us in the military command would knowingly and deliberately ignore substantial evidence from the field that could ultimately implicate us...”.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

The minister makes my point, Mr. Speaker.

One of the defining characteristics of the Conservative government is its vile tactics of fear and intimidation imposed upon Canadians who have the courage to speak truth to power.

In the case of Afghan detainees, the attack on the credibility of a dedicated public servant is designed to cover up what the government knew and when.

To expose the truth, will the minister call a full independent judicial inquiry? Would the government, for once, allow the truth to come forth?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there have been public hearings that have been televised on this very issue. In those hearings, Mr. Colvin came before the House committee and presented no specific allegations, unsubstantiated claims, something that basically was hearsay. His information was sometimes second-hand and even third-hand, and that should concern us all.

We have been very public and very open in our mission in Afghanistan. We have had votes in Parliament, something that never happened previously when that party was in power.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, while Mr. Colvin is doing his duty, the government continues to wage a pathetic smear campaign to drag his name through the mud. In a galaxy far, far away, light years away apparently, the minister sees no evidence of torture, only allegations, he says. He considers himself the only judge of truth and waves testimony aside.

Why is it that every time someone stands up to tell the truth, the Conservatives' reputation-shredding machine goes into battle?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:30 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that this government has been incredibly transparent with respect to the mission in Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister made a sincere commitment in an election campaign to allow parliamentarians themselves to vote on whether our troops should be deployed abroad or whether extensions should be given. We have had two votes in this place.

The government has been very transparent. We have provided the information to Parliament through quarterly reports and thousands of documents from both the Federal Court and the MPCC relating to the issue of the transfer of Taliban prisoners.

This matter of Taliban prisoner transfers has been raised and questions have been answered in the House numerous times. We must deal with facts, not with hearsay.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, a public inquiry, not a court of star chamber, is the only way for the truth to surface. The government may think this is about protecting itself, but it is not. We owe a public inquiry to our troops, to our diplomats, to our development workers, to our partners. We owe it to Canadians.

What exactly happened here? Who received and read copies of the reports? How many times has the government publicly denied that there was a problem? It goes on and on. While our troops are fighting for openness and transparency in Afghanistan, why is the government undermining those very values here at home?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this government has shown an unprecedented commitment to our troops. It was General Rick Hillier who called the Liberals' time in power, with respect to the service of men and women in uniform, a “decade of darkness”. We have done a lot to turn that around.

It is important to be very clear that no one, not even Mr. Colvin, has made any suggestion, presented one shred of evidence or made any insinuation that Canadian soldiers mistreated Taliban prisoners. It is tremendously important to underline that that is not the case. Let me be very clear that these stories are about Afghan allegations against other Afghans.

Climate Change
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, new research shows that global temperatures are expected to increase by 6oC, rather than 2oC, which will seriously threaten living conditions on this planet. Clearly, serious efforts are needed to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions before this situation gets completely out of hand.

Are these scenarios not enough to convince the government to take constructive action in Copenhagen, instead of sabotaging that meeting?

Climate Change
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely wrong. This government has made it very clear. Canada wants an international binding treaty that includes all the major emitters. All of the major emitters have to be part of the solution.

One hundred and ninety-two countries will be at that table in Copenhagen. This government will ensure that any treaty will include Canada's economic, geographic and industrial realities. We will not sign a deal that would be bad for Canada.

Climate Change
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is moving a motion today demanding that Canada commit to reducing, through absolute reduction targets, greenhouse gas emissions to 25% lower than 1990 levels, by 2020. This is an excellent opportunity for this government to demonstrate that it understands the urgent need to tackle climate change.

My question is simple. Do the Conservatives intend to vote in favour of the Bloc Québécois motion and to implement it?

Climate Change
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the minister just returned from Copenhagen. He was one of 20 people who were invited to Copenhagen to prepare for the Copenhagen process. We are a constructive player on the international stage. We have one of the toughest targets in the world. We are working constructively with the Obama administration on a continental approach.

One thing we will never do is what the Liberals used to do. They did nothing on the environment and were supported by the Bloc. The Bloc has never supported good environmental policy. We will not do what the Liberals did.

Agriculture
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food adopted a motion recommending that the government include income support as a component of the agricultural flexibility program, as called for by the Ontario-Quebec Grain Farmers' Coalition.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food did not keep the promises he made during the election campaign and before the last budget. Will he make amends and put in place a real agricultural flexibility program that includes income support?

Agriculture
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, our government is working closely with farmers. The agricultural flexibility program is a very strong program and we are providing $500 million for innovation in agriculture.

Agriculture
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government cannot be working closely with Quebec producers because UPA's president has said that every time that the pressing needs of certain farmers in crisis must be addressed or when the specific nature of Quebec agriculture must be taken into account, the federal government drags its feet.

Will the Minister of Agriculture listen to us and put a program in place to support Quebec programs, such as ASRA, its farm income stabilization insurance program?

Agriculture
Oral Questions

11:35 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, our government has many initiatives to help our agriculture sector. For example, we have invested $500 million to kickstart the AgriStability, AgriRecovery, AgriInvest and AgriInsurance programs.

We have also delivered $1.2 billion to our livestock sector, through business risk management. We have provided $50 million in slaughterhouse funding to help our slaughterhouse capacity. Of course, there is the pork transition program that we put in place to help the pork sector.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday it was revealed that in the past 12 months alone, the Conservatives handed out government appointments to 233 identifiable Conservatives. Instead of being focused on Canadians who are losing their jobs, all they cared about was getting jobs for their friends.

The Prime Minister broke his solemn promise to have all appointees reviewed by an independent public appointments commission. Given that this commission does not exist, why do the public accounts show that the Conservatives managed to waste $1.4 million on a phantom office?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to highlight the fact that this government makes all of its appointments based on merit.

In fact,Transparency International recognized the improvements in this country as we have moved on an international scale from 14th under the Liberals to 8th under this government. We are now first in the western hemisphere, first in the G7. The Transparency International report says that Canada is an inspiration to the Americas.

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the cross-funding between the ADQ and Senator Housakos' Conservatives is good news for some.

Nick Katalifos, Jean-Martin Masse, Jean Depelteau and Luc Moreau all received federal appointments for their generous gifts to the two parties.

Taxpayers are on the hook for this partisan return on investment.

Is it not fair to say that Claude Carignan and André Beaudet also won the lottery?

Government Appointments
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

That was another fact-free question, Mr. Speaker.

We make appointments based on qualifications and based on merit. I will put the Prime Minister's four years in office and the integrity of his administration with respect to appointments up against any Liberal government in the past.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, a new report shows that the Conservatives have accumulated roughly 10,000 flight hours in their private, taxpayer-funded planes. On average, that means on any given day there is a Conservative in the air for eight hours. There is probably one up there right now. Worse, they claim they do not even keep track of who is on board.

Why are Canadians not entitled to know who flies in these planes?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the department does provide--

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, order. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs has the floor. Order, please.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Transport has said, this government is very transparent. Any flight use by the ministers is publicly disclosed each month and is contained in publicly posted travel expense reports.

This is an absolutely transparent issue. I would like to tell the hon. member, if he has any questions, he is most welcome to check every month the postings of which flights have been taken by ministers.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I was responsible for those jets, the government kept track of every passenger and we told taxpayers who the passengers were.

I notice that the cost of meals on these jets has jumped by 80% in the past three years. Have the meals become 80% more lavish or does that increased cost reflect all the Conservative cronies who are hitching rides and eating well?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

11:40 a.m.

Calgary East
Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated very clearly, this government is very transparent.

I will repeat that any flights used by the ministers are publicly disclosed each month and are contained in publicly posted travel report. We are absolutely transparent and I am happy to state that this government is working hard to ensure, unlike the Liberals when he was down there, this is a transparent government.

Health
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has been very clear. Over 20% of Canadians have been vaccinated. By the end of this week, over 10 million doses will have been delivered to the provinces and the territories.

Could the Minister of Health please update the House on what supplies will be delivered to the provinces and the territories next week?

Health
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this week I spoke of how proud we should be as Canadians of the way all partners have worked together in this pandemic.

I am pleased to say that by the end of next week the provinces and territories will have received another 4.8 million doses. This puts us above a total of 15 million doses and represents almost half of our population.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the front line workers for all their hard work and compassion in helping to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the one thing all Canadians can agree on about the government's HST scheme is that it is punitive and will hurt families and small businesses.

Now, in Ontario and B.C., piece by piece and doughnut by doughnut, the provinces are making exemptions. From restaurants to new homes, the tax may no longer apply.

The government forked over billions of dollars in bribe money to get its tax. With all these exemptions, what is the point?

Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, she did mention doughnuts so I might mention that the Ontario government this week, whose jurisdiction it is and whose decision it is whether or not to move to a harmonized sales tax, actually exempted doughnuts. I think a lot of our constituents will be happy about that.

Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, if the government wants to stand here and deny its obvious role in the HST, that is one thing, but now we hear that it is also trying to deny its responsibility to first nations.

The Ontario finance minister said this week that the Conservatives will kill the first nations' point of sale tax exemption when the HST kicks in next July.

Why will the government not keep the point of sale tax exemption in place for first nations, or are we supposed to believe that is not its problem either?

Tax Harmonization
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is a bit of a unique issue with on reserve exemptions from HST and GST.

Businesses across the country are required to charge and collect GST and HST. This includes businesses on reserves, and all currently harmonized provinces are following that framework. It is Ontario's decision what it wants to do.

Tobacco Smuggling
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government is clearly in over its head when it comes to tobacco smuggling. There are about a hundred criminal organizations that smuggle cigarettes to launder money or to increase their earnings. Because of the government's laissez-faire attitude, cigarette smuggling is now as profitable as drug trafficking.

Does the government realize that its strategy to combat smuggling is a failure?

Tobacco Smuggling
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, we are working with all the authorities to address this problem as soon as possible.

Tobacco Smuggling
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's efforts to curb smoking, especially among young people, are being thwarted by the Conservatives' laissez-faire attitude toward tobacco smuggling. While the minister is asleep at the switch—that is the case—our high schools are being flooded with cheap cigarettes from smugglers.

When will the government implement a marking and tracing system so that tobacco is not sold on the black market once it leaves the factory?

Tobacco Smuggling
Oral Questions

11:45 a.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we actually have a very robust anti-contraband tobacco strategy that is being implemented and members will observe that it is being implemented very successfully. Seizures of contraband tobacco and charges this year are up significantly as a result of the excellent work of our police forces in implementing the strategy. We will continue to do that.

As members will recall, I recently implemented and made permanent the shiprider arrangement whereby we can, together with the Americans, police our joint maritime borders where a lot of this kind of trafficking has happened in the past. We think it is a serious problem. We are serious about tackling crime and we will continue to do so.

Children
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is National Child Day, which commemorates both the adoption of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

However, the Conservative government has failed Canada's children. It failed to create any new early learning and child care spaces, eliminated choices for families and failed to provide the best start possible for our children.

Why is the government so against giving our children all the tools we possibly can to give them the best start in life?

Children
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is really interesting that the Liberals would raise a question like that since it is our Conservative government that is now spending three times more than the previous Liberal government on early learning and child care. The Liberals have no credibility on this subject.

It is through our universal child care benefit that we have taken 57,000 children out of low incomes. We have also enhanced the transfers to the provinces which have announced that they are creating over 62,000 new spaces for child care.

Children
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that there is no choice for parents if there are no additional spaces. It is as simple as that.

The economics of it are unquestioned. It is one of the biggest job creators and one of the biggest returns on investment. It is even supported by the Bank of Canada.

We need to invest now to have the smartest, most skilled labour force on the planet but the government cancelled the early learning and child care agreements with the provinces, and the minister knows that. The Conservatives just do not get it. It is also about the early development of a child.

When will the Conservative government invest in children and their future in this country?

Children
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk
Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member's earpiece is not working, so I will say it again.

Our government is investing three times more than the previous Liberal government ever did in early learning and child care The big difference between us is that we believe parents know best how to raise their children. We introduced the universal child care benefit so that parents could have a choice in how their children are raised in the early years and they could have the financial freedom to follow that choice, which is something the Liberals opposite never believed in. They said that parents would only spend the money on beer and popcorn. Shame on them.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

John Rafferty Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, AbitibiBowater is presently under bankruptcy protection and is in the process of restructuring. However, during that process, a $1.3 billion pension fund shortfall was discovered. The retirement income of more than 30,000 Canadian families is now at risk.

The management of AbitibiBowater and its partners at CEP have agreed to a plan to overcome this shortfall but it requires government action from both the provincial and the federal governments.

Will the Minister of Finance please agree to meet with the company and union representatives before December 1 to help secure these pensions?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important question because it impacts a lot of Canadians who are concerned about their pensions.

In fact, the federal finance minister has agreed to meet with both parties. The member for Kenora has already met with AbitibiBowater but the Minister of Finance has encouraged the parties to meet with the provincial governments first, because it is their jurisdiction, and then he will sit down and meet with them.

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, if Canada had a national pension insurance plan like Britain, Japan, Switzerland, Germany or even the United States have, then the workers and retirees at AbitibiBowater, Nortel, Air Canada and the other companies across Canada with troubled pension plans would not need to worry about losing their pensions.

When can the workers of this country, Canadian workers, expect the government to take real action on pension reform and institute a national pension insurance plan?

Pensions
Oral Questions

11:50 a.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I will share with all members of the House that I actually had a meeting in my office this morning with the member. He is working with the government to ensure all Canadians have adequate incomes to retire on. We just wish some of the other parties on the other side would catch up.

We have put in place a retirement income working group, which is the finance ministers of all the provinces and the federal finance minister, that is now studying the matter and will be reporting back. The working group will be coming forward with those results very soon.

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement provides a unique opportunity for Canadian exporters to secure duty-free access to a market where their main competitors have none. This kind of advantage is critical for exporters relying on tight margins to survive and grow, but the NDP and the Bloc, with support from the Liberals, have been holding up this important economic bill for more than 33 hours.

Could the minister of state tell the House why we need to stop the delays to get Bill C-23 moving?

Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, Canada's deal with Colombia is good for Canadian business but economic opportunities and human rights are not mutually exclusive. We are talking about an agreement that will bind Colombia to tougher labour and environmental standards and improved human rights. More important, we are creating legitimate jobs and opportunities for Colombians looking for alternatives to narco trafficking.

I want to join the Council of Chief Executives and Canadian manufacturers and exporters in urging the opposition parties, all of the opposition parties, to pass Bill C-23 without any further delay.

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the port of Canso sits at the heart of the fishing industry in Chedabucto Bay. The Guysborough County Inshore Fisherman's Association reports a recent increase in the amount of illegal fishing activity in the area, along with a spike in the number of transient fleets and recreational boaters. However, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has announced its intention to abandon the current operational centre in Canso. The community has come forward with a number of possible solutions.

Will the parliamentary secretary assure us today that he will have the minister commit, on her part, to ensure that office stays open where it belongs, in the town of Canso?

Fisheries and Oceans
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the conservation of fisheries resources is our highest priority in DFO. Fisheries officers must be located where they can do their jobs most effectively.

DFO's analysis of its operational requirements has led to a consideration of moving some offices in eastern Nova Scotia to improve their efficiency but no decisions have been made as yet. Consultations are taking place with the community. If the member has some information that he thinks we should consider as we make this decision, we would be happy to receive it.

Lobster Industry
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, the transitional measures program for the lobster industry is penalizing harvesters in the Magdalen Islands who shouldered their responsibilities by implementing conservation measures in the past. This week, the minister announced that she had approved applications for compensation from harvesters throughout Atlantic Canada. Yet harvesters in the Magdalen Islands are telling us that the programs do not apply to them and that their requests for assistance have gone unheard.

Can the minister tell us how many lobster harvesters in the Magdalen Islands will receive compensation under this program?

Lobster Industry
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the program to which my colleague refers, the short-term transitional measures program, was put in place by our government to support lobster dependent harvesters who are most seriously affected by the downturn in the wholesale price due to the global economic recession.

Eligibility criteria were put in place after extensive consultation with all parties and we have been receiving applications since September 22. Over 1,000 applications have been approved, about $5 billion have been disbursed and more applications will be received.

Airline Industry
Oral Questions

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, this week we learned that the transport minister's office has been trying to sabotage efforts to pass Bill C-310, the air passengers' bill of rights. The Conservatives have been working with airline executives to kill the bill, putting their lobbyist friends ahead of Canadians' interests.

The European court of justice in Luxembourg has ruled that passengers are entitled to compensation for flight delays, the same as for cancellations and overbooked flights.

Will the government follow the lead set by the EU and put passengers first? Will it work with us to pass the bill of rights?

Airline Industry
Oral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we understand the real concerns with respect to families, small business people and others who use our airlines. When they experience delays, whether it is mechanical, administrative or with regard to weather, we certainly are prepared to work with the industry and with all members of the House.

I know his bill is before committee. As it is currently written, many of us have serious concerns about it, and particularly the effects it would have on rural parts of Canada which have smaller airports that are dependent on airlines.

However, we look forward to the committee hearings, the clause-by-clause discussion, and further debate on this bill.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

Noon

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. and Canada are each other's largest agricultural trading partners.

In 2008 bilateral agricultural trade totalled approximately $37 billion. However, the country of origin labelling measure created by the United States imposes an unfair and unnecessary cost on our integrated North American supply chains.

Could the Minister of Agriculture inform the House and Canadian farmers on where the government is going next in fighting COOL?

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Oral Questions

Noon

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to announce today that the World Trade Organization has established a dispute settlement panel to hear our challenge on the U.S. country of origin labelling. We are putting farmers first and we are confident that we will win our challenge.

However, the Liberal Party is alarmingly out of touch with agriculture and our livestock sector, and it would have us abandon this challenge. Just listen to what Bob Russell, who is the former Liberal candidate in Edmonton—St. Albert and was recognized as the Liberal of the year in 2007, said, “COOL appears to be an idea whose time has come and that our producers should meet this demand”.

The Liberals need to get on side with Canadian farmers.

Ferry Service
Oral Questions

Noon

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General says Marine Atlantic is on the verge of not being able to provide the ferry service between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. This is not news to the people of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia who have repeatedly asked to have the continuous problems plaguing the crown corporation fixed.

While Marine Atlantic needs a long-term plan, there are immediate needs that must be addressed now. Chronic mechanical breakdowns and docking problems are common. Band-aid solutions are not acceptable any more.

I ask the Minister of State for Transport, what immediate plans does the government have to fix the problems plaguing Marine Atlantic?

Ferry Service
Oral Questions

Noon

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns that the member has raised, not just those that have been reported by the Auditor General but also from her constituents and others in Newfoundland and Labrador and on the mainland in Atlantic Canada.

Since 2007 the government has committed an additional $416 million for Marine Atlantic which includes $98 million toward a five year charter agreement for the MV Atlantic Vision.

We recently also announced $9.5 million of funding to deal with shore-based priorities in Cape Breton. We are committed in the long-term to Marine Atlantic. We are committed to work with the member and everyone to make it a better service for those in the east.

Human Rights
Oral Questions

Noon

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, today around the world Transgender Day of Remembrance is being marked to remember transsexual and transgender people who have died due to transphobic violence.

In Canada transgender people face violence, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, in health care and in housing.

Will the government introduce legislation to add explicit protection for transsexual and transgender Canadians in the Canadian Human Rights Act? If not, will the government support private members' legislation to add gender identity and expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination?

Human Rights
Oral Questions

Noon

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, our government is of course strongly committed to protecting Canadians from all forms of criminal violence and indeed protecting all Canadians. I should underline that.

That is why we introduced the Tackling Violent Crime Act and had it passed by the House. That is why we are looking to repeal the faint hope clause. That is why we are eliminating the bonus credits for time served for those who are facing prosecution for serious violent offences.

As for the specific legislative suggestions the member has made, I am happy to share those with the Minister of Justice.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

Noon

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that all too often during the heat of debate in question period things are said that people afterwards might think that they wished they had not said.

During question period today, when the hon. Minister of Transport was replying to the supplementary question from the member for Malpeque, the official opposition House leader said, “What do you want, a body bag?”

I want to give my hon. colleague from Wascana the opportunity to withdraw those words. I think they are completely over the line. I recognize that sometimes it is a heated debate in this place, but with all due respect I think that was clearly way over the line.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the line of argument being advanced by the minister, who was answering today on behalf of the government with respect to the situation in Afghanistan, was that there were no proven allegations with respect to what Richard Colvin had put on the record. That was the minister's defence: where is the evidence that would prove the allegations?

The point is, what kind of evidence would the government consider sufficient or satisfactory to satisfy it that the allegations are in its words “proven”? The point of the intervention in question period was to ask the government to be specific. What kind of evidence is sufficient from its point of view to be a proven allegation?

If the government found a particular interjection to be offensive from its point of view, we can completely withdraw that allegation. The point is, answer the question. What evidence is sufficient to satisfy the government?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Question period is over for now, so we will not proceed further on that one.

International Mobile Satellite Organization
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, with leave of the House and pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) of the House of Commons, I would like to table, in both official languages, the following texts:

Final Acts of the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunication Union (Antalya 2006), done at Antalya on November 24, 2006.

Final Acts of the World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 of the International Telecommunication Union (WRC 2007), done at Geneva on November 16, 2007.

Amendments to the Convention on the International Mobile Satellite Organization adopted at the 20th session of the assembly done at Malta on October 2, 2008.

An explanatory memorandum is included with each treaty.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities
House Committees
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on poverty reduction in Canada.

November 24, four days from now, will mark the 20th anniversary of the resolution passed by this House to reduce poverty by the year 2000. That goal was not met. Therefore, the government is invited to present a plan to the House to address this issue.

Young Offenders
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure, as the member of Parliament for Burlington, to present two petitions to the House.

The first petition, by a number of constituents of mine, calls on the Minister of Justice to strengthen the penalties for those youth who commit violent crimes, murder and other violent crimes.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, I have another petition signed by a number of constituents of mine supporting a universal declaration on animal welfare.

Health Care
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Madam Speaker, I have several petitions. The first one is from folks who are really concerned about what is happening in the health debate in the United States. They found offensive a campaign of false information being used to discredit our public health care system with the people of the United States by powerful opponents of President Obama's proposed health care reforms.

They call upon Parliament to immediately undertake an official campaign to counteract the misinformation and that one of the first priorities of the new ambassador should be to make representation to the American people on the merits of Canada's universal health care system.

Old Age Security
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition deals with Bill C-428. A number of persons in my riding are concerned about this private member's bill. They say that there are currently already 50 social security agreements in place with a wide variety of countries that allow for a period of residence and contributions to the other country to be used to meet a 10-year requirement.

They feel that a cost of over $700 million that the bill would entail is too costly and irresponsible, and would be paid for by the Canadian taxpayers. They request the House of Commons to reject Bill C-428, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (residency requirement).

Canada Post Corporation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Madam Speaker, the third petition deals with Canada Post. The petitioners say that the current new rules and procedures and post office closures in rural and small towns, as recommended by the Canada Post Corporation's review, include the ability to replace public post offices with private outlets, undermining public postal services and jobs in rural communities.

Therefore, they call upon Parliament to continue to enforce the current moratorium on post office closures in rural and small towns.

Aviation Safety
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Madam Speaker, the final petition asks the Government of Canada to initiate a commission of inquiry headed by a Superior Court judge to conduct a judicial review into Canada's state of national aviation safety and government oversight of the aviation industry to be followed by further reviews at defined intervals.

Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present four petitions today.

The first petition calls upon the government to ensure that all efforts be made to prevent animal cruelty and reduce animal suffering by supporting the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare.

Animal Cruelty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, the second petition calls upon the House to reduce the maximum allowed transport times for livestock under Canada's Health of Animals Act.

Darfur
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, the third petition calls upon the government to engage with the international community to stop the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, finally, the fourth petition calls upon the Government of Canada to press for a review of NATO's nuclear weapons policy to ensure that all states fulfill their obligations under the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons which Canada has signed.

Assisted Suicide
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to table two petitions consisting of over 15 pages of signatures signed by the residents of the communities of Cumberland, Rockland, Russell, Embrun and surrounding areas of my riding who are opposed to Bill C-384 which proposes to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. The petition states that Bill C-384 contradicts fundamental Canadian values and threatens all Canadians by undermining the inherent and inviolable value of each human life and its dignity. It is a real and growing threat to the sick, the depressed, seniors and the handicapped.

The petition urges us to vote against Bill C-384. I would also like to mention that this call for positive measures to protect life was highlighted by the presence of over 12,000 people here on the Hill who participated in the March for Life earlier this spring.

Post-Secondary Education
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a petition on behalf of hundreds of members of over 50 first nations from across Ontario including nine in my riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North. They are rightly concerned with verified reports that the Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs is considering removing the post-secondary student support program from first nations management and to place it under the Canada student loans program or similar third party. This would turn the grants given under this program into loans, saddling many of our most underfunded students with a debt. It would also remove our first nations from management of their own academic support funds specifically promised in at least six treaties and historically provided to all first nation students.

The petitioners urge the government to confirm the programs as permanent first nations community level funded programs and take immediate action on the recommendations of the February 2007 report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Firearms Registry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I have three petitions to present today. The first petition is on the long gun registry.

The petitioners wish to draw to the attention of the House the fact that the long gun registry was originally budgeted to cost Canadians $2 million but the price tag spiralled out of control to an estimated $2 billion a decade later.They also indicate that the registry has not saved one single life since it was introduced.

The petitioners therefore call upon the House of Commons to support legislation that would cancel the long gun registry and streamline the Firearms Act.

Employment Insurance
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition is with regard to medical benefits.

The petitioners point out that there are a number of severe, potentially life-threatening health conditions that do not qualify for disability programs because they are not necessarily permanent.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to adopt legislation to provide additional medical EI benefits at least equal to the maternity EI benefits for people who find themselves in that situation.

Protection of Human Life
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, the last petition I wish to present to the House today is in regard to life.

The petitioners point out that Canada is a country that respects human rights and includes in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that everyone has the right to life.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death.

Aviation Safety
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am tabling a petition with 16 pages of signatures from Canadian workers who are deeply concerned by the fact that Transport Canada is reducing its overall traditional oversight and on-site inspection of airplanes.

Transport Canada has been virtually outsourcing and privatizing its responsibilities to aviation companies via the so-called SMS system, safety management systems.

The petitioners are concerned by the fact that Transport Canada is trying to reduce Canadian safety standards through the back door by changing Canadian aviation regulations after the Conservative government failed to pass enabling legislation in the House.

The petitioners call upon the government to initiate a commission of enquiry to assess the state of our national aviation safety and to look into government oversight of the aviation industry.

Aviation Safety
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by over 100 Canadians from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, who are very concerned about aviation safety and the need for better government oversight of the airline industry in Canada.

The petitioners are particularly concerned about allowing aviation companies to be responsible for their own safety inspections through safety management systems, or SMS. They point out that this will lead to situations where financial considerations will trump appropriate attention to passenger and worker safety.

The petitioners are seeking a commission of enquiry, headed by a superior court judge, into the state of aviation safety in Canada.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 459 and 476.

Question No. 459
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

With regard to the proposed Mealy Mountains National Park: (a) what were the dates and locations of each meeting of the Steering Committee; (b) what is the area, in square kilometers, of the proposed park according to the latest proposals for park boundaries; (c) what are the outstanding issues which remain to be settled before this National Park can be established; (d) what are the government’s plans to address these outstanding issues; (e) what are the next steps in the park establishment process and what is the anticipated timeline for those steps; and (f) what is, or what has been, the budget for the Mealy Mountains National Park establishment process for each fiscal year from 2006-2007 up to and including the current fiscal year?

Question No. 459
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the proposed Mealy Mountains national park, in response to (a), meetings of the Steering Committee were held in Happy Valley–Goose Bay on March 21, 2002, April 18, 2002, April 30, 2003, September 29 and 30, 2005, February 2, 2006, March 9, 2006, May 10 and11, 2006, April 8, 2008, and May 6, 2008.

In response to (b), with respect to the size of the proposed park, the two governments are reviewing the recommendations of the steering committee including a recommendation on the park boundary, and following this review the size of the proposed park can be determined.

In response to (c), the outstanding issues that remain to be settled are: the proposed park boundary; the approach to the management of traditional land use activities by Labradorians; other issues that may be raised in negotiation of the required agreements or in consultations with aboriginal organizations.

In response to (d), with respect to dealing with these outstanding issues, the Government of Canada will: work with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to reach a joint decision on the proposed park boundary for the purposes of negotiating the land transfer agreement; develop an approach to the management of traditional activities by Labradorians, including a review of the recommendation by the steering committee, as part of the work to negotiate a land transfer agreement; establish a national park reserve, pending the resolution of outstanding aboriginal claims.

In response to (e), the next steps in the park establishment process are: continue to work with Newfoundland and Labrador to respond to the recommendations of the steering committee; begin negotiation of a federal-provincial land transfer agreement, the timing of which is subject to negotiation by the parties; begin negotiation of impact and benefits agreements pursuant to land claim agreements, the timing of which is subject to negotiation by the parties; continued consultations with aboriginal groups.

In response to (f), since 2006-07, the annual expenditures for this project have been: 2006-07, $251,773; 2007-08, $218,286; 2008-09, $263,500; 2009-10, $126.422. Note that the figure for 2009-10 includes expenditures to October 22, 2009, and funds that have been committed but not yet spent.

Question No. 476
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Markham—Unionville, ON

With respect to the National Capital Commission, what payments, including the amounts, the dates and the reasons for payment, have been received from the Conservative Party of Canada between February 1, 2006 and October 19, 2009?

Question No. 476
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, On December 5, 2007, the National Capital Commission received a payment in the amount of $5,300. The reason is that on October 13, 2007, the Conservative Party of Canada made use of the Prime Minister's residence at Harrington Lake as a backdrop for filming advertisements.

On September 3, 2008, the National Capital Commission received a payment in the amount of $5,250. The reasonse is that on August 23, 2008, the Conservative Party of Canada made use of the Prime Minister's residence at Harrington Lake as a backdrop for filming advertisements.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, if Questions Nos. 454, 455, 456, 458, 461 and 538 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Ms. Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 454
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

With regard to the Action Plan of Status of Women Canada (SWC): (a) in what cities and towns did consultations take place; (b) how many consultations took place in each city and town with (i) individuals, (ii) groups; (c) what dates were the consultations held in each city and town; (d) what are the names of the individuals and groups with whom consultations took place; (e) what handouts and presentations were given to individuals and groups consulted with in each city and town; (f) what issues were identified for the purposes of consultation and what criteria was used by SWC to develop consultations; (g) what communications were received from the individuals and groups with whom consultation took place; (h) who did SWC approach to consult with in each city and town; and (i) who came forward voluntarily in each city and town to participate in consultations?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 455
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

With regard to the Partnership Program of Status of Women Canada (SWC): (a) with whom does SWC currently have partnership agreements; (b) how much money has been allocated to those partners; (c) how has the funding been broken down; (d) how many and which organizations were denied partnership agreements and what reasons were provided to each organization denied; (e) how much money remains in the partnership program compared to other years; and (f) how is SWC planning to allocate money from the fund in the coming years?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 456
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

With respect to the current pandemic of new influenza A (H1N1): (a) what specific healthcare professional stakeholder groups have been consulted since the beginning of the H1N1 pandemic, what was the consultation process, and what concerns were raised; (b) what concerns from the consultation process have been addressed, what concerns are remaining, and by what date will they be addressed; (c) what, if any, additional funding was requested to address identified challenges; (d) do identified stakeholder groups report there are sufficient human resources and supplies to meet the need during a second wave of H1N1 and, if not, what are the identified gaps; (e) what, if any, additional education and training was requested by stakeholder groups; (f) what procedures are in place to ensure applicability, consistency and clarity of protocols to healthcare professional organizations, and do stakeholders report that they are receiving clear, concise, timely messaging; (g) what, if any, differences exist in how healthcare professionals will be protected among provinces and territories; (h) what specific agreements have been made in respect to assuring sufficient human resources during a second wave; (i) what, if any, differences exist between the national guidelines and those of the provinces and territories, with respect to antivirals, N-95 masks, vaccines, and other personal protective measures, and how should healthcare professionals address any discrepancies; (j) what are the known and suspected benefits and risks of the H1N1 vaccine; (k) what non-clinical and clinical trials have been or are being undertaken regarding the H1N1 vaccine, on what dates were they completed, and what are the outcomes of these trials; (l) what possible side effects, including rare events, might be expected with the H1N1 vaccine; (m) what are the possible legal risks associated with an H1N1 vaccination programme, and what efforts have been taken to reduce these risks; (n) what, if any, plans exist for rapid distribution and administration of vaccines for the first mass vaccination effort; (o) what special efforts are being made to reach out to young adults, minorities, and other at-risk groups to get vaccinated, and what languages and media outlets are being used; (p) for how long will vaccination campaigns continue past the fall in case of a possible third wave; (q) how do hospitals across the nation vary in their ability to bear the burden of H1N1 cases; (r) what percentage of hospitals are operating at their limit today; (s) what percentage of hospitals will be able to accommodate the predicted surge capacity if 15%, 35% and 50% of the population is impacted by H1N1; (t) what percentage of hospitals will be expected to meet intensive care unit (ICU) and ventilator surge capacity if the above percentages of people are affected; (u) do any hospitals or provinces and territories had difficulty meeting surge capacity in the spring and summer; (v) what, if any, surge capacity challenges existed in the spring and summer in terms of hospitalizations, ICU stays, and ventilator use, and what measures have since been taken to address these challenges; (w) what, if any, funding has been given to address surge capacity challenges; (x) what specific efforts are being taken to help reduce the burden on hospitals by distributing high profile messages about when to seek medical care for pandemic H1N1 infections; and (y) what is being undertaken to reduce the risk of resistance (i) in patients with severely compromised or suppressed immune systems who have prolonged illness, have received oseltamivir treatment, but still have evidence of persistent viral replication, (ii) in people who receive oseltamivir for post-exposure prophylaxis, and who then develop illness despite taking oseltamivir?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 458
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

With regards to Aboriginal affairs: (a) what is the government’s rationale for generally opposing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; (b) what is the government’s rationale for voting against the said Declaration in a vote of the United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 2007; and (c) what specific measures has the government undertaken since January 1, 2006, to engage and consult with the Aboriginal peoples of Canada concerning the Declaration and the position of the government towards it?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 461
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Labrador, NL

With regard to government advertising for the Home Renovation Tax Credit: (a) how much did it cost to produce, print, and distribute each of the green envelope and door knocker direct-mail pieces; (b) which departments procured the printing and distribution; (c) what are the contract numbers of the printing and distribution contracts; (d) when were these products distributed; and (e) how many households received the products (i) in each of Canada’s Forward Sortation Areas, (ii) in each province and territory?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 538
Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

With regard to funds allocated over the last four fiscal years, for each territory, by the National Research Council: (a) what is the breakdown of the amount allocated for (i) staffing purposes, (ii) administration, (iii) travel expenses, (iv) programs; (b) what is the breakdown of the staffing costs for (i) staff situated in each territory, (ii) staff situated outside the territory they provided a service for; (c) for each allocation, how much was actually spent per fiscal year; and (d) how many projects falling under the Industrial Research Assistance Program were approved and how many other projects were approved?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Ms. Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise this afternoon.

It is a privilege for me to be here today to participate in this very important debate on a Bloc Québécois motion that addresses an issue of critical importance to Canada's future. This is critical because it deals with not only our ecological integrity, but also our economic prosperity.

I want to begin by saying that Canadians continue to be disappointed by their government's lack of initiative and ashamed of its failure to take action at the international level. The government's record is 4-3-0: four ministers, three ministers and zero plan for the environment or climate change since the Conservatives came to power. They have nothing to show and only themselves to blame.

Liberals believe the scientific evidence for global warming. They want Canada to show the rest of the world the way, and they want absolute reduction targets to ensure that global temperatures do not rise by more than 2oC.

The Reform-Conservative government has shown no initiative at all with respect to Copenhagen. On the contrary, as I hope to show this afternoon, it has constantly impeded international progress on climate change issues.

The Prime Minister's irresponsible approach to climate change has become one of the greatest obstacles to Canada's economic growth.

Let us then turn to the facts and the history of four years of Reform-Conservative government. That is, in fact, what the government is: the coming together of the Reform-Alliance movement of the West and the common sense revolutionaries here in Ontario. Defeated in Ontario years ago, having set their own province on fire, they have now come to the federal scene to continue their works, tactics, tone and character.

Four years after we were promised, in an election campaign, a “made in Canada climate change plan”, we have seen it go from made in Canada, to delayed in Canada, to made in the U.S.A. Now, the Minister of the Environment, blessed by the Prime Minister, says that we will take no action unless there is an international agreement first. That is more than preposterous. That is incompetent, irresponsible and very dangerous to our future and our well-being, environmentally and economically.

Here is why. Canada's Export Development Corporation now tells us about the global marketplace for environmental and clean energy technologies and the opportunities around the world on an annual basis. These are opportunities for Canada to go and seize our entrepreneurs, investors, risk-takers and companies while working with government. The Export Development Corporation tells us that market is worth $1 trillion a year. That is $1 trillion for Canada to participate in.

Just a year and a half ago, one of Canada's top accounting firms, Ernst & Young, revealed that Canada is badly slipping behind other countries in our ability to attract investment. We are not getting the share that we should be getting in the international marketplace or the opportunities that are out there for things like water and waste water technologies, clean energy technologies, new scrubber systems for electricity generation, light rail or transit, and the list goes on and on.

Not only are we compromising our ability to compete in that race, but Ernst & Young is telling us that we are falling way behind other countries in our ability to attract capital into Canada, capital to invest precisely in the clean energy technologies of the future. We are now behind Germany, the United States, Italy, France and Spain. We are now even further behind India and China. That is important to raise in the context of the Prime Minister's trips right now, first to India and now to China.

I want to pause for a moment and speak specifically to those trips in the context of Copenhagen. I have a few remarks. First of all, the Prime Minister's approach to China for the past four years has been to use circumscribed language that is immature at best. He has compromised two decades of careful relationship building with the Chinese people and Chinese authorities in an understanding that Canada has a special relationship with China.

China would be an emerging economic superpower expected to displace the United States by 2020 as the world's largest economy. China is going to need an awful lot of Canadian know-how, solutions and technology. The Prime Minister begins by compromising our relationship with China.

More recently, just three weeks ago, when China announced that it was going to take some tenuous steps to enter the climate change tent and the international community with a willingness to talk about targets for the Chinese people, the Minister of the Environment launched an all-out attack on China in the media while he was in New York City participating in United Nations meetings.

The situation now is we are falling behind India and China. The Prime Minister was just in India, and I read the communiqué issued by both governments. Seven words out of some eight hundred and some twenty five words in the statement referred to climate change. It was a passing reference, barely addressed. What is rich about it is the Prime Minister keeps telling the Canadian people and the world that we will not do anything in Canada until, first, as I said earlier, the Americans do something. Then it is until the Indians and Chinese do something. Now it has evolved into a until there is an international treaty, not of our making.

Let me get this straight. The Prime Minister is in India and China representing us and he does not raise, in a very serious, straightforward way, the climate change crisis with Indian and Chinese authorities. It is ironic, it is rich and it is beyond belief. What it really shows is that it is incoherent, and it has been for four years. We have asked repeatedly of three successive ministers of the environment for a plan. Where is the made in Canada plan?

Recently I was asked by a national media outlet what the Minister of the Environment should be doing in Copenhagen. My response was he should come home because he had nothing to negotiate from. We do not enter into international negotiations with a blank sheet of paper. Anybody who understands international negotiations knows that. We simply do not waltz into a room and tell people to go ahead, that we will observe, that we will watch from on top and afar and when they come up with a deal, we will consider it. Then we will bring the deal back home and consider whether it fits into an ultimate Canadian domestic plan, a plan for Canada.

What do we have? We do not have a plan. We have no regulations for climate change. We have no emissions trading system for climate change. We have no price on carbon emissions to deal with climate change. We have no analysis to tell us what the role of conservation will be in sequestering carbon for a climate change plan. We have nothing.

The European Union ambassador to Canada testified yesterday in committee. He told us that there were over 1,000 pages of analysis and planning on the Internet sites of the European Union and all its 27 countries, detailing a very well thought out and well balanced plan. In contrast Canada has nothing. It is important for Canadians to know that as we come to the important moment of Copenhagen.

Made in Canada was the first announcement. Then it was to be delayed in Canada. Then it was to be made in the United States. Now it will be made elsewhere. It is not responsible because nobody will design a climate change plan for Canada for our benefit, for the planet's benefit, yes, but for our benefit as well. The only strategy the Reform-Conservatives seem to have with respect to Copenhagen is a public relations strategy.

Let me recap. We have no plan, no emissions trading system, no price on carbon emissions and no North American target.

Let us stop to speak about that for a moment. The government now has evolved its messaging in another way. It now claims that Canada is part of a North American agreement on climate change. Let us just look at that for a moment.

My sources in Washington tell me that nobody on Capitol Hill in Washington is talking about a North American plan. The folks I spoke to in Mexico City, who are seized with climate change in Copenhagen negotiations, asked me if I had misunderstood something when I spoke to them. Officials there said that they had no idea what I was talking about when I talked about a North American plan, nor a North American target, nor a North American trading system. That is not to say we should not have been working feverishly toward a tripartite approach on a continental basis.

However, to put in the window now and say that we have no plan at home, but there is dialogue with the United States should be explored.

In 2002 the former Liberal government announced a North American working group for energy dialogue. It was going strong, gangbusters, productive for Canada, making headway until 2006 when the Conservatives were elected. At the same moment they cut $5.6 billion in programming money for climate change, they also immediately cancelled a four-year-old successful North American energy working group and dialogue on energy. It evaporated.

Some two years later, when a democratic centrist administration was elected in Washington, the government, with nothing to announce on the environment, nothing to announce on the Great Lakes, nothing to announce on species at risk, nothing to announce on oceans, nothing to announce on anything, including climate change, resurrected the idea of a North American energy dialogue. It re-gifted it, tied it up with a nice, bright red bow and presented it to the people, saying that it now had a dialogue with the Obama administration. It is all smoke and mirrors all the time and it is really unfortunate because there is so much on the line.

Recently the United Nations issued a report, a very powerful one. It says that in the future countries that have more nature, more water, more species, more conservation will be the wealthiest. In other words, those countries that are best able to get more ecological integrity and better environmental protection will have a stronger, more competitive and more successful economy.

That is what eludes the Reform-Conservatives, and I do not understand why. Normally Conservative ideology and thinking would tend toward economic opportunities, enhancing those opportunities and creating the right conditions in government allowing our free market, entrepreneurs and capital to flourish. Not in this case.

Instead we have a regime that would rather play shell games and put things in the window one week after another instead coming up with a coherent national plan where everyone wins, where it can do good with respect to environmental improvement and it can do well financially. It is a race that the rest of the world is now participating in and Canada is not even at the starting line. We are not even close to being there. We are being outspent 13 times on a per capita, per person, basis by the United States on clean technology, research and development and other investments.

The Germans have already created 260,000 to 280,000 jobs today. This is not about tomorrow or 10 years from now. The future is now on this issue. The Germans have already created jobs in the clean technology sector. Why would they be doing that? What do they know that we do not know? Nothing. Why did the Chinese authorities just create a $250 billion environmental clean technologies investment fund? What do they know that we do not know? Nothing.

What we know is we are going into the powerful race of the future, where we become more efficient with the energy we use. We become cleaner with the energy that we produce. We reduce our waste. We use our resources more efficiently.

This is all good and all positive. It is a race in which humanity will compete. It is a race that Canada ought to be competing in and it is one that we can win. We have all the know-how in the world right here in our country.

Quebec has lots of experience with hydroelectricity, with dozens of engineering consulting firms that have dominated markets around the world.

Alberta has sequestration technologies and abilities to reduce our emissions, even in the exploitation of oil sands. In British Columbia, Vancouver is going to become the cleanest city in the world by 2020. Halifax is the most efficient waste management city in the country, reducing household wastes.

What does California know that we do not know? Nothing. Why else would California now define waste in all its laws? In all its laws, it does not talk about waste any more. It talks about unrecaptured profit. It sees waste as potential profit. In other words, if people generate waste, find ways not to generate it and they will make more money. They will create jobs today.

That is why Ontario's clean energy act is such a progressive step into the future. It is expected that the legislation, that initiative, will help to create over 60,000 jobs, not in a decade but today, because the future is now.

As we hurdle toward the Copenhagen meeting, it is important to remind the government that it has an obligation to Canadians, and the world, and it is failing. A whole litany of obstructionism has gone on now for four years. It barely is worth repeating, but it is important to have this debate today. It is important that the Bloc Québécois has brought the motion forward and that we debate it. It is about our future success. It is about whether we will win the race, which the Liberal Party believes we can win. It is about creating the right conditions inside Canada to participate fulsomely in the world and lead in the world.

For a change from the last four years, maybe we should start leading in the world. Canadians deserve no less.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened with great interest to the remarks made by my colleague, the environment critic for the Liberal Party. He gave us some background on the Conservatives' position regarding the fight against climate change.

I must say I agree with the overall scenario he presented for us today. However, he must stop keeping us in the dark. Here today, he needs to clearly state his party's position regarding the three points included in the Bloc Québécois motion, namely, the 2oC limit, the 25% reduction compared to 1990, and support for developing countries to adapt to climate change.

So, to be clear, my question for my colleague is as follows: does his political party plan to firmly support and vote in favour of the Bloc Québécois motion next Tuesday?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

We are continuing the debate. That is the purpose of this debate today on the motion. However, it gives me the opportunity to speak to the third part of the motion, which is very important. I learned yesterday that of all the G8 and G20 countries at present, we are the only one going to Copenhagen with an official delegation that will apparently be taking part in the negotiations, but we have no representation from CIDA or our department of international cooperation.

We know that supporting developing countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and adapt to climate change is critical for the future. It is critical not only during the negotiations, but for the decades and centuries to come. It is true that the motion contains some very positive elements. I agree that it is important to send a message, a signal, but at the same time, we must not forget that the Bloc Québécois motion, like the NDP's Bill C-311, is in no way a plan to combat climate change.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, I found the speech by the hon. member for Ottawa South to be quite eloquent. He is quite eloquent sometimes. However, sometimes his actions are not consistent with his pretty words. I am a little disappointed at the hypocrisy that I find implicit in contrasting what he said today and has said on other occasions with the actions that the Liberals have taken in general, and that he has taken in particular.

Over 13 years the Liberals did sign Kyoto but also they made no plan, they had no success in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, they grew by about 30% during their reign. The hon. member, as a member of the environment committee and as the environment critic for his party recommended to his party that it delay the vote on Bill C-311 until after Copenhagen. The Liberal Party could have chosen to have helped that bill to pass so we would be sending clear direction and clear messages to Copenhagen.

Why did the member vote to delay Bill C-311 until after Copenhagen and why are his actions inconsistent with his pretty words?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Madam Speaker, members will not be surprised to hear that a lot of the preamble to that question is simply untrue.

I would like to respond, though, by saying that, yes, it is true that we had the privilege of serving as government for over a dozen years. During that time, I was not here but we can take some pride in announcing that we did bring in the Species at Risk Act. We did bring in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. We did create the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. We actually did give the powers to regulate greenhouse gases. We did ratify Kyoto after it became law internationally, in 2004. We did bring in the greenest budget in Canadian history, according to Elizabeth May, in 2005. We did have the largest expenditure program in that budget. We had signed deals with every sector of all the final and large emitters polluting and putting greenhouse gases in. The plan was ready to execute, and then along came the Reform-Conservatives. That is the truth.

Now, with respect to Bill C-311, I do reject the member's characterization of this being a delay tactic, this notion that we are delaying something. It was not two weeks ago that his colleague, the critic in the NDP, was in agreement that this extension for 30 days in committee was extremely important in order to hear other expert witnesses. We are hearing them now. We heard yesterday from the ambassador from the EU, the high commissioner from the U.K. This was important insight as to where the world is going and where Canada is situated in a global context.

What we are really seeing is the NDP using, frankly, propaganda tactics to try to score points. At the end of the day, when we examine Bill C-311, it is a call for a plan, but it is not a plan. There is no notion of a plan in it. It omits so much in a credible plan, including international offsets, international credits, a schedule for carbon pricing.

Anyone can call for a plan. I am glad the member has joined us here in calling for a plan from the government. There is no delay tactic here. There is an opportunity for us to hear from some of the best minds in Canada and elsewhere as to how to move forward in a responsible way.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed the member's remarks. I am going to question him on some of the not so big substantive things that can be done to improve climate change and also create economic activity.

As the member would know, I am the Liberal Party's agriculture critic. I think there is tremendous opportunity in the agriculture area in a rural base to create economic opportunities for the farm sector, for rural Canada by utilizing the environment to create those opportunities, whether it is using biomass production of energy waste, waste from forests, from lumber mills, growing crops for energy on farms, or the environmental goods and services that producers do on their farms.

As well, in my own province of Prince of Edward Island, one of the first acts of the Prime Minister when he came to power was to cancel a $32 million transatlantic cable across the Northumberland Strait to utilize export wind power. Would it not make sense to put that cable in now so that Prince Edward Island could have the opportunity to use windmills, clean energy, for domestic and export use?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague is absolutely correct. There are so many opportunities for Canada to seize in urban and rural areas across Canada.

The member's specific example of cancelling the support for connectivity to a grid to get electricity from cleaner sources demonstrates clearly how the government operates. It operates in a vacuum, without a plan, without examining what projects are worth funding. It arbitrarily cuts and slashes. It is reckless conduct.

There are so many opportunities in rural Canada, in next generation biofuels. My prediction is that within the next 10 years rural landowners, private woodlot owners and those who have agricultural lands will be full partners in the climate change response in this country and internationally. Their land masses and the organic matter that they steward for us will play a huge part in sequestering, in capturing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and holding it for us so we reduce our emissions.

In my view, we should be working in Copenhagen and in Canada toward forms of compensation to deal with those eco-services. I think that is where we are heading. There are huge opportunities for us.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hard-working member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

I am delighted to speak in support of the motion from my hon. colleagues on federal climate change policy. It has become blatantly obvious to Canadians and the international community that the Conservative government has no plan for the future on climate change. It is especially important that this Parliament fill the void in leadership by proposing real solutions.

The motion has three parts, but the first and third parts really flow from the second part. The first part says we should commit to proposing targets that reduce absolute greenhouse gas pollution to 25% lower than 1990 levels, not 2006 ridiculous levels, by 2020. This is, of course, the same 2020 target in my private member's bill, Bill C-311, the climate change accountability act, which has unfortunately been stalled in committee for some time now by the Liberals and the Conservatives.

This target is the logical extension of the temperature limit, which is the second part of the motion. The science has become very clear recently that we must avoid a 2°C increase from pre-industrial levels if we are to escape catastrophic climate effects.

In order to check temperature increases, 99% of scientists tell us that we need to stabilize the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere at no more than 400 parts per million. Incidentally, we are already basically at 390 parts per million today.

The third and last part of the motion is about supporting developing countries in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and adapt to the damaging effects of climate change. While that is very vague, I can certainly see that supporting others is integral to pulling our own weight to reduce global emissions.

A ton of carbon pollution reduced in a developing country is like a ton reduced here as far the climate is concerned. This could represent the greatest economic opportunity since the second world war to export Canadian technology and business know-how abroad. It would be a sort of environmental Marshall plan.

Other countries have already seen the potential of being leaders rather than laggards versus the bleak economic future of business as usual. In fact, at this point, delay is economically irresponsible. We know that former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern has reported that the cost of inaction would be far higher than action. Unchecked emissions would cost us as much as 20% of global GDP per year, whereas the cost of bold action to reduce emissions could be limited to less than one-tenth of that on average. It does not take an economist to see which option is more affordable.

Here in Canada the recent TD Bank study by Jaccard and Associates shows that even with firm targets, such as the 25% 2020 target in Bill C-311, Canada would still be able to surpass the 2% annual growth led by Alberta.

Canadians have not seen any economic modelling of this type from our federal government. Why not? Not planning economically for something of this colossal magnitude is planning to fail and is grossly negligent. Perhaps the government has done the modelling but is reluctant to release its study. Canadians deserve to see what the government has, if the government has it.

We have just spent billions on corporate tax cuts and on the recent economic downturn, but the government has yet to seriously address the much more costly and damaging climate crisis. It has admitted it has no plan and no targets going into the Copenhagen summit next month. In fact, the Minister of the Environment said just this week that the government will wait to regulate greenhouse gas pollution until the United States takes action and until the global climate action deal is first reached by 192 other countries. We will be the last in. Talk about lack of leadership.

Years ago the government promised a plan would be in place and working by this year. Then it was delayed, but a plan was to at least be published by January 2009, then by the beginning of next year. Now it will not even be until perhaps late 2010 and more likely 2011. The minister admitted that under the American timetable, people will not even see regulations take effect until as late as 2016. No wonder our government has so little credibility on the international stage anymore. No wonder countries walk out when Canadian representatives take the podium on the world stage.

The principal reason the environment minister now gives for avoiding setting targets today is that we should wait until other countries set theirs so ours are not drastically different.

The environment minister's logic has not held back the EU. Yesterday the European Union's new ambassador appeared before the House environmental committee on Bill C-311. He testified that the EU has already set firm, science based targets like a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas pollution over 1990 not 2006 levels by 2020 and are willing to go up to 30% if countries like Canada step up to the plate with an ambitious agreement at Copenhagen.

The high commissioner for the United Kingdom also appeared before that committee yesterday and showed that prosperity and ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas pollution was not just possible but that it was already happening in Britain.

The U.K. has already adopted targets like those in the Climate Change Accountability Act, but instead of just 20% over 1990 levels by 2020, it has committed to a 34% reduction in law. It has already achieved today a 21% reduction. More than a million homes are powered by wind alone in Great Britain. Almost a million Britons are employed in the new green economy there. The Brits see that reducing greenhouse gases is not a cost but a huge economic opportunity.

Instead of avoiding responsibility to cut carbon pollution as our Prime Minister has done, Prime Minister Brown said this year that “a vast expansion” of carbon-cutting technologies was in fact crucial to their economic recovery.

It is not surprising that Great Britain should be enthusiastic about reducing its emissions, after all, it is fundamentally about increasing efficiency. It is about using less energy and less resources for more goods and better services that the country produces. That is good for business and necessary for prosperity. The U.K. knows that there is not much of a future left in the Canadian Conservative business as usual process of wasting energy.

So the British government has already adopted this target and is well on its way to meeting it and beating it. In fact, this is the more cautious plan in the U.K. The opposition Tories there are demanding even more ambitious action yet. Conservatives in our country would do well to take their climate cues from their British brethren rather than the Bush era conservatives south of us.

Conservatives in the U.S., as here, have tried to make the environment the enemy of the economy and in doing so condemn them both to decline. They have used this excuse to delay action for decades.

The Conservative government here continues to delay, even to this day. To continue in this way in the face of so much overwhelming evidence, ignoring the demands of both industry and Canadians alike, is irresponsible to the point of being criminal.

We are now skating very close to the edge. We have little margin for error left and little time. The government should know that past that tipping point, over that cliff to climate chaos, lies economic ruin as well. There can be no prosperity on a dying planet.

If we harmonize the two, the environment and the economy, realizing that new economic opportunities and green industries will emerge if we fulfill our environmental obligations as other countries are doing, we will open up the possibility of a richer, more sustainable and fairer world for us all and a more prosperous Canada with new green jobs.

Decisive targets, policies and action on energy policy will create jobs across Canada, including in Thunder Bay where Bombardier can and will build the trains of the future or the giant windmills that we need.

The forestry and mining industries have already met the 2020 targets in Bill C-311 and in this motion.

There is something else that must be reconciled with climate change that the government has virtually ignored. Climate change poses the greatest threat to Canadian security and international security since the cold war.

It is not only Arctic sovereignty we are talking about, although that is significant enough, but spreading pests, drought and desertification, among other things, will result in an acute and permanent global food supply crisis. Canadian crops will suffer too. The geopolitical consequences of this alone are huge, including in North America. Water will be much scarcer for much of the world but overabundant on many coasts where regions and entire countries will be flooded.

For every degree the global temperature rises so do the mass migrations of people, the number of failed and failing states, and wars.

Britain now sees climate change as its number one national security priority. The United States military takes climate change seriously too. Even the youngest schoolchildren seem to know what the government does not, which is that controlling climate change is vital to the health of our planet and civilization. Lack of strong action to defend Canada's long-term economic prosperity and our very security—

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Order, please. Perhaps the hon. member can finish his comments in response to one of the questions.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Nickel Belt.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, would the hon. member give the House his thoughts on why the Liberal Party would vote to delay Bill C-311 until after Copenhagen?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Ottawa South said something earlier that was incorrect. He said that I had agreed with him that it would be a good idea to delay and to call more witnesses. We have been hearing from witnesses for years.

The environment committee has had about six months to call witnesses and chose not to do so until very recently. All of the witnesses are underscoring the importance of acting quickly and before Copenhagen. It is quite clear that the decision to call witnesses now is a delay tactic. I thank my colleague for the question that allowed me to clarify that.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Madam Speaker, I sit as chair of the Canada-China Legislative Association and, as such, I am aware that Canada, relative to China, has a bit of a dramatic difference. In China right now, it has, either in operation or under construction, 534 coal-fired power plants.

If one were to put a blanket over North America and shut the lights and energy off for 20 years, greenhouse gases would still double. Prime Minister Harper and our party have recognized that this does require a global solution.

Does the hon. member not believe that countries like China and Brazil that are major emitters should also be part of the solution?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I would like to remind the member that it is forbidden to mention the names of sitting members in the House.

The hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, absolutely that is something that must be done on a global scale. Quite clearly, the future of Chinese decisions, actions and policies on the burning of coal are highly problematic.

However, I feel that my job, and I am sure the member feels that his job is to determine Canadian policy, not Chinese policy. When I look at the history of Canada, we have occasionally had Canadian prime ministers and Canadian leaders who have formulated our own Canadian policy and did not wait to be the last in after 192 countries have formulated their policy.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North for his great leadership in bringing forward Bill C-311 and for his great contribution to this debate. I know we are supporting this motion brought forward by the Bloc today. I know he makes the point very well that this idea of dividing the economy from the environment is a fatal mistake.

The member spoke about the economic benefits, such as the building of transit cars in Thunder Bay. I just wonder if he could expand more on the importance of the economic opportunity that is contained in meeting climate change targets and how that could actually be beneficial to all of us in our local communities and the planet as a whole.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, if we are going to worry about economic competition in the future, I suggest that we worry less about the economic competition from south of the border and worry more about the economic competition from the European Union.

Germany, Great Britain, Denmark and most of the European Union countries are doing a superb job of running ahead of us in realizing that economic development will not be versus cleaning up the environment, but closely tied to cleaning up the environment. They realize that green policies will lead to green jobs and high quality economies. We need to get on that train. It is pulling out of the station.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North for splitting his time with me. I also want to acknowledge the passionate work he has done in terms of ensuring that Canada takes a leadership role in protecting the environment.

As the member noted, we will supporting the Bloc opposition day motion and, in part, it is because it reflects work that the NDP has already proposed. The NDP has long been out there speaking to the need to take on action around climate change and to protect the environment. We recognize the significance of the crisis that is facing us.

Bill C-377 was originally introduced by the member for Toronto—Danforth. In his appearance before the committee, he talked about the fact that we need to deal with climate change. It is a fundamental issue. How fundamental? The United Nations Secretary General has called climate change the biggest challenge to humanity in the 21st century. The Global Environment Outlook by the United Nations environmental program stated:

Biophysical and social systems can reach tipping points, beyond which there are abrupt, accelerating or potentially irreversible changes.

We must do our share to prevent the planet from reaching the point of no return.

That was the underpinnings of Bill C-377, which was adopted by Parliament on June 4, 2008, so clearly there was debate and the hearing of witnesses. The bill talked about long term targets to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 level by 2050 and medium term targets to bring emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020.

We have heard in the House that the NDP simply does not have an action plan. That is absolutely untrue. Our fighting climate change program contains a lengthy list, so I will not go over every detail, but it does talk about implementing a $3 billion green collar jobs plan, including a fund for training; establishing an industry innovation plan to help businesses reduce their energy use; investments in renewable energy solutions; reduce pollution through an early adopters program that encourages the purchase of commercial and electric hybrid vehicles; investing in environmental solutions and incentives to encourage individual Canadians and small businesses to make better choices for their environment through a better building, retrofit and energy efficiency initiative; investing in stable annual transit funding, and it goes on and on.

I would encourage members who have not read our fighting climate change action plan to read it because there are those kinds of concrete actions in it.

The member for Thunder Bay—Superior North has covered some of the details and some of the other potential links with the economy. Sadly, however, we have some serious inaction by the Conservative government. As the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North pointed out, the Minister of the Environment said that they would wait for 192 other countries to put in place regulations before Canada would develop its regulations.

Canada should be a leader, particularly since we are the second highest emitter per capita in the world. We should be out there demonstrating leadership in this field, not waiting for 192 other countries to come onside.

In Canada, fortunately, we have communities and members of Parliament who are actually taking action, not waiting for the government to step up to the plate. I want to turn to a couple of communities on Vancouver Island. In Victoria this past week, about 1,000 people showed up to say that they wanted the government to demonstrate global leadership on climate change. We also know that greater Victoria is the national leader in green commuting. Its bike commuting rate is nearly triple the second place city and the walking rate is tops among census metropolitan areas.

Victoria also has a an excellent member of Parliament who is also taking some initiative. The member for Victoria has introduced Bill C-466 to make employee benefits for transit car pooling and bike commuting tax free. That would go a long way toward encouraging the kinds of behaviour that we know can have an effect on greenhouse gas emissions.

We also know that the member for Victoria has called for a national transit plan. Canada is the only G8 country without one. We also need to increase the municipal share of the gas tax. I am well aware that the City of Victoria and the member have called for global leadership at Copenhagen.

As well, there is an organization in Victoria called the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, which is certainly an organization that is taking concrete, meaningful action. It has a program called the SolarBC Solar Hot Water Acceleration Project, which has put solar systems in 50 homes in 17 B.C. communities. It also has a climate change showdown program, delivering an interactive climate change education program to 5,000 grade 5 and grade 6 students and challenging their parents to reduce emissions. These are grassroots community initiatives that can have some influence on the kinds of behaviour that we see as important to position Canada as a global leader.

As well, I know the member for Victoria has also taken a leadership role right here in the House, by initiating a series of talks to bring parliamentarians together to find common ground on climate change. These are important educational initiatives to help parliamentarians understand the seriousness of the problem.

I want to turn to my own riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan for a couple of minutes, because in my riding we have many local initiatives. I just want to focus on a couple. One is the Cowichan Green Community, part of whose mandate is the promotion of energy efficiency, healthy housing and environmental sustainability in the Cowichan Valley. It does that through a whole series of initiatives. It has a food security initiative for community gardens, for growing one's own food, fruit gleaning and buying local. It has healthy, efficient housing initiatives, which build sciences geared specifically to the valley's temperate climate. It has a water conservation and water quality initiative; sustainable gardening and landscaping around organics and native plants; natural based household products; rural air quality; and alternative transportation.

Just a couple of things it has undertaken to help support local responsibility for greenhouse gas initiatives include a buy local push to prompt local grocers to support local farmers; a car share co-op; help to start a garden; support for the Duncan Seedy Saturdays, including seed sharing and preserving heritage seeds; and food security concepts, where they have initiated a local food security program.

It does not stop at Cowichan. The little town of Cowichan Bay is part of the slow food initiative, which links local restaurants and farmers.

We have a biodiesel co-op and local restaurants providing vegetable oil to it. We are finding that a lot of our local people are signing up to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by using local biodiesel.

We have the Nanaimo food link program, which has a field-to-table program and is looking at food policy and food security systems. Again, it is trying to link up and protect local farmers, and encouraging and purchasing local food.

We also have programs supporting the cultural and traditional indigenous foods project. In this particular project, we are seeing organizations work with first nations all over Vancouver Island to support the traditional local diets that were far healthier. It is also making links back to local growers and local suppliers, including our wild salmon suppliers.

We can see that local communities are stepping up to the plate. Local communities recognize that in the absence of leadership, we need the municipalities, the provincial governments and the federal government to come to the table.

In its recent report, the “World Energy Outlook”, the International Energy Agency warned that each year of delay in addressing climate change will cost $500 billion globally. This is the kind of legacy we are leaving behind for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I would argue that it is time for us to come together as a House and work across party lines to take on this very serious challenge and demonstrate that Canada can be a leader in fighting climate change, both in this country and internationally.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 1:15 p.m., pursuant to order made earlier today, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at the expiry of the time provided for oral questions.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that we see the clock at 1:30 p.m.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Does the chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House?

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion--Climate Change
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 8 consideration of the motion.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Madam Speaker, it is my honour today to speak to the private member's motion before us today. My colleague, the parliamentary secretary, has already spoken on this motion, and as such I will speak today about search and rescue in general.

It is my view that our search and rescue system functions amazingly well. In fact as my colleagues have said, Canadians enjoy one of the most effective search and rescue systems in the world. I will remind members of the efforts of the men and women, both in and out of uniform, who repeatedly risk their lives to save others.

We often take for granted the search and rescue safety net. Many of us do not know how it was developed or how far it has advanced in the last 70 years.

Canada's large land mass is sparsely populated. Our coastline is the longest in the world. Because of Canada's geography, air and sea travel have taken on great importance in our development. Indeed, in the 1930s, Canada moved more freight by air than the rest of the world combined.

With the relatively primitive equipment of the day, accidents were common and many lives were lost. The harsh Canadian climate only exaggerated the tough geographical realities. Early responses to these actions in the air, on land and at sea were, at best, ad hoc. Communities would organize search parties. Nearby vessels would steam toward a ship in distress. Local RCMP detachments and military units would give what assistance they could at the time. These early efforts, though valiant, were poorly coordinated and often poorly equipped. They seldom met with success, and it was not uncommon for tragedy to befall searchers as well as those already lost.

In 1942, Wilfrid Reid May, the World War I ace, was commanding the No. 2 Air Observer School in Edmonton, Alberta. This training school had its fair share of people who went missing in the Canadian north. Though the aircraft were sometimes found, their crews often perished from exposure and/or the injuries sustained in the crash itself.

Wilfred May thought this was a terrible waste of great search and rescue abilities. He organized a group of volunteers who would parachute from search aircraft to help crashed crew victims in distress. Clad in patterned canvas suits and protected by modified leather football helmets, these men and women of May's para-rescuers were Canada's first foray into organized search and rescue.

These were inauspicious beginnings, but they marked a path for others to follow. May's advocacy not only ensured the survival of the group but also prompted its adoption in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1944. When the rapid increase in air travel in the post-war years made clear the need to create a professional search and rescue service, the RCAF's para-rescue operations stood as a ready template.

In 1947, the RCAF was assigned the task of providing aeronautical search and rescue response and coordination in Canada. In May 1959, marine search and rescue response was added to this task and the RCAF was assisted by the Department of Marine and Fisheries, forerunner to the Canadian Coast Guard, in its partnership with other countries, as we continue today.

Over the years, operational structures have evolved. New partners have emerged and non-governmental organizations, such as the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, have also played important roles in improving efficiency. In 1986, the National Search and Rescue Secretariat was established to lead and coordinate Canada's search and rescue efforts.

Despite tremendous changes in the way we do search and rescue in this country, some things remain the same. For example, the courage, dedication, innovation and daring of the men and women engaged in search and rescue have been constant over time.

In the early days of Canadian search and rescue, for example, RCAF nursing sisters received parachute training to allow them to accompany para-rescuers. One of these was the great Grace Woodman. During one of Grace's missions her parachute became entangled in a tree. Separated from her fellow rescuers and hanging upside down at 125 feet from the ground, Grace worked for hours to free herself. She suffered serious rope burns to her hands on the way down to the ground and she ended up walking overnight to find her patient. However, only after she had been stabilized and evacuated to hospital did she let anyone know about her own injuries.

Stories such as Grace's are not unique.

Many may recall the crash of the Hercules transport aircraft near CFS Alert in October 1991. Operating in permanent darkness and in blizzard conditions search and rescue teams from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta and Greenwood, Nova Scotia, worked tirelessly for 32 hours to rescue the crew.

Six search and rescue technicians, or SAR Techs, made a dangerous parachute jump in what were poor conditions to tend to the survivors who were huddled together in the tail of the wreckage. Their heroic rescue was immortalized in the 1993 movie, Ordeal in the Arctic. However, not all rescues receive the same level of media attention.

In November 1996 a Danish fisherman lay dying on a ship in the Arctic. SAR Techs Master Corporal Keith Mitchell and Master Corporal Bryan Pierce set aside their personal safety and jumped through the darkness and into the freezing waters off Resolution Island. Strong winds carried them away from the point where they were supposed to be picked up by an inflatable boat. Tossed by three metre tail waves, they struggled, until close to hypothermia. They were finally plucked from the water by the crew of the same fishing trawler which had called them. Shortly thereafter, they were administering life-saving treatment to the critically ill fishermen.

For their selflessness and daring efforts, Master Corporal Mitchell and Master Corporal Pierce were awarded the nation's highest award for courage in circumstances of extreme peril, the Cross of Valour.

Despite its humble beginnings, Canada's search and rescue community has a rich heritage of courage, devotion and selflessness. Whether it be searching at low altitudes through the mountains of B.C. for missing aircraft, coming to the rescue of a pleasure boat in Lake Ontario, or flying through thick fog to rescue the crew of a sinking ship, today's highly adaptive and responsive search and rescuers are up to the task because of instruction and the values of those who have gone before them.

Our search and rescue system has developed steadily over 70 years. It is staffed by courageous and dedicated men and women. It is effective and responsive. It is a system that allows all Canadians to fully explore, appreciate and profit from the abundances offered by our great country.

Our search and rescue teams have served and continue to serve that others might live.

I have offered my insight into the development of our search and rescue procedures to emphasize the experience and knowledge behind our current procedures. I hope my colleagues will appreciate that decisions regarding search and rescue are no longer ad hoc. We have come a long way from the days of Ace pilot May. Years of experience and a great deal of research have gone into the decision on how and where to deploy our search and rescue resources across the country. For this reason, I cannot support the motion in front of us.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in this debate on Motion No. 346 put forward by the hon. member for Random—Burin—St. George's. The motion reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, it is imperative the government move expeditiously to allocate the necessary resources to put in place a full-time dedicated helicopter fully equipped to search and rescue standards at the airport nearest to offshore oil activity and that it be available on a 24-hour basis with a crew trained in all aspects of search and rescue.

I am standing here today to again indicate the support of New Democrats for this important motion. The member for St. John's East has already spoken in the debate and indicated his support and appreciation for the motion, but I want to do so in a bicoastal expression of solidarity, as a west coast member of Parliament. Search and rescue and the imperatives of being a seafaring part of Canada make me want to stand and support this motion.

We on the west coast in British Columbia know the importance of having an excellent search and rescue force. Through DND, the Coast Guard, local search and rescue associations, police, fire and emergency personnel and organizations, we are well served in British Columbia. It is always possible to make the service better, and that is why we in the NDP think this motion about the services available in Newfoundland and Labrador is of such importance.

We always want to thank the people who undertake this important and dangerous work on behalf of all of our communities. We know they are extremely well trained, brave, and very innovative in the kind of work they do and that they are often forced to walk into, fly into or sail into very dangerous and difficult situations. Their professionalism is something we appreciate.

We also want to thank the volunteers who are often associated with some of the search and rescue associations for the voluntary service they offer in this regard.

We already heard in the debate that DND SAR techs have done probably 8,000 missions in the past year. DND estimates that they are responsible for saving an average of 1,200 lives a year, which is incredibly significant. That is a huge number of missions and of lives saved. We all want to express our appreciation for that important work.

I mentioned that the NDP member for St. John's East has already spoken in the debate. He also had a motion on the order paper similar to this, on the same topic, regarding the need for a search and rescue helicopter to be available 24 hours a day near the offshore oil operations off the coast of Newfoundland. I want to read the motion he tabled in the House. It reads:

That, in the opinion of the House, given both the increasing air and marine traffic and increased industrial activity off the east coast of Newfoundland, as well as previous recommendations by independent investigations of Search and Rescue (SAR), the Department of National Defense should upgrade Search and Rescue capabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador by providing for at least one fully equipped and fully staffed SAR helicopter at St. John's in addition to the existing SAR capability at Gander and Goose Bay and further that the Gander SAR crewing should be increased to permit 24-hour per day on-duty coverage and thereby provide improved response times.

The motion that the member for St. John's East tabled is a little more detailed than the one we are debating today. They are essentially in agreement about the importance of 24-hour staffing and availability of a search and rescue helicopter in the St. John's area. The member for St. John's East included a few other issues, a little more detail, in his motion and, as I say, he is supportive of the motion that we are debating today.

We know the oil production industry off the coast of Newfoundland is a significant one. We know that there were issues in the past around safety and the ability to respond to emergencies in that industry.

We all remember the sinking of the Ocean Ranger on February 15, 1982. That platform in the Hibernia oil field sank and 84 people died in that terrible incident. We know of incidents like that and appreciate the importance of having this kind of response.

The inquiry that looked into the sinking of the Ocean Ranger made a specific recommendation in this regard. It said that a full-time search and rescue dedicated helicopter provided by either government or industry, fully equipped to search and rescue standards, should be required to be available at the airport nearest the ongoing offshore drilling operations, and that it be readily available with a trained crew able to perform all aspects of rescue.

In a sense this recommendation has been around for quite some time, at least since that inquiry reported after the 1982 sinking of the Ocean Ranger.

It is not like there is a small number of people involved in the offshore oil industry off of Newfoundland. We know that 1,200 workers work in that industry. There is something like 300 to 600, I think it is 300 workers who work permanently for up to three weeks on the platforms off of Newfoundland.

Also, half of those workers are members of the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union, my former union. They are also very interested in the outcome of this debate and the need for a 24-hour search and rescue helicopter based in St. John's. They have been supporting the efforts of both the member for Random—Burin—St. George's and the member for St. John's East on these issues.

We know that full-time availability is absolutely crucial when we are talking about search and rescue. Taking time to refit a helicopter into a search and rescue capacity loses time when lives are in danger or when people are in an emergency situation.

We know that having to call in crew in the evenings or on weekends, when it is not in the normal operating hours, is also a very serious issue and delays the response available to an emergency situation. Emergencies do not happen during office hours, so to speak. We have to ensure that we have that capacity to respond whenever those emergencies take place.

We also know the importance of having appropriately equipped helicopters to do the job. I know that the union has been very explicit about the kind of equipment that is needed on the helicopter that would respond to these emergency search and rescue situations.

That is a very crucial part of all of this, as well. Some of this has come to light because of the Cougar Air helicopter crash back on March 12, 2009, when 17 people unfortunately lost their lives. There was one survivor, Robert Decker.

We know, right now, there is an inquiry underway under the auspices of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. That report should be available in March 2010. When this whole issue is being reviewed, it is important that we take a stand here in Parliament that says that there is an important solution that is available to us, if we pursue that.

I am happy to note that the member for St. John's East has standing at that inquiry, and I think he expects to appear before the inquiry next week to offer his perspective on this important issue and on that particular crash, that tragic incident back in March.

I think there is concern in Gander that establishing a 24-hour search and rescue capacity at St. John's may impact what is available in Gander. I think we want to say very clearly that we are not talking about removing the capacity from Gander. In fact, we think that should have 24-hour capacity as well.

This is about establishing that capacity in St. John's, which I believe is one of the closest airports to the offshore oil fields in Newfoundland. That is why it is so important to have this capacity there. Again, I just want to stress that having 24-hour capacity, having crew available 24 hours for emergency response, is absolutely crucial in the circumstances of an emergency.

We cannot wait to reconfigure an aircraft that is used for other purposes. We cannot wait to call in staff from their homes in the night or on weekends. We have to have that capacity there at all times. Given the size of the offshore oil operations off Newfoundland and Labrador, given the offshore shipping, the fishing, the pleasure craft that are used there, all of things indicate that we should have that capacity, and that it should be fully functioning.

In conclusion, that is why New Democrats and this New Democrat from the west coast of Canada support this motion to establish that capacity in St. John's.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today on this motion. I listened with care to the speakers the last time this motion came up for debate. It is certainly an emotional issue in Newfoundland and other parts of the country, given the difficulties and the tragedies that have occurred over the years.

We are reminded of the Ocean Ranger disaster way back in 1982. That was a disaster in which many people were killed, by the way, on a rig that people said could never sink. How many times have we, in history, been told that a piece of technology, a ship or a balloon for instance, has been developed and that it is unsinkable? It seems that when these claims are made, in fact, many times they are proven to be untrue, and in the case of ships, sometimes on their very first voyage.

However, in the case in question, a number of people were killed, a result which points to the fact that there are inadequacies in search and rescue services for workers in the Newfoundland and Labrador offshore oil industry.

A royal commission was convened in the wake of the disaster. It recommended that a fully equipped search and rescue helicopter be located at the airport nearest the offshore facility, which would be in St. John's. To date, the recommendation has never been realized.

I know we get into an argument here and the government gets into an argument about costs. It is concerned about the cost of having this service available. However, as with anything we do in our country, there is a cost.

In the city of Winnipeg, we currently have a debate going on about whether the possible benefits of having a police helicopter are worth the additional expense. We wonder if it is going to be beneficial in catching people involved in fleeing from police in high-speed chases and whether we could perhaps reduce the number of high-speed chases and the risk to lives when they occur by having this helicopter in the air.

Sure, there is a cost to this helicopter. However, on balance, it has probably been proven, through its use in other jurisdictions and cities across North America and probably elsewhere around the world, that in fact there is a benefit to having that helicopter in place. I think that can be proven here as well. How many people have to die before governments step in and do the right thing?

The previous speaker from British Columbia certainly made the point that wherever there are offshore oil platforms, whether they be on the east coast or the west coast, having proper search and rescue is very important.

In addition to the offshore oil industry, fishing vessels are in constant operation in the offshore areas of Newfoundland and Labrador. Several months after the Cougar helicopter tragedy, a fishing vessel sank in the same offshore area during what are considered off-hours for search and rescue services. The response time for search and rescue services during these off-hours is inadequate. The problem is further compounded by the distance of the search and rescue unit from this area.

As a matter of fact, I believe that at a certain point the search and rescue people were involved in a training exercise. In fact, I do not think they were even in the province and they had to be called back.

The Cougar air disaster is certainly very current in people's minds and certainly the sole survivor, Robert Decker, is the only person who is available to talk about what happened in that particular accident.

Search and rescue is the responsibility of the Department of National Defence. It does have very adequate well trained teams available. However, once again, it is one thing to have trained people available, but they have to be available when the accident happens.

As I recall from the previous series of speeches on the motion, one of the members said that the crews were on a schedule. They are available more hours during the day and less hours during the evening. A crash does not time itself as to when rescue crews are or are not available. A disaster can occur on an oil rig any time of the day or night. The crew has to be available, has to be resourced and has to be ready to move at a moment's notice.

If we cover all the bases with a helicopter, in addition to whatever facilities are available right now, then we do the best possible service to our men and women working on these rigs.

This is not only an issue of people working in the oil industry. People work in the fishing industry and their boats can be out in the ocean at any given time. When they are in distress, response has to be immediate.

There cannot be any questions of a crew not being available because it is training in a different province. There cannot be any questions about the crew not being available because it is on limited hours during the day. As I indicated, a disaster does not plan itself at the optimum time when crews are available. We need the most possible resources put to this task. We will benefit by this over the long haul.

Why the government would be reluctant to support this motion is suspect in my mind. A price cannot be put on the safety of workers. If we look at the airline industry, the government is only too quick to say that weather affects flights and so on, so it has to be on guard all the time. What is the difference between a group of passengers flying on an airplane versus people on a fishing boat? When the weather turns bad and rescue efforts have to be initiated, the facilities need to be there.

The government is making moves to allow airlines to lessen their requirements to keep track of their safety issues. The government is being contradictory here. On the one hand, it talks about the importance of air safety, yet it is not prepared to put out the extra money for a helicopter to be in areas where there are potential problems with oil rigs or fishing vessels, et cetera. The government has to take a consistent approach and consistent action. It cannot pick and choose its options and support one particular part of safety but not the other.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Madam Speaker, on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, I want to thank my colleagues in the NDP and the Bloc for supporting this motion, which is of vital importance not just to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but to all people throughout our country and other parts of the world who work offshore in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I also want to thank the member for Burlington for his contribution to the debate. I could not agree more about the importance that search and research provides throughout our country, how valuable the service is and how dedicated those who work in search and rescue are.

However, I have some issues with the comments made by the member for Edmonton Centre. It is to those comments that I want to speak to this afternoon because they need to be rebutted.

First and foremost, he indicated that he appreciated the way I spoke to this issue with sincerity and emotion. He is absolutely right. I am sincere about this and it is a very emotional issue. It is an emotional issue for the hundreds who work offshore in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is also an emotional issue for the families of those individuals. It is an emotional issue for the businesses that are involved. We all feel deeply about this issue, and I make no excuses for that.

In fact, the level of fear among those who work offshore is something we really need to take into account when we decide how we will vote on this motion.

I have spoken to the people offshore who are familiar with what happened back when a fixed platform toppled and 84 people lost their lives. I know about the fear being expressed today by family members of those who died in the helicopter crash just a short while ago. I have heard the lone survivor, Mr. Robert Decker, speak about his ordeal. I have heard the father of the young lady who survived the crash, but subsequently drowned. He wonders if search and rescue had reached her in a timely manner, if she would be alive today.

Those who work in the industry refer to something called the golden hour. It is that first hour after an accident or a sinking at sea. They say that if people are not spotted or rescued in that first hour, their situation will begin to deteriorate very quickly. That points to the need for ensuring we have adequate search and rescue facilities close to the oil fields and close to where accidents occur.

It is not just in the oil industry. As my colleagues have said already today, we are talking about the fishing industry. We are talking about the tourism industry. We are talking about the trade export industry, where ships are involved. This issue affects all of us. I find it somewhat unsettling for anyone to suggest, as the member for Edmonton Centre did when we last spoke to this motion, that we cannot afford this because resources are limited.

Look at how money is being spent today in our country. Look at the amount of money being spent on the Canada action plan, for instance, or on signage. It is a serious issue for me. On the one hand the government can waste that kind of money, but on the other hand it says that it does not have the resources to enhance the search and rescue capabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador or, I would expect, anywhere else in the country for that matter. I would hate to think that it is singling out Newfoundland and Labrador.

The point is the government really has to rethink its position. It has to join with the NDP, the Bloc and the Liberals and support this motion. This is too important to be looked at as something that cannot happen because there are not enough resources.

The member for Edmonton Centre suggested that we cannot relocate resources. No one is asking for resources to be relocated. In fact, we are saying that the resources right now in Gander need to be upgraded to 24/7. We are suggesting that the search and rescue operation in Gander needs to be enhanced. No way at no time have we ever suggested that the resources from Gander be reallocated to St. John's. On the contrary, we need to enhance the search and rescue capabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Search and Rescue Helicopter
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, November 25, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Accordingly the House stands adjourned until next Monday at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 1:52 p.m.)