House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was self-employed.

Topics

Public Service of Canada
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong.

Our government is committed to a strong and effective public service for Canadians. The annual report of the Public Service Commission that was tabled last month confirmed that.

Why does the member not take it up with the Public Service Commission, which confirmed the independence and the strength of our public service?

Museums
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, for seven weeks now, the employees of the Museum of Civilization and the War Museum have been on strike. They are simply asking for employment conditions similar to those offered in other museums. For the past 46 days, not only has the minister been ignoring them, but he has been turning a blind eye to the attitude of the employer, who is using strong arm tactics with its workers.

Instead of allowing the employer to make matters worse, what is the minister waiting for to step in and tell it to go back to the bargaining table in good faith?

Museums
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Edmonton—Spruce Grove
Alberta

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, we know this is a very difficult time and our thoughts are certainly with those affected by this situation, but this is a legal work stoppage, and it is important to note that the museums are open for visitors at this time.

A federal mediator has been working with the parties since before the strike even began. The mediator will continue working with those parties to find a solution.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the B.C. Supreme Court declined Sharon McIvor's appeal on whether or not women could pass on Indian status to their children. That means if the Indian Act is not amended by April 6, thousands of first nations people will lose their status.

First nations are frustrated by the ruling, but are even more frustrated that the government refuses to consult with them on how to change the legislation. Will the minister commit to full consultation with first nations to bring an end to the discriminatory practice of letting all men but only some women pass on their status?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, of course we respect the B.C. Supreme Court ruling. The court decided not to hear Ms. McIvor's leave to appeal. We are adhering, of course, to the B.C. Supreme Court ruling.

We will make sure that women are treated the same as men, and the descendants of women are treated the same, which is what that court case is about. There are 17 or 20 consultative hearings that are taking place; most have taken place. People are welcome to contribute over the next couple of months as we prepare a response to make sure we are in adherence to that court ruling.

If the member would like, she could support our matrimonial real property rights bill so we could really help women across this country.

Employment insurance
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government looks after all those who are working—whether they are the teachers at Juvénat Notre-Dame or the parents of the students of this venerable institution in Lévis—as well as those who are unemployed. In the meantime, the Bloc members just sit on their hands and even vote against measures to help the unemployed.

Why has the Bloc abandoned workers while our government works for the people of Quebec and Canada? Can the Minister of National Revenue tell me what concrete measures our government has implemented to help workers—

Employment insurance
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Minister of National Revenue.

Employment insurance
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, the member is right to raise this matter. It is rather perplexing that while our government introduced measures to help the unemployed on four occasions, the Bloc remained seated every time there was a vote. First, we added five weeks to unemployment insurance. Then we extended the work sharing program by 14 weeks. We subsequently provided funding for up to two years for retraining. More recently, we added 5 to 20 weeks for long-tenured workers.

It is this government that is working on helping the unemployed.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

November 5th, 2009 / 3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. On the upcoming occasion of Veterans' Week, I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Canadian war veterans, peacekeepers and a current serving member of the military, namely Mr. Gerry Bowen and Ms. Helen Rapp, World War II veterans; Mr. Lloyd Swick, a World War II and Korean War veteran; Mr. Ray Paquette, a peacekeeping veteran; and Captain Leo Phillips, a current service member of the military.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, there are important proceedings to take place in this House with respect to Veterans Week almost immediately, so I will simply ask the government House leader if he could briefly describe his work program ahead so we can quickly get on to the tributes to veterans.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Prince George—Peace River
B.C.

Conservative

Jay Hill Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the brief question from my hon. colleague this week in honour of the tributes that we are about to hear.

Today we began and hopefully will conclude the second reading stage of C-56, the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act. That bill is receiving rave reviews all across the land and it is my hope that it will move very expeditiously through the House.

On Tuesday, we sent another employment insurance act to the Senate, Bill C-50. My understanding is that it has completed third reading over in the other place and we hope that will receive royal assent today.

Following Bill C-56, it is my intention to continue the debate at third reading of C-27, the anti-spam bill, which will be followed by Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act, which is at second reading.

Bill C-56 will continue tomorrow if not completed today. Backup bills for Friday are Bill C-51, the Economic Recovery Act, which was reported back from committee this week, followed by any bills not completed from today.

When the House returns from our constituency Remembrance Day week, the schedule of bills will include Bill C-23, Canada-Colombia, and bills not concluded from this week. We will give consideration to any bills reported back from committee or new bills yet to be introduced.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Pursuant to order made on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, the House will now proceed to statements by ministers.

Veterans' Week
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

New Brunswick Southwest
New Brunswick

Conservative

Greg Thompson Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, today is one of those special days in this place when members from all sides of the House will speak with one voice, and that is to honour those who have allowed us to live in the best country in the world.

There will be no disagreement and no debate. There will be only one message: a sincere thank you to the generations of men and women who have worn our uniform, who have defended our way of life and who have made Canada strong and free and proud.

As we launch Veterans' Week, we think of the extraordinary contributions that ordinary Canadians have made in two great wars, in Korea, on peacekeeping missions, on military operations and in Afghanistan today, missions that have distinguished our soldiers, Canada's soldiers, as the best in the world. They are the best trained, the most disciplined and the most professional.

We live in a country blessed with peace, a country built on the values of generosity, democracy, human rights and the rule of law and we owe much of it, if not all of it, to our men and women in uniform, past and present.

In this place, words are all we have to express our gratitude, just words to describe their sacrifice, but words fail to capture the brutal inhumanity of war and the tragic loss of so many young lives on a scale that none of us can imagine.

Words cannot describe the sacrifice on Vimy Ridge or at Beaumont-Hamel. They cannot describe the horrors on the shores of Normandy, in the mountains of Italy or in the hills of Korea. They cannot capture the atrocities in Rwanda or Bosnia, and words alone cannot begin to tell the untold stories of Canadian bravery and determination.

In December 1941, a valiant group of Canadians arrived in Hong Kong with few supplies and no backup. Yet they stood in the face of relentless Japanese attacks for 17 long days. Again, words cannot describe the cruelty that eventually led enemy soldiers to overrun a makeshift hospital and assault and murder nurses and bayonet our wounded soldiers in their hospital beds. This all happened on Christmas Eve. These are actions that defy any level of human behaviour, even in war.

Our Canadian men and women still stood their ground with uncommon courage until the next day, Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, those still alive or still standing were taken prisoner of war. “Prisoner of war” does not begin to describe what happened to these young Canadians. It fails to describe the sheer torture and brutality that they endured. The term “prisoner of war” only proves that even in war we sanitize the language.

These Canadians were forced to perform slave labour on a starvation diet. It was truly a prescription for death. What continues to amaze me is that some of our soldiers walked away; they walked away from those camps on September 9, 1945, after 1,355 days. Almost 2,000 men and women had sailed to Hong Kong and more than a quarter of them never returned home, and some who did survive had to be carried out, only to die on the voyage home. Their story is worth retelling because after all of these years, some 65 years later, many of the horror stories from those camps remain untold.

The survivors of the Battle of Hong Kong still cannot and will not talk about everything that happened. Those still with us today will occasionally share a story with each other, but they have never told their families, their loved ones or their friends the whole story.

I keep asking myself this: How did these men and women, how could any human being, survive such suffering; what kept them going?

When we ask George Peterson, one of the men who did survive and one of those who did walk away, he will use only one word and he will tell us that they lived on hope. More precisely, they existed on hope. They did not live, they existed. They came from a country they loved and wanted to return to. They believed in a free world and in the mission. Most importantly, they had made a solemn promise to their loved ones that they would come home no matter what.

These stories remind us that the full cost of war is not limited to those Canadians who lie buried overseas. The full cost of war lives on from generation to generation and it continues to be paid today.

Mr. Speaker, you and I and many members of the House grew up with children of that generation of soldiers, children who grew up in families with fathers who struggled with the invisible cost of war, brought up by parents who suffered in silence.

What is truly astonishing is that even those who endured such hardships, even those who still bear the emotional scars of war, came home to build this country. Their contributions did not end on the battlefields. They came home and started businesses, they pursued careers, they went to work, they paid their taxes, they made the Canada we know today. They made our country. They made Canada great.

That is the remarkable story of our veterans. When we are in their presence, when we are sitting at a table and sharing a meal with one of these once young soldiers who are now in their twilight years, we realize that they are not just ordinary people. As we watch a frail and arthritic hand break bread, and just the way they look at their food before they eat it, the way they never take a meal for granted, we realize that these men and women are different. They are special. They are our nation's truest heroes. They did not seek the headlines, but they wrote the true story of our country, Canada.

Men and women like them are still writing that story, the Canadian story, and they are still risking everything to defend our way of life.

Each of us in this chamber knows it. Every one of us in this place has met families of our fallen soldiers from Afghanistan. When we are in their presence our eyes are instinctively drawn to that tiny silver cross that tells the whole story. These families have paid the ultimate sacrifice. When our eyes meet their eyes, we cannot help but wonder how pain and pride can coexist simultaneously in one set of eyes, but they do.

As we reach out to them, just a simple handshake is not going to cut it. These are truly powerful moments, because we know that for anyone who has lost a loved one the pain they bear is real and never goes away.

As we have heard in this place so often, for someone who has lost a loved one, every day is Remembrance Day. Yet amid such sacrifice, it is also true that, almost without exception, each one of these family members will tell us that if they were to do it over again, nothing would change, nothing. They still believe in Canada. They still believe in the mission and, most important, they loved and believed in their fallen sons and daughters, husbands and wives.

In the next few days all of us in the House will return to the towns and villages that we represent. We will go back to the men and women who sent us here and with them we will gather at our cenotaphs and at our memorials. The bugle will sound and pipes will blow and we will lay the wreaths and we will observe the silence. During that time of quiet reflection, we will thank them, we will remember them and we will say a silent prayer for those who continue to serve.

Lest we forget.

Veterans' Week
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured and deeply humbled to rise on behalf of the entire Liberal caucus in joining with colleagues in all parties this afternoon to honour the service and the sacrifice of Canadian veterans and, particularly, to remember more than 100,000 members of the Canadian armed forces who have given their very lives in the pursuit of peace, freedom and democracy at home and abroad.

I am even more deeply humbled to be surrounded by them this afternoon in the very presence of those representatives of the armed services and the veterans above me in the gallery. Even though I cannot see them right now, I appreciate their presence and ask for their grace and patience as I try to pay tribute.

Over the next week, in villages and cities, in places of worship, places of honour, in public squares and at the bedsides in veterans' care facilities, Canadians will pause to reflect and remember. And on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we will still ourselves for two minutes to bring to mind and to heart the passion, the courage and the hopes of those who died in service to our nation.

This week we will bear boldly the flame of gratitude and remembrance.

We are a nation proud of being forward-thinking, a forward-looking nation, an optimistic people committed to building a better country and a better world. This week, however, as we do each year around this time, we shall take a moment to stop and contemplate our past to recall the throes of war, and to remember with sad hearts the loved ones who are departed and the families torn apart. We will also reaffirm our commitment to their efforts in shaping a world of peace and equity.

As we do that, we will feel humility. We will feel gratitude. We will feel pride.

It is my hope that this week we will recall in our souls the tireless pursuit of a world free from tyranny and terror that has been the call to action and the call to arms of members of the Canadian Forces for generations.

It is my hope this week that we will reclaim in our hearts the spirit of this nation, its care for the most vulnerable, its commitment to civil and human rights, its protection of minorities and its commitment to democracy and freedom, those things that have shaped every one of our wartime efforts.

Most of all, it is my hope this week that we will remember, at the core of our being, the spirit of those soldiers, peacemakers and peacekeepers who lost or risked their lives in the trenches and fields of the first world war, on the bloodstained beaches and in the fields of the second world war, over the mountains, through the swamps and across the rice paddies of the Korean War, and now in the city streets and the vast deserts of Afghanistan, even as we speak today.

To remember the wars of the 20th century is not an easy task for two reasons.

Quite simply, the experiences of war are painful to convey and difficult to share. It grates against the grain of our culture to call to mind the tragedies of war and the magnitude of death. The numbers stagger. Canada sent 620,000 soldiers to fight in World War I, 66,000 were killed. Over one million Canadians fought in World War II, 45,000 did not return. It is hard to come to terms with over 100,000 lives cut short, over 100,000 stories left unfinished, over 100,000 families truncated, over 100,000 dreams trampled upon.

There is a natural human response to want to shield ourselves from the reality of this sacrifice. But even if we are willing, our capacity is dangerously threatened.

With each Remembrance Day, the veterans who gather around memorials to lay wreaths and share their stories with family and friends grow a little older and fewer. Those who saw combat are now having a hard time feeding the flame of remembrance alone.

For Canada's younger generations, the World War II and Korean War veterans' memories are ancient history. With each year that goes by, our nation is remembering less vividly the conflicts that have marked the previous century.

But remember we must. To bear the flame of remembrance is simply not enough. We must continue to feed the flame of remembrance as well.

We feed the flame of remembrance by our yearly naming of those who have given their lives, keeping our promise to those who have died in our service. We take time and make space to ensure that they are remembered as men and women, as flesh and blood, not mere statistics in corporate memory. From Harry B. Little, who died at the age of 26 on August 14, 1914, to Sapper Steven Marshall from Calgary, Alberta, who, at 24, was killed in Afghanistan on October 30 of this year. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

We feed the flame of remembrance also by telling and retelling stories of the human side of war, keeping our promise to those who have served faithfully. We support the Memory Project of the Historica-Dominion Institute, connecting veterans and students online and in classrooms across the country by the sharing of personal stories with youth.

So far, these veterans have managed to touch more than 300,000 young people with their stories of courage and passion.

We feed the flame of remembrance by caring for our veterans and their spouses with dignity, compassion and economic security.

We honour the new Veterans Charter, an alliance between this country and those who served in the armed forces.

We thank the Royal Canadian Legion and ANAVETS units across the country that not only keep this memory alive, but provide social, cultural and individual support for Canadian veterans.

Finally, we feed the flame of remembrance by honouring those who wear the uniform today, ensuring that we equip them appropriately, keep them safe and preserve their health.

These brave women and men put their lives on the line every day for a better world.

Our solemn responsibility is to protect them and when they come home, to ensure their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health. Sometime next week, we will remove the poppies from their place of honour over our hearts, but let us never remove our commitment to feeding the flame of remembrance. Let us keep the faith. Let us keep hope.