House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was table.

Topics

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #153

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Provincial Choice Tax Framework Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Laval—Les Îles, International Co-operation.

The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth is rising on a question of privilege. We will hear the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth now.

Statements by Ministers Regarding Afghan Detainees
Privilege
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is to complete just briefly the arguments that I was presenting prior to the vote, so I do not need to take much more of the House's time.

As you will recall, Mr. Speaker, we were entering into the record here again, actually, examples of where the Minister of National Defence and other ministers of the government had spoken out, indicating such statements as the following. This particular one is from the Minister of National Defence on November 18:

I state again that there has never been a single solitary proven allegation of abuse of a Taliban prisoner transferred by the Canadian Forces.

He was echoed by the Minister of Transport, who said on December 4:

There has not been a single proven allegation of abuse of a Canadian-transferred prisoner.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs joined the chorus, saying on December 1:

Let me be perfectly clear. There has never been a proven allegation of abuse involving a transferred Taliban prisoner by Canadian Forces.

We had the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas on November 18 saying:

The Government of Canada has received no proven allegation of abuse since instituting our strengthened detainee arrangement in 2007.

The Prime Minister himself said on, and I do not have the date right in front of me on that quotation, but he said:

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the reports that the hon. gentleman is talking about, by their own admission, are not credible evidence of torture of Canadian detained prisoners. They are simply evaluations of the Afghan prison system based on second-hand and third-hand evidence.

Mr. Speaker, one of the most important things that has to take place in this place is that the government needs to tell the truth to the members of Parliament who are assembled to discuss important issues.

My point of privilege, as I mentioned before, is that the members of Parliament should have had an acknowledgement from the government benches that the statements that had been made in this place were in error. There should have been an apology for having led the House of Commons down a path which did not represent the truth, given the statements that we now have from the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Mr. Speaker, the privileges of members of Parliament are very important. I hope that you will rule that the government must take action to make amends for this breach of the privileges of members of Parliament.

Statements by Ministers Regarding Afghan Detainees
Privilege
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I have listened to the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth present his argument on this matter. It sounds a lot to me like a dispute as to facts. I know that members have been asking questions on a regular basis about this dispute as to facts, but I am not sure that the fact that they may or may not disagree with a minister's answer to any of the questions is a matter of a breach of the hon. member's privileges. This is the part I am having trouble with.

I know that the dispute as to facts is a continuing matter. We had more questions today in question period about these things, but I am not sure I am satisfied on anything I have heard to this moment that there has been a breach of any member's privileges as such.

Accordingly, I am not going to proceed with the matter at this stage. Maybe more evidence will come forward later that turns it into one, but I am not sure that we have such a breach of privilege of the House at the moment.

It being 6:10 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations Act
Private Members' Business

December 9th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

moved that Bill C-471, An Act respecting the implementation of the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force and amending another Act in consequence, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, I introduced Bill C-471, An Act respecting the implementation of the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force and amending another Act in consequence, in the House. This bill would repeal the measures that undermined pay equity in this year's budget.

The Conservatives hid behind economic recovery measures to launch an attack against the fundamental right to equal pay for work of equal value.

Bill C-471 would make clear in law what should never be in doubt: pay equity is not a labour relations issue, it is a human rights issue.

I take particular pleasure in introducing this bill. It is the first private member's bill I have had the honour to introduce, and I have chosen this subject because of its extraordinary importance to all Canadians, especially to Canadian women.

In this year's budget, the Conservatives put pay equity on the bargaining table and that was wrong. No human right should ever be subject to negotiation and that is the premise on which this bill is founded. My party and I believe the majority of members of the House are firm in their conviction that equal pay for work of equal value is and always must be a human right.

As members of the House will be aware, the fight for pay equity is not yet won. We have much to do.

Today in Canada, women earn on average 72¢ for every dollar earned by a man doing the same work. For a woman who has children, it is 52¢.

Two-thirds of all minimum wage earners are women and women are over-represented among part-time and unpaid workers, as well as those in the lowest income brackets. Among top earners, on the other hand, men outnumber women by the astonishing figure of 330%. In recent years, if we take a global standard, we have fallen to 25th in the world in terms of the gender gap.

Canada is behind 25 other countries when it comes to women participating in economic and political life.

This is Canada. This is the remaining inequality we have to overcome in the country we love. We must do better.

The statistics speak for themselves, but they cannot represent the people these statistics represent. I am thinking of a single mom in Mississauga who cannot find a quality day care spot for her son and who cannot afford not to work.

I am thinking of young parents in Laval who cannot spend time with their children because they need a second job just to feed their family.

I am thinking of a family in Nanaimo, B.C., trying to put their kids through school with two parents working full-time for one and a half incomes. This is why pay equity is a human rights issue. This is why this party has brought this into the House.

This is why pay equity is a national issue, and this is why the House should pass this bill.

Bill C-471 would take pay equity off the bargaining table where it should never have been in the first place. We would create a federal pay equity commission to ensure pay equity in the federal public service, crown corporations and federally-regulated industries.

We will create a federal pay equity commission to ensure pay equity in the public service and federally-regulated industries.

Under Bill C-471, any pay equity measures would be considered human rights legislation.

This Bill C-471 would establish clear and present safeguards to protect pay equity in the workplace. Some of these safeguards have been undermined or eliminated by the present government. Others were called for in the 2004 task force report but never implemented.

This bill calls for the financial resources needed to create a proactive model of pay equity.

The Government of Canada is Canada's largest single employer and has an obligation to lead by example, to start a race for the top and not a race to the bottom. When human rights are in question as they are in this case, federal leadership is not an option, it is a responsibility. This leadership has been sorely lacking in recent years.

Women's equality has been a casualty of the current government's short-term politics.

Women's equality has been a casualty of the government's politics. It cut the operating budget of Status of Women Canada by 43%, and it cut the word “equality” from its key mandate.

The government axed the court challenges program, the national child care supplement and $1 billion in child care agreements with the provinces and territories.

It ripped up the Kelowna accord and the support for aboriginal health and education, especially for women, that went with it.

Now it is reneging on its own promise in the 2008 budget to present an action plan for the equality of women, in order to improve the economic and social conditions of Canadian women and increase their involvement in our democracy.

This is the record of the government. Canadians deserve better.

The Senate, the other Chamber, made its own report on pay equity earlier this year and now this bill is an opportunity for all of us across all divides in this House to make a clear statement about gender equality in this country, to say, in other words, that women are not a “left-wing fringe group”, that women's rights are human rights, and that any attack on pay equity is inexcusable and especially so in the middle of a recession.

We must get this bill passed and I believe we will. However, our work will not end there.

As long as all Canadians, men and women alike, young or old, in rural or urban areas, aboriginal or not, do not have equal opportunities in life, we will not be satisfied with our efforts as parliamentarians or citizens of this country.

Regardless of where we come from or on which benches we sit, we in this House share a common obligation to the people of this country to make Canada the fair society we all believe it should be. This bill is a step in that direction. It is the step we must take. I know that sooner or later, in this Parliament or in the next one, take it, we will.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis Minister of State (Status of Women)

Madam Speaker, the World Economic Forum just released its gender gap report. Canada rose six places ahead of the Americans. We were leading in the top three categories: number one, economic participation; number two, educational attainment; number three, health. In fact, we were number one in economic participation and literacy rates. Where we did not do well was political empowerment.

I would like to ask the Liberal leader a question. He made some comments to the media that there were some unspecified costs. I would like him to outline how much he thinks those costs are.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations Act
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Madam Speaker, I am surprised that the question of cost should be the first thing in the hon. member's mind. We are talking here about human rights.

The proposal is very specific: to create a federal pay equity commission. Costs are entailed, but when the human rights of women are in question, the question of cost surely is secondary. The primary obligation is to do the right thing.