House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nuclear.

Topics

Supreme Court Act
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 6:16 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 February 25 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to finish my remarks in support of Motion No. 299 put forward by the member for Papineau.

When we left off on February 25, I know I have been called long winded but I have never given a three month speech before. However, I am very pleased to continue the discussion on this important motion.

Since I spoke on this the first time, it has been illuminating for me. The member for Papineau came to my constituency to visit Auburn Drive High School and was able to engage with the young people in my constituency about the importance of youth service and about his motion. I can tell the House that there is a great deal of excitement about that. I want to thank Mike MacKenzie and the other teachers at Auburn Drive High School who arranged that visit. We had originally planned to speak in front of one class. Then they called and asked if it could be two classes and then they asked if it could be three classes. We ended up speaking to about 220 students.

The member for Papineau is an excellent leader, particularly when it comes to young people. He has an issue here that has been very important to him and I think it really strikes a chord with young Canadians. I think this galvanizes young Canadians. I think young Canadians are particularly interested in youth service. They are looking for some options and some ways to be involved in the community and there are a host of benefits that come, both for the young Canadians who might do it but also for the community.

A poll done less than a year ago by EKOS indicated that 80% of Canadians favoured some kind of a national youth service strategy for Canada. Jean-Guy Bigeau, the executive director at that time for Katimavik, said:

A strong national youth service policy would produce visible evidence of our commitment to ensure that this vital segment of our population is included into the socio-economic life of our society.

That is very important. We have great potential. Other countries are doing this kind of thing. We know the gap year in the U.K and countries like Australia and other European countries are doing this. It is very important for Canada to engage in this.

Why now? It would increase dramatically the level of engagement of young Canadians into the political, social and the many dynamics of our society. People say that young people are disengaged but that has not been my experience in my community. They are engaged. They need a reason to be involved in things like politics but there are things they need to do first, which is to get involved in their community, and it also gives them a chance to have a look at Canada.

We have such a big country that most Canadians, by the time they get through high school, have not had a chance to see Canada. We should encourage them to experience the linguistic, cultural and geographic diversity of the country.

I have not had a chance to talk much with the member for Papineau about this but I think there is a huge potential for a group of young Canadians whose potential we are not harnessing and that is young people with disabilities.

I, and I am sure other members, see young Canadians with disabilities in our constituencies who actually go to high school with their colleagues and are very much accepted and embraced by the high school students and feel very much a part of everything that happens in high school. They are involved in the social side of high school and then they graduate. They all celebrate together and then all of their friends go off to university, community college or to a job and many young Canadians with disabilities are left with nothing.

I think there is a huge potential, through the member's initiative, if we can study it at committee and have a look at what other countries are doing. We need to look at what works and what does not work. We need to talk to young Canadians, NGOs and communities who would welcome the opportunity to have young people involved in building the infrastructure of their community and increasing their cultural awareness of what they do.

This is a very positive step and its time has come in Canada. I want to applaud the member for Papineau. This is not a new initiative for him. He has worked on this for much of his relatively young life. He has brought this passion with him to Parliament. It is an entirely worthy project and I hope all members of the House will support it.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Papineau has brought an interesting issue to public attention.

As my hon. colleague is well aware, community service and engagement increases our skills and knowledge, whether it is learning to build houses with Habitat for Humanity or raising funds for a local charity. It builds social networks by introducing us to new people and strengthening our ties to our communities, while at the same time it strengthens our communities.

Our government firmly believes that the well-being of our society is a responsibility that everyone shares. We recognize and respect the efforts of volunteers across our country who give so generously of their time and talents to enhance the quality of life of Canadians of all ages.

According to the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, volunteer rates are highest among youth, and the average number of hours volunteered is highest among seniors.

Our society is aging and the high number of volunteer hours provided by our country's seniors must gradually be taken up by the younger generations. It is obvious that as a society we need to harness the energy of our young people, as evidenced by their high volunteer rate, by encouraging them to volunteer more of their time.

As members are aware, our government supports many youth programs that encourage our young people to use their talents in their communities, but of course the government is not the most important vehicle for volunteerism. For example, the Canada summer jobs program provides many young people with summer work experiences in the not-for-profit and community organizations.

The latest Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating tells us that nearly 12 million Canadians, or more than a third of the country's population, volunteer their time to charitable and not-for-profit organizations. Their contributions add up to almost two billion hours, or the equivalent of one million full-time jobs in a year.

These volunteers are helping their fellow Canadians in just about every facet of life, from teaching valuable and essential skills, including literacy and computer use, to coaching sports for children and youth. Volunteers are supporting the arts and culture in our communities. They are engaged in projects to protect our environment and helping those less fortunate than themselves, and the list goes on and on.

I want to emphasize that these millions of volunteers are from every age group in our society.

There are some very interesting numbers available to us. Thanks to our economic action plan, this program will receive additional two year targeted funding of $10 million per year to enable more employers to hire more summer students. Our plan also announced a one-time grant of $15 million to the YMCA and the YWCA to place youth internships in not-for-profit organizations, with a focus on environmental projects.

These measures will help young Canadians by providing them with both valuable work experience and earnings.

We know that in a tough economy it can be harder for many young people to find work opportunities. To improve these prospects, our government is also investing $20 million over two years into targeted programs to strengthen the student employment program in the federal public service.

We are not only helping students and youth find opportunities during the summer, this government supports youth participation all year round. Across the country, countless opportunities are being offered to help young people gain valuable skills while helping their communities.

For example, the youth employment program offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is preparing the next generation of workers in the fields of agriculture, agri-food and veterinary medicine.

Parks Canada's Young Canada Works provides high school and post-secondary students with summer jobs in Canada's national parks and historic sites.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's career focus program is designed to help post-secondary graduates prosper in the knowledge-based economy. It provides career-related work experience with Canadian employers. The goal is to help young people acquire hard job skills and become better leaders in their fields.

Under Industry Canada's community access program, young people are helping community organizations and small businesses get on the information highway. At the same time, young people are acquiring the computer skills needed to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

The housing internship initiative for first nations and Inuit youth provides on the job training for first nations and Inuit youth, paving the way to rewarding careers in the housing industry. This program is offered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Other federal departments also offer programs for youth services, including the junior rangers and the valuable and rewarding cadets programs of the Department of National Defence, programs that often inspire young Canadians to serve our country in the armed forces.

Our government has also recognized the need to support volunteerism by young people by changing the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award to include a youth category.

It is clear we are doing our part to promote the spirit of community service and engagement among Canada's youth. Our government is already taking action to engage young Canadians in their country and their communities.

As all members know from experience, there is no shortage of good causes in need of good people to help out within our communities. In fact, the diversity of youth service options supported by our government is a strength in itself, which encourages young Canadians to serve their communities in many different ways, according to their tastes and skills.

There is no question of the value or of the necessity of volunteering to our country. Nor is there any doubt about the need to bring new blood into the ranks of Canada's volunteers. That is why our government is investing in a number of youth programs, to encourage the participation of young Canadians in their communities.

Our government recognizes the value of volunteering and serving in the community. It is an important reality that this government takes to heart. Canada has always enjoyed a strong volunteer spirit. Volunteers are on the front lines of many of our community services, helping the sick and the elderly, helping the fight against crime and violence, celebrating our culture, coaching minor sports, building new economic opportunities in our neighbourhoods and the list is endless.

Simply put, volunteers are Canada's great unsung heroes. Every day volunteers are working quietly behind the scenes to make our lives better.

For example, in my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook, I think of Christine Kerr from Fonthill, who has been involved with a number of volunteer organizations helping to raise money and doing many things. In 2005 she was honoured with a Governor General's Award of Caring Canadians, which goes a long way. I also think of Kees Van Leeuwen in Grimsby, who passed away last Sunday. He was very involved in the community, not only through volunteering his time but his money as well. I know he will be greatly missed.

These constituents of mine are making a real difference in our communities and I want to thank and commend them for all their efforts.

I also want to recognize the selfless efforts made by countless other Canadians whose voluntary and charitable actions and contributions have assisted untold numbers of their fellow Canadians.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss Motion No. 299, tabled in this House by the member for Papineau.

This motion calls for the introduction of a national voluntary service policy for young people. I must explain that in my speech I will use the French term “service bénévole” instead of “service volontaire,” which I think is a better translation of the text that was likely created here in this House.

The main reason I am speaking today is that I am worried that this motion clearly infringes on the jurisdictions of Quebec, and, more specifically, of Quebec's department of education, leisure and sport.

Before going into more detail on my position, and, of course, my party's position, I would like to take a few minutes to show not only that this motion infringes on the jurisdictions of Quebec, but also that the means proposed to implement this national voluntary service policy for young people are not new or innovative, do not make it possible to achieve most of the objectives one would expect of such a policy, and would duplicate other means that already exist in Quebec schools, among other things.

Motion No. 299 states:

That the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities be instructed to consider the introduction in Canada of a national voluntary service policy for young people by analyzing existing programs...

It makes complete sense to me to conduct analyses before introducing this kind of government policy, but we are talking about programs that already exist. The member for Papineau says himself, in his motion, that these programs already exist. There is the evidence of the duplication. If he had done some research before tabling his motion in the House, he would have seen that across Canada, and especially in Quebec, there are policies, means and programs that directly meet the objectives of the policy he is trying to introduce with Motion No. 299.

The motion goes on to say:

...and using the work done by the Voluntary Sector Initiative in 2003...

We must understand while the Voluntary Sector Initiative, or VSI, was doing its work, Quebec was already in the process of negotiating with organizations to develop a policy of recognition and support for the community sector. This policy of recognition had the exact same objectives as the VSI.

Many stakeholders were not able to participate in the VSI because they were in talks with the Government of Quebec. Naturally, the Government of Quebec was not even invited to participate in the development of the policy, most likely because it was already in talks with organizations. The mover would like to base the motion on some document or study, but neither the Government of Quebec nor primary stakeholders from the province were involved. At any rate, there can be no doubt about the result: VSI policies were founded on an English-Canadian model because most of the work was done in English and Quebec was left out of the initiative.

I have a hard time understanding why the member for Papineau thinks that the House will pass this motion, which is based largely on work from more than six years ago that excluded Quebec and used an English-Canadian model. What is even more astonishing is the fact that a Quebec member is moving the motion.

I have to hold back and wrap up my comments on the measures proposed in Motion No. 299. I do not have much time left and would like to talk about other aspects of the motion.

Perhaps I should close with the end of the motion:

...by holding public hearings; and by presenting a report to the House no later than October 2009 that would contain among other things a review of similar policies in the rest of the world and a summary of the evidence heard.

I am taken aback by the administrative burden Motion No. 299 calls for, with all of the work to be done by October 2009. I will have to end my discussion of the measures here, but there are other reasons I oppose this motion.

I have been clear about how this policy would encroach on Quebec's jurisdiction. The policy proposed in Motion No. 299 is based in part on the Katimavik program for youth aged 17 to 21, which provides opportunities to learn skills while performing volunteer work. Katimavik's goal, and the goal of Motion No. 299 with respect to a national voluntary service policy for young people, is to demonstrate Canada's commitment to national voluntary service for young people and the importance of integrating young people into the social and economic fabric of our society.

The principle of integrating young people into society and helping not-for-profit organizations is very commendable, and I agree completely with it. But that is exactly what the Government of Quebec did in 2006 when it created the youth action strategy. After consulting more than 1,200 young people, 70 national groups and the anglophone, cultural and aboriginal communities, Quebec put in place its own youth action strategy. Even though it is still imperfect, this strategy, which was developed just three years ago, is bound to improve with time.

Quebec's youth action strategy has a number of objectives, including fostering young people's entry into the workforce and enhancing their participation in society, in their community and in the world at large.

The wheel was invented around 3500 B.C.E. in Sumer, in lower Mesopotamia. We do not need to reinvent the wheel today. Quebec already has a youth policy with almost the same objectives as Motion No. 299. Not only does this motion interfere in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, but it also amounts to needless duplication of effort, because Quebec already has its own youth policy.

What is even worse, the proposed policy also represents an intrusion into education. The Katimavik program provides participants with continuous learning in five areas: leadership, official languages, environmental stewardship, cultural discovery and healthy lifestyle. The new education program introduced by the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sport has objectives that are exactly the same as Katimavik's. I will quote some of them. Page 24 of Quebec's new education program states:

Each discipline can play a part and provide an opportunity to cultivate in the student the qualities essential to realizing his or her potential: creativity, self-confidence, initiative, leadership...

This is almost exactly what Motion No. 299 says.

In conclusion, this motion is a flagrant intrusion into the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. In addition, it amounts to needless duplication of effort. I am therefore opposed to this motion.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this motion.

I want to begin by congratulating my colleague, the member for Papineau, for the work he has done in this field and certainly for bringing a real emphasis and focus on young people, something which, unfortunately, is sadly missed in the House, much to the great loss of Canada as a whole. Many of us would argue that to not discuss the issues that young people face in our country is to do a disservice to the population that we represent.

We in my party see this motion as a positive initiative. Certainly the focus on a national voluntary service policy is seen as something that is positive. It is something that could certainly contribute not only to recognizing the work that is already being done but also to strengthening the volunteer sector and the work that young people do or are interested in doing in making their communities, regions and ultimately Canada a better place in which to live.

The amendment moved by my colleague from Sault Ste. Marie was well considered with respect to the timing to allow the human resources committee to engage in its important work with regard to poverty. Poverty is a very serious issue that Canada faces and the House and the current government have been extremely negligent in dealing with it.

In terms of the national voluntary service, it is extremely important to examine the kinds of organizations and programming we have right now. It is especially important and extremely necessary to engage in consultations. We need the opportunity to hear from people in the field and on the ground, young people in this area or people who are at the helm of many of these organizations. We need to hear from them what exactly the needs are and what they see as the way to move forward. Any program we come up with in the House, unless it has the proper consultation, could be seen as ineffective and in many ways could prevent or stand in the way of some of the good work that people on the ground would like to engage in.

I would like to highlight some of the exciting volunteer work that already takes place in the riding I represent in northern Manitoba. I am proud to represent one of the youngest regions in Canada. The median age is 26. There are many young leaders all across the region that I represent. They are on school boards and city councils. They run for all sorts of elected positions on committees. They perform leadership roles, are the heads of organizations and community groups and start important campaigns.

I would like to particularly highlight some of the important work that some young leaders are engaging in and who usually do not get the recognition they deserve. A while ago we heard some glaring statistics about suicide on first nations reserves in northern Canada. While this is a stark reality that all of us and certainly the government should be dealing with, it inspires me that so many young people in communities that have been afflicted with such pain are actually taking a leadership role. They are engaging with young people and looking at proactive solutions in dealing with the needs for recreation, counselling and general support for young people so that they do not have to face such difficult situations. These leaders include Saul Harper, Bobby Monias, Frankie Manoawakeesic, Allison McDougall, D'Arcy Linklater, and the list goes on.

More recently, I had the chance to work with exciting young people in a campaign that we felt very strongly about to save our CBC station. I am very proud to say that that campaign was successful. Despite the economic difficulties that CBC is facing, it listened to our community and recognized that it is important. What was very exciting was the way in which young people who have grown up with such an important institution came out, donated their time and said they were going to show the outside world what CBC meant to their community. They took a leadership role in doing that.

I would like to highlight the important work of young people in the Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre in Thompson, Club 53 in The Pas, and the Flin Flon friendship centre. Young people, including Amy Jackson, are playing a leadership role in making sure there are opportunities for young people to get together after school and engage in positive activities rather than looking elsewhere for support.

Something that we need to be supporting as a Parliament, but certainly something the government needs to recognize is the serious need to fund recreation and opportunities for young people to come together in positive and healthy ways.

I would like to recognize the important work being done by the Boys and Girls Club in Thompson, and the countless hours that volunteers put in year after year to maintain such an important club for young people, who are often disenfranchised and on the margins of the community.

I would like to highlight the work done by the Adams Lake youth council. Young people set out to march to Winnipeg from their isolated communities that have no roads, except for two or three months a year, to bring forward the need for attention to the issues that they, as young people, are facing.

I would also like to highlight the important work being done in our sports community by young people. Whether it is hockey, swimming, skating or soccer, the general sports community for us in northern Manitoba and certainly in northern Canada is so important, given our smaller communities and in many ways our lack of access to recreational opportunities. We need to make sure that we come together to promote healthier lifestyles, to bring the community together and in that way strengthen the community.

There are so many examples of the exciting work that young people are doing. Only yesterday I had the honour of attending the millennium scholarship dinner. I was surrounded by so many bright young people with so much promise, young people who in many ways were given these scholarships because of their volunteer work, because of their commitment to their communities. This is a fantastic example of recognition of that volunteerism. It is very sad to note that the millennium scholarship program is one of the programs being cut by the Conservative government.

In many ways it is so important that we look at all of our regions to learn about the exciting work that young people are doing, to be inspired by that work and to see how we can support that kind of work.

It is important to make some notes on the issue of the public hearings. There is no sense in engaging in a process if it is not thorough and if it does not recognize the diversity of our nation. I would like to spend a moment talking about the need to look out for that diversity.

I am proud and honoured to participate in the status of women committee in this House. It has been a very interesting exposure to the way in which issues of gender are sorely missed by many of our policies and obviously, in many ways it is to the detriment of achieving gender equality in our country. We need to ensure that those public hearings recognize the experiences of gender, for example, the women who volunteer in certain sectors rather than others. In many ways women volunteers would be seen in terms of child care, for example.

On regional issues, we are an area of Canada which, as I noted, has a great deal of volunteerism, but it is difficult to get to. I would like to hear that this consultation will happen in northern Canada and in rural Canada as well, where the voices of young people are often not heard. They certainly need to be acknowledged as part of these hearings.

There are a number of things that ought to be recognized as well as a number of issues that young people face on a daily basis in a country like ours, whether it is student debt, high unemployment, rates of poverty, discrimination, lack of affordable housing, lack of affordable child care and the list goes on. I would hope that not only would we look out for important initiatives such as this one, but that we would make sure that there are concrete measures, legislation, that support our young people and that we do not just pay lip service to them.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of a worthy initiative that will be of significant benefit to young people across Canada and to volunteer programs throughout the country. I applaud the member for Papineau for this initiative. I recall that it was his late father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who inspired me to enter politics and be more active in my community.

I have seen first-hand the great work of committed individuals in my own riding, groups of selfless people coming together to work toward a common goal, a goal that is not for personal or economic benefit but simply that of improving living conditions for others within the community and across Canada.

The motion we are debating today proposes the fostering of enduring principles, intelligent planning and stable assistance for the generations of young people who are the country's future.

This motion would not only recognize the significance and accomplishments of volunteer organizations but it would also provide the necessary tools and resources to better equip them so that they may enjoy continued success. It would improve transparency and communication between not-for-profit groups across the country and, in this way, allow for a dialogue to better identify what is effective and what is not.

By supporting measures to assist these programs, we support a vision of Canada's future where communities, rather than a solitary individual, are the focus. I believe that strong communities most definitely mean a strong Canada.

Facing the difficulties of the economic downturn, we must necessarily address the important issues of the moment, issues such as economic stimulus and municipal infrastructure, but we must not neglect our preparations for the future.

Canada needs lasting and enduring policies, policies that strengthen communities and the country as a whole. Such initiatives lend assistance not only during the hardships of the moment but for the unforeseen challenges that we cannot yet predict.

Challenging times are the greatest opportunity for the creation of enduring, meaningful policies. Many of Canada's greatest initiatives, such as the national pension plan, the national railway and the universal health care, were a response to times of great adversity.

Today, Canada is not facing war or natural disaster but financial insecurity and job losses. How will we respond to these difficulties? We will use this hardship to unite our country with a great national vision.

My hon. colleague's motion asks for great things from Canada's young people. However, it offers great things as well. This is a fully voluntary program of action. It invites young people across Canada to seek opportunities to help build better communities and a better country. In return, we are called upon to provide needed resources.

The central tenets of this motion are the central tenets of what it means to be Canadian: unity of purpose, community and generosity. These are the attributes for which Canadians are known the world over. It is this kinship and compassionate regard for our neighbours that have contributed so greatly to Canada's success.

I am reminded of the words of a former prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, who said, “...without the vision of human brotherhood, the Canadian nation could never have come into being...The unity of Canada is vital to the continued existence of Canada”.

Today we have the opportunity to further strengthen this vision of Canadian solidarity by building a bridge from the one to the many, from the individual to the collective and from the local to the national.

In a globalizing world and in a constantly changing universe, today's young people feel disconnected from a world that seems to think there is a minimum age for social contribution. We must combat feelings of estrangement in young people and endorse the message that social contribution is possible at any age by providing them with the tools to do so.

Today's young people must stop being told they are leaders of tomorrow and realize that they can be leaders here and now. They can be engaged and active in their community, rather than biding their time in a society of adults. As parliamentarians, it is to us that the task of sending this message is given.

Historically, there has been little effort to understand youth disengagement. It is seen as an existential crisis that only maturity can solve. Rarely is it considered that perhaps it is not disinterest but frustration that motivates this disengagement.

This is not an issue on which we should stand still. We need to extend greater attention to these pressing issues and assist our young people in moving forward and support them in their development as citizens of this great country.

I ask each member in this House to reflect not only on the immense power of engaged youth but also on their development into engaged and compassionate adults. This is not an issue restricted to the legislatures but an opportunity to recognize a worthy goal and to commit all levels of government in an open dialogue to promote it.

It is said that before we can run, we must learn to walk. However, before we can walk, we must see someone else walk. Similarly, we must recognize that the intrinsic benefits of volunteering are not always innate and in this way, we must consider what models exist to demonstrate a positive example of volunteerism, as well as its importance to our country. There is, after all, no short-term or long-term benefit to short-changing today's young people. They are indeed Canada's future.

This motion, however, would do more than provide opportunities for young people, which is certainly a noble goal in itself. It would also respond to the needs of communities. Communities with no means of presenting volunteer opportunities to young people would have the infrastructure to do so. As well, communities which currently do have such means would have more tools to meet their goals more effectively.

Canada's celebrated diversity brings with it the need for a flexible framework. It would be a mistake to believe that this volunteer infrastructure seeks to regiment existing volunteer efforts.

The spectrum of needs for a given community is as diverse as the number of communities themselves. Rural communities differ from urban communities, just as the needs of small towns differ from those of the suburbs. With these differences come demands for a wide variety of projects.

This motion presents the framework capable of answering these demands within a system of disclosure; a democratic and thoughtful system, one committed to researching the best solutions on a topic that has the dramatic potential to re-engage our youth, enrich our communities and foster strong principles of partnership among our citizens.

The question that this motion addresses is not how we can get more Canadians to volunteer, although it is certainly a desirable and predictable effect of this motion, but to answer how we get those who want to volunteer the means to do so, and certainly to answer how we can volunteer better.

I am the first to admit that these questions are challenging in our world of so many distractions, but I am not willing to step aside and allow them to be neglected. Difficult questions must be met with intelligent discussion, a review of existing programs around the world and multilateral government co-operation. Difficult questions should be met with democracy, and it is exactly this that my hon. colleague from Papineau proposes.

In the words of the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. While the future may seem uncertain, we have today the opportunity to invent it and, in this way, support a Canada that emphasizes community, that emphasizes selflessness, and that emphasizes more fully Canada's young people.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

There being no further members rising to speak, we will go to the hon. member for Papineau for his five-minute right of reply.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to recognize and thank the member for Davenport, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, the member for Churchill, and other members who spoke very eloquently about my initiative.

I would also like to recognize the members from the government side of the House who spoke very eloquently and passionately about the importance of volunteerism, the importance of service and the importance of young people.

It is a great honour to be able to be here and, more importantly, to be able to tell the people of Papineau that we have achieved something important. For two hours in this House, the topic of debate was young people. We talked about the future, volunteering, and the involvement of young people in their communities and in society. Regardless of the results of the vote on this matter, young people have been the focus, have been validated and encouraged for two hours. That is in itself a victory for the young people of Papineau and all young Canadians. This has been possible thanks to the trust that the people of Papineau have placed in me.

I would like to talk about this motion. I propose referring the matter to committee in order to study a policy, not a program or any sort of interference, but a policy whereby this Parliament, this government, would engage young people in building our country. That is what is needed. That is the answer to the major problems ahead. We live in a world with so many challenges and we have to start making major changes in terms of the environment, the economy and justice for the most vulnerable members of society. We must cultivate a new way of thinking.

Albert Einstein once said that the problems we have created for ourselves cannot be solved at the level of thinking that created them. If we are to bring in to the House, to the country, to the world a fresh level of thinking, it must be through our young people. It must be in our capacity to give to our young people the chance to express themselves, not just through their voices but through their actions, day in and day out, of shaping this world to be better, stronger, fairer, more responsible toward the long term.

Our capacity to do that depends on the kind of vision that drives us in the House. The one thing that will happen when we get more young people involved in their communities, connected to their world and engaged and interested in what politics has to offer them, is we begin to shift in our thinking toward being more responsible to the kinds of things they are worried about, which are all the big picture, long-term issues. We shift away from the fight over what is urgent and what is immediate and start involving and encouraging talk about what is important and what is long term about the country we are trying to build.

After the first hour of debate, I was asked by a member opposite if I was trying to generate something that we were giving to young people, was it about turning President Kennedy's expression on its head and actually trying to get government to do for youth what we could? The problem is youth are asking what they can do for their country every day.

Every year tens of thousands of young people ask what they can do for their county, and every year we in the House have an inadequate response because we are not giving them the opportunities to do what they want to do, which is serve, build, create the Canada we need for our children and their children. The kinds of thinking we need to bring forward will happen only when we have young people committed, engaged, involved, powerful citizens and agents of change shaping their world.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

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

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Amendment agreed to)

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The next question is on the main motion as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion as amended?

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Youth Voluntary Service
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

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