House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was countries.

Topics

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, as with the Canada-Colombia agreement, the Liberals and the Conservatives are refusing to listen to the public. As the member is well aware, only the Bloc Québécois and the NDP were able to address the constant human rights violations in Colombia. The Conservatives, on the other hand, wanted to support the government in Colombia. Panama has some of the worst tax loopholes in the world. Yet the Liberals and the Conservatives want to endorse the actions of a country that is a known tax haven.

Why are the NDP and the Bloc Québécois the only parties that are listening to Canadians? Why do the old parties—the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party—always go along with the lobbyists instead of listening to people who want a fair and equitable tax system and want us to put an end to tax havens instead of helping them grow?

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. He was against the free trade agreement with Barbados for the same reason we are discussing today.

At the time, the most powerful and most significant lobbyist was the Prime Minister of Canada; he had interests in Barbados. I can understand why friends of the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party force the government to sign a free trade with a country, when signing such an agreement legalizes the business they do with that country.

I am very surprised. The Liberal Party and the Conservative Party say we will improve the treaty in committee, but there is nothing to improve. Either we sign a tax information exchange agreement before signing the free trade agreement, or we do not. There is no room for negotiation. That is how it works all over the world. The OECD is asking that exchange agreements on personal information, tax information in particular, be signed.

The Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, on behalf of a few of their supporters who will make money in Panama, a known tax haven, are thumbing their noses at the right approach to politics, an approach the Bloc Québécois has been using since it arrived in the House in 1993 and the approach the NDP seems to be using.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, after hearing interventions from the Conservatives and the Liberals around this bill, I am saddened to have to stand in this House, although I have enjoyed hearing the speeches from the Bloc.

As members are well aware, when we talk about Panama we are talking about a country that is tied for the worst money laundering tax haven on the planet. That is according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. This is the reason the U.S. has not ratified an agreement with Panama, and yet the so-called anti-crime Conservatives are pushing ahead with this deal with a drug gang, drug money, money laundering, tax haven country.

The Conservatives are bringing it to the House of Commons with the explanation that the reason there is not one word in this agreement that in any way would close off the money laundering, close off the drug money, is that they sent a letter to the Panamanian government. They did not say how, whether it was sent by snail mail or by email. That somehow resolves the money laundering issues that made the U.S. Congress say no to this deal, say it is not going to pass this deal, and which are the reason the U.S.-Panama agreement has not been ratified.

For the Conservative government to pretend it is somehow anti-crime is a real crock when put in the context of presenting this bill, because this bill does not deal in any way with money laundering or drug money and does not in any way close those loopholes. The bill in fact widens them. Hells Angels across the country are rejoicing. The Conservatives have done something incredibly stupid and appallingly irresponsible, but they expect members of Parliament to ratify it.

In a normal functional Parliament, all three opposition parties would say, no, this is irresponsible and they are not going to ratify this deal. Sadly, the Liberal Party is once again endorsing Conservative action. We have seen this before. We saw this with the softwood lumber sell-out, which cost tens of thousands of jobs across this country and crippled many of our softwood lumber communities, and yet the Liberals just rubber-stamped it.

We saw this with the shipbuilding sellout. We had in this House hundreds of shipyard workers from across the country pleading with us that members of Parliament should put in place protections for this key strategic industry, our shipbuilding industry. The Liberals endorsed the Conservative action. That was irresponsible.

We have already cited the Colombia trade deal, a massive sell-out of human rights, a complete repudiation of Canada's principle, a principle and a value that the vast majority of Canadians share, that we do not reward regimes for killing trade unionists and human rights activists in their countries. Yet the Conservatives and the Liberals endorsed that government and the actions of its intelligence service and paramilitary and military groups and the ongoing killings of human rights advocates and trade unionists in Colombia.

Now this bill has been brought forward, which implicitly endorses the idea that Panama can be a tax haven for dirty drug money laundering.

When the IRS says Panama is tied for worst in the world, one would expect the Canadian government to be a bit more responsible. The Conservatives have not been responsible. They have not dealt with it in any way, and that is why the NDP is standing up in the House and saying this is irresponsible.

Canadians are calling out for a fairer tax system, calling out for an end to the shell game where big Canadian corporations and the wealthy can transfer their money overseas and not have to pay taxes on it, while the hard-working middle class and poor Canadians have to work and pay their taxes. They contribute to their country. Here we have the Conservatives, with Liberal support, saying they will facilitate money laundering, facilitate tax havens and let people move money to Panama and not have to pay taxes on it. That is absolutely irresponsible. It is the only word one can use to describe it.

Then we have to think that because the Conservatives have taken this irresponsible action that there must be some merit to it and maybe it is because they have some strategy around trade. Sadly, not even that is the case.

When we look at all the bilateral agreements Canada has signed, such as those with Israel and Chile, the famous shipbuilding sellout, the EFTA deal, the one with Costa Rica, when we look at all those FTAs, in case after case after case we sign the FTAs and exports to those markets from Canada drop. That is the absurdity to all of this. We have a lot of free trade cheerleaders but not a lot of them are doing their homework. They are actually not looking at the export statistics.

The government will say it is going to throw out some figures that are in constant dollars and say that shows a growth in trade. However, yesterday the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, a man who I admire, actually was able to say that we have to take real terms to talk about the cost of the Canadian deficit and debt. He actually talked about that. There is one financially literate member among the Conservatives.

Here we have a situation where not a single Conservative, in real terms, has looked at the export figures that have actually declined. I compliment the parliamentary secretary because he understands the difference between current dollars and constant dollars. Nobody else on that side appears to know the difference. People who know the difference know that our exports have declined in every single bilateral market. Therefore, there is a fundamental problem.

Now, Conservatives will say that maybe exports have declined in real terms, maybe we do not know what we are doing with money laundering, but surely this contributes to prosperity. Again, we have to look in real terms and talk about constant dollars to get the most recent figures about what has happened to family income in Canada. If we go back to the NAFTA days and the signing of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, sadly, we will see that for middle class and poorer Canadians, in every single case there has been a decline in real income.

We sign these bad trade agreements, transfer out Canadian raw resources and have them processed and value-added overseas. We outsource the jobs that were in Canada before, take the good family-sustaining jobs and replace them with service industry jobs that are lower paying. We have more burger flippers than we have ever had before in this country, but we have lost half a million good manufacturing jobs largely because many of these trade agreements are structured so that Canadian companies can take their factories and manufacturing capacity overseas.

When we look at the overall income of the average Canadian family, it is no secret why the debt load of the average Canadian family has doubled over the past 20 years. It is because real income has declined for every single income category except one, and that is the real reason why we are seeing this dirty drug money laundering bill today. The wealthiest of Canadians now take 52% of all Canadian income, most of the Canadian income pie, and those are the folks who would love to take their money to Panama and not have to pay taxes on it. We are seeing a hollowing out and a very bad, dysfunctional export strategy.

In this corner of the House we are standing up for the average Canadian family and saying that, if the government has such dysfunctional trade and export strategies, it is up to us in this NDP corner of the House to say no to bad trade deals and no to deals that are irresponsible. That is what we are doing.

Canada-Panama Free Trade Act
Government Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There will be five minutes for questions and comments on the hon. member's speech when the debate resumes.

Patro de Charlesbourg Multisport Stadium
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, in September, I had the pleasure of participating in the inauguration of the Gérard-Chiquette multisport stadium at the Patro de Charlesbourg, in my riding. The new artificial turf field makes playing sports like soccer, football and rugby safer and more fun. The project also involves the construction of two buildings, the conversion of the running track into a paved pedestrian trail, the acquisition of a new lighting system, and the addition of a scoreboard.

The Government of Canada is proud of having invested in this project—which cost just over $3 million—along with the Government of Quebec, the Patro de Charlesbourg and its partners. Our financial contribution of $1 million to the Patro de Charlesbourg, a facility created by the Order of Saint Vincent de Paul, was made possible through the recreational infrastructure Canada program.

The quality of life and the health of the people of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles are important to us, and that is why we are proud to have invested in infrastructure to help them prosper.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Gerard Kennedy Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to officially welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is arriving in Toronto today for a three-day visit. Thousands of Canadians will gather in the Rogers Centre today to hear his inspiring message of peace, compassion and hope.

Tomorrow the Dalai Lama will attend a community ceremony at the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre to visit with members of the strong local Tibetan-Canadian community as well as members of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet.

Tibetan-Canadians have sacrificed much to make this centre available for the wider communities, a facility for peaceful dialogue between cultures. While the centre did receive federal funding towards its renovation, I invite Canadians to provide a truly Canadian welcome to the Dalai Lama by donating some of the matching funds it must have to be completed.

The other way to commemorate the visit, of course, is to ensure that Canada remains vigilant and consistent in its support of international human rights at all times.

I invite hon. members to join me in extending an official welcome to honorary Canadian citizen, the Dalai Lama.

Ninon Delude
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, Ninon Delude, a farmer from my riding who lives in Saint-Germain-de-Grantham, has seen her passion for agriculture rewarded twofold. During the annual general meeting of the Syndicat des agricultrices du Centre-du-Québec, which took place in Saint-Wenceslas on September 22, this mother of 12 was named female farmer of the year. In addition, during the Saturn gala held in Drummondville on October 17 by the Fédération des agricultrices du Québec, Ms. Delude was named passionate female farmer of the year.

She and her husband, Pierre Labonté, who specialize in raising grain-fed calves and growing organic crops, have had their work recognized many times over the years. At the Bal des moissons in 2008, they won an environmental farm trophy and they were finalists in the category recognizing good agricultural practices. Congratulations Ms. Delude!

Brian Dyck
Statements by Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour the life of Brian Dyck.

Brian was a genuine hero who served his community as a police officer and his country as a member of the Canadian military. Brian died on October 8 from ALS.

The last time I saw Brian was last spring when members of this House participated in a charity hockey game with the Ottawa police to raise awareness and money for the ALS Society of Canada. At the time, we were all moved by Brian's determination not only to fight this disease but also to make a difference.

Brian knew he would eventually succumb to his disease, but he fought to ensure that members of the Canadian military who suffer from ALS would have the support they and their families need. He continued his fight even when the disease was consuming him, and he won.

To his wife, Natali, and two-year-old daughter, Sophi, we send our condolences and prayers.

To quote Natali, “We are very proud of what we have accomplished for our family and all vets and military members in the future”.

I thank Natali, and I thank Brian.

Member for Prince George—Peace River
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, about two weeks ago, the four House leaders paid tribute to the member for Prince George—Peace River. As today is his last day in the House, I thought I might say a few additional words in his honour.

I have had the privilege of serving directly under him for the past two years, but my acquaintance with him goes back to 1993.

The first Reform MPs came to Ottawa with the most honourable goals of public service, but they were greeted by a press corps determined to defend the status quo at all costs. Their inexperience was skewed as incompetence and their idealism as bigotry. The test of character for the Reformers in the class of 1993 was to respond with restraint but also with a determination to carry on. Not everyone passed this test, but the member for Prince George—Peace River did.

I witnessed all this as a caucus staffer and my admiration for him grew as I saw him mentor new cohorts of MPs. His service as government House leader over the past two years shows him to be as adept at tight-rope walking or juggling as anyone has ever been. I am not sure which circus metaphor best applies.

As a man of principle and as a skilled political actor, the member for Prince George—Peace River has few equals and no superiors. I will miss him.

Justice
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, two years ago a promising grade 12 student and constituent, Boris Cikovic, was gunned down by teen thugs trying to rob him. His accused killer is out on bail enjoying life and allegedly refusing to assist police in identifying his accomplices.

It is impossible to imagine the despair and sorrow felt by Boris' parents, Vesna and Davorin. As Vesna explained to the Toronto Sun:

I have no chance to see him growing up to [become] a beautiful man. Justice is not going to give me grandchildren....

And the other guy, he is out, he is free on bail.

In memory of Boris and in the hopes of stopping this from happening in the future, I introduced Bill C-537 to toughen bail conditions and adding offences involving firearms to those that may only be tried by a superior court.

By passing this bill, those accused of a firearm offence would have to demonstrate to the court why they should not be detained in custody before trial.

As Boris' mother, Vesna, says:

[S]omething has to be changed. My son's life shouldn't be in vain

Nova Scotia Fruit Growers' Association
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I had the great pleasure of delivering to this House four boxes of Nova Scotia Honeycrisp apples.

These apples were supplied by the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers' Association, which has been promoting Nova Scotia fruit since 1863. From its beginning, the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers' Association has ensured the advancement of agriculture in our area. The association was a leader in establishing the Wolfville School of Horticulture in 1894, and the Kentville Experimental Farm in 1910.

Nova Scotia apples have been displayed by the association at many world exhibitions and were praised and rewarded for their fine quality.

Presently the association continues to play an important role in the lives of Nova Scotia apple growers and the apple industry. Today the association's goal is to create an economically viable and sustainable Nova Scotia tree fruit industry.

I, and I am sure all members of this House, thank the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers' Association first, for the great work it continues to do, and second, for its absolutely delicious Honeycrisp apples.

The LEED Rating System
Statements by Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, construction of the Tour St-Martin in my riding is slated to begin next spring. This 11,985 square-metre, eight-storey building will be the first LEED-certified office building in Laval.

The LEED, leadership in energy and environmental design, rating system is based on “five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.”

In the Tour St-Martin, amenities such as showers will be installed so that walkers and cyclists can get their day off to a good start. In addition, “the building will be equipped with geothermal technology and devices for water and air energy recovery.”

The contractors involved in this project will be working towards LEED silver certification. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I wish them well in this endeavour.

Human Smuggling
Statements by Members

October 22nd, 2010 / 11:10 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Monday in Vienna, I delivered a speech at the 10th United Nations conference against transnational organized crime. I had the opportunity to reaffirm the government's commitment to combatting human smuggling.

This goes hand in hand with the bill introduced by the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, which has been given royal assent. The member has worked relentlessly on this issue.

As well, yesterday our government introduced a bill that targets those who prey and abuse our immigration system through illegal human smuggling activities.

Let me be very clear: legal migration enriches us all. Canada is determined to maintain trust in its regular immigration and refugee systems, ensuring they work effectively and fairly for everyone. Their manipulation by criminal networks will not be tolerated.

Our government will continue its fight against human smuggling and protect the integrity of our immigration system.

Monument to the Fallen Soldier
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was honoured to join the Canadian Museum of Hindu Civilization for the unveiling of its memorial monument to the fallen soldier.

Donated by the families of Shylee and Ajit Someshwar, Christine and Bhupinder Khalsa, and Jaya and Vasu Chanchlani, the monument is designed to show the heroism of Canadian soldiers, particularly those who lost their lives in Afghanistan.

This stunning and humbling monument, shaped as a maple leaf, is carved in black granite and imperial red granite, sourced from India. Standing tall next to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, the monument is dedicated to the Canadian armed forces for their exemplary service as peacekeepers all over the world.

Ms. Shylee Someshwar summed it up best when she said:

The Indo-Canadian community's involvement speaks of its dedication to the causes Canada supports. It's our humble way of saying - we care, we belong and we truly appreciate.

I highly recommend that all residents of the GTA and visitors passing through take time to visit this important monument.

Human Smuggling
Statements by Members

11:10 a.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, human smuggling is a criminal enterprise that happens around the world. Smugglers are paid to help people enter Canada illegally. This practice is fundamentally unfair to legitimate refugees who are patiently waiting to begin new lives here in Canada.

Yesterday the Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism announced legislation to crack down on criminals aiming to profit from Canada's generosity. Human smuggling is a serious criminal offence that puts human lives at risk and benefits only criminal organizations.

With this bill, our government is sending a clear message: we will not tolerate the abuse of our immigration system by human smugglers and we will do everything we can to keep Canadians safe and secure.

Canada will remain compassionate towards immigrants. We have a proud tradition of welcoming refugees, but we must protect our borders, which is exactly what this bill will do.