House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was refugees.

Topics

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Celebrating Seniors Awards
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism's Celebrating Seniors Awards were initiated to honour the many senior volunteers in Saskatchewan who remain active and continue to contribute to society.

Nominees are outstanding senior citizens who reside in Saskatchewan and who consistently contribute to the overall quality of life in their communities.

This month, the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism nominated eight residents from the great riding of Regina—Qu'Appelle: Lorraine Garrett and Alfred Aichinger of Regina; Hummer Bartlett and Eileen Rowbotham of Fort Qu'Appelle; Wes and Judy Bailey of Cupar; and Shirley Bozarth of McLean.

Mae Wesley of Fort Qu'Appelle was the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Her volunteering spirit and dedication throughout her lifetime has improved society and inspired others.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mae and all of the other nominees for their years of selfless service for the many communities in Regina—Qu'Appelle.

Ellen Bruce
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, on October 16, 2010, the Gwitch'in people lost their great spiritual leader, Ellen Kyikavichik, at 98 years of age. The Reverend Dr. Ellen Bruce was the first aboriginal woman in the north to be ordained a minister and she dedicated her life to her Lord, her people and her family.

The incredible spirituality of the Gwitch'in people has fortified my faith, and Ellen Bruce was her nation's pillar of that spiritual strength. We only needed to be in her presence and look into those quiet eyes and angelic smile to feel the peace that passeth all understanding.

As her MLA for Old Crow, Darius Elias said, “She loved her people and it showed”. For this lifetime of caring, promotion of the Gwitch'in culture and dedication to the Anglican Church, she received the Order of Canada.

As her eulogy closed, “Grandma, we will remember your smiling eyes, your tender love, your words of wisdom, your sense of humour, warm hugs and beautiful laughter. Though we will miss you dearly, we are happy you are back with your sweetheart”.

Surely she is in the hands of God, amen.

Jean Pouliot
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the riding of Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques is known for its abundant natural resources, but it is also known for its human resources. On September 11, a Rimouski citizen, Jean Pouliot, the CEO of PMI Steel Products became president of the Association de la construction du Québec, the Quebec construction association, which represents some 15,000 businesses and over 100,000 workers.

Mr. Pouliot is a man of action and conviction, as demonstrated by his achievements. His main goal now is to enhance his industry's image. Mr. Pouliot is also very involved in the rebuilding of Haiti, which was ravaged by an earthquake in January. He went to Haiti in April to teach the local people about modern construction techniques.

I am proud of this Rimouski native and of his many contributions. I wish Mr. Pouliot the best of luck as president of the Association de la construction du Québec.

Pay Equity
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, federally regulated women employees have been waiting too long for proactive pay equity legislation.

The previous government stalled on introducing pay equity legislation and the current government, with the support of the official opposition, introduced regressive legislation that has turned back the clock on women's equality.

Human rights do not belong on the bargaining table. Collective bargaining is a process of negotiating and compromising. Human rights are non-negotiable and there must never be a compromise. Women's rights are not a bargaining chip.

The Bilson report unanimously recommended that the best process to achieve pay equity is to separate it from collective bargaining. The report states that using the collective bargaining process to achieve pay equity will not only reinforce the gendered nature of the report, it will undermine pay equity, which is at the heart of our purpose.

New Democrats are furious that the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act will be implemented in the new year and that women in Canada will once again be denied equality in the workplace.

Calgary East
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, after years of neglect by the Liberals of western Canada's aspirations, I am delighted to see that federal funding is finally flowing into western Canadian communities.

Thanks to this Conservative government, my riding of Calgary East has seen its fair share of federal grants, kick-starting new projects and giving hope to the riding's residents during these tough economic times.

Our government has contributed funds to the Parks Foundation Calgary for the construction of 13 playgrounds and recreation facilities. Our government is supporting the youth possibilities program, which will help youth facing employment barriers to develop job skills to ease their transition to work or return to school. We have provided funding to help persons with mental health disabilities to become self-employed.

Funding alone does not achieve results. Our people make the real difference. I wish to recognize all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly to improve their community.

I congratulate the people of Calgary East for supporting these worthy projects.

Homeless Youth
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Justin Trudeau Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak today to support the RE*Generation movement, which was created to raise awareness about the problem of youth homelessness in Canada.

The RE*Generation movement aims to raise awareness of youth homelessness, as well as to encourage better engagement between Canadians and organizations who work tirelessly to combat youth homelessness.

Earlier today, Sir Richard Branson visited Eva's Phoenix, a Toronto youth shelter, to help serve breakfast and raise awareness of Canada's youth homelessness problem. He was joined at this event by, among others, my colleague, the member for St. Paul's, and Vancouver indie rock band, Mother Mother.

The member for St. Paul's has moved Motion No. 504 to declare November 17 National Youth Homelessness Awareness Day. Our homeless youth must not be invisible to Canadians any longer.

I encourage all members of this House to do the right thing and declare November 17 National Youth Homelessness Awareness Day.

Bill Otway
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I inform the House of the passing of Bill Otway.

British Columbia wildlife enthusiasts and recreational fishermen have lost a consummate warrior and friend.

Bill spent a lifetime at the forefront of the fight for the best in management practices for fish and wildlife and was the single most vocal proponent of the right of recreational anglers to fish.

Always available to provide advice and, yes, even criticism, Bill never wavered in his convictions for the sake of popularity.

A former executive director of the B.C. Wildlife Federation and a sports fishing adviser to the federal government, Bill was the recipient of many awards, including a national Recreational Fisheries Award from DFO.

Bill had all the ingredients to carry the burdens he did. He was a smart, stubborn, fearless and thoroughly decent man.

In Bill's passing, British Columbia and, indeed, Canada lost someone it could ill afford to lose: a real conservationist and wise man who said what had to be said.

Our hearts go out to his wife Carol and the rest of his family.

H.E.R.O.S Program
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 7, the first H.E.R.O.S. program in Quebec was launched at Sophie-Barat school in partnership with the Ahuntsic Braves. This program actively offers the chance for 25 youth, 5 girls and 20 boys, to play hockey for free, including coaching, ice time and equipment.

The mission of H.E.R.O.S. is to use the game of hockey as a catalyst to attract less fortunate youth to a program that offers support for education while building their self-esteem, team spirit and life skills, all in a fun, safe environment in which every child is considered to be a hero.

Willie O'Ree, the first black player in the National Hockey League, attended the ceremony. His mere presence was living proof to everyone that you can always overcome obstacles, even obstacles that seem insurmountable at first.

Congratulations to Sophie-Barat school and the Ahuntsic Braves for this initiative.

Hats off to our heroes and we wish the H.E.R.O.S. program continued success in Quebec.

Aerospace Industry
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, addressing a group of Canada's leading aerospace companies, the industry minister drew a stark contrast between our government's unequivocal support for the over 80,000 people who work in the industry, and the Liberals' promise to cancel the F-35 program, jeopardizing all the jobs that depend on it.

The F-35 program is a win-win for the Canadian Forces and the Canadian economy. The forces will be replacing an aircraft that has reached the end of its lifespan. Canada's aerospace industry will benefit from opportunities that will create highly skilled and well-paying jobs for years to come.

However, there are some in Parliament who are playing political games by threatening to cancel the F-35 program and, along with it, all of the opportunities it brings for the aerospace industry in Canada.

We will not allow the coalition to jeopardize tens of thousands of Canadians jobs. Our government strongly supports these 80,000 Canadians and their families.

Avalon Peninsula
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, with its quaint fishing villages and breathtaking scenery, the Avalon Peninsula has once again caught the attention of many around the world.

The November issue of the National Geographic Traveller magazine has selected our region as the number one coastal destination in the world, beating out other notable destinations such as the fjords in Chile and Broome, Australia.

This comes as no surprise to residents and the thousands of tourists that flock to our shores each year to hike, kayak and experience the local culture; from fishing off of Cape St. Mary's to kissing a cod on the Baccalieu Trail.

My colleague from St. John's South—Mount Pearl and I already know that the Avalon Peninsula is the best place to live, and now it is known as the best coastal destination in the world.

I encourage all Canadians to experience the natural beauty of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland and Labrador, the number one coastal destination in the world.

Firearms Registry
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the member opposite stood and alleged that our government was turning its back on Miramichi. This could not be further from the truth. I am so proud to stand in the House representing the constituents of Miramichi to correct the record.

Despite the attempts at fearmongering by the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, abolishing the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry would affect 10 to 50 employees, not nearly 200 as was wrongly suggested yesterday.

However, leave it to the Liberals to try to ignore and distract from the positive initiatives our government is putting into this region, like the 550 new jobs announced by the Prime Minister. These are new, permanent jobs that will be in and directly benefit the Miramichi community. As promised, we will do more.

Our government has responded to the recession. Canadians know this. Furthermore, the good, hard-working—

Firearms Registry
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

Veterans Affairs
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, this November our veterans should be honoured for their service and sacrifices to our nation. Instead, on November 6, across the country veterans and their supporters will be gathering for a national day of protest. They will be asking for the reinstatement of pensions relating to injuries they have sustained in the service of Canada. They will also be seeking the reinstatement of Colonel Pat Stogran as the veterans ombudsman.

New Democrats have long been fighting for fairness and practical results for veterans and their families. Among our accomplishments are: passing a veterans first motion; calling for expanded access to veterans' hospital care; extending VIP home care; and calling for a public inquiry into the violation of the privacy of veterans.

I am proud of the work of our veterans critic, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore. He recently received the Veterans Ombudsman's Commendation Award for his tireless efforts on their behalf.

I call on all members of Parliament and all Canadians to get out on November 6 for the protest and to support our veterans.

The Economy
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that Canada's economic action plan is getting results for Canadians. While other countries continue to lose jobs, Canada has created net new jobs. The OECD and the IMF are projecting Canada to have the strongest growth in the G7 in both 2010 and 2011.

Our investment in 23,000 projects has created over 420,000 jobs. Canadians are working. Our government is showing leadership and because of that leadership, Canada is leading the recovery with an economic and fiscal record that is stronger than other industrialized nations.

Canada's economic action plan is protecting the interests of Canadians and their families.

Ports of Sept-Îles and Baie-Comeau
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to be able to say that, thanks to the Bloc Québécois, the Manicouagan region has managed to collect a portion of the funds to which it is entitled.

In September, the strong will and hard work of the community leaders, stakeholders and elected officials resulted in a $7 million investment for phase two of the La Relance terminal in Sept-Îles. A few days later, Baie-Comeau received $4 million to consolidate the hospitality infrastructure at its international cruise ship terminal.

The Bloc Québécois is standing up for the regions of Quebec.

I congratulate all the stakeholders whose determination and hard work are enabling the North Shore to play its part in the economy by bringing major investments to the region.

Long-Term Disability Benefits
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Michelle Simson Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw the attention of the House to Bill S-216, which is currently in the Senate and must be passed by Christmas in order to prevent 400 sick, disabled and dying Canadians from having their long-term disability benefits cut off.

Josée Marin, a former Nortel employee who will lose all her benefits, says, “the passage of Bill S-216 will mean the difference between living in my home and dying in my car”.

The Prime Minister had the power to appoint 32 senators with full benefits and a pension for life. He also has the power to fast track the bill through the Senate and protect the benefits of hundreds of Canadians.

Will the Prime Minister use this power and fast track this bill to protect Canadian pensioners, or will he sit on his hands and force Canadians like Josée to fend for themselves?

We only have until Christmas. Let us get this done.

Aerospace Industry
Statements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals are promising to abolish the F-35 program and thus jeopardize all related jobs. However, the Minister of Industry today reaffirmed the unequivocal support of our government for more than the 80,000 men and women working in this industry.

This investment will benefit the Canadian Forces as well as the Canadian economy. The Canadian Forces will be able to replace an aircraft that is approaching the end of its useful life, and the Canadian aerospace industry will benefit from the spinoffs, enabling it to create very specialized and well-paid jobs for Quebeckers and Canadians for years to come.

Investments in the F-35 program will result in significant spinoffs, including contracts of more than $350 million for Canadian corporations, research laboratories and universities. Tens of thousands of workers in the aerospace sector—

Aerospace Industry
Statements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order. It is time for oral question period. The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General slammed the government's incompetence and wastefulness regarding its decision to purchase the Chinook helicopters without a bidding process, and the government is making the same mistake with the fighter jets.

Why will the Prime Minister not listen to the Auditor General, cancel the contract and launch an open, competitive and transparent process to replace the CF-18s?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have seen the Auditor General's report. She made some recommendations concerning the helicopter purchase and future transactions. Of course the government will act on those recommendations. At the same time, a process to purchase the fighter jets has been in place for quite some time, and the government will proceed in order to ensure the best aircraft for our air force personnel.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that there was no competitive process to prove that that is the best aircraft.

First it was the Chinooks. Now it is F-35s. The Auditor General is telling Canadians that the procurement policy of the government is an incompetent mess.

Will the Prime Minister listen to the Auditor General, cancel the contract and open up a free, competitive and transparent bid to replace Canada's CF-18s?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government is reviewing and will implement recommendations by the Auditor General.

However, the reason there are problems with the helicopters is that 17 years ago the Liberal government cancelled the helicopter contract, paid $1 billion to get no helicopters at all and subsequent governments had to deal with that decision.

We will not make the same mistake when it comes to replacing the CF-18s. We are going to buy the best equipment for the Canadian Forces. We already have work going to the aviation sector across the country, which the coalition will put in jeopardy, but this government will not.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore
Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is a pattern in the government of refusing to take responsibility. The Conservatives lose the Security Council vote and they blame someone else. They mess up the helicopter deal and they blame the previous government. When is the government going to take responsibility for its own action?

The Auditor General is clear. These mistakes happened on the Conservatives' watch. They have a chance to correct it by getting the F-35 deal right with an open, transparent and competitive bid process. When will they listen to her?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government does listen to the Auditor General. We have the right process when it comes to the CF-18s and F-35s. They are not the same file, which the opposition does not seem to understand.

However, let me tell everyone about the responsibilities we have. We have a responsibility to replace fighter aircraft and not play politics with the lives of our men and women in uniform. We have a responsibility, when it is National Aviation Day, to ensure we protect the people, the men and women who work in that industry, against the irresponsible behaviour of the Leader of the Opposition and his coalition. That is what we will do.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's indictment of the Conservatives' reckless spending was shocking. We learned that when purchasing the Chinook helicopters, the government never defined the operational requirements, misled Canadians about the real costs, ignored ongoing maintenance requirements and did so without any public competition whatsoever. This is exactly the same process Conservatives are now prepared to use to buy a flying credit card.

Why not do the right thing and cancel this purchase and put the replacement of our fighter jets to an open Canadian public competition?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is more feigned rage against the machine. The member is singing a different tune than when he was the parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence when this project was first brought forward by his government.

We appreciate the recommendations from the Auditor General. As the Prime Minister has said, we will act on those recommendations. However, my concern and the concern expressed by the Prime Minister is that we continue with a process and procurements that will give the men and women in uniform the best equipment we can afford to ensure the success of their missions and to protect them so they can come home safely.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, four countries taking part in the F-35 program have already cancelled their purchases or are buying fewer planes.

The United States is making every effort to control costs. The Pentagon believes that costs have spiralled out of control. The Tories in Britain are downsizing their order by several aircraft.

Those are the two countries most involved in the program, and this Conservative government is completely ignoring them.

Why are those countries protecting their taxpayers, while the Conservatives here do nothing for Canadian taxpayers?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, that is completely false.

I think the Leader of the Opposition is having an Ebenezer Scrooge moment. We are seeing echoes of Liberal cancellations past. Everyone knows that.

The year was 1993, and the Liberal Party of Canada spent $1 billion not to buy helicopters. The Liberals cancelled the maritime helicopter project. With a stroke of the pen, they wrote “zero helicopters”.

Seventeen years later, we still have zero maritime helicopters as a result of Liberal irresponsibility.

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, an RCMP officer recently said that the Vito Rizzuto clan controls part of the construction industry in Quebec and requires contractors to pay it 5% of the contracts they win. Here we have the Minister of Natural Resources attending a cocktail party at a restaurant whose owner, Ricardo Padulo, had previously borrowed money from Vito Rizzuto and whose father, Henri Padulo, was photographed with the Prime Minister. Henri Padulo's daughter will be a Conservative Party candidate in the next election.

Does the Minister of Natural Resources not find this situation embarrassing, if not worrisome?

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc has made allegations against the minister and certain government contracts. Senior officials involved testified before the parliamentary committee yesterday and they were all quite clear: there was no interference in the granting of these contracts.

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, that does not answer my question, but since the Prime Minister wants to get involved, let us talk about the Prime Minister who kicked out of his cabinet and his caucus the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey for being photographed with individuals close to the underworld. It was the Prime Minister himself who was photographed with a Vito Rizzuto associate, Henri Padulo, whose daughter is running as a Conservative Party candidate.

Does the Prime Minister not find that his situation is oddly similar to that of the hon. member for Simcoe—Grey?

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, not at all. I must ask the leader of the Bloc if he can confirm whether he approved of the hon. member for Sherbrooke attending a fundraising party organized by members of the FLQ.

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, with the help of a Conservative lobbyist, Paul Sauvé was successful in having the selection criteria for a West Block renovation contract changed. In addition, even though his business was being controlled by the Hells Angels and the powerful Casper Ouimet, he was not worried by the security checks that are usually done in similar situations.

Do these special favours not prove that Paul Sauvé, who organized a fundraising cocktail party for the Conservative godfather in Quebec, benefited from some form of protection?

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, we need facts. On October 19, journalist Denis Lessard reported that the Bloc member for Sherbrooke attended a fundraising meeting for the Réseau de Résistance du Québécois on October 2 in Sherbrooke. One of the RRQ's members is Rhéal Mathieu, a neo-FLQ member who pleaded guilty to a 1967 murder charge linked to a bomb attack that killed two people. We need facts.

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, to thank the Conservatives, the businessman who won the contract to renovate the West Block after the rules were changed in his favour organized a fundraising cocktail party in a restaurant that belongs to someone close to Vito Rizzuto.

Is the Conservatives' Quebec lieutenant still comfortable with the fact that he attended a fundraising cocktail party in a restaurant frequented by a member of Montreal's mafia, which is known to control the construction industry?

Public Works and Government Services
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the question is clear: did the Bloc leader approve of one of his Bloc members attending a cocktail party organized by the FLQ? Yes or no?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives must change the way that Canadian Forces contracts are awarded. The helicopter contract is late, it is over budget, and the rules were broken. At the time, the Conservatives said that a tender process was not necessary, because the Chinook was the only option. The Auditor General has called that “unjustified”.

Why do the Conservatives never learn? Why make the same mistake with the F-35s?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about two completely different acquisitions. In the case of the helicopters, as I have already said, the government will look at the Auditor General's recommendations and take action. In the case of the F-35 fighter jets, a contract process has been in place for a long time, in fact, since the previous Liberal government was in power. These jets absolutely must be replaced before the end of this decade.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister cannot accept the Auditor General's recommendations and then refuse to implement them. That does not make sense.

The Auditor General warned that the systemic mismanagement she observed is going to mean cuts in the operational support for our armed forces. This is a serious matter.

Will the government abide by the recommendations of the Auditor General, which would mean putting a stop to its plan to implement a sole-source contract for the purchase of the F-35, or is it going to repeat the helicopter boondoggle?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, these are two different matters. Of course the government will act on the recommendations vis-à-vis the helicopter situation. There has been a process in place for this since the days of the previous Liberal government.

The leader of the NDP, however, should not pretend for a moment that he is raising these concerns on behalf of the military. The military has been absolutely clear about the need here. This is simply coalition politics playing games with military contracts, against what the entire aerospace industry and the entire defence establishment realize is necessary. The government is going to proceed.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

All right, let us talk about support for the military, Mr. Speaker.

On November 6, soldiers and veterans, people who have served this country, are going to be out in protest against the way the government has been treating veterans.

We are learning from reports that management is sending down signals that some of our service personnel and civilians who work for them are not going to be allowed to go to that protest.

These soldiers and these people who work in our armed forces fought for the right to free speech.

Have the government and the Prime Minister sent down an order telling any of these people not to participate, including the RCMP?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Of course not, Mr. Speaker. But the government does not have to issue any such orders, because the truth of the matter is this: when it comes to standing up for the men and women in uniform, getting them the equipment they need, these people understand that there is only one party in this Parliament that supports them. It is this government. When it comes to improving benefits for our veterans, there is only one party that has not voted against those things, as the NDP has done. It is this party. We will continue to protect our men and women in uniform today and in the future.

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Veterans Affairs is campaigning to have a new mega prison built in his riding. Meanwhile, his government has cut what were already inadequate subsidies for crime prevention and victim assistance programs with proven track records. Mega prisons will not lower crime rates. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Why does the minister want to waste public funds on building megaprisons in Conservative ridings?

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, the protection of Canadians must come first. Part of keeping our communities safe is keeping dangerous criminals behind bars, not releasing them into our streets early.

Contrary to the philosophy of the Liberal Party, we believe that public safety comes before the interests of criminals.

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians learned yesterday that the cost of jailing an inmate rose by 25% during the first three years of this Conservative mismanagement, and Canadians still do not know the true cost of their Republican mega-prison policy. First the government said $90 million. Then it ballooned over 100 times to $11 billion.

Do they even know how much their prison policy will cost, or is this just another reckless Conservative blank cheque?

Government Priorities
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, obviously the member will not listen to what I am saying, but perhaps she will listen to what the provinces have been saying.

An NDP justice minister in Manitoba said that we are going a long way toward giving people confidence in the justice system. The Ontario attorney general, a Liberal, welcomed Wednesday's move by the federal government to end the practice of giving convicted criminals double credit for time served in pretrial custody.

We are working with the provinces in the best interests of the people that we serve, unlike the Liberal Party of Canada.

G8 and G20 Summits
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, four months after the event, the government still does not know how much its 72-hour summit blowout cost. We have unearthed $200 million in fake lakes, fiddlers, and sweet snacks, but more than $1 billion is still hidden. What is the reason? The government is still waiting for the bills. The minister says they will not arrive until December, so the minister hands out blank cheques to contractors, waits around for six months, and lets them fill in any dollar amount they want for Christmas. He is like Brian Mulroney in a Santa suit.

The minister either gets price guarantees or he does not. If he has them, let him put them on the table so we can see them.

G8 and G20 Summits
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, we are proud of our accomplishments at the G8 and the G20 summits. Canada is leading the global economic recovery as well as international efforts to aid developing countries. We have said from the beginning that these were legitimate expenses. We are waiting for our provincial and municipal partners to provide us with those bills before we pay them.

I know the Liberals are prepared to pay bills before they get them. We, however, will be responsible with the taxpayers' money.

G8 and G20 Summits
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the only thing they are leading in is waste.

Everyone else in the world can hold these summits without blowing the bank, but not the Conservatives. In London, Pittsburgh, Japan, and at home in Kananaskis, summits were held for a fraction of the cost. Now Korea announces that it will do security for 2% of what it cost the Conservatives. The minister's excuse is that countries are tricking us: they have secret costs. This is from the minister who wants to blow billions on prisons for unreported crimes.

If this government cannot hold 72 hours of meetings without turning it into incompetent waste, why should Canadians trust it to fix its record Conservative deficit?

G8 and G20 Summits
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, as we have said, the final costs will not be known until all of the claims are submitted and audited. The deadline for submitting final security claims will be December 1. We have said from the beginning that we welcome having the Auditor General look at those reports.

I want to say how proud we are of our Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for the wonderful way in which he conducted the infrastructure spending in our economic action plan. We stand behind our programs. We are proud of them.

Bank of Canada
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, during his testimony before the Standing Committee on Finance, the Governor of the Bank of Canada said that Timothy Hodgson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, who was appointed special adviser to the governor for a fixed period of time, will be able to return to the banking sector without a cooling-off period.

How can the Minister of Finance allow a private banker to go back to his Bay Street buddies after 18 months of unrestricted access to Bank of Canada secrets? How can he accept that?

Bank of Canada
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Bank of Canada makes its own hiring decisions and is obliged to follow the conflict of interest guidelines.

Bank of Canada
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, like the situation with the Prime Minister's new chief of staff on loan from Onex, Mr. Hodgson's situation is untenable. Both will return to the private sector with state secrets and lots of high-level contacts.

Mr. Hodgson is not stupid. He is negotiating the bank's position on derivatives, he is responsible for the central bank's relationship with the Toronto financial community and he is a member of the bank’s monetary policy review and financial system review committees

Are we supposed to believe that he will go back to the private sector overnight, forgetting everything he has seen, read and heard? Not likely.

Bank of Canada
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Bank of Canada makes its own hiring decisions and is obliged to follow the conflict of interest guidelines.

I can add that the person in question has severed his ties with the private sector.

Justice
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, only sentences of less than two years can be served at home. So we are not talking about violent, dangerous offenders. Furthermore, judges who grant this measure must be convinced that it presents no risk to public safety. If a judge were to grant this measure to a violent, dangerous offender, that would clearly be grounds for an appeal.

Can the minister confirm this to be true under existing legislation and that, therefore, violent, dangerous offenders are not allowed to serve their sentences in the community?

Justice
Oral Questions

2:40 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have been very consistent. We believe those who commit serious violent crimes should be kept behind bars and not in the comfort of their homes.

I appreciate all these things are always opposed by the Bloc members. At least they are consistent on this. Any attempt by this government to get tough on crime is consistently opposed or delayed by the Bloc. When are those members going to get it? Crime is a problem and the Bloc should be supporting the efforts of this government on all occasions.

Justice
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, when will the minister answer the question?

This kind of sentence is common in Europe. Our experiences here in Canada have been conclusive regarding their effectiveness in rehabilitating many offenders. The minister has every right to think that such sentences should be abolished or seriously limited, but to say that it is to stop violent, dangerous offenders from serving their sentences at home is simply not true.

Will the minister confirm that his bill applies only to less serious crimes, which carry sentences of less than two years?

Justice
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Niagara Falls
Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we are making it very clear that individuals, for instance, who set fire to somebody's house are not qualified or have it available to them be able to go to their home.

The Bloc members are very consistent on all these things, whether it is human trafficking, or just the other day, when we were getting rid of the faint hope clause, when they had an opportunity to stand up for victims. The Bloc members never do that. That is the difference between them and us. We will get the job done on behalf of law-abiding Canadians and victims in this country.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, this is the biggest borrowing, biggest spending government in Canadian history. It put the country in a deficit even before the recession. In its first three years, the government increased spending by over $32 billion, an 18% increase.

Here are its priorities: an additional $2.2 billion on outside consultants since coming to office; and in the last year alone, an additional $13 million for PMO communications.

When will this borrow-and-spend government get its reckless spending under control?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as members know, the IMF and the OECD praise this government and the fiscal situation that Canada is in: the best fiscal situation in the G7. This hypocritical point that the member opposite raises, after voting for the economic action plan in the best interests of the country, and to stand here now and say that the stimulus plan has not saved hundreds of thousands of jobs is outrageous.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, this borrow-and-spend government is addicted to overpriced consultants. Last fall, the Conservatives hired Greg Gormick to write two press releases. He was paid $1,200 for one and $2,200 for the other. That is $3,400 for 1,300 words.

It is also worth noting that the consultant was later given a job with the Conservative member for Peterborough.

Public servants could have prepared these press releases at a fraction of the cost.

How can the government justify this waste?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Yellowhead
Alberta

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Minister of State (Transport)

Mr. Speaker, upon hearing of this, I wrote a letter to this Crown corporation. It is not exempt.

It is a letter of reprimand explaining that I want a full review of expenditures and that we need value for money. I will hold it accountable and I will ensure that it complies.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, this reckless finance minister pretends that his spending is on track. However, his track led straight to a $56 billion deficit, the largest in Canadian history. He blew $1.3 billion on a G20 photo op and another $9.4 billion on pricey consultants. Add to this $10 billion for Republican-style mega-prisons, and more than $16 billion for untendered stealth jets.

When will the minister stop his borrowing and spending binge and show some respect for the taxpayer?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the member, who is the finance critic for the Liberal-led coalition, when asked whether he would repeal the GST reductions in Halifax said, “Absolutely yes”. That is the party that would raise the GST by two percentage points and whose leader describes himself as a tax-and-spend Liberal.

We do not need any lessons from the Liberals about spending in Canada.

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, this borrow-and-spend minister increased spending by 18% in his first three years of office. In fact, he put Canada into deficit even before the downturn. Now he is wasting billions of dollars on high-priced consultants, advertising, photo ops, and contracts for Conservative cronies.

Canadian taxpayers want these borrow-and-spend Conservatives to stop wasting their money.

When will the finance minister stop his Conservative gravy train?

Government Spending
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is how much respect the Liberal finance critic has for taxpayers' money. He said neither the Liberal caucus nor the Liberal Party “has ever encountered a problem that they did not believe to be best solved by throwing copious quantities of taxpayers' money at it. They are tax and spend-aholics”.

That is what the Liberals are. They are tax-and-spend Liberals who will drive this country into deficit in a structural way.

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, last summer our government committed to purchase the F-35 joint strike fighter to replace Canada's aging fleet of CF-18s. This decision was taken a full 13 years after the program was first launched. During those 13 years, a competition was held and Lockheed Martin won the contract to make the world's only fifth generation fighter available to Canada.

Would the Minister of National Defence please highlight the benefits that this decision has created for the Canadian aerospace industry and the Canadian Forces?

National Defence
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the member for Westlock—St. Paul is absolutely right that the only aircraft that will meet the operational needs of the Canadian Forces for the next 30 to 40 years is the F-35. I know the Liberals opposite agree because they started the process.

Our aerospace industry has the potential to benefit from $12 billion in contracts and thousands and thousands of jobs. Seventeen years ago we know the Liberals cancelled a contract and we are seeing this happen again. We have seen the Liberal rerun of cancelling important military procurements, punishing the military and the aerospace industry.

The Canadian aerospace industry condemns the Liberal position.

Bank of Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, any apparent conflict of interest in our democratic institutions undermines public confidence. That is one of the reasons why the Conservatives promised to do things differently from the Liberals and to replace their lax approach with strict rules. Unfortunately, as Sheila Fraser reminded us yesterday, they have not always done that.

Yesterday evening, we learned that the Governor of the Bank of Canada, himself a former executive at Goldman Sachs, has hired Timothy Hodgson, the chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Canada, for a period of 18 months. Mr. Hodgson will then be free to return to the private sector, as his contract does not include a cooling-off period.

Does the minister think this is acceptable?

Bank of Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Bank of Canada makes its own hiring decisions. The bank is obliged to follow the conflict of interest guidelines. The person in question has severed his ties with the private sector.

Bank of Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of whether he severed his ties, it is a question of the revolving door back to the private sector.

As Sheila Fraser reminded us yesterday, they still have not brought in the conflict rules. They do not exist.

Goldman Sachs made billions in derivatives. Mr. Hodgson will be designing the entire architecture for the Bank of Canada in this sector and leaving with the pass codes for the alarm system.

Mark Carney finally admitted last night that he did not include any cooling-off period in Mr. Hodgson's contract.

We have tough anti-conflict rules for ministers and their staff. Is the minister willing to work rapidly with Parliament to put in place the long-promised rules to avoid the revolving door between firms such as Goldman Sachs and the Bank of Canada?

Bank of Canada
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Bank of Canada must follow the conflict of interest guidelines for its employees and I am assured that it has done so in this case.

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General noted that a number of infrastructure projects will not meet the deadlines set by the federal government because of departmental delays in approving projects.

Will the government acknowledge that it is partly responsible for delays on job sites and extend the deadline for all infrastructure projects as called for by Quebec municipalities?

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Auditor General for her analysis of the infrastructure program.

She said, “I would say I would give the government high marks for how they managed” this program.

She said, “I think officials deserve congratulations for rolling out such a major program quickly, without resorting to throwing [any] regulations or safeguards out”.

This program went out the door. It created hundreds of thousands of jobs in every part of this country. We are being fair and reasonable with the municipalities, but we can thank the finance minister , the former infrastructure minister and the government for making sure that this recovery has stayed in place.

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, Quebec municipalities are fed up with the federal government for tossing the problems back into their court. Because federal departments have been so slow, a number of projects will not be completed on time. Municipalities that have to deal with a shortage of material and labour run the risk of also having to foot another bill.

Will the government finally listen to the Fédération québécoise des municipalités and the Union des municipalités du Québec and extend the March 31, 2011, deadline for all infrastructure projects?

Infrastructure
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the good news keeps coming in. Now I hear there are shortages of workers. How much more creation of jobs can we do? We will continue down the same path: more jobs and more infrastructure projects.

I have already spoken to the Premier of Quebec. I have spoken to ministers Lessard, Hamad and others, saying we will be fair and reasonable. But the deadline is five months away. We are getting data and details from the Quebec government on the status of these different projects. We are working very closely with them.

In fact, in the National Assembly, the minister there said we are working closer together. He is very satisfied with our progress.

Disability Benefits
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier today I met with Joseé, Sue, Peter, Patrick and about 40 other disabled individuals on long-term disability.

They were here to tell their stories, to tell us that they will face homelessness if the government fails to pass Bill S-216 by Christmas. These are hard-working and proud Canadians who need and deserve our help.

The Prime Minister can find time to appoint 32 senators for life with a guaranteed pension. Why is he now using these same senators to block passage of Bill S-216?

Disability Benefits
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the hon. member and this House that we are very concerned about any individual in the country who stands to lose his or her benefits as a result of activity in the economic marketplace that is not his or her fault.

I can assure the hon. member that this is being viewed at the highest levels to ensure that we have a system that works for individual members, that works for businesses that want to continue to operate, that works with the Canadian economy as a whole, and in due course, when we have something to announce, we will announce it.

Disability Benefits
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are only six weeks left, so I hope the Conservatives will hurry up. These people clearly need help today. They are here in Ottawa in wheelchairs and with canes, in tears, begging parliamentarians for help.

For them, December 31 is the end. Their health insurance benefits will no longer be paid as a result of the bankruptcy of Nortel. Bill S-216 is their last hope.

Why is the Prime Minister not ordering his Conservative-dominated Senate to pass this bill today, before it is too late?

Disability Benefits
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka
Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows, or should know, that if we actually look at the legalities of that particular proposed piece of legislation, it will not help, or cannot help, the very people she seeks to help.

We, on the other hand, are moving to make sure that this issue is dealt with at the highest levels, that we can have a plan that makes sense to the Canadian economy and makes sense for the individuals who are caught in that particular situation.

However, the bill to which she refers will not be of any help to those particular people.

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned of more ducks dying in Syncrude's tailings ponds. Today we heard that birds were found at Shell and Suncor facilities.

The prosecution and a $3 million penalty for Syncrude has at least had the positive effect of getting companies to report these incidents. However, investigation and prosecution of these sad incidents will do little to prevent the continuing impacts of these industrial facilities.

When will the government finally intervene to prohibit toxic ponds that violate federal laws?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this government takes this incident very seriously. This is completely unacceptable.

The member well knows that this government has made it very clear that the oil sands must be developed in the most environmentally responsible way. Environment Canada enforcement officials will investigate this incident.

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, clearly the government did not hear my question.

The environmental impacts of this industry are not news. The standing committees on natural resources and environment conducted reviews of the impact of the oil sands.

In September the New Democrats issued a detailed report reflecting calls for the exercise of federal powers to regulate and enforce environmental measures. The announced review of water monitoring studies and even the investigation just do not cut it.

When will the government finally assert its powers to clean up the oil sands and protect the Mackenzie watershed?

The Environment
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to making sure that the oil sands are developed in an environmentally responsible way.

That is why the minister created a federal panel of Canada's leading scientists to monitor the water, to find out where any toxins may be coming into the water and whether or not they are natural. We have also invested in state-of-the-art analytical equipment for chemical fingerprinting.

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect to be served by a government that is open, honest and accountable.

In 2005, Canadians were ashamed to discover that Transparency International had ranked Canada 14th in the world in its annual corruption index.

In the 2006 election, Canadians rejected the Liberals and their cash-stuffed brown paper envelopes and elected a Conservative government with a mandate to clean up Ottawa.

Can the President of the Treasury Board update the House on the progress we are making?

Government Accountability
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Conservative

Stockwell Day President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, it is quite true that in 2005, Transparency International, in its annual corruption perceptions index of 178 countries, pointed out that under the Liberals, Canada had slid down to 14th place. Canadians felt ashamed about this.

Through our Federal Accountability Act and other measures that we have put in place, two years after that very damning report, we had improved and moved to eighth place. This year Canada has now moved to sixth place, and we will not be happy until we get to first place.

Terra Nova National Park
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the damage inflicted on the east coast of Newfoundland by hurricane Igor.

One of those areas is Terra Nova National Park. Residents are quite concerned and upset about the state of the roads within the park's jurisdiction. These roads serve as the only link that the residents have to the outside world.

Could the minister in charge of Parks Canada update the House, and will he commit to helping those communities in need?

Finally, I would like to remind the member opposite who answers that this is a serious issue.

Terra Nova National Park
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, the environment is fragile.

This government is committed to ensuring that the environment is protected. I look forward to working with that member.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, last spring, all parties in this House agreed to reform the asylum system to ensure that all refugees are treated fairly and have access to a new appeal section. With its bill to supposedly fight illegal immigration, the government is insisting on creating a second category of refugees based on their method of arrival in Canada.

Why is the government coming back with a discriminatory bill that creates two classes of refugees?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I find it rather odd that the Bloc Québécois has not asked a single question about the threat that human smuggling poses to the integrity and fairness of Canada's immigration system. Quebeckers and Canadians expect their government to fight human trafficking. We have adopted measures, and Quebeckers expect the Bloc to support the government's strict but fair measures on this.

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we saw another Auditor General's report declaring that service delivery at Immigration Canada is a complete mess. The minister is neglecting his job.

Citizenship paperwork takes 18 months to get approved. Some Canadians wait six years to be united with their parents. There are no standards, no efficiency and no accountability.

Instead of simply changing the laws to give himself more power, when will the minister do his job and fix the lousy second rate service delivered by his department?

Citizenship and Immigration
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, we accept the helpful recommendations of the Auditor General. We have already put service standards in place.

I resent the fact that the member is attacking the good work done by the hard-working officials at Citizenship and Immigration Canada who manage the largest immigration program in the world.

Perhaps she did not notice because she opposed it, but she opposed the sensible measures brought into law in the last Parliament that have resulted in new skilled worker applicants getting an answer on their application in six to eight months. Under the previous government it was taking about six years.

Bloc Québécois
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, we recently discovered that some Bloc members are supporting a conference that will be attended by the executive director of an NGO that sanctions hateful stereotypes about Jews.

The spokesperson for the Canadian Islamic Congress claims that all Israelis over 18 are legitimate targets for Palestinians. That organization will be represented at the conference. Those remarks are unacceptable.

Can the Minister of Public Safety comment on the Maclean's magazine article that reports that the Bloc Québécois member for Gatineau is sponsoring this hateful event?

Bloc Québécois
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, as soon as I learned about this event, I asked the RCMP to explain its involvement. I have asked it to immediately cease any participation.

Let me be clear. Canada's national police force must have no involvement in any event organized by those who promote extremism and hatred.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Dr. Luis Federico Franco Gomez, Vice-President of the Republic of Paraguay.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I would also like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Dr. Michael Spindelegger, Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The Chair has notice of a point of order by the hon. member for Sherbrooke.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, during question period, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, who was, as usual, avoiding answering questions, including those from the member for Terrebonne—Blainville, was saying spouting nonsense. He accused me of having attended an FLQ fundraising meeting. He also quoted comments made by a journalist, Denis Lessard. These were inaccurate comments that we tried to have removed from the newspaper, or at least corrected. He repeated both of these things.

When someone repeats something that is inaccurate, it becomes a lie. I would like him to apologize and to withdraw his comments.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let me underline the fact that I certainly in no way intentionally tried to mislead anyone. What I did say was to quote an article in La Presse by the well-respected journalist, Denis Lessard. I did not say that it was funding. What I did ask was if the member was present at a cocktail party that was organized by members, not for the FLQ. What I did ask was whether he was in attendance with an individual by the name of Rhéal Mathieu. I repeated the newspaper article and asked for clarification.

Might I suggest that the rather outrageous statements made in this place by the member's own party, the member's own leader and of his own caucus with respect to the integrity of the Minister of Natural Resources, that perhaps we take a look at all of this.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will answer his question, because over on this side, we answer questions when they are asked intelligently. There was an RRQ meeting on October 2. I was not there. There was no FLQ meeting. So I definitely was not there. I was a bit too young for that.

The leader's claims are based on the comments of a journalist. We know the people who work for the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and we know what kind of resources he has. If he is not able to check his sources, then I do not know what to say.

So, I ask the member to apologize, and to withdraw his comments.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite still has not said whether he was in attendance at a réunion de financement--

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Wait, I was in the middle of—

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will say right now, this appears to be a matter of dispute as to facts.

It is not the Speaker's role to determine who is right and who is wrong. I know there are disagreements over some things that are said in this House, but it is not up to the Speaker to decide either way.

The hon. member for Joliette is also rising on a point of order.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons made false statements about the member for Sherbrooke. The member for Lévis—Bellechasse also made false statements about the member for Gatineau. These were baseless attacks on the part of the Conservatives.

When we ask questions and go on the attack, we do so because we have done our research. For example, when we said that the Minister of Natural Resources was at a restaurant belonging to Mr. Padulo junior, a close friend of the Rizzuto clan, we checked our facts. When we said that Mr. Padulo senior was photographed with the Prime Minister, we had the photograph. This is not about debate. This is about respect for truth and the integrity of parliamentarians, especially members of the Bloc Québécois.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I heard what the member for Lévis—Bellechasse said. Tomorrow evening, the only thing on my agenda is getting ready to go to Newfoundland for the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador. I am not giving a speech anywhere tomorrow evening, nor have I given any of my own money or my member's allowance to the organization hosting the conference tomorrow.

I would like the Conservative member who said that I support hate groups to explain himself and apologize.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Gatineau for his point of order. I would just like to remind him that in my question, I was referring to the fact that it was reported in an article published in Maclean's, which is a trustworthy magazine.

I would like to remind my colleague that his friends in the Réseau de Résistance du Québécois supported Maclean's Quebec bashing. In such cases, as my grandmother used to say, if the shoe fits, wear it, and if not, it is no big deal.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will try to tone things down for you.

In question period the Minister of National Defence referred to the issue of the cancellation of the EH-101 project. I thought it would be instructive to ask perhaps if you, Mr. Speaker, could seek unanimous consent in the House for me to table a document that would be very instructive to that point raised by the Minister of National Defence.

Of course I am referring to a document with which you will be very familiar, Mr. Speaker. It is the Reform Party of Canada's March 11, 1993, plan to in fact scrap the EH-101 purchase.

What is instructive about this document from the Reform Party is that the person who was policy director at the time that the Reform Party advocated the scrapping of the EH-101 project happens to occupy the Prime Minister's chair today.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is the hon. member seeking unanimous consent to table this document? Does the House give its consent for the tabling of this document?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of National Defence has a submission on this point.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, not being a member of the party that my friend opposite refers to, I would invite my friend to deposit it anywhere he wants.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am getting up on a point of order to ask for unanimous consent with respect to a question I asked during question period. It pertained to consultants charging the government and taxpayers $3,400 for two press releases that contained about 1,300 words, and the minister of state in response said he would investigate the matter.

I have the press releases here, and I would like to table these documents to help the minister with his investigation. It is also worth noting that in one of the press releases the minister himself is quoted. Therefore I hope this helps in his investigation, especially because he is investigating himself.

Therefore I look forward to the support of all members in the House.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table these documents?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

No.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I suggest the member just send them to the minister.

Foreign Affairs
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Pontiac
Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, under Standing Order 32(2), I have the pleasure to table, in both official languages, the treaties entitled “Agreement on Social Security between Canada and Romania” signed at Ottawa on November 19, 2009, and the “Administrative Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Romania for the Application of the Agreement on Social Security between Canada and Romania” signed at Bucharest on June 1, 2010.

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 17 petitions.

Interparliamentary Delegations
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34, I have the honour to present to the House the report from the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the ninth Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministers Meeting.

Justice and Human Rights
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

In accordance with the order of reference of Monday, October 25, your committee has considered Bill S-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), and agreed on Tuesday, October 26, to report it without amendment.

Canada Transportation Act
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Wascana, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-586, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act (producer railway cars).

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to introduce this bill today, a bill to amend the Canada Transportation Act in respect to producer car loading sites.

These sites across the Prairies, close to 300 of them, are crucial to every farmer's individual right to load his or her own grain cars for shipment to export, avoiding the regular grain elevator system. For more than 100 years, following a landmark case in the Supreme Court of Canada, farmers have had the right to load their own cars. The vast majority of grain, of course, is shipped in the conventional way, using and paying for the facilities of grain companies, but the Supreme Court ruled that farmers have the right to do it themselves as a safety valve against commercial exploitation.

Over the past decade, the number of producer cars ordered and shipped by individual farmers has nearly quadrupled, but at the same time, the number of railway sidings where loading sites are available has been more than cut in half. The accelerating closure of these sidings is the issue dealt with in this bill.

Closure can now be done on 60 days' notice with no due process for farmers. This bill would provide a longer notice period and a hearing process, and it would shift the onus onto the railways to show how the closure of a particular producer car siding is in the public interest. If they cannot discharge that onus, then the closure would not occur.

I know this measure has broad support among Prairie farmers, and I would urge all members of the House to support it too.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Transportation Act
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-587, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act (railway noise and vibration control).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present the railway noise and vibration control act. I would like to pay tribute to the Quayside Community Board, particularly James Crosty and Brian Allen, who have been steadfast in pushing forward on this issue.

As members well know, many residents of our communities across the country cannot get a good night's sleep because of shunting, coupling, decoupling and excessive noise from railway operations in residential areas. This new bill would actually allow for the curtailing of railway operations at night, so there would be no more 3:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. wake-up calls because of shunting, coupling and decoupling.

The railway companies have not been co-operative. Some existing amendments to the Canada Transportation Act have not been met with a kind of conciliatory approach by railways, and that is why we need to put in place something that protects the residents of these residential areas across the country.

Whether we are talking about residents of Burnaby—New Westminster, Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto or Halifax, every Canadian deserves a good night's sleep, and that is why I am presenting this bill today.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Foreign Affairs
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition signed by a large number of Canadian citizens who identify themselves as “grandmothers for Gilad Shalit”. This petition is grounded in a profound commitment to international law and human rights.

The petitioners protest his abduction from Israel during a ceasefire arrangement with Hamas-ruled Gaza, where he has been held in complete isolation for more than four years and, as the petitioners note, has been denied any and all rights afforded to him under international humanitarian law.

Accordingly, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to insist that the Red Cross, the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies uphold the applicable standards of international humanitarian law, including proof of life, visitation rights and communication between him and his family as a bare minimum. They also call upon the Government of Canada to condition Canadian aid transferred to Gaza on adherence to these basic principles: that the Palestinian Authority commit itself to his repatriation and that Canada use its good offices to put an end to these violations of international humanitarian law to secure his release and return him to his family as a matter of fundamental decency and justice.

Right to Life
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition signed by hundreds of individuals who are concerned that, although the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects human life for decades, there has been no law protecting life before birth, and they are calling on the Parliament of Canada to do just that.

Veterans Affairs
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. speaker, I have a petition from citizens across many communities and from all walks of life who wish Parliament to know that they genuinely support and value the contributions of our veterans and that they regard a veteran as a veteran, regardless of which deployment or where an individual may have served.

The petitioners join the Veterans Ombudsman and General Walter Natynczyk in condemning the new veterans charter and the Department of Veterans Affairs for creating barriers to serving Canada's veterans.

The petitioners also demand that existing services, such as veterans' hospitals, be mandated to serve modern-day veterans, including the more than 200,000 members of the armed forces who have served in peacekeeping missions since the Korean war.

The petitioners want a full hearing in the House of Commons in response to the issue of pensions, special care program services and the preservation of an independent Department of Veterans Affairs, and they want Parliament to act to ensure veterans and their families receive the supports they have been promised and to which they are entitled as members of the armed forces, past, present and future.

Cannabis
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition today signed by a large group of constituents from my riding, who want the use of cannabis to be legalized. They believe that in a free and democratic society such as ours, citizens should have the right to make informed decisions about their behaviour, provided that they cause no significant harm to others.

They firmly believe that the use of cannabis falls in this category of behaviour. They believe that, since this drug is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco, which are both legal, why not give cannabis the same treatment? That is the question they are asking. Therefore, I am presenting this petition.

Right to Life
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by hundreds of constituents in my riding and across Toronto, the GTA.

The petitioners call upon the Canadian government, through the Canadian charter and recognizing that Canada is a country that respects human rights and includes in the charter that everyone and every individual has the right to life; whereas it has been 40 years since May 14, 1969, when Parliament changed the law to permit abortion, and since January 28, 1988, Canada has had no law to protect the lives of the unborn, the petitioners therefore call upon this Parliament to pass legislation for the protection of human life, from the time of conception until natural death.

Animal Welfare
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to submit a petition that has been submitted by constituents of my riding of Leeds—Grenville as well as some surrounding ridings.

The petitioners call on the House of Commons to support private member's Bill C-544, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act, thus prohibiting the importation or exportation of horses for slaughter for human consumption as well as horse meat products for human consumption.

Passport Fees
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, my petition calls upon the Canadian government to negotiate with the United States government to reduce the United States and Canadian passport fees. The number of American tourists visiting Canada is at its lowest level since 1972. It has fallen by five million visits in the last seven years, from 16 million in 2002 to only 11 million in 2009.

Passport fees for an American family of four can be over $500 U.S. While 50% of Canadians have passports, only 25% of Americans do.

At the recent Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council and State Governments, attended by myself and over 500 elected representatives from 11 border states and three provinces, a resolution was passed unanimously. It reads as follows:

...that [the] Conference calls on President Barack Obama and [the Canadian] Prime Minister...to immediately examine a reduced fee for passports to facilitate cross-border tourism; and be it further

RESOLVED, that [the Conference] encourage the governments to examine the idea of a limited two-for-one passport renewal or new application;

To be a fair process, passport fees must be reduced on both sides of the border. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the government to work with the American government to examine a mutual reduction in passport fees to facilitate tourism and finally promote a limited time two-for-one passport renewal for renewed application fees on a mutual basis with the United States.

Right to Life
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of those Canadians, some additional 150 of them in this petition, who are requesting Parliament to pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death.

The petition points out that Canada is a country that respects human rights and includes in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that everyone has the right to life. The petitioners ask that Parliament pass legislation for the protection of human life from the time of conception until natural death.

Government Compensation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, I am honoured to present two petitions. The first is a petition from a large number of my constituents in Trinity—Spadina.

The G20 summit was held this past summer in the downtown core of Toronto, which encompasses a great deal of large and small businesses and quite a few residential condominiums, during the peak of the tourism period. During that time, significant damage occurred to businesses and many retail stores and on the lives of restaurant owners.

The petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to ensure there is fair compensation for these small business owners, whether they lost business or had property damaged because of the G20 summit.

Motor Vehicle Safety
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from a large number of cyclists who have noticed that every time a large truck makes a right turn it has the potential of pulling in pedestrians and cyclists if it does not have underrun guards. It has occurred many times where people have been pulled under the wheels of these vehicles. As a result, the coroner's report into the death of a Toronto cyclist found that large vehicles are involved in 37% of these accidents resulting in the death of cyclists.

Therefore, the petitioners are recommending that Transport Canada amend the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to require side underrun guards for large trucks and trailers to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, Question No. 361 will be answered today.

Question No. 361
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

With respect to the Department of Finance's analysis of the establishment of a personal sylvicultural savings and investment plan and other similar tax measures to encourage woodlot owners to reinvest all or part of their logging revenues in forest management: (a) what are the various terms and conditions the department has considered; (b) what terms and conditions have been chosen for such a plan; (c) what are the advantages and disadvantages, both for owners and for the government, of introducing such a plan; (d) how many owners does the department estimate could potentially benefit from such a plan (i) across Canada, (ii) by province; (e) what would be the estimated revenue loss to the government if the plan were introduced; (f) what are the estimated economic benefits (i) for Canada as a whole, (ii) for each province; (g) what are the estimated environmental benefits (i) for Canada as a whole, (ii) for each province?

Question No. 361
Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to supporting a strong and sustainable forestry sector by continuing to position Canada as a leader in new forest technologies, products, and markets.

What is more, we understand the importance of private woodlots to Canada’s forestry industry success and sustainability. That is why our government provided $100 million over four years to establish the next generation renewable power initiative to support the development, commercialization and implementation of advanced clean energy technologies in the forestry sector. This initiative, announced in budget 2010, will help create a more sustainable forestry sector while contributing to Canada’s global leadership as a clean energy producer.

Indeed, the Forest Products Association of Canada welcomed this and other forestry-related initiatives in budget 2010, declaring “from a forest industry perspective, the government has its priorities right: investing in green jobs of tomorrow… The next generation renewable power initiative leverages the industry's ability to make a significant contribution to Canada's vision of becoming a clean energy superpower. This is a win for the environment, economy and the next generation work force”.

Budget 2010’s forestry-related initiatives built on our government’s strong record of recent support for the forestry sector, including: $1 billion for the pulp and paper green transformation program to incent pulp and paper mills to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and become leaders in the production of renewable energy from biomass. This will position mills to improve their competitiveness and create and sustain jobs; $80 million for the transformative technologies program that is administered by FPInnovations, a not-for-profit forest research institute that focuses on the development of emerging and breakthrough technologies; $40 million for the Canada wood, value to wood, and North America wood first programs to help forestry companies to market innovative products internationally; $10 million to support large-scale demonstration of Canadian-style use of wood in targeted off-shore markets, and non-traditional uses of wood in domestic markets; and $40 million to develop pilot-scale demonstration projects of new products for use in commercial applications.

Furthermore, Export Development Canada has provided close to $30 billion in financial services to Canadian-based forestry companies since 2008 and the Business Development Bank of Canada has provided $300 million in loans to Canadian forestry companies over the same period.

Woodlot owners also specifically benefit from numerous tax measures that recognize woodlot owners' special circumstances.

If the woodlot is managed as a business, woodlot owners benefit from cash basis accounting, which allows woodlot owners to claim an immediate deduction in respect of the purchase of goods and the cultivation of trees which will not be consumed or harvested until later. This creates a tax deferral advantage where the woodlot owner is effectively able to deduct such expenditures against income from other sources.

If the woodlot has been managed in accordance with a prescribed forest management plan, woodlot owners also benefit from a deferral of capital gains tax when a woodlot is transferred to a child.

If the woodlot is not managed in a businesslike manner, woodlot owners may benefit from capital gains taxation rates on the harvesting of trees.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Ms. Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Ms. Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

moved that Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am proud to open the debate on Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, whose purpose is to combat the serious crime of human smuggling.

I am pleased to introduce this bill. Canada is very proud of its long tradition of being a place of migration for people from around the world. We receive more newcomers than any other country in the developed world, 0.8% of our population, every year as new permanent residents.

We are also proud of our long humanitarian tradition of being a place of protection and refuge for victims of persecution and violence, those who need our protection. This goes back long into our history, in fact to the days of the arrival of the United Empire Loyalists, the Black Loyalists, the Underground Railroad, the eastern European refugees before the war, the refugees from Hungary and Soviet and Communist oppression after the war, and, most famously, the over 60,000 Indo Chinese who were welcomed by Canadians in 1979 and 1980. This underscores our long and deep humanitarian tradition as a place of protection.

Canada receives more resettled refugees than any other developed country in the world. This is so important to Canadians that our government announced earlier this year an increase of 20% in the number of resettled refugees who we will receive. That means that, beginning next year, we will welcome some 14,000 refugees in need of our protection each and every year, which is in addition to those who come to Canada making asylum claims that are assessed by our Immigration and Refugee Board and through various appeals and administrative appeals in our legal system.

One of the problems this Parliament recognized was the abuse of that asylum system, which is why Bill C-11, Balanced Refugee Reform Act, was adopted unanimously by this Parliament following all party co-operation in the spring in order to significantly speed up the process of refugee determination, providing protection to bona fide refugees and the removal of those who seek to abuse Canada's generosity.

However, Canadians are deeply concerned with a particularly pernicious crime, a crime that exploits vulnerable people in their dream to come to Canada, the dangerous crime of human smuggling.

In the past year, it is well known that Canada has received two large vessels on our west coast, together carrying nearly 600 illegal migrants to our shores, people who, based on our intelligence, had paid criminal smuggling syndicates some $50,000 each in order to come to Canada in the most dangerous and exploitative way possible.

The remarkable openness of Canada to immigration in general and refugee protection in particular, which makes possible our very generous approach to immigration, is dependent on public confidence in the system. I submit that Canadians demand an immigration system that is characterized by a sense of fair play and a rule of law. What disturbs them deeply about these mass illegal smuggling operations is precisely that they undermine those principles of fundamental fairness and the rule of law.

The position of Canadians and the position of this government is and ought to be that we will be a country of openness, we will be a country that provides protection to those who are in need of it and we will lead the world in the moral obligation of refugee protection, but we will not be treated like a doormat by criminal networks that seek to profit from, frankly, encouraging people to come to this country illegally in a fashion that puts them and others in moral danger. We know that every year hundreds and potentially thousands of people around the world fall victim to the dangerous ruse of smuggling syndicates.

Let me be very specific about the problem we face and then allow me to identify the strong but fair remedies that we propose in Bill C-49 and in certain associative operational actions that are taken by this government and its agencies.

First, I came back last month from a visit to Asia, including to Southeast Asia, where I met with counterparts in various foreign governments. I met with our own Canadian intelligence police, border security and Immigration officials and learned a great deal about the vile trade of human smuggling in that region.

What I learned was the following. There are approximately three or four criminal syndicates operating in that region that have a long history of being involved in the arms smuggling trade. Because there has been an end to hostilities in the Sri Lankan civil war, those syndicates have now decided to smuggle and to traffic a different commodity, which is human beings. They have refocused their logistical ability to selling people the opportunity to be smuggled illegally to Canada.

I have been told by our partners in the region that they believe these syndicates have the capacity to deliver several large steel hulled vessels with the ability to bring in each hundreds of illegal smuggled migrants to Canada each year. Prospectively thousands of people are being smuggled to our country in this dangerous fashion.

This government, any government and any minister of immigration, as my friend from Toronto knows well, has a profound responsibility to maintain public confidence in the immigration system. What we have seen since the arrival of the last smuggling vessel is a fundamental and very disturbing decline in public support for immigration in general and refugee protection in particular.

According to the most recent polling that I have seen, over 60% of Canadians say that our response to this threat to our sovereignty, our laws and the fairness of our immigration system should be to prohibit these vessels from entering Canadian territorial waters. Fifty-five per cent of Canadians have said that even if these vessels land and some of their passengers subsequently attain refugee protection under our laws, that those people should be returned to their country of origin, notwithstanding a positive legal determination on their asylum claim.

That is the public opinion environment. Imagine how much more vigorous Canadians would feel about this, if we actually had several vessels arriving, which I am informed is within the logistical capability of the criminal organizations involved.

We cannot allow that to happen. The easier path is to do nothing. The easier path is to mouth platitudes. The easier path is to take no difficult decisions. However, the necessary and responsible path is to take firm and meaningful action that does everything we reasonably and legally can to deter and disrupt the smuggling networks, to reduce both the pull and the push factors in this illegal migration so that it stops. To do otherwise is to put at risk the broad public consensus, which has historically existed in Canada in favour of immigration and refugee protection, and I will not allow that to happen on my watch as minister of Immigration.

Some would have us believe that we can successfully deter the smuggling operations simply by focusing on the smugglers. How I wish that were true. How I wish it were true that we did not have to, at the same time, address the demand side of the equation in the smuggling enterprise. However, to pretend that is the case, to pretend that we can avoid disincentivizing the customers of the syndicates from paying $50,000 to come to Canada is naive in the extreme.

Therefore, let me present the general approach of the government and then the legislation in particular.

First, it is evident there are legitimate refugees in need of protection in Southeast Asia. It is also true, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, that it is always preferable to find a local or regional protection solution for those who are bona fide refugees and to do everything possible to prevent them from being exploited by trafficking syndicates. That is why we have begun preliminary discussions with our international partners, including Australia, which obviously has a great stake in this issue, and with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to pursue the possibility of some form of regional protection framework in the Southeast Asian region.

In part that would entail encouraging the countries now being used as transit points for smuggling and trafficking to offer at least temporary protection to those deemed by the UN in need of protection and then for countries such as Canada to provide, to some extent, reasonable resettlement opportunities for those deemed to be bona fide refugees, which is something we are pursuing.

However, to be honest, that is a mid to long-term solution. Working on that with the UN and our international partners will not stop the fact that criminal networks in Southeast Asian countries are planning to smuggle their customers to Canada. They are in the process right now. People have already paid their upfront fee and are sitting in waiting positions in parts of Southeast Asia. Vessels have been acquired. Officials have been, shall we say, induced to co-operate with these networks. The operations are not abstract. This is not a possibility. This is not a theory. This is a real and present reality and we must react with real, present and current action to disincentivize the smuggling networks.

It is also true, insofar as we are talking about a flow of illegally smuggled migrants of Tamil origin, that we acknowledge Canadians have a stake in seeing a just and durable peace in Sri Lanka. We acknowledge that the Tamil people have legitimate aspirations and that they deserve to be protected from violence and persecution. That is why, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, our High Commission in Colombo and through multilateral institutions, we continue to strongly encourage the government of Sri Lanka to make every effort to find a just resolution to the legitimate aspirations of its Tamil minority. That is one important issue. A regional protection framework is another important issue.

Perhaps the most important element in combatting the smuggling is to stop the boats from leaving the transit countries in the first place. That is why our government has directed relevant security and intelligence agencies to increase their presence and capability in the transit countries, partly to assist the transit countries in improving their capacity to detect fraudulent documents and smuggling networks and to gather better and actionable intelligence to prevent people from being loaded on to the vessels in the first place.

In this respect, I would note that two weeks ago the Royal Thai Police detained some 150 individuals who were in the country illegally, without status. Apparently they were planning to board vessels to be smuggled possibly to Canada. Therefore, that work is being done as well. There is increased and improved police and intelligence co-operation in the region among ourselves, the Australians and the transit countries.

However, should a vessel successfully leave a transit country, and we are talking about these leaky, decommissioned cargo vessels that people are loaded onto like cattle to take the dangerous voyage across the Pacific, and arrive in our territorial waters, Canada, after the adoption of Bill C-49, will continue to fully honour our humanitarian, domestic and international legal obligations to provide refugee protection.

We will not endanger the lives of people, as some would have us do, to prevent them from entering Canadian waters. Nor will we violate our international obligations under the convention for refugees and torture or our domestic obligations under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to provide protection to those who are deemed by our legal system to be in need of it, to have a well-founded fear of persecution in their country of origin. This is to say that we will not, in the technical term refoulement, send back to the country of origin someone who has arrived even through this dangerous, illegal and irregular form of marine migration.

We do need to send a strong message to the smugglers, which is why Bill C-49 proposes strong mandatory minimum prison sentences for those involved in smuggling operations. Those who are involved in smuggling under 50 people would face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 3 years. If there are one of two aggravating factors involved, they would face a mandatory minimum of five years. If the group is over 50 individuals, they could face a mandatory minimum of 5 years unless there was an aggravating factor, such as having put the life or safety of their customers in danger, in which case a 10 year mandatory minimum. We believe this will help to cause the smugglers and the crews that work for them to think twice before targeting Canada for their sordid trade.

We also propose massive new penalties for the shipowners, those who are at the back end of this business enterprise, this terrible criminal profit-making venture. They ought to know that they stand to lose millions of dollars if they acquire a ship to be used for this illicit purpose.

Also, we have broadened the ability to make it easier to obtain successful prosecutions against people smugglers through amendments to the relevant law. We take other measures targeting the smugglers very clearly.

However, when we are talking about an illicit market, one thing history, common experience and economics all tell us is that as long as there is a sufficient demand and a sufficient price, there will always be someone willing to provide a service or a good. Therefore, we cannot be naive about the imperative of diminishing the demand side of the equation in the smuggling enterprise.

We must ask ourselves this. Why are people coming from third world countries paying $50,000 to come to Canada in this dangerous way?

Some of the people we are talking about are actually coming from democracies like India. Recently CBC News did a report on individuals in Tamil Nadu in Chennai in the great Indian democracy who had paid smugglers to come to Canada. One of them wanted to come to Canada because he or she had heard this country provided free monthly salaries. In part, there is an economic pull factor to Canada.

It is clear to us that the capacity of someone who lands in Canada, for example, a positive refugee protection decision, to immediately then sponsor family members, means that the $50,000 price point used by the syndicates is not just an investment on the principal applicant getting into the country, but on those family members who will then follow. Therefore, $50,000 makes sense on the smuggling market because the price point actually will eventually allow several family members to come to Canada in reasonably short order.

That is one of the reasons why it is important to change the business model of these smuggling syndicates by disincentivizing. This is why we propose that those who have been designated to have arrived in a smuggling event and who get a positive protection decision would have temporary residency in Canada for a period of five years. I would be happy to develop that further on questions.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his overview of this legislation.

As a preamble, I would like to remind Canadians, and I think the minister and the House would agree, that our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is applied differently from any other charter in the world, as far as I am aware, offers some protection even to non-citizens within Canadian waters.

Therefore, we need not defend the compassion and empathy that Canadians, in keeping with our legislation, have demonstrated over many decades.

My question, though, is more related to what could be classified as a second or third option. The minister said that Canadian protections and the full extent of natural justice will apply to those who have landed. However, he may not have fully explored an option being pursued in southeast Asia. It has to do with neutral points of entry. Under this option, the same kind of examination would be pursued to determine who ought to be admitted to the country. It is interesting to consider how far we have gone in arriving at a United Nations or universal approach to this problem, which many countries, including Canada, will be experiencing in the next few years.

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Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, we have had preliminary discussions with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, our friends in Australia, and with other countries on the concept of a framework in southeast Asia that would allow for the kind of regional protection opportunities to which the member refers.

We are not terribly advanced in these discussions, I have to admit. This is the problem We are talking about a lot of legal, diplomatic, logistical work that would have to be done with a number of countries. But we are committed to pursuing it.

I think one analogy for this would be the way that Indo-Chinese boat people were dealt with in 1979 and 1980, when large numbers of them were fleeing communist oppression. The United Nations established regional processing centres where they could go to have their claims assessed, after which they might be considered eligible for resettlement if they were found to be in need of protection. Canada received some 60,000 people.

Having said that, I can tell you that this is not an easy solution. If one were to create regional protection centres, one would have to avoid allowing a small flow of asylum seekers to become millions of people. There are tens of millions of people around the world who would like to resettle in a developed country, and who feel, for one reason or another, that they are victims of persecution.

Many of these people are economic migrants; there are mixed motives here. This is a difficult question, and the complexity of it tells me that this is not a viable solution to the short-term pressure we are facing from the syndicates today, which why other action needs to be taken, like the action contemplated in the bill.

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4 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, the bill before us has more to do with political marketing than any true desire to change policy for the better. This bill was announced in Vancouver. It is easy to understand the political aspect because that is where the boat arrived. We also see that the minister made his announcement in English only, even though he speaks excellent French. He really is speaking to Canada.

More to the point, this bill is a clear repudiation by the government of the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. It was the Minister of Public Safety who introduced this bill today. In fact, he was in the House to monitor the speech by his colleague from Immigration.

Last spring, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism introduced, debated and defended in the House a fair and balanced—in his own words—reform with regard to refugees. He received the unanimous consent of the House. He negotiated with the other parties and four months later, he is being repudiated by his own government. By tabling this bill, the Minister of Public Safety is sending him a message that the reform he considered to be balanced is not and that other measures need to be presented to the House.

How does the minister feel about being repudiated by his colleague from Public Safety?

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, there seem to be all manner of political conspiracy theories in that question and those comments. It is obvious that the intent of this bill is serious, and that it is also reasonable and fair. Let us recall that, according to surveys conducted after the arrival of the latest boatloads of illegal immigrants, the vast majority of Quebeckers indicated that they wanted to send the illegal immigrants, who were brought here by a human smuggling ring, back to their country of origin. In terms of public opinion, Quebec is the most outspoken.

Some members of the Bloc Québécois are more concerned about the values of the elite than those of ordinary people. But we must maintain the confidence of Quebeckers and Canadians in the Canadian immigration and refugee protection system.

That is why we need real measures and not rhetoric to fight the trend towards illegal immigration facilitated by these smuggling rings.

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4 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, I have a few questions.

How would refugees from Sri Lanka, let us say Tamils, come to Canada? What queue would they be lining up in? Would they be lining up in Sri Lanka? No. Thailand? What is the proper way for Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka to come to Canada?

The minister said that there are criminals there, that they have already pocketed money, and that people are ready to go on the ships. If he has all this information, and he said that he was working with the police in different parts of southeast Asia, why are the RCMP and CSIS not working to have these smugglers arrested overseas?

I have seen reports stating that nine out of ten of these refugees are in desperate shape when they leave. They have no idea of the refugee policy in the country they are going to.

Whatever policy we establish, it will not make a lot of difference. If refugees are desperate, they are going to try to get out somehow.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, first of all, there is an assumption in the member's first question about how Sri Lankan refugees would come to Canada that I do not necessarily accept. Under this assumption, everyone coming to Canada in this fashion is in need of our protection. They are all coming here seeking protection, as opposed to family reunification, economic opportunities, or a mix of motives.

Since the end of hostilities in Sri Lanka last year, some 100,000 Sri Lankan refugees who are resident in Tamil Nadu under the protection of the Indian government have returned voluntarily to Sri Lanka. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has facilitated the return to Sri Lanka of many Tamils who were living temporarily in Southeast Asia. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has declared that Tamils can no longer be presumed to be bona fide asylum claimants. According to a survey done by the Canada Border Services Agency, the majority of successful Tamil asylum claimants in Canada have since returned, at least for visits, to the country from which they fled, after claiming that they could not be there for reasons of persecution.

I would remind the member of the recent CBC report that interviewed people who had paid these networks. Many are living not in Sri Lanka but in India. If they would like to come to Canada, they are free to fill out an application to come here as an immigrant. If they are in need of protection, they are free to enrol with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

They should not come in the worst and most dangerous way possible, which is through a smuggling syndicate.

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise to speak to this bill.

I am deeply concerned that any time the Conservatives are faced with a choice of considering policy, sitting down and having a rational discussion, or playing politics, they choose to play politics. There does not seem to be a headline the Conservatives are not willing to exploit.

I can remember the pardon issue, four or five years ago, when the then public safety minister said, after a sensational case, that they had fixed the pardon problem. He said they did not involve the rest of Parliament, because it was something they were able to do on their own. They refused to have any hearings. On the back of a napkin, they whipped something up and called it fixed.

And then we had Graham James. All of sudden, they feigned indignation and said they had to do something fast, forgetting that they themselves claimed to have fixed the problem some four years before.

However, this did not stop them from trying to play games with the problem again. They ratchet up the rhetoric and, on the back of a napkin, whip up a policy, instead of sitting down with Parliament and having a mature debate.

When the Sun Sea and the Ocean Lady arrived on Canadian shores, the Minister of Public Safety was eager to say this was a boatload of terrorists. He talked about intercepting boats in international waters, even though this would violate international conventions. Anywhere else this has been tried, it has been a disaster, raising fears that people would be thrown overboard to hide the evidence, that human beings would be tossed like luggage off the side of the ship to hide the fact that they were being smuggled.

So, for roughly 2% of the claimants Canada would get in a year, the Conservative government went nuclear, not because it wanted to fix something, but because it wanted to play politics and saw a great opportunity to drive a wedge.

The people the Conservatives called terrorists turned out to be mostly women and children. But that is an aside. Apparently, it did not matter much to them.

So after much floundering, including talk about going out into international waters, after throwing around a lot of rhetoric, we get this bill.

I have a lot of problems with the bill. Let me start with the fact that it is tough in all the wrong ways. It is extremely tough on claimants. It is easy on the scum that preys upon the weak and smuggles others into this country. Because of this misplaced focus, I have serious doubts about how it could be effective.

In addition, we have to realize that the government is masking the fact that the real solution rests in engaging international partners. If there is one thing the government has not been able to do, it is work with other countries.

If we want to go after the people who prey on the weak, on those who are vulnerable, then we have to work with foreign jurisdictions and ensure that we go after this scum where they are operating. Instead of being hard on the women and children who are trying to escape war-torn regions, we have to go after the people who are preying on them, trying to suck money out of them, taking advantage of their unfortunate situation, sticking them on dangerous ships and sending them across oceans to Canada. We have to stop the problem long before they walk onto that boat and begin their journey across the seas.

In this regard, and in many others, this is a placebo policy. And I wish it was only that. However, the government also plays on the public's misunderstanding of the distinction between the words “refugee”, “immigrant”, and “claimant”, trying to mix them all up together, trying to confuse people, trying to make them think that there is some queue and that these claimants are jumping ahead of other people. The government knows this is false. That is what makes the assertions absolutely irresponsible and reprehensible.

The government's job is to inform public debate, to inform it with facts. The government is supposed to encourage honest discussion about the differences between political parties. Instead, the government capitalizes on misunderstandings, plays tricks with, let us be straight here, fake emails that go around with misinformation, and generally tries to engage in grand political games. I think this is shameful.

It is not just me who is saying these things or having problems with these bills. I will read a couple of things that some experts in these areas have been saying. Their words are worth hearing because they make the case so clearly.

There is a piece written for the Globe and Mail by Lorne Waldman and Audrey Macklin entitled, “Why we can’t turn away the Tamil ships”, and I will quote several excerpts from it:

Asylum seekers on boats is not a new phenomenon. In 1939, the St. Louis, filled with hundreds of refugees fleeing the Nazis, was turned away from Canada. At the time, the government tried to discredit the passengers as frauds and economic opportunists, and warned that, if the St. Louis were permitted to dock, more Jews in Europe might follow. The “line must be drawn somewhere,” and it was drawn at zero. Many of the people on board subsequently perished in the death camps.

In 1969, Canada signed the Refugee Convention and undertook not to return refugees if they had a valid fear of persecution. This obligation is part of our law. Once asylum seekers reach our territorial waters and are in Canada, they cannot be sent back to another country unless their claims for protection have been denied.

From the St. Louis onward, every new boat is accompanied by denunciation of the passengers as frauds and dire warnings of future “waves.” Yet, two boats – one filled with Tamils and the other with Sikhs – arrived in the 1980s followed by four boats with Chinese in the 1990s, and the sky did not fall in. All were given due process without creating havoc. Some were found to be refugees, some not. Other countries, including Australia and the United States, receive far more sea-borne migrants than Canada, and far more irregular migrants in general.

It goes on to talk about the bill:

Moreover, such a regime would run afoul of our Charter. Our Supreme Court has held that Canada cannot be directly or indirectly complicit in torture or other human-rights violations. By turning away boats without fairly determining whether those on board would be at risk, we would be violating refugees’ right to life and security of the person.

The article concludes by saying:

Canada receives about 30,000 claimants each year. Five hundred Tamils represent only 2 per cent of the annual intake. The rest arrive by plane or overland, so don’t elicit the same moral panic as people on boats. Although the system has experienced delays in recent times, it has managed to provide a reasonably fair determination. Failed claimants are being deported each year in record numbers. All this to say, that with a just and efficient determination system, we will be able to deal with asylum seekers arriving by boat or otherwise. And the best way – indeed, the only way – to stop any future boats from Sri Lanka is by solving the problems in Sri Lanka.

Amnesty International is also speaking with deep concern about this bill saying that the proposal violates three treaties: the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Amnesty says that the bill shows no respect for the equality provisions in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Gloria Nafziger of Amnesty International said:

It’s just a flagrant violation of so many rights, it just goes beyond the pale. Those treaties are the international treaties we signed on to and we have obligations to uphold and respect [them].

The Canadian Council for Refugees is saying that despite the government's claim that it is targeting smugglers, the people who will suffer in this bill are the people fleeing persecution, including women and children. It asserts that measures keeping some refugees longer in detention, denying them family reunification, and restricting their freedom of movement, are likely in violation of our charter.

Professor Peter Showler, the former head of the IRB and a refugee expert, noted that there are two different targets under this bill: the human smugglers and the refugee claimants themselves. Even if a person is accepted as a refugee, which means the person fears persecution for five years, the person cannot bring his or her family members. This is not just any family member, we are talking about husbands, wives, and children who are trapped in conflict zones. Mr. Showler has characterized many of the provisions in the bill as outrageous.

What I would like to do is talk about some of the specific provisions that the bill does undertake. One of the much heralded things the bill does is it creates mandatory minimums. It defines aggravating factors where those mandatory minimums would be triggered. There are two aggravating factors. Factor one is where somebody is engaged in the activity for profit, whether or not the person is with a criminal organization. Factor two is whether or not it endangers the life of a person who is being smuggled. It gets into a formula where if there are less than 50 people and there is one aggravating factor, it is a three year mandatory minimum. If there are both aggravating factors and it is under 50 people, it is a five year mandatory minimum. If it is more than 50 people, it is a mandatory minimum of five years if it is one aggravating factor. It is 10 years if it is two aggravating factors and more than 50 people.

Here is the problem. The current penalty can be up to life imprisonment and a $1 million fine for anybody smuggling more than 10 people. The government already has at its disposal extremely serious measures that are on the books to go after the smugglers.

These mandatory minimums are a placebo. They are held in the window to feign action, to pretend they are being tough, as the Conservatives like to say, when in reality they are little more than window dressing. In fact, the actual tools they need to go after the smugglers are already in place. The problem is they are not going after them where they need to, overseas in other countries, working with other jurisdictions.

There are some provisions in the bill that I think we could support. Looking at increasing penalties under the Marine Transportation Security Act for someone who is providing misleading information, or a failure to comply with a ministerial order and therefore be refused entry.

One of the things that is very concerning because its wording is so ambiguous first was introduced by the minister when he talked of a “human smuggling event” and all of a sudden this human smuggling event would trigger all sorts of extraordinary powers. We are not given any details of what those powers would be or how they would be exercised, but eagerly, obviously, we looked at the bill and tried to determine what those powers were.

Gone was the term “human smuggling event” and now came the term “irregular arrival”. Irregular arrival has no real specificity and could just be two people, not a large group or a throng of people or hordes of people coming into Canada, but just two people. If the minister, for whatever arbitrary reason he or she decides, invokes this provision, there are suddenly two classes of refugees, those that are subject to one set of rules and those that are subject to another. It could be for no other reason than the minister does not happen to like those particular refugees, or happens to think one particular group coming from one particular region is more disliked by the public and therefore maybe the government should play games with them and play it for wedge politics.

The problem is that for that separate class, some very different rules are invoked. One of them is to invoke mandatory detention so that when someone was defined in this class he or she would be detained for a minimum of one year. This mandatory detention would not be reviewed again for another six months. Imagine women or children being in a detention centre where they are only given the opportunity once every six months after the first year to appeal that detention. While they are detained, it stops their ability to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division. It stops their ability from making any claim on humanitarian or compassionate grounds for their situation for five years.

One of the things worth pointing out is the impact of detentions on mental health for a woman or a child who is in a mandatory detention centre because the minister arbitrarily decided to put the woman or child in that class. We can refer here to a multidisciplinary team of university researchers. The team members included: Dr. Rousseau of the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University; Professor François Crépeau, Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Professor, Public International Law at McGill University; and the list goes on and on.

They concluded a three-year study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on the impact of detention in Canada on adult asylum seekers. Based on their expertise in this area, they predict that the mandatory long-term detention as proposed in the bill will have a severe negative impact on refugee claimants' mental health, especially on the most vulnerable: children, pregnant women, and survivors of rape and torture.

Their preliminary results based on a sample of 54 refugee claimants detained in the Laval and Toronto immigration holding centres showed that even a short period of detention is associated with high levels of anxiety and depression. After only 16 days of detention, 30% of refugee claimants met the criteria for depression, 22% for anxiety. Studies have consistently shown that detainees' mental health problems tend to worsen over time and they are more likely to persist, even after release, when detention is prolonged.

I hear some members heckling on the other side about that. I am talking about people who might have been raped or tortured, pregnant women, children. Let us remember who we are talking about. Let us remember the people who could potentially be impacted by this detention.

Another thing we need to look at in the bill is the fact that it imposes a duty of inquiry on people who provide assistance. That may seem relatively innocuous at first, but if a church group makes a determination that it wants to help a claimant because the group thinks the situation the claimant is coming out of is desperate and dangerous, no longer will the burden be on the state to prove that there was not a violation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, but rather that burden of proof would literally fall upon the church or independent organization that sought to assist that refugee, placing all that burden of proof on that individual instead of placing it on the state.

The bill would also seek, and this is quite remarkable and something we need to debate as we move forward, that even if a person is successful in claiming refugee status, even if the person finds a way to convince the government that being sent back would mean the person's certain death, torture or some other horrible outcome, the government reserves the right after five years, after the person has spent five years in Canada and has naturalized here and has established roots, to say it has changed its mind and the person is out of here. The person can spend five years here as a legitimate refugee and then after those five years, the government says, “See you later”, and the person is back out. For those five years the person obviously will be living under a constant threat of being tossed out. How will the person be able to establish himself or herself? How will he or she be able to make a meaningful contribution to Canadian society?

During that five year ban, and again we are talking about legitimate refugees, the person is also barred from applying for permanent residence. He or she is barred from travelling outside the country for five years. He or she cannot sponsor family members. Let us remember who these family members are. They are the wife or the husband, or the person's children.

We need to proceed very carefully, because when we change legislation, it has profound implications. There is no question we need to get tough with those who would smuggle the most desperate and the most weak out there, but the bill, full of its flaws, appears to me to be infinitely more about playing politics than it is about finding solutions.

People who hoped as they read headlines that the bill would be the thing that would save us from future situations such as we saw, will be sorely disappointed when they look beneath the veneer, because like so much of what the Conservative Party puts forward, it is about the talking points and it is not about the substance.

Transport
Routine Proceedings

4:25 p.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews Minister of Public Safety

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Earlier the government tabled an international agreement, but we neglected to table an additional agreement, which I do now. I am tabling a protocol amending the air transport agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United Mexican States, done at Mexico City on December 21, 1961, as amended, done at Ottawa on May 27, 2010.

Madam Speaker, I apologize for interrupting the debate.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Madam Speaker, that intervention was certainly living up to the standard that we all expect of the member. In part, of course, he very casually casts the most disgusting aspersions on his adversaries. Rather than simply disagreeing on substance, he made all sorts of allegations of bad faith, which is what he does best. I commend him for that.

For example, he implied that this government somehow politicizes against the tradition of refugee protection. Let me be very clear. This government has increased the resettlement of refugees to Canada to the highest level ever, higher than any ever under the Liberal government. We will be bringing in 14,500 resettled refugees next year. After the government to which he belonged froze the numbers for refugee resettlement, we are increasing the refugee assistance program by 20%. What kind of government that tries to politicize against refugees actually brings more of them and gives them more support?

I have a question for him. Why did his government not do the same thing if it was really in favour of refugee protection? Why did it freeze the refugee assistance program for 13 years? Why did it freeze the number of resettled refugees? I am not going to allege that there was a bad motive in that, because I think that would be unreasonable and unfair. I am sure it had sound reasons, but then to turn around and cast aspersions on the motives of a government that is doing more to help refugees than any in recent Canadian history is very pathetic.

However, I just want to ask him this. If he says this is not tough enough on the smugglers, I have a very simple question. What is his alternative? What would the Liberal Party do to stop the smuggling operations? We have the police and our intelligence agencies working in the transit countries. There have been detentions there. What would he do? If not mandatory minimum sentences, what is his solution?

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4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, let me first state, while I am not going to get into a debate on history, that I am deeply proud of the Liberal record when it comes to immigration and refugees. It is a record that speaks for itself and we have long been a party that understands that this is a nation of immigrants, based upon policies that are sound, reasonable and well considered.

Let me suggest to the minister how he might have proceeded instead of trying to whip up this bill in a mad frenzy to create talking points that he could use. Instead of proceeding in that way, what he should have done was sit down with the experts, sit down with this House, dare I say in a minority government, sit down with the immigration and citizenship committee, sit down with the public safety and national security committee, allow us the opportunity to hear from experts and witnesses, and in a careful, considered way, using facts and real information, take the opportunity to craft a bill that really creates solutions.

But that is not what we got. To be fair, what we got was a political reaction, and my frustration when I speak in this place, the reason I speak so passionately in opposition to what the government does, is because I have seen, time and time again, the government decide to put talking points in the window first, and beneath a very thin veneer is a complete absence of real policy.

Worse than that, the actions that will be taken are detrimental, and I hope that in my speech, over a period of 20 minutes, I outlined all the concerns I had. I would hope that instead of torquing up the debate, instead of ramping it up, the minister would take an opportunity to have a mature conversation with us on this, allow that debate to occur and not ramp up the rhetoric.

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4:30 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague's speech and I share a number of his concerns. The Bloc's position on this bill is very clear, as I will have a chance to explain in a few minutes.

But, aside from fundamental principles, it cannot be said that the Liberal position is just as clear. Even after my colleague's speech, we still do not know what the Liberals will do when it comes time to vote on this discriminatory bill in a few days.

This is nothing new; it is always the same thing with the Liberal Party. There are always some intellectual gymnastics and some fancy dancing. It tries to please everyone and make people believe that it is tough on crime and open at the same time.

The member has looked at the bill long enough to make a 20-minute speech. Can he simply tell us whether he will vote for or against it at second reading?

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4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the Bloc Québécois member for his question.

The Liberal Party's position is very clear. We see many issues with this bill and it brings up many questions. We will take the time to speak with experts and our caucus. The government only introduced the bill three or four days ago. We need to speak with our caucus and experts to see if there is a way to save this bill.

In a few days, once we have found the answers to our questions, the member will understand the Liberal Party's actions and see how it will vote.

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4:30 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, one of the first things the new coalition government in England did was to say that putting refugees who are children or migrant children in detention causes a lot of hardship and that it is a practice it wants to refrain from because it leaves psychological scars on these youngsters. They are not really criminals, and often they are in detention because of the vicarious immigration status of their parents. It is working towards eliminating the detention of all children based on immigration reasons, whether they are the children of refugees, of migrants or of temporary workers.

I heard the member speak about the kind of suffering the children have, and not just children, that within a few days they get into a depressive state. Does the member have more information concerning the kind of long-term impact that a prolonged detention has on children, especially if it is over a year and perhaps several years.

Under the bill, the review would not occur until after one year and then six months later. So that child could be in detention for several years.

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
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4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for a very good question.

I would refer the member, in my speech, to the multi-disciplinary team of university researchers who have actually done a lot of study on this very impact. I think it is something that the House should be seized with as it considers the bill and should look at further.

I think the member makes a point that is worth repeating and worth remembering. The government more often than not, as it confuses what is a claimant with what is a refugee, also likes to characterize all refugees or all claimants as somehow these big, bad terrorists, these bad people. More often than not, the people we are dealing with are children. They are women. Many times they can be people who are coming out of war-torn, terrible situations, people who might have been dealing with rape, people who might have been dealing with torture.

Can we imagine what it would be like for somebody who is coming out of that kind of horror and what psychological impacts additionally it would have to then be shoved into detention for a year and not given any opportunity during that one-year period to say, “This is wrong for me”? That child does not belong there or that woman does not belong in the situation, after all they have gone through, that after a year, if they do not make that review, they would have to wait another six months.

I think the psychological impact, particularly on these people who could potentially be very vulnerable and coming out of desperate situations, is something we need to bear in mind.

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4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, last spring Parliament reached unanimous agreement on refugee reform. We showed that we can agree on things, when there is the will to do so. I fear we will have a hard time reaching an agreement in this case and there are probably few things we will agree on in the future.

Perhaps I will do the same as the minister today, that is, I will give my speech in only one language, except in my case, it will be in French instead of English.

I think this must have been extremely difficult for the Minister of Immigration , even though he is willing to step up to the plate to defend the bill introduced by his colleague from Public Safety. To me this feels like a serious repudiation of all the work he did, which we, as parliamentarians had recognized. We voted unanimously in favour of the refugee reform, which should have, as he said himself, lasted for decades, or for at least one generation. It was a fundamental change in how refugees would be treated.

Now just four months later, this reform, which he described as balanced and with which we agreed—we voted in favour of the reform—is being questioned by his colleague from Public Safety. We will not make a fuss, because even though the minister is here in the House today to defend the bill introduced by his colleague from Public Safety, this bill is clearly being imposed on him by his government. One of two things is true: either the balanced reform the minister defended at the time was not balanced and he knew it—he sold us on something that he knew was not balanced—or the reform was indeed balanced, but someone in his government repudiated his work because he or she did not agree with the minister's conclusion.

This is rather disturbing. At the same time, it also seriously undermines the minister's position since, at the end of the day, considering this repudiation by his colleagues, who would want to negotiate and discuss anything with him in the future, if any of his colleagues can go back on the deals he makes and propose a new bill like the one before us today?

It is even more disturbing, since this bill was only passed four months ago, it has not yet been implemented, we have not seen what kind of impact it may have, and so we cannot assume that it is already broken. It was passed four months ago. This seems to be all about political marketing. That is what we are seeing today in the House, because I do not detect any sincerity in the minister's comments. Let me be clear. I do not doubt his sincerity as an individual, but I doubt that he is convinced that the bill introduced by his colleague is the right thing to do. I say that because this is not the same man we saw last spring. When the minister introduced his balanced reform, he met with parliamentarians from the different parties to explain the reform. His officials offered us a number of technical briefings in advance to explains all the ins and outs of the bill. In a way, he was preparing us mentally. We knew what direction he was taking, but today, there is none of that.

The minister must have wanted to be sure that his bill would be defeated in the House; otherwise, he would have acted differently.

It is very clear that this bill simply appeals to some kind of unhealthy populism, that it goes after all refugees by putting them all in the same boat—no pun intended—and that it suggests simplistic solutions. I do not think that even the minister believes in these solutions.

The Conservatives always take the same approach. First, they introduce a bill with a bogus name, something they could put a trademark notice on, something that sells the bill, a crude advertisement. This time, we have the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act. This lengthy bill has only a few measures that address smugglers; the rest have to do with the refugees themselves. The government is going after people in extremely difficult situations, instead of helping people who are in need.

It always uses the same technique to end any debate: it just says that they are terrorists. That is what it said when the boat arrived in Vancouver. It said that there were members of the Tamil Eelam, a terrorist group, among the Tamils. So the government says that anyone who is against this bill is pro-terrorist. And that is it, there is nothing more to add and no further discussion is needed. That is the Conservatives' argument.

It is even more grotesque given that 80% of the Tamil refugee claimants are considered to be genuine claimants under the Geneva convention. A few months earlier, the minister took aim at Mexican refugee claimants, saying that since only 10% of them were accepted, it was suspect. In this case, 80% are being accepted and it is still suspect. There is a problem here. You can worry about acceptance rates that are too low or too high, but not both.

Seriously, I have a very hard time believing that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism and the people in his department thought about this and had an overall vision when they drafted this bill, especially since these same people did all this work last spring, a mere four months ago, and came up with completely different conclusions. Obviously, this bill was prepared quickly, in a purely partisan fashion, as a sort of collection of unrelated measures. They have no vision. They are not taking aim at the problem, but at refugees, which will create much bigger problems that I will come back to.

I would like to put things into context so that the people of Canada who are watching this understand that just because the government says that this bill and its 50-odd clauses crack down on smugglers, that does not mean that it actually does. Human smugglers are not watching CPAC and are not reading the bill. This bill will have no impact on them. The government chose the title of the bill. It can give the bill any title it wants, even if it has nothing to do with the bill's content.

Now let us talk about the substance of the bill. This is a very strong reaction to what we all agree is a real problem, but the government exaggerated the problem. It is trying to kill a fly with a bazooka. Not only is it futile to use a bazooka to kill a fly, but one also risks missing the target because it is such a precise operation. In this bill, the government focuses on the means of transportation by which the person arrives.

That has nothing to do with anything. The government also focuses on the fact that people arrive in groups of two, three, four or 100. That has nothing to do with anything either. There is no reason to believe that the people who want to cheat the system—for some people do—are more likely to come by boat than by plane or by land. Recent history suggests quite the opposite. More of the Tamils who arrived by boat were accepted than claimants who arrive by plane or by land. What is more, the refugees on board that boat were detained just long enough to verify their identity and threat level, and they have all been released since. Clearly, there is no reason to believe that people arriving by boat are less likely to be legitimate refugees than those who arrive by other means.

Nevertheless, I have to say that arriving by boat makes more of a splash. It is a bit like when a plane crashes. It makes the news because of the tragedy of hundreds of people dying at the same time. But is a plane more dangerous than a car? Any transportation specialist will say it is not. One is more likely to die while travelling in a car than while travelling in a plane.

This is when cheap political marketing and cheap rhetoric are used in an attempt to make us believe that the government is dealing with a problem. Only 2% of refugees arrive in large groups by boat. The government is grandstanding across Canada, putting on a show and telling us that it is tackling the problem of refugee fraud. Why does the government's bill target the 2% of refugee claimants who have one of the highest acceptance rates?

Suppose 98% of the claimants had been dealt with. Then we could look at the remaining 2%. Why target people who arrive by boat? There is no other justification than the fact that it is a hot issue and that when a boat arrives, the Conservatives can tell the media that they are going to deal with the situation.

It is rather crass and I am convinced that no one will be fooled. The minister likes to quote poll results to Quebeckers, but they are not happy when they realize that the government has tried to put one over on them by telling them that the refugees are all terrorists, that they have to be kicked out, and that they will take care of it. Quebeckers realize that it is not true.

Let us examine some of the measures in the bill's whimsical assortment of provisions. First, the bill will create a category of refugees: those who arrive by boat in groups of 2, 50, 100 or more. If more than one arrives by boat, it seems that they are more dangerous than other refugees. This category will be established and these people will be dealt with in a completely arbitrary and discriminatory manner. For example, the government will be able to hold them for 12 months without even determining whether they should be released. For purposes of comparison, the current timeframe is two days.

At the beginning of my presentation, I said that if the government had wanted to make improvements, it would have come to see us. Had the government told us that two days was not enough and that seven were required, we would have listened to what it had to say. Had it said that 14 days were needed, we would have studied the matter. Had it said that 30 days were needed, we would have started wondering, but we would have considered it nonetheless. Now, the minister is telling us that people who are not being accused of anything yet must be kept in prison for 365 days, before the government even determines whether there is cause to do so.

It is shameful. The founding principles of our modern, democratic societies are being attacked. Habeas corpus does not grab the attention of the media. What does that suggest?

At the end of the middle ages, people had had enough of arbitrary justice and tyranny and they decided to develop a concept whereby people could not be imprisoned without cause for an indeterminate or abusive period without having the chance to explain themselves. I am not talking about democracy writ large or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I am talking about a rather basic concept. It is the foundation of our societies governed by the rule of law. We do not detain people indefinitely or abusively without telling them what they are being charged with or without charging them. That is what sets us apart from tyrannies and the middle ages. The bill attacks that foundation. The government is saying, “These people arrive by boat, for some unknown reason, but we are going to keep them in prison for a year before we do anything. Then, every six months we will see whether we can release them.” That is not a very good start.

There is another troubling series of elements in this bill with regard to the same people. They will have to wait five years to apply for permanent residence, and they can only do so if they have been recognized as true refugees. Why? The government wants to crack down on dishonest people who test the system and who are not real refugees. It wants to be tough on them for abusing the system. We will see whether the government is going to make any proposals to that effect. However, what happens to people who are true refugees, who have fled persecution? Why should they be penalized? There is no explaining it. Once they are recognized as refugees, the government could even continue to harass them by verifying whether they still are refugees, which is completely at odds with the very concept of what a refugee is. This concept implies that once a person is recognized as a refugee, they can rebuild their life and not spend it wondering whether they will be sent back to their country of origin.

These people would no longer be able to travel outside Canada. The fact that it would be impossible to obtain permanent residence for five years and therefore impossible to bring one's children to Canada could even have the opposite effect. How does the minister—who is so concerned about the message we are sending to smugglers and people who abuse the system—think these people will react? Does he think people are going to cross the ocean alone even though it is going to take seven years to bring their children to Canada?

In addition to risking his own life, someone who wants to flee persecution will also have to risk the lives of his wife and children. That is what the minister is proposing with this bill. It is completely inappropriate and in the end, we could be faced with bigger boats with more women and children on board, because those who flee persecution will have no other way to keep their families together. Do people see where such an extreme measure will take us?

Lastly, to add insult to injury, the minister is denying these people access to the refugee appeal division, even though he knows that this Parliament deemed that to be a very important aspect of the reform and it was something for which I personally fought long and hard. The fact that his colleague has introduced a bill in this House that attacks the universal nature of the refugee appeal division clearly demonstrates bad faith, especially given that the refugee appeal division—by standardizing decisions and eliminating arbitrary rulings—is just as beneficial for refugees, who can avoid bad, arbitrary decisions, as it is for society. It also allows the minister to appeal bad decisions. Furthermore, it makes it possible to build a body of precedents for refugee claims and ensures a certain predictability that discourages people from testing the system, because they know the outcome is predictable.

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4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Calgary Northeast, AB

Madam Speaker, being an immigrant to this country, I have a lot of interest in this legislation and I listened to the member opposite very carefully.

I understand that quite a few immigrant community organizations have endorsed Bill C-49. I will try to read the names of a few: the Tamil Community Centre; Toronto Community & Culture Centre; the United Macedonian Diaspora (Canada); Taiwanese Canadian Association of Toronto; Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society; l'Association du Canada; Islamic Lebanese centre; World Lebanese Cultural Union; B'nai Brith Canada; Canadian Friends of Ukraine; Young Polish Canadian Professionals Association; Chinese Cultural Association of Greater Toronto; Canadian Confederation of Fujian Associations; Canada First Community Organization; Armenian National Committee of Toronto; Multicultural Helping House Society; Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations; Armenian National Committee of Canada - Western Region; Vancouver Multicultural Society; to name a few.

What does the hon. member e attribute all those immigrant communities lining up in support of this bill?

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4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, I would say that the organizations that represent certain immigrants and support this bill are doing that much as certain non-immigrants would. The Bloc Québécois does not treat immigrants any differently than anyone else. When people come to Quebec and join Quebec society, they are part of the Quebec nation, and they are entitled to their own opinions, like anyone else. Like anyone else, they can be fooled by the government. The government can tell them that there are terrorists, Tamil Eelam members, on the boat. It can say that they must be terrorists. Anyone can be fooled and lied to by the government. Whether we are immigrants or not does not matter. Whether we are immigrants or not, we are against terrorists. I do not know why immigrants would be any less against terrorists than the rest of the population.

The problem is that we have no reason to believe that people who arrive by boat are more likely to be terrorists than those who arrive by air. The problem is that false information is being given to the public, which includes immigrants, who are members of the public like anyone else. The problem is that the government has introduced a bill called the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act. The government is asking people whether they agree with stopping human trafficking. It is asking people whether they are in favour of human trafficking. Immigrants would say the same thing as anyone else; they would say “no”. The problem is that this bill does not tackle human trafficking.

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4:55 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, this bill would allow for the decimation of the regular arrival of two or more people, it could five hundred or two, but it could also impact on, not just refugees but on visitors, on immigrants who are arriving, on students or on business people who are coming in as entrepreneurs. It would have an impact on all foreigners arriving in Canada, whether by boat, by car or by air.

Is that the interpretation that the member has and, if so, does he not think it would have a very negative impact on the reputation of the Canadian immigration system?

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5 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, before answering my NDP colleague's question, I would like to say a couple of things.

First, I just realized that I told my Liberal colleague I was going to express the Bloc Québécois' intention with respect to this bill. I do not think I said we would vote against it. Just to be clear, we will vote against it.

Second, I am a little disappointed because, unlike my Liberal colleague, I did not even get an attempt at a question from the minister. I do not know if I should be flattered or annoyed. We will probably have an opportunity to talk about this again.

As written, the bill has a very broad scope. It is not limited to those submitting genuine applications for refugee status. Does this suggest that the government was in such a hurry to draft the bill that it forgot a few things? Did it do this deliberately to make the bill so unacceptable that the opposition would vote against it? Is this a trap? I do not know.

We have before us a bill that does not deserve our support as parliamentarians. It does not tackle the human trafficking problem. It is easy to give a bill a title saying that it will tackle human trafficking, but if the 36 clauses in the bill have nothing to do with the title, it will not work. Moreover, if most of the clauses do nothing more than suspend individual freedoms and discriminate against certain individuals, the title should actually be “bill to discriminate against refugee claimants arriving by boat”, “bill to suspend certain individual freedoms for certain applicants”, or “bill to circumvent international laws and conventions”.

I would like to read a clause from the bill:

Refugee Travel Document—For the purposes of Article 28 of the Refugee Convention, a designated foreign national [the person discriminated against] whose claim for refugee protection or application for protection is accepted [a refugee under the Geneva convention] is lawfully staying in Canada only if they become a permanent resident [which means waiting five years]...

In other words, instead of dumping clause 28, this bill claims to respect it but then pretends that these people are not residents of Canada. That makes no sense.

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5 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Madam Speaker, there are far too many errors in the member's speech. And while I have a lot of respect for him, I will not be able to answer in just a couple of minutes. However, I will clarify certain points.

What he refers to as a prison is actually a detention centre for immigrants, and anyone can leave in order to exit the country. It is not a prison. Children and people who need to be released can be, by ministerial order. All detentions can be reviewed by Canadian courts.

I would like to remind the member that many liberal democracies, such as Australia, the United States, Great Britain and France, send refugee claimants to detention centres until their applications are reviewed. It is not really a question of a one-year period. A person would generally be held for a year before the IRB reviews their file. However, if the refugee claimant's application is approved before a year is up, they would be released. Based on the new refugee system that we recently passed, this decision would be made within two or three months.

The member exaggerated a lot in his speech. I would like to ask him this question: what policy would he propose to keep these criminal networks from undermining the public's confidence in our immigration system? What is his solution?

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5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, the solution is quite simple, which should please the minister. It is simply Bill C-11, which he introduced in the House last spring, regarding the balanced refugee reform that was passed unanimously with a few amendments that everyone agreed on. It was indeed a balanced reform that gave the minister all the tools needed for action.

If he truly believes that the bill introduced by the Minister of Public Safety is the solution for dealing with illegitimate claimants, why does it only deal with those who arrive by boat? Why does it target only 2% of all refugee claimants, and moreover, those who arrive from countries that have some of the highest acceptance rates in the world? The minister says he needs legislation, but he needs it for the 2% of claimants for whom it is least needed. What is the point?

If the minister truly believed this, he would have introduced something that would target the other 98%, not just the 2% that have the highest acceptance rates.

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5:05 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill. The bill should be called “attack the refugees” and not preventing human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system act. If it was about human smugglers, then there would not be amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to deal with the refugees and immigration portion. There are only a few pages in the act that deals with human smugglers. We prefer to attack the criminals, the traffickers and smugglers and not the victim.

The bill concentrates absolute power in the hands of the minister to decide which refugees will be subjected to draconian measures. With no clear definition on irregular arrivals, it can apply to any group of refugees, immigrants, or visitors.

The bill would also hurt legitimate refugees and those who help them. It would prevent refugees from bringing their spouses and children to Canada for at least 10 years. It would detain women and children that the minister deemed arrived in Canada irregularly for at least a year. It would repeat a shameful chapter of Canadian history by punishing and interning refugees and their children.

I will speak about the impact of detaining children, children who have not committed any crime.

A study was done recently by the United Kingdom. Over 15 months, the U.K. detained 1,300 children. On average that is 1,000 per year. There were 889 children detained for more than 28 days.

The report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and the Royal College of Psychiatrists found many elements. It found that detaining children was harmful to their mental health and that they were filled with terror. It found that children who saw their parents cry and in stress led to eating, sleeping, and learning problems. Of the children studied, 73% of those who were detained had emotional and behavioural problems. They were disoriented, depressed, anxious, confused and frightened. They had nightmares and some refused to feed themselves. A few of the children lost 10% of their body weight and one-quarter of them began bed-wetting. There was a regression of language. One child out of twenty-five became selectively mute. Many of the children had somatic symptoms like headaches and stomach pains.

This kind of treatment, putting children in jail and in detention, is callous and cruel. The U.K. did a review and the new Conservative coalition government said that it was a moral outrage that children were detained.

Canada detains six to seven children per night. If this bill passes, there would be a dramatic increase because any number of these children and their parents, whether women or men, will be part of the people designated as arriving to Canada in an irregular manner, whatever that means.

Every four weeks a judge in the U.K. has to sign a new authorization to continue to detain a child. This bill says that a child arriving on the shores of Canada, irregularly, will be detained for at least a year and then there will be a hearing every six months. A child could be detained for at least 12 months if not more.

Seeking a release after a year would have no appeal process, which would bring it to the courts. The government would not be bound by the court. I always thought Canada had a rule of law and that we should not do things in an arbitrary manner. The bill would do that.

Canada has some dark history. I previously talked about the boat, the S.S. St. Louis, that came to Canada in the late 1930s after going to the U.S. The boat arrived at Halifax harbour carrying 900 Jewish refugees who were seeking sanctuary. Tragically, because of racism, xenophobia, hatred and anti-Semitism, these refugees were sent away. Two hundred and fifty of them were murdered in the Holocaust after returning to Europe. The refugee law at that time was unjust, cruel and mean-spirited and it led to death. We have always said that never again would we practice the policy of none is too many. We have always said that we will not repeat history.

The bill would allow a boat such as the S.S. St. Louis to dock in Canada. However, those people, whether they are men, women or children, would be detained for at least a year. We may tell some of them that they are genuine refugees and they will be allowed to stay, but they will not be allowed to apply for permanent residence and therefore will not be able to sponsor their children or spouses to come to Canada for at least five years.

What would happen if the people on the S.S. St. Louis were accepted after a few years? They would have to wait for five years and then apply for permanent residence and bring their children over. However, because of the huge backlog, they will have to wait three to four years to bring their children over, no matter whether their children are coming from a refugee camp or another country and facing persecution. A person deemed to be a genuine refugee would have to wait at least nine years to bring a son, daughter, spouse to Canada. How many people would survive in a refugee camp, especially a child, for nine years?

Therefore, we are talking about punishing and attacking refugees, and not just those who arrive on Canada's shores. We are also talking about their relatives who are stuck back home. We are telling them that they either do not come to Canada, or if they do, they have to kiss goodbye their kids or their spouse for at least nine or ten years. They might never see them again.

What kind of law is this? It is not about dealing with smugglers. It is about attacking the refugee claimants. What is happening with these refugees. They will be victimized three times: first, by the persecutors, whoever is hunting them down; second, by the smugglers; and finally, by Canada. It also will incur huge costs. It costs at least $80,000 to $90,000 per person we detain or jail in Canada. We should think of the cost that it will incur to Canadian taxpayers.

Many of them could easily work and being paying taxes. Why will we not allow them to do that, while we process their claims and process them quickly? However, that is not what we are doing. We will just detain them.

Very few refugees know about the kind of laws of the countries to which they go. They do not search them out. In fact, studies show nine out of ten of these people do not know the laws of these countries. We know that Australia, for example, has a very punitive law, but it has not stopped the boats from arriving on its shores or deterred people from arriving there.

For months we debated the issue that all refugees coming to the shores of Canada must be treated equally under one set of rules, one law. We dealt with that in Bill C-11. We said that every person must be treated equally under the law. That is our charter. However, this bill would set up two classes of refugees. One would be the designated kind and they would be treated much worse than others who somehow have arrived in Canada.

The detention, as I said earlier, is arbitrary. The minister may on discretionary grounds based on “exceptional circumstances” be able to release a few people, but we know we should not leave things in an arbitrary manner. It should be set in law so it is clear who will be jailed and who will not be.

The law basically says that all who come here in an irregular fashion will be detained for over a year. It also says that they will not have an opportunity to have an independent tribunal to review their case because if the minister decides their identity has not been established, then there would not be any independent tribunal to review their case, which again, in some ways, contrary to the charter and international law.

Why am I talking so much about detention? A few weeks ago, Toronto held a event called Nuit Blanche, which is an art extravaganza. There were a lot of art shows in different parts of town. I went into a gallery that had a big photo exhibit. The photo exhibit also had tapes and recordings of people in detention in the U.K. I have never heard these kinds of stories first hand from the people who have been detained, but the stories are phenomenal, especially from the children and young people, about the kind of suffering. On average in the U.K it is only for a few weeks, yet the kind of trauma they experience is unbelievable. These are the ones who are awaiting deportation. They have already had their cases judged against them.

In the case we are dealing with, we have not even judged against them yet. Many of them could be genuine refugees and yet we are still jailing them, including their kids. Therefore, it is not possible for us to support a bill of this kind.

Another thing about the bill is that if people's refugee claim gets rejected they would not be able to go to the Refugee Appeal Division. We debated the Refugee Appeal Division for about 10 years and we said that all refugees must have the right to be heard in front of an independent tribunal, which we were about to set up, called the Refugee Appeal Division. By eliminating the opportunity to correct errors at the first level, the bill again puts Canada at risk of violating its most fundamental obligation toward refugees, which is not to send them back to their death.

The bill has other elements that are difficult. It would prevent refugees from going outside Canada. For example, if refugees wanted to go to a United Nations war crime convention or testify to a panel dealing with war crimes, they would not be able to do so. I can understand why the minister said that it was important to ensure they do not go back to the place where they claim they are being persecuted. However, this law actually says that they would not be able to leave Canada at all because they would not be able to get a travel document. Again, that is a problem. By detaining refugees for so long, it makes it harder for refugees to integrate into Canadian society and eventually apply for citizenship. We have seen real problems with this. This was tried with the Somali refugees in the 1990s when thousands were denied permanent residence for years.

Let us look at Australia, which is where I know the minister has been. In the last three years, Australia has moved away from a policy of detention and temporary status for refugees. I do not know why we are repeating what it has moved away from.

What is really in front of us are two options. One is to see refugees, newcomers as a burden. Refugee claimants can be seen as burdens or we could care for them. We did that. We saw the St. Louis refugee claimants as burdens. We made a mistake. We sent people to their death. We cared for the Vietnamese boat people, welcomed them and allowed them to stay and they are doing extremely well in Canada. What is it that we plan to do? Do we see refugees as burdens or do we see them as worthy of our care?

I would support the elements in this bill that punish smugglers in a serious manner. Those are elements that we could definitely support because we do not want to be soft on crime, especially for people who are committing crimes against immigrants or refugees, and we need to punish them harshly. However, what we should not do is attack the refugees. We should not attack the victims because this will not assist Canada's reputation or we will just end up repeating a very sad, tragic chapters of Canadian history where we interned people and where we sent people to their death.

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5:25 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Madam Speaker, there are too many misconceptions in that speech for me to respond to at this point but I do have two points to make.

First, the member is factually mistaken when she says that the government of Australia has changed its policy with respect to detention of asylum seekers. In fact, the Australian detention policy, under the Labor government, is far more robust than that which we propose in Bill C-49. In fact, it detains all asylum seekers, regardless of whether they were smuggled to Australia or not, or the means through which they arrived, until their claims are processed. We propose to do no such thing. The Australian practice in that regard, frankly, reflects the standard practice in most other democracies that are signatories to the United Nations convention on refugees.

Having said that, what I found most disturbing and, frankly, demagogic in her speech was to draw a completely specious parallel with the tragic and unjust experience of the rejection of the St. Louis and other second world war Jewish refugees. In that case, Canada had a deliberate policy of none is too many, where we deliberately excluded Jewish immigrants as refugees. We had no refugee resettlement program and no asylum system per se.

Under the regime we propose in Bill C-49, people arriving in those circumstances would be able to enter our waters, disembark and have an asylum claim. Under the new system that we adopted this spring, they would almost certainly have a positive protection decision and be out of detention within a matter of a couple of months. To suggest that we would return people to their deaths is irresponsible and demagogic. Canada--

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5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I regret to interrupt the hon. member but there are two minutes left. I would like to give the hon. member for Trinity--Spadina equal chance to respond.

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5:25 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Madam Speaker, I never actually said that we would turn the boats away. What I said was that if the boats do arrive on our shore, we would detain them for over a year and we would prevent them from sponsoring their kids into Canada. They will stay in Europe and it will be at least eight years before they can get into Canada. God knows what will happen to them by that time.

The Australian Human Rights Commission, an organization created by Parliament, conducted a national inquiry into children in immigration detention and found that the children in Australian immigration detention centres had suffered numerous and repeated breaches of their human rights.

Far from deterring people, depriving refugees of their right to family reunification appears to have caused some people to arrive by boat, as later boats brought their wives and children of refugees in Australia into Australia because they were not able to bring in their families through legal channels. We in fact had more boats showing up in Australia because of those kinds of wrong policies, and certainly we--

Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

I would just like to advise the hon. member that when this debate resumes, she will have seven minutes left in questions and comments.

The House resumed from October 20 consideration of the motion.

Agriculture and Agri-Food
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food concerning the extension to consider Bill C-474.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #107

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from October 20 consideration of the motion.

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

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities concerning the extension of time to consider Bill C-343.

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

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to have the members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Conservative members voting yes.

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

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

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

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Liberal Party of Canada are voting in favour of this motion.

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

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Québécois are voting in favour of this motion.

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

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the members of the NDP are voting in favour of this motion.

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

6:10 p.m.

Independent

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

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

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting yes.

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

Vote #108

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from October 25 consideration of the motion.

The Economy
Private Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 518, under private members' business, in the name of the member for Calgary Centre.

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

Vote #109

The Economy
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from October 25 consideration of the motion.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates concerning the extension of time to consider Bill C-429.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to have the members who voted on the motion to concur in the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities be recorded as having voted on the motion now before the House, with Conservative members voting no.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Liberal Party of Canada will be voting against this motion.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

The members of the Bloc Québécois will be voting in favour of this motion.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the members of the NDP are voting yes.

Government Operations and Estimates
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Independent

Helena Guergis Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will oppose.

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

Vote #110

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion lost.

The House resumed from October 26 consideration of Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability for the Activities of Mining, Oil or Gas in Developing Countries, as reported without amendment from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the motions at report stage of Bill C-300 under private members' business.

The question is on Motion No. 2.

(The House divided on Motion No. 2, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #111

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 2 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 3.

The hon. chief government whip is rising on a point of order.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, if you seek it, I believe you will find unanimous consent to apply the results of the vote just taken to all remaining motions in amendment at the report stage of Bill C-300. This does not include the motion for concurrence of the bill at report stage.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on Motion. No. 3, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #112

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 3 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 4, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #113

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 4 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 5, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #114

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 5 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 6, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #115

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motions Nos. 6 and 8 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 7, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #116

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 7 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 9, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #117

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 9 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 10, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #118

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 10 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 11, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #119

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 11 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 12, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #120

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 12 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 13, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #121

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 13 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 14, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #122

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 14 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 15, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #123

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 15 defeated.

(The House divided on Motion No. 16, which was negatived on the following division:)

Vote #124

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare Motion No. 16 defeated.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

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

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

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

Vote #125

Corporate Accountability of Mining, Oil and Gas Corporations in Developing Countries Act
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion lost.

It being 6:43 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There being no motions at report stage the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak this evening to Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.

The horrific events of the Holocaust are a stark testament to what can happen when humanity and fundamental basic rights are discarded. This monument will serve as a symbol of Canadian value and diversity as much as it will be a memorial for the millions of victims and families destroyed. This monument will be a testament to the Canadian commitment and resolve never to forget, and always to stand up against such atrocities.

In addition to supporting the establishment of a national Holocaust monument in the nation's capital as proposed in Bill C-442, the government also undertakes other efforts to ensure that Canadians remember the Holocaust. These initiatives are very important, especially in light of new forces of anti-Semitism.

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah in Hebrew, resulted in the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during the second world war. With 40,000 Holocaust survivors settling in Canada after the war, our country has the third-largest population of these survivors in the world.

Our country's Prime Minister, when he visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in the spring of 2008, commented that, on the one hand, he was deeply moved by the suffering of the innocents who died, but that, on the other hand, he felt hope from the spirit and strength of the Jewish people.

Worldwide, there has been an increase in the number of major violent manifestations that are anti-Semitic in nature. This increase is linked to Holocaust denial and questioning the legitimacy of Israel. Similar events are being reported here in Canada, and there currently appears to be less understanding of other cultures and religions.

The government does not tolerate public expressions of anti-Semitism. In support of this sentiment, we have created a fund that provides security-support grants for synagogues, Jewish schools, and other communities that have faced hatred or violence.

I would like to explain some of the actions that our federal government has recently taken to remember the Holocaust and thereby to underscore the importance of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Holocaust Memorial Day, which is also called Yom HaShoah, is determined each year by the Jewish lunar calendar. The Parliament of Canada has formally recognized this annual event through the Holocaust Memorial Day Act, which was adopted with the support of all parties. This Act, which came into force on November 7, 2003, reaffirms our country's commitment to human rights and provides an occasion to focus on the lessons of the Holocaust. I should mention that all provinces and territories also have acts that recognize the Holocaust Memorial Day.

In 2005, Canada co-sponsored a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, which led to the designation of January 27 as the International Day of Commemoration to honour the victims of the Holocaust. This date is the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945. Shortly, we will join in the sixth annual international commemoration of the Holocaust.

In 2009, the Government of Canada became the 27th member of the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. This organization was established in 1998 and is mandated to promote national and international policies and programs in support of furthering understanding of the Holocaust.

One of the requirements for becoming a member of this task force is to complete a project with liaison partners. To fulfill this requirement, Canada co-hosted a conference with B'nai Brith Canada that was held in Toronto this past June. With 200 attendees, including representatives from other countries, this two-day conference focused on Canada's restrictive immigration policy during the second world war, which led to the exclusion of refugees seeking sanctuary.

In February 2009, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, along with 11 other members of the Parliament of Canada, attended the inaugural conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism in London, United Kingdom. This conference was also attended by parliamentarians from 40 countries.

Following this event was the London Declaration on Combating Anti-Semitism, which calls on governments and societies to affirm democratic and human values, promote respect and citizenship, and combat any manifestations of anti-Semitism and discrimination.

The Government of Canada is proud to have provided financial support to the Parliamentary Centre, which, along with the Inter-parliamentary Commission on Combating Anti-Semitism, will be hosting the follow-up conference here in Canada, November 7-9 this year.

In the summer of 2009, Canada was a signatory to the Terezin Declaration, which emerged from the Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference held in the Czech Republic. This declaration speaks to the need to take care of elderly Holocaust survivors to ensure that their last years are filled with dignity, and imposes a moral obligation to pursue the restitution of property and to attend to the needs of survivors.

The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism was commended for his leadership efforts, and the Government of Canada was recognized for its commitment to Holocaust commemoration and education. As follow-up to this conference, Canada was among the 43 countries that signed the new restitution guidelines in June 2010 to deal with some outstanding issues related to property confiscated by the Nazis.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration has also been taking concrete steps that further the recollection of the Holocaust on our own soil. In May 2009, the minister established a Jewish-Canadian advisory committee for historical recognition projects to review projects such as monuments, plaques, and exhibits for the Jewish-Canadian community. That same month, Citizenship and Immigration announced that it would contribute a total of $2.5 million to the Jewish-Canadian community for projects such as monuments, commemorative plaques, and education materials.

To date, of this total amount, $1 million has been contributed to assist in the operation of the National Task Force on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Education, which brings together Canadian experts on the subject to learn from each other and improve co-ordination.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has also contributed $485,000 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the MS St. Louis incident. This will include a memorial, which will be installed at Pier 21 in the Halifax harbour. Renowned architect Daniel Libeskind has been selected by the Canadian Jewish Congress to design the monument. When describing his proposed design, Libeskind stated, “This work of memory will express the importance of eradicating the evils of hatred, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism”.

I should pause at this moment to recount the relatively unknown story of the ship known as the MS St. Louis. On the eve of World War II, this German ocean liner transported 900 Jewish passengers from Germany who were denied entry into Cuba, the U.S.A., and Canada. These individuals were eventually accepted by various European countries and subsequently over 250 lost their lives.

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights will also promote the remembrance of the Holocaust. The museum will include exhibits on the Holocaust, since it serves as an invaluable tool to teach people the extreme consequences of racism and the responsibility of everyone to promote societies based on respect, equality, and understanding.

I would like to turn my attention to Bill C-442. This bill is favoured by various stakeholder associations such as the Canadian Jewish Congress, B'nai Brith Canada, and others. Therefore, I would expect these associations to be extremely interested in participating in the work carried out to achieve the objective of this bill, possibly by providing advice to the national Holocaust monument development council proposed in the bill.

If Bill C-442 were to become law, which I certainly hope will occur, Canada would be one of several countries, including Austria, France, Germany, Sweden, and the United States, that have memorials or monuments to recognize the Holocaust.

It is also important to recognize the support of all parties for this bill. We as members of Parliament, through our support for a national holocaust monument, are taking a stand against hatred of the worst kind and saying to future generations, never again.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious subject and I am glad the member finally turned his attention to Bill C-442. He spent the first part of his 15 minutes talking about initiatives of the country and of the government associated with the Jewish community. I might remind him that it is not the intention of the legislation for him to glory in rewriting history about Liberal initiatives with which he had the opportunity to cut a ribbon to commemorate.

I want to ask him how he feels today, seeing Bill C-442 restored by a decision of the Speaker and by an appeal on a point of order by myself. Did he support the bill in its original form or did he listen to the Prime Minister tell him to change it because he would not put any public moneys, nor public lands to the erection of a monument that he now thinks, or says, or claims is an initiative of his?

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is quite unfortunate that with a bill such as this, an act to establish an national holocaust monument, we cannot put partisan party lines aside and look at the bill for what it is intended to do.

Great organizations like B'nai B'rith have said that not only did Canada fight as one of the allied forces in the second world war, but it has also become home to many survivors of the holocaust. As a victor in this terrible war and as a haven for its victims, it is only fitting that a marker remembering the millions of Jews and other victims of the Nazis be erected on Canadian soil.

We are talking about a national holocaust monument for Canadians to remember. Let us put the politics aside.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment because I was in fact the sponsor of this exact same bill. I introduced Bill C-238 on December 1, 2008.

The bill has now been restored to its original form, a bill which the government will undertake to sponsor, to support, to build in co-operation with communities.

As my colleague said, I do not think any of us needed a litany or a listing of all that has been done for the Jewish community. As a member of that community I follow it closely and I watch carefully.

However, I, too, want to follow up with the member, and it is not a question of politics. I do not understand why he agreed to have his original bill amended in committee the way it was, stripped of its original intention. It really has done a disservice to those of us who are in the House and who want to honour the Jewish community and those who survived and perished in the holocaust.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I agreed to some administrative changes to the bill. Some of those changes were brought forward in committee. Some were included in the bill and others did not make it into the bill.

Parliament needs to focus on the bill itself, which reminds Canadians of the horrors of the holocaust. I also believe it is a beacon of light to all Canadians and even new Canadians, people who come to Canada. They will see the tolerance we have for other people across Canada, the belief and our respect for fellow human beings. I believe this monument will be a beacon of light for that.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

7 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-442. Like every other member of the House, in the spring I stood in my place and I voted in favour of Bill C-442, which was a virtual carbon copy of Bill C-238 presented by my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre. That bill tried to do something on behalf of all Canadians, irrespective of background, religious background, ethnic origin, any other kind of national racial origin. Why? Because every member in this place was taken seriously by the significance of the Holocaust, what it meant in human history and the importance of recognizing the tragedy that could visit humankind when evil went unstopped.

It was as well a unanimous expression by members of the House of Commons of Canada to commemorate the suffering of those survivors still resident in Canada. There was no expression of political gain. There was no expression of partisan one-upmanship. There was indeed a complete and total unanimous expression that Canadians from all parts of the country wanted to have the Government of Canada, on their behalf, locate some land in the national capital region, to put together a consultative group and together design, plan, construct and then subsequently maintain a monument to commemorate the Holocaust and to commemorate the sufferings of those who had survived, and to do it all with funds available to the Government of Canada or, in other words, with the contributions of every man, woman and child, every taxpayer in Canada. Every citizen needed to be a part of that project.

It was not a project designed for the Jewish community to commemorate its suffering. It was a project intended to be an expression of the Canadian view of all that was required to fight back evil no matter where it existed and then to celebrate those hardy people who survived it. We used as an example the Jewish community, but we wanted to make it universal.

There is no gain, no political agenda in that. In fact, some would say we did not need to debate this. We just needed to do it. There was not one dissenting voice, not one from any community. Think about the value and the merit of that exercise. Not a single community in Canada said that we should not do this or maybe we should adjust it. They were all one with the intent, an intent that had been introduced, as I said, by my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre and from her and my other colleague in a previous Parliament, the member for Thornhill, Ms. Susan Kadis, then known as Bill C-547. However, the government wanted to make it its bill and so we said that was not a problem, that we wanted to co-operate

What did the government do with the unanimity that was expressed in the House? We went to committee and the government produced an amendment for every clause of the bill.

If the member opposite, the sponsor of the bill, felt offended that I made a remark that he did not like, it is because I asked him in committee if the Prime Minister of Canada agreed with his bill. I asked him if his cabinet agreed with his bill and if it was voting against the wishes of the House. That would have been untrue because everybody in the House voted in favour. He said that the cabinet and the Prime Minister all agreed with his bill. Why would he amend it? The only thing that was left in the bill was the title.

The Conservatives introduced amendments that took away the concept of public lands, at public expense, to be funded by the Government of Canada through a plan, design and construction process that would be at the cost of the Government of Canada and then to maintain it in the national capital region.

Instead, the Conservatives said that the legislative authority of the minister would be devolved to the advisory council that was going to be established. They would ask it to raise the funds, because they were the only ones interested in this project, to go out into the community and ask people to give them money. With that money, they would build this monument, then buy the land and locate the monument here. Whatever expenses would be incurred and, in the end, whatever money was left over would be given to the National Capital Commission.

What is wrong with that? What is wrong is it reversed every intent and every indication that the House of Commons of Canada unanimously accepted.

I challenged those in committee. Then that challenge was unable to pass because government members challenged their chair. Then I asked the Speaker if these amendments were in order. Last week the Speaker ruled that those amendments were not in order and ordered that the original bill be presented. That is what we are talking about today.

We are talking about a restoration of what Canadians, through their members of Parliament, agreed to unanimously in the spring. What is being restored today is the bill that was presented initially by my colleague, Susan Kadis from Thornhill, and recently by my colleague from Winnipeg South Centre.

I was offended that the government member would start off with one of these spins about how the Conservatives deserve credit.

This is a non-partisan issue. Today we should be glorying in the fact that the Government of Canada is going to respect the unanimous wishes of the House of Commons and plan, design and build a monument to the Holocaust and the Holocaust survivors right in the national capital region.

We went so far as to write a letter to the minister responsible in the middle of May asking him to withdraw all of those amendments. Why? The Government of Canada did not need this legislation to do what we are discussing today. It did not need Bill C-442 to build a monument in the national capital region. That is already within the purview, the authority, of the National Capital Commission. It already has the funds for this.

If there is one regret in all of this it is that the Government of Canada had to ask the representatives of the people in the House of Commons to compel it first by unanimous decision of a vote of a bill and then to have the Speaker of the House withdraw, or cause to be withdrawn, all the amendments that would have gutted the bill. To do what? To do what the minister could have very simply done. He could have gone to the National Capital Commission and told it to get this done, erect this monument, the money was there and put it in the national capital region.

The people of Canada want this, demand it and they should get no less. There are 16 other such monuments already in the national capital region and they did not require legislation like this. The Jewish community, the Canadian public deserve no less.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, my comments will perhaps be a bit less partisan than the comments of my Liberal colleague. That is his right. I sense a lot of frustration over the fact that this bill could have the same content as some bills previously introduced by Liberal members. That is not what my comments are about.

The bill before us would establish a monument in Ottawa to honour the victims and Canadian survivors of the Holocaust. I repeat, my Liberal colleague had every right to say what he wanted to. He did not use unparliamentary language, but I think that we must remember that we are talking about a monument to illustrate the horrors of the Holocaust, the horrors that Jewish people were subjected to, simply because they were Jewish. There is no room for partisanship here. I hope that this bill will receive the support of all parties.

I am sure my introduction made this clear, but I will state that the Bloc Québécois will be in favour of Bill C-442, which would establish a monument to honour the victims of the Holocaust.

As I said earlier, the Holocaust is one of the most horrific crimes of the 20th century. We have a black mark on our record—a real black eye, in the popular expression—meaning that we are not proud as a society to have known about the horrors of the Holocaust, even though we had nothing to do with their occurrence. While we believe that we must commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, we also believe that we must continue the fight against anti-Semitism and all other forms of hate speech and discrimination.

We in the Bloc Québécois have already taken action. I will probably not have enough time to come back to Bill C-384, which was introduced and studied by the Bloc Québécois, that would have made it a criminal offence to commit an act of mischief that targets certain institutions frequented by a given community. Do not forget that in west Montreal there have already been fires in book stores, libraries and schools frequented by Jewish people. We think it is completely wrong and unacceptable, which is why the Bloc Québécois introduced Bill C-384. I will talk about this bill again if I have time.

Anti-Semitism and all other forms of hate speech are contrary to the values of Quebec and Canada. The Bloc Québécois has always acted to secure social peace and ensure a public space without hatred, discrimination or violence. That fight is crucial for any society that claims to be democratic.

When we think of the Holocaust, the first images that come to mind are images of horror. Each of us here and each person watching remembers them well, no matter what our age, because we have seen the audiovisual documents that illustrate the horror of the camps. These barbaric acts shocked the entire world. And out of that shock came the vow, “Never again!”

Faced with the political and economic crisis that hit Germany after World War I, the National Socialist Party singled out the Jews and blamed them for all of Germany's troubles. Jews became scapegoats, and the worst lies were fabricated about them.

The first step in the long process toward the Holocaust was the discriminatory legislation that targeted German citizens of the Jewish faith. They were identified as such by law. They were forced to sell their businesses. They were herded into buildings. They were forced to wear a yellow star in order to be easily recognized. The yellow star was a badge of shame. The goal was to chase the Jews out of Germany by any means possible, including by prohibiting Jews from holding more and more jobs.

When Germany annexed other countries, more Jews fell under the Nazi regime. At the height of the Nazi bloodshed, Europe's Jews were sent to concentration camps and then to extermination camps. It is estimated that about three-quarters of Europe's Jews, or approximately 40% of the world's Jewish diaspora, were massacred by the Nazis.

In terms of numbers, as my colleagues know, an estimated 6 million Jews died under the Nazi regime. The Holocaust was the first mass murder characterized by its industrial scale and its bureaucracy. Like a machine, the Nazis sought the systematic elimination of an entire people just because it existed. It was neither a political nor a military threat. The only crime committed by Jews in Nazi Germany was existing.

This mass murder was carried out by Hitler's regime and several Third Reich bureaucrats, as well as by numerous collaborators, including individuals and states. In addition to Jews, the Nazis massacred countless gypsies, homosexuals, people with disabilities and members of Slavic communities, including Poles and Soviets. We have to remember them too.

In the aftermath of the war and in light of the horror of the crimes committed by the German state, governments around the world agreed to add crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity to existing war crimes in international law. As a result, international law included two new concepts arising directly from the barbaric treatment of the Jews: genocide and crimes against humanity.

Bill C-442, which the Bloc Québécois will support, would erect a monument to remind us of that crime. This is a reminder to us all of humanity at its worst, a reminder that we must never allow this to happen again.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I stand before the House today in support of Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.

On the one hand, the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazis are despicable and truly leave an empty, gut-wrenching feeling inside of me. On the other hand, ensuring that an open dialogue surrounding the Holocaust and other campaigns of genocide continues on an ongoing basis is integral for protecting current and future generations from similar plights.

Therefore, although discussions surround large scale atrocities, such as the Holocaust, can often be difficult to broach, raising awareness through open dialogue on the subject is certainly one of the most appropriate approaches for ensuring that similar campaigns of genocide and human rights abuses are not tolerated by members of the international community.

Currently, Canada's national capital region lacks a public monument to honour the victims and Canadian survivors of the Holocaust. It is my belief that the establishment of such a memorial is long overdue. Other cities across Canada and around the world which already have such a monument include Toronto, Montreal, Washington, Berlin, Paris, Boston, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Just this past summer, I joined other parliamentarians in Israel, thanks to the Canada-Israel committee, and I had the honour of visiting the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial located in the heart of Jerusalem. This humbling experience evoked many emotions within me and, upon returning to Canada, it became clear to me that it was high time that the national capital region had a similar installation designed to honour and commemorate the millions of victims, as well as the survivors, of the Holocaust.

Hitler's vile plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe led to the murder of six million men, women and children. In addition to the atrocities committed against the Jews of Europe, the Nazis also sought to eradicate vulnerable groups, such as disabled persons, the Roma and homosexuals, in their revolting systematic campaign of evil.

Many Canadians are familiar with the stories of the atrocities committed against these minority groups during this dark period in world history. From Anne Frank to Eli Wiesel, brutal personal accounts of misery and suffering shed light on the widespread carnage and mayhem perpetrated on an unrivalled scale by Hitler's Nazis.

We, as Canadians, must make it our mission to ensure that a genocidal campaign such as the Holocaust is never allowed to occur again. The establishment of a public Holocaust monument in the national capital region would provide a tangible structure demonstrating Canada's intolerance toward hate-filled ideologies and campaigns of genocide, such as the Holocaust.

Pursuant to this, the creation of a public Holocaust monument in the national capital region is necessary for ensuring that the Holocaust continues to have a permanent place in Canada's consciousness and memory. We must resist viewing the Holocaust as a purely historical event as the seeds of hatred that spawned this brutality are still alive and, in some cases, continue to flourish in various regions of the world.

We need to actively work to deter and ultimately eliminate these hateful elements from sprouting up in mainstream political discourse through the refusal to accept these ideological underpinnings as anything other than the racist, anti-Semitic and bigoted positions that they are. More specifically, free and democratic societies, such as Canada, have a moral obligation to strongly condemn ideologies of hatred, anti-Semitism and despotism whenever and wherever they occur.

Canada has a responsibility to honour the memory of Holocaust victims as part of our collective resolve to never forget the atrocities that were committed upon them. The establishment of a Holocaust monument in the nation's capital would greatly assist in creating an environment in which these atrocities will never be forgotten. The establishment of a national monument shall forever remind Canadians of one of the darkest eras of human history and of the dangers of state-sanctioned hatred and anti-Semitism.

The persistence of anti-Semitic attitudes and the dangers of state-sanctioned violence and hatred continue to haunt the international community, with the current conflict in Darfur serving as an example of ethnically targeted violence and genocide.

Not only would such a memorial raise awareness amongst future generations about the Holocaust, but it would also serve as a catalyst that demonstrates Canada's refusal to let a future conflict escalate into the type of genocidal campaign that the Holocaust can accurately be described as.

Therefore, the erection of a Holocaust memorial will serve a dual purpose of honouring and commemorating the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, while drawing attention to the broader issue of state-sanctioned violence, genocide, anti-Semitism and hate-inspired ideologies that persistently rear their ugly heads. The monument will thus serve as a constant reminder, ensuring that we will not forget.

Next week marks the 30th anniversary of Holocaust Education Week in Canada. What better message can we send to the Canadian public that Parliament considers education an integral component in assisting future generations to fully understand the origins and consequences of the Holocaust than to commit to the erection of a memorial in our nation's capital?

The Holocaust memorial in Ottawa will signify to Canadians and foreign delegates alike that Canada continues to be a stern ally in the battle against religious and ethnically driven persecution and intolerance, both at home and abroad. Therefore, it is my firm belief that a national monument will act as a tool to help future generations learn about the underlying origins of the Holocaust, as well as its consequences, which will consequently assist in preventing future acts of genocide around the world.

This will ensure that the educational component is in place, as teaching future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust will create an environment in which Canadians will continue with their refusal to forget through the 21st century and beyond.

I stand staunchly in support of Bill C-442. First and foremost, the creation of a national Holocaust memorial in the nation's capital will better allow future generations of Canadians to become educated about the causes and consequences of the Holocaust itself. More broadly, the memorial will act as a symbolic gesture indicating Canada's commitment to eradicating state-sanctioned violence backed by hate-filled ideologies that target a specific ethnic or religious minority.

Most important, the erection of such a monument will renew Canada's pledge to never forget. I therefore call on all members of the House to wholeheartedly support this endeavour so that future generations of parliamentarians will be able to stand in the House and commit that Canada will never forget.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I consider it an honour to speak to Bill C-442, An Act to establish a National Holocaust Monument.

This is a long overdue bill. It was introduced by my Conservative colleague, the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, and I strongly support this new initiative to recognize the Holocaust.

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities considered this bill and reported it to the House of Commons on June 3 of this year with a number of clarifying amendments.

Last week, unfortunately the member for Eglinton—Lawrence raised a point of order in the House that sought the Speaker's ruling on the admissibility of three amendments that had been presented to the committee. These same amendments had been ruled inadmissible by the chair but then overturned by a majority vote of committee members.

I note that in fact it was a strong majority of the committee that actually supported these amendments. The government was joined by some of the other opposition members as well.

The amendments in question provided additional clarity to the bill. They empowered the National Holocaust Monument Development Council to form a legal entity if directed to do so by the responsible minister. It also clarified that a fundraising campaign would support all costs associated with the monument and it authorized the minister to delegate certain responsibilities to the council under this bill.

Earlier this week, the Speaker ruled that these amendments should be removed from the bill. The government respects the decision of the Speaker, as we always do, with respect to the admissibility of the three disputed amendments to Bill C-442.

It is worth noting that the government's intention in presenting motions to amend Bill C-442 was to elaborate and clarify the means by which this very worthwhile initiative would be carried out. More specifically, the amendments at committee stage sought to provide greater transparency and accountability in the establishment of a national Holocaust monument.

They were also intended to ensure that the bill would be in line with the roles, the responsibilities and the policies of the minister responsible for the National Capital Commission, and also the commission itself. Those were the technical amendments that were made.

I want to speak from the heart. This important bill reflects Canada's long-standing values of freedom, democracy, the defence of human rights at home and abroad, and the defence of the rule of law.

My wife and I have taken it upon ourselves to educate our children about the Holocaust, about what happens when evil is allowed to flourish, especially when good people do nothing.

We have also taught our children the importance of never forgetting the millions of Jews and others who perished at the hands of the Nazis. Without understanding and firmly resolving to remember the lessons of our history, we are doomed to repeat the horrific chapters of our past.

Sadly, even Canada's history is stained by the memory of a callous government turning away the MS St. Louis, a ship filled with Jews desperately seeking a safe haven from hatred and bigotry. How many lives could have been saved had Canada done the right thing?

Quite frankly, I still struggle to fully grasp the depravity of the Nazi genocide, but I do understand the Hebrew word “Zachor”, which means to remember. That is why this bill is so important. It ensures that we continue to remember the darkest chapters in mankind's history and vow never to repeat it.

This past summer, my wife and I were able to accompany a number of other members of Parliament, including the member for Sudbury who just spoke, on a visit to Israel. In the “City of Peace”, Jerusalem, we visited Yad Vashem. That is the national Holocaust museum. It is one of the most powerful events I have ever taken part in.

This museum commemorates the millions upon millions of lives that were lost. It exposes the depths to which human depravity can sink. But at the same time it also shows the highest quality that mankind can aspire to. For example, the museum highlighted those who the Jews referred to as the “Righteous Gentiles” or the “Righteous among the Nations”. These were individuals in Europe who at great cost and risk to themselves, sometimes at the cost of their lives, hid and protected Jews who were fleeing for their lives.

That is what we experienced in the museum, the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. What a powerful experience.

I encourage every one of my colleagues in this House to take an opportunity to visit Israel someday and visit specifically that particular museum. It stands as a reminder of what happens when good human beings do nothing to stand in the way of evil.

That is the kind of monument we are addressing today in Bill C-442. This monument is long overdue. I am still puzzled why we as a nation have not dealt with this earlier.

I want to again congratulate my Conservative colleague, the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, for his dedication and hard work in bringing this bill forward. I would also be remiss if I did not acknowledge the work of Bernie Farber and the Canadian Jewish Congress, who in partnership with the Canadian Holocaust memorial project have been spearheading this initiative right here in the heart of our nation's capital. I cannot think of a better place in which to erect this monument than right here within the capital of our country.

Let me wind up by saying this: if this bill receives royal assent, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, who is responsible for the National Capital Act, would diligently carry out the legislated responsibilities regarding this monument that are assigned to him in this bill. At the same time, the minister would certainly rely on the efforts undertaken by the council, along with the expert advice of the National Capital Commission and any approvals required by other applicable laws and regulations.

I would join my colleagues in the Bloc and my colleague from Sudbury in calling for all of the members of this House to support this bill with enthusiasm. This really is something that allows Canada to do its part in never ever forgetting the victims of the Holocaust.

With the expectation that both Houses of Parliament will eventually decide in favour of Bill C-442 and that the bill will receive royal assent, I am confident that our nation's capital will finally be graced with a national Holocaust memorial.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

7:35 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of private member's Bill C-442, which has been tabled by the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, respecting the establishment of a national Holocaust monument in the national capital region. It is a bill in remembrance of Holocaust victims, in remembrance of survivors, in tribute to those who fought so that our values may endure and in order to ensure, as the preamble to the bill puts it, our collective resolve never to forget, so that never again will not just be a matter of rhetoric but a matter of resolve and commitment to act.

May I cite from the bill's preamble which underpinned my support for the bill last year and the support of all parties at that time. I am pleased to see the support of all parties this evening. I quote, “to ensure that the Holocaust continues to have a permanent place in our nation's consciousness and memory...to forever remind Canadians of one of the darkest chapters in human history” to which the member for Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord spoke so eloquently earlier this evening, “ and of the dangers of state-sanctioned hatred and anti-Semitism...and to ensure that future generations learn about the root causes of the Holocaust and its consequences in order to help prevent future acts of genocide”.

This is how the preamble speaks and this framed my support last year. I regret that a series of amendments were subsequently proposed by the government which undermined the bill, its objects and application and which I would not have supported then and would not support now.

I am pleased, therefore, that the Speaker ruled on the point of order raised by my colleague, the member for Eglinton—Lawrence, to the effect that these amendments were indeed out of order, that they were at variance with the objects, purposes and intended effects of the legislation which were indeed supported by all members and by their constituents. I had discussed the bill as it was originally framed with my constituents and that is that to which they tendered their support and which I now continue to support.

At this point I will turn to the bill itself. As I said last year, but this bears reaffirmation, there are things in Jewish history, in human history that are too terrible to be believed but they are not too terrible to have happened; that Oswiecim, Majdanek, Dachau, Treblinka, these are beyond vocabulary. Words may somehow somewhat ease the pain, but they do not dwarf the tragedy. For the Holocaust, as colleagues from all parties have put it in this debate this evening, was uniquely evil in its genocidal singularity, where biology was inescapably destiny, a war against the Jews in which as Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Laureate, Elie Wiesel, put it so well, “not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims”.

As it happens, we meet this evening at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of witness and warning, a moment that is appropriate to the significance of establishing such a national Holocaust monument. We meet in the aftermath of the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg race laws which institutionalized anti-Semitism in law in Germany at the time. We meet in effect of the double entendre of Nuremberg, the Nuremberg of hate, the Nuremberg of jackboots, as well as the Nuremberg of judgments.

On the eve of its 62nd anniversary, the Genocide Convention, which sometimes is spoken of as the “never again convention”, has tragically been violated again and again. In the aftermath of the 70th anniversary of the second world war, in fact, it is sometimes forgotten there were two wars at the time. There was the Nazi war against the allies and there was the Nazi war against the Jews. The Nazi war against the Jews sometimes overtook the Nazi war against the allies where the Germans diverted necessary supplies from the Nazi war against the allies to the war against the Jews.

We meet in the aftermath, and reference has been made to this, of the 70th anniversary of the doomed voyage of the St. Louis known as the voyage of the damned, where those who sought to enter our country Canada and those who sought to enter the United States were turned away, so that those seeking a safe haven were forced back into the inferno that was engulfing Europe.

This came a year after the infamous Evian Conference when nations of the world met to ask themselves what to do about the plight of the Jewish refugees at the time, those still living and wishing to leave.

It ended up that the world was tragically divided into two parts, those countries from which the Jews could not leave or indeed could not live in and those they could not enter, which took us down the road to the Holocaust.

National Holocaust Monument Act
Private Members' Business

7:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I wish to inform the hon. member that he will have four and a half minutes to conclude his remarks the next time the bill is before the House.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 7:44 p.m. this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:44 p.m.)