House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Oops. Mr. Speaker, I would like to put a question to the hon. member in view of the question that was put to him from the member for Edmonton—Leduc.

The member and his party have spoken of their great support for innovation. It has been proven through empirical studies, one important one done by a group called NESCAUM, an association of eastern United States air monitoring organizations, that the empirically proven best trigger for investment in new clean technologies is regulation.

I would like to ask the member if he thinks that perhaps this budget has failed in that it has not come forward with the regulatory agenda, which will spur the investment, rather than using Canadian taxpayer dollars to subsidize the work of industry?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. I hope I have an opportunity to play that role when they do the movie, the retrospective of the member for Edmonton—Leduc.

The reality is that it is parallel tracks. I think the government has come up short on the regulatory regime, and I think that can help drive the agenda, the research agenda. As well, I think government has to be there to sit down with the industrial partners to try to help make those key investments. They know the markets and the science better.

It is a parallel track with regulation as well as incentives and investment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Thunder Bay—Superior North.

Like all Canadians, northerners were hoping for something new when they sat down to listen to the Speech from the Throne. After all, the government had shut down the distraction of democracy for an extra six weeks so it could come up with some new plans.

But like most Canadians, northerners were disappointed by how little new material was in the throne speech. There is nothing new about corporate giveaways. There is nothing new about employers and employees paying more for EI.

We heard again about the government's northern strategy to build a new north. Northerners have the ideas, but they need the authority and the resources.

We heard again about how a new high Arctic research centre was going to be studied. This even though scientists say they do not need more facilities but do need research funding and an overall plan for Arctic research. They do not need to wait five years for a study.

Northerners heard again how the government is going to defend the boundaries of our Arctic. Oh, if this were only the case.

While the Prime Minister and his Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence are quick to rattle their sabres every time the Russians mention the Arctic, they have been strangely quiet when it comes to U.S. encroachment. The state of Alaska is preparing to take bids for oil and gas leases in our part of the Beaufort Sea.

But there is not a mention from the government, no press conference denouncing this theft of our resources, as the Minister of National Defence is so quick to do every time a Russian bomber takes off on a routine patrol. There has been no protest whatsoever from those great defenders of Arctic sovereignty. While we make tough with the Russians, the United States makes off with our territorial waters.

A cold war in the Arctic is not the only part of the government's northern policy that is stuck in the past. The entire relationship between the federal government and the territories reeks of colonialism.

Unlike the provinces, the territories derive their jurisdictional powers not from the Constitution but from an act of this House.

Unlike the provinces, there are no lieutenant-governors in the territories; rather the head of government is the commissioner, who represents not the Queen but the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Unlike the provinces, the vast riches of the north belong not to northerners but to the government of the mother country, Canada.

The throne speech mentions the transfer of powers and so on. Northerners have heard that line for 40 years, since the Carruthers commission, and are still waiting.

This throne speech laid out the opposite of a transfer of powers. The government laid out its plans to strip northerners of the little control they have over the development of their land. Using the code words “regulatory reform” and trying to link the issue with the excessive amount of time the joint review panel took to deal with the Mackenzie gas project, the government is trying to sell its plans for decreasing the few powers northerners have.

The environmental regulatory system in the Northwest Territories was created through the land claim process with the sole purpose of giving aboriginal governments and northerners some control and input into development on their lands. The government says that allowing local people control over their land is bad for business. Its corporate friends in Calgary, Houston, New York and London want a free hand to do as they wish in the north, and the government is determined to give it to them.

Northerners have seen what happens when big business is allowed to do as it wishes on our land. Big corporations make their money and northerners are stuck with the mess. I am speaking of messes like the arsenic contamination at Giant Mine, radioactive contamination from Echo Bay and Rayrock mines, and contamination left over in the Mackenzie delta following the 1970s oil and gas exploration. Money and resources are gone; pollution is left behind.

After being stuck with this mess too many times, northerners demanded control and input into the development of their home. Now the government, in a cynical fashion, paternalistically, wants to take it away. It will not even listen to the government of the Northwest Territories, which has come out in opposition to the changes the government wants to foist on northerners.

The Conservative government continues the paternalistic policies of the past. Even the amount of debt the territories can take on is not determined by northerners but by cabinet. Every so often, after much pleading and begging from the territorial governments, Ottawa eventually gets around to increasing the borrowing limit. Unfortunately, so much time has passed that these slim increases are of negligible value.

Borrowing limits are perfect examples of the paternalistic, colonial mentality the government and previous governments have had towards the north. When it comes to borrowing, the way municipalities are treated by provincial governments is less paternalistic than the way the territories are treated. In many cases, legislation for borrowing limits is flexible, based either on a percentage of revenue or a percentage of property values.

I want the government to hear this loud and clear. It is time to change how borrowing limits are determined for the territories, and if the government will not introduce the necessary amendments to the Northwest Territories Act, then I will. The result of these paternalistic borrowing controls is that the territories are not able to marshal the funds to support the developments northerners want. Our recent hydroelectric development is just the finest example of that.

Here is another example of how Ottawa does not care about what the people of the north want. Northerners have been calling for the completion of the Mackenzie Highway for decades. Ottawa says only it can build new highways, something that may change in the future, but right now we have more interest than ever in this, along with the pipeline. Building the road first would be a good idea.

What did the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development announce the other day? He announced that his new CanNor agency will fund a further three-year pre-feasibility study on the Mackenzie Highway. Pre-feasibility study? Our government of the Northwest Territories, today, is investing in permanent bridges on the route. We need the environmental assessment done. We need to get this project shovel-ready. We do not need to study it. The government sees the north as its little colony, not grown up enough to have real control over its affairs, easy enough to put off with empty promises and pre-feasibility studies.

In a different vein, on December 14, 1960, the United Nations passed a declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and people, which declared:

All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

The UN declaration goes on:

Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.

The paternalistic attitude of the federal government toward the north is contrary to this 50-year-old declaration. It is time the federal government took concrete steps to end this colonial treatment of the north.

Northerners are the first to feel the effects of climate change. Northerners use the cold to our advantage. We have developed building techniques that utilize permafrost. The Diavik diamond mine only exists because permafrost technology secures the dike around the mine. In communities like Inuvik, Tuktoyaktuk and Aklavik, all buildings are built on piles frozen into the permafrost.

The government's inaction on climate change threatens the mines, the communities and our way of life in the north. As the climate warms, the permafrost melts and the construction fails. The buildings fall over, the dike at the mine fails and roads will become impassable.

But there is another problem with the government and climate change. It would prefer to support the tar sands rather than support reasonable and prompt action on climate change. The government's support for the tar sands is another example of the government's true attitude toward the north.

In 2008, Environmental Defence found that 11 million litres of oil-polluted water leaches from the tar sands every day. The water of the Athabasca River flows through that part of Alberta and then makes it way north to the Arctic Ocean through the Mackenzie River. This polluted water flows right through my community of Fort Smith as well as every other community on the river system.

Northerners have seen how people living along the Athabasca in northern Alberta are getting sick with cancer, cancers many believe are directly linked to tar sands pollution. Expansion of the tar sands will mean even more pollution. The government does not care if northerners get sick as long as its friends in the oil industry get their money.

Not only was there little new in the speech for northerners, but there was little good. The speech shows the government's attitudes towards the north. It shows it does not listen to northerners, and it shows the government only sees the north for what it can take from it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the north might want to comment on cuts to the north: the Aboriginal Healing Foundation being cancelled, the food mail program being cut back, or the health sustainability fund only being increased for two years, after the northern governments said they wanted another five-year extension.

Does the member agree with me that the present government has paid less attention to the international forum on the north by sending lower-level officials? It is not always the minister who goes anymore; sometimes we are not represented at all. Last week there was a meeting of arctic parliamentarians, and of the 145 Conservative MPs, not a single one attended. So Canada's place in the international forum on the north is diminished by the inattention and level of officials being sent. I wonder if the member agrees with me.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague, but the issue is really somewhat different than that. The government started off on the track, especially the Prime Minister, of increasing the militarization aspect of the north, picking on Russia as the target and leaving behind the international co-operation and diplomacy that is required to make progress in Arctic issues, whether they be climate change or sovereign borders, all the things left behind.

The government focused on making an impact on the enemy, Russia. That was completely wrong. I hope it is changing. I hope it comes to the realization that we will be engaged in Arctic diplomacy for a very long time and that will be the rule of the day in the Arctic.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member and I have talked in the past about the airlines in the north. The fact is the government tends to support the larger airlines basically at the expense of the smaller northern airlines, which add a lot of value to the north. For example, regional carriers like Air North and others in Yukon have their flight centres there and flight attendants live there. There is a lot of value added when people book with those airlines.

Could he give us an update as to the financial state of the northern airlines vis-à-vis their southern counterparts?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, yes, deregulation changed some aspects of things in a positive way for large cities in southern Canada, but for remote regions of the country, it put an incredible burden on air travel, which is a key element of northern life. By allowing companies like WestJet and Air Canada to cherry-pick the best northern routes puts the northern carriers at tremendous disadvantage.

Northern carriers are trying to provide service to little communities, trying to keep the network of aviation intact across the north and the big carriers are cherry-picking the best routes. This is the problem. If this continues to happen, we will see the deterioration of air services to small communities. The cost of getting in and out of those communities will go up and guess who will be pay most of that bill? It will be governments of the Northwest Territories and the federal government, which means taxpayers will pay the bill.

When we look at northern travel, we cannot look at it in the same way we look at travel between Toronto and Montreal. A different kind of approach is required.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to reply to the Speech from the Throne. This year's address comes at a critical time for all Canadians. Canadians will continue to face tough economic and social challenges. We are experiencing a crisis in pensions. We have families struggling under record levels of debt. We have high youth unemployment. We have major environmental problems and stagnant economic productivity, and more than ever, leadership is needed to face these challenges.

Recently I held town hall meetings across my riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North, in Greenstone, in Terrace Bay, in Marathon. People are looking to the government to show leadership on job creation. They want a fairer employment insurance system. Our forest industry needs support. They are worried about their pensions. They want fair taxation and good fiscal management. They want to see proper environmental stewardship so future generations have clean air, clean water and a healthy planet. Regrettably, the government's agenda only provides lip service to most of these things and omits others completely.

I am disappointed to see that it contains so little of what the communities of northwestern Ontario want. It gives scant support to the 1.6 million Canadians out of work, half of whom are now running out of employment insurance. The throne speech reveals a government that is devoid of new ideas. It is hard to believe that the Conservatives really needed to prorogue Parliament to reset their agenda when there is virtually nothing new in it.

One of the principal duties of any throne speech and any budget is to ensure the prosperity of Canadians. There is one sure fire way to do this when unemployment is high, and that is focus first and foremost on job creation so all Canadians can benefit from any economic recovery.

There has been a lot of talk about a jobless recovery lately. What use is an economic recovery if it is jobless and Canadians are left out of work? Unfortunately, while the throne speech and budget talked a lot about job creation, there was precious little of real substance for it. There is no doubt some of the jobs lost in the last few years, good jobs, are gone for good, but that does not mean we cannot do more to retain those that remain and invest in the green jobs of tomorrow. One key way to do that is to is targeted incentives and investments rather than unnecessary and excessive tax cuts for big businesses.

The forestry sector is a prime example of an industry crying out for targeted stimulus. Years of neglect from the federal government has laid the whole sector low. The government has only paid lip service to this as well, with a paltry $25 million a year over four years to help it with power generation. It is not what they need. This is far short of what is needed and what the industry has called for. At minimum, the government should be aggressively negotiating an end to the U.S. black liquor subsidy, or matching it so our producers can compete in those markets. Better still would be a long-term growth strategy for the forestry sector with the funding to back it up.

Employment insurance is another area that would pay off in spades for Canadians and the economy if action were taken to fix the system. According to the government's own figures, for every dollar that is invested in EI, $1.70 is sparked in economic activity. Why is so little being done to fix EI? This is so far ignoring the main provisions of the NDP motion passed last year in this very House to make EI eligibility fairer and end the two week waiting period. As a result, most of the unemployed in northern Ontario still do not qualify for the EI that they paid for. Much worse, the government is hiking EI premiums after this year up to the maximum allowed under the law until 2015. This is just another tax on work by another name, right when we need it least. This will take $19 billion right out of the pockets of workers and—

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but he knows that at 2 o'clock I have to proceed with other items. He will have five and a half plus minutes for the conclusion of his remarks when debate is resumed on this matter after routine proceedings.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is a special day for me. I have invited the mayors from my riding to join us and more than 30 of them are here today.

This invitation is very symbolic because, to me, it represents our raison d'être in the House: to inform and instruct all the electors in our ridings on what is behind the decisions and directions that we take in the running of our country.

Most of the mayors in my riding who are here have been able to count on my government for their infrastructure projects in their respective areas, including the largest town in my riding, Rivière-du-Loup, which, in just over 100 days, has launched, together with the provincial and municipal levels of government, projects worth more than $25 million as part of Canada's economic action plan.

I am the new Conservative member for a riding that spent 16 years in the hands of the opposition. The electors of my riding made a very wise choice in voting for a man who truly defends their interests and not for a political option that is impossible to achieve in Ottawa.

The electors in my riding have chosen a party that is making a difference for them.

World Water Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, today marks World Water Day. There are 1.4 billion people in the world who do not have access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people who do not have access to basic sanitation. The lack of access to these basic requirements of healthy living is the world's most horrific and least reported humanitarian disaster.

The lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation is the world's single largest cause of sickness. People suffering from preventable water and sanitation related diseases occupy more than half of all the hospital beds in the developing world at any given time. Each year, an astounding 1.5 million children die from diarrheal diseases caused by dirty drinking water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene promotion.

Canada has an opportunity to be a real leader internationally on global health issues by investing an initial commitment of $10 million to $15 million in the Global Sanitation Fund, a multilateral fund that supports community-driven sanitation and handwashing programs in the poorest communities around the world.

Immediate action must be taken to address this growing global crisis. We cannot sit on this issue any longer.

2014 World Congress of Acadians
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, preparations are going well for the 2014 Congrès mondial acadien, to be held in the region known as l'Acadie des Terres et Forêts. This region is comprised of three areas: the Témiscouata RCM, in my riding, northwestern New Brunswick and northern Maine.

These three areas will be hosting Acadians from all over the world during the congress, which will be held from August 8 to 24, 2014. The official opening will be held in northwestern New Brunswick; the August 15 holiday and tintamarre celebrations will take place in northern Maine; and the closing ceremonies will be held in Témiscouata, Quebec.

For the people of Témiscouata, hosting this event definitely gives them international exposure. In addition, this vast project gives us the rare but welcome opportunity to work with our neighbours from New Brunswick and Maine on something that unifies us all.

I speak for all my Bloc Québécois colleagues in congratulating the members of the organizing committee for the 2014 Congrès mondial acadien and wishing them the best of luck in their endeavours.

Homelessness
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games just ended and there is a new movement that is calling Canadians to take the incredible spirit shown in support of the games and assume a new challenge.

“Two Worlds - Share the Gold” was launched at First United Church Mission, in Vancouver. It calls for harnessing the same talents, the same enthusiasm, the same resources that went into hosting the games and directing them to ending homelessness as it relates to poverty, emotional trauma, addiction and mental health.

I was honoured to participate in the launch, which brought together supporters and opponents of the Olympics to make a joint call for this new commitment. Just as significant financial resources, the political will of all three levels of government and the efforts of thousands of volunteers came to be focused on putting on the games, Share the Gold organizers are challenging political, community and business leaders to organize to address the Olympian challenge of homelessness.

Ending homelessness now, now demands our attention. Let us rise to the challenge and share the gold.

Firearms Registry
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the government on its decision to extend the amnesty for long gun registration. My riding is home to many people who use the outdoors, including first nation communities and fish and wildlife conservation groups.

One of these groups, Courtenay Fish and Game, has the largest member in Canada. I have met many of these people. These are people who believe in this land. These are people who believe in law and order and doing the right thing. These are people who believe in resource stewardship.

At the same time, most of them believe that the long gun registry targets them unfairly. They are not criminals. Targeting them is not a solution to big city gang violence. Instead, they want the government to continue its focus on effective gun control and criminal use of firearms.

Gateway Theatre Guild
Statements By Members

March 22nd, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the Gateway Theatre Guild, who took top honours at the Quonta Drama Festival this past weekend in North Bay for their production of Waiting for Godot. Community theatre groups from across northeastern Ontario had the opportunity to showcase their work and win a spot to compete at the Theatre Ontario Festival in London this May.

Director Paul Tessier and assistant director Leslie Stamp picked up the outstanding production award for their work. Also receiving honours from the cast and crew were: Mark Carins, Marlene Campsall, Kristin Shepherd and MacKenzie Willis. The Gateway Theatre Guild began in North Bay in 1948 and more than 60 years later they are still going strong.

On behalf of the people of Nipissing—Timiskaming and the House, I would like to congratulate the Gateway Theatre Guild on their recent success and wish the cast and crew of Waiting for Godot the best of luck in London in May.

Break a leg.