House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was registry.

Topics

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, as was noted earlier, every province is free to create their own long gun registry. However, in order to eliminate the long gun registry, which is nothing but information, the information itself has to go as well. If Quebec wants to spend millions on an ineffective long gun registry, I suppose that is its right.

I notice that the members opposite never present any real evidence about the registry actually affecting crime rates. My colleague from Fundy Royal made the point that if it were so incontrovertible that the registry worked, then I think people's views on this side might be different. There is not a shred of evidence that it works. We need results on crime control, not pious good intentions.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member talked a lot about tradition in his riding.

In my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac, people participate in a variety of sports. We have farmers and many of them use long guns. Hunting is a way of life. I also have had a chance to visit of number of ranges in my riding where people are taught to respect firearms and to use them safety, not to be scared of them. I think there is a lot of fearmongering that we should be scared. That is one thing that will be taken away. One of the concerns that those people had was that we were intruding on their ability to teach their kids the responsible use of firearms, as well as to hunt and everything else.

Could the member comment on some of that tradition and why people feel so insulted by the existing law?

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know that others do not see the connection between hunting and firearms. To me, it is pretty obvious. If we take away the tool that is needed to hunt, we actually kill hunting.

In terms of the member's comments about safety, there are three shotgun sports not related to hunting. There is trap shooting, skeet shooting and sporting clays. They have been practised for decades around the world and, because of the safe handling that my friend talked about, there has not been one accident in those sports despite the millions and millions of shotgun shells that have been fired. That is a testament to responsible firearm ownership.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:45 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start with some brief comments. The member for Nipissing—Timiskaming said that by passing the bill that is before us we will save $2 billion. I would very much like to understand how he is going to save $2 billion by scrapping the firearms registry. The money has already been spent and it will never come back. It is virtually an insult to tell Canadians they are going to save that much. What is going to be saved is $4 million. Four million dollars a year to save lives; I think that is worth it. Honestly, I think Canadians deserve it. Four million dollars is not too much, even if it saves only a single life. The statistics tell us there has been a significant decline in deaths and attempted murders in spousal violence situations since the firearms registry was established. The registry is working; it is saving lives.

I cannot believe that the Conservatives really want to abolish our firearms registry. The Parliament of Canada should continue to do everything it can to protect the women of this country. It should do everything it can to protect gay people and members of cultural communities. We are all affected by violent people, by acts of aggression, by violence. We have had enough.

We have the tools in front of us that can protect us, that help us and that can save lives. At a cost of $4 million a year, I honestly think it is worth it. The bill to abolish the registry today is a slap in the face to Quebeckers. Quebeckers who want the firearms registry are being told too bad, they will pay twice for the same registry. The Conservatives think that by abolishing it, they will save $2 billion dollars. That makes no sense. Quebeckers are being told tales. They are being told to believe that it is worthwhile to destroy it. But what is really being done is to make Quebeckers pay twice for a firearms registry that cost an arm and a leg, as we know.

I want to hear that Parliament is going to continue to protect people who are disadvantaged, who are hurt, who are attacked, and that it certainly does not want to abolish the firearms registry. I want to keep this registry.

I would like us to remember how the firearms registry came about. My colleague reminded us that Heidi Rathjen was very much involved in the creation of the current registry. On the evening of December 6, 1989, there was a massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal. I was there on the evening of December 6, 1989. Fourteen women were killed when Marc Lépine went to the Université de Montréal with the intention of killing feminists. After firing into the air, he convinced all the men in the classroom to leave. Only the murderer, Lépine, and his victims remained in the classroom.

Nobody wanted to believe that the lives of these people were truly in danger, but today, we do believe it. Of the nine women he shot at in the classroom, he managed to kill six. He then went along the corridor to the cafeteria. He went to another classroom. He managed to kill 14 women in less than 20 minutes. I was there on the evening of December 6. I remember my colleagues' faces, the shock, the sadness, the anger. I remember my many colleagues, Montrealers, women, who made their way to the Polytechnique. I remember the vigil and the questions we were all asking: How? Why? What happened? Fourteen women are dead? Is it true?

Were they dead because one man felt emasculated? Since that day, everywhere in Canada, on December 6, women and all Canadians remember the acts of violence committed against women. We remember the massacre at the Polytechnique in Montreal. We remember Marc Lépine's anti-feminism. Let us remember the reason for the massacre. Marc Lépine wrote on the day of the massacre:

Know that I am committing suicide today...not for economic reasons...but rather for political reasons. I have decided to send feminists, who have done nothing but ruin my life, to their Maker—to the kingdom of the dead.

That event led to the creation of the registry we have today. Since then, there have been other massacres in Montreal. We remember Anastasia De Sousa who died from bullet wounds at Dawson College in downtown Montreal. We remember how shocked people were, and the laws that have since been passed to protect our students against men and women—especially men—who cannot help themselves and who commit acts of extreme violence. Our firearms registry is there to defend those students.

We remember Valery Fabrikant, who killed four professors at Concordia University on August 24, 1992. He was successful in killing the departmental head, Phoivos Ziogas, professors Matthew Douglas and Jaan Saber, and the professor and president of the teachers' union at Concordia University, Michael Hogben, a martyr of the union movement. Mr. Fabrikant killed those people. Why? Because he thought that they had not done enough for him.

Valery Fabrikant believed that he was being wronged by the university structure of Concordia University. He hounded the members of the staff. He tracked the members of faculty. He would stalk people at their homes and at their meetings. He would follow them in the halls and the corridors.

This man turned out to be armed and he turned out to be dangerous. If we had the registry in place at that point, I have no doubt that the police would have realized the risk all of those university professors were in.

He claimed that he was provoked. That was his defence. The man is now in jail and I hope he stays there for a very long time.

A memorial is now in place at the university commemorating that event. I want us to remember the union members who were shot dead by Valery Fabrikant and the fact that the registry may very well have helped.

Today, it is my moral duty to condemn the Harper government for what it intends to do to the firearms registry. Once again—

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please. I remind the member that he may not use the name of other hon. members in his speech.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Philip Toone Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry.

I have a moral obligation to denounce the Conservative government's decisions on the issue of the gun registry. Once again, this government is forcing a bill through without any debate. The Conservative government will surely break the record for the lack of debates in the House. Not only does the Conservative government seek to avoid compromise with the large part of the public that is very concerned, it seems to worry about things that, honestly, many people do not understand.

The government is removing the requirement to register non-restricted firearms. It is also fearmongering. It is clashing with a large part of the public and also with police, who are responsible for ensuring public safety. This government brags about wanting to make people safe and sending criminals to jail, yet they are depriving law enforcement authorities of a valuable tool.

As of September 30, 2011, the Canadian gun registry was used more than 17,000 times each day. In my riding, police in the Gaspé have said that they use the registry every day. Officers in the Sûreté du Québec consult the registry every time they respond to a situation.

Ending the Long-gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I am sorry, but I am going to have to interrupt the member. It being 6 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Infrastructure
Private Members' Business

October 27th, 2011 / 6 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should: (a) recognize that the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure plays a vital role in the creation and protection of jobs, and that infrastructure is a strategic asset that supports vibrant, prosperous and sustainable communities; (b) act immediately to counter the crisis of crumbling infrastructure and the very real risks it poses to the economy, security, and the quality of life of Canadians; (c) develop a legislative framework, with clear targets, to provide sustainable, predictable and long term infrastructure funding agreements with provinces, territories, municipalities, First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities; (d) cooperate with stakeholders to encourage the use of sustainable and innovative infrastructure design models, and to develop sustainable building codes that favour energy and water conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and take into account changing demographics and evolving rural-urban linkages; (e) index the Gas Tax Fund to economic and population growth and increase the existing gas tax transfer by one cent per litre, and consider other alternative funding mechanisms to ensure municipalities, large and small, have the long-term capacity to build and maintain public infrastructure; and (f) acknowledge its exclusive financial responsibility for, and immediately announce its intention to replace, the Champlain Bridge.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important moment for me and I appreciate your taking the time to read the whole motion en français.

It is with great enthusiasm that I present this motion on infrastructure, but let me first set the stage. Infrastructure has been part of our history. The railroad that goes from coast to coast is part of our history and our heritage. It has also been the backbone of our communities and our economy.

Modern Canada has built infrastructure keeping in mind the needs of the changing demographics and the needs for a modern economy. We have built highways. When our rivers were becoming polluted, we rose to the challenge and built water treatment facilities. We have built housing for different communities' needs. We have built schools and community centres. All of that infrastructure is making our communities vibrant and prosperous. It enhances the quality of life of many Canadians. From coast to coast to coast, infrastructure of all kinds helps our communities prosper.

Over the years, the Government of Canada in partnership with the provinces and municipalities has invested to make sure that we have good infrastructure that responds to the needs of different communities.

In the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s we saw the building of much of our modern infrastructure which we continue to use.

I am someone who really likes to go biking. For several years, I have lived in Montreal and enjoyed biking. I have been noticing for a number of years that a lot of infrastructure is aging and is in a bad state. The current level of investment in our aging infrastructure network does not seem to be keeping pace with demand. It is certainly not meeting the demand in terms of highway infrastructure and, more specifically, bridges and overpasses, are being more heavily travelled.

I present this motion thinking of the future, thinking also that we have to change our way of building infrastructure. We must think of the challenges of the 21st century, the challenges presented by our environment and by our different commitments to communities to make sure that we have not only buildings, but also roads that respond to the needs of the community. We have to think also of the way we plan infrastructure to make sure that we have infrastructure that responds to and integrates itself in living environments.

Infrastructure is the foundation that supports our vibrant, prosperous and sustainable communities. Building and maintaining infrastructure play a key role in creating and maintaining jobs. According to a professor from the École des hautes études commerciales in Montreal, infrastructure is a strategic asset that contributes to the Canadian economy.

And yet our infrastructure is collapsing and crumbling. We see this is happening. On September 30, 2006, a section of the Concorde overpass collapsed, taking the lives of five innocent victims and affecting their families and friends. This summer, part of the tunnel above the Ville-Marie highway in Montreal collapsed. Fortunately, there were no victims. In Toronto, a cement block from the Kipling bridge came crashing down on the Gardiner Expressway, in the middle of rush hour. These and many other incidents remind us that the public infrastructure of our cities is in a critical state. And I am not even talking about the infrastructure of our smaller Canadian communities.

According to a Léger Marketing poll conducted in August, nine out of ten people responded that they were worried about using Montreal's highways. Approximately one out of every five drivers avoids certain highways because they do not trust the highway infrastructure.

And what should one make of the lack of drinking water infrastructure in some communities when in 2010, 1,200 boil water warnings were issued in Canada?

Our aging infrastructure will cost us a lot if the Canadian Federation of Municipalities is to be believed. It will cost $123 billion to maintain and restore our decaying highways, bridges, sewers and water treatment systems, not to mention other types of infrastructure. On top of that, an additional $115 billion will be needed to build the infrastructure of tomorrow.

And yet what are we seeing? Over the next three years, a significant portion of the federal infrastructure funding programs will expire. Canadians, however, who use the bridges and overpasses every morning to get to work know all too well that the revitalization work on our infrastructure is just beginning. The tens of thousands of people who drive over the Champlain Bridge every day can attest to that. And just as the federal government's major investments in infrastructure are due to expire—investments that were also supposed to kickstart an economic recovery—another recession is looming in Canada.

Instead of demonstrating foresight and ensuring that the economy is running smoothly, this government is irresponsibly rushing to impose fiscal restraint on Canada. The government is making its departments prepare scenarios for budget cuts of up to 10%. Will cuts be made to federal assistance for infrastructure? Will these budget cuts result in the loss of skilled workers at the Department of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities?

It is in this context that my motion asks the government to recognize that the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure plays a vital role in the creation and protection of jobs, and that infrastructure is a strategic asset that supports vibrant, prosperous and sustainable communities. We are also asking the government to take all necessary action to counter the crisis of crumbling infrastructure and the very real risks it poses to the economy, security and the quality of life of Canadians.

I truly hope that the federal government will be an active partner and work with our provincial, municipal and community partners throughout the country.

I am asking the government to develop a legislative framework, with clear targets, to provide sustainable, predictable and long-term infrastructure funding agreements with provinces, territories, municipalities, First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

In politics, we are not really used to taking the long view. We often only think as far as the next election. This legislative framework, in co-operation with the provinces and communities, would depoliticize infrastructure, an expression that I borrowed from the magazine Les Affaires. Instead of reacting, we should undertake long-term planning so that infrastructure projects will serve all communities that sorely need them.

The infrastructure deficit has built up over the span of 40 years. Agreements will have to be negotiated with our partners to make up for long-standing investment deficits and also to build the roads, bridges, sewers, treatment plants and other infrastructure that will ensure the prosperity, vitality and health of our children's communities and those of generations to come. Clearly, agreements on federal funding for infrastructure will have to extend beyond 2014, when 40% of federal investments will cease.

My motion also calls on the government to show vision and to negotiate building codes with our partners that will result in sustainable infrastructure. Infrastructure renewal could result in a proactive policy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by including, for example, plans for comfortable, affordable, reliable, non-polluting public transit. I am talking about infrastructure that promotes water and energy conservation. These green technologies could become an economic driver and be exported.

This infrastructure has to be funded with ever-smaller budgets. We know that gas tax revenues are going to go down by nearly 60% because of demographic changes and inflation over the next 20 years. I urge the government to consider indexing the gas tax to the changes in our population and increasing the gas tax transfer by one cent a litre in order to secure stable infrastructure funding for the long term. We have to consider alternative funding mechanisms to ensure that the municipalities, small or large, have the long-term capacity to build and maintain public infrastructure.

This motion was put on the order paper before the announcement about replacing the Champlain Bridge. I want to thank the government for answering my call. I would like to reiterate that the Champlain Bridge sees 60 million crossings and facilitates $20 billion in international trade a year. What is the government's plan for public transit infrastructure? How will this be coordinated with the transit in the greater metropolitan area? This is why we need a national public transit strategy, as proposed by the hon. member for Trinity—Spadina?

The reason I have been speaking about the Champlain Bridge and infrastructure in Quebec is because I represent the people of LaSalle—Émard, a riding in the Montreal area, and my constituents, like many Montrealers, are suffering the consequences of the deterioration of our infrastructure. But I realize that public infrastructure is deteriorating all over Canada.

I urge all members of the House to vote in favour of the motion I moved on behalf of the people of LaSalle—Émard and all Canadians. It is time to get to work.

Together, let us build the future.

Infrastructure
Private Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, since taking office, our government has made unprecedented infrastructure investment, such as the $33 billion building Canada fund. We have increased the gas tax and created the economic action plan. If infrastructure work is so important for the NDP, could the hon. member explain why it always seems to oppose our Conservative actions?

She also mentioned indexing the gas tax. Will she first commit to supporting our legislation to make the gas tax fund permanent?

Infrastructure
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the Conservative government is looking into ways to fund infrastructure on a long-term basis. What I said is that we are hoping that this investment will continue, if not increase, until 2014.

Infrastructure
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, some of the most dynamic and wonderful developments that we have seen in the province of Manitoba have been projects like The Forks development, Portage Place, The Wellness Institute, the streets, roads and underpasses, and the highways being developed. This all happens because there is a sense of co-operation among different levels of government. The federal, provincial and municipal governments sit down, recognize there is a need to establish a pool of funds that will take care of infrastructure needs. It is estimated that Manitoba alone requires hundreds of millions of dollars.

To what degree does the member feel that it is the responsibility of the federal government to work hand in hand, not only to provide money but to provide leadership in ensuring that all the stakeholders are brought to the table to develop the vital infrastructure projects that must go forward in order to build communities and, in fact, our nation?

Infrastructure
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for stressing a point that was very important in my presentation and for bringing it forward so eloquently. It is very important that we work as a partnership.

I have often heard here in the House that this is a provincial jurisdiction. We really must work together, since we all represent the same people. I think it is very important to have these partnerships so that we truly understand the needs of our constituents.

Infrastructure
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate and compliment my colleague from LaSalle—Émard for a fantastic speech, outlining something that, for most people, is really boring. They do not think a lot about what happens when they turn on water and the importance of their life being safe while driving down highways.

Would the member underscore the importance of this as a life-saving issue, not just pretty things in a community but actual infrastructure that supports ordinary life and families living in our communities?

Infrastructure
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I love my colleague's passion when he talks about important things. These are basic needs. As I mentioned, we built important infrastructure over the years, but it has been neglected and abandoned. Now, we must identify these basic needs and make sure that our infrastructure is safe, whether we are talking about drinking water or waste water treatment. Words escape me.

Infrastructure
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard for bringing the motion forward. The member for LaSalle—Émard raises an important subject that matters to all Canadians and one that is often taken for granted. I commend the member for raising this issue in her motion.

I believe that all members in this House recognize the importance of infrastructure. It was not so many years ago, in my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla, that the community of Summerland was suffering from a serious water shortage. Water had to be diverted from a local stream to provide water for the residents but this threatened fish habitat. At one point, the mayor of Summerland was facing potential jail time. Not far away, Lake Okanagan was a floating bridge.

In order to comply with the federal Navigable Waters Protection Act, the bridge was required to rise to allow marine traffic passage below. The bridge was well over 50 years old and would fail, causing the bridge deck to get stuck in the up position, causing chaos. Ambulances and other emergency service vehicles could not get by.

Those are just a few examples of the problems created by decades of infrastructure neglect.

Fortunately, our government has taken strong action, which is why I am rising today to speak to the motion.

In budget 2007, it was our government that announced the seven-year $33 billion building Canada plan, the first ever federal long-term plan for infrastructure. In fact, the building Canada plan is the single largest, most sustained federal government commitment to public infrastructure in Canadian history.

It did not end there. In budget 2009, in response to the economic recession, our government announced Canada's economic action plan. Through the economic action plan, our government worked in partnership with the provinces, territories and municipalities to deliver timely, targeted and temporary investments that created jobs and helped boost our economy. In fact, we invested in over 28,000 projects all across Canada and, in many cases, these projects upgraded and rebuilt infrastructure that had suffered from decades of neglect under former governments.

In my home province of British Columbia, we had a B.C. NDP government that promised to build a new bridge to replace that same 50-year-old lifting bridge across Okanagan Lake. However, it did not. Much as it also promised to upgrade Highway 97 and much as the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam told us yesterday, the B.C. NDP did not build the Evergreen Line first proposed in 1993.

What the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam did not mention was that our government, working in partnership with the provincial government, had already made a $600 million commitment to that important project.

Another project in my home province of British Columbia that was not mentioned is the Canada Line transit project from the Vancouver airport in Richmond to downtown Vancouver. The project involved a $450 million investment from the federal government. And, to be clear, the Canada Line is a P3, a public-private partnership. That is why the NDP and CUPE were opposed to the project.

However, today, the Canada Line is a huge success. Average ridership today exceeds 100,000 a people. This is well ahead of all the projections. This infrastructure project has been a huge success and that success has also involved the private sector.

In municipalities across the country, from the southern expansion of Edmonton's light rail transit system, to a wind turbine to provide clean, powerful waste water treatment in Kensington, Prince Edward Island, or, in my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla, the partnership that resulted in the new Okanagan College Centre for Excellence. This building is one of the most environmentally innovative structures of its kind in North America.

The latter examples illustrate how these infrastructure investments are supporting the government's broader goals in relation to energy, water conservation, air quality and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

These are just some of the examples of the $33 billion invested into important infrastructure projects across Canada. In fact, more than one-half of the building Canada plan, more than $17 billion, is going directly to municipalities through the gas tax fund and the goods and services tax rebate. Those funds help build our infrastructure.

As members of the House I am sure are well aware, our government has recently tabled legislation to make the gas tax fund permanent, at $2 billion per year, and the NDP stood in the House and voted against it. This will provide Canadian municipalities with significant, stable, predictable and sustainable funding for their infrastructure priorities. I know from my time as a city counsellor, this is the type of funding that local governments need to carry out major infrastructure projects. This is why we now have 28,000 infrastructure projects all across Canada in which our government has invested. There has not been a government in Canada, for over 30 years, that even comes close to matching what our government has done since 2007.

The government recognizes the vital importance that modern, world-class public infrastructure plays in virtually all aspects of our lives. Ultimately, this is the reason why I am speaking against the motion. We must recognize with all of these 28,000 infrastructure projects, all have occurred without the added expense of more Ottawa-imposed bureaucracy, as would result from what is proposed in Motion No. 270.

Canadians do not want, nor need, more bureaucracy and red tape or legislative frameworks from Ottawa. What Canadians need is action and, more important, results. From coast to coast to coast, the results from the leadership of the government are clear: upgraded water systems; expanded sewer systems; new recreational facilities and walking paths; and in fact much more. From city to city we can see the results from our government's infrastructure program. There are 28,000 projects that speak to the success of the government's economic action plan. I view each one of these projects as cause to speak against this motion.

With regard to the motion's reference to the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, the government has always taken its responsibilities for this important infrastructure asset. In the past few budgets we have invested a total of $380 million in the Champlain Bridge to maintain it and ensure its ongoing safety to the next decade. Then on October 5 this year, the Minister of Transport announced that our government would proceed with building a new bridge across the St. Lawrence River.

I would like to thank my colleagues for taking the time to hear my comments today. I would also like to thank the member for LaSalle—Émard for raising a very important issue. However, I believe this government's record for results and success in creating an unprecedented 28,000 infrastructure projects all across our great country speaks for itself and negates the need for any added Ottawa bureaucracy or administration, as Motion No. 270 contemplates.