House of Commons Hansard #66 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague asked a question with regard to why we need to move this forward now. This has been an ongoing process. The member can appreciate that over the last three and a half years, there has been a number of efforts to bring forward this legislation to bring fairness for constituents across this country.

The member talked about her home province of Ontario. For the same reasons that I want to bring fairer representation to the province of Alberta, she should support bringing fairer representation to the province of Ontario. I am looking at this list of the census populations of the nine most-populated ridings in the country. Other than mine, the rest are Ontario ridings. If the member believes in bringing fairer representation for her province, she will work with our government to pass this bill expeditiously so that we can actually see these seat changes by the next election.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been following the debate quite intently with interest.

As a proud Ontario MP, I canvassed my constituents and other people in the city of Toronto, and they do not see the need for us to add more seats to this House at this particular time.

Redistribution has happened on an automatic basis every 10 years. I would suggest that the Liberal plan makes more sense and would not have the cost impact that the proposed legislation would have.

I find it really interesting that we have lots of quotes from the current Prime Minister saying some years ago that we should be reducing the number of people sitting in the House, that there is no need for more seats. What could possibly have happened that would suddenly change the current government's position, other than the fact that it is looking for more seats in Ontario? In case it loses a few, it figures it can pick up a few more.

What is the rationale of the Prime Minister and his party completely changing their minds?

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, we as a government continue to listen to Canadians.

I find it interesting that my colleague actually has not heard this concern about the issue of being under-represented in her own constituency. That may be the case. I do not doubt her.

I am sure our colleagues from Brampton West, Oak Ridges—Markham, Vaughan, Halton, Mississauga, Whitby—Oshawa, and Nepean—Carleton have heard these concerns. People in those ridings are in fact under-represented in this House of Commons.

When the member speaks about why the Conservative government has not taken on the Liberal position, it is because we do not believe that provinces should be penalized. We do not believe that everyone should lose. We believe there is a balanced position that could be brought forward in this bill where everybody would get fairer representation without massive losses for some provinces.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Peace River gave an excellent speech. He talked about what effects the bill would have on his own riding and the province of Alberta.

Prior to his speech, there was a speech by the member for Winnipeg Centre. Based on the 2006 census, the riding of Winnipeg Centre has a total of 70,000 people, 55,000 of whom are Canadians over 18 years of age. Could the member explain to me how it is fair that an individual sitting in this House representing 55,000 people compared to the over 100,000 people that he represents? Why is this bill important, that the voices of the member's constituents are heard an equal amount to those of the member for Winnipeg Centre?

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, the member for Winnipeg Centre conceded that this bill does not affect him or his constituents. I am not sure why he would penalize my constituents. Because it is not his priority, he suggests it should not be my priority. However, I am defending the constituents who are currently under-represented in this House. I believe it is a principle of our democracy that there be fairer representation, moving closer to representation by population as much as we possibly can in a system that is fair and does not divide Canadians but brings Canadians closer together. I believe that the bill we have before us is the best mechanism to make that happen.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my colleague from Peace River would entertain the notion that there are geographic subsidies for members of Parliament who have to represent large geographic regions and there is a further subsidy for population if a member has to represent 130,000 constituents rather than 87,000 as is the case in my riding. Would he consider that there should be accommodation based on socio-economic factors?

For instance, 47% of all the families and 52% of all the children in my riding live below the poverty line. Poor people are in a constant state of crisis. They need the representation of their member of Parliament and the offices that we provide. Their children get scooped up by child and family services. They get thrown out of their apartments. Things happen to low-income people.

What is the average family income of the riding that the member represents? Would he consider that we could have raised in the fullness of time, if the Conservatives did not move closure, some of the representation issues associated with socio-economics and poverty?

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's enthusiasm for the debate. Obviously he has taken every opportunity to speak over the last three and a half years on this issue. That is why it is important that we move forward on this and actually get something done.

In terms of the subsidies that members of Parliament get based on the geographical size as well as on the population size of their ridings, it is important that Canadians know that goes to the budget of the member of Parliament. It is actually directed to the member of Parliament to ensure that mail can be sent out to the larger population or, if it is a larger geographical area, that there can be accommodations made for travel expenses in large constituencies. I am not sure why he would like additional money for different arguments. It is actually to help offset the costs of those provisions. Certainly, if he has concerns with regard to his budget he could take it up with the Board of Internal Economy.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, what makes this democratic process so rich is that we have a chance to hear the flights of fancy and fury from the member for Winnipeg Centre and then the logistical minutiae of the operation of an Alberta MP's office. It is all very interesting.

When the member for Peace River began to talk about the actual content of the bill, he talked about fairness, necessity and the challenge. I would put it to the member that fairness is actually built into the proposal by the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville on behalf of the Liberal Party. There would be redistribution to bring that fairness and democracy but without adding the 30 new seats which I am sure the member's constituents in Alberta do not see as a priority for fiscal spending. The challenge is to have the courage to do redistribution and not try to have a popularity contest by adding seats to have that fairness.

How does this commitment to fairness dovetail with the member's party's bill on Senate changes, which would be very prejudicial to the interests and the representation of his province of Alberta and my province of British Columbia?

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am very thankful that the member from the Liberal Party is actually getting onside with regard to our reforms in the Senate. I am proud to be an Albertan. We are the only province that is represented in the Senate with an elected senator. If the unelected, unaccountable Liberal senators believe in the necessity for change I call on them to resign their seats and run in the next senatorial election.

In terms of her speaking about the minutiae of my constituency, this is the type of language that Albertans find offensive from the Liberal Party. Again and again, if we are talking about things that are important to Alberta, the Liberal Party has something to say about Albertans that offends them. I only make that comment as a point of interest. I hope the hon. member will refrain from doing that in the future.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before I recognize the hon. member for Hamilton Centre, I will let him know that I will have to interrupt him at the hour for statements by members.

The hon. member for Hamilton Centre.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity even if it is for only three minutes.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Time.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hear my good friends across the way wishing it were less time than that already. I have not even said a full sentence and members are already shouting me down.

I have enough time to make one point and it is this. While we are supportive of the seats going to the provinces that need them, we believe that a golden opportunity has been missed to continue to build Canada, to nation build. Remember that we are still a work in progress. We still have a province that has not signed on. We still have a strong sovereignist movement within our country. We need to address these things. We have been very successful over the last couple of decades in turning the tide. The new official opposition is proof of that.

We believe that this was a great opportunity to lock in the historic vote that happened on November 27, 2006, when an overwhelming majority, almost unanimous, but an overwhelming majority of the House endorsed a resolution to recognize the Québécois as a nation within a united Canada. That was a significant historical moment in this place. It sent a very strong message to Quebec that its future is safe from assimilation here in Canada and by virtue of that, it is safe within all of North America.

We believe that principle which we endorsed here in 2006 should find its way into this bill and further reduce the effect of the sovereignist appeal in Quebec, and also build the kind of regime in this place and across Canada that sends the message that all Canadians are important. We do that through a number of seats where there are guarantees in place. We all point to P.E.I. in terms of what it was offered to bring it into the family of Canada and the respect we have for that. We believe that extending that same kind of respect now to the province of Quebec and most importantly to the Québécois people is the right way to build the nation of Canada for today and for our grandchildren. We stand by that.

Fair Representation Act
Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Hamilton Centre will have seventeen and a half minutes remaining for his speech and another ten minutes for questions and comments when the House returns to debate on this motion.

Statements by members, the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Kyoto Protocol
Statements By Members

December 13th, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with enormous sadness I rise today to mark what was done yesterday by the government in signalling legal withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol.

I urge that members here recognize that this is not a partisan issue. We should at this moment, and at every moment when we examine whether we can protect the world for our children, set aside partisanship and recognize that there was environmental leadership from the government of Brian Mulroney, and that in the world today there is environmental leadership from the conservative governments of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy.

This is not an issue of the left, right, or centre. This is a survival of our children issue, and it should cut across all partisanship.

I hope I am wrong. I hope that Canada's reputation in the world will not be tarnished forever by a decision to renege on a treaty that was legally ratified here, but I fear that our reputation will be damaged and I fear that the future of our children will be damaged.

I ask all hon. members to reconsider. We have one year to recommit. Let us not lose that opportunity.