House of Commons Hansard #133 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cost.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Documents requested by Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Madam Speaker, our founders would be horrified to learn of the motion we are debating today. That today in the House of Commons we would be debating and voting on a motion affirming our rights and privileges is disgraceful. Parliament's absolute power to require the government to produce uncensored documents when requested is fundamental to our democracy. Would we ever imagine a motion demanding that the government provide oxygen to this chamber? Of course not, yet documents, more specifically the information on them, is as critical to the functioning of this place as the air that we breathe.

That the government would deny the right to these things speaks to an administration that values secrecy, control, manipulation, and ultimately, a complete disregard for this House of Parliament.

I was elected not only to be the voice of the people from Mississauga—Streetsville, but to be their eyes and ears as well. They expect me to hold the government to account, to demand explanations for policy decisions, and to vote for or against those proposals. Without complete information, without clear and unbiased evidence, without a full cost analysis, how can I perform this honoured calling to the best of my abilities? The answer is I cannot.

That is why Parliament was vested with privileges. Our founding articles, the British North America Act, now called The Constitution Act, 1867, established in section 18 the privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament. These privileges are expressed further in the Parliament of Canada Act and in our Standing Orders. In his landmark ruling last year on the Afghan detainees documents, the Speaker upheld the supremacy of Parliament and the right to order documents. He affirmed the House's undisputed role as the grand inquest of the nation and its need for complete and accurate information in order to fulfill its duty of holding this government and any government to account.

Yet over the last five years of this Conservative government, the House has been required to cite its privileges at a rate never seen before in our modern history. Our esteemed law clerk, Mr. Robert Walsh, has never been so busy. Repeatedly he is asked to attend committees to remind them of their rights and privileges when confronted with attempts at obstruction by the government. The examples are numerous: government ministers refusing requests to appear before committees; senior Conservative staff members evading bailiffs with summonses; documents not provided or seriously redacted; and the list goes on and on and on. When committees request documents, the government drags its feet. It obstructs, and when it runs out of options, it flat-out refuses.

There are books that document the amount and degree of Conservative government obstruction. Mr. Lawrence Martin, in Harperland: The Politics of Control, a runner-up for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing at the Writers' Trust of Canada awards yesterday, provides a lengthy list of the Prime Minister's march of audacities.

Since the 2006 election campaign, here are some of the highlights, with due acknowledgement, of course, to Mr. Martin: the elimination of the access to information database; the nixing of the court challenges program; the secret handbook on how to obstruct committees; hiding justice department studies on crime; hiding a firearms report to prevent embarrassment on the gun registry; the Rights & Democracy fiasco; slashing the budget of the Parliamentary Budget Officer; withholding details of the stimulus funding, and we all know why that happened; firing the nuclear agency head, Linda Keen; halting Peter Tinsley's probe on the Afghan detainees; ousting Paul Kennedy from the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP; smearing a career diplomat, Mr. Richard Colvin; defying Parliament's right to documents; padlocking Parliament by proroguing not once but twice; the move on Statistics Canada; and the list goes on and on and on.

Opposition Motion—Documents requested by Standing Committee on Finance
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but we have to proceed with other matters. There will be about fifteen and one-half minutes remaining in the time allotted for the member's remarks when the debate is resumed.

Renfrew County
Statements By Members

February 17th, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, you are invited. Everyone is invited. Renfrew County is having a celebration to honour the 150th anniversary of its founding.

This is going to be an incredible festival with special events happening all year long. The main attraction will be from June 9 to 12, 2011 on the Pembroke Regional Airport grounds. There is something for everyone to enjoy.

People can be a part of a journey through time at our pioneer village. They can listen to fiddlers, clap for the step dancers and admire the antique cars and trucks. They can see the live theatre and displays, aboriginal drumming, with lots more music and Ottawa Valley storytelling. There will be rafting and kayaking, pioneer exhibits, and a kids zone, a whole acre of activities for kids.

We hope to see everyone in the valley, the Upper Ottawa Valley. Everyone should join us for the 150th anniversary celebration.

Curling
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the annual Scotties Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women's curling championship, is being hosted in my hometown of Charlottetown starting this weekend.

Curling is an important part of Canadian culture and a great winter pastime. Sometimes, in good humour, it is referred to as Canada's other winter sport.

In the province of Prince Edward Island, we have a very strong and competitive curling community. Men, women and youth enjoy their winters at curling clubs across the province and generally do well in national competitions.

I would like to wish all teams the very best of luck in this year's Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and in particular, the team representing P.E.I. made up of Suzanne Birt, who is the skip, Shelly Bradley, Robyn MacPhee, Leslie MacDougall, Tricia Affleck, and coach Paul Power.

I welcome all teams and fans to Charlottetown for this year's tournament. I encourage all members of the House to tune in to the action and cheer on their respective provincial teams.

Evens Guercy
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this is Black History Month, I would like to take this opportunity to commend the extraordinary dedication of Evens Guercy, a sociologist and community police officer of Haitian origin who lives in Montreal. Mr. Guercy has made the personal growth and development of young people in poorer neighbourhoods his priority.

In 2005, he founded the Hope Boxing Club in the Saint-Michel neighbourhood of Montreal, where he helped these young people become more disciplined, while focusing on reducing school drop-out rates. A documentary entitled Les poings serrés, or Clenched Fists, was even made about the club. The film features two teens from the neighbourhood who have Hope Boxing Club and Mr. Guercy to thank for their success in life.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I would like to congratulate Evans Guercy on his extraordinary commitment to young people. I am proud to know him and to count him among my childhood friends, for we grew up and went to school together in Saint-Hyacinthe.

Transcona
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, Transcona is a railway town that was founded in 1909 by Lord Strathcona and incorporated as the town of Transcona in 1912. The name derives from a combination of “Transcontinental” and “Lord Strathcona”.

A local business group is working with city councillor Russ Wyatt and MLAs Daryl Reid and Bidhu Jha on a plan to revitalize the downtown commercial district.

The group has committed to retain the connection to the hometown feel that has always made Transcona unique. Some of the already completed improvements include a new archway welcoming visitors to Transcona, a new centre median on Regent, new sidewalks, and solar-powered lighting fixtures.

The Regent Avenue area has attracted Universal Studios, which began working on a new movie, Beethoven Saves Christmas, on February 15.

This revitalization project is expected to be completed in 2012 in time for the community's centennial celebrations.

Wellington—Halton Hills
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to the attention of the House a couple of important events in my riding of Wellington—Halton Hills.

As past chair of the board, I am proud that the Elora Festival Singers and their conductor, Noel Edison, were recently nominated for a Grammy award in the best small ensemble performance category for the choir's 2010 recording of the music of Eric Whitacre.

While the Grammy went to another nominee, the nomination has put this local southwestern Ontario choral choir on the map. While we locals always knew that the village of Elora had a world-class choral choir, now the rest of the world knows as well.

I would also like to congratulate the Acton Scouts and Guides on 100 years of scouting in Acton.

Scouts is one of Canada's leading youth organizations offering programs for boys and girls in towns and cities across this great land. Over 74,000 young people are in Scouts which is provided by 23,000 volunteers. Acton has been part of this proud tradition for 100 years.

I congratulate the Elora Festival Singers.

I congratulate the Acton Scouts and Guides.

March of Dimes Conductive Education Day
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to commend March of Dimes Canada and recognize next Thursday, February 24, as March of Dimes Conductive Education Day.

March of Dimes, headquartered in Don Valley West, has been delivering programs and services to Canadians with disabilities since 1951. This is its 60th anniversary of working to improve the lives and livelihoods of Canadians with disabilities, advancing accessibility and creating a society inclusive of people with disabilities.

Conductive education is an innovative learning system that maximizes the independence and mobility of children and adults with neurological motor disorders like cerebral palsy, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and those who have had a stroke or brain injury. The conductive education program has the potential to make a life-changing impact on the mobility and independence of close to nine million people in North America.

I ask all members to please join me in congratulating March of Dimes Canada and recognizing and supporting the conductive education program, a cornerstone of our ongoing efforts in Canada to achieve full inclusion of Canadians with disabilities.

Canadian Wheat Board
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, my colleague, the member for Simcoe North, put forward a bill that would permit farmers to opt out of the Canadian Wheat Board. While I firmly believe it is in the economic interests of farmers to put the single desk Wheat Board to pasture, it is not the economic damage that the Wheat Board causes that I find most obnoxious.

Members should know that the original Wheat Board was installed in the World War I era to keep grain prices down. Then, when the Wheat Board was put into its current form during World War II, it was also aimed at lowering the prices that farmers received.

The Wheat Board did and does this by robbing farmers of the freedom to control their own wheat, their own private property. It is this annual expropriation of property that I find most egregious. No one forces farmers to buy their fertilizer or their fuel from one source and yet if a farmer chooses to sell wheat in his own fashion, he can go to prison.

If freedom means anything at all, it should mean the right to control one's own property, the fruits of one's labours. The Canadian Wheat Board is an assault on the liberties of not just farmers but an assault on the liberties of all Canadians.

Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, while the Conservatives claim to be champions of respecting provincial jurisdictions, it is troubling to see how indifferent they are to the cross-Canada tour the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is on to promote a sustainable energy policy from coast to coast to coast.

This Senate expedition stopped in Montreal on February 7 and 8, clearly interfering in Quebec's jurisdictions. The taxpayer-funded travels of these unelected representatives of an archaic costly institution fly in the face of respect for Quebec's jurisdictions. Quebec and Canada have completely different visions of a sustainable energy future. Quebec is focusing on truly green energies and not on nuclear power and promoting the oil sands.

This Senate committee has no business dictating energy policy to Quebec. Quebec's energy future is determined by Quebeckers for Quebeckers.

Festival du Voyageur
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very excited to return to Saint Boniface tomorrow night to open the annual winter celebration called le Festival du voyageur. This world-class 10-day event celebrates the joie de vivre of the voyageur and fur trade era with food, song and dance. I know festival will be a fantastic display of Franco-Manitoban and Métis culture. I look forward to serving pancakes, visiting the maple sugar shack and enjoying first-class performers.

The Festival du Voyageur is held every February. It is the largest winter festival in western Canada. As a francophone Métis, I have been attending the festival since I was a little girl.

Many thanks to the volunteers, the organizers and the official voyageurs, Roger Chamberland, Michelle Gervais and their two children, who work continuously to promote the festival in our community and elsewhere.

I encourage Winnipeggers, Manitobans and Canadians alike to please get out to le Festival du voyageur in Saint Boniface.

Enjoy the festival!

Literacy
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, today around the world, 774 million adults lack basic literacy skills and one in five adults, mostly women, cannot read or write at all. Canada's literacy statistics are just as alarming for a country as wealthy as our own.

Literacy is not just about reading and writing, it is more than just understanding words on a page. Literacy is a powerful tool to eradicate poverty and to advance people socially and economically. Those who cannot access literacy skills are tragically left behind in society and, thanks to the government, we are leaving far too many people behind.

In the 2006 budget, the federal government announced it was cutting $1 billion worth of what it called wasteful programs. Part of that was a $17.7 million cut to adult literacy programming. One in three Canadians who struggle with literacy every day do not think much of that.

By improving literacy skills, a person increases his or her chances to find employment, to lift oneself out of poverty, find or create opportunities and make great contributions to the community.

Today let us recognize those who assist learners, those who bring meaning to words and who open the doors to better lives for those who struggle with literacy for their benefit and the benefit of all of us.

Canadian Athletes
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, our Canadian athletes had outstanding performances on the world stage.

Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant won gold in men's downhill skiing at the FIS World Championship in Germany. This is the second time in a row that a Canadian has won this title.

Calgary's Alex Gough became the first Canadian and the first non-German in 13 seasons to win a World Cup luge race. Gough is one of the many young Calgarians who had the opportunity to get involved in winter sports because of the outstanding legacies of the 1988 Olympics.

On Sunday, Milos Raonic of Thornhill became the first Canadian to win an Association of Tennis Professionals championship in 16 years. Mr. Raonic's victory against defending champion, Fernando Verdasco, featured serves that clocked at 240 kilometres per hour.

Our government is proud to support our athletes, and in fact the current levels of support are at the highest ever in Canada. We congratulate our athletes on these tremendous accomplishments.

Immigration Settlement Programs
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, our community of Ottawa Centre has always been proud to welcome new Canadians. In 1979, we came together and welcomed 4,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

For the media, they were called the “boat people”; for the government, they were “small boat escapees”; but to our community, they were our new neighbours and, with community support, our new neighbours thrived.

That is how we feel about new immigrants and refugees here. That is why we support settlement programs. That is why we believe the government's $53 million cuts to immigrant services will undermine the quality of life for all of us.

These cuts will take away child care resources for newcomers, at the same time that the government is making family reunification almost impossible. Language classes will be severely limited, resulting in isolation and separation, making it harder to find a job, build relations and contribute to our community.

These cuts will hurt our newest neighbours first and all of us in the long run. We call on the government to reverse those cuts now.

The Economy
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader's economic policy is based on tax hikes that will put the brakes on our economic recovery, eliminate jobs and set back hard-working Canadian families.

For example, he is openly and unequivocally calling for a $6 billion increase in taxes. That is not a freeze, it is an increase.

The Liberal leader wants this tax increase to be reflected in the next budget, and he maintains that if we do not increase taxes, he will vote against the budget and trigger an election.

The last thing we need is an unnecessary election or the uncertainty caused by a coalition, which would jeopardize our economic recovery now that we are entering the home stretch.

While the Liberal leader is criss-crossing the country calling for an unnecessary election, our government will stay the course with its tax relief plan to support employment and growth.