House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was registry.

Topics

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before recognizing the hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, I will let him know that we have two or maybe three minutes and then we will have to finish.

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Armstrong Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in this House to continue the report stage debate on Bill C-19, the ending the long-gun registry act. As my hon. colleagues know, this bill seeks to eliminate the threat of jail time for people in this country who do not register their non-restricted firearms.

On the face of it, this seems like common sense. Hunting rifles and shotguns are the tools of the trade for many of those who farm our land and feed our cities. These law-abiding farmers simply want to work hard and sell their products without being criminalized for possessing what is needed to do their jobs. When I think about the debate on this issue and specifically how it affects our farmers, I am reminded of one of the famous lines from Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. He stated:

What is the use of discussing a man's abstract right...? The question is upon the method of procuring and administering them. In that deliberation I shall always advise to call in the aid of the farmer...rather than the professor of metaphysics.

Burke was a great statesman and a great parliamentarian, and he was telling us to look toward those who do as opposed to those who pontificate when we are seeking a particular end. That particular end we seek is to protect our communities and families from criminals. To that end, our government has done common sense things. For example, we have introduced legislation that actually puts violent and repeat criminals behind bars.

Before we have to close for the evening, I would say that the opposition seeks the same ends that we do, to keep communities and Canadians safe. However, we differ on the approach to doing that. I will expand on that tomorrow when I am recognized again by the Speaker.

Report Stage
Ending the Long-Gun Registry Act
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley will have eight minutes remaining for his speech, and also five minutes for questions and comments when the House next resumes debate on the motion.

The House resumed from February 2 consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion--Old Age Security
Business of Supply
Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It being 6:41 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of Madam Blanchette-Lamothe relating to the business of supply.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #109

Business of Supply
Government Orders

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion lost.

Business of Supply
Government Orders

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

I would ask all those who wish to continue their conversations to do so in their respective lobbies.

The hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier I had risen in the House to ask the government a question about child poverty and had indicated the number of children who were living below the poverty line and having to utilize food banks.

I want to augment that question with some information that just came out from the Province of Ontario Report Card on Child and Family Poverty in Ontario, “Poverty Reduction in an Age of Uncertainty & Change”. I want to read a little from this report because it reflects conditions in other parts of Canada, whether it is British Columbia, Quebec or the Atlantic Provinces.

In this report it indicates that in Ontario “393,000 children still live in poverty”. It states:

We are already aware of the growing gap between the rich and the poor. As unemployment in Ontario remains above the Canadian average, especially for youth, and while social assistance rates stay unacceptably low, there is a real fear that the number of children living in poverty in Ontario may actually rise...

It goes on in the report, and I do not have time in my brief four minutes to talk about all of the aspects of this report, but the people look at the Ontario deprivation index. They look at 10 key items considered necessary for a decent standard of living.

When I read this list, members are going to be shocked. I think most of us just take this for granted. They say that these are items necessary for a household to have a standard of living above the poverty level. They are:

1. Being able to get dental care if needed.

2. Replace or repair broken electrical goods such as a stove or a toaster.

3. Being able to buy modest presents for family/friends at least once per year.

4. Appropriate clothes for job interviews.

5. Having friends or family over for a meal at least once a month.

6. Fresh fruit and vegetables every day.

7. Being able to get around your community, either by car or bus pass.

8. Hobby or leisure activity.

9. Meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent at least once every other day.

10. Having a home or apartment free of pests, such as cockroaches, bedbugs and mice.

This is hardly an extravagant list of what most of us would consider just normal, every day things to which we should be entitled.

They also point out in the report that in October 2011, only 27% of unemployed Ontarians received employment insurance, and that becomes relevant a little later in this report.

I want to touch on students for one moment. We know the importance of education in terms of lifting people out of poverty, but in the report it indicates:

Since 1990, undergraduate tuition fees in Ontario have increased by 244%. It takes a low income family in Ontario 1,268 days to pay for a full cost of a university degree, compared to 137 days for a wealthy family. The high cost of education in the province means that many low to middle-income graduates start in jobs that are not in their career choice in order to pay off their student debt.

Later on in the report it refers to child care, and it is no surprise that child care is only available to one in five children in Ontario. There are some pretty shocking numbers in terms of the number of child care centres that are closing.

Although this is an Ontario report card, there are a couple of conclusions they reach for a role with the federal government. One is to press the federal government to introduce a national poverty reduction plan. Second is to press the federal government to improve access to employment insurance.

Going back to my original question, I once again ask the government this. Where is its comprehensive strategy to eliminate poverty that will actually make life better for children and their families?

7:10 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey
Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan on the state of Canadian families.

As I have said here before, every action the government takes to help Canadians and their families is to help them become self-sufficient. Our approach to reducing poverty focuses on helping Canadians gain the skills to access opportunities which provide targeted supports against the barriers they face. There is concrete evidence of improvement and meaningful progress from our action plan.

Our government recognizes the family as the foundation of society. That is why we give families the right to choose the child care they want for their child. That is why we backed up this commitment by investing more than $14 billion this year in benefits for children and families. These include the Canadian child tax benefit, the national child benefit supplement, the universal child care benefit and the child tax credit, which all serve to help Canadian children get the best start in life as possible.

About 3.3 million families with 5.8 million children receive Canada's child tax benefit. That represents more children than the entire population of the greater Toronto area. Included in this number is the fact that over 1.5 million families with 2.7 million children receive the national child benefit supplement.

The national child benefit supplement provides tax free monthly benefits for children under the age of 18. The national child benefit supplement has been successful in reducing the incidence of families with children living in low income. It also reduces the severity of low income for those families who continue to live below the low income threshold.

Budget 2007 introduced the child tax credit which provided personal income tax relief of up to $320 in 2011 for each child under the age of 18.

Budgets 2009 and 2010 included additional investments in Canadian families, including improvements to child benefits. For example, budget 2010 improved the taxation of the universal child care benefit to ensure that single parent families received tax treatment comparable to two parent families. It also allowed parents with joint custody to split benefits equally throughout the year when a child lives in both households. It enhanced the registered disability savings plan and doubled the working income tax benefit to $1.1 billion this year, which helps ensure that low income families are financially better off as a result of getting a job.

Because of the actions this government has taken since 2006, an average family of four saves over $3,000 a year in taxes.

Our government is working very hard to ensure that Canadian families can get what they need to take advantage of all the opportunities they have before them.

Every action our government has taken to help Canadians and their families become independent allows them to contribute to the economy and to their local communities.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it clearly is missing the target. One in seven children in Ontario and their families are living in poverty and, in my own province of British Columbia, it is one in five children. British Columbia has one of the highest child and family poverty rates in the country. When it comes to aboriginal communities, one in four children and their families live in poverty.

Although the government has attempted to put in place some measures, it clearly is not doing the job.

The member opposite briefly mentioned child care. The reality in Ontario is that there are now 22,000 people in Toronto on a subsidy wait list for child care. The municipal centres are closing and the community not for profits are closing. We know that child care is important in terms of being able to find a job.

Once again I must ask the member opposite and the government where their national comprehensive plan is, which should be developed in conjunction with the provinces and territories, for a poverty reduction, poverty elimination strategy for this country.

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, our government has implemented a number of measures to help families with low incomes families and their children. I will offer just one example and that is housing, which is one of the most important challenges these families have to confront.

As we know, there is a continuing need for affordable housing and a broader range of housing choices for low income Canadians. More affordable housing also helps to promote economic growth. I am proud to say that we have invested more money in housing and homelessness initiatives than any other government in Canadian history. Our government invests $134.8 million annually in the homelessness partnering strategy. This is a community-based program that helps people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness achieve self-sufficiency.

The affordable housing framework is another federal, provincial and territorial initiative that addresses the diversity of affordable housing needs across the country.

In addition, budget 2010 allocated $7.7 billion to stimulate the housing sector and improve social housing. Improving access to good quality, affordable housing is just one of the ways that we are helping families in need across the country.

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the government repeatedly claims that it stands up for the environment and the economy, when has it actually stood up for the environment in the last many months? Was it when it slashed the budget of the federal environmental watchdog, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, by 43%, when it recklessly planned to cut over 700 scientists from Environment Canada, when it announced devastating cuts to ozone monitoring, or when it shamefully pulled out of the Kyoto protocol?

To be fair, in the last few weeks the government did announce an investment in climate adaptation and monitoring of extreme weather events. Unfortunately, the government misses the point. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would reduce both adaptation costs and extreme weather events.

Finally, after six years in government, the Minister of the Environment announced an oil sands monitoring implementation plan last Friday. Unfortunately, it comes with an additional three year phase-in period, an unclear structure, unclear funding, and a question regarding expanded private money and its potential influence.

The government's regulatory capacity and commitment to actually manage environmental impacts continues to lag behind the pace and scale of new oil sands development. New projects continue to be improved, even though we do not have information to understand the impacts. This is not responsible management and is sadly demonstrated by the government's failure to take necessary action to protect the woodland caribou.

However, the question before us today is about climate change, its impacts, its costs and the need for a credible comprehensive plan.

Canadians know about climate change. We have had our climate change wake-up calls, such as the 1998 ice storm, which cost $5.4 billion, and the 1996 Saguenay flood, which cost $1.7 billion. These are just two examples of extreme weather events and in fact pale in comparison to last year's extremes in the United States, as well as in southern Canada, with 14 separate weather events which caused losses of $1 billion or more each.

Today in the Canadian Arctic permafrost is melting. The annual thaw layer is deepening and damaging infrastructure. In British Columbia glaciers are retreating at rates not seen in 8,000 years. On the Prairies lake and river levels are lowering in summer and fall and are impacting agriculture. In Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland sea level rise and increased storminess are accelerating coastal and dune erosion.

Canadians should be highly critical of the government's abdication of leadership on climate change, specifically, its withdrawal from Kyoto and its performance in meeting international climate commitments, setting science-based emissions targets, developing incentives for low-carbon technologies, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, pricing carbon, and putting in place adaptation measures necessary to respond to the risks of climate change.

The Liberal government introduced project green in 2005, a comprehensive climate plan that would have got us 80% of the way to meeting our Kyoto targets. The Conservatives killed the plan when they became government and are now trying to rewrite history by calling the Kyoto protocol a blunder. Their only purpose is to mask their failure. While the government allocated $9.2 billion in funds, it actually reduced its greenhouse gas emissions target by 90%. Now the government can only get us 25% of the way to its drastically reduced target. How is it going to get us the remaining 75%?

7:20 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite made a comment about the government's abdication of leadership on climate change. As a young Canadian who sits here now as a government member, I am shocked that my colleague would list weather events and talk about all of these things when her party, when it was in government, patently failed the Canadian people with its failure in leadership on climate change.

In the original question she put to the House, she asked about a real plan to manage climate change, which is the subject of this adjournment proceeding. I would not consider a real plan to do things like signing on to the Kyoto protocol which, at the time, only included 30% of global greenhouse gas emitters. How can we have a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when we do not have an agreement on which all major emitters sign on to binding targets?

Failure number one. After the Liberal government signed on to the Kyoto protocol, it had no plan to implement it. In fact, during its tenure, greenhouse gas emissions increased between 27% and 33% over the Kyoto targets, an inconvenient truth to be sure. In fact, Canada's CO2 emissions rose between 1997 and 2005. That was abdication of leadership to be sure.

In 2008, the Liberals came up with a plan to talk about climate change and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. They said that they wanted to implement a carbon tax, a tax on everything, which would fail Canadians in a major way by increasing prices and we could not really be sure about the results that would produce. This is the type of action we see from the Liberal Party.

Nine years of inaction later, the former Liberal leader summed up the Liberal's record on climate change by saying, “We did not get it done”. I would like to contrast that with our government's leadership with regard to climate change.

First, we have taken a strong, bold, sector-by-sector regulatory approach that will see real reduction in greenhouse gas emissions looking at targeted sectors, including transportation, which we have already looked at. We are looking at the coal fire sector right now. We will be seeing reductions in greenhouses gases by 17% of 2005 levels by 2020. This is real action.

We have invested millions of dollars into climate change research and adaptation. These are investments that my colleague has voted against. We had over $870 million over two years in our clean air agenda, $252 million to support regulatory activities to address climate change and air quality and $86 million to support clean energy regulatory action. Those were budgetary measures to see real action.

Moreover, now that we are seeing progress, we are seeing this plan work, including the oil sands monitoring network that my colleague talked about.

We heard from the International Institute for Sustainable Development. In a recent report, it noted that Canada was moving in the right direction on greenhouse gas policy and was establishing the policy architecture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Finally we have a government is that doing something for greenhouse gas emissions and it is doing that by balancing the need for economic growth with environmental stewardship. This is a plan we can be proud of.