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 firearms.

Topics

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

February 6th, 2012 / 3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Darrell Pasloski, Premier of Yukon; the Hon. Brad Cathers, Government House Leader and Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources of Yukon; the Hon. Currie Dixon, Minister of Economic Development and Minister of Environment of Yukon; the Hon. Mike Nixon, Minister of Justice and Minister of Tourism and Culture of Yukon; and the Hon. Doug Griffiths, Minister of Municipal Affairs for Alberta.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Václav Havel
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, I rise to mourn the death of one of the great heroes of the 20th century, a great hero of human dignity, the late Václav Havel. Through his words, Havel proved that the dignity and moral worth of the individual could outshine and eventually outlast the vast and oppressive apparatus of totalitarian rule.

As he wrote to Alexander Dubcek, the recently displaced reform-minded president of the Czech Communist Party in 1969, “Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance”.

These words proved prophetic in terms of Václav Havel's own life. With his strong and vocal opposition to the Soviet Union's invasion of his homeland in 1968, his artistic protests against physical and psychological hardship under the heavy hand of communism and his participation in drafting Charter 77, Havel's life was a series of moral words and teachings followed by virtuous and courageous actions.

In addition, as foreshadowed in his words to Dubcek, Havel's moral acts, which initially had no hope of any immediate political effect, gradually gained in significance and eventually carried him to the presidency of a free Czechoslovakia. By insisting on raising a moral, human voice in defiance of a soulless and inhuman ideology, this unlikely politician became one of the 20th century's great statesmen.

We were honoured to receive then former president Havel in the chamber during a joint session of Parliament. In the same year, he was also honoured as a Companion of the Order of Canada. I will forever remember being deeply moved by his testimony before us. He brought us back to first principles in saying:

Human liberties constitute a higher value than State sovereignty... the provisions that protect the unique human being should take precedence over the provisions that protect the State.

In word and deed, Havel gave practical expression to these noble principles. As the Prime Minister said upon his passing in December of last year:

The world owes a great debt to Václav Havel. In helping to free his own people he helped spread freedom across an entire continent, and showed us all that even an evil dictatorship can be no match for the power of the human spirit.

On behalf of the government and, indeed, all Canadians, we pray that this great champion of human dignity and freedom rests in peace.

Václav Havel
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Hélène Laverdière Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it truly is a great honour for me to rise today to pay tribute to one of the great figures of our era, Václav Havel.

Václav Havel is not only a key personality in modern history, but also a man who, throughout his life, was the incarnation of the spirit of justice and resilience.

As the founder of Charter 77, Václav Havel was at the centre of the fight against the injustices committed by the communist regime. He fought inequality and defended the ideals of civil society. Repeatedly accused of subversion, he spent nearly five years in prison, and his writings were banned. Nevertheless, his voice was heard, and his writing about nonviolent resistance played a decisive role in the Velvet Revolution, an extraordinary revolution that took place without a bloodbath.

His prominent role paved the way for him to be chosen, even by his enemies, as the first president of Czechoslovakia, a position that he had not sought—Václav Havel was not after power.

As president, he stood up for the rights of the Roma, fought against corruption and defended the most underprivileged in society. For Havel, as he remarked in his maiden speech as president, “politics can be not just the art of the possible, ... it can even be the art of the impossible, namely the art of improving ourselves and world in which we live”.

When we think of Václav Havel, we often think about his achievements as a political leader, but it must not be forgotten that he was also an artist. A man of the theatre, a poet, and essayist; all of his achievements demonstrate his great humanity.

Václav Havel inspired millions of people. As we remember him today, let us consider his most famous words, which practically became a slogan, “Love and truth must triumph over hate and lies.”

On behalf of all NDP members, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of Václav Havel, and to the Czech people. He will be sorely missed.

Václav Havel
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the House for giving us the opportunity to take this moment to celebrate the life of Václav Havel and to recognize the significance of his passing.

The end of the 20th century saw dramatic changes. Most of us growing up through the latter half of the 20th century would not have believed they could have happened in the way in which they happened.

The first was the end of apartheid. We associate this with the name of Nelson Mandela who is still with us. His remarkable leadership stands out as a real triumph of the human spirit and of the capacity of one person to make a dramatic difference in the life not only of a people, but indeed in the life of the whole world.

The second is the collapse of communism. This did not happen on its own, nor did it only happen because of the power and force of those of us who lived in freedom in the west. It happened because the system was simply unsustainable economically, but more and more it became clear to people that it was unsustainable from a moral perspective.

There is no other person who has demonstrated better than Havel that communism was, first and foremost, not only a system of oppression and dictatorship, but also one of lies, and one that was systematically founded on the biggest falsehoods of our era.

It was primarily the great artists of the 20th century, the great writers and thinkers, those that had the courage to fight for their ideas, who did the most to bring about complete change in that monstrous systems.

It was said of Václav Havel that his greatest work of art was his life. In many other societies he would not have lived as a political man. In many other societies, he would have been quite happy to work in the theatre, which he loved, creating great plays and great works of art, writing poetry and plays. Perhaps he would have become a teacher or a professor. In other societies, that would have been allowed. However, he grew up in a society where that was not permitted. He was not permitted to write what he wanted to write. He was not permitted to think what he wanted to think. He was not permitted to say what he wanted to say. He was forced to live a life that became deeply political and that had as much to do with transforming our whole sense of what indeed is politically possible.

As the minister so rightly said, Václav Havel stood for a very simple principle: the values of freedom, liberty and democracy are not culturally relative values. They speak to something universal in the human spirit. States, systems and governments which do not recognize, or which flaunt or oppress, those rights and those abilities to speak eventually must fall. We cannot predict the circumstances in which they will fall or change, but fall they must. This great growth of this spirit of freedom and the spirit of liberty and the spirit in our time, which is that people have a right to speak, is a spirit which is alive today. It is alive in Burma, it is alive in Syria, and yes, it is alive in China. It is alive in all parts of the world where people cannot speak their minds, where people are told what to think and where the government lies to them, not on occasion and not by mistake, but systematically. That is how those systems keep going.

Therefore, to those people who are living in oppression in societies throughout the world, the life of Václav Havel is a life not only worthy of study but worthy of honour. It is right and appropriate that the House take just a moment to reflect on the importance of this great man and this great life.

Václav Havel
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a few more words to the wonderful tributes that have poured out from our hearts here in the House today at the loss of Václav Havel. I have only one--

Václav Havel
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member for Saanich--Gulf Islands have the unanimous consent of the House to respond to the ministerial statement?

Václav Havel
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No

Václav Havel
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

There is no consent.

Public Accounts
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in relation to its study of Chapter 4, Programs for First Nations on Reserves of the 2011 Status Report of the Auditor General of Canada.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Canadian Heritage
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to Bill C-288, An Act respecting the National Flag of Canada. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-389, An Act to implement the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force.

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise in the House today to introduce this bill, although I do so with great sadness. It is an honour because it is always a pleasure to introduce something that will advance the status of women in Canada. However, I am also greatly saddened by the fact that these recommendations were published and tabled in the House back in 2004, but they have yet to become law. Instead, they were offhandedly pushed aside, even though so many women remain underprivileged.

I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for her support and my hon. colleague from London—Fanshawe, my predecessor as NDP critic for status of women, for her tireless efforts.

The sole purpose of this bill is to implement the recommendations made in 2004 by the task force created in 2001. That was over 10 years ago. I know things do not happen quickly in this House, but it would be good if we could do something in less than 10 years to help all Canadian women, who still earn only 73¢ for every dollar that men earn.

Pay equity is a fundamental principle of law.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Health of Animals Act
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition with over a thousand names in support of my bill, Bill C-322, which basically says that horses are originally kept and treated as sport and companion animals and are not raised as food-producing animals but hey are commonly administered drugs that are strictly prohibited from being used at any time in all other food producing animals destined for the human food supply.

As the Canadian horsemeat products that are currently being sold for human consumption in domestic and international markets are likely to contain prohibited substances, the petitioners call upon the House of Commons to bring forward and adopt into legislation Bill C-322, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act, thus prohibiting the importation or exportation of horses for slaughter for human consumption, as well as horsemeat products for human consumption.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition on climate change, our most pressing environmental issue and perhaps the defining issue of our generation. It will profoundly affect our economy, health, lifestyles and social well-being. It requires moral and intergenerational responsibility and how we respond will define the world in which our children and their descendants grow up.

Canadians know about climate change. We have had our climate change wake-up calls: the 1998 ice storm and Saguenay flood,

The petitioners call for national responsibility on climate change, a binding international agreement that keeps warming to 2°C and climate justice.

The Environment
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am please to present two petitions. The first one is on climate change. While this petition was created in the context of the Durban negotiations, my constituents continue to demand that the government do three things.

The first one is to set more ambitious targets to reduce CO2 emissions to ensure that temperatures stay below 2°C, increased from pre-industrial levels.

The second part of the petition is asking the government to develop a renewable energy policy for the sustainability of our economy.

The third is to demonstrate international responsibility in designing the green climate plan for climate change mitigation and adaptation in the developing world.