House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was national.

Topics

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we can grow the economy with things like a green infrastructure fund. Today we actually learned from Global News that 80% of the green infrastructure fund has not been spent, showing a total lack of commitment to green infrastructure projects by the government.

But wait, there is more. In fact, the money that has been spent is going to projects like running government offices and pipelines, not exactly top-of-mind environmental priorities.

My question for the parliamentary secretary is: When will they quit with the greenwashing?

The Environment
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I believe if we checked the record over the last few years for any sort of green infrastructure funding or anything that would support the environment, we would see that the NDP voted against it.

By contrast, we are making tangible investment in green infrastructure, in research and development, to promote environmentally sustainable technologies and help get them to market.

Moreover, we are working with industry, with stakeholder groups. We are consulting with them to figure out how we can implement programs to see real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and water quality improvement.

In fact, the World Health Organization noted that we have the third-best air quality in the world. We are getting the job done.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development was at committee, he said the cultural connections for the aboriginal youth program was safe from cuts. However, in June, the Treasury Board froze all funding for this program. Friendship centres across the country had to close after-school programs and health, recreational and cultural programming.

Why does the minister not know what is going on in his own department?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, today I was at the Odawa Friendship Centre. I met with the national president. I met with the executive director. We are concerned about this issue. We are working with the executive director, we are at meetings this afternoon, official-to-official, and we will be realigning the program to meet our current needs for skills training development and job readiness for aboriginal youth. We are putting the train back on the tracks.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

June 21st, 2012 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is National Aboriginal Day. We should be celebrating programs for youth instead of worrying about what is happening with friendship centres.

These are the programs that keep kids off the street and keep them going to school. Staff have been laid off, doors have been closed and uncertainty has grown around the cultural connections. This is a blow to the great work that friendship centres do across this country.

Why did the minister let this funding be frozen? Why did he not act before he was pressured into doing it?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, most of this programming is delivered through the friendship centres. The executive director of the National Association of Friendship Centres has called our current approach the right approach. He went on to say it shows a level of understanding that if we want to do it better we need to engage the people who the program is for.

That is what we are doing.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, education is not the only desperate need. According to a recent study, mould in homes is a growing problem. Over half of first nations dwellings are infested with mould, which causes serious health problems. The problem has gotten worse since the current minister has been in office. His solution is to hand out brochures.

When is the minister going to take this situation seriously?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of first nation community members is of primary concern to our government. That is why we developed, in partnership with the Assembly of First Nations, a comprehensive national strategy to address mould problems and create healthier homes in first nation societies.

Since we formed government, we have built or renovated approximately 30,000 homes on reserves. That has been growing annually, and we have done 3,000 major renovations every year.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that education and housing problems have escalated since this minister came to office.

This winter we saw in Attawapiskat a symptom of a much larger crisis that is happening everywhere in this country. We also saw a minister completely lost, unable to do the right thing to improve the lives of people living in some of the worst conditions in this country.

Seeing that incompetence, why should aboriginal peoples trust the minister to resolve the national crisis that is striking them?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we had a housing issue in Attawapiskat. In very short order, we put 22 new homes into that community. We had a long-standing call for a new school in Attawapiskat. That school is currently under construction. Things are moving in the right direction. We even had a petition going around the community asking for retention of the third party manager, who we took out of the community as a result of pressure from the leadership and the reduced need for the manager's presence.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Niki Ashton Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, unprecedented protests are taking place in Inuit and northern communities across this country to protest the high cost and lack of availability of healthy foods. People are fed up with this high cost and with the government's failure to act.

Will the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development stand here and do two things: one, recognize the government's failure to act when it comes to providing accessible, healthy foods to northern communities and, two, show some leadership with the government and put an end to the third world living conditions that aboriginal people in Canada face today?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the NDP is full of overblown rhetoric. We have a letter that was published today from the Stanton Group. This is an Inuit-owned food retailer in the Northwest Territories. In the first year of the nutrition north program, we have seen savings of up to 35% on perishable foods such as fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, meat and eggs, savings that have been passed on to northern residents. In our experience, the nutrition north Canada program is working well. That speaks for itself.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Mr. Speaker, some of those communities are having to pay at least $7 for a loaf of bread, so do not tell me that the program is working.

The government's much-touted nutrition north program has failed to address the basic food needs of Inuit Canadians. Northern communities cannot afford these sky-high prices. Even hunted game is expensive when we factor in the cost of gas and gear. The poverty in these communities is staggering.

When will the Conservatives concentrate on northern poverty? When will the Prime Minister shuffle someone in to start managing the portfolio?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Vancouver Island North
B.C.

Conservative

John Duncan Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, nutrition north Canada was a program that used to subsidize air freight and now subsidizes food at the retail level, nutritious perishable food for northerners. We are spending $60 million on the program in 103 communities. The evidence is now in that we have changed eating habits so that people are choosing healthier foods. The evidence is in that the price of those foods is reduced. The program is working and these complaints are illegitimate.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Questions

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the social conditions of our first nations, Inuit and Métis people are this country's greatest failure and, in fact, our greatest shame. The Conservatives have a blank cheque for G.I. Joe to buy all the war toys that he wants, but they cannot find any new money whatsoever to deal with the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding before our very eyes. Aboriginal people need a champion around the cabinet table, not another minister for managing poverty.

In the interest of National Aboriginal Day, will the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development do the honourable thing and shuffle himself out of cabinet to make room for somebody else?