House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was panama.

Topics

Study on income inequality
Private Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, June 13, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

Status of Women
Adjournment Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for being willing to listen to this adjournment debate and for allowing me to express myself.

Over the past five years, the Conservatives have reduced funding for organizations that do research about and for women, organizations striving to eliminate the inequality that women face every day. Without awareness activities and research, Canadian women will never achieve full equality.

On March 8, International Women's Day, I asked the government if it would restore funding for research and awareness with respect to the status of women.

I would like to share two examples that show how deep these cuts have gone. The first, from May 23, 2012, is about an aboriginal group. Next year, in 2013, funding for research, capacity-building, networking and partnerships for aboriginal women in Quebec will be cut.

Here is the second example: the women's health contribution program. The program was in place for 16 years. It supplied essential information and evidence about women's health and examined the negative impact of cuts to programs and services for women.

There were six federally funded organizations devoted to research and communication in women’s health; they learned in April 2012 that their funding will end on March 31, 2013. This program is critical to funding innovative social policy research, building community partnerships and providing important mentorship opportunities for students in women’s health. Within a year, the affected organizations will be forced to either close their doors permanently or attempt to find funding elsewhere.

I will tell you about them. The Women’s Health Contribution Program supports the Réseau québécois d’action pour la santé des femmes, the Canadian Women’s Health Network, the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, the Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence and the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health, located across the country from Vancouver to Halifax. We are talking about the entire country, from sea to sea.

The effect of this decision by Health Canada is yet another strong sign that the federal government is pulling away from its responsibility to gender equality. The centres and networks funded by the Women's Health Contribution Program provided policy input to federal government departments on a broad range of women's health issues, including: the women's health implications of the federal government's regulation of toxic chemicals; the hypersexualization of girls; the intergenerational legacy of residential schools for aboriginal women and their families; the need for trauma-informed counselling for women with addictions; and a working guide for conducting sex- and gender-based analysis in health research. Those are just a few examples.

Through its actions, the government is proving that equity and the status of women are at the bottom of its political agenda.

The Conservatives' Trojan Horse budget is also hiding the abolition of the Employment Equity Act, which will no longer apply to federal contracts. Roughly 925 employers who do business with the government and more than 1 million workers are affected by this measure. These employers will no longer be bound by legislation to avoid discrimination in hiring.

Will the minister admit that her party is stalling any progress made on the status of women and even setting us back a few decades in some areas? If this government truly wants to narrow the gender gap in Canada, then can the minister explain to Canadians where the investments are for research and awareness? What is the plan of action? What are the stated objectives? Why are there so many unjustified cuts? Why is there so much contempt for women?

Status of Women
Adjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

London North Centre
Ontario

Conservative

Susan Truppe Parliamentary Secretary for Status of Women

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite should know that this government over any other government has increased funding for women to its highest level ever. Since 2007, we have approved more than 500 projects from coast to coast to coast that support women and girls. I know that in my riding of London North Centre some organizations are only able to help women and girls because of the funding they have received from Status of Women Canada.

We are working hard with Canadians across the country to promote greater economic prosperity for, end violence against and encourage the leadership of women and girls. More groups are applying than ever before because our practical approach is working. The organizations carrying out these initiatives frequently share information and lessons learned with other groups, as well as the Canadian public.

For women and girls in Canada, this translates into real and lasting change. I will provide some examples.

Late last year we supported a project that strengthened the economic security of women in Saint John, New Brunswick. The Saint John community loan fund provides women with tools and support to promote and sustain businesses. Many colleges and universities were happy to send in applications when a call for proposals came out to engage young people and prevent violence against women and girls in post-secondary institutions. In March of this year, our government announced support for a wide range of new projects that addressed issues of violence and economic security affecting women and girls in rural and remote communities and small urban centres.

These are only a few examples that illustrate how hard we are working to advance women and girls.

Status of Women
Adjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government can shout all it wants about providing the highest level of funding for women in the history of Canada, but it is very difficult to believe in light of all the cuts I just mentioned.

What we need to see are the results. As far as I know, discrimination and gender gaps remain prevalent. Let us just talk about wages. Women earn 73% of men's wages. Great strides have been made, but there is still work to be done. Without awareness initiatives and research, Canadian women will never achieve full equality.

Under the Conservatives, instead of making intelligent investments we have taken a step backwards in pay equity, and there is no affordable national child care strategy for women who want to work. There are even backbenchers who want to criminalize abortion.

What does the minister plan to do to reassure all the Canadian women who are seeing their rights and status being eroded and who, in addition, are more and more likely to face a life of poverty?

Status of Women
Adjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite said that were claiming to have increased funding for women. We are not claiming to have increased it; we have increased funding for women to its highest level ever.

Since 2007, we have approved more than 500 projects that help women and girls all across Canada. We are working hard with Canadians every day across the country to promote greater economic prosperity for, end violence against and encourage the leadership of women and girls all across the country. As I said before, more and more groups are applying for funding because it helps women and girls in Canada.

Fisheries and Oceans
Adjournment Proceedings

6:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pursue a question that was first put on June 1 to the hon. parliamentary secretary for fisheries and oceans.

I am very glad that we have this procedure of adjournment proceedings, because, as we all know, it is very difficult in the very short time available in question period to put a question together to fully explain the context, so I am going to return to my question, explain it more fully and put it again to the parliamentary secretary.

I started my question by quoting a quite extraordinary letter written by four former ministers of fisheries and oceans: the Honourable Tom Siddon, the Honourable John Fraser, the Honourable Herb Dhaliwal and the Honourable David Anderson. They all happen to be from British Columbia, but they do not happen to be in the same party. There are two Liberals and two Progressive Conservatives.

These four gentlemen are calling on the government to withdraw from the omnibus budget bill those sections that have no place being there, the sections destroying the Fisheries Act.

What they said at one point in the letter was:

With respect to process, we find it troubling that the government is proposing to amend the Fisheries Act via omnibus budget legislation in a manner that we believe will inevitably reduce and weaken the habitat-protection provisions. Regrettably, despite the significance of the legislation, to date the responsible ministers have provided no plausible, let alone convincing, rationale for proceeding with the unusual process that has been adopted.

This is the section that I quoted in my question to the hon. member:

Quite frankly, Canadians are entitled to know whether these changes were written, or insisted upon, by the Minister of Fisheries or by interest groups outside the government. If the latter is true, who are they?

In putting this question forward on June 1, I added, “Where are they, in Canada or in Beijing?”

I know my hon. friend found that, in his words, a strange question, so let me elaborate on why I think that is the question.

We are looking at a lot of changes in Canadian environmental assessment law, changes that would make cabinet superior to the National Energy Board for decision-making purposes. We are looking at changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act, and they are in aid of what is described as a great urgency to approve projects.

I have had some experience with projects of the Government of Canada. The case I will relate involved the previous government of the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. In a feverish attempt to sell nuclear reactors to China, the government actually loaned China the money to buy our reactors and wanted to evade environmental review. At the time I was with the Sierra Club of Canada, and I actually took them to court. Unfortunately, due to a number of procedural delays imposed on us by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the matter never got litigated. However, the crux of it is this: when Canada deals with China, in my experience, Canada reduces its environmental reviews.

In this instance we have a tremendous number of changes that make no sense to Canadians. They make no sense to people who have worked in Fisheries and Oceans. They particularly make no sense to these four former fisheries ministers, nor to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which voted in an emergency resolution this week to seek to withdraw those changes.

What is driving it? It seems to me that the Prime Minister gave us a sense of that with two statements. One was on May 10 in the House in response to the hon. leader of the Liberal Party. On reducing environmental assessments, the Prime Minister said, “It is vital to the certainty of our investors”. At the same time, we know that the Prime Minister already promised the leadership in Beijing when he was visiting China that the Enbridge supertanker project would proceed.

Therefore, it seems to me that it is a very relevant question. Who is driving these changes, Canadians or investors in the Communist Party of China?

Fisheries and Oceans
Adjournment Proceedings

June 7th, 2012 / 6:20 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission
B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Mr. Speaker, the short answer to the question that the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands included in her question originally is that the latter is not true.

Let me provide a little more information. The Fisheries Act was originally established to protect Canada's fisheries resources and define federal responsibilities for the management of fisheries and the related protection of fish and fish habitat.

The current habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act are broad in scope, requiring protection of all fish habitat, regardless of their value to Canadians. Concerns about the broad and even unintended scope of the application of the existing regulatory regime have been raised by stakeholders across this country. This country, not China.

Farmers and landowners have criticized the department for applying its mandate and resources to areas with low contribution for fisheries. In addition, significant risk to fisheries have emerged that are not appropriately considered in the Fisheries Act, such as those posed by aquatic invasive species.

Many stakeholders over the years have asked us to focus on the significant impacts to significant fisheries. Many stakeholders have also asked us to find ways to work more effectively with the provinces and conservation groups. They have asked us to apply our resources strategically to ensure that Canada's fisheries can benefit Canadians today and for future generations.

In response to these challenges, the Government of Canada is proposing to renew and strengthen its current approach to management and fisheries protection through amendments to the Fisheries Act. These amendments would focus the government's protection efforts on recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries.

It would also draw a distinction between vital waterways that support Canada's fisheries and those that do not contribute to productive fisheries, such as drainage ditches in some cases and storm water management ponds.

They would identify and manage important threats to the fisheries, including direct impacts to fish, habitat destruction and aquatic invasive species.

Let me be clear that the rules will continue to protect Canadian fisheries waters from pollution, as they have in the past, and the proposed legislative amendments would provide additional clarity on the application of the law.

Proposed in Bill C-38 are a new suite of tools that help strengthen our protection of commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries. We will now be able to identify ecologically significant areas, such as critical spawning habitat for sockeye salmon and provide enhanced protection for those critical zones.

In addition, infractions under the Fisheries Act will now be aligned with those set out in the environmental enforcement act, which provides higher maximum penalties. This will ensure that those who break the rules are subject to stiffer penalties.

Through these amendments, we will also be able to establish new, clear, and accessible standards for projects in or near water. It makes good common sense that the government should be able to minimize or eliminate restrictions on routine activities that pose little or no threat to fisheries, while at the same time maintaining appropriate, reasonable and responsible protection for Canada's commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries.

A renewed Fisheries Act will provide us with the tools to develop effective regulations prohibiting the import, transport and possession of live aquatic invasive species, such as Asian carp, which are threatening the Great Lakes.

The Government of Canada takes the protection of our country's commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries very seriously. Given the importance of the fisheries from coast to coast to coast, we must focus our efforts on the effective protection of these fisheries. Their long-term sustainability and productivity are our priority.

Fisheries and Oceans
Adjournment Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has put forward that his goal is to renew and strengthen fisheries protection.

If that is his goal, he should join me in trying to stop this legislation. It does nothing of the kind. The four former fisheries ministers, whom I referenced earlier, have concluded in their letter that unless there are changes in this legislation, we are in very serious trouble.

I will quote again. They are commenting on these claims that the current legislation is so woefully inadequate. What they say is:

...we can only judge from our own experience, which suggests that the shortcomings of the existing legislation have been greatly overstated and that the remedial action proposed—

In other words, this horrible legislation.

—is vastly out of proportion to the issues they have referred to, but only vaguely. In short, we have the impression that the ministers are using a sledgehammer to swat a fly.

This legislation is deeply flawed, and I urge the parliamentary secretary, and all ministers, to reconsider.

Fisheries and Oceans
Adjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have given this very careful consideration. In fact, two of the ministers to whom she referred issued policies. For example, it was the hon. Tom Siddon's habitat policy written in 1986 that clearly says that our focus needs to be on the protection of those habitats that support recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries.

Then, in 1998, during the time of the hon. David Anderson, the government issued another policy document that expanded on the habitat policy that allowed the decision makers to know how to apply section 35 of the act. That again states very clearly that the focus must be on commercial, recreational and aboriginal fisheries, and that is what we are doing with this legislation.

Fisheries and Oceans
Adjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:27 p.m.)