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House of Commons Hansard #164 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agency.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Surrey Central.

[Editor's Note: Members sang the national anthem]

Leanne BairdStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Liberal Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I stand today to congratulate an outstanding and energetic young lady from my riding of Stoney Creek.

Miss Leanne Baird, who was crowned Miss Canada International in August, has recently returned from the Miss World International competitions in Seychelles.

As Canada's ambassador to this prestigious world competition, this dynamic 21 year old has displayed the highest level of goodwill, sportsmanship and excellence. Leanne carried out her duties with skill and compassion and should be very proud of her accomplishments.

Her leadership qualities were clearly illustrated here in Ottawa when she attended the week long Forum for Young Canadians.

Leanne is an inspiration to people of all ages everywhere and has shown the world what is right with Canada's young people.

I join with all members of this House, Leanne's family and friends and all the residents from the riding of Stoney Creek in wishing Leanne congratulations for a job well done.

2010 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, in 2010 Vancouver and Whistler intend to be hosts to the world's finest Olympic winter athletes.

Vancouver is already world renowned for its attention to culture and enthusiasm to athletics, and Whistler has repeatedly been acclaimed as the number one ski resort in the world. A combination like this is truly second to none.

Yesterday, 72 voting delegates of the Canadian Olympic Association said that British Columbia would be Canada's choice for the competition.

Congratulations go to Arthur Griffiths, head of the Vancouver-Whistler bid society, and to the many athletes and organizers who have contributed endless time and energy in making the bid successful.

Congratulations should also go to Calgary and Quebec City which both presented top notch bids.

British Columbians look forward to the opportunity of showcasing Canada's most spectacular province to the members of the IOC, establishing that B.C. is certainly the gateway to the world.

Jamie HunterStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, each year I co-sponsor an essay contest for students in my riding of Mississauga South. This year's topic was “The famous Canadian I would like to meet”.

The winning entry was submitted by Miss Jamie Hunter, a grade 7 student at Homelands Public School. The essay caught my attention because it was about an outstanding Canadian, Cassie Campbell, who has become a role model and an inspiration to Jamie.

Cassie loved hockey and despite significant hurdles she became a member of the Canadian National Women's Hockey team, representing Canada in national and world championships and at the Olympics. Cassie Campbell also obtained a university degree, did some modelling, coaches and runs hockey camps, authored a book and is a spokesperson for a program to prevent young women from smoking.

Jamie Hunter is in Ottawa today to meet the Prime Minister and I want to thank her for sharing her story about her famous Canadian role model.

When I encounter motivated young people like Jamie I am reminded just how important it is for all Canadians who touch the lives of children to provide the leadership, support and guidance that our youth will need to become the leaders of tomorrow.

International Day For The Abolition Of SlaveryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is the international day recognizing the abolition of slavery. It is a day that is commemorated around the world by countries whose citizens were victims of the slave trade.

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery calls upon each and every one of us to pause, to reflect and to take stock of the vestiges of slavery and its implications for universal human rights.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights and we must not forget the human rights violations that slavery fostered over 200 years ago.

I call upon my colleagues from all sides of the House to join me and thousands of African Canadians in recognizing this day and the history attached to it.

Canadian FarmersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize today farmers across Canada and all those in Brome—Missisquoi. They represent a vital link in the agri-food chain and contribute to a complex system involving suppliers, carriers, processors, grocers and restaurateurs.

Despite our farmers' productivity, global circumstances beyond their control have them facing a financial crisis. Economic problems in Asia had a ripple effect worldwide, causing a decline in sales. Great crops are usually good news for farmers, but not this year. The loss of markets and inventory surpluses, combined with the effects of American and European subsidies, have caused a severe economic crisis in Canadian agriculture.

I sit on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food and we have been listening to farmers and to their suggestions as to how this crisis might be resolved. I am confident we can respond to them quickly and adequately.

Let us put our heart where our mouth is.

Employment Insurance PremiumsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, talk like Santa, act like Scrooge. That is the finance minister. With great fanfare he announces a drop in employment insurance premiums, but hides the fact that he really owes workers five times more than he is paying back to them.

The chief actuary of the employment insurance program says that the finance minister owes each worker $350. So why is Scrooge paying back only one-sixth of what he has been overcharging workers? It is no wonder the finance minister has to talk so much about an uncertain environment. He was the one who helped create it with illegal taxes on Canadian families.

This Christmas there will be a hole in each worker's wallet where $300 ought to be for Tiny Tim. Even Scrooge would hang his head in shame.

Canadian FarmersStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government has been working hard to find a response to the farm income crisis.

Nationally, farm income is declining. Commodities taking the deepest dive are grains and hogs. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, where concentration is particularly intense, farm income is expected to drop about 40% and 70% respectively. Although the impact is most severe on the prairies, wherever these crops are produced farmers are hurting.

The problems that began in Asia have caused a multiplier effect around the globe. Customers no longer have the funds to buy, supply is increasing and prices are falling into the basement. European and American subsidies are compounding the problem.

In my home province of Manitoba farmers tell me that the need for assistance is urgent and the time to act is now. I urge all members—

Canadian FarmersStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Cambridge.

Women's Crisis Services Of CambridgeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Women's Crisis Services of Cambridge and North Dumfries, formerly known as the Family Crisis Shelter of Cambridge, was recently awarded $5,000 from the Donner Canadian Foundation Awards for Excellence in the delivery of social services.

This national award is a testament to the innovation and high quality of service provided to women and children in our community who are victims of abuse. The Women's Crisis Services provides a safe environment for those escaping violence in the home, as well as counselling, legal advocacy, public education, peer support and crisis intervention programs.

I congratulate all the volunteers and staff for their ongoing dedication and achievements. I wish them continued success under the new name.

The Senate Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Rob Anders Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Monday this House gave a standing ovation to Mr. Max Bacaus, an elected senator.

When opposition members stood to applaud, we did so in support of a triple E Senate. Liberals on the front benches jeered despite the fact that the Prime Minister has promised an elected, equal and effective Senate and has failed to deliver at every opportuntiy.

Alberta pays for 10 senators, gets only six and receives the services of none.

On October 19 of this year Alberta took steps to change that by electing two senators. Here today are two elected senators from Alberta who received the support of 593,000 voters, the largest number of votes cast for any parliamentarian in Canadian history.

Canadians deserve democratic representation in their government. The election of senators in Alberta is only the beginning.

Hockey Night In OttawaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Hec Clouthier Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the action was fast and furious as Team Liberal faced off against the opposition last night in an historic hockey game. When the ice chips settled, Team Liberal skated away as the political champions of Canada's national pastime.

Although the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough promised to pepper Team Liberal with shots, our rotund member from Bourassa stood on his head in the net as he kept a low goal deficit. Our veteran member from Nickel Belt was a shining, scintillating star for the winning team. Also accolades go to our member from Nunavut. She was as graceful as a gazelle on skates. Our member for Brampton Centre offered vocal and moral support as our door manager.

Team Liberal was triumphant despite the opposition attack led by the terrible trio of the members from Medicine Hat, Prince George—Peace River and Surrey North.

The opposition did suffer a hold-out by the Bloc Quebecois players, who refused to play unless there were winning conditions.

Hockey Night In OttawaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Québec.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the ministers responsible for the growth in poverty have just announced they intend to continue fleecing employees, by making a nickel and dime cut in EI contribution rates at a time when the program is covering only four out of every ten unemployed workers.

The Minister of Human Resources Development can say that this cut will put $1.1 billion back into the pockets of Canadians, but what he is not saying and we ought to know is that, at the same time, he is discreetly taking approximately $5 billion out of their other pockets.

How can the Minister of Human Resources Development let the Minister of Finance help himself with both hands to a fund his government does not pay a penny into, instead of recognizing that the surpluses in the unemployment insurance fund belong to those who pay contributions and must be paid back to them, by substantially lowering contribution rates and improving the employment insurance plan?

Transport CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour NDP Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the auditor general has revealed that Transport Canada's performance in managing and administering its highway investment shows many weaknesses.

This is nothing for New Brunswickers. New Brunswickers know about Transport Canada's mismanagement of money. Starting in January they will have to pay tolls to drive on a highway that was built as part of a federal-provincial agreement signed by former transport minister Doug Young who now heads the private company putting up tolls.

By 2001 it will cost cars up to $14 and trucks $45 for a round trip.

The now transport minister has said that measures will be taken to forbid tolls on federally funded highways in the future. However, for this deal he has chosen to protect Doug Young's interests instead of standing up for Atlantic Canadians.

New Brunswickers will have to pay tolls to drive to work, to go to a doctor or to visit friends and family. The people driving to and from Atlantic Canada will have to pay those tolls also. Atlantic Canadians will also see an increase in the price of goods.

Toronto MayorStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Mayor of Toronto compared the PQ government to the communist regime of Fidel Castro. He also said that no federal buildings belong to Quebeckers, and he called sovereignty a stupid project.

How could the mayor of Canada's largest city not know that Quebeckers pay close to one quarter of federal taxes? The reality is that one quarter of the federal buildings in Toronto belong to Quebeckers. And, after a yes vote, we will be prepared to trade our federal buildings outside Quebec for all the federal buildings located in Quebec. This is what sharing the debt and the assets is all about.

How could the mayor of Canada's largest city consider it stupid for a people to refer to its history and want to succeed on the international scene? Why would something that is good for Canadians be stupid for Quebeckers?

I do not see what interest the Mayor of Toronto has in publicly airing his biases against Quebec. It seems to me that what we need right now is an honest dialogue and constructive discussions, not—

Toronto MayorStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Nunavut has the floor.

Hockey Night In OttawaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, being a hockey mom of four boys, I can imagine how the opposition must be feeling today. Defeat can be tough at times.

The opposition was trounced by a score of 13 to 8 at last night's famous hockey game. Again we have proven that our Liberal team is hard to beat. Our players came together as a team of force. Liberals always do.

The ice became another venue where our members came out as winners and I am very proud to be part of the team.

I have a message for the opposition. Everyone cannot be a winner. It is all about trying one's best. Unfortunately, the opposition's best could not topple our Liberal spirit.

Veterans AffairsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I just want to tell members that the reason the Liberals won was because I was supposed to be the coach and I could not make it. That is the only reason they won.

Yesterday the auditor general's report congratulated the Department of Veterans Affairs for its reduction of the turnaround time for veterans' applications for benefits.

However, many veterans feel that there are still problems that exist within the system, one of which is the lack of credibility afforded to veterans who have no way of proving their claim for benefits due to the lack of accurate records.

We in the Progressive Conservative Party feel that veterans in this particular circumstance should be given an opportunity to testify under oath before the veterans review board as to the validity of their claims; therefore, not only giving the benefit of the doubt to the veteran, but also leaving the board to substantiate its decision.

These men are entitled to better treatment and other people's errors should not be a reason for doubt. Lest we forget.

Tourist IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yvon Charbonneau Liberal Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to tell you about another initiative of our government in developing our natural heritage.

On November 12, the hon. secretary of state responsible for Canada's economic development announced a $1.6 million investment to develop the recreational and tourist potential of the Saguenay fjord. Through a partnership agreement between Fisheries and Oceans, Economic Development and Heritage Canada, the pier at Anse-Saint-Jean will be redeveloped.

In addition to restoring the site's beauty, the work will help support the region's tourist industry.

The Government of Canada is proud to be associated with a project based on partnership. This initiative will promote tourism, which is a major industry in our economy.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister owes millions of Canadian workers $290 each. This Prime Minister owes thousands of Canadian businesses $415 per employee. That is how much further the employment insurance premiums should have been cut yesterday according to the chief actuary of the plan.

Why does the Prime Minister not simply tell his finance minister to give that money back to the employers and the workers of Canada?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the department of the Minister of Human Resources Development has a committee that has been established under the law. It is made up of employers and employees. The three members of the commission looking at all the circumstances recommended a reduction of 15 cents.

When we became the government in 1993, EI premiums were to be $3.30 on January 1, 1994. They have been reduced with this move to $2.55. We are reducing premiums, contrary to what has happened in previous years.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister hides behind the Employment Insurance Commission, which is a frequent posture of the Prime Minister.

How independent are these commissions? Two of them work for the Minister of Human Resources Development and the other two are appointed by the government. If they object to this heist, they will probably be collecting employment insurance themselves.

Why does the Prime Minister not just do the right thing and give the employment insurance money back to the workers instead of blaming the commissioners?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not blaming anybody. In fact, because we have managed the finances of the country in a very careful and responsible way, we are in the second year of a surplus position. I am very surprised that the leader of the Reform Party wants us to go into a deficit position again as quickly as possible.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is not just the workers that the Prime Minister is ripping off. The government has been ripping off hard pressed farmers by up to $1 billion a year in income and input taxes. The government is ripping off the working poor to the tune of about $15 billion a year from families and individuals who make $30,000 or less.

Maybe the Prime Minister can tell Canadians who just do not understand why he has instructed his finance minister to tax the life out of workers, farmers and the working poor.