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House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was family.

Topics

Division No. 1265Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, I grew up in a secure and loving family where both my father and mother were present. It was not a perfect marriage but I knew that they loved me and each other. There was a commitment to stay together in spite of all the problems of married life. That made my growing up years very happy and memorable and it instilled values and morals in me which I have brought to my own marriage and family of eight children.

I know that not every family had that kind of good beginning but it seemed to be the norm in the Canadian society of the 1940s and 1950s. However, insidious pressures were being placed on family life. Post-war parents had seen thousands of shattered relationships. Some of them had lost spouses in the war and had to start all over again. Other relationships had been destroyed by adultery both overseas and at home, brought about by the separation of six terrible years of war. In the lives of these people there was a growing bitterness about love and marriage itself.

In the post-war years Canada enjoyed an economic boom. With that came an ever increasing higher standard of living which placed the temptation of getting and spending before us. Both government and Canadians in general went on a huge spending spree. The government response to pay for all of it was to raise taxes bringing us to this day where we are almost the highest taxed nation in the world.

This in itself was yet another economic pressure on Canadian family life. As inflation spiralled, many women who wanted to be stay at home mothers had to become breadwinners with their husbands simply to keep up. Both men and women were working longer and spending less time with each other and their families. The commitment to develop strong relationships in family life was taking a back seat to other less worthy priorities. Some of my school chums' families started to disintegrate. Divorce become more frequent but still was not an epidemic. However, the pressure on the family was building.

By the mid-1960s we were in the midst of a sexual revolution. Some segments of our society hailed it as liberty, a freeing up from traditional values like chastity and fidelity which had provided, in my view, structure and safety for the Canadian family.

Many women were tired of the abuse they felt they suffered at the hands of a male dominated society. More of them were working, taking their places beside men and they wanted equality. Some of them wanted even more. They wanted vengeance and retribution. The feminist movement started a strident campaign to bring women into the 20th century. They burned their bras, demanded protection from unwanted pregnancy, spurned chastity and scorned the pro-life people.

A gradual blurring of the sexes occurred that gave young men growing up in many female dominated, single parent homes an identity crisis. This led to a rise in militant homosexuality, a coming out of the closet of gay men and women who also demanded equality. The things that had been considered improper went looking for a desperate legitimacy.

In 1968 then justice minister Pierre Trudeau mouthed his infamous words “the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation”. He and his cohorts passed omnibus justice legislation which legitimized behaviour which until then for centuries had been considered outside the realm of normal and good family and personal relationships. He legitimized homosexuality between consenting adults. He provided couples who were being split by disharmony and infidelity with an easier way out, no fault divorce.

At that point in Canadian history, I believe our government started its assault on traditional family and marriage. In my view, no government can make legitimate any behaviour that has for centuries by tradition, custom, faith and the social contract been seen as destructive to family life.

This brings me to the year 2000. After 32 years of disintegrating family life, rising divorce rates, the murder of millions of babies by abortion, the decline of authority and discipline in families, school and judicial institutions, to the latest attack on the family, the attack on the very foundation of family life in this nation, the institution of marriage itself.

May I suggest that the majority of Canadians, people of faith, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, have a common belief that the institution of marriage, one man and one woman, was part of the Creator's divine plan for the orderly conduct of life and the continuation of the human race. Those of us who believe in this are wondering why our government continues its assault on the family which started in 1968. Why is it so determined to allow in legislation the gradual diminishing of influence of the traditional family and marriage itself?

Bill C-23, unfortunately in my view, is the logical progression of trends started long ago, where now in the form of same sex benefits, government continues the blurring of the traditional family and marriage. It does that by suggesting strongly through this legislation that common law relationships of heterosexual or same sex couples are no different than that of marriage as the union of man and a woman to the exclusion of all others.

This sends a destructive message to all our children. This says that the marriage of man and woman for life is not important. It does not matter whether couples get married or not and it does not matter with whom one cohabits. What a terrible message to send to our children. How will the future of our country be influenced by this?

In moving in this direction, I suggest that this government has given in once again to the tyranny of the minority. Minority pressure groups in our society that demand legislative change to legitimize their position do not really question the morality of it. They are afraid to ask the important question: Is it really the right thing to do? They simply change the law in the name of equality. Having equal rights does not make those rights correct or moral. We cannot legislate equality any more than we can legislate morality. Those are attitudes of the heart and soul that the government has clearly forgotten about.

Now, the party that told us that government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, continues to invade them. Ironic, is it not? We have a bill that gives benefits and obligations on the basis of conjugal relationships.

What are the youth of today saying? When I listen to them, I hear them wanting to return to a better day, to a day when family life and marriage had more security and more commitment. For instance, in a study done in 1971 young people between the ages of 18 to 34 were asked if they agreed that extramarital sex was okay and 34% of them said yes. In 1995, 18 to 34 year olds were asked the same question and only 11% said yes. Who are these 1995 young people? They are the children of the baby boomers whose lives were supposed to be made easier by free love, easy divorce and the legitimization of homosexuality.

They are the ones who suffered the results of the age of promiscuity, the lack of commitment, parents who were not there for them when they needed them and, quite frankly, they want a better life. They want to be better parents and more committed to their spouses, with more order and structure in their family lives and for their children.

Why does our government always have to be so many years behind the real feelings of the majority of people when it crafts and passes legislation? This is exactly what is happening with Bill C-23.

I look at our nation today and weep. I weep for the hurting children who do not really know their parents. I ache for the women who suffer post-abortion trauma and have deep regrets for their actions. My heart breaks for young people who have grown up in homes where the lack of structure, discipline and love has led to rebellion and bitterness.

The Reena Virk incident is a tragic result of the things that I have talked about today. I see a government oblivious to the whole thing, determined to march to the orders of a tyrannical minority which will cause us all to reap the results of the whirlwind in the years to come. I say shame on it for not having open eyes to see what is going on, open ears to hear the wishes of the majority of Canadians who are opposed to the bill and open minds to admit that it is.

If this bill passes without the amendments we have suggested, it will be a sad day for Canada and I, for one, would never want to be a part of that kind of country.

Division No. 1265Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, Bill C-23 has raised a lot of questions and a lot of issues. People want to get their views on the record. Through the course of the debate we have found people with different backgrounds appearing to take a common position on a bill for entirely different reasons.

For example, just a few moments ago an hon. colleague from the Conservative Party reaffirmed for everybody in the House who was listening that this bill was purely and exclusively about economic and fiscal inequalities that must be redressed. As many others have done, he pointed to the fact that legislation in the House was really behind the current conditions of the day in the marketplace. As an example, he pointed to the many decisions on the part of the private sector to equalize benefits notwithstanding sexual orientation.

That may be true but the bill does aim to ensure that the economic discrepancies and inequalities that appear to exist in relationships of economic dependency are immediately redressed. I underscore that this has been an issue of economic dependency. I think the state has a right to intervene in any partnership where economic dependency does have ramifications for the larger social good.

As was rightly pointed out by individuals in the House, tolerance, compassion and all those values that they ascribe to Canadian society and to each and every individual here, do come into play. However, as another colleague has accurately pointed out, one does not legislate compassion, equality or justice. One legislates equality of treatment.

When there is, as this bill has indicated, a circumstance where economic dependency and a partnership is not recognized, then the state has the obligation to ensure that both the rights and the responsibilities of that partnership are upheld. The presumption, of course, is that these partnerships all have the social value for a collective good.

Bill C-23 recognizes that there is a discrimination of sorts. I say of sorts because I am trying to be very careful and cautious in the language I use. This is, after all, a charged environment. I am looking at the issue of all economic dependencies. Cases where these economic dependencies do not call into question a sexual relationship are excluded from this bill. For me that is an important and significant vacuum in this legislation. We should include all those who are not properly dealt with by legislation.

As members of parliament, once we see an injustice, once we perceive an inequality and once we engage our energies to ensure that we address that inequality, we have an obligation to not restrict that energy to just one component of that inequality.

I do not know if I am making myself clear, but if one recognizes the value of economic dependencies, then surely one should not restrict them on the basis of sexuality.

I am sure my children think of me as a prude, or a dinosaur, as a member on the other side would have said. I am not really. I am one of those children of the sixties. I recognize that there are responsibilities that we arrogate to ourselves the moment we make decisions. I truly believe that as individuals, if we make a decision we are responsible for it. We cannot ask somebody else to be responsible for our decisions unless of course those decisions have a larger impact. If people are willing to show me what the benefits are of some individual decisions, I am willing to accept them.

Colleagues on both sides of the House have argued that the bill should be exclusively fiscal and economic in its approach, and that what the Government of Canada rightly is doing is catching up to society and giving to many relationships the legitimacy that convention has already accorded them and that private sectors have already ascribed by virtue of some decisions that have emanated from the courts.

However, there is one other element that people have raised. My colleague from the Conservative Party a few moments ago said that some people were still struggling with homosexuality. No, I do not think anybody is. There are overtones of religious bias. There is bias in everything.

Despite being one of those people from the free wheeling sixties, I too had an upbringing. I am proud to say that my upbringing was religious, although I am not as practising as I used to be, but it was religious in the sense that it said every single man and woman, every single creature on this earth is worthy of the dignity that is accorded all humans.

If people would say to me that I was being a little bit religious on this issue, I would say that they are darned right. I hope I am living up to the credo that I espoused when I was a younger man. What dignity is at stake? What compassion need I accord to someone that my background has not already obligated me to offer? What discrimination is so glaring that it needs my immediate and total attention? I would willingly give it.

People have pointed out the economic and fiscal discrepancies where two unrelated people, it does not matter what gender they are, have agreed in their partnership that they would sustain each other. We as a state or as representatives of the state say that is a good and healthy relationship and we will give it what it is due. However, let us do that for every single relationship. Let us not restrict it by sexuality. If we do, we then call into question precisely the issues that some of my colleagues have raised, and that is, by so restricting this decision and by indicating that we can only deal with this element of inequality do we then not call into question the larger issues, the issue of matrimony, the issue of heterosexual relationships, the issue, as my colleague from the Alliance Party indicated, of family? From there we can extrapolate all the ills that we will.

I do not think we are in a position where we need to challenge ourselves about sustaining something that is rock solid. Like many members in the House, I am also blessed with a little bit of skepticism. I thought this was a bill, purely and exclusively, about redressing fiscal and economic inequalities and economic dependencies. However, I then heard other members in the House, as is the end or objective of debate, and advocates outside the House complain that the Minister of Justice changed the bill by including an amendment wherein she defined marriage. Their response was that the bill was not about economic dependency. They said that the bill was about recognizing this particular sexual activity on the same par as another.

My tolerance and my willingness to address the issue were awakened. My constituents were also equally compassionate and equally committed to establishing a country and a society of which everyone could be proud. They are now asking which it is. Is the bill one that recognizes this type of marriage on the same basis as the other by giving a definition or not giving a definition or by giving the same benefits that accrue to this one? What are the social benefits of any type of union?

If it is true that the state has no business in the bedroom of the nation, what then should be the criteria for economic dependency? What should be the test of unions that are for the common weal and not for individual benefit?

Division No. 1265Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Maurice Vellacott Reform Wanuskewin, SK

Madam Speaker, I have a number of concerns about the bill. My colleagues have very ably raised a number of them over the course of their speeches. I will focus on just a few ideas.

My main concern with the bill is that it threatens the very institution of marriage. People can dismiss that and brush it off, but I think down the road we will rue the day that this legislation was brought forward. It takes us further down a slippery slope that leads to the devaluing of the important institution of marriage.

In 1996 the Liberals passed Bill C-33, the bill that added sexual orientation to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The stated goal of that bill was to protect homosexuals from discrimination in the workplace and in housing.

At that time a number of Liberals, and we will cite some of them today, assured the Canadian public that the amendment to the act would not lead to the extension of benefits to partners of homosexuals. We were told then that it was only stopping discrimination, that it was only a workplace and housing issue. In the House on May 7, 1996, the Liberal member for Wentworth—Burlington defended Bill C-33 and the justice minister of the day with these words:

—many Canadians feared that Bill C-33 would lead to court interpretation such that gay couples could claim marriage and family benefits as a matter of right, that the legal privileges the state confers on conjugal couples of the opposite sex would be equally guaranteed by right to couples of the same sex. The justice minister has explicitly said this is not the intention of Bill C-33. He said it is workplace legislation and nothing more. He has assured us it has nothing to do with the definition of family, of same sex benefits or of same sex couples.

Those words were from the Liberal member for Wentworth—Burlington. They ring pretty hollow today. To add to that, on May 8, 1996, the justice minister of the day, the member for Etobicoke Centre who is now the health minister, confirmed this deception when he said:

—the Supreme Court of Canada decided the case of Egan and Nesbit. It decided that notwithstanding that sexual orientation is a ground within section 15 of the charter on which discrimination is prohibited, the benefits do not automatically follow.

The Liberal justice minister at that time in his own words explicitly claimed that even if sexual orientation were added to the Canadian Human Rights Act the courts would not use that to extend benefits to gay partnerships.

We can fast forward to today where we find that all those promises were empty. They all ring very hollow, very deceptive in fact, as subsequent events have shown. That slippery slope has operated quite well.

There has been a series of court decisions rendered in which various kinds of benefits previously restricted to heterosexual couples have now been extended to gay partners. The most recent decisions have included the Rosenberg decision in June 1998 in which the Ontario Court of Appeal changed the Income Tax Act to extend pension benefits to gay partners. In May 1999 the supreme court declared in its M. v H. ruling that gay partners were subject to the alimony provisions of the Ontario family law act.

What happened in these court cases is exactly what the Liberals said would not happen. They are obviously not very good at prediction and beyond that they knew exactly where this would lead.

We see a pattern in which the initiatives of the Liberal party on same sex matters turn into merely a Trojan horse. I make some exceptions for folk on that side of the House who understand and see the problems with the legislation. At first they say the legislation they are passing in 1996 will not lead to legal challenges designed to extend benefits to gay couples. Then when the legal challenges come forward and are successful they turn around and say they had better change the laws to reflect the recent court decisions. That is what they are doing with the introduction of Bill C-23.

I heard a member say just recently that the Liberal cabinet is trying to catch up with the recent court decisions. The truth is that it is merely finishing what it set in motion. It is all very disingenuous. That is why we need to wake up and realize that the bill is a definite plan and it takes us further down that slippery slope. It sets the stage for a direct attack on the heterosexual definition of marriage at a date coming very soon. Stay tuned. We will see it before long in our supreme court.

If the legislation is passed it will lead in a very significant way, looking back historically, to a very major devaluation of marriage. Some ask why this would be bad since we are in a modern era and maybe there are other ways to deal with it. I would say that marriage, which the bill threatens, is a unique institution that has historically served us very well. It deserves to be guarded, not only protected but affirmed.

The institution of marriage has brought great benefits to society. It is in the vast majority of marriages that children are brought into the world, providing our country with its future citizens, workers, leaders, mothers and fathers. Marriage, as we know and as is shown time and again in academic study after academic study, provides the most stable, enduring context. Our Statistics Canada studies demonstrate this point. Marriage provides the most enduring context for the development of individuals during the formative years of childhood.

It has been proven that families in which the parents are married are statistically the most stable families. In this way marital relationships contribute to the dignity, stability, peace and prosperity of the family and of society.

Why does marriage bring these benefits? When a man and a woman enter into a marriage relationship it is almost always with the express purpose of making a lifelong commitment that will form the basis of family life and the environment in which children will be reared.

Marriages do break down, regrettably, sadly and tragically, but the fact that marriage relationships are much more stable than common law relationships makes one point very clear. Very few people enter into a marriage relationship flippantly. Most have carefully thought about the commitment they are making and the sincere and solemn vows to which they are committing. They realize they are participating in something much larger than themselves, something that most Canadians from various religious backgrounds believe is designed by God.

I simply point out that people are serious when they get married. This seriousness and depth of commitment to marriage are what benefit children who are born and raised in families. This is of great benefit to society.

Because of the way in which the institution of marriage benefits society we need to guard it, protect it and promote it. The institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman must be preserved, protected and promoted in both the private and the public realms. It would be foolish to undermine the uniqueness of the marriage relationship. Any society that does so risks losing the benefits that have come to that society from marriage and from the high regard in which it has always been held.

Some people are not thinking about the health of the larger society when they are willing to sacrifice the societal benefits which come from marriage in order to engage in some major societal experimentation. We are in a laboratory, it appears, and some major social experimenting is going on that will create some real harm and damage down the road. Such people regard marriage as little more than a form of self-expression. It is much more than that. It is the glue that holds society together and lays the groundwork for the society of tomorrow.

The institution of marriage is not something to be toyed with. Were we to abandon the uniqueness of marriage, I am convinced we would pay a heavy price for that social experimentation. We would be killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

To tinker with the institution of marriage sends the wrong message to our young people. Surveys have shown that young people are actually more optimistic about relationships and starting a family some day than many of their parents. That optimism is good and needs to be encouraged.

Were the institution of marriage to be changed, we would be sending the wrong message to common law couples who have children and who are contemplating making a lifelong commitment to each other in marriage. Obviously many couples who are married today were formerly living together in common law relationships. At some point they decided to commit themselves to each other in a greater way, in marriage. This is something to be welcomed and encouraged. The children in such relationships benefit and society in turn benefits.

Therefore marriage in Canada as currently defined as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others accords with the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance policy that marriage is the union between a man and a woman as recognized by the state.

Though the bill before us can be criticized from various angles, I believe that one of the most serious criticisms is the way in which it takes us further down that slippery slope toward the devaluation of marriage.

This is typical of the way the Liberal cabinet and some candidates handle social policy matters. Liberals appear to be anti-family with respect to the national day care program. The Canadian Alliance offers dollars and choice for parents. The Liberal cabinet has tax discrimination against one income families. We offer a 17% solution of fairness and equity, a $10,000 per person exemption and $20,000 per family.

The Liberal cabinet is unwilling to uphold laws against child pornography. We would use the notwithstanding clause to protect kids. The Liberals have unfair child access laws after divorce. We propose shared parenting family law to fix that. I could go on from there.

In closing, we have a cabinet with a track record of undermining the family by way of legislative initiatives. I do not believe that the majority will forget that attack on the family. As members of the Canadian Alliance Party, as I wrap up, we will fight for families. We expect that Canadians will join us in that significant battle as well.

Division No. 1265Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, I am a bit concerned about the arguments I have been hearing from time to time from our friends across the aisle. Government members seem to be always presenting arguments that concentrate on their attempts to refute the arguments presented by my colleagues.

In other words what we have are negative arguments in opposition to the opposition. What I am waiting to hear are arguments explaining the civil and social purposes of the bill. What are its objectives? How can it possibly benefit society?

It is not good enough for the government to argue that the bill will do no harm. Although that premise in itself is questionable I do see some potential for harm there, but there must be, if this is to be reasonable legislation, a premise that it will somehow benefit the country. What is the advantage of devaluing the unique position of marriage with respect to social benefits? What is the government trying to prove?

Our society has lived for hundreds of generations without this type of recognition for homosexual relationships. These relationships have been essentially prescribed—

Division No. 1265Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but it is almost 2 o'clock. I wanted to make sure that I left you with a good chunk of time. You still have a bit over eight minutes in your speech. You will have the floor when we come back to Government Orders.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Reform Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, this week communities across Canada are celebrating National Volunteer Week.

What does it mean to volunteer? The dictionary describes it as spontaneously taking on a task, but rather than define the term being a volunteer really defines the person.

Canada has repeatedly been selected by the United Nations as the number one place in the world to live. This is in large part due to the friendly, voluntary spirit of Canadians.

We are beginning a new millennium. Everyone is in a hurry to get things done, with less free time to give.

Congratulations to the many individual volunteers and social groups who have made their communities a better place to live. On this, the first volunteer week of the 21st century, let us all make an extra effort to donate some of our precious free time this year and let us teach our children about the spirit of volunteerism, Canada's greatest natural resource.

Canadian Cancer SocietyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is Canadian Cancer Society's campaign month. An estimated 129,000 cases of cancer occur each and every year in Canada. Each year 63,000 people die from the disease. Each week 2,000 people are diagnosed with cancer, 1,200 of whom die in the course of the disease.

This hits very close to my home and family because next month marks the fifth anniversary of my father's death. His passing was a terribly difficult time for my family, and we miss him terribly.

The Canadian Cancer Society campaigns throughout the month of April so that it can fund programs such as patient services, public education, and CCS's cancer information service. The money we donate goes to upkeep these valuable services and to promote groundbreaking research to improve the quality of life of people experiencing cancer, and to move toward the complete eradication of this devastating disease.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask you and my colleagues on both sides of the House to come together and to donate time and money to help increase awareness in this month.

Canadian MilitiaStatements By Members

April 10th, 2000 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Armed Forces have been through difficult times. They have done fine work with restricted resources. Now that they have additional funds I hope they will not forget the army reserve, the militia.

A vibrant militia is a vital part of modern armed forces. The militia is a key part of the Armed Forces for training and recruitment, for national and international emergencies, and for many types of peacekeeping missions. The reserve provides a presence for the Armed Forces in communities across the nation.

I urge DND to foster and expand militia units in communities such as Peterborough and all across Canada.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, National Volunteer Week 2000, offers us an opportunity to publicly thank the millions of Canadians who contribute their time and talents to serve their fellow citizens.

This year's theme, “Volunteering: a time-honoured tradition” is well-chosen, for Canada has a long history of volunteerism. Over the years, volunteers have focused incredible energy for the health of their communities. All aspects of Canadian society have been profoundly affected by the cumulative efforts of ordinary citizens all over this country, which have had a considerable impact on its growth and development.

Volunteers have made a huge contribution to shaping this country in the past, and will continue to play a lead role in shaping our future. Their devotion and commitment truly pay a tribute to Canadians' values and identity.

I am sure all members of this House will join me in thanking the millions of volunteers active in all regions of the country.

Gasoline PricingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I intend to introduce a bill this week concerning the posting of gas prices by retailers, which would not include the federal and provincial taxes.

Vimy RidgeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Peter Goldring Reform Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today the stark, majestic, white spires waft by gentle breeze on tranquil Vimy Ridge belie the terror of old. While the sky rained shells and brave men died, 100,000 Canadians moved forth in a hell of inhumanity, testing their mettle and mortality of soul. They were advancing on unconquerable Vimy. On this same ridge, tens of thousands had died before in vain British and French assaults.

The goal was now Canada's turn. Canada's finest young men won the contest that day, a victory for all the world to see. The greatest victory of World War I, Vimy Ridge, would enter Canadian history on April 12th, 1917.

Many would say that Canada took birth that day, born into the world of nations with respect, born by the blood of our young and born through their determination and skill. Their spirit lives on to this day.

Summerhill Street SchoolStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to offer congratulations to four very special students in my riding. Crystal Cardwell, Jessica Furzer, Anne Sophie Groulx and Kristina Pigeon are grade four students at Summerhill Street School in Oromocto. These girls are the best in the world.

These students have done all New Brunswickers proud by winning the International Lunch Box Derby in New York City. The derby involves building cars out of fruit and vegetables and launching them down a ramp to see which one travels the greatest distance.

The Oromocto team won and even set a new world record of 20 metres in the process, beating teams from the United States and Great Britain.

For their ingenuity, teamwork and creativity, as well as their international crown, I proudly salute Crystal, Jessica, Anne Sophie and Kristina on a job well done.

VolunteersStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the context of volunteer week in Quebec, I would like to pay tribute to three million men and women in Quebec, who of their own volition agree to give of their best to provide a touch of humanity in the daily lives of tens of thousands of individuals.

Is there any more true gift that we can offer than our time? These people will point out that giving means receiving, because meeting someone else face to face brings us face to face with ourselves. This is a way to exercise one's citizenship to the fullest.

Words cannot express the gratitude and respect we feel for these men and women, who say that their happiness is conditional on the happiness of others.

Thanks to each of you, who, through your generosity, provide warm support to society. Thanks to you from the bottom of our hearts.

Canadian Women's HockeyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the gold medal was on the line. The American team was leading 2-0 after two periods. The tension was high in the Hershey Centre in Mississauga last night as Team Canada took the ice for the third period. They were down but not out.

In the Women's World Hockey Championships, Team Canada made it 2-1 and then 2-all and then, in dramatic fashion in overtime, they lifted the roof and won their sixth consecutive world championship.

Congratulations to the entire team under coach Melody Davidson, to Fran Rider, executive director of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association, who hosted the tournament, and to Mayor Hazel McCallion, honorary chair of women's hockey in Canada and an inspiration to the players.

This was Canada's 30th consecutive win in the world championships. True Canadian grit, determination and character came out in these proud Canadian athletes; a true tribute to Canadian hockey and a great victory for Canadian women's hockey.

World Curling ChampionshipsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, in Glasgow, Scotland on the weekend Canada demonstrated once again that it is a dominant force in the sport of curling.

On Saturday, skip Kelley Law and her team from the Richmond Winter Club swept their way to victory against Switzerland for the women's world curling championship. But Canada's winning ways did not end there.

On Sunday curling fans around the world watched as skip Greg McAulay and his team from New Westminster, B.C. defeated Sweden by a score of 9-4 to claim the men's world curling championship as well.

As a proud representative of the people of British Columbia, I would be remiss if I did not also mention that the men's world junior curling championship was won two weeks ago by Kelowna's Brad Kuhn.

My congratulations go out to all of these fine men and women who continue to demonstrate that B.C. does indeed stand not only for best Canadians, but best curlers.

National Wildlife WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Jordan Liberal Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to take this opportunity to remind all hon. members that today marks the first day of National Wildlife Week. This week-long celebration of our wildlife heritage was established by an act of parliament in 1947.

The Canadian Wildlife Federation sponsors National Wildlife Week in co-operation with the Canadian Wildlife Service and federal, provincial, territorial and municipal wildlife agencies, as well as non-profit organizations.

This year's theme is “Migration: An Incredible Journey”. It reminds us that migratory species need adequate food, water, shelter and space to survive and complete their trips between breeding and wintering grounds.

I hope that all Canadians will take some time during this week to reflect on the importance of wildlife conservation in this country.

National Poetry MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, in honour of national poetry month I would like to read an excerpt from “A Thousand Crosses in Oppenheimer Park” by Bud Osborn.

when eagles circle oppenheimer park who see them feel awe feel joy feel hope soar in our hearts the eagles are symbols for the courage in our spirits for the fierce and piercing vision for justice in our souls the eagles bestow a blessing on our lives but with these thousand crosses planted in oppenheimer park today who really see them feel sorrow feel loss feel rage our hearts shed bitter tears these thousand crosses are symbols of the social apartheid in our culture the segregation of those who deserve to live and those who are abandoned to die these thousand crosses represent the overdose deaths of drug addicts these thousand crosses silently announce a social curse on the lives of the poorest of the poor on the downtown eastside these thousand crosses announce an assault on our community these thousand crosses announce a deprivation of possibility for those of us who mourn here the mothers and fathers—

National Poetry MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Trois-Rivières.

Armed Forces DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 2000 calendar of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine is quite revealing. It notes all sorts of celebrations and all the national days, including of course, Canada day, July 1. There is one single exception, Quebecers' national day. We discover, instead, hang on to your hats, that June 24 is armed forces day.

St. Jean Baptiste day is mentioned, but the hon. member certainly knows that this holiday is shared by all French Canadians, whereas Quebecers' national day is the day of all citizens of Quebec whatever their origin. The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine has made June 24 an ethnic holiday, which is not the case in Quebec.

The fact that the member neglected to note that June 24 is Quebec's national day, the national day of all Quebecers, surprises no one in Quebec, because at the heart of Liberal Party action is the denial of the people of Quebec.

Once again Quebecers—

Armed Forces DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

World Curling ChampionshipsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, two rinks from British Columbia have taken gold in both the men's and women's World Curling Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

The men's squad from New Westminster's Royal City Curling Club, made up of Jody Sveistrup, Bryan Miki, Brent Pierce and skip Greg McAulay, needed just nine ends to defeat Team Sweden 9-4. The women's squad from the Richmond Winter Club, made up of Julie Skinner, Georgina Wheatcroft, Diane Nelson and skip Kelley Law, won gold in a nail-biter against the Swiss team, 7-6.

And that is not all. Thanks to an overtime goal by Nancy Drolet, Canada won the world women's hockey championship beating out the American team.

Congratulations to three remarkable teams.

Atlantic FisheriesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, when the federal government announced in 1995 that it would be withdrawing from the ownership and operation of regional and local ports, we were all quite leery of the ramifications such a decision would have on local stakeholders.

The transfer of these wharves to private for profit interests has left our fishing industry at the mercy of these companies, which are in a position to substantially increase berthing fees, knowing full well that many fishermen have few options but to tie their vessels at their locations.

In Atlantic Canada some berthing fees have more than doubled since private companies took over. For instance, last year a boat owner at the Digby wharf paid $1,056 in berthing fees. This year the owner is being charged $2,336 for the same service.

The minister might suggest that they move to another wharf; however, let me remind him that a number of wharves in Atlantic Canada were seriously damaged in a January 21 storm and his government has thus far failed to provide any meaningful emergency assistance to help repair them.

The new national marine policy was supposed to ensure affordable, effective and safe marine transportation services. I think the fishing industry would—

Atlantic FisheriesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore.

Sackville River's AssociationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, this week is a famous week in Canada as we celebrate two great weeks: National Volunteerism Week and Canadian Environmental week.

One of the groups I would like to honour is the Sackville River's Association of Nova Scotia. These great volunteers lost a member the other day to illness; however, the member and the association combined volunteerism with environmentalism to protect Atlantic salmon in the Sackville River and throughout Nova Scotia.

These men and women, along with their children, do yeomen's work every weekend and every week night, whenever they can, trying to clean up the river to preserve and protect fish for future generations, as well as promoting environmental activism within the fishing communities throughout Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada.

I congratulate those involved with the Sackville River's Association, as well as all volunteers across this country.

Option CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Edmonton North Alberta

Reform

Deborah Grey ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the heritage minister has an interesting sense of accountability. The heritage department fast tracked nearly $5 million worth of grants to Option Canada even though the organization had existed only a few weeks. It had no track in handling public funds. When heritage auditors found out that the money went missing the government responded by acknowledging that the money went missing and then closed the case. End of story.

How many millions need to be lost before the heritage minister displays even the slightest hint of respect for taxpayers' dollars?