House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.


The House resumed from February 1 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session and of the amendment.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have rise in the House since your election. I am delighted to see you in the chair. You have demonstrated great skill in the role as the Deputy Speaker. We look forward to one of the most productive parliaments that one could possibly expect as a result of your leadership and your skills as Speaker.

I am pleased to rise to speak on the Speech from the Throne. As Minister of the Environment it is my particular responsibility to concern myself with Canada and our natural heritage from coast to coast to coast.

We are blessed to live in a country that is rich in nature, wilderness and ample resources. This rich natural heritage is a sacred trust passed from one generation to the next. Indeed, as former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau used to remark “geography and nature defines us as Canadians”.

As Canadians, we understand that protecting the environment is not an option. It is a must-do. Nothing is more fundamental in this country.

That is why one of the key planks in the government's plan for its third mandate is to ensure a clean, healthy environment for Canadians and the preservation of our natural species.

For its part the Government of Canada has already made significant investments in the environment by supporting community initiatives, funding research, facilitating the development of new environmental technologies, supporting international environmental initiatives, and strengthening measures to reduce air and water pollution.

Our work is paying off. Just last month at the world economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, a study was released which shows that, together with Finland and Norway, Canada is one of the top three countries in environmental sustainability.

Canada ranks third on an environmental sustainability index, the most comprehensive global report comparing environmental conditions and environmental performance across 122 countries.

We can be proud of that progress, but we should not be content to rest on our laurels. I would like to speak today to how the government intends to build on this and other environmental achievements to ensure the preservation of our vast landscape and the wealth of our natural resources for future generations to come.

Specifically I will address clean air and clean water, the conservation of Canada's parks and species at risk, health protection and climate change.

Our goal is to help Canadians push the frontiers of environmental science and technology. Let me stress that science must be the foundation of all our environmental policies.

If we do not have the science right we obviously will not get the policies right. By investing in our science capacity and sustainable practices we can harness the power of science to support our environmental goals and to protect and promote the health of Canadians.

Science is already showing us that children do not react the same way as adults to toxic substances. They are not small adults. They are at the most delicate stage of development and one of the most at risk groups.

In its third mandate the first key step for the government will be to fill critical research gaps that exist now so that we can assist in developing the appropriate standards to safeguard the special vulnerabilities of our children.

Our science also tells us that some 5,000 Canadians annually die prematurely because of air pollution. Hundreds of thousands of others suffer from aggravated asthma, and I am one of them, bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses. Now we are learning that air pollution affects our health at lower levels than we previously thought.

Canada has already launched the beginnings of a clean air strategy. It addresses transboundary pollution, vehicle and fuel standards, industrial sectors and the science of air quality. In so doing, it engages Canadians and the communities in which they live to become part of the solution.

We have also reached other important national and bilateral agreements related to air pollution. In December I had the pleasure and privilege of signing on behalf of Canada the ozone annex to the 1991 Canada-United States air quality agreement, committing both our countries to significantly reducing the creation of smog causing pollutants in the eastern half of this continent.

In our new mandate the Government of Canada will move quickly to implement that ozone annex and to extend it to the western part of the continent. The annex complements many other initiatives already underway to improve air quality in Canada itself, including the Canada-wide standards for particulate matter and ozone agreed to by the federal, provincial and territorial governments only some six months ago.

The quality of our air is rightly one of the top concerns of Canadians. So is the quality of our water. Indeed, the quality of our water is now preoccupying Canadians from all walks of life and all levels of government.

The Government of Canada is committed to working with all partners and all levels of government to protect Canadians from the dangers of polluted water. During their June 2000 meeting the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of the environment agreed to establish three task groups to deal with water management issues including water quality, demand, use management and preventable measures for water hazards such as flooding. We have put some $135 million into supporting municipal projects through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that protect the environment such as waste water treatment and solid waste management.

The Speech from the Throne commits the government to do more and to take leadership in developing stronger national guidelines for water quality. Drawing on expertise within the government and across Canada we will significantly strengthen the role of the National Water Research Institute.

We will invest in research and development to protect surface water and groundwater supplies from industrial and farming activities. We will fund further improvements to municipal water and waste water systems.

We are also taking action to protect fragile ecosystems. We have created seven new parks. We have also provided Parks Canada with an additional $130 million over four years to establish new parks, manage the existing ones and build on our scientific capacity within the parks system. My neighbour, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, will no doubt be saying more on this later in this debate. I look forward to hearing her remarks.

In addition, the Government of Canada is committed to protecting species at risk through strong and effective legislation, stewardship to protect habitat, a productive recovery process in partnerships with provinces, territories, stakeholders and aboriginal groups.

I stress the importance of effective legislation. Duplicating less effective legislation elsewhere simply because it appears to be stronger is not the way to go. Let us learn from the mistakes of others, craft something totally Canadian and effective on the ground, which is where we can protect species and the battle lines can be drawn.

I will be reintroducing the species at risk act in the House today, but I want to point out that our strategy to protect species at risk is already producing good results.

Legislation is supported on the ground through voluntary activities by conservation groups and individuals who are taking action to help protect species, protect habitat and conserve biodiversity where it matters most: on the land, in our streams, oceans and forests.

Our strategy balances strong regulations with voluntary measures and incentives. When Canadians, for example, donate ecologically sensitive lands to an environmental group, they can now benefit from a 50% reduction in capital gains.

I applaud the Minister of Finance for his recognition of the importance of this measure in getting the goodwill and co-operation of landowners in the battle to protect habitat of species, endangered and otherwise.

Let me turn now to the issue of global warming. Canada is extremely concerned about climate change, and with good reason.

The North, and our country is a northern country, is the area which perhaps is experiencing the most severe impacts of climate change. We see that the ice is melting. Polar bears are starving. The traditional lifestyle of aboriginal peoples is threatened. The fauna and flora are highly disturbed.

As a northern nation we are on the frontline of the impact of climate change. We have taken action to respond and will take more action throughout the coming decade. We are beginning to see results.

Since Kyoto we have succeeded in decoupling economic growth from emissions growth in Canada. Indeed that has dropped to one-fifth of what it was before. Previously for every 1% increase in gross domestic product we would see a 1% increase in emissions. Now for every 1% growth in GDP we see one-fifth of that. Indeed that is a dramatic change.

Canada has become a leader in the science and modelling of climate change. Last fall we adopted the first national climate change action plan.

This $500 million action plan captures many of the best ideas that came out of a consultation process with representatives of industry, environmental organizations, aboriginal people, municipalities, academic institutions and other.

We engaged all our provinces and territories in the effort. All relevant federal departments were involved in preparing the action plan.

No other country in the world has gone through such an extensive process to develop its national plan. This means that once the decisions are made we will have an already high level of buy in and acceptance and hence, we trust, a smoother path to implementation.

The action plan targets key sectors that will provide both environmental and economic benefits. As a result Canadians will enjoy cleaner air and water. They will save money from energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy technologies.

Ultimately our climate change action plan will make the Canadian economy more innovative and more competitive on the world scale.

When fully implemented, the plan will take Canada one-third of the way to achieving the target established in the Kyoto protocol. It will reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions by about 65 megatonnes annually during the commitment period of 2008 to 2012.

This is a major step forward that sets the stage for future reductions and reflects the seriousness with which Canada takes its international commitments.

On the world stage we have championed a comprehensive approach to climate change that will lead to practical action.

I must confess disappointment at the results of the meeting in The Hague where inflexibility on the part of the European Union did not allow for an agreement between the United States and the countries of the umbrella group and the European Union. Nevertheless that is a minor setback. We will continue to play the role of bringing people together on climate change and other key environmental issues because Canadians have told us they want Canada to take a leadership role in protecting the global environment.

We have already played an instrumental role in bringing about the Montreal protocol on CFC reduction, the persistent organic pollutants, or POP, negotiations, which took place in Cartagena and again in Montreal, in addition to the successful outcome to the Montreal conference on biosafety and genetically modified organisms.

This weekend, I will be joining my international colleagues, the various environment ministers, at the United Nations environment program meeting in Nairobi to continue in our efforts to build a world that is more secure, more prosperous and more sustainable.

I would like to turn now to an important tool to promote development that is sustainable, and that is environmental assessment. By bringing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act into force in 1995, this government has ensured that the environmental effects of our actions are fully considered before decisions are taken.

Each year the Government of Canada assesses almost 6,000 projects each with the potential to affect our air, our health, our water, our wildlife and natural spaces. Project by project, and step by step, we are using environmental assessment to avoid adverse effects of development.

I will report to the House soon on the outcome of the recent review of this act. I plan to take the measures needed to make it an even more effective tool in support of this government's focus on a clean, healthy environment for Canadians.

In closing, I will tell a story that captures the essence of these issues. It demonstrates the holistic nature of environmental issues today, and the need to embrace new ways of thinking and new alliances.

The Georgia Basin ecosystem initiative from the west coast of Canada, an area which we share with the United States, is a partnership among the federal and provincial governments, business and industry leaders, first nations, citizens and volunteers.

The initiative tackles environmental issues such as clean water and air and species at risk. At the same time, it addresses the social and economic needs of communities within the Georgia Basin.

In one of their projects, they have developed an interactive computer model that shows how three prime systems, the biosphere, human society and the economy, interact with each other. Community members have had the chance to plug in their choices and see the kind of world they can create for the Georgia Basin by the year 2040.

I like that project for a number of reasons. First, it is a great management tool that will be useful for decision makers. Second, it is a motivator of ordinary citizens. It gets people involved and shows them the consequences of their potential actions. In that way it allows a higher level of debate about society and its goals.

In the months and years ahead, as we struggle to protect the myriad aspects of our environment, we need to use all the available tools. We need to embrace innovation, whether it comes from a computer model or an aboriginal elder. Finally, we need to promote the notion of personal stewardship among all Canadians.

Our ancestors have thrown us the torch. It is for us to hold it high, to keep it burning brightly and to pass it on to our children. The government and I, as Minister of the Environment, are committed to that task.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the environmental situation that the minister has pictured is as rosy as he would lead us to believe.

I encourage every interested member of the public to obtain a copy of the environmental commissioner's report. It excoriates the federal government on its actions and its failure to deal with a wide range of environmental challenges.

I ask the minister if there will be any obligation on the government to deal with private landowners and the provinces to protect critical habitat.

Given that Canada is the third largest conduit for the trafficking of endangered species products around the world, a multibillion industry threatening species as far ranging as the Siberian tiger, the black rhino, and many fish of the sea, will the minister work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice to develop a plan of action to address this serious problem?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne is a general outline of approaches which I reiterated in my speech. In response to the first question of the hon. member from Esquimalt, I indicated that within the last week Canada has been named third in the world with respect to the environment and its protection. Finland and Norway are ahead of us, and both are small Scandinavian countries in terms of population and area.

I could pluck a myriad of reports out of the air to support this. However, it is the most prestigious of the various reports dealing with Canada and its position with respect to the environment.

The hon. member has plucked out another report which says that in the view of a certain group we are not doing enough. I tend to prefer the type of report which analyzes objectively on the basis of some 66 criteria reduced to 22 headings and dealing with 122 nations. I tend to prefer that objective approach and analysis.

This is not to say, as I said in my speech and which the hon. member appears to have missed, that we should sit back and say nothing more should be done, we are doing well, who cares. Not at all. Third is not good enough. We wish to be first. We will continue to work. We know that many other countries have the same objective, so it will be a tough race.

He is demonstrating, like so many members in the opposition, that a Canadian optimist is someone who says things could be worse. There are times, when it comes to issues such as this one, when we should sit back and say we are doing well. The next thing to say is we could do better and where we can do better. Let us not always bring forward the negative, negative, negative, because that discourages people.

I mentioned in my speech that we work with large numbers of people throughout Canada on voluntary co-operative efforts. Occasionally we should point out to them that their good work on the ground is recognized at the highest levels internationally.

The second point raised by the hon. member is CITES. I will certainly work closely with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This is a major problem.

We will be putting resources where we think they are most effective. Just as with many other smuggling issues around the world, it is extraordinarily difficult to deal with it simply at the borders. We will have to deal with it in some of the markets of Singapore or Hong Kong or elsewhere in the world. We will have to deal with it in concert with other countries. This is not simply a question of more and more heavy enforcement at border points.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, before dealing with the legislation the Minister of the Environment is introducing today, the species at risk act, I want to come back to the issue of climate change.

The minister engaged in a lot of rhetoric and bragged about the government's record on the environment. He even went as far as changing the whole concept of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the 1990 reference levels.

That is the real comparison base, not the ratio of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to Canada's GNP. I thought it was important to remind people of this.

My question is a very simple one. The minister just told us that he will be introducing this afternoon an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada. Is the minister aware that in 1989 the government of Quebec passed legislation to protect species at risk? When introducing his bill today, will the minister take into account all the expertise and the work already done on this issue so as to avoid any overlap with the 1889 legislation, which was passed by members of the national assembly, some of whom are federal Liberal members sitting in this House today?

I am thinking about the hon. member for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine and the hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry, who were sitting in the national assembly when the act was passed.

Does the minister intend to abide by the Quebec legislation on endangered species?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I can assure him that we will indeed table the bill on endangered species this afternoon, at least I hope so. I appreciate that we should wait before discussing a bill that we have not yet seen.

He said something very important regarding greenhouse gases. We are working together with the provinces and I salute everything that Quebec has done. It has been very well done. It can serve as an example for many other provinces.

I am not saying that everything is perfect or that we have reached our ultimate goal. Not at all. I am saying we must work with the federal government within the federal jurisdiction, with the other provinces and territories, and with other countries in the world. The efforts made by the Quebec government have really been appreciated at the federal level and we are working together.

We have the same objectives and I hope that with this co-operation between the federal and provincial governments, with the Quebec government and the other provinces and territories we will succeed. I am sure that the targets set—6% below 1990 levels—we can reached. This objective is not so out of reach that it impossible to achieve.

I think that with the co-operation of all jurisdictions and the awareness of the Canadian people, we will be able to achieve the Kyoto objective, which was a 6% reduction by 2010.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, would the minister elaborate on his relationship with the environment departments at the provincial level. I am particularly concerned about the Newfoundland government's plan for development on the Main River which is a heritage river in a pristine environment and the home of the pine marten. There is some concern that the government is not being sensitive.

In his concern for species at risk, how does the minister look upon the disagreement?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.


David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be answering the member's question in more detail when we discuss the species at risk legislation. However, I can assure the hon. member that if a province or territory fails to take adequate measures to protect a species at risk, the architecture of the legislation suggests that we should step forward. I will be happy to give more details when the legislation is before the House. I appreciate the member's concern and it should be flagged.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, on page 13 in the throne speech, it says that the government will focus on three priorities: clean air, clean water and the conservation of Canada's natural spaces.

Last December the Government of Canada signed an agreement with the United States to significantly reduce emissions that cause smog. The spinning wheel turns. How do those statements square with the minister's apparent lack of resolve to send a strong signal regarding the Sumas 2 power project?

Instead of just letting bureaucratic processes roll on, will the minister send a strong signal that Sumas 2 is not on? The Americans get the electricity and we get the pollution.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


David Anderson Liberal Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the proposed Sumas 2 plant is under investigation by the energy facility site evaluation council of Washington state. I have had discussions with the governor of Washington on this matter. It would be thoroughly inappropriate for me to take the NIMBY approach of the hon. member before the body which has been given the task of analyzing the impact of Sumas 2 reports.

If we are to succeed on issues of this nature we must be realistic as to the process. We must submit our interventions respectful of American jurisdictions and of American agencies that are charged with the task of analysis. If we do not show respect for the system, if we simply raise our hands and scream and say that nothing is acceptable, we will not have them considering our views.

I remind the member that the change in fuels in the Fraser Valley due to the increase in the price of gas has had 30 times the impact on the air shed of the Fraser Valley as would have the proposed Sumas 2 plant. That is not to say that Sumas 2 should go ahead. It is just to point out how important it is to be consistent in what we do.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I wish to inform you that I am splitting my time with my colleague from Mercier.

I wish to begin my first speech in this House by an introduction and acknowledgements.

First off, I wish to describe to you my riding, Matapédia—Matane. I can say without false modesty, and I believe that all my colleagues will agree, that Matapédia—Matane is one of the most beautiful ridings if not the most beautiful riding in Quebec.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

An hon. member

Even more than Champlain.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Even more than Champlain, as my colleague just said. Matapédia—Matane has more than 60 towns and villages and a population of almost 75,000 people, some 55,000 of voting age. Matapédia—Matane borders on two regions of Quebec: the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gaspé Peninsula. Two regional county municipalities, Haute-Gaspésie and Avignon, are part of the Gaspé Peninsula region, while the Matane and Matapédia RCMs are part of the Lower St. Lawrence region.

It is a huge area of more than 743 kilometres around and covering 17,000 square kilometres. Incidentally, the well-known expression “one day per riding” finds its full meaning here because it actually takes a full day to go around the riding. And it is not even enough to cover all the area, which is as large as a country.

The economy of my riding is, so to speak, uneven because the socio-economic situation and recessions of the last decades have taken their toll. Moreover, the fact that the federal government has abandoned communities like mine does not help economic recovery.

However, I wish to say in this House how proud I am of representing the great riding of Matapédia—Matane. The population that I represent is, without a doubt, extremely worthy and noble. The men and women and young people of my riding are deeply attached to their area, their legacy and their heritage. This country was built by men and women and it is an area worthy of being inhabited.

Now for a few acknowledgements. First of all I would like to thank the man who came before me as member for Matapédia—Matane, Mr. René Canuel, who for seven years devoted his life to the service of his fellow citizens. Thanks go also to my election team, as well as to all those who voted for me, my party and our agenda. It is something I am proud of.

I would be remiss if I forgot to thank my spouse, Louiselle, and my children, Stéphane, Lucie and Frédéric, who have lost a full time father but got a member of parliament. I would also like to congratulate my opponents in the last election campaign.

Finally, I want to address a message to the population of the riding of Matapédia—Matane: I will endeavour to help them to the best of my knowledge and capacities with my team: Francine, Thérèse and Raynald.

We are all ready to tackle the hard work coming up our way, as we say back home. My staff have faced such difficulties in the past with courage and persistence.

Today, they are ready for action and determined to forge ahead. Tomorrow, the people in our ridings will judge our actions as parliamentarians and they will be in a good position to attest to what this government wants to do and can do.

Understandably I now wish to comment on the Speech from the Throne made last Tuesday by the Governor General. The throne speech was both arrogant and devoid of meaning. Arrogant, for it outlays the plan of a government that failed to boost the economy of my riding, the plan of a government that managed to hurt my fellow citizens.

During the last electoral campaign, voters from Matapédia—Matane not only showed what they thought of what the liberal government did or neglected to do, they also sent a very clear message about the present government's agenda which is to deny our existence and compromise our future. The government's agenda must be profoundly changed. It must include communities like mine and regions.

The economic recovery of our regions requires, commands a radical change of direction. We should begin by doing away with the arrogant notion that we live in a prosperous Canada with a strong and healthy economy. This is an illusion where I come from. It is a complete illusion in my area.

But such statements are not surprising since the Prime Minister did not even bother visiting our regions during the last campaign. Maybe he was afraid he would not be welcomed.

If isolated areas are really included in the government's development plan, how can we explain its absence, its failure to respond to the call for help of a whole community? A few months ago my community's feeling of alienation led to the creation of a grassroots movement, the Action des Patriotes gaspésiens, which is now 12,000 members strong.

That movement came about because a population felt abandoned, pushed aside and completely ignored. The organization's popularity reflects the deep despair of a community which firmly believes that the present government does not want to hear or see its situation.

I declare that the Speech from the Throne is a scandal. It is outrageous to hear or to read that the government intends to continue to deny, forget and abandon regions like mine.

The examples of this are legion. I will speak of just two that are very striking. First, there is unemployment insurance—that is right, unemployment insurance, not employment insurance—a program that has literally pillaged the most disadvantaged members of our society, the honest and courageous workers who have struggled and yet not accumulated enough hours to qualify for this program which is rife with injustices, so they end up on welfare.

What is more, this program particularly prevents the youth in our regions from benefits. They are required to have 910 hours of work the youth in our regions from benefits. They are required to have 910 hours of work before drawing employment insurance for the first time, whereas our economy is based on four major industries that are more than 80% seasonal. This is a disgrace. The young workers are entitled to equal and equitable treatment.

To quote the spokesperson for the coalition chômage Gaspésie les Îles, “the changes announced in the bill to be introduced this afternoon are but a drop of justice in a whole ocean of injustice”.

Regional development is another example of this government's arrogance and of the scandal of the throne speech. Regions such as mine have been totally abandoned by this government. Economic Development Canada is one concrete example of this abandonment; the government response to the serious crisis facing my community was a meagre $35 million, spread out moreover over three long years, and with no action plan to boot. There is no clearly defined strategy. Those are beautiful, or horrible, examples of the arrogance and scandal of this government, which wants to pursue its policy of abandonment of the regions. My response to this is no. The response of the people in my area, the people of my riding of Matapédia—Matane, to such a policy is no.

People back home are ready for the battle. They are determined not to throw in the towel; they are determined to take action and to build a better future, but not the one promised and built by this government. Again, we are opposed to abandoning the regions. If necessary, the lower St. Lawrence, the Gaspé Peninsula and the Magdalen Islands will become symbols of that battle, of that struggle for dignity and a better future.

On a somewhat different note, but just as pressing, I am now going to provide more details on the issues I intend to fight for in the months and years to come.

In addition to my primary duties as member for Matapédia—Matane, my leader, whom I congratulate on his brilliant performance during the last election campaign, has given me other responsibilities.

Indeed, I will be the associate critic for fisheries and oceans and, without necessarily getting into the details of my mandate, perhaps I could point out to members that I will fulfil my mandate with four main points in mind: first, I will demand a true management policy for Quebec fishers, followed by a true groundfish strategy, a real improvement of port infrastructures and, of course, a true employment insurance program.

I will also sit on other committees to help achieve the global objective of our political party. We Bloc Quebecois members are here to protect and promote Quebecers' interests.

I may add that another responsibility was recently bestowed upon me in that I am the chair of the eastern Quebec caucus. I intend to meet this new challenge just like the other ones, with determination and hard work. We are here to serve our fellow citizens. We are here to build a better future for Quebecers.

I am convinced that there is only one real solution for us and that is sovereignty.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the new member for Matapédia—Matane on his speech.

Because I know him personally, I know that he has developed considerable expertise in running a riding office in recent years, and we all know how important that is. To this is now added the responsibility of representing the people of Matapédia—Matane. I am certain that he will carry his new duties off with great aplomb.

I would like him to elaborate a bit on the situation of people in his region, specifically with reference to the Prime Minister's statement during the election campaign to the effect that there had been serious errors in the EI regime.

On behalf of the residents of Matapédia—Matane, I would like to know just what these important factors are that need correcting, that we expect to see corrected and that we want to see included in the bill the government intends to introduce this afternoon. Does the member intend to make this a major part of his mandate for the people of Matapédia—Matane?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. Obviously, the situation in the riding of Matapédia—Matane is unique. It is the same for the Gaspé. The two RCMs of Matapédia and Matane were always considered part of the Gaspé for the purposes of the Coalition-chômage, because the situation was very serious.

In our regions, the official rate of unemployment is 22% or 23%, but 40% to 50% of the public relies on employment insurance or income security in the winter.

What we desperately want in our region is a real employment insurance regime that will cover people not just for 38, 42 or 44 weeks, but for the whole year. When people manage to work at least a certain number of weeks, it should be possible to provide them with security that will last 365 days of the year. That is what we want. We want a real employment insurance regime. The regime was set up to protect such people, but it is not doing so right now.

I would add, for the benefit of my colleague, that another very important issue, one which I intend to fight for personally, is that of young people. As I was saying earlier, in the riding of Matapédia—Matane, the major industries are forestry, agriculture, fishing and tourism. These are all industries where work is almost exclusively seasonal.

When young people graduate from tourism courses, particularly in my colleague's riding, where there is an institution offering such training, they can never collect employment insurance because they are never able to accumulate the required number of weeks. So they leave the region and head for places where they can find work.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, to start with I would like to congratulate my colleague, who will be a welcome addition to our caucus. I have a couple quick questions for him.

Could he tell us why people should visit his area? Mr. Speaker, you yourself might be looking for a place to go to on your summer vacation. I would like our colleague to extol the virtues of his beautiful area and tell us what tourist attractions that can be found there.

Also I would like him to tell us a thing or two about the vibrant social fabric of his community.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for this opportunity to promote my riding.

There are four MRC municipalities in my area. First, there is Avignon, or Carleton, on Chaleur Bay, which is known worldwide as a tourist destination.

Then there is the MRC of Matapédia, which is more agricultural. There is a bit of tourism too, mostly in the wintertime of course, but also in the summer.

On the other side, there is the MRC of Matane, famous for its fisheries and major industries. It too is a very nice area.

Then there is the upper Gaspé, further on, which relies mainly on fishing, is increasingly developing its tourism industry.

This is almost exclusively a coastal area, stretching over nearly 743 kilometres. On the one side there is Chaleur Bay, and on the other the St. Lawrence River; in the centre is the Gaspé Park with many outstanding tourist attractions such as the delightful Gîte du Mont-Albert.

I thank my colleague for this opportunity to promote my riding.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I also want to take this opportunity to thank my constituents for re-electing me a third time. To get such strong support for a third time is both moving and challenging.

It means that we have to do the utmost to express what our constituents need to make their lives better. There is no better time than an election campaign to go out and meet the people where they live and where they shop and to understand how huge the problems they face are.

It is a responsibility we have to deal with every day and my constituents can be assured that my colleagues and I will do our best to live up to their expectations. I also want to spend as much time as possible in my riding.

For someone like me, the throne speech is truly offensive. It is offensive in the way it describes the reality in Quebec and in Canada, because that is what it is supposed to do. Yet what it describes has nothing to do with what is really going on.

The federal government, or shall I say the executive branch of the federal government, talks as though it were the only true government, the main government in charge of culture, education, the economy, the environment. It talks as though it were the major stakeholder. In fact, this is far from the truth.

It is offensive to see that, since 1993, this government has been bent on reducing the deficit without making sure to do so in the least possible harmful way. Sure, such an exercise was in order, but the government conducted it without caring about what was happening, particularly in Quebec, and even though it knew, I am sure, what the impact would be in our province.

The suffering—and I say it again because this is just that—endured by citizens in health, education and other areas, not to mention of course the services that were cut by the Quebec government, are the result of the drastic federal cuts.

What do we see in that document? That the Government of Canada will invest, that it will care about improving Canadians' health, that it will make sure young people succeed at school and that it will be a leader in the protection of the environment. This is very upsetting.

The federal government is the one responsible for these serious problems in the health sector. Sure, an agreement was signed, but not one penny will be paid before April, when it will take effect.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

An hon. member

No indexing.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

And no indexing, with the result that instead of being at 20%, we will be at 14%. So, the situation remains very serious in the health sector.

In education, there is the issue of dropouts. Dropouts are not good for the new economy. I realize that. But why do dropouts drop out of school? It is often because they have problems at home and because their parents are unemployed or do not have an adequate income.

The employment level has gone up and we are proud of that—Quebec worked hard to improve the situation—but the unemployment rate is still high and the underemployment rate is extremely high. The result is that a large number of families do not have what it takes to live decently.

Young people drop out of school because they live in families that have difficulties, but also because the schools were also subjected to a rigorous regime. When there is a shortage of teachers, when everyone is overworked, it is harder to make sure that young people can keep up with the rest of the class.

37Th ParliamentStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to offer my congratulations to you and all members of the House elected to the 37th parliament. I would like to extend my commitment to working with you, Mr. Speaker, and to all the members to achieve those objectives which have been outlined in principle in the throne speech.

Second, I would like to thank the residents of York South—Weston for once again supporting my candidacy for public office, this time as member of parliament. I truly believe the message that my residents are sending is that they want to see us working together on actions that will improve life for all Canadians, particularly those who are most vulnerable within our communities.

To this end, I would again pledge my commitment to work diligently through our committee and our House systems and structures with all members to build bridges between rural and urban communities and to reinforce the principles of sustainable development.

In so doing I believe that we will achieve that which we desire for our children—

37Th ParliamentStatements By Members

11 a.m.

The Speaker

I hesitate to interrupt the hon. member, but his time has expired.

Cypress Hills—GrasslandsStatements By Members

February 2nd, 2001 / 11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Canadian Alliance Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, this morning I thank the constituents of Cypress Hills—Grasslands for their overwhelming support and confidence. I thank the people who worked with me. It is solidly in the spirit of southwestern Saskatchewan that people will still help others to get ahead without asking for anything for themselves.

I want to thank my family, particularly my wife Sheila and my children Amy and Andrew, for their sacrifice. I thank God, who has directed my steps for many years and who deserves the credit, but most certainly not the blame, for who I am.

I thank my predecessor, Mr. Lee Morrison. His rock solid preparation, his intelligent understanding of the issues and his insistence on standing firmly for his principles and for his constituents have given me an example of what is needed to effectively represent the people of Cypress Hills—Grasslands.

International DevelopmentStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Paul MacKlin Liberal Northumberland, ON

Mr. Speaker, as next week is International Development Week, it is an honour for me to praise the work of Horizons of Friendship, a non-profit agency in my riding.

Horizons of Friendship is a Canadian non-profit international development agency committed to addressing the root causes of poverty and injustice. It supports central American and Mexican organizations that undertake local initiatives which further this goal. In Canada, it raises awareness on global issues and works with Canadian organizations at the local and national levels to bring about positive and lasting change.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Horizons of Friendship for being such an active part of the community of Northumberland and for the life saving support that they provide to so many, especially now as they work to help the victims of the recent earthquake in El Salvador.

Hull—AylmerStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Chairman, it is with pleasure and enthusiasm that I rise today to thank the voters of my beautiful riding of Hull—Aylmer for having re-elected me for the second time in two years as their representative in the House of Commons.

Bolstered by this new gesture of confidence from my constituents, I begin this 37th parliament in a spirit of optimism. I am privileged to represent a riding here in the House that is dynamic and flourishing, and I shall continue to do my utmost to fulfil my commitment to act as the ambassador within the Government of Canada for all the residents of my riding.

Once again, my thanks to the voters of Hull—Aylmer. They have my assurance that they have made the right choice to guarantee a better future for all. Thank you.