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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.

Topics

Species At Risk ActRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of the Environment

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-5, an act respecting the protection of wildlife species at risk in Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Bankruptcy And Insolvency ActRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-203, an act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (unpaid wages to rank first in priority in distribution).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present this bill today. The purpose of the bill is that in the event of a bankruptcy the interests of the employees will be put before the interests of any other creditors. In other words, if there are unpaid wages or severance pay owing, the company will have to deal with those debts first before the debts to the banks or other creditors.

We believe it is overdue. It stems from the drastic situation of Giant Mine in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Labour Market Training ActRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-204, an act to provide for the establishment of national standards for labour market training, apprenticeship and certification.

Mr. Speaker, this is another bill that I feel very strongly about. It would put the onus on the government to set national standards for apprenticeship, curriculum and training.

In the interests of the mobility of working people going from province to province, the certification of a journeyman carpenter would be the same in B.C., Manitoba or Newfoundland. There is a great demand for this in industry. I think it is in the interests of industry that we adopt this bill, and I am very proud to present it.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Labour Market Training ActRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Collenette Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. First, I congratulate you on assuming the position of Deputy Speaker.

I would ask for unanimous consent of the House to revert to Senate public bills as I have to leave to catch a flight. I apologize to my hon. colleague over there. It will take a few seconds and he will then be able to introduce the remainder of his bills.

Labour Market Training ActRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the minister have unanimous consent to proceed to the first reading of Senate public bills?

Labour Market Training ActRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Labour Market Training ActRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

Canada Water Export Prohibition ActRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-205, an act to prohibit the export of water by interbasin transfers.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present this bill which would try to act in the interest of all Canadians in the matter of the interbasin transfer of water and the inherent dangers of that.

The Minister of Industry recently said that water would be the oil of the coming decades. There is great interest in other countries getting access to Canadian freshwater resources. We believe that we have to act now to outlaw and ban the interbasin transfer and the bulk sale of water.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Whistle Blowers Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-206, an act respecting the protection of whistle blowers and to amend the Auditor General Act, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Public Staff Relations Act.

Mr. Speaker, this bill regarding whistle blowers looks at the public service and public sector. Many employees in the public sector would come forward with perhaps cost saving measures, or even evidence or allegations of wrongdoing, if they knew they would not have to fear being disciplined for being that honest.

We believe that as an employer, the Government of Canada should encourage its employees to come forward if they know of some wrongdoing or misuse of funds. The whistle blowers bill would give them a licence to do so without fear of losing their jobs.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Energy Price Commission ActRoutine Proceedings

February 2nd, 2001 / 12:10 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-207, an act to establish the energy price commission.

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are shocked and horrified at the spiralling and out of control energy costs, especially for their home heating fuel.

This bill seeks to encourage government to create an energy price commission which would regulate the cost of home heating fuel so that we would not have the terrible shock of seemingly arbitrary increases in prices.

Canadians feel they are being gouged, cheated and ripped off. They are looking to the federal government for some direction to add some semblance of order to energy pricing. This regulatory body would serve that purpose.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-208, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual offences).

Mr. Speaker, as you know, following the tabling by the previous member for Jonquière of a petition signed by more than 100,000 persons, I committed to introduce a bill regarding this matter.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the criminal code to modify offences for sexual interference with a person under the age of fourteen years and for invitations to sexual touching involving such a person, to change the punishment for offences committed by persons in a position of authority and for sexual assault, and to require persons convicted of any of these offences to undergo treatment.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-209, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (public transportation costs).

Mr. Speaker, with the strong support of a number of groups that have indicated great enthusiasm for such a bill, among them the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the Société de transport de l'Outaouais, I introduce this bill to amend the Income Tax Act in connection with public transportation costs.

The bill amends the Income Tax Act to allow an individual to deduct certain public transportation costs from the amount of tax payable.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Marine Liability ActRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Liberalfor the Minister of Transport

moved that Bill S-2, an act respecting marine liability and to validate certain bylaws and regulations, be read the first time.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Leeds—Grenville Ontario

Liberal

Joe Jordan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed 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

12:15 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is always hard to break off, especially when the subject is the Speech from the Throne, and to resume cruising speed in a very emotional speech.

For our viewers, I mention that I started by pointing out that the throne speech was offensive, because in it the federal government set itself up as the main government, if not the important government, the only government of a state that is becoming increasingly unitary.

It is also offensive because this speech sets out an idyllic vision of Canada and of the role of the government, which wants to promote health, reduce the student dropout rate, make Canada, which is currently in fifth place, one of the world leaders in research and development and a leader in environmental matters, whereas the facts are quite different.

In terms of health care, education, research and the environment, cuts and a lack of policy have led in many cases to a dramatic situation.

I must target my remarks, since I will be short of time. I want to point out that, with respect to poverty, the fight against student dropout, the fact that children need families and that early childhood will be one of the important issues of this government, what we have learned in the past 30 years, what we now know and what we rediscovered during the Canada wide tour by the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, is that social policy must be integrated if it is to be effective and achieve its objectives. They must not go all over the place.

What we are seeing is Canada wanting to intervene in a sense, while—and I will speak of Quebec with pride—the government of Quebec has for years had a family policy which is becoming increasingly integrated and may be effective, but for which Quebec is lamentably short of money because of the cuts made everywhere due to the federal government's refusal to negotiate parental leave.

If the government is really serious about its goals, it will have to change the way it deals with Quebec in terms of these plans. It is all very well to state in the throne speech what one's intentions are, even though they seem to be going all over the place; in fact, for policies to be effective—money being scarce—they must be complementary.

When it comes to child poverty, one must look at the parents' income as well as social housing policies. One must also make sure there are enough teachers in the classroom, and that services are provided after school to help children with their homework. The very minimum of course is to have a decent income. Quebec has shown leadership. It has done more than pay lip service to child policy. Resources have to be set aside.

I find this throne speech very disheartening because we can only expect further battles about being able to use, in the most efficient manner, our own tax money, which unfortunately has to go through Ottawa before it can come back to us, not only covered with little red flags, but also with strings attached, which may be go entirely against our own goals and wishes, and in the end be counterproductive.

It is not surprising that so many Quebecers are in favour of sovereignty and want to run their own affairs. We are going to keep working toward that end.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member. She mentioned that, in the throne speech, the government is moving towards a unitary state. I find it hard to believe that she would even suggest such a thing.

Does the hon. member not recognize that the government system in Canada is one of the most decentralized systems in the world? Can she not compare our system to that of other countries?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I said “in an increasingly unitary direction.” I would remind the House that in 1867 John A. Macdonald wanted a unitary state, but George Étienne Cartier as well as the New Brunswick representatives were against the idea.

However, what we point out is that, not counting the Constitution—because the Constitution gives some powers to the provinces—what is starting to truly hinder Canada is the central government's unrestricted spending power. The Meech Lake agreement would have solved this problem, albeit in a somewhat modest and timid way however for now there is no limit to the spending power of the federal government nor to its power to levy all the taxes it wants, regardless of need.

That gives the federal government a disproportionate edge, because it can interfere at anytime and anywhere, and impose conditions for every $10,000 it hands out to any group, just because it is the one with the money.

That being said, what was supposed to be a confederation at the very start and turned into a federation has now increasingly becoming a unitary state, with some decentralization or concentration in regions that have nothing to do but cash cheques.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have two short questions for my colleague from Mercier who has been very much involved in social issues, both in the labour movement, in the past, and as a member of parliament.

Could she remind the House why it is important that Quebec should have an integrated plan of parental leave, and why the Chrétien government should accede to Quebec's demands in terms of numbers and eligibility?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I know this is a new parliament, but we should never forget that hon. members should be referred to, not by name, but by their title or the name of their department.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I did refer inadvertently to the Prime Minister by name.

That was my first question. My second question to the hon. member for Mercier is this: would she remind us why the national vision the Bloc Quebecois is pursuing is most relevant, and why it will be important in the coming years?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, these are two short questions requiring two long answers, but I will try to get to the basic points.

In the first case, Quebec—more than other provinces, if they want it—needs, not a favour from the federal government but payment of the portion of employment insurance to which it is entitled for parental leave so that it could, not only as is now provided by the legislation, grant leave with 55% of earnings to women who are eligible for employment insurance, but to all those who need it and are self-employed workers or other workers. This would ensure that they get a decent income because, even with the extension, few women will be able to take advantage of parental leave because their earnings are inadequate. What we are talking about here is eligibility and income.

Why does Quebec need it more than any other province? Because in Quebec there is a serious demographic problem because of a drop in the birth rate. Consequently, it is essential that the Canadian people and the Quebec nation be able to grant decent parental leave.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Mount Royal.

After an absence of three and a half years, it is a great honour and a privilege to return to the House today and to convey on their behalf the concerns of the constituents of Halifax West.

I wish to talk about some of those concerns today, but first let me tell hon. members about my constituency of Halifax West. It is comprised of the western portion of the Halifax regional municipality. It is a riding of great diversity, from the suburbs to the seaside, from places like Clayton Park, Spryfield and Bedford to Peggy's Cove, Hubbards and Seabright, a beautiful area along the sea.

This is the fastest growing area in Atlantic Canada and it is of great concern to people in my riding that there is not the infrastructure needed to support that growth throughout Halifax West. As a result, we have congested roadways, aging and overcrowded schools and a need for new and more schools, and a shortage of recreational facilities.

Throughout Halifax West, there are hard-working people. The unemployment rate in the metropolitan Halifax area is something around 6%, lower than the national average. We have a strong and in fact a booming economy. There are many young families, who are concerned about education, health care, recreation and taxes. There are students coping with rising tuition and trying to handle debt loads. There are empty nesters who are struggling to save for their retirement. There are retirees on fixed incomes.

Over the past few months, particularly during the federal election campaign, I have talked to thousands of people. I have knocked on their doors and visited them in meetings around the riding. I have heard their concerns, their priorities and their frustrations. They are very pleased to see the progress that has been made over the past seven years on issues like the debt, the deficit and taxes. However, they certainly still face problems and they still have concerns.

For instance, at my office this week I have heard a lot about the high cost of home heating as people try to make ends meet during a difficult winter with high heating costs. I have passed on those concerns to the Minister of Finance and to other members of the government. I have made their concerns very clearly known.

I mentioned that Halifax West is the fastest growing area in Atlantic Canada. The Halifax metropolitan area is one of great growth.

What are the sources of that growth? The first and most well known source would be the Sable gas program, which has had a huge positive impact on the economy of Nova Scotia in recent years. It is only beginning. We have seen the development of one field near Sable Island. More fields have already been discovered which we will see developed in the near future and will bring tremendous benefits to Nova Scotia.

One of the concerns I heard during the election campaign was about the royalty scheme for the benefits generated by Sable offshore gas and other gas resources off the Nova Scotia coast.

During the eighties the governments of Premier Buchanan in Nova Scotia and Prime Minister Mulroney in Ottawa made a deal on gas royalties whereby the province of Nova Scotia receives 30% of the royalties and the Government of Canada receives 70% of the royalties.

In comparison, western provinces at their inception received huge areas with great natural resources. They have been able to benefit from those resources. I would argue that Nova Scotia ought to have the same kind of benefit from its offshore resources, as should Newfoundland.

I hope the government will examine the situation with regard to the royalty scheme and consider a more equitable scheme for royalties.

The port of Halifax is another source of great growth in the Halifax area. It is the major east coast port for Canada and the only east coast port that is ice free. No ice breaking is required for the port of Halifax. Yet a concern that has been raised in the past is that fees paid by Halifax shippers have subsidized ice breaking in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The port is a key economic engine for the metropolitan Halifax area and for the Atlantic economy. Last year, just in containers alone, 548,404 container units went through Halifax. That is an increase of 18.5% over the previous year. I am not talking about roll on, roll off cargo, bulk or break bulk cargo but about containers. We see tremendous growth in that sector of the port's activities.

The port must remain competitive and it needs the government's attention and involvement. I was pleased that a couple of years ago the Government of Canada committed, as part of the bid that Halifax made, to win the business of Maersk Canada Inc. and to spend $75 million if Halifax were to win the bid to develop a super terminal for post panamax vessels.

The government should maintain its interest in that matter. I hope there will be support for growing the port and building a new terminal when the time comes.

Halifax is also a thriving high tech community with companies like InfoInteractive in the information technology field and MedMira Laboratories in the biotechnology field, both of which have developed in exciting ways with new technologies.

We have seen many companies developing in Halifax. There are now over 200 companies in the high tech sector. Many of them have developed because of developments in research at universities and other institutions of research in the Halifax area. That is why it was so important when last June the Government of Canada announced the Atlantic investment partnership, part of which is the Atlantic investment fund that provides $300 million to increase the research capacity in the region.

Dalhousie University, DalTech, Saint Mary's University and Mount Saint Vincent University will benefit from that kind of research, as is the community as a whole because those companies provide good paying jobs with good benefits. That is so important for families in our region.

Halifax is also the home of a vibrant east coast music scene. It is a great centre for nightlife, music and the arts. There is also a growing film industry. Nova Scotia has been the site of the filming of many feature films in recent years. It has an excellent supply of people who are trained in working on films.

The navy is another major employer in Halifax. It is the east coast home of Canada's navy and the arrival of the Oberon submarines is very important to Halifax. Residents of the area are appreciative of the government's decision to purchase the Oberon submarines. They are also anxiously awaiting the swift replacements for the Sea King helicopters.

Shipbuilding is another important industry in the area. Like aerospace, shipbuilding faces stiff competition from subsidized yards around the world. Until recently, the Halifax shipyard has been very active, however, lately it has been a little less active because of the competition. Many families, who rely upon the employment generated by that shipyard, are looking to the Government of Canada to come forward with a shipbuilding policy that will be positive for the future of this shipyard, as well as others across the country.

There are also many people who are employed in the health care sector. That was probably the top area of concern that I heard about during the election campaign. People were pleased to learn of the health care accord, with $21 billion being invested into the system and transferred to the provinces over the next five years. They were pleased to see that the government has paid attention to this important concern and are now anxious to have the provincial government manage these dollars.

It is important to note that people want their concerns to be heard by government. I feel it is my responsibility to come here and convey the concerns that I hear.

It is also important to go back to the riding and listen to the people. That is why I have begun a series of meetings called “Let's Talk”, which I had when I was previously a member of parliament. Last week, I started with a meeting in Spryfield in my riding. I hold these meetings because I believe in our democratic process. I believe the public must have a role in policy making. I think it is a challenge that all of us need to face and take on in order to engage our citizens in policy making in a meaningful way. I challenge my fellow colleagues to find new ways to involve those who have been voiceless.

Many of us like to hear ourselves talk but not everyone does. We need to hear from those who do not have that particular inclination.