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House of Commons Hansard #21 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for this question. Just before the House adjourned in June, there were rumours that the entire supply chain was going to be handed over to the private sector. My colleague and I waged a difficult battle to prevent that from happening. We believe that it is important that the supply chain remain within the army structures. I do not think that the American army would give up its supply chain to private enterprise.

My colleague has given me another idea for an interesting debate that could be held with taxpayers. We could ask them, “Do you agree to privatization within the Canadian forces, within National Defence? How could this be done?” If it were to cost less, it could be interesting. However, it the results were less dependable, then it might not be so good.

In this type of debate on the supply chain, as for all of the types of debates that I raised earlier, I think that the final word rests with taxpayers. It us up to them to say what kind of army they want, what the role of privatization within National Defence should be. My colleague and I hope they will share our perspective.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to indicate at the outset that I will be sharing my time with the member Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore who is the NDP defence critic and a very capable one.

Before I move to the motion before us, it is appropriate to acknowledge that the member for Saint John, who introduced this motion, has been a tireless, inveterate champion of the needs of men and women of Canada's military service. I want to also say, because I do not get a chance to do this very often, that the same can also be said of my colleague, the defence critic for the NDP, the member for Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore.

On repeated occasions in the House, and again and again before his caucus colleagues, he has championed the need of veterans, the shabby treatment that veterans have received from the government. He has championed the needs of families of military personnel, who all too often have lived in shabby housing and have tried to make ends meet. Some of them have had to go to food banks because of inadequate pay. He has championed the cause of military personnel returning from overseas deployment, often stricken with diseases arising out of their overseas assignments or post-traumatic stress disorders. He has also and continues to champion the military women and men who are in active service on behalf of Canada today.

I listened with care to the Minister of National Defence in his earlier participation in this debate. I heard him say--and I am not sure this is an exact quote but I jotted down the sense of what he said--that when we send armed forces personnel into harm's way, we must be sure that they are properly equipped to fulfill the duties that are assigned to them on behalf of their country. I cannot imagine a single member of the House who would not agree with that statement. I cannot imagine a single Canadian who would think that we should be sending the men and women of our armed forces into harm's way without them being properly supported to fulfill their duties.

That was a rather general statement, a vague and meaningless statement. It really does not commit us to much of anything, not as a Parliament, not members opposite as a government and not the Canadian people.

I want to turn my attention to the motion that is before us. I actually endorse heartily the sentiment that stands behind the motion before us, which is much like the sentiment expressed by the Minister of Defence, that our armed forces personnel must be supported to do their jobs. However it is a bit ironic that the motion itself tends to be sufficiently vague as to be not very meaningful. It certainly is not very specific in terms of the steps or orderly procedure the government must take to act responsibly and fulfill its commitment to the armed forces personnel who serve their country proudly and all Canadian people.

I find the motion troublesome because it is very vague. It fails to mention the government's first priority in a very specific way. The government has failed to act on the recommendation of the parliamentary defence committee to conduct a full review to build public consensus on Canada's foreign policy and, within the context of that foreign policy, the support and commitment to our armed forces personnel who must be able to discharge their responsibilities in the context of that foreign policy.

If the motion were just vague I think we could all support it because it would not mean anything anyway. However, if the motion were to be supported by all members of the House, including government members, it might, in a very unfortunate way, let the government off the hook from getting on with what needs to be done, which is a thorough and comprehensive foreign policy review, how our armed forces fits within that policy and how it will be able support our commitments internationally.

I am not interested in letting the government off the hook. We need to unite and, I would think unanimously, to call upon the government to carry out that full discussion about our role in terms of international relations and our defence policy.

I have a third reason for finding the motion before us in its current form to be particularly troublesome this week. Last Wednesday the finance minister appeared in Halifax to talk about the state of the nation's finances and about the priorities for the future. Despite the fact that we are now in the fifth year of budget surplus, that we are way ahead in terms of debt reduction, of where the government's own plan would have had us if the performance of the economy and debt reduction had occurred based on its plan, the Minister of Finance declared we were projecting a budget surplus of $1 billion.

I know it is not specifically cited by the motion, but the recommendation of the defence committee was that there should be an increase in defence spending in each of the next three successive years of $1.3 billion. I think the government is low balling the projected surplus. I do not think there is any question about that. Even if it is remotely correct about a projected surplus of $1 billion, what does it mean to have a motion today that is so vague as not to talk about any facts and figures that relate to a specific international affairs consensus in the country with the military budget that is needed to support our responsibilities? What does it mean when it does not relate to specific expenditures? That is a problem enough. However, what in the name of heavens would it mean if the motion were construed to mean that yes, an absolute minimum of $1.3 billion in each of three successive years must be spent no matter what? It would have the effect of a unanimous resolution in the House, despite the fact that we have a very severe crisis in health care, because of billions and billions of dollars ripped out of our health care system and a royal commission about to make recommendations of how we remedy this; despite the fact that we have commitments internationally in conjunction with the Kyoto protocol that are critically important that we act on.

In the long run the investment will save money in becoming a more sustainable society. However, in the short run are we serious about saying that if there is a $1 billion budget surplus that just in the next year $1.3 billion needs to be spent on defence and not a cent toward our health deficit, our post-secondary education deficit, our severe housing deficit or our continuing disgraceful degree of child poverty?

I think the motion lacks specificity which, I say regretfully, makes it very difficult to support such an open-ended motion and one that is not lodged in the context of these two very important public policy matters. What will be Canada's commitment internationally and the defence requirements attached to it, and what will be the fiscal framework for addressing the deficiencies with respect to our support for the military?

Heaven knows, we are four square in our commitment to replace the Sea Kings right off the top, but we have no indication of what of the plan is within our responsible framework. We certainly are not in a position to make commitments without there being a fiscal framework within which we are making responsible choices among responsible priorities.

We support the sentiment that is behind the motion. However we would have a difficult time rationalizing support for it for the reasons I outlined.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Haliburton—Victoria—Brock Ontario

Liberal

John O'Reilly LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for Halifax who has one of the largest naval presences in her riding. I am sorry to see her leave the position of leader of the NDP. When I see someone like Toronto's Jack Layton calling for $47 billion for municipalities, I hope the members for Regina--Qu'Appelle and Winnipeg--Transcona are out selling a lot of memberships. The $47 billion does not include a cent toward military. It is all toward other things.

Before she leaves, would the leader of the NDP take time to remove from the books of the NDP a motion that was made by its membership asking Canada to withdraw from NATO? Would she also tell us what her feeling is on that based on the fact that she does have a huge riding made up of military personnel?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member is quite correct, I have a large population of military personnel in my riding. It has been a great privilege and pleasure to count them among my constituents. I am grateful for the incredible support that they have given me, not just in seven years in Parliament, but 15 years as leader of the New Democratic Party, and as provincial member for Halifax as well.

Some people have always found it surprising that the military have been so supportive. The base within my riding, for example, has in almost every election overwhelmingly given me its majority support. I do not know whether the member will be unhappy to know that I am not going very far. I accept his good wishes, but it is my intention to seek the mandate of the people of Halifax, including the military men and women who serve so capably in our armed forces.

Let me address the question that the member has raised, because whether I am coming or going, it is an important question. It helps to underscore the point that I am making about how irresponsible it is for the government not to be getting on with urgent haste to conduct the overall review of our international obligation and of the foreign policy framework within which we can responsibly support our military to conduct the tasks that are assigned to it.

If the member who has raised the question is genuinely concerned about the role of NATO as it relates to Canada's foreign policy then will he not join us in pressing his government from the backbenches of the Liberal caucus to demand that we have that full review so that we are making responsible decisions about our international commitments including the military support that is necessary to carry them out?

Parliamentarians for Global ActionStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, Parliamentarians for Global Action, an association of democratically elected parliamentarians representing all regions of the world, whose Canadian branch I chair, is holding its 24th annual Parliamentary Assembly for the first time ever in Canada. More than 90 parliamentarians from over 50 countries are convening this week to address the International Criminal Court, the most dramatic development in international criminal law in years, and the Duty to Protect, an emerging and compelling international law doctrine. Both are crucial instruments in preventing mass atrocities, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and bringing those responsible to justice.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and former minister Lloyd Axworthy opened the conference this morning. The international parliamentary delegations include major figures in human rights law. For the first time ever a Canadian, Ambassador Philippe Kirsch, is the recipient of the prestigious PGA Defender of Democracy Award, together with Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special representative for Afghanistan.

I wish to express my appreciation to DFAIT, CIDA and you, Mr. Speaker, for the support we have received in the organization and financing of this conference.

Queen's Jubilee MedalStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, November 13, 2002, it will be my honour to present the Queen's Jubilee Medal to 18 very worthy people from across southern Alberta. All these recipients have contributed to the communities and people around them in significant and unique ways.

The recipients are: Richard Papworth, Bernard Nieboer, Erna Goertzen, Robert Lee, Stella Lacey, Henry Lindstedt, Mary Schneider, Gary Bowie, David Carpenter, Keith Robin, Dick Dewert, June Hepple, Irma Dogterom, Flora Matteotti, Carol Steen, Carol Gemer, Colin Weir, and Ralph Thrall Jr.

So often we do not take the time to thank the unselfish people who have worked so hard in their own way to make this country great. On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to congratulate and thank them all.

Federal Electoral BoundariesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Electoral Boundaries Commission for Quebec will not respond appropriately to several of my letters, that is the letters dated September 12, 13 and 19, and October 1, 2002, concerning a number of issues, including the regions of Nunavik and the Abitibi.

Moreover, it is referring me to several Internet sites, such as those of Elections Canada, Statistics Canada and Natural Resources Canada.

On October 9, 2002, in response to my letter dated October 1, 2002, Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley, wrote “I would like to make it clear that the federal electoral boundaries commissions established in the ten provinces operate at arm's length from Elections Canada. Their independence is a fundamental aspect of the federal readjustment process”.

Highway InfrastructureStatements By Members

November 4th, 2002 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, the Minister of Transport entertained a petition brought to his attention by business people and stakeholders in the political community, who were accompanied by the hon. member for Beauce.

This petition is calling for highway 73 to be recognized as a national interest highway and for the safety conditions and traffic flow on route 173 to be significantly improved up to the Armstrong border crossing.

This petition was signed by more than 22,000 citizens, as well as more than 200 social and economic businesses and organizations, and municipal corporations.

Highway 73 and route 173 go through Beauce up to the Armstrong border crossing, and together, form the main artery to New England.

The people of Beauce are counting on the Government of Canada to help them put in place 21st century highway infrastructure.

Canada Career WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canada Career Week is taking place from November 3 to 9. This year's theme, “Focus on the Journey”, reminds job seekers to keep their minds open and to seize opportunities as they make their way through life and career.Innovation and apprenticeship opportunities are essential to get a better job and a higher income.

This year, Canada Career Week is all the more important because it is supporting two priorities announced in the Speech from the Throne. These are the innovation strategy of the Government of Canada and the commitment to help Canadians gain the skills and knowledge required to find their place in the job market.

Such a week highlights what can and must be done to allow all Canadians to assume their rightful place in the labour market.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Canadian Alliance Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, last spring, in an attempt to cloud a complete lack of vision for agriculture by his government the Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board said western farmers must plant more trees. He said two million acres of trees in Saskatchewan alone would alleviate the dependence of farmers on traditional crops.

One farmer in my riding took the minister's directive seriously. Joe Nicodemus developed a system to make cattle feed from white poplar trees. Expanding on an idea borne out of desperation during the 1930s, Mr. Nicodemus chips, then shreds these trees to make a silage that is high in vitamins and minerals.

Mr. Nicodemus, thinking his project timely, what with the directive from the minister and the feed shortage in western Canada, applied through the government's CARDS program for help in financing the expansion of his operation to a commercially viable size. Imagine his surprise to be denied, with no reasons given.

Mr. Nicodemus is now convinced, as are all other western farmers, that the Liberal government is all rhetoric and incapable of understanding the problems in agriculture, let alone having the solutions that are required.

Social ProgramsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a Hamilton member of Parliament I would like to recognize Friends for Success Incorporated, an organization that provides low income citizens with appropriate clothing for work and, more importantly, encouragement to prepare them for job interviews and the workplace. The slogan on the front door reads “Helping people move toward independence”.

Since opening its Hamilton location on October 1, Friends for Success has aided many citizens in their quest for dignity and independence. The response from the community has been huge in the few weeks since Friends for Success has opened its Hamilton centre.

I would like to congratulate this volunteer organization and wish it all the best in its effort to help those seeking to enter or re-enter the workplace.

Hydroelectric DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, as our energy consumption increases, so does the use of fossil fuels to produce electricity, while the use of renewable sources, such as hydroelectricity, is on the decrease.

The connection between climate change and the use of fossil fuels is clear. By contrast, hydroelectricity, which accounts for over 60% of the electricity produced in Canada, only generates minute volumes of greenhouse gases, in addition to being renewable.

The implementation of the Kyoto protocol by the Canadian government should include additional tax incentives to develop renewable energies, such as hydroelectricity, and non-polluting energies, such as wind energy, and to develop energy efficiency and conservation programs.

Hydroelectricity is the only clean, renewable and economical source of energy that can meet the demand for electricity, and it should be one of the main measures adopted in the fight against climate change.

The ArcticStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, Arctic parliamentarians from eight countries met in Norway this summer. The Canadian delegation reasserted Canada's policy objectives for the Arctic including: enhancing the security of Canadians, especially northerners and aboriginal peoples; asserting Canada's sovereignty in the north; establishing the circumpolar region as a vibrant geopolitical entity; and providing human security and sustainable development in the Arctic.

We support capacity building in the north, including the university of the Arctic. The Arctic Council is central to our approach to the north. We were proud of the recent contributions to an Arctic Council meeting made by our Minister of Foreign Affairs. There was also discussion of Canada's role in Antarctica.

Canada is a great polar nation. We should nurture the north domestically and internationally.

National DefenceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the ancient Sea Kings have something in common. They both entered the service in 1963. After 40 years of public service the Prime Minister is ready to retire, but because he cancelled the Sea King's replacement, the Sea Kings will have to keep working until 2015, a full 11 years into the Prime Minister's retirement.

It is entirely conceivable that a grandchild of an original Sea King pilot could be flying it today. It is shameful that in nine years as Prime Minister he has been unable and, even worse, unwilling to replace the helicopters he cancelled. Neither have the three defence ministers he has had during that time.

The Sea Kings were once the pride of our nation but have now become a joke. This is a joke that no one is laughing at. The Prime Minister would leave a better legacy if the Sea Kings were to retire at the same time as the Prime Minister.

2010 Winter OlympicsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of Bras d'Or—Cape Breton I would like to congratulate the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Bid Corporation for making it onto the short list.

Vancouver and Whistler were selected by the international Olympic committee to take the bid to the next stage of competition at the end of August. Canada is now competing against Austria and South Korea to win the rights to host the world in 2010. We all know that in this Olympic competition there is only one medal.

The team, led by Canada's gold medallist, Mr. Jack Poole, includes volunteers and governments, first nations and athletes, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and leaders of business and finance from right across the country. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic bid is a true team Canada project.

Please join me in congratulating the Vancouver Bid Corporation for its success to date and wish it the very best in bringing the Olympics and Paralympics home in 2010.

Veterans' WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, this week being the beginning of veterans week, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the New Democratic Party to bring greetings to veterans and their families from coast to coast to coast and to remember those 116,000 souls who are unable to join Canada as a result of their various conflicts around the world.

I would also like to pay a very special homage to Ms. Doreen Coolen of the Hubbards area of Nova Scotia, who will be the Silver Cross Mother for 2002. It is most unfortunate that she lost a son in Afghanistan. We will remember his sacrifice and admire her courage in laying the wreath on behalf of all Silver Cross mothers across the country.

On behalf of my parents and my oldest brother who were liberated by the Canadian military in the liberation of Holland in 1945, I would like to say to all veterans and to all people who sacrificed so much so that people like myself could be free that in the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them. Lest we forget.

Geneviève VerrierStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Réseau des femmes d'affaires du Québec recently gave out awards to nine women who have excelled in business. This second edition of the awards had some 22 finalists.

I am proud to announce that Geneviève Verrier, Director of Operations for Alpha, an insurance company headquartered in Drummondville, was awarded the top prize in the category “executive or professional, SME”.

Since she joined Alpha in 1998, insurance premiums revenues rose from $8 million to $14 million.

This was not mere chance, but the result of a sustained effort by many people.

My congratulations to all those who contributed to the success of this SME in my area, and particular congratulations to Geneviève Verrier on her award.

Adoption Awareness MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to recognize November as Adoption Awareness Month. For over 20 years, Canadian families and support organizations have celebrated this important time.

This is an internationally proclaimed month to celebrate adoption and raise awareness of the thousands of children throughout North America and the world who are waiting to be adopted. Adoption Awareness Month is about celebration, gratitude and hope as well as informing people of the joy in providing a child with a permanent family.

Adoption provides a winning situation for everyone involved and helps us to build a stronger Canada.

Coady International InstituteStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to recognize and congratulate the world renowned Coady International Institute located at St. Francis Xavier University in my riding of Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough in Nova Scotia.

The Coady Institute was established at St. F.X. in 1959 and was named in honour of Dr. Moses Coady, a truly great Canadian and founder of the Antigonish Movement, a people's movement for economic and social justice.

Dr. Coady set up the institute to address poverty facing local fishers, farmers, forestry workers and coal miners with a program of adult education and group action directed toward the development of human capacities, economic cooperation and reform of social and economic institutions.

The Coady approach is more relevant than ever. The success of this movement attracted community leaders from across North America, and today men and women travel from over 120 different countries to take part in this campus based program.

On behalf of members of the Progressive Conservative Party and all members of Parliament, I commend the efforts of those who have continued in the tradition of Dr. Coady in creating innovative and effective strategies for building civil societies. On November 18, I invite all members--

Coady International InstituteStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laval East.

Community Safety and Crime PreventionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

November is National Community Safety and Crime Prevention Month.

If we are all more aware of safety, our communities will be safer places to live. We can take action to fight crime as part of our daily activities. Just ask the people at la Maison des Jeunes de Marigot, in Laval East.

Many school children are bullied, while others are either bullies themselves,or witnesses.

I encourage schools, parents and students to take action and to learn more about the National Community Safety and Crime Prevention Strategy.

Together, we can reduce crime in our communities.

United States ElectionsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is election day in the United States. Americans will not only elect state and national representatives, they will decide issues themselves through citizen initiated referendums.

Voters in Oregon will vote on whether or not to require labelling of genetically modified foods. Florida voters will vote on offering free preschool for all four year old kids. North Dakota voters will vote on reimbursing students $1,000 against their student loans to encourage them not to leave the state. Nevada voters will vote on legalizing marijuana. Arkansas voters will vote on whether or not to eliminate taxes on food and medicine.

Voters will decide 203 different referendum questions in 40 of 50 states on a wide variety of issues, and it will be demonstrated that trusting the future to the judgment of citizens is a good idea.

In contrast, in Canada the Liberals have decided that Canadians cannot be trusted in the same way. The Canadian Alliance is the only party in Canada committed to giving Canadians the power to decide their future for themselves. Canadians deserve this democratic freedom, and we will continue to fight for their right to have it.

Parliamentary ReformOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, electing committee chairs is a baby step toward returning democracy to the House. It is long overdue, even though it has been repeatedly rebuffed by this and previous governments.

The Prime Minister's support of the Canadian Alliance motion would be a step on the road to democratic reform. Could the Prime Minister not find it in his heart, in the smallest corner of his heart, to get behind this motion and allow the baby step of electing committee chairs in the House?

Parliamentary ReformOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Leader of the Opposition perhaps is unaware that in the last Parliament we did not take baby steps. His House leader's contribution was much greater than that. We amended no less than 26 Standing Orders of the House. All political parties have worked constructively. The hon. member should try it.

Parliamentary ReformOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, as a leading member of that party has said “It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you know someone in the PMO”. That is what they say.

The government would deny MPs the rights given last week to murderers and rapists, the ability to vote by secret ballot. The government throws farmers in jail, yet refuses to give MPs, its backbenchers, these rights when it comes to committee chairs.

Is the government so fearful of democracy breaking out that it is unwilling to take the baby step of allowing committee chairs to be elected by secret ballot?