House of Commons Hansard #182 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-55.


Business of the House

10:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 81 to inform the House that the motion to be considered Monday during consideration of the business of supply is as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should cease and desist its sustained legislative and political attacks on the lives and livelihoods of rural Canadians and the communities where they live.

The motion, standing in the name of the hon. member for Yorkton--Melville, is not votable. Copies of the motion are available at the table.

The House resumed from May 2, 2002 consideration of the motion: that Bill C-55, An Act to amend certain Acts of Canada, and to enact measures for implementing the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, in order to enhance public safety, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and the amendment.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:20 a.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, rising to speak to Bill C-55 does not require one to redefine in detail the context we find ourselves in since September 11, since the impact of those attacks has been discussed more than once, along with the steps to be taken to prevent, or at least deal with, such events.

The Bloc Quebecois has, moreover, proposed some clear paths toward solutions that would eliminate one of the most fertile grounds for terrorism: the abject poverty in which millions live in this world. We have moreover agreed that it was also important to protect our territory from any possibility of attack. Public safety must be ensured through peactical measures and clearly defined legislation that has been the object of informed debate.

We must, however, take care not to go to the opposite extreme and enact legislation with potential negative impact on the rights and freedoms of those we wish to protect, under the guise of fighting terrorism. We do not have to go far back in time to recall the late unlamented Bill C-42, so criticized for its negative effects on fundamental rights and freedoms.

At the time, the government was busy boasting right and left of what an ardent promoter of public security it was, rejecting the criticisms that were being made from this side of the House. Now here we are again, starting off a new debate on a similar bill, although a few changes have been made.

Why are we having this new debate? Simply because the public, which is not stupid, condemned, like the Bloc Quebecois, Bill C-42, since it violated civil liberties and made us fear the worst by bringing back bad memories, including what happened in 1970 with the War Measures Act. So, the government had no choice but to recognize that the public's judgment can make the Liberals blush.

The bill now before us is a new version of Bill C-42. How is Bill C-55 different? Is it an improved version? These are two fundamental questions that must be answered.

First, in what way is it different? Unfortunately, there is very little difference. In the first draft of this bill, because it is certainly appropriate to call Bill C-42 a draft, great power was given to a single person, namely the Minister of National Defence.

How could the government put such power in the hands of a single person, this at a time when the authority delegated to the executive branch is being questioned, at a time when we are asking the legislative branch to have more of a say in the decision making process? The situation is all the more alarming because the decision to suspend people's fundamental rights will be based on the minister's judgment.

A lot of things have happened since Bill C-42 was introduced. Indeed, we were able to witness the very high degree of judgment of the Minister of National Defence, who omitted to inform the Prime Minister of the capture of Afghan prisoners and their handing over to the Americans. Everyone still clearly remembers the uproar created in this House by this whole story. Under Bill C-55, it is that same person who would have control over our rights and freedoms. Mr. Speaker, if you feel a chill running down your spine do not worry, it is not the flu; you are perfectly normal, you are a person of judgment.

Just think about this for a moment. This minister can, all alone, decide to create controlled access military zones and determine their dimensions. If he deems it appropriate to keep the whole thing secret, he also has the power to do so. It is legitimate to hope that the criteria under which he would make all these decisions are well defined and specified in the legislation, but this is not the case at all.

The bill simply says that the minister must base his decisions on what he believes is reasonably necessary. Could the wording be any more discretionary? I doubt it. Not only are we talking about judgment, which is hardly objective or reassuring, but then on top of that is says reasonably necessary.

Allow to me raise the following question: what does reasonably necessary really mean? How can such a qualifier restrict and limit a minister's actions?

I, for example, may find it reasonably necessary to remove these terms from the bill and define specific restrictions on the minister. I may also believe that it is reasonably necessary, given that we live in a representative democracy, for parliament to be consulted prior to proposing such measures. Will my interpretation be similar to that of the minister's? The answer is obvious.

When it comes to controlled access military zones, the minister does not need the approval of the provincial government. Which includes, obviously, all of the consequences of this power. Should this information be made public? No, not really, the government will tell us. How else are we supposed to react, other than to be suspicious and remain vigilant about this situation that, incidentally, seems to have survived the demise of Bill C-42 only to resurface again in Bill C-55.

Another issue related to these famous military zones that has left us perplexed is the lack of recourse before the courts for persons wronged by a controlled access military zone. For those who are wronged by the creation of such a zone, there is no recourse available, even if the government claims otherwise. The bill states clearly, and I quote:

260.1 (14) No action for loss, damage or injury lies by reason only of the designation of a controlled access military zone or the implementation of measures to enforce the designation.

If the designation of a military zone violate a person's rights in any way, and causes this person to be wronged, there is no legal recourse available to them. What is more, the following subsection stipulates:

(15) Any person who suffers loss, damage or injury by reason of the exercise of any of the powers conferred by this section shall be compensated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

How lovely. It is the Consolidated Revenue Fund that will determine the compensation I am owed.

This should give us pause. Why? Because we have made the decision to live under the rule of law. What has now become of this principle? With a stroke of its electronic pen, the government decides to change things on us? In certain situations, the rule of law prevails, while in others, we just have to put up and shut up if we are wronged?

Members will recall that it was not so long ago that the government was proudly commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They will also recall that it neglected to mention the unilateral patriation of the constitution, probably not thinking it was reasonably necessary. Now, just a few dark nights and one brief burst of sunshine later, this same government is prepared to set aside these rights and freedoms in the name of the fight against terrorism. How is it that while, on the one hand, the Liberal government is proudly extolling the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, on the other, it is crushing those same rights and there is nothing to stop it? A bit of consistency would do this government a lot of good, but perhaps we are dreaming in colour.

Mr. Speaker, if the designation of a zone has harmed you in some way, that will be just too bad for you. But you can take comfort in the fact that the maximum length of time for which such a zone may be designated is two years. Members will admit that that is a bit long. Here again, the government will tell you that there is no use claiming that your rights and freedoms have been violated and that, wonder of wonders, we live in a country which operates under the rule of law.

The bill has carefully retained the provisions allowing various ministers to make interim orders. However, there is a slight difference which is worth pointing out. The initial duration of interim orders has gone from 90 to 45 days. Then, orders will have to be tabled in each house of parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that house is sitting after the interim order is made. So far, so good. But then we find out the real nature of these interim orders. It is clearly set out in subsection (4) that an interim order is exempt from the application of section 3 of the Statutory Instruments Act. In plain language, this means that the interim order does not have to be consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.

Does that not prove that this government is seeking the power to restrict our rights and freedoms with total impunity? What we fear and what was deliberately included in this bill in order to set aside the most important elements of our democracy is the loss of total respect for the rights and freedoms of every citizen.

Some were pretty harsh in criticizing Bill C-55, including the privacy commissioner. He stated clearly that the government drew its inspiration from practices commonly used by totalitarian states. The commissioner did not even give this new antiterrorist legislation a passing grade. It is not very good for a supposedly liberal government, particularly since it cannot label as partisan the comments made by the privacy commissioner.

I have other interesting comments, but I will pass them on to my colleagues, who may be able to use them.

In closing, at the beginning of my speech, I mentioned two questions. The first one was: is Bill C-55 different? The answer is no. To some extent, it is even worse. The second question was: has it been improved? Obviously, the new bill does not meet our expectations nor does it allay our fears.

In these times where respect for each and every individual is more essential than ever, we cannot tolerate that fundamental rights and freedoms be taken away on the grounds that we are trying to fight terrorism. The very people whom we want to protect from terrorism must also be protected from abuse. Nothing leads us to believe that this would be the case, should Bill C-55 go through.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it shows us how seriously the government takes the legislation. It took 20 minutes to get enough of its members in the House to begin parliament. I even question whether there are enough members in here at the present time.

The government introduced the legislation as an anti-terrorism bill in response to September 11. I would argue that the bill is anything but a bill that deals with terrorism.

In his speech on Bill C-42, the minister said the bill was another important step in the fight against terrorism. In the omnibus bill the only common theme, which omnibus bills are supposed to have, was that it centralized the power in the hands of the executive branch of government with little or no parliamentary review. Bill C-55 remains a ministerial power grab.

The Minister of Transport in November 2001, in response to a question by the member from Fraser Valley, said:

When there is a localized one time emergency ministers need to act quickly. That is what happened on September 11. Had there been further terrorist attacks and the country was in a state of apprehension then obviously the Emergencies Act would have been invoked.

This question has to be asked. If there was legislation that allowed the ministers to respond in kind at that time, why do they need this legislation today? I would argue that they want to enhance the powers of the minister and take it out of the hands of parliament.

The amendments that Bill C-55 brings to bear are not exact. It introduces two new security measures. One is about unruly passengers or air rage, and the opposition thinks the measures are a good thing. The other is the requirement of air carriers to provide information on their passenger manifests to various departments.

The difference between the old bill, Bill C-42, and the new one, Bill C-55, is that Bill C-55 is very specific about how this is to be handled. In the old bill the minister was given the discretion through regulations on how to handle this.

Before the Christmas break the transportation committee produced an excellent report on how to handle airline security. It balanced all the details of implementing the system with some discretion for the minister to act. Instead, the current Minister of Transport wants carte blanche to do whatever he wants to do and to be the sole authority on security measures.

It is interesting that the Liberal backbenchers seem quite willing to allow the executive branch of parliament, the cabinet, to take away their ability to be involved.

Another change from Bill C-42 is with regard to the Immigration Act. The new bill deletes parts from the previous bill which referred to the Immigration Act. In Bill C-42 the government introduced amendments to the Immigration Act that it had just put into place through Bill C-11 but which had not been implemented. Bill C-42 would have repealed Bill C-11 changes such as a 72 hour time limit on referrals and a 90 day limit on processing time which would have severely curtailed the appeals process. Bill C-42 removed that.

In February 2001 we had proposals of changes to Bill C-11. In November 2001 we had the elimination of those proposed changes. Now in April 2002, we are now getting rid of the proposed changes to Bill C-11 that would have been done in February. It is no wonder that Canadians have little or no faith in the immigration department, the minister and the Immigration Act. Does anybody over there on the government side know what is going on with the Immigration Act?

Other changes are proposed for the National Defence Act. Some are good, some are bad and some are questionable. The proposed inclusion of armed conflict in the definition of emergency, which already includes insurrection, riot, invasion and war, is presumably meant to ensure that the events of September 11 would be officially designated as an emergency. However it is questionable whether the term armed conflict appropriately defines the terrorist acts of September 11, or a biological or chemical attack, or even a major cyber attack on our computer networks. Rather the government should specifically include terrorism in the definition of an emergency.

The opposition supports job protection for officers and non-commissioned members of our reserve forces. We have been calling for such protection for years however we are concerned that this job protection is only limited to emergencies. What does this mean for the reservists that are called out for peacekeeping duties? Are they not afforded any job protection?

We are also concerned about the creation of controlled access military zones. The government claimed under Bill C-42 and again under Bill C-55 that these controlled access military zones would only protect military equipment and personnel and would not be used to battle public demonstrations. However by changing the section from how it was drafted in Bill C-42 to how it has been drafted now, the government is admitting that these military security zones that were mentioned in Bill C-42 were intended to be used against legitimate protest groups despite the minister's assertions to the contrary.

Since we could not trust the minister then, why would he think that we would trust him now not to be using these special provisions against public demonstrations? It would appear that these measures are designed for protesters and those engaging in civil disobedience, not terrorists.

Why do I come to that conclusion? We must look at the example the minister of defence used, which was the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen by the al-Qaeda in October 2000 where a boat full of explosives was used against the side of a military ship. What would the government do in this legislation? It would use some force and fine the terrorists $1,000. What kind of deterrent is that to terrorists, to fine them $1,000?

In order to fight terrorists we must use lethal force. We do not fine them $1,000 and slap them on the hand. That is why it is clear to me that this is not anti-terrorism legislation. This is to be used against civil disobedience. If the government were to do that, that is fine with me, but it should be upfront, honest and open to the public and say that is what it is attempting to do and not hide it.

We have a problem with the interim orders giving that kind of overwhelming authority to cabinet. We are upset there is no parliamentary oversight and review. That is necessary to hold the government and the executive branch accountable.

I must say this is another attempt by the government to take the responsibility out of the hands of parliament and place it in the hands of cabinet. The government is not willing to allow these interim orders to go before a cabinet committee. It only requires four cabinet ministers to agree. That should not be difficult. It has a hard time getting its members here, but surely it is not that hard to get four cabinet ministers to sit down with legislation that supposedly is designed to fight terrorism. One really has to question the intent.

Our party is quite apt to say that the legislation should be split. That is what this amendment is all about. Let us take the good parts of the legislation, deal with them and forget this thing about it being anti-terrorism. That is not what the bill is all about.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:40 a.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak as another New Democrat in opposition to Bill C-55 that is being debated today.

I want to refer to comments made by our transport critic, the hon. member for Churchill. It was yesterday when, in describing the effects and impacts of the bill, she correctly pointed out that the power Bill C-55 confers, contrary to what the government is putting forward to the public, on individual cabinet ministers and the government to exercise in an environment of secrecy is, as she said, under the cloak of national security.

This gets to the core of what the bill is about. We saw a huge outcry from the public regarding the previous bill, Bill C-42, because Canadians understood that the bill had little to do with national security, and it had everything to do with a massive infringement on the civil liberties and rights of Canadians. I can say that those of us in the NDP who have had an opportunity to review this latest version, the second try of the government with its introduction of Bill C-55, have come to the same conclusion.

The bill is being put forward in parliament under the cloak of national security, yet it is a bill that must be examined carefully line by line. When we read it we understand the massive power contained in the bill which can be used by individual ministers, by cabinet and by the federal government. The NDP wants to sent out a warning to alert Canadians that Bill C-55 fundamentally differs very little from the original bill, Bill C-42.

For that reason we are standing in opposition to the bill as it goes through the House and committee. We will be calling upon Canadians to stand and assert their political and civil rights to make it clear that the bill is completely unacceptable.

That is not just the opinion of the New Democratic Party. It is also the opinion of a growing number of people who, in examining the bill, are realizing that its impact on our democratic society is something that we should be terribly concerned about.

I read a news release from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. This is a person and an office that was established by parliament to protect the privacy of Canadians, to create and to look at the right balance between the need for government to bring in legislation to protect the public interest and the need to protect individual privacy rights.

Government members in particular should be taking note of what the office of the privacy commissioner had to say. In his press release he zeroed in on one section of the bill, section 4.82. These are the provisions that would allow the RCMP and CSIS unrestricted access to the personal information of all Canadian air travellers on flights within Canada as well as on international routes.

The commissioner's concern was that the provision in the bill would fundamentally take away the important privacy right of Canadians with regard to police and other agents as they go about their day to day lives, including travel. The press release stated:

In Canada, it is well established that individuals do not have to identify themselves to police unless they are being arrested or unless they are carrying out a licensed activity such as driving...Empowering the RCMP to obtain and scan passenger lists in search of anyone subject to an outstanding warrant for any offense punishable by imprisonment of five years or more has no apparent connection to the purported anti-terrorism purpose of Bill C-55. It appears, rather, to be a dramatic expansion of privacy-invasive police powers without explanation or justification as to its necessity.

Are government members paying attention to this? Are they hearing what the privacy commissioner had to say? He said the bill would allow officials to go into air traveller lists, but where would it stop? Would we then be looking at train travellers, bus travellers or even someone renting a car?

I felt terribly concerned when I read the privacy commissioner's press release. This person is in office in an official capacity to uphold the privacy rights of Canadians. Bill C-55 would trample on those privacy rights. We must question the government, on what basis is the bill being put forward?

Our transport critic and other members of the House have argued forcefully that the government already has at its disposal any measure of legislation, tools that already exist, to deal with legitimate national security concerns. We must ask why the bill is being brought in? Why has the government not received the message from Canadians, including legal experts, international law experts or civil libertarians? Why has the government not understood that what it is about to do is a complete violation of democratic principles established in this country.

This kind of pervasive, military and police intrusion into civil society is something that is creeping along every day. In my own riding in East Vancouver, in the downtown east side, police are about to install surveillance cameras in public locations to watch what is going on on the streets. The same privacy commissioner has criticized that too as an invasion of privacy.

I see these issues being linked. I see it as my responsibility as one member of parliament along with my colleagues in the New Democratic Party to say that we should be terribly concerned about these invasions into the privacy of Canadians.

Even though the government claims that the language in Bill C-55 has been softened there are still very significant provisions that would allow the establishment of military zones when equipment is brought in. It would still allow the potential of vast abuse when international gatherings are being held.

If a foreign leader were to bring in military personnel as we saw during APEC, would it be on that basis that the provisions of the bill could suddenly come into effect? We saw that happen in Vancouver when the president of Indonesia came here. He brought his own folks with him toting guns. Is it on that basis that the provisions of the bill could suddenly come into effect and before we know it a peaceful civil protest could be turned into a military zone, closed down, censored and people arrested?

Those are some of the concerns that the NDP have. We will continue to oppose the bill because we see it as a dangerous bill. It is a violation of our fundamental civil liberties, and an invasion into the privacy of Canadians. Bill C-55 would undermine the democratic foundation that we in the House are elected to protect.

Public Safety Act, 2002Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I understand that everybody will be so spellbound with what I have to say that the Chair actually wants me to stop partway through, so they can digest it, and then start again after question period.

We are in fact debating the Canadian Alliance amendment to split the bill. As the government is wont to do, it has made this such an omnibus bill covering so many different areas and even different jurisdictions that this is actually a bill that is about one-third transport and two-thirds justice. Yesterday in the justice committee we raised the fact that we are faced with dealing with a bill that actually has more justice items in it than transport items. That is why we suggested that it should be split into two bills, one for the transport portion of it and one for the justice portion of it.

What is even more alarming is the fact that the government wants to fast track the bill. In fact, the Prime Minister has publicly vowed that he will fast track Bill C-55. To hell with debate and to hell with democracy, which is something we have already seen in the House, he wants to fast track the bill and ram it through parliament. Those are his own words.

Instead, we say that if the government thinks there is merit in this and if we think there are a lot of problems, problems that have just been disclosed in part by the last speaker from the NDP, let us look at it, but let us put it into its proper sections and let us take the time that is necessary, not only to debate it in the House but to have good public input.

The very thought that the government would want to fast track a bill that the privacy commissioner himself has stated should alarm law-abiding citizens is a reason for not fast tracking it. However, at times the Prime Minister likes to fast track things. For example, the Prime Minister fast tracked buying over $100 million worth of new jets for himself and his cabinet colleagues to fly around in, despite the fact that the people responsible for the present jets say they are perfectly serviceable. He fast tracked it to the point that he even skipped by his own cabinet and rammed this thing through just before the Easter break.

Let us look at some of the things the Prime Minister perhaps could fast track and has not. He could fast track buying new helicopters for the military. After all, the military is flying 40 year old machines. That is the equivalent of the cabinet driving around Parliament Hill in flathead Fords. We see the government trading their cars in quite regularly. They are not driving flathead Fords. They are not even driving very old models, yet the government expects the military to be flying around in 40 year old helicopters. One of these days one of those helicopters is going to end up at Rockcliffe. When a former serviceman takes his grandchildren out to see one of these things and tells them that he actually flew it, they will not believe him. In fact, one of the ironies is that in some cases we currently have members of the armed forces flying these machines whose own grandfathers may have flown those machines in the Canadian military as well.

As well, the Prime Minster has not fast tracked obtaining proper uniforms for our fighting forces in Afghanistan. The government loves to throw it at us that we are not supporting our troops, that we are not recognizing the incredible job they do. We do. We recognize that our troops are over there in jungle uniforms buying beige paint to splash on their uniforms. With the full approval of their senior officers, our troops are putting beige paint on their uniforms and on some of their weapons in order to camouflage themselves, and it is paint, not even clothes dye, because paint is what they can get. When we see the Canadian forces go into action in Afghanistan we can always tell who they are, even in a multi-country force, because they are the ones in the dark uniforms in the desert.

Also, the government has not fast tracked legislation dealing with child pornography. We still have people such as John Sharpe in British Columbia, who says that he has artistic merit in the pornography that he writes and who is still able to publish books glorifying this type of pornography.

The Prime Minister is also not fast tracking any action on the softwood lumber issue. In fact, the minister responsible for this has gone so far as to say there is no real need for alarm because nobody has really lost a job. It is just an industry readjustment. The government is so far behind in its thinking that it is quite unbelievable.

Youth Orchestra FestivalStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, Exchanges Canada programs run by the Department of Canadian Heritage aim to help young Canadians gain knowledge and understanding of Canada.

This weekend Exchanges Canada brings together 270 young musicians in Ottawa for the Canadian Youth Orchestra Festival. When all nine youth orchestras perform this weekend, it will truly be an example of the unifying role music can play. These young musicians have travelled from British Columbia, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and all across Ontario to learn from each other and share their mutual love of music.

In its second year the Youth Orchestra Festival is dedicated to stimulating, challenging and supporting the musical talent of young Canadians. I welcome these outstanding young people to the nation's capital and wish them and the organizers of this special event an exciting and rewarding weekend.

HockeyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Canadian Alliance Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, sport competitions are great unifiers and they make communities proud. That is certainly how the citizens in my riding are feeling this week after the tremendous victory of the Tisdale Trojans in the Canadian Midget Hockey Championship.

Last Sunday the Trojans took the Air Canada Cup, the ultimate prize in Canadian midget hockey, in an impressive 6 to 2 victory over the Dartmouth Subways. The star player in the final game was Myles Zimmer, the son of Tisdale Mayor, Rollie Zimmer. Myles scored a hat trick and made his father and everyone in Tisdale very proud. Head coach Darrell Mann hails from Sylvania, a community just south of Tisdale.

Tisdale is a town of 3,800 people. It has tremendous civic pride. Congratulations to the town of Tisdale and the Trojans on this magnificent victory.

The NetherlandsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Haliburton—Victoria—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Sunday is a special day for both Dutch and Canadian citizens. It is the anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.

Occupied in May 1940, the Netherlands was liberated in stages, beginning in October 1944, primarily by Canadian troops. This Sunday we commemorate the more than 7,600 Canadians who sacrificed their lives to liberate the Netherlands. At the same time we take comfort in the knowledge that out of the horrors of the second world war there developed sincere and profound ties of friendship and respect between our two countries which exist to this day.

The evidence of this friendship may be seen in the tulips which bloom in Ottawa each spring, in the friendships made and in the care and attention bestowed by the Dutch people on the burial places of our war dead.

This Sunday, May 5, gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect both on the sacrifice of our Canadian veterans in the liberation of the Netherlands and on the strong ties of friendship which have endured between our two countries to this day.

Diabetes AwarenessStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House that today is National Aboriginal Diabetes Awareness Day.

Diabetes is a major cause of premature death, blindness, kidney and heart disease, stroke, limb amputation and other significant health problems.

The burden of diabetes and its complications is particularly severe among aboriginal people. In fact diabetes rates are three to five times that of the general Canadian population. Type two diabetes is now being diagnosed in children.

In 1999 the government created the Canadian Diabetes Strategy, which includes a major Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative to address this epidemic. The Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative was launched earlier this morning at the Wabano Centre here in Ottawa. This is a national campaign to raise awareness of diabetes prevention among aboriginal people.

Please join me in wishing success to all of the organizations and people who are working hard to fight the diabetes epidemic among aboriginal people.

MulticulturalismStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Tony Tirabassi Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join my colleagues in congratulating the Prime Minister for an insightful and timely speech in Montreal yesterday. At this time of strife around the world, it is vital that Canadians remain true to our values of diversity and respect.

The Prime Minister said “The Canadian experience is based on the ideal of unity and diversity of a society where people can live and work together regardless of their language, their religion or the colour of their skin”.

The Prime Minister also advised Canadians to guard against intolerance at home. He said “The lessons of history teach us that we ignore acts of intolerance at our peril”.

This has never been more true. I urge Canadians to act positively to ensure that we will always remain an open and accepting society.

The NetherlandsStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the sacrifices being made by our brave men and women in Afghanistan today remind us of the sacrifices that were made by an earlier generation of Canadians fighting in Europe toward the end of World War II.

Fifty-seven years ago this Sunday General Charles Foulkes, commanding the 1st Canadian Corps, accepted the surrender of enemy forces in the Netherlands. The fighting in the Netherlands was one of the most difficult campaigns ever fought by the Canadian army and it cost the lives of 7,600 Canadians. While the campaign was arduous and terrible, the victory that was won brought freedom to the Dutch people and created a lasting bond of friendship between Canada and the Netherlands.

On this coming Sunday as we remember our men and women in Afghanistan in prayer, let us also celebrate the victory won in Europe so many years ago by so many brave Canadians who not only helped to preserve our freedom but also to restore it to the people of the Netherlands.

Charter of Rights and FreedomsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 17, the 20th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of RIghts and Freedoms, 200 people all over the country received Canadian citizenship.

This was a particularly propitious day for them to declare their commitment to Canada. Many people choose our country because of the values of freedom and respect that are entrenched in our charter.

In a world where many have no access to that choice, where many have been expelled from their homes by intolerance or injustice, we need to be proud of how we are respecting our international commitments by helping true refugees to start new lives in Canada.

These newcomers contribute to our economic growth and enrich our culture; they deserve all of our encouragement and support.

Bell Walk for KidsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the first annual Bell Walk for Kids will take place on Sunday, May 5, from coast to coast.

Money raised from the Walk will support Kids Help Phone, a phone counselling and referral service available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in both official languages, to children and youth.

Every day, some 1,000 young people are able to talk to someone who is ready to listen, and provide reassurance and guidance. None of their many and diversified concerns is treated as taboo. Regardless of what their problem is, young callers find an attentive and compassionate listener, for every child deserves to be heard, to have access to resources, and to take charge of his own life.

If you share this vision, get out and walk on May 5, or make a pledge. The society in which we live is a reflection of us, and only the solidarity we show our youth will prepare them for their future responsibilities as citizens. If you feel the same way as I do about this, please call 1-866-925-5454.

MulticulturalismStatements By Members

May 3rd, 2002 / 11:05 a.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, last night in Montreal the Prime Minister made a speech in which he urged Canadians to be tolerant and accepting of one another. I would like to take a moment to echo these sentiments.

When listening to the news around the world today there are abundant examples of tension and violence between ethnicities and religious groups. Canadians must be vigilant in ensuring that we remain open, tolerant and respectful of each other's values. The Prime Minister said that:

In recent times we have witnessed a number of troubling acts of intolerance in the world. Acts of anti-Semitism in France and elsewhere in Europe, and even here in Canada where synagogues have been desecrated...We have witnessed hatred against Muslims after Sept. 11 in Canada and other countries...intolerance is absolutely and totally unacceptable.

I ask that the members of the House and all Canadians listen to the Prime Minister's words and ensure that Canada remains--

MulticulturalismStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Palliser.

Woodrow LloydStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, many seniors with us today may recall it was 40 years ago that doctors, backed by the Canadian and American medical associations, fought bitterly to stop the introduction of medicare in Saskatchewan. There were threats to the premier's children. His home was vandalized. A leading cleric declared that if the government did not abandon medicare there would be blood in the streets.

Amidst this maelstrom, on May 3, 1962, Premier Woodrow Lloyd spoke to 600 doctors of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, truly the shock troops in the war against medicare. He entered the hall in Regina amid booing, spitting and hissing. Few present were converted but many grasped the depth of his determination. The premier would not back down. Medicare would be implemented.

His act was one of unsurpassed courage, and today's generation that takes medicare for granted should remember Premier Woodrow Lloyd.

Transparency InternationalStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Bryon Wilfert Liberal Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the past few days we have heard the word corruption used with impunity in the House. I would like to inform the House of the solid facts concerning corruption.

Transparency International has proven Canada to be one of the least corrupt countries in the world. It is the only non-governmental organization devoted to curbing corruption and its annual Corruption Perceptions Index is cited by the world's media as the leading index in the field.

Transparency International ranked 91 countries in 2001 in terms of the degree of corruption perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. This ranking is a composite index drawn from 14 different polls and surveys carried out among business people and country analysts, including surveys of residents, both local and expatriate. Ninety-one countries, both developed and developing, were analyzed. Canada ranked 7th, indicating very low levels of perceived corruption. It may be of interest to know that Australia was 11th, the United Kingdom 13th and the United States 16th.

It is time for the opposition to look at the facts and stop playing games.

Premier of OntarioStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the new member for the provincial riding of Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey, the Hon. Ernie Eves, the premier of Ontario.

Last evening the people of Dufferin--Peel--Wellington--Grey endorsed the new premier. It was a victory for the pragmatic, contemporary conservatism of Ernie Eves. It was a victory for progressive conservatism. It was a victory for fiscal responsibility and social compassion. It was a victory for pragmatism and good government over dogma.

We also know that it was a victory for Progressive Conservatives in Ontario but was indeed a loss for the Liberal Party of Ontario. Despite a perceived 20% lead in the polls, Dalton McGuinty's Liberals had a near collapse in the riding of Nipissing. Not only will we see a leadership review in the Liberal Party of Canada, but we are about to see leadership questions happening in the Liberal Party of Ontario as well.

Cultural CommunitiesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


André Harvey Liberal Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, last night the Prime Minister made an important speech in front of 1,500 people in Montreal. He reiterated the importance of being tolerant and respectful of cultural communities in Canada.

Events taking place around the world affect us directly and personally, but it is important to consider the context and not to associate minority groups in Canada with the unfortunate events taking place elsewhere.

Canada has a long tradition of being a country that welcomes people from around the world. Every year, people come from far and wide to find freedom, respect and harmony, and therefore a better future for their family.

Today, I would like to add my voice to the Prime Minister's by saying that intolerance is unacceptable. I would like to salute the minority communities of the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, which contribute to making our regions one of the most interesting places to live.

Church of the NativityStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Canadian Alliance Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the entire world is saddened by the ongoing occupation of the Church of the Nativity, one of Christianity's holiest shrines.

Over a month ago some 30 gunmen from Hamas and Islamic Jihad invaded the church, along with other Palestinians seeking to escape from Israel's Operation Defensive Shield. That Israeli operation has proved to be enormously successful, at least in the short term, in reducing terrorist attacks and civilian deaths by 96% from March to April.

For the past month the Israeli Defence Force has demonstrated restraint and respect for the sanctuary of the church by refusing to forcibly enter it even though monks who have escaped have reported being beaten and robbed by some of the terrorists inside.

The ancient tradition of sanctuary was never meant to provide armed terrorists with an excuse to invade and defile a Christian shrine. The whole civilized world, and in particular religious leaders, should intervene to call on the gunmen to end their occupation and give themselves up to the appropriate authorities. If they have not committed crimes they have nothing to be afraid of, and if they have they should face the consequences of justice.

Above all, we all hope and pray that this invasion of the church will have a quick and peaceful end.

Asian Heritage MonthStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the month of May is Asian Heritage Month. This acknowledges the long, rich history of Asian Canadians and their contributions to Canada.

In Canada our cultural diversity enriches all of us socially, politically, economically and culturally in numerous ways. Asian Heritage Month is an ideal occasion for all to celebrate the beauty and wisdom of various Asian cultures.

Since the inaugural Asian Heritage Month celebration in Toronto in 1993, cities across Canada, including Halifax, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, have been holding annual festivities during the month of May to recognize Asian Heritage Month. In December 2001 the Senate of Canada passed a motion designating May as Asian Heritage Month.

I invite every Canadian to take part in the celebration--

Asian Heritage MonthStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Lotbinière--L'Érable.

World Press Freedom DayStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, World Press Freedom Day is being celebrated today around the world under the theme of “Media and Terrorism”. The purpose of this event is to raise public awareness of the importance and the value of freedom of expression as a fundamental right.

The events of September 11 and recent terrorist activities have obviously had an impact on freedom of information. Every day, journalists assigned to cover these events are targets for terrorists in conflict areas. They must be on guard and, more importantly, demonstrate enourmous courage in order to report accurate and objective information in a context where their security is constantly in doubt.

I would like to pay tribute here to the journalists who risk their lives for the freedom of the press. In particular, Daniel Pearl comes to mind, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal , who was assassinated in Pakistan in February, and to all of the other journalists who demonstrate perseverance and courage on a daily basis to provide information to the public, that refers to—

Government ExpendituresStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the dismal economic predictions from last December have given way to unexpected economic growth for the first quarter of 2002. Tax revenues are flooding into federal coffers and economists now peg the federal surplus at between $7 billion and $10 billion.

The big question is, what is the Minister of Finance going to do with this surplus? I say he should keep as much as possible from his free spending cabinet colleagues to pay down the $547 billion national debt. When faced with an unexpected windfall most reasonable people would take advantage and pay down a chunk of their debt. They would not go on a new excessive spending spree, especially if interest payments were almost one quarter of their budget.

Last year interest payments on debt cost Canadian taxpayers $42 billion. The Liberal government must control its spending habits or debt repayment will fall by the wayside. If we do not pay off the debt during good economic times, when will we?