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House of Commons Hansard #199 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Saint John.

FisheriesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, sustainable development should be more than a slogan or a convenient buzzword. It means managing natural resources as we manage personal savings. We draw from the interest but we try to keep intact the capital.

Unfortunately, according to scientists from the University of British Columbia we along with the Europeans and the Americans have heavily drawn from the capital of the north Atlantic fish stock. Scientists have found the biomass of cod has declined by two-thirds since 1950 because of large cod catches in the 1970s and 1980s. Another report released last month shows current catch limits for Newfoundland's cod fishery are not sustainable.

All around the globe the fishery is in decline. For the sake of future generations we must reverse this dangerous trend and limit the catch to the interest of the resource while leaving intact the capital.

Rural CanadiansStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the decision of December 1, 2001 by the Liberal government to allow Bell Canada to charge an additional cost to rural phone subscribers for a service which is provided free to people who live in cities is discriminatory and unfair, particularly to Canadians on fixed incomes. Bell Canada is telling irate callers that if they do not like the new charge they should call their federal member of parliament.

Pensioners who are being forced to leave the city because of high rents are now finding the federal government waiting to gouge them when they arrive in small town rural Canada.

Why is there two-tier citizenship for rural Canadians? Why is the federal government discriminating against Canadians who live in rural Canada?

HealthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, a recent article in Maclean's magazine reads:

Thirty-three years ago, upstart McMaster University in Hamilton sparked a revolution in the training of doctors that eventually spread to all the big medical schools in North America. Now it wants to start another. Its plan is bold, courageous and designed to combat some of the ills of today's health-care system.

McMaster University in my riding of Hamilton West is once again leading the entire country in medical innovation. Its efforts to move doctors in training into remote areas will bring cutting edge research to those areas and will help retain qualified medical staff in parts of Canada that are traditionally underserved. I commend McMaster University and its health care researchers and staff for showing the foresight and courage to take the risks necessary to reap big benefits for the health care system in the country.

I firmly believe that the solutions needed to sustain public health care in the country lie with our teaching and research personnel. The recent research infrastructure payments to our universities were a strong start but we need to continue to show our commitment to these sources of innovation.

Saint Mary's UniversityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year Saint Mary's University celebrates its 200th year anniversary.

Saint Mary's University has been an integral part of the life of Halifax and of Nova Scotia for 200 years. We are most grateful for the work of our founder Father Edmund Burke and the efforts of the administrators and students who have gone before, and we heartily champion those who have taken up their torches. For this landmark occasion Canada Post Corporation issued a handsome stamp to commemorate this milestone.

In my family with my son's graduation this fall there are three generations of Saint Mary's graduates, and I feel privileged to honour the university's 200th year anniversary here in the House of Commons.

Economic DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gérard Binet Liberal Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce a financial contribution of $65,346 from the Government of Canada, through the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, to the LNS Community Seafood Coop, located in Harrington Harbour, on the Lower North Shore.

This co-op, which is doing a pilot transformation of an underused species, namely spider crab, will thus be able to diversify its market by offering a new product that is primarily intended for the Japanese market. Indeed, in some processed foods, spider crab can be an economical substitute for snow crab.

This project will extend the working season of 24 fishers and 30 plant workers.

ChinaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Canadian Alliance Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, 13 years ago a man single-handedly stopped a line of tanks ordered to put down a rally for democracy in Tiananmen Square. This showed that a man of courage could thwart the will of a despotic government.

Unfortunately our Prime Minister was unwilling to take that same stand. The last time the PM was in China he stated “You know we are 30 million. They are 1.2 billion”. If only the Prime Minister had a fraction of the courage of that one man.

The world outside China has not forgotten the events which transpired there 13 years ago. Countless people have disappeared, been brainwashed and been silenced by a government intent on repressing any form of dissent or free speech.

A government that turns upon its own people and cuts them down in the street does not deserve to be rewarded with favourable trade status. Nor does it deserve to host the Olympics.

We must not forget the crimes that have been committed.

2003 Canada Winter GamesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to stress the excellent work that is being done in my region, in preparation for the 2003 Canada Winter Games, which will be held next year, from February 22 to March 8.

The reason I am mentioning it today is because I want to invite all hon. members, their families and friends to reserve early, so that they can be there to watch the performances of our sport's elite.

Over 3,000 young athletes from all over the country will gather to give their best performances. Let us be there to cheer them on.

Let us do our best to be there for them.

Let us plan now to go and encourage our athletes. This is an invitation to come and visit us next February, in New Brunswick, and more specifically in the Bathurst-Campbellton region, during the 2003 Canada Winter Games.

Let us write it down on our agendas.

Week of the DisabledStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, since June 1, Quebec has been promoting the right of thousands of people, who courageously face one or more functional limitations on a daily basis, to be treated like first class citizens.

This is the seventh annual week to recognize the disabled in Quebec. The spokesperson this year is singer Martin Deschamps. With his first solo album, Comme je suis , which has sold more than 50,000 copies, he generously agreed to share his difference with us.

If all Quebecers take up the challenge of recognizing difference, we will discover that it enriches and enhances the community.

Until June 7, this difference will be displayed with pride; shows, exhibits, and sports activities await you. Take up the invitation. You will be astonished at the extent to which together, everyone wins.

CarisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to tell the House how proud I am to be a representative of Atlantic Canada and of Fredericton in particular.

Fredericton is bursting with vibrant, innovative companies that are making a name for themselves locally, nationally and internationally, companies like CARIS. This company has developed a state of the art software for geographic information mapping and charting which is used for everything from land management to ship navigation and safety and is employed by municipal, provincial and law enforcement officials around the world.

The company is headquartered in Fredericton and employs more than 130 engineers, scientists, technologists, skilled technicians and tradespeople who conduct research and development and provide support for its innovative products and systems.

CARIS is only one example of the kind of innovative, entrepreneurial thinking that is generating jobs and creating growth in Atlantic Canada, just one example of the wealth of dynamic businesses and strategic initiatives and partnerships in Atlantic Canada of which all Canadians should be proud.

World Partnership WalkStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Canadian Alliance Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, on May 26, tens of thousands of Canadians participated in the 18th annual World Partnership Walk to fight global poverty.

An initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the walk took place simultaneously in Calgary, Edmonton, Kitchener, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria and Winnipeg, raising $2.6 million to support social development projects in Asia and Africa without regard to race, religion, political affiliation or gender.

One hundred percent of the money raised in the walk goes to support efforts by Aga Khan Foundation Canada to address the root causes of poverty by finding, using and sharing solutions that help to end human suffering and improve quality of life at the local level.

I was pleased to join 3,000 of my fellow Edmontonians in raising over $250,000. I want to thank Narmin Hassam and her team of Edmonton volunteers who organized a very successful event.

I encourage all Canadians across the country to participate in next year's event. We can make a difference.

Member for HalifaxStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand today to recognize the valuable contributions that the hon. member for Halifax has made in this place as well as in our shared home of Nova Scotia.

While we may not always have agreed on all things there is no doubt in my mind that her intentions and her determination to benefit our country have always been clear.

As one of two voices of her party in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for many years the member earned a reputation as a social conscience, making life difficult for successive governments, Buchanan governments and even a Regan government at one time.

Her foray into federal politics marked a dramatic change in the makeup of Atlantic Canada's contribution to this place. For the first time members of her party, several of them, were elected to represent maritimers and much to my chagrin some of them are still here although I enjoy their company.

I want to thank the member and wish her all the best in the future, whatever it may bring.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of Clean Air Day, Canadians have nothing to cheer about.

The federal government has still not ratified the Kyoto protocol and joined with the international community to combat global warming and climate change by reducing harmful emissions. Last year we saw more smog warnings and bad air days around the country than at any time in our history, and the number of Canadians suffering and dying as a result of air pollution is on the rise.

We should be celebrating progress on cleaning up our environment and improving the air quality for all Canadians. Unfortunately the government continues an appalling record of inaction. In fact, over the past decade our air quality has gotten increasingly worse.

I call on the government today to ratify Kyoto and take aggressive measures to clean up our air quality so that next year at this time we will have something to celebrate.

World Environment DayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, World Environment Day can be marked in many ways, including walks, bicycle parades, concerts, essay and drawing contests in schools, tree plantings, recycling and clean-up campaigns, and many more activities as well.

In many countries, this event is an occasion to promote political interest and action. Everywhere, heads of state and elected representatives will take this opportunity to make a commitment to defending our environment. Let us hope that in Canada, these commitments will be transformed into tangible action to preserve our natural heritage. In this regard, we can only encourage the government to ratify the Kyoto protocol, and follow the recent lead of the European Union and Japan.

The Bloc Quebecois invites the public to take advantage of this World Environment Day to examine the state of our environment. Let us take the time to reflect on what each one of us must do, and let us join forces immediately to safeguard all life on the planet.

St. Lawrence RiverStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer Liberal Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the annual report of the St. Lawrence River Vision 2000 Action Plan was released on May 13.

This report also summarizes the initiatives undertaken by the various action plan parties, as well as the progress achieved for the protection, the conservation and the enhancement of the St. Lawrence River.

Progress has been made in most of the areas designated as priorities by St. Lawrence Vision 2000.

For example, a fish-pass was built at the Saint-Ours dam, allowing five species at risk to have access to habitats located between the Saint-Ours and Chambly dams on the Richelieu River. New recovery plans were prepared for three animal species.

In the area of community involvement, some 30 new concrete action programs have been funded through the Community Interactions Program.

This annual report is evidence of the continuing efforts by the governments of Canada and Quebec to clean up the St. Lawrence River.

Dairy IndustryStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

John Herron Progressive Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, in 1999 Canada adopted the Codex agreement and international standards for the use of dairy terms. If a product is intended to substitute milk or milk products, dairy terms such as butter and cream must not be used. While soy beverages exist, soy milk does not.

Canadian dairy farmers invest over $75 million each and every year to promote their products. Yet many companies mislead consumers by co-opting these terms in their labelling where there is no dairy content in the first place. Foods like buttery flavour popcorn and strawberry and cream cereals, despite their labels, do not actually contain any dairy products and mislead consumers.

Having put on a good show at the international level, the government is now creaming Canadian dairy farmers by refusing to apply these standards at home. When will the government actually enforce these dairy term standards?

Dairy IndustryStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Before we proceed with oral questions, I understand there are some statements.

Member for HalifaxStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute in the House today to the member for Halifax. She has decided to step down as the leader of the New Democratic Party. We hope she will remain a member of parliament but I would like to congratulate her for a job well done.

She has been a pioneer in Canada in many ways. She started with her party under extremely difficult circumstances provincially and built a party from nothing. She led the official opposition at one time and could have perhaps become the premier but decided she would like to try to become prime minister instead. It was our gain.

She has been a great personality in the House. She has a lot of friends. She has great convictions and is a great example.

What has always impressed me is her desire to show all Canadians, French-speaking ones in particular, the importance of celebrating both official languages of this country.

She comes from Halifax and has never missed an opportunity to convincingly illustrate our country's bilingual nature.

I think all of us in the House consider the member for Halifax as a friend. For some of us on this side of the House, it is sometimes easier to have friends on the other side. It is less of a problem.

The member for Halifax has served her constituents, her party and her country extremely well. I thank her for a job well done.

Member for HalifaxStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I do not know the leader of the New Democratic Party really well. Obviously, in the few very short weeks I have been here I have not had much of a chance to get to know her, although our paths have crossed over the years.

I am certainly aware of her long contributions to public life, not just here in the House of Commons but also in the legislature of Nova Scotia. I am aware of this, of course, as a reader of Hansards both federally and provincially for over 40 years.

These kinds of decisions in public life are never easy but I think the leader of the New Democratic Party has made a tremendous contribution to her party and to this place. Despite the many differences that we have in this organization, we certainly appreciate what the leader of the New Democratic Party has contributed.

I want to add my personal wishes. I look forward to her continued presence here in the next while and also wish her the best in whatever future endeavours she may undertake.

Member for HalifaxStatements By Members

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we salute a woman of conviction, the leader of the New Democratic Party, who was also the leader of her party in Nova Scotia. Her popularity there certainly helped the NDP to make significant inroads in the Atlantic region during the 1997 federal election.

Trained as a social worker, justice, equity and the right to quality government services have always been at the core of this leader's concerns, as well as international justice.

While we may not share her vision of Quebec-Canada relations, the member for Halifax has always been very respectful of Quebecers, and for this we thank her.

We wish her good luck in her future endeavours, we only wish there were more people like her in politics.

Member for HalifaxStatements By Members

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, there must be something about Halifax. While I was noting the applause and seeing people standing I recalled a former member of parliament for Halifax being in a similar position. When he resigned as leader of his party he went on to say, and there is some risk in my saying this, “there is nothing more popular than a former leader of a political party”.

I simply want to thank the hon. member for Halifax for her courage, her standards and her dedication to principle. I think it is a characteristic of all us that we are here to serve but the hon. member for Halifax had other options. She had the option of a much easier life but she chose not to do that. She chose public service. She has been an ornament to this parliament and to the profession of public service, as she has made us all stand taller as practitioners of the profession of politics.

I heard, and I wish to echo the comments made by the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, who mentioned that the member for Halifax has always respected the other political parties and positions that she herself did not share. Once again, this is the sign of great strength of character.

I am very pleased that the hon. member has decided to stay as a member of the House of Commons. We have need of her here in this parliament. We have need of her strong and steady voice in defence of social justice, in defence of compassion and in defence of the most fundamental of Canadian qualities, respect for the equality of individuals.

On behalf of myself personally and my party, I want to thank her for her service and wish her the very best in times to come.

Member for HalifaxStatements By Members

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a couple of moments to put on record the sentiments of my colleagues in response to the news we received today.

I am lacking words to express the feelings of all of my colleagues who so love our leader, the hon. member for Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, you will appreciate how emotional this moment is for me and for my colleagues after hearing the news of the decision of our leader to step aside. She has done so today magnanimously and selflessly, as has been her way in everything she has done politically. As the member for Halifax said herself today, “The work of a great leader, among other things, is knowing when to pass the torch”.

There is great wisdom in those words, a wisdom that I am sure many in the Prime Minister's party feel should be emulated.

Let me just say three things on behalf of my colleagues. First, it is because of our leader, the member for Halifax, that our party is in a position of strength today. Thanks to her good work, we broke through the doldrums after the 1993 election and reclaimed official party status in 1997. Thanks to the member for Halifax, we made an incredible breakthrough in Atlantic Canada, winning eight seats and breaking through that barrier.

We may be down a few but we are on a roll. We will be back up. I want to let all members in the House know that we are coming back.

Also because of our leader, the member for Halifax, we made a breakthrough with respect to women in the country. As the first woman leader of an established, recognized federal and provincial party, we owe a debt of gratitude to her. Thanks to her good work we have almost achieved gender parity in our caucus. Let that also be an example for the Prime Minister.

The member for Halifax personifies all that is good in political life. She shows for all of us the example of a selfless, tireless individual who works steadfastly on behalf of Canadians. Her passion for the country and her compassion for its people are her hallmark and a legacy she leaves all of us.

As the member for Dartmouth has said in the past, the words that can only describe our leader today is that she is the iron angel of Canadian politics.

On behalf of all of my colleagues, I thank the hon. member for being the standard-bearer for social justice and for being the iron angel of Canadian politics.

Member for HalifaxStatements By Members

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, before I utter a single word I would like to know from you whether every word that comes out of my mouth is taken off question period? I know the eulogy for this supposedly departing socialist was heartfelt but I hope it was not a plot to take away from her getting down to business for question period.

I appreciate the kind words. I think the most important thing I want to say is that this socialist is not departing. I have every intention of remaining here as leader from now until my party selects a new leader. As I have indicated, it will be my privilege to continue serving the constituents of Halifax for as long as they will have me. I look forward to many years to come in the House.

On an occasion where the Prime Minister has spoken so graciously and generously I would like to be able to congratulate him as well but when he says to me that sometimes in one's party one really wants to be friends with people on the other side, I feel like I should express my condolences to him.

I thank all members for their kind words. The newest leader in the House is not a newcomer here but when he says that I have always stood tall in the House it must be because he cannot see that I am stuck standing between two of my colleagues who tower about a foot over me on a day to day basis.

This morning a reporter asked me “Did you have any regrets during your years of service in parliament”?

I answered sincerely that I regretted not having started learning French when I was younger. I think that it is very important for everyone to try to improve and perfect both official languages in order to express our feelings and our aspirations in both official languages.

Finally, I want to say to the leader of the Conservative Party that I think the previous leader of his party, who once had the privilege of representing Halifax as well, was quite right when he said that it was only when socialists departed this place that there was such enthusiasm.

I am sorry to break the spell. I have no intentions of going anywhere except getting right down to business in question period, and I hope that is exactly what we are going to do because I have some tough questions I want to put to the Prime Minister.

Member for HalifaxStatements By Members

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, last night the public works minister said that the government would continue to give tax dollars to Groupaction.

Despite the RCMP investigation, the auditor general's investigation and the government paying the firm twice for photocopying the same report, now the government has given Groupaction almost a quarter of a million dollars in new work.

Other than its donations to the Liberal Party, how can the minister possibly justify this new money to Groupaction?