House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was municipalities.


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1:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did not get an answer. How can the Liberal member justify a GST on taxes?

We understand the GST on gasoline. But I did not receive an answer to my question relating to the GST on taxes.

Moreover, the government is very greedy when it comes to taxes. It imposed a deficit financing tax on gasoline. The deficit is gone, but the deficit financing tax is still here.

So, if the government is not greedy, what is it? Why is there a GST on taxes?

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1:15 p.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member would appreciate that this is not a debate that will be in a progressive way made better, or more intellectually positive and accurate, by having my opinion on whether the government is greedy or not.

The issue is whether we have a progressive taxation system that creates a stimulant to creating opportunity for all Canadians and a better quality of life. The Alliance motion attempts to deal with that and then places the onus on government to come up with a taxation system and instruments that will achieve that end.

That is the issue that is being debated in the House. The country has an intimate and vested interest in seeing an outcome that is made in a progressive way. Regardless of whether it is fair, greedy or treating people as equal or unequal, those are important issues and are the principles that we deal with in making our taxation system a progressive one.

Part of that is to use that progressive instrument to work with cities and provinces in partnership to build a better quality of life through better decisions in transportation.

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1:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to engage in the debate today. It never ceases to amaze me that the government's hypocrisy has no bounds.

I thought I saw it all when two years ago the government voted against same sex marriage and then only a few days ago the government suddenly reversed its position and voted for same sex marriage.

Certainly, that was bad enough. However, the motion today is even worse. It was only in June that the Canadian Alliance introduced a motion in the House with this very same proposal and the government voted against the motion. Today, the government appears to be prepared to make the switch and support the motion.

It is really not hard to tell that there is not only a transition happening in the Liberal leadership, but an election is certainly in the air to encourage the government to do that.

However, the issue of gasoline taxes and where the taxes go is not a new debate in Canada. The Liberal government under former Prime Minister Trudeau many years ago placed a gasoline tax to pay for the creation of Canada's national oil company.

The government likes to play semantics with that tax. The reality is that that tax has never been removed. The purpose of the money may have switched in a different direction, but certainly the tax never disappeared and remains with us to this day. It goes into general revenue of course.

Then the new leader of the Liberal Party, the next Prime Minister, put a 1.5¢ a litre tax on gasoline to eliminate the deficit when he was finance minister. The deficit has been gone for a number of years. Amazingly, the tax remains.

The hypocrisy around the issue from government members, in particular the speech by the member for Erie—Lincoln I heard this morning, is quite amazing.

We are building a huge deficit in this country. Maybe the member for LaSalle—Émard has solved the fiscal deficit of the government. In fact, over the last many years we have been building a huge infrastructure deficit. It is the infrastructure not only of our roads but of our urban infrastructure, and the member referred to it earlier as our core infrastructure. There is a huge and growing deficit that needs to be addressed.

I guess I must applaud the government for coming around to that point of view. Again, I think it is hypocritical because it only does it when there is an election coming up. I am afraid that after the election if the government's position can flip that quickly one way, it can quickly flip the other way.

We must come up with a proposal. We had a proposal and, as a matter of fact, our proposal is Canadian Alliance policy no. 15 in our policy sheet. It proposes:

We will ensure that taxes which are imposed for a specific purpose should be used for that purpose alone, should be removed once no longer required, and not be allowed to be put toward general revenue.

This has been the Canadian Alliance policy for many years. It is a policy that we will implement when the Canadian Alliance becomes the government.

On the other hand, it is very hard to tell what is the government's position on this issue. The current Minister of Finance is quoted in a number of places saying that he does not support the proposal. He stated:

I know that the provinces really like the tax points, but sometimes, they forget about them. They really like them because they want us to impose the taxes and then let them spend the money.

Of course that is the old Liberal mentality: that government does not give money to anything unless it is tied with strings in some way that benefits the government itself. The Liberals find it difficult to dedicate money to anything that does not return a benefit for them. I think they forget sometimes that the money they are spending is not really their money. It belongs to the taxpayers. And there is only one taxpayer in the country.

While this country's huge infrastructure deficit continues to grow, so does the amount of money the federal government collects in gasoline taxes, both in excise tax at the pump and in GST. As my colleague just pointed out, there is GST on top of the excise tax and it is big. I believe the figures show that in this current year revenues from the excise tax and the GST will amount to $7 billion a year. While a minuscule amount of that is returned to some provinces for road infrastructure or infrastructure projects, the amount is very small.

In spite of the fact that there is an equalization program in the country which is designed to let all provinces provide relatively equal services to their citizens, amazingly enough in my province of Alberta the federal government collects half a billion dollars in gasoline taxes and does not return one red cent to that province for road infrastructure. I think the figure is that 98% of what the government does return, the paltry amount that it does return to fund infrastructure, goes to Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

There is a real and fundamental unfairness in that formula. I think anyone could come up with a better and fairer scheme than that one.

Of course the government will always rave on about its notorious infrastructure programs that it has been implementing since 1993. While the programs did garner some popularity with municipalities across the country, mainly because the municipalities were desperate for money, those programs were tied to a sharing formula of one-third, one-third and one-third. In many cases, municipalities could not come up with the kind of money they needed to fund one-third of the projects and, therefore, that infrastructure could not be funded through the program.

I think our proposal is a good one. We appreciate that the government is coming around to our way of thinking and is prepared to support the motion, but I urge Canadians to look closely at the record of the government and the incoming prime minister, to look at the record on this issue and so many others. I suggest that the government is not to be trusted just because it chooses to make promises that Canadians across the country like to hear at election time. Its record of fulfilling those promises once it is elected is really quite dismal. I do not expect that on this issue it will be any different than it was on the idea to scrap the GST or any of the other promises the government has made over the years.

Our proposal to take an amount of three cents a litre, which has been suggested, is reasonable. The federal government should vacate that tax room on the condition that the provinces collect the three cents and pass it on to municipalities specifically for infrastructure funding. It would provide a long term and stable source of income for municipalities and would be a much fairer and more equitable system across the country than the political patronage system we have now. I urge all members to support our motion.

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1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the remarks by the hon. member, who is the senior critic for natural resources. I have three questions for him.

Briefly, the federal Liberals are charging GST on taxes. I have never heard of any country in the world where the government charges a tax on top of taxes. I would like to find out if the member thinks it is unfair to charge GST on other taxes.

Second, we know that there is a deficit financing tax on gasoline. When the deficit is gone, the specific tax applied for that particular purpose, that is, to eliminate the deficit, has to be gone. It is still on. I would like the member's opinion. How can the Liberals charge a tax for a specific purpose but when the purpose is fulfilled shamelessly continue ripping off more money from Canadians?

Third, gasoline prices have gone up recently. In the month of August, they were 10¢ higher and in some places 15¢ higher than prices in the previous month. We also know that the Liberal government is charging the GST on gasoline, when the Liberals of course said before the election that they would eliminate the GST. The GST and other taxes on gasoline amount to several billion dollars in an average year. That comes to about $220 per person in Canada.

We also know that taxes are about 35% to 45% of the cost of gasoline at the pump. In the United States, that figure is about 25%. The taxes are already higher in Canada and, on top of that, there are taxes on taxes. Therefore, my third question is about whether the government has a motivation to keep the gasoline prices high so it can take in more money in the form of taxes and throw it into the black hole here, which is mismanagement of the government, unaccountability, fraud, corruption, and all kinds of things, as we know. Does the member think it is in the government's best interests not to lower the price of gasoline at the pumps? Does he think the government would rather keep it high?

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1:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, there were a number of questions. Of course most Canadians, when they discover they are paying a tax on a tax, are outraged at that idea. It is fundamentally unfair and most are surprised that it is not criminal, as a matter of fact, or that it is not illegal. But of course it is not. The government knows no bounds when it comes to collecting taxes.

One thing Canadians have learned over many years is that once a tax is imposed upon Canadians, it is rarely, if ever, removed. After all, income tax in this country was only a temporary tax too at one time; it certainly was never removed. I think that on the Liberal side the idea is quite foreign that once the objective of a tax is met the tax should be removed.

I would suggest that the government can be compared to a drug addict or an alcoholic; it is actually addicted to taxes. It does not know how to operate without taxes and in fact cannot operate without collecting more and more taxes. I warn the Liberals, though, that like an alcoholic or a drug addict, one day they will find there will not be any more and they will crash down very hard.

As for their policy on taxes, they have, up to this point at least, consistently suggested that they do not support the concept of dedicated taxes at the same time that the former finance minister was imposing a dedicated tax to pay down the deficit. Again, it is nothing but hypocrisy. They support any kind of tax as long as it serves their purposes, whether it is dedicated or otherwise.

I think the idea of providing some long term and stable funding for municipalities to begin to rebuild their infrastructure is a good one. Liberals should support it and they should make that very clear.

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1:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise to discuss the motion calling on the government to “initiate immediate discussions with the provinces and territories to provide municipalities with a portion of the federal gas tax”.

Every summer I get calls to my office about the price of gasoline. As everyone knows, more Canadians drive in summer than at any other time, and with the increase in demand comes an increase in the price. Gas is not cheap in any part of the world. At times this summer in Victoria, where I live, it was over 90¢ a litre.

Many people claim collusion: How could these prices be so high and someone not be to blame? Some Liberal members, like the member for Pickering--Ajax--Uxbridge, are known for their conspiracy theories, this despite the fact that review after review consistently finds no evidence of price fixing. If the member for Pickering--Ajax--Uxbridge wants to point the finger, he should be pointing it at his own side of the House. But to do that, he would have to admit some pretty unpleasant facts. Maybe I could try to help that member. I will point out some of these facts.

These are numbers that are in the public domain and of which everybody is fully aware. Right now the federal government collects over $7 billion a year in gasoline taxes; let me repeat, $7 billion a year. Only 4% of this $7 billion is actually invested in transportation. This money does not go to make our roads safer. It does not go to make them more efficient. The money does not go to help with environmental problems or to combat pollution caused by vehicle traffic. Where does the $7 billion go? It goes straight to general revenue and it is used by the government in any way it sees fit.

In contrast, the total amount spent by provinces on transportation is roughly $12 billion, despite the fact that they only bring in about $10 billion in direct revenue. In short, the provinces are subsidizing the federal government's spending and picking up the tab from their own scarce revenues.

My home province of British Columbia, I would submit, is probably one of the worst treated. B.C. collects about 12% of the total gasoline tax revenue nationally and sends it down to Ottawa. Twelve per cent of all the national gasoline tax collected is collected by British Columbia, yet as I have already indicated, only 4% of this amount will ever be used on roads. Even more startling, of that 4%, almost all of it is spent in the province of Ontario. Virtually none of it ever sees the province of British Columbia. Not only is B.C. subsidizing the feds, but it is not even getting its share of the measly, pitiful 4% the feds actually spend on roads with the gasoline tax they collect. We do not even get our share of that.

Taxes should be transparent. A much greater portion of our road taxes should actually be used in maintaining our roads.

I would also like to touch on one more important aspect of this debate: the double taxation. As the member for Athabasca just pointed out, we are charging a tax on a tax. This is incredible. Can members imagine taxing a tax? It is a seriously and fundamentally flawed practice. Although our motion today does not specifically address this issue, I think it is important that it be raised.

Charging GST on gasoline is questionable, but then charging GST on the excise tax is unbelievable. It is absolutely incomprehensible that the government would actually start taxing Canadians on taxes. We repeatedly have called upon the government to eliminate this practice. The former finance minister, the member for LaSalle--Émard, has had 10 years in this place to fix that, to stop taxing on tax, but he has failed to do it.

The Canadian Alliance solution proposed today shows there is a better, more honest approach to gasoline taxation. We are saying that if the federal government collects money for transportation, that is where it should be spent. The feds could free up at least a portion of the gas tax and provide it to the provinces for infrastructure. In this way we could provide the provinces with a reliable and stable source of funding for the roads, for our infrastructure and for our transportation system. Just as important, the funding would be transparent and directly linked to the users who benefit from such infrastructure.

Provinces and municipalities could then distribute the funding in the best way, as they are closest to the people and to the areas that need the most work. They know where the problems are, where the hot spots are, where fatalities happen on various highways and which roads need work. They should be the ones directing where these improvements are made and what the priorities are.

We have deliberately kept this motion non-confrontational, although I think a 3¢ to 5¢ a litre, as suggested by our leader, is reasonable. We have left these amounts for the federal government to negotiate. We have created this motion so the government can support it. We are here to provide a genuine, real alternative to the problem that the government has caused to ensure that our roads are safe, efficient and environmentally friendly.

There is some talk that the government may support the motion, and I hope it does. I hope the members opposite will support the motion.

However on a factual basis, I go back to the record. The member for LaSalle—Émard has been in the House for 10 years, and was finance minister for the majority of those years. He has had ample opportunity to correct this practice. Motions have been before the House in the past. I look at the record and there are lots of examples.

On March 13, 2001 the Liberals supported a motion to establish a sex offender registry. February 5, 2002, less than a year later, they voted against a motion to establish a sex offender registry. In 1993 the Liberals made the following promise in their red book:

A Liberal Government will appoint an independent Ethics Counsellor to advise both public officials and lobbyists in the day-to-day application of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials. The Ethics Counsellor will be appointed after consultation with the leaders of all parties in the House of Commons and will report directly to Parliament.

On February 8, 2001, that same motion, word for word, was put forward by the Canadian Alliance. It was the identical phrase that was in print in the their red book. Nobody can argue that. There was no interpretation. There was no misleading information. This was their promise. When we put their promise to them for a vote in the House of Commons, what did the Liberals do? They voted no. That is where the credibility comes in.

I genuinely think it is a serious issue. It is the backbone of our transportation across the country. We should be putting the funds there so the infrastructure can be kept up. My province of British Columbia, as I said, does not even get its mere pittance of the 4%.

I have talked with the member for LaSalle—Émard who has refused to deal with this. One of the members opposite talked about how the Liberals eliminated the $42 billion deficit between 1993 and 1999. They did that through 69 different tax increases in various forms. They did not eliminate the deficit. The Canadian taxpayer did. These guys are addicted to taxes. They raise them day after day.

I would argue that we should not have the mentality of punishing people who are successful. That is the philosophy of the government and nothing will ever change. Its philosophy is to punish people who are successful, these people who are creating jobs for people, these entrepreneurs, these small businesses. The more successful a person is, the more the government wants to punish them. The fundamentals are all wrong.

Let me conclude by saying that the Liberals, as hon. members know, cannot keep their hands out of the cookie jar. They can talk a good fight before the writ is dropped, but if Canadians look for tax fairness, I can only say look at the record of the member for LaSalle—Émard. He had nine years as finance minister to be fair with them in their taxes, to be honest in how they were collected and to rein in the government spending. He failed on every count. The only thing that has happened with gasoline taxes is they have gone up 17% during his watch.

Liberals do not care from where the funding comes, whether it is income tax, gas tax or even if it is a tax on a tax as long as it feeds the beast. They are general revenue junkies. They change their tune once every four years, but for 35 days. Then later it is the same old song and dance. I remind all Canadians to look at the record and the facts, they speak for themselves.

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1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech very intensely. I make it a habit at least once a year, sometimes twice a year, of driving across Canada on the Trans-Canada Highway.

It was introduced, as the member probably remembers, because it was supposed to be the lifeline of Canada, the backbone, the vein to keep Canada's transportation on the move. This is probably now the seventh year that I have driven across Canada and I find the Trans-Canada Highway a national disgrace. I have seen backwoods highways in far better condition than many parts of it.

The member mentioned tax upon tax. He mentioned that the government was creating a system in fuel tax of adding tax upon the tax to increase its taxation level. To me that makes Jesse James look honest. There are a lot of organizations that would have loved to have done that but most of them are behind bars now or have been convicted of criminal activity.

When the fuel tax was introduced to Canadians, we were given the assurance that it was to be used for the infrastructure of highway programs. The member mentioned that the government had become addicted to taxation and would use it as a cash cow. That is what it is.

When we stop to think about it, the federal government's responsibility pertains only to the Trans-Canada Highway and to some extent to the main arteries leading to the Trans-Canada Highway. Yet it collects fuel taxes from every fuel station in Canada, whether it be on these arteries or on the Trans-Canada. What it is doing in reality is taking the fuel tax from all other areas that could be better put to use in the upkeep of highway infrastructure in municipalities.

To me this is an illegal taxation on the people of Canada. The areas being taxed are off the Trans-Canada or out of the area of where the feds will spend any money, let alone 4%. They will not spend one dime in these areas to keep up the infrastructure. Could the member comment on this?

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1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, first let me applaud the member for taking the time to drive across Canada on our infrastructure system, on our national highway. I think every member in the House should do it. If they did, they would actually see how bad the road systems are in places. There are places where there have been improvements and they have done work. However there are lots of places where they have not. If we speak with local people, they know where people have been killed. There has been a tremendous loss of life in certain spots. I know that has happened in my home province in my own area. Why? Because the resources have not been put into the highway structure.

As the member pointed out, it is the backbone of our transportation system. Of course something like 80% of our population lives within a few hundred kilometres of the 49th parallel, our southern border, and this is the main artery which connects Canadians from coast to coast. It is critical that we do this.

I also want to respond to something else he mentioned. He pointed out the tax on the tax and this being an illegal practice. I will quickly point out that the government makes the laws. I do not know if it is technically illegal but it is morally wrong. We have seen how the government spends taxpayer money, whether it be Shawinigate, the billion dollar boondoggle, the advertising scandals and the billions of dollars on the gun registry. That borders on corruption. I think if anyone did that in the private sector, that individual would be put in jail. This is just another example of how the government has absolutely no respect for taxpayer dollars.

This is about having respect for taxpayer dollars and how they are collected. Again, the gasoline tax shows that it does not have an ounce of respect for how it spends taxpayer money. It goes into a cookie jar, then the government gets its sticky fingers all over it and does whatever the hell it feels like doing with it.

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1:50 p.m.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec


Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, since I have only seven or eight minutes left, I will try to be brief.

I welcome the opportunity to speak the opposition motion for two reasons.

First, the issue of healthy and prosperous municipalities is in my view of real national importance and can benefit from this House's insight and ideas. There is no question that Canada's cities and communities face significant challenges in providing the level of service and support that their citizens deserve, as has been mentioned several times in the House. Perhaps working in partnership with provinces and territories a share of the federal gas tax might offer an avenue to provide some of the additional resources that the cities are looking for and require. It is certainly, in my view, worth considering.

This leads me to the second reason I welcome the opportunity to participate in today's debate. I believe it would be both timely and useful to provide the House with an important element of context about our government's fiscal and tax performance, a context that unfortunately has not been provided by members of the opposition. It is a context that should frame any discussion that touches on federal taxation.

As you know, since we first took office in 1993, healthy financial management and the fairness of the income tax system have been two of our highest priorities as a government. The two are closely linked. We understood right from the start that we could never lighten the overall tax burden of Canadians if we continued to accumulate deficits that eat away 36 cents in interest charges from every dollar of taxpayers' money.

Accumulating deficits by borrowing is nothing but a twisted way to bring in more income tax by adding interest charges. That is why, in the early years of our mandate, although we introduced targeted tax relief—for families with children, for example—we put our efforts into the difficult task of regaining control over federal spending. We have achieved this goal—I think even the opposition cannot deny that—and in 1997-98 produced the first federal budget surplus in Canada, after 28 consecutive years of deficits.

Some might ask what this has to do with federal taxation. I would argue that the answer should be obvious. It was only after we had put the country's books in order that we could then begin to bring down the tax burden for all Canadians, and bring it down we did.

Very quickly here are a couple of initiatives that the government has taken to bring down the tax burden for all Canadians.

In the 2000 budget we launched a five year, $100 billion tax reduction plan, the largest in Canadian history. The benefits of this plan are already clear and concrete. It provided tax relief of $17 billion in 2001 and $20 billion in 2002. This will continue to grow, providing further tax relief of $24 billion this year and rising to more than $30 billion in 2004.

We also restored full inflation indexation of the personal tax system as of January 1, 2000. This means that inflation no longer represents an automatic and hidden tax increase. As well, as of January 1, 2001, personal income tax rates for all taxpayers were lowered. The 17% tax rate was lowered to 16%. The middle rate, which had been 26% in 1999, was lowered to 22% and the top rate was reduced from 29% to 26% on income between $60,000 and $100,000.

That means, for individual Canadians and families, by 2004-2005 we will have reduced federal personal income taxes by 21%. That is one-fifth on average. Families with children will benefit even more with an average tax saving of 27%. However that is not all.

We have also reduced the general corporate income tax rate from 28% to 23% and have drafted legislation to reduce it to 21% next year.

To support small businesses and entrepreneurs, we also included an increase in the small business deduction limit from $200,000 to $300,000 over four years, resulting in an annual savings of up to $9,000 for many local Canadian companies.

I cannot go through all of it, but we have done much in order to reduce the tax burden on Canadians and to ensure that we can continue to fulfill our electoral promises, including on the--

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order. The member will have approximately 14 minutes remaining when the House resumes this debate.

We will now proceed to statements by members.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, we are all saddened by the news of the two Canadian soldiers that were killed today by a landmine explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan while on a routine patrol around the capital. Three other soldiers were injured in this terrible accident.

Canada has close to 2,000 troops deployed in Kabul on the campaign against terrorism, providing peace, security and a better future for the Afghan people.

For years, landmines have killed and mutilated too many people, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Today's events are further justification of Canada's leading role in having landmines banned around the world.

In this very difficult situation, our sympathies go out to the families of the brave Canadian soldiers who were killed and those who were wounded.

Hiv-AidsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, having witnessed firsthand the ravages of AIDS in Africa, the Canadian Alliance Party and I would like to join the worldwide call to address the HIV-AIDS crisis through cheaper drugs.

During my visit to Kenya where I spent considerable time, I saw how in a few short years AIDS had become a human tragedy, leaving behind orphans, widows and economic slowdown.

The Canadian Alliance supports efforts by the government to facilitate the delivery of drugs to developing countries to deal with public health emergencies, such as the HIV crisis in Africa.

Our party also believes that we as policy makers must strike a balance between developing new drugs and providing those drugs at affordable prices.

People's lives are at stake. Canada has always stood with the disadvantaged. The time has come for Canada to stand again and take a lead.

15th Annual Fondation Mirella & Lino Saputo Golf TournamentStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, on August 7, the Saint-Raphaël golf club hosted the 15th annual Fondation Mirella & Lino Saputo golf tournament. All the proceeds raised went to the charitable activities of this foundation, headed by Mirella Saputo. Over the years, this woman has earned a reputation as a devoted benefactor of the underprivileged of Quebec.

Since its creation, the Fondation Mirella & Lino Saputo has collaborated with numerous associations working to ensure the well-being of young children, teenagers and seniors. This foundation also works with non profit organizations helping hospitals and community facilities.

I want to pay tribute to this couple and thank them for their great generosity to the most vulnerable members of our society.

Women's History MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, October is Women's History Month in Canada. The Government of Canada established this month in 1992 in order to explore the role of women in our nation's history.

While we pay tribute and celebrate our women heroes and trailblazers, politicians and activists, artists and athletes, this month is also an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the lives lived by all Canadian women.

The everywoman's voice lends great insight into the social, cultural and political climate from which these heroes rose.

There is a tremendous amount to learn about our history. What better way to do it than through the lens of our nation's grandmothers, mothers and daughters?

It is important to engage in conversation with the women in our lives to learn of the social and political changes they have witnessed and to learn firsthand the ways Canada has been shaped during their lifetimes.

I invite all Canadians to celebrate Women's History Month this October, to re-examine our past, to honour the contributions of our foremothers and to celebrate their achievements.

Nunavut Literacy WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, Nunavummiut are currently enjoying activities in support of Nunavut Literacy Week which started Sunday, September 28 and goes until October 4.

Literacy is at the heart of a strong education for children, youth and adults together. In Nunavut we are proud to promote reading as a fun and important part of learning.

On Wednesday, October 1 Nunavummiut were encouraged to read for a 15 minute period, whether it be a fun comic book, a classic novel or an exciting mystery.

Reading is fun and exciting and can take us into another world. Often we are surprised by how much education we have received just by reading.

Nunavut Literacy Week is not just about letters, pages and memory. It is about enriching one's world with knowledge.

Congratulations and thanks to all supporters and participants of the week-long event.

Sex Offender RegistryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the official opposition's demand for a retroactive national sex offender registry has repeatedly met with fierce opposition from the Solicitor General.

The Solicitor General has argued that making it retroactive would be constitutionally impossible. He contended that this argument was based on the best legal advice there is. In fact, on May 15 in the House the Solicitor General emphatically stated:

We do not intend to make our legislation retroactive for very good reasons.

Yesterday however, in the face of mounting pressure from his provincial counterparts, the Solicitor General did an about-face and now apparently is prepared to broaden the registry to include sex offenders currently serving sentences. Quite obviously, those very good reasons and the best legal advice were not so good after all.

Next time, listen to the Canadian Alliance. Our advice is great and it is free.

Alliance NovareStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Université de Sherbrooke and Bishop's University are having an increasing impact on Sherbrooke's economic and social development. Last Monday, the official launch of Alliance Novare was attended by members of the chamber of commerce.

This project bridges the gap between research and industry. Novare Capital will buy shares in companies in this sector, and the resulting profits will fund university research. We are witnessing the birth of a real mechanism to confirm our region's reputation as an academic centre.

We are blessed with entrepreneurs and a dynamic region, top level researchers and a quality research infrastructure and, as Mr. Racine mentioned, the stars are aligned for a successful future.

Congratulations to all the visionaries who contributed to the birth of this project: Bruno-Marie Béchard, President of the Université de Sherbrooke; Jean Nicholas, former Vice-president of Research, Janyne Hodder, Principal of Bishop's University, and Serge Racine, businessman. I thank them all.

Laval in BloomStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 14, the winners of the Laval in Bloom beautification competition were announced. Every year for the past 18 years the City of Laval is awash in colours.

Again this year, residents, businesses and government agencies got involved in making Laval beautiful. Throughout the city, magnificent landscaped gardens could be admired all summer long.

Congratulations to those who made Laval a wonderful place to live for the eighteenth year in a row.

Performing ArtsStatements By Members

October 2nd, 2003 / 2:05 p.m.


Carole-Marie Allard Liberal Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday winners of the 2003 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards were announced. These awards are presented in recognition of a prestigious career in the arts.

The 2003 award recipients are: Pierrette Alarie, internationally renowned soprano; Dave Broadfoot, comedian and writer; Douglas Campbell, actor and innovator; Norman Jewison, movie producer; Micheline Lanctôt, screenwriter, director and internationally renowned actress who captivates audiences; and Ian Tyson, visionary singer and songwriter.

I would like this House to take this opportunity to thank each of these winners for their remarkable contribution to the arts in Canada, the social fabric of our communities and the cultural image of our country abroad.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Forces are among the finest in the world. Our soldiers have always served bravely and selflessly.

The current mission in Afghanistan is a dangerous yet important one. Canadian soldiers are helping to maintain peace while a battered country struggles to rebuild. Today we learned that two soldiers were killed and three others injured when their jeep hit a land mine.

It is never easy being the spouse or family of a soldier. To all the families from base Petawawa who anxiously await news of their loved ones, please accept my personal heartfelt condolences.

Canadians appreciate the sacrifice of our men and women in the military. They chose to defend our country, putting their personal safety at risk. They leave behind parents, friends, children, wives and husbands to protect families in other countries.

On behalf of the Canadian Alliance, I offer our sincere sympathies, thoughts and prayers to the loved ones of those soldiers involved in this tragic incident and pray that the rest of our troops will come home safely.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the Prime Minister on having received a major award earlier today. The Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy presented the Prime Minister with the award for advancing the environmental agenda.

This is the first time in the 33 years of the institute that this particular award has been given. The Prime Minister receives it for his distinguished record on promoting environmental legislation, for creating new national parks in his early years as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and for his ratification of the Kyoto protocol last year.

It is fitting that while the Prime Minister was in Toronto to receive the award, he dedicated the first ever urban national park, Downsview Park.

I am sure my hon. colleagues will join me in congratulating the Prime Minister on receiving this prestigious award.

Hurricane JuanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, last weekend hurricane Juan heavily damaged the Halifax area, Musquodoboit Valley and coastal Nova Scotia. Several days after the hurricane, tens of thousands of people remain without power and more than 2,500 homes are in need of serious repair.

Silos have been toppled, barns can no longer house cattle and timber fell. One early estimate suggested the damage could be as high as $100 million. Many fishermen and coastal businesses have lost thousands of dollars worth of boats, wharves and equipment, losses that will not be covered by many private insurance companies.

The federal government has a responsibility to come to the financial assistance of individuals affected by disaster. Military personnel are on the ground, but promises that financial assistance will come once assessments have been made hold little water. Two years later Nova Scotians are still waiting for federal assistance that was promised after September 11, 2001.

The Progressive Conservative Party urges the government to provide the people of Nova Scotia timely financial assistance and not more broken promises.

Arts and cultureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the greater Drummond area's reputation as an economic force in Quebec is already beyond dispute.

But today, I am pleased to tell hon. members about the numerous excellent cultural activities the region offers. For example, the Centre culturel de Drummondville has been nominated for the ADISQ gala for the fifteenth time in thirteen years. This year's nomination is for top entertainment presenter of the year, in recognition of the excellence of its programming and event marketing.

The centre received the same award in 1989. This year, it is in competition with Rouyn-Noranda's Théâtre du cuivre, Joliette's Centre culturel, Laval's Corporation de la salle André-Mathieu, and Haut-Richelieu's Société pour la promotion d'événements culturels.

Drummondville is also in the running for album of the year--original soundtrack. Michel Cusson has two albums in contention, Séraphin, un homme et son péché and Bunker, le cirque .

My best wishes to all these nominees from my area.

Meteorological Service of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Meteorological Service of Canada is mandated to help Canadians prepare for and mitigate the impact of severe weather events.

With the aftermath of the tragedy of hurricane Juan's destructive fury in Atlantic Canada, we should remember to thank the staff of the Meteorological Service for providing accurate advanced warnings to the citizens of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, and allowing them to prepare to take protective action.

Personnel in the Canadian Meteorological Centre in Montreal, the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax, and other offices across the region continue even now to provide the support required by emergency services.

I would ask that members of the House commend the dedication of these meteorologists, their expertise, their 24-7 vigilance, their constant attention to details, and their professionalism.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, today Canadians mourn the loss of Sergeant Robert Short and Corporal Robbie Beerenfenger, killed by an explosive device on a road deemed clear of landmines.

My colleagues and I extend our deepest sympathy to their loved ones and their military colleagues on this terrible loss.

To Corporal Thomas Stirling, Master Corporal Jason Hamilton and Corporal Cameron Laidlaw, we wish to extend heartfelt wishes for a full and speedy recovery.

This tragedy underscores the need for an even greater persistence by Canada and our landmine treaty partners to eradicate landmines from this earth. Every year the world mourns 15,000 to 20,000 new landmine victims, most of them civilians. Two and a half decades of war have left Afghanistan riddled with 10 million killer landmines, claiming 150 to 300 lives, many of them children, every single month.

In the name of humanity and in the memory of our fallen soldiers, let us redouble our efforts to create a world free of violence, hatred and war.