House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was employees.


Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the member raises a very important point. It was not a point I discussed with our unions but I do think it is an important point.

Unfortunately, I was not privy to most of the debate on this or the debate in committee but I certainly would have no problem if that important aspect were discussed further to see what could be achieved.

Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Yukon a question. His government wanted to improve the staffing process because there was a problem with it. They were supposed to bring in some improvements. However, we have gone from a very complicated recruitment and staffing process to what appears at least to be a very partisan one.

The commission will be able to delegate its powers to managers, according to whom the bill will speed up the process by allowing them to select a single candidate, using lower criteria, instead of hiring the best candidate possible.

As a member of the government, how can you say that the public service will not become a very partisan environment? I ask the question because I would like to know why, besides giving managers these extreme powers, the bill limits the recourses. Managers will enjoy new powers and those who want to appeal their decisions will only have two recourses available, nothing else. First, the candidate will be entitled to an interview in the language of his or her choice. Just between you and me, that leaves the candidate with only one recourse. Every time a candidate will ask for an interview in French or in English, it will be granted. So, there will only be one major recourse left.

There is only one other option left. Let us talk about abuses of authority. You know as well as I do that abuse of authority is one of the toughest things to prove in court, whether it is before an administrative tribunal or a court of law. Imagine an employee having to ask his or her colleague to testify and also to demonstrate what has gone wrong.

What is worse, as I said at the beginning of my speech, is that they have the option of selecting a single candidate. How will applicants from within or outside the public service be able to contest and prove abuse of power in hiring or recruiting when only one candidate is selected? How are members of this House, or people they know or people from their riding supposed to participate in this process or obtain a promotion, if they are already public servants, when they are not even part of the hiring or recruitment process?

Managers have made their choice, and that is why they lowered the criteria. They are no longer obligated to look for the best candidate. All they have to do is ensure that the candidate has the minimum required skills. Then they can determine whether the candidate gets the job. Between you and me, they have the power to select a single candidate.

Now they are saying, “We, as senior officials of the public service, will act in good faith. We do not want to be partisan”. For 10 or 20 years people have been saying that the public service climate is increasingly partisan and, when reports are tabled in the House, that a new culture needs to be created in the public service. That is most definitely what you are in the process of doing.

This government is in the process of doing the opposite of what it says. The public service should not be partisan, but everything is being done to make it even more partisan, and public servants or employees can no longer do anything about it.

What does the member think of his government? If I still have time, I have another question.

Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the member has outlined in greater detail the concern I outlined in my first point. I have the same concern but not as much for partisan politics. I have not heard that complaint but maybe he has. When there is favouritism or nepotism the system may be open for abuse.

I will explain again the reasons that I think there is actually more protection now from that occurring under the new system. However, because this is one of the major points in the act, it has to be watched very closely to see if this is a better system.

The one thing I did not address was the point he made about there being more hiring by managers instead of the Public Service Commission and whether that is bad and could lead to more abuse. I believe that may have come from a problem in the public service. If we tell people they can have some staff but that someone else will hire them, how do we know the person will fit in with our needs? If we tell someone running an electrician's shop or a plumber's shop that some greater body, which is distanced from the employer, will hire their employees, does that lead to an effective working relationship and getting the right person to work in the situation?

I do not have a problem with employment choices being moved from some central agency to the department and the employer involved, but we must make sure it is protected from the abuse in any location by putting in the type of protection I mentioned.

Before I get into those protections, we need to give some recognition to public service employees and managers, for whom I have a great deal of respect. They are great servants of this nation. However the fact is they want the best person for the job. When we pick people with the essential qualifications it will be the other determinants that make them the best employees for the job. In all cases, unless there is a bad manager, the best people will be chosen because everyone wants the best people to work for them. They all want to get their jobs done better and they want to do a better job for Canadians.

A new point that was put forward to solve the problem of the potential for abuse was the tribunal, which I am hopeful will have the respect of both sides. A person who thinks they were better qualified or should have been hired would be able to challenge the process under the charges of abuse of authority, bad faith, personal favouritism, skewing of qualifications or bureaucratic patronage. The new public service may audit the set of qualifications. I would be happy to hear what other safeguards the member would like that could be put in to help prevent any abuse.

Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak this afternoon on Bill C-25. I will reread its title, if I may. It is an act to modernize employment and labour relations in the public service and to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Canadian Centre for Management Development Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, a very substantial bill of 282 pages, the short title of which is the Public Service Modernization Act.

I am all the more pleased to speak because, as the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, I am the Bloc Quebecois member whose riding is closest to the National Capital Region. The borders of my riding are contiguous to the edge of the NCR's territory,so a number of people from the riding work or have worked for the federal government or are still under contract to it. In fact, in recent years, the federal government has developed a new employment strategy that makes greater use of contract workers. These people also lived through the problems that occurred in the early 1990s.

You will understand that the public service was looking forward to this bill. In fact, in the early 1990s, there were some major cuts to the federal public service, to such an extent that a special committee had to be struck in the Outaouais region to look at how the economy of this region and a portion of Basses-Laurentides could cope with the major job losses of the time.

A committee was struck and a report—the Beaudry report—was produced. The chair of the committee that produced it, Marcel Beaudry, is now better known as the Chairperson of the NCC. It is obvious that not everyone was a loser as a result of the discussions and debates of the early 1990s. At least one person got a job out of it and is now the Chairperson of the National Capital Commission.

What did the Beaudry report ask for? Naturally, it recommended that the number of public servants in the Outaouais region be stabilized because the drain had to be stopped, but it also said that a way be found to facilitate economic diversification in the Outaouais and part of the Lower Laurentians. That is how the first economic diversification society was created, established and developed. The Society for the Economic Diversification of the Outaouais was the forerunner of all economic diversification societies created afterwards in Quebec, and adopted by the Quebec government.

That is the reality. At the beginning of the 1990s, the federal government caused a serious crisis with the drastic cut in the number of jobs. The federal government took part in the creation of the Beaudry committee. Then, naturally, there was the Beaudry report. Afterwards, Mr. Beaudry became the Chairperson of the National Capital Commission. Of course, the goal was to diversify the economy, but it was twofold; new niches were to be found in order to reduce dependency on the federal public service, and also to ensure the stability of the public service. One of the tasks was to review all the laws in order to guarantee job protection. That was the goal.

However, those drastic cuts occurred in the early 1990s. We are in 2003 and it is only now, 10 years later, that this massive 282-page bill, the Public Service Modernization Act, is being introduced to amend four important acts. I can understand the public servants. I had to work with them and the union stewards at the beginning of the 1990s, when we tried to prevent the drastic, massive and sometimes brutal cuts of the federal government.

I understand the unions who want to fight today so that, once the bill is passed, they never have relive past experiences. I have some reservations. However, I do want to congratulate my colleague, the member for Châteauguay, who worked hard and moved 120 amendments, in cooperation with the central labour bodies.

Basically, for everyone but the Liberals, the role of committee members is to strive for an agreement. In this case, we are talking about legislation to modernize the public service. We would have hoped for an agreement that is acceptable to and accepted by both the employer and the employees.

Today, we have a bizarre situation where there is a bill before the House which, with the exception of APEX, the association representing the managers to whom this bill is giving more powers, all the unions oppose.

Ten years ago, the Outaouais and certainly the Ottawa area, and eastern Ontario, experienced a major crisis because of drastic cuts. One of the recommendations at the time was to amend the legislation to protect employees. Parliament came up with Bill C-25, which has been denounced by every labour union except the one representing managers, the bosses, those who, with this bill, will be able to make personal choices and, of course, make their own policy, which is often the Liberal Party's policy.

I am saying this very candidly. I am not in the same league as my hon. colleague from Châteauguay who sits on the committee, where he reviewed each and every clause of the bill. He considered the bill clause by clause, naturally, and proposed amendments where amendments were considered necessary and desirable by the employees, the public servants, and their union representatives as well as the Bloc Quebecois.

I will not dissect this bill clause by clause, nor will I indicate which clause I am quoting. In response to the remarks made in this House by members of the ruling Liberal Party, however, I will simply read the bill's summary. In theory, it should contain the substance, the very essence of the bill. Let me read the summary found at the very beginning of the bill:

Part 1 enacts the Public Service Labour Relations Act to provide for a labour relations regime in the public service which is based on greater cooperation and consultation between the employer and bargaining agents, notably by requiring labour-management consultation committees—

When we read this bill, this summary, this description of part 1, we are entitled to think that all the employees should agree. That is what the purpose of the act should be. Yet, the labour unions have denounced part 1, among other things.

In the summary, we are told that we should establish, and I quote:

—a labour relations regime in the public service which is based on greater cooperation and consultation—

All the labour associations, except for APEX, are against this bill. What a good start that is. What a way to start a summary, to start a discussion on this bill in the House.

Right off the bat, in Part I, there is a big difference; employers and employees do not agree. However, Part I says that there should be a regime “based on greater cooperation and consultation”. Maybe we should continue this cooperation and consultation. Because, at this very moment, the employees and union representatives are not satisfied with the bill now before us.

The summary goes on to say:

Part 2 amends the Financial Administration Act to put direct responsibility for certain aspects of human resources management in the hands of deputy heads, subject to policies and directives of the Treasury Board.

Having read Part 2 of the summary, I can understand why senior managers and public servants are satisfied. They have just been told in no uncertain terms:

Part 2 amends the Financial Administration Act to put direct responsibility for certain aspects of human resources management in the hands of deputy heads.

Of course, they would have more power in terms of human resources, more latitude for political patronage. That is what my colleague from Châteauguay explained earlier. But the employees, and hopefully the employers as well, wanted something totally different. But no, we come up with legislation that gives more powers and responsibilities to deputy heads for human resources management.

Later, I will explain to you what those increased powers are, in terms of the merit principle and the use of the word “essential” to rig the criteria so that they get the person they want for the job.

So, they are being given more latitude. Obviously, some powers are being taken away from employees to appeal decisions made by administrators. That is the purpose.

That is what was described earlier. That is what was happening in the early 1990s when the public service was downsized. There were a lot of discussions because there was patronage. Ten years later, everyone is expecting a bill that will eliminate patronage. But no, quite the opposite, the summary of the bill, on page 1, describes it quite plainly:

Part 2 amends the Financial Administration Act to put direct responsibility for certain aspects of human resources management in the hands of deputy heads, subject to policies and directives—

It even specifies that:

New deputy head responsibilities include determining learning and developmental requirements, providing awards and setting standards of discipline.

Unbelievable. In the summary, it says that:

New deputy head responsibilities include determining learning and developmental requirements—

They will decide for themselves how staff will be trained.

—providing awards and setting standards of discipline

I can see why employees and union representatives are confronting APEX, the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada. They want to prevent everything they feared could happen, and which will happen if this bill goes through. The government is in the process of creating a network of public administrators who will have direct control over employees under their jurisdiction. That is the antithesis of what the public service and the employees wanted.

Obviously, there are very important reasons why the Bloc Quebecois is against this bill, and my colleague, the member for Châteauguay, explained them. I would like to read the position because it is clear, “The Bloc Quebecois is opposed to this bill, since no amendments were put forward, especially with respect to protecting public servants who expose dubious, immoral or fraudulent practices or policies, but also with regard to the active promotion of linguistic duality. No significant amendments were made with regard to the contentious notion of merit”.

Let me explain. First, on the matter of dubious, immoral or fraudulent policies, we need to keep in mind that the sponsorships scandal, the inevitable result of Liberal party management, gave rise to some very important recommendations, one of which was to allow public employees to blow the whistle.

Of course the acts mentioned in Bill C-25 were not modernized, for instance, the Public Service Labour Relations Act, the Public Service Employment Act , the Financial Administration Act, and the Canadian Center for Management Development Act. We would have expected that under the bill those who lend a helping hand, namely those who are willing to report any unethical, questionable or fraudulent situation would have been afforded some protection with regard to the information given so that they would not suffer the consequences.

Believe it or not, in spite of the amendments moved by my colleague, Liberal members refused to include in the bill protection for those who might give information or report their colleagues' questionable, unethical and fraudulent practices. This of course is how the Liberals speak from both sides of their mouth. They are very proud of their whistle blower program. But when employees ask that whistle blowers be protected, the only bill introduced in the House in this respect does not do it.

We are talking about modernizing the public service. We have been waiting 10 years for this bill, since drastic cuts have affected the public service mainly in the Outaouais area and in eastern Ontario. Every current and future public servant had been waiting for this act to be significantly modernized.

We tried to clarify the bill so that employees would feel comfortable reporting questionable, fraudulent and unethical practices or policies on the part of the government—any government of course since the Liberals will not be in power for ever—but the government refused the amendments proposed by my colleague with the support of union representatives. This is one of the reasons why the Bloc Quebecois will vote against the bill.

The second main reason concerns of course the active promotion of linguistic duality. In this respect, I must again remind the House that the Official Languages Commissioner, Dr. Dyane Adam, made very important recommendations asking that the bill make direct reference to the Official Languages Act with regard to anything that has to do with official languages. That was the objective.

All the more so since part 1 provides for ways, namely with reference to official languages, for staffing, qualifications, and so on. We can also read the following in the summary:

Part 4 amends the Canadian Centre for Management Development Act, which becomes the Canada School of Public Service Act. The School becomes responsible for learning and development activities for employees in the public service.

As you can see, a way to train staff is being devised. We want to ensure, with the official languages commissioner, Dr. Dyane Adam, among others, that the Official Languages Act is enforced.

Believe it or not, despite repeated calls and amendments moved by my colleague, Liberal members refused to approve what the Commissioner of Official Languages was asking for and what amendments were requested with regard to official languages. I think this is dreadful, because being the Bloc Quebecois member whose riding is closest to the National Capital Region, I have the good fortune to be told what is going on in the public service. A taxpayer told me that he had been invited to participate in a training session with everyone in his unit. It was very important training that was supposed to be given during the weekend. A place, which I will not name, had been booked. It was very important training, especially as it was supposed to be given in both official languages. Believe it or not, when the staff arrived, the training documents they received were in English only. Despite the concern expressed by the taxpayer, he was simply told that there had not been enough time to translate the documents and that explanations would be translated simultaneously. That is how things were done. This is what we have to deal with.

I am quite happy that this bill announces the Canada School of Public Service. However, I am less happy that this school will not have to fully comply with the Official Languages Act, as my colleague, the member for Châteauguay, wanted to ensure by making specific reference to the act. That is what we have to deal with.

The Liberals always manage to talk out of both sides of their mouth. They support linguistic duality and official languages, but when it comes time to put it in writing in a bill, and make reference to the Official Languages Act, to require that it be complied with, the Liberals vote against it. They vote against amendments and say, as they have in many other committees, that “the Official Languages Act is part of all legislation. It must be complied with”.

Why is the government not referring to this, particularly when it talks about the Canada School of Public Service, which should provide documentation in both languages to all public servants in bilingual positions? It must never be forgotten that, in Quebec, more than 50% of positions offered in the federal public service are bilingual. This is the reality while in British Columbia hardly 10% of positions offered must be bilingual. This is what the French minority in Quebec has to go through. When it wants to become part of the public service and have some opportunities, it must be bilingual, because more than 50% of positions offered in the federal public service in Quebec—I am not speaking about those offered elsewhere, but those offered in Quebec—must be bilingual. So, unilingual francophones are once again under attack by the federal government.

In the House, we tried to have the Official Languages Act applied in this bill, on the recommendation of the commissioner of official languages. My colleague from Châteauguay did not propose amendments just for the sake of it. He asked questions to the commissioner of official languages, Dr. Adam, as a witness, who proposed some changes, who proposed that amendments be added. All these amendments, all these changes, all these proposals were rejected by the Liberal members.

I will conclude by telling you about the last finding, the last major point to which the Bloc Quebecois is opposed, that is the contentious concept of merit. A whole part of this bill would allow senior officials to staff positions on the basis of merit. My colleague from Châteauguay had the chance to explain to you what the relevant clauses might mean. I will read the section of the Public Service Employment Act—

Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but his time is up. The hon. member for New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby.

Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Paul Forseth Canadian Alliance New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, at this late hour the Bloc members are certainly talking negatively about the bill and some of its aspects. However, I would ask the member to comment on three specific areas where the committee worked cooperatively to improve it: first, the merit principle; second, the area of whistleblower legislation and recognizing the concept in law; and third, the issue of political rights, the constitutional right of a public employee to be involved in elections.

I would like the hon. member to comment on that. The clause by clause study in committee is not always negative. We do not always get what we want, but in those three areas the committee was constructive.

Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will just read the comments of the Public Service Alliance of Canada in its submission on this bill. It said:

The preamble states that Canada will continue to benefit from a public service where appointments to positions are based on merit, that the principle of merit will be independently safeguarded, and those exercising staffing authority will be accountable to the Public Service Commission, an independent tribunal and Parliament.

That is what the alliance wished and said in its submission.

Here is what the alliance had to say:

Part 3 of Bill C-25, in its current form, represents a wholesale retreat from a public service defined by the appointment of the best-qualified individuals. Bill C-25 delivers on its promise of increased flexibility for management, but contains very little protection for employees or the principle of merit.

This was the Public Service Alliance of Canada condemning the fact that the principle of merit was a matter of choice for officials and protected the employees less and less.

Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate the member for Châteauguay for the work that he did in committee on this bill. It was important for us to have his input on a broad range of issues which helped to improve the bill.

My question for the member has to do with the whole question of merit. One of the provisions in the bill is that, notwithstanding any other qualifications, people who are on leave of absence or who have been laid off would be given preference over other parties. In other words, it is almost an override.

Would the member agree that there are circumstances in which employees who had been laid off or who were on leave for some particular reason would have an opportunity to be considered for those positions even though they may not be the best available person?

Public Service Modernization ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the issue of merit. At the outset, my hon. colleague recognized the merit of my colleague from Châteauguay, who attended the committee hearings and expressed his views. He even said he was proud of his involvement in this issue.

The only problem I have is that my colleague brought forward more than 120 amendments and, despite all his hard work, which was well received by the Liberal members, only one of his amendments was adopted. That is what we have to deal with. True, the points raised by my hon. colleague for Châteauguay were relevant. They were based on the negative comments made by public servants on Bill C-25, which, as stated in the summary, was supposed to be—

based on greater cooperation and consultation—

That is not what happened. My colleague opposite asked me a question about merit with regard to some types of employees, and I have the good fortune of sitting close to the venerable member for Châteauguay. He whispered to me that he had put forward some amendments that would have dealt with what the Liberal member is asking for, but his proposals were rejected by the Liberal members of the committee.

Youth Science FoundationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to extend congratulations to Catherine Colodey of Bannockburn Road and Jackie Sharkey of Kingston, Prince Edward Island. Catherine and Jackie are both seniors at Bluefield High School and recently participated in the annual Canada-wide Science Fair, an exhibition and competition that occurs annually in a selected city during the month of May each year. This year's fair was held in Calgary from May 10 to May 18.

The Youth Science Foundation is the parent body for this event and oversees the establishment of regional and local fairs across Canada, where the best projects are selected to compete at the national level.

This year, Catherine and Jackie's project took home the gold medal for their project on whether the location of bovine hair whorls had any bearing on temperament. In addition to their medals, Catherine and Jackie each received $1,500 in cash as well as scholarships to the University of Western Ontario and the University of Saskatchewan. They also received two special awards: the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Award and the Statistical Society of Canada Award.

On behalf of everyone in the House, I would like to congratulate both Catherine and Jackie on their outstanding achievements and wish them all the best in the future.

HealthStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, one in five Canadians experiences mental illness at some point in their lives. The cost to family and society is enormous.

Bipolar disease results in manic-depressive swings, and people in the depressive phase of the illness are at high risk of suicide. Recently, a natural health product was developed in Alberta that has brought hope to thousands of sufferers. Researchers at the University of Calgary, led by Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, have documented the phenomenal results. The findings have been published in peer-reviewed psychiatric journals and repeated by Harvard researcher Dr. Charles Popper.

Unbelievably, Health Canada has ordered the study stopped and is withholding product at the border because of an antiquated clause in the Food and Drugs Act that prevents claims about natural health products.

I was in Edmonton last week to meet with concerned citizens who feel their personal health and security are threatened by these actions of Health Canada. The minister and her department are being sued for obstructing the well-being of people affected by the seizure of their nutritional products.

Why does the minister defend antiquated and unscientific clauses in the Food and Drugs Act that obstruct freedom of choice in personal health care?

House of CommonsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, as it is Environment Week, I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who collaborated, directly or indirectly, in making it possible for the Printing Services of the House of Commons to become the first printer in the federal public sector to receive Environment Canada's EcoLogo certification.

The first report printed with this certification was La Diplomatie parlementaire , for the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie.

The program's criteria include emission reduction, waste reduction and resource conservation.

For example, the use of alcohol on the presses was eliminated, the quantity of wastewater reduced, a silver particle recovery system installed, and oil-based inks replaced by vegetable inks.

Before I finish, I would also like to thank the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Minister of the Environment, who made this project possible.

We can all be very proud of the results. Bravo to all of you who have spared no effort to ensure healthy environmental management.

Laboratoire Télébec MobilitéStatements By Members

2 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has announced funding of $1,531,100 to the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue for its Télébec Mobilité underground communications research laboratory.

This new establishment will carry out its activities in the CANMET experimental mine in Val d'Or.

This project was made possible through Canada Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the CANMET experimental mine, and private partners such as Télébec Mobilité, Bell Canada, Nortel Mobility, Soredem and the UQAT foundation.

The goal of UQAT's research is to perfect a multipurpose underground communication system in order to provide security for mine workers in Quebec, Canada and the world.

Achievements in AviationStatements By Members

June 2nd, 2003 / 2 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer my congratulations to a fellow Yukoner, Doug Makkonen. A long time helicopter pilot, Doug was recently named “Best in the World” for mountain flying by the Helicopter Association International and has been awarded the Robert E. Trimble Memorial Award.

Doug Makkonen's peers consider him to be the finest mountain pilot in the industry. This award is truly a testament to his amazing career. Doug Makkonen's outstanding service over the last 30 years and accumulation of over 18,000 hours of flight time stand to his training ability, judgment and high safety standards. This truly is an incredible accomplishment.

He is currently involved in a glacier coring research project on the upper plateau of Canada's tallest mountain, Mount Logan, and has flown approximately 100 flights onto and off the Logan plateau.

I wish to extend congratulations to Doug. May he continue to fly high.

Queen Elizabeth IIStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Werner Schmidt Canadian Alliance Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, on June 2, 1953, the young Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen Elizabeth II.

At her coronation, she said the event was “not a symbol of a power and a splendour that are gone, but a declaration of our hopes for the future”.

Indeed, since her Majesty's accession to the Throne, Canada's accomplishments have been as varied and numerous as they are historic: the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the creation of Nunavut.

As our Head of State throughout these years, and on these occasions, she has unfailingly typified continuity, stability and integrity.

Today, at the unveiling of her official portrait commemorating the 50th year of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II remains a symbol of continuity, stability and tradition in a world that is under a barrage of constant change.

Juno Beach CentreStatements By Members

2 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, June 6, 2003, marks the 59th anniversary of the Canadian participation in the liberation of Europe.

On June 6, 1944, under the code name Juno, Canadian troops advanced on the shores of Normandy, France despite heavy resistance and accomplished their intended goal. On June 6, the Juno Beach Centre will open to the public on the same beach where Canadians came ashore 59 years earlier.

Celebrations will occur at over 25 locations across Canada so veterans may take part in what has been the dream of many, particularly Mr. Garth Webb, the president of the Juno Beach Centre.

Canadians have shown their gratitude by donating generously to this project. The Government of Canada can be proud of the sponsorship it provided with the help of all parties in the House.

I wish to extend congratulations to the Juno Beach Centre and to our veterans.

Rose DrummondStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the past five years, the Rose Drummond company has enjoyed tremendous growth and now produces 70% of the cultivated roses in Quebec.

Rose Drummond has developed a number of other plant breeds over the years, such as the gerbera, the alstroemeria, the tropical lily and other green plants.

The leading hothouse strawberry producer in North America, Rose Drummond now offers ten varieties of strawberries from March to December, to the great joy of Quebec chefs and their clients. Seven tonnes of these pesticide-free strawberries are picked there. Not only do they have an intoxicating flavour, but they are clean because they never touch the ground.

The large greenhouse complex in Drummondville receives 250,000 visitors each year and is preparing to introduce in June organic cultivated roses that have not been sprayed with chemical pesticides. This is the only project of its kind in Quebec.

I would like to applaud Diane and Jean-Denis Lampron for their determination, professionalism and warm welcome. I invite you, Mr. Speaker, and all Canadians to stop in at Rose Drummond.

Environment WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, for more than 30 years the first week of June has been designated Canadian Environment Week. Running from June 1 to June 7, Environment Week celebrates achievements in the protection of our land, water, air and wildlife. The theme for this year's Environment Week, “Taking Action for Our Environment”, speaks to the importance of individual action.

It has been a remarkable year for our environment. The wildlife that is so much a part of who we are as Canadians has new protection thanks to the Species at Risk Act. We have ratified the Kyoto protocol and started to implement our plan to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change. We were an influential force at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. This was capped off with a federal budget that will invest $3 billion in environmental initiatives, the single biggest Government of Canada commitment to the environment in our history.

I urge all Canadians to do their part this week and every week as we work together to sustain Canada's natural environment.

Member for Pictou--Antigonish--GuysboroughStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the member for Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, who won the Progressive Conservative Party leadership this past weekend in Toronto. As is always the case, he must share his best wishes with his loyal family and campaign workers, who no doubt spent innumerable hours championing their candidate and cheering him on to victory.

I would also like to congratulate candidate Jim Prentice for his campaign and for the way he conducted himself on the convention floor. His second place finish, helped along by possibly the best policy advocate of the campaign, the member for Kings--Hants, grabbed much of the momentum at the convention, and his message of reconciliation and moving forward together resonated not only with Tory delegates but also with voters wishing for a single slate of conservative-minded candidates in the next election.

Canadian voters now need to know what course the new Progressive Conservative leader will chart in the days and weeks to come. Conservative-minded Canadians will be watching closely as he makes critically important decisions on both strategy and policy.

The official opposition wishes him well as he begins his duties as the leader of the Progressive Conservatives, but urges him to be careful: As Adam and Eve found out, bad things can happen in an orchard.

Geneviève BrownStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the annual appreciation night that began in 1998 allows the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de l'Outaouais to honour the person of the year in a special way.

On March 26, Geneviève Brown was named Person of the Year 2002. Ms. Brown is the co-owner and general manager of the Mont-Cascades golf club in Cantley, Quebec.

Ms. Brown is an active and committed businesswoman. In addition to managing the golf club, she plays a role in the activities of Dominion Essential Oils, a worldwide exporter of essential oils, and she is a devoted mother.

She is involved in various associations such as the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de l'Outaouais, the Association touristique de l'Outaouais, the Fondation du CHVO and the National Golf Course Owners Association, to name just a few.

Congratulations to Ms. Geneviève Brown, the person of the year 2002.

Fédération des femmes du QuébecStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Michèle Asselin for being elected president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec yesterday.

Quebeckers already know Michèle Asselin through her long-standing involvement as the coordinator of Regroupment des centres de femmes du Québec. A team player, Michèle Asselin is taking over from Viviane Barbot, whom we would like to commend and thank for the countless hours she contributed as president.

The federation works for equality, fairness, dignity and social justice for women in all areas. It promotes and defends the interests and rights of women through its efforts in advocating for women, promoting cooperation among stakeholders and lobbying. The federation takes part in the public debate in Quebec on a regular basis to share its position with governments and the public, and to defend against threats to social progress that has been made.

My colleagues from the Bloc Quebecois join with me in paying tribute to the new president and assure her of our full support.

Queen Elizabeth IIStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with the hon. member for Kelowna in recognizing the anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

To mark this great occasion, Her Majesty returned to Westminster Abbey today to attend a special ceremony. The ceremony both celebrated the first 50 years of Her Majesty's reign and focused on the seriousness of the responsibilities she has to lead and serve the Commonwealth.

This morning on Parliament Hill, our House leader unveiled the new official Canadian portrait of Her Majesty at exactly the moment of the coronation. I ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating Her Majesty on the first 50 great years of her reign. God save the Queen.

Member for Pictou--Antigonish--GuysboroughStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party sits in the House today with a new leader at the helm, the member of Parliament for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

With our leader comes a new Conservative course to provide confident and effective leadership for all Canadians, leadership of a type that has not come from this arrogant government nor from the listless regional parties, leadership that will not come from the Liberal crown prince, the hon. member for Canada Steamship Lines. In fact, the member for LaSalle—Émard has expressed concern that his Liberal opponents should be worried about a resurging Conservative enemy and not him.

Canadians know that a Progressive Conservative government will set policy and resolve issues without insulting or alienating our provinces or our closest allies. They know we will do this with the best interests of Canada at heart.

The Progressive Conservatives are ready to turn up the heat. If the Liberals cannot take it, it is time to leave the kitchen.

Member for Pictou--Antigonish--GuysboroughStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Jack Layton, our caucus and the 85,000 members of the New Democratic Party, I wish to congratulate the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough on his leadership victory this weekend.

I had the pleasure of being an observer at the convention and can attest that it was an exciting ride. I am sure the new leader has been finding the ride just as exciting over the last 36 hours.

Though the NDP and Tories may disagree on much--and then again maybe not, I guess we will see on that--we are both national parties and we both have a proud tradition of building institutions that serve Canadians. Together with the new leaders of the Alliance and the Liberals and the member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, I hope we can present Canadians with an invigorating debate in the next election.

The NDP caucus wishes to sincerely congratulate the new Conservative leader and wishes him well.

Disability Awareness WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, about one in eight Canadians lives with a disability, but very many of them enjoy healthy, independent lives. Some from within the community are more visible in our lives, like those in wheelchairs or the visually impaired. Many conditions, such as epilepsy and those relating to mental illness, are not.

For that reason, I am very pleased to recognize this week as Disability Awareness Week. The theme for this year is “Active Living...Good for Life”. This encourages all Canadians, regardless of age or disability, to remain active in pursuit of the most fulfilling life possible.

Although proclaimed as Disability Awareness Week, the most important feature of the life of the disabled is not their handicap. First, Canadians must recognize members of the disability community as their fellow citizens, and the disability as just simply another challenge to be overcome. This is the true spirit of Disability Awareness Week.