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House of Commons Hansard #8 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was servants.

Topics

Canada Education Savings ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, in that same spirit of cooperation, let me acknowledge that in his first intervention in the House, the hon. member opposite did himself quite proud.

I was pleased to see the conciliatory approach that he took and his attempt to look for those elements in the legislation which he and his party could support. I compliment him on that.

Obviously there are going to be some differences of opinion. He expressed some. I disagree with him wholeheartedly on the perception of our party and our government. However, because he has taken great pains to indicate that education is important, notwithstanding the area of the country from which he comes, I want to highlight for him that this government has taken that kind of address, that kind of concern much to heart.

Since we started the Canada education savings grant and the RESP program in 1997-98, it has gone from a point where the Government of Canada was contributing some $2 billion a year to one now where there is a $13 billion uptake. The member is right. The Canadian public sees the value of education. Whether it is in a post-secondary environment that includes community college, university, labour sponsored training programs or apprenticeship skills programs, these are all ways in which we move forward, we become more productive and in fact, we become much more competitive.

I do not have a question. I just wanted to compliment the member on his first recognition of the realities of the House and his willingness to see that there are positive elements even here.

Canada Education Savings ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister very much for that tribute. I know that the legislation is not perfect. There are things that could be improved. There is no doubt that the amounts we are talking about are quite modest but we also have to be fiscally responsible. The one aspect of it that I find most heartening is it creates an opportunity for people who have never saved before to take that first step. When we create aspirations, we create hope.

I remember when I was about four years old and my family walked me through the campus of the University of Toronto and told me that one day I would go there. That registered with me. I remembered that. There is someone who has worked with me loyally for years who is the first person in her family ever to go on to post-secondary education, first to community college and then to university. To see that growth and fulfilment in a personal way is a great thing.

Whether people come from backgrounds like mine, where it has gone back generations, or whether they are the first generation, seeing people improve their lives is one of the positive things that we can all rally around.

Canada Education Savings ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the comments by the member for York--Simcoe. I congratulate him on his first debate in the House. He certainly has recognized the importance of post-secondary education, but I found the comments distressing from two points of view.

First, there was very little acknowledgement of the depth and severity of the tuition crisis and debt load crisis suffered by today's students. Second, once again he seemed to propose that tax cuts are always the solution to every problem. The comment was made that the amounts are modest but after all, we have to be concerned about whether we can afford it. I would ask the member to respond to two things in that connection.

First , we have just received confirmation that the government's surplus this year is not the $1.9 billion previously predicted but rather it is $9.1 billion. That is quite a big mistake. Is there not a significant sum of money there that could be available to deal with today's student debt crisis and the very severe barriers?

Second, I want to ask the member to respond to the research finding that the tax cuts to the top 10% of Canadians brought in by the government over the last decade would actually have been sufficient to pay for 25 years of tuition free post-secondary education in Canada.

Could I have the member's comments on those two factual pieces of information?

Canada Education Savings ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am loath to get into a discussion on tax cuts at this time, but the member has invited me to do so.

I can certainly say that for the people in the constituency of York--Simcoe, and I think for all Canadians, the best way the government can help them is by letting them keep their money to pay for things like post-secondary education rather than collecting it, skimming off a whole bunch to process it along the way and then giving them back a small fraction of it to pay for post-secondary education. Philosophically that is ideal. Philosophically we think self-reliance is ideal. I believe most individuals think that is good. However, we recognize that there are those who are genuinely in need. As a compassionate society we need to help those people.

What is wonderful about the proposal before us is that it combines the best of those values, the value of self-reliance and the value of lending a hand to those who are genuinely in need. Those tax cuts and the tax cuts that have been undertaken by Conservative governments across the country had a lot to do with the economic prosperity that has been generating those record revenues for the government.

The fact is when people have more money in their pockets, there is more money to spend, which creates jobs and all around there is more revenue for government. The facts are indisputable. When the NDP was in government in Ontario, it increased taxes repeatedly and every time, the revenues to the government went down. When the Conservatives were in government, they decreased taxes and the government revenues went up massively.

The result was huge investment in post-secondary education in Ontario in terms of the accommodation of the double cohort and in terms of the construction of new buildings on university campuses all across Ontario. That was all the fruits of the policy of giving people more money. All of society became wealthier, including the government as a result.

Canada Education Savings ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, before my election to the chamber I spent four years as a sales manager for one of the largest players in the RESP industry. Canadians have invested nearly $13 billion into registered savings plans to help finance the cost of post-secondary education for their children. From speaking with people interested in RESPs, I know what fuels this investment. It is driven by the skyrocketing price for post-secondary education.

Universities in British Columbia have posted the biggest tuition fee hikes in the country in each of the last three years, including a 15.6% increase this fall. High tuition fees can be traced straight back to the government which cut $25 billion in social transfers to the provinces, money that should have gone into health care and education.

The private sector has stepped in to fill the void for the visionless government. That has not only reduced the money available for education, but has also failed to standardize education in Canada and recognize foreign academic credentials. This is shameful and the public knows where the blame lies: with the Liberal government.

I would like to ask the hon. member why the government slashed funding to post-secondary education.

Canada Education Savings ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, certainly the crisis was provoked by the Prime Minister himself when he was finance minister. With the efforts of balancing the budget back in 1995, it was done largely on the backs of the provinces. It is quite clear that was the case and that crisis continues today.

In fact, we had the vision last month of the Prime Minister claiming to be a hero for finally reversing some of the damage that was done. While it was only some of the damage, as the hon. member has pointed out, it continues to be the case that provinces are working to recover from that.

Certainly there will be upcoming discussions that hopefully will give the government an opportunity to advance that exercise. That crisis is an example of how the government has continually operated. It creates the crisis, causes the problem and then comes up with legislation, such as the bill before us, Bill C-5, which would never have been necessary if provinces were not faced with those cuts to post-secondary education.

The problem is being addressed now and I think that is a positive thing for Canadians.

Wood Tree Co-operativeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I ask the House to join with me in congratulating the Wood Tree Co-operative in my riding of Davenport.

Wood Tree Co-operative is a non-profit acquisition rehab co-op whose members have worked for the past 30 years to provide housing for low to moderate income persons.

The co-op is comprised of a variety of homes ranging from semi-detached houses to five-plexes. The Wood Tree Co-operative recently celebrated the opening of its latest project at 39 Norman Avenue in my riding of Davenport.

It replaced an existing building with a five-plex facility in which private contractors were hired to do the wiring, plumbing and heating. The Wood Tree staff then completed the interior themselves. The co-operative received $94,000 in funding from the Government of Canada supporting communities and partnership initiative, which is administered by the City of Toronto.

This once again demonstrates the government's commitment to low and moderate income persons in need of affordable housing as well as the government's commitment to working in cooperation with cities and local governments.

I want to congratulate the Wood Tree Co-operative and send many thanks to the staff.

County of WellingtonStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 150th anniversary of the County of Wellington. I am proud to say that I live in and was raised in Wellington county.

The County of Wellington predates Confederation and includes great communities steeped in history and tradition, communities like Fergus and Elora, Erin and Hillsburgh, Rockwood and Morriston, Arthur and Mount Forest, Alma and Belwood, Drayton and Palmerston, and communities like Harriston and Clifford.

I want to congratulate warden Lynda White, chief administrative officer Scott Wilson, clerk Donna Waugh, and all the staff of the county for the very successful 150th anniversary celebrations that were held at the Wellington County Museum and Archives, a national historic site.

As we embark on this the 38th Parliament since Confederation, I hope all members will join me in congratulating the county of Wellington on 150 years of tradition and community.

United Nations Relief and Works AgencyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my constituents for the privilege of representing them in Ottawa.

Now I turn the attention of the House to the recent issues surrounding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency responsible for Palestinian refugee camps.

In the midst of controversy last week, UNRWA's head, Peter Hansen, told CBC television:

Oh, I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don't see that as a crime.

Canada is a significant donor to UNRWA, however we have also banned Hamas' terrorist entity.

I am happy to see that government is concerned about the implications of these statements. I hope we use this week's UNRWA donor conference to call for an independent observer to continually investigate longstanding allegations about the use of UNRWA camps by terrorists.

As Mr. Hansen's comments illustrate, internal monitoring by UNRWA is insufficient to assure Canadians that their dollars are not being indirectly spent to support a terrorist group.

Social and Community Organizations in BeauportStatements By Members

October 14th, 2004 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Simard Bloc Beauport, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me first to thank the people of Beauport—Limoilou who showed their trust in me on June 28.

Today in this House I want to draw attention to the fact that on Saturday, October 16, the Regroupement des organismes sociocommunautaires de Beauport will mark its 15th anniversary. This umbrella group comprises 76 agencies that contribute to community life in Beauport. They are all volunteer organizations that work in culture, spiritual life, housing and assistance for the less fortunate, young people and families.

This group's unique feature is that it financially supports its members with funding from the proceeds of bingo nights at the Centre communautaires des chutes, for example. Since its founding, the group has paid out more than $500,000 to its members.

Congratulations to the members and volunteers of the Regroupement des organismes sociocommunautaires de Beauport. Happy 15th anniversary and may there be many more.

Prince Edward Island MarathonStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to share news of the BMO Nesbitt Burns Prince Edward Island marathon which will be taking place this weekend on Prince Edward Island.

With a whole host of events planned around the full marathon, including the half-marathon, a kids' run, and my personal favourite, the kilted run, the festivities will promote the importance of physical activity and healthy living.

With over 650 runners from all across Canada and the United States expected at this weekend's event, the Prince Edward Island marathon promises to be a resounding success. It will once again showcase our beautiful province as an ideal location for conferences and events from all over the world.

I ask all members to join me in offering my congratulations to the organizers of the Prince Edward Island marathon and in wishing good luck to the runners this weekend.

FisheriesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, this summer two million sockeye disappeared from the Fraser River between Mission and the spawning grounds. This year's escapement is the lowest on record, lower even than the escapement after the infamous rock slide at Hell's Gate blocked the Fraser Canyon in 1914.

This is the third such disaster in the last 12 years. In both 1992 and 1994 the government blamed warm water temperatures and technical difficulties for the failure. Independent inquiries rejected the government's excuses and pointed their finger directly at policy failures, inept management and lax or non-existent enforcement. They laid the blame directly on DFO and its failure to protect fish from large scale poaching.

Without the ability to subpoena witnesses and take testimony under oath, investigators were unable to identify the bureaucrats responsible. A judicial inquiry into this disaster is essential to the survival of B.C. salmon.

Hurricane HazelStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate an important event in the history of Toronto.

From 7 a.m. on October 14 to midnight on October 15, 1954, Canada's most devastating hurricane struck southern Ontario. Hurricane Hazel swept through Toronto at 110 kilometres per hour with 200 millimetres of rain in a 24 hour period. Bridges and streets were washed out and thousands were left homeless, with trailers and houses washing into Lake Ontario.

In total, 81 people were killed, 32 in the riding I represent.

On October 16, 2004, York South—Weston will be commemorating the event with a memorial following a walk organized by the Weston Historical Society. Attending will be political officials, firefighters, police, EMS and residents who survived the hurricane.

I invite the House to join me in honouring those emergency workers and ordinary citizens who served their communities so courageously during that deadly storm and remember those who lost their lives.

150th Anniversary of L'ÉpiphanieStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, October 9, I had the great pleasure of attending a period fancy dress ball to mark the 150th anniversary of the towns and parishes of L'Épiphanie. Some 200 people, dressed in their finest attire, made a room already magnificently decorated all the more stunning. This wonderful evening was the result of the hard work and creative imagination of an extraordinary team of volunteers under the direction of Donald Bricault.

This period ball ended an exceptional year of extremely successful events. We have to applaud the remarkable effort of the 150th anniversary committee and especially thank its president, Daniel Archambault.

On behalf of the community, I would like to thank all the volunteers for their involvement and dedication. You met the challenge; congratulations.

Chicoutimi

HmcsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the tragedy that struck the crew of HMCS Chicoutimi and the family and friends of Lieutenant Chris Saunders in particular, has touched everyone in this country.

As chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, I wish to salute the courage and devotion of the crew members of HMCS Chicoutimi and assure them of my complete support and my profound gratitude for their exemplary services on behalf of all Canadians.

They are an inspiration to all of us to give the best we have in the service of our country. This House echoes all the expressions of appreciation and sympathy that have already been heard across Canada.

I also want to thank the crew members from the British Royal Navy and the United States navy who took part in the rescue and towing of HMCS Chicoutimi , and everyone at the Sligo hospital in Ireland. Their solidarity undoubtedly was of comfort to our submariners and their families. Their actions are a true sign of friendship.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I would like to pay tribute to two gentlemen from my riding, Alex Baum and Dan Kroffat of Cochrane. These gentlemen presented a petition to me this morning containing over 115,000 signatures calling for the reopening of the U.S. border to live Canadian cattle.

The open border petition began on August 11 when Alex and Dan decided to challenge the government to make the border closure top priority.

The response to the petition was overwhelming, with 10% of the signatures coming from Quebec and 15% from Ontario. The petition also received signatures from hundreds of grassroots American farmers and ranchers. They wanted to show their solidarity with their Canadian counterparts who are suffering greatly.

These two businessmen deserve all the credit, not only for taking on the petition but taking the time to fly to Ottawa to urge politicians from all parties to work hard to get the border open.

Their dedication to this cause should inspire all of us to rally behind our farmers and keep the pressure on the American government until the issue is resolved.

HousingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, helping families out of poverty is difficult. Parents are better prepared to provide for their children if they are able to find a safe and affordable place to live.

In most communities, full time, year-round minimum wage workers cannot afford to pay fair market rent or even find a place that they can afford. Several cities in Canada, including my riding of Bramalea--Gore--Malton, are experiencing a major shortage of affordable housing.

To meet the demand for affordable housing, I invite all my colleagues to join me in supporting innovative solutions that would help the elderly, the disabled and low income working families find affordable housing.

Natural ResourcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, negotiations between the Great Lakes states, Ontario and Quebec have resulted in the release of the Great Lakes water diversion annex.

The ultimate effect of the annex will be to allow U.S. states to unilaterally divert water from the Great Lakes without a veto by the provinces. The annex has been met with a great deal of concern and opposition by municipalities, Canadian sovereignists, environmentalists and first nations people.

The International Joint Commission has warned against any further water diversion from our Great Lakes. If this annex is ratified, the impact on the Great Lakes basin and the St. Lawrence River will be enormous, especially in light of global warming.

In spite of these concerns and outright opposition we have not heard from the federal government at all on this important issue of national sovereignty. We call upon it today to stand up for Canadians and say no more water diversions from the Great Lakes.

TradeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Belinda Stronach Conservative Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the Minister of International Trade was in Vancouver yesterday admitting that “Canadians are missing out on opportunities” in emerging foreign markets, a global competitiveness report released by the World Economic Forum showed that Canada dropped from 12th to 15th place in its annual ranking of global business performance.

This continues the downward spiral which began after 1998 when Canada placed sixth. Under the Liberals' watch, Canadian exports are down, border problems continue to drive up costs, and drive away investment in Canada.

Just last week the Conference Board of Canada classified our productivity performance among the entire OECD as mediocre. It is the role of government to provide the right economic environment for our tax structures by supporting education, and research and development, so that Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs can compete in this fierce global marketplace.

The Liberals need to understand that trade is not about abstract numbers but rather about quality of life. Trade is our lifeblood. The issue of competitiveness will determine the future prosperity of Canada.

Children of BeslanStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, today in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, thousands of children from the Hautes-Rivières school board, along with their parents and teachers, marched in memory of the children of Beslan, Russia.

The Russian Vice-Consul, Mr. Valery Erofeev, and the head of Russian Humanitarian House, Ms. Lidia Porotnikova, spoke during the event. The massive turnout sent a clear message that such a drama should never have happened in our world.

By taking a stand and turning out in such large numbers today, our children give us hope that there will be a better, more egalitarian world, a world where human values triumph over barbaric acts, a world where disputes and quarrels are settled by mediation, conciliation and diplomacy, and not by bombs and weapons.

The children of Beslan must not have died in vain. We must expend all our energy to make sure such a tragedy never happens again. We send our love to the children of Beslan and their sorrowing parents.

Eugene HarasymiwStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Conservative Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, Eugene Harasymiw, husband to Natalie and father of sons Adrian and Andriy, passed away on October 2 in Edmonton at the age of 63. He was a devoted family man and a steadfast proponent of civil rights and liberties.

Eugene championed the politically challenged, such as Wasyl Odynsky, in a struggle for the rights of all Canadians to a fair trial in Canada and to counter a Liberal government which, behind closed cabinet doors, would strip a person of Canadian citizenship without due process.

Eugene was one of the principals responsible for a monument of great significance at Edmonton's Ukrainian Cultural Village, a monument that serves as witness and testament for the injustice of the internment of Ukrainians in Canada during World War I.

Eugene was past president of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association. He was a man who truly fulfilled life's duties to his family and to his country. Vechnaya pamyat Eugene, eternal memory.

Film IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, Winnipeg is home to many talented young filmmakers, musicians and artists who have chosen to remain in Winnipeg and pursue their crafts. One such Winnipeg based filmmaker is Noam Gonick, and I stand today to recognize the many achievements of this innovative and creative filmmaker.

Mr. Gonick's work in film, publishing and broadcasting has challenged conventional boundaries. His first feature, Hey, Happy! , premiered at the 2001 Sundance film festival and was a critical success when released worldwide.

I particularly wish to congratulate Noam on his most recent film, Stryker , about young people in gangs in Winnipeg. This past September, Stryker premiered at the prestigious Venice international film festival, one of the two Canadian feature films selected to screen and the only Canadian drama.

Young, creative filmmakers are the future of Canadian film. On behalf of all Canadians, I congratulate Noam Gonick on his successes.

Chrysotile AsbestosStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Boulianne Bloc Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the people of Mégantic—L'Érable for their confidence in me.

Since September, chrysotile asbestos has regained its reputation at the international level. By refusing to put chrysotile on the list of dangerous goods drafted by the parties to the Rotterdam convention, Canada has, at last, acted on the request of the Bloc Québécois. It officially recognized the safe and increased use of chrysotile fibre, as did the Quebec national government in 2002, and also the International Labour Organization.

This is a victory for Quebec's pro-chrysotile movement and for our regional economy. The communities of Thetford Mines and Asbestos are elated to see that their efforts have paid off.

Canada must now develop a true policy on the use of chrysotile, one that will be consistent with its position in Geneva, on September 18, 2004.

Government SurplusStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister is bragging about a surplus gained from the hardship and struggle of Canadians. He brags about being out $7 billion on the government's budget. Now he is to pay down more of the debt at the expense of ordinary Canadians.

What about the government's other debts? What about the promised compensation to residential school and hepatitis C victims? It is time the government paid those debts before it is too late.

There was $1.7 billion allocated to residential school claimants. Of some 200 victims going before the adjudicator, only three have been given a hearing, this after filling out a 37 page application.

The health minister announced that a select group of hepatitis C victims might be getting compensation previously withheld from them. This compensation is not new money, just unspent, because once again the Liberals' scam compensation package was both out of reach and did not apply to many claimants.

The Liberal government continues to spend more and more money paying lawyers to prevent victims from gaining restitution. This is reprehensible. The government should follow through on its promised compensation before there are no claimants left, unless of course that was its plan after all.

Rodent ImportationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to protest the incredible waste of taxpayers' dollars and the harassment of a law abiding constituent.

In a nutshell, Steve Patterson, a naturalist, a teacher, and an honest man, diligently did his research and legally imported six week old Sabrina, the American flying squirrel.

Since June our government bureaucrats have harassed him, have taken him to court, and have practically bankrupted him. Steve and Sabrina won their day in Federal Court. The judge, soundly condemning the Canada Food Inspection Agency, ruled it was doubtful the government had ever shown that a serious issue existed.

That should have been the end, but it is not. The government is appealing, using unlimited resources in fear of a floodgate of 90 gram squirrels. The cost? Up to $200,000 for my constituent. The solution? Drop the case, save us money, and allow Sabrina to get her Canadian citizenship.

Flying squirrels enter Canada over the border and through treetops every night. This is one little squirrel that escaped the bush, and which we can afford to keep.