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House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was producers.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, in difficult economic times, while inheriting a government that had an annual deficit in excess of $40 billion and taking it over 10 years to perhaps the leading economy in the world, we have not forgotten the regions of Canada that need assistance.

Atlantic Canada has a unique nature. We have a great entrepreneurial spirit. We have great people. We have good companies. We know how to get things done. Through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in particular we have been able to take companies, like Acadian Sea Plants and many others, and developing that spirit of entrepreneurial activity, employing Nova Scotians, employing Atlantic Canadians, and selling our products to the world.

I am delighted to see the continued commitment to Atlantic Canada through ACOA in the Speech from the Throne. I applaud it and am delighted to see it. I am glad that the leadership came from Atlantic Canadians.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, earlier, my colleague asked to bring to your attention the fact that we were debating an amendment to an amendment to the Speech from the Throne. If I correctly understood what the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour was saying, it was not about the amendment to the amendment.

The question was also put to the Minister of State for Northern Development. He did not ask her if she was aboriginal, Chinese or whatever. He asked her, as a Canadian citizen, as a citizen from a province and a region, if she would support the amendment to the amendment.

I put the same question to the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, we will be voting on that amendment tonight and I will keep the member in suspense because I know it must be causing him a lot of anxiety throughout the day as to how I will vote.

The Speech from the Throne addresses the needs of Canadians in a very important way. It addresses the financial stewardship of the government, the investment in the social economy, understanding the needs of Canadians through things like caregivers, and the promotion of the national child care strategy. It answers all the questions that I have, so I am very pleased with it. I suspect we will have a vote tonight and I will let the member know what I will do at that point in time.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to share my time during this debate with the hon. member for Ottawa Centre.

I also wish to extend my condolences to the family of the sailor who lost his life this week while serving his country.

It is my great pleasure to rise for my first speech as the member of Parliament for Nanaimo—Cowichan. I want to thank the people of my community for voting for me. It is a great honour to represent them in Ottawa.

I am fortunate to live in a riding that has an urban and rural mix, access to many natural resources and an economy that is changing to include an expanding wine industry, a thriving tourism sector and some fine outdoor recreation. I would welcome every member here to visit my riding and take advantage of the opportunity to kayak, hike, sail, golf, indulge in some fine wines and enjoy our seafood.

However, this is also a region that has struggled with the effects of the softwood lumber trade dispute with the US, the impact of changes in the fishing industry, the challenges of dealing with aging infrastructure, expensive post-secondary education and a health care system that is not meeting the needs of our residents.

People are looking to all levels of government to work with them on the issues that affect their everyday lives. Issues such as access to affordable post-secondary education and clean drinking water, protection of our environment, a child care system that meets the needs of working families are all factors that keep our communities liveable.

What do we have? We have a string of broken Liberal promises. For the past 11 years Canadians had hoped that the grand ideas promoted in throne speeches would actually be implemented. Mr. Prime Minister, the residents of Nanaimo—Cowichan are still waiting. Canadians are still waiting. There are broken promises on education, Kyoto, first nations, women, far too many for me to list here.

The Liberals promised to cut student debt. Ask a recent graduate if the Prime Minister kept that promise. In the 2001 throne speech the Prime Minister promised to meet the basic needs of first nations' employment, housing and social needs. The government is still promising that.

In 1997 the Liberals promised access to prescription drugs. They promised it again at the first ministers meeting just a few weeks ago. The throne speech had no details, no time lines and no scope for a pharmacare program.

After 11 years of broken promises Canada is falling behind on the environment. Enough of the rhetoric. Talk is cheap. Nero fiddled while Rome burned and surely we Canadians do not want to be in the same spot. It is time for a detailed Kyoto plan to create jobs and cut pollution.

As my leader said yesterday, quoting another greater NDP leader, Tommy Douglas, “I would point out that the Speech from the Throne is notable not so much for what it says, but for what it fails to say.”

There are issues today on which I want to shine a light. Over the past few months I have talked with university students in my riding about their lives and the debt they face when they graduate. Many are facing debt that would amount to a down payment on a home. How can we expect our young people to start their working lives with this kind of baggage?

To build the country we want, we must invest in education. That means we must put the resources into supporting an affordable, quality post-secondary education. The education plan in the throne speech does not adequately address the issues of access and affordability for students. It will not help address student debt. It is the same old, same old from the Prime Minister.

The plan the Liberals announced does nothing to help relieve debt today. The best way to reduce debt is still to reduce tuition and to provide long term stable funding for post-secondary institutions.

Then we have the learning bond. Let us think about this for a minute. We have families that may be struggling to pay the rent and to juggle the rest of the demands on their pocketbook. Then what we offer them is a token chance to save for their children's education. The learning bond demands that families, who already live too close to the line, give over their hard earned paycheques to invest at a low rate of return. Instead, we need a system of grants and loans that reflects the true cost of attending school and does not load down students with huge debts.

In British Columbia over 15,000 jobs have been lost to the ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the US. It has been an important issue in the Nanaimo--Cowichan riding as well. The throne speech has one brief mention of softwood, which does not recognize the serious impact that this dispute has had on many parts of our country.

The government has no plans for finding a long term strategy to deal with US protectionism. There is nothing here about industrial policy for key industries, and where is the support for workers who have been laid off and are struggling to put their lives back in order after years of working in the forestry sector?

My riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan is known for more than its trees and its rolling farmland. We have farming families in my community that have also been affected by the BSE crisis. Recently, I had a long conversation with a Cowichan valley farmer who told me how important it was that we supported our family farms and recognized the hardships that many of them were facing. The throne speech has made no mention of plans to have the border re-opened to Canadian cattle. We need support for our farmers and it is coming far too slowly for many small farmers to keep going. The effects of BSE are felt well beyond the cattle industry.

I have to talk about women of course, as the women's critic. Many women have commented that it feels like we are losing ground. We make up over half the population, yet as I look around the House, especially right now, women are sadly under-represented here. One hundred years ago women were paid two-thirds of men's wages to do the same job. Today, on average, women's wages are still 30¢ less an hour than the average man's wages.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:30 p.m.

An hon. member

That's progress there.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Lots of progress, thanks.

The lack of attention to women's equality in the throne speech reflects the priority that the government places on issues that impact on women. Where is the action from the government on enforcing pay equity in the public sector? Where is the examination of the EI legislation and its impact on women? What is the timeline for implementing a national child care strategy? We need action now.

My riding of Nanaimo--Cowichan is home to one of the largest aboriginal populations in British Columbia. I want to acknowledge the fact that my home is within the traditional territories of the Cowichan people. This week, Amnesty International, in partnership with the Native Women's Association of Canada, released a report called “Stolen Sisters”, which highlights some of the issues aboriginal communities continue to face. The report outlines concrete steps that the government could take to improve the situation of aboriginal women, both on reserve and off, in urban and rural communities.

I have already said that the Liberal government must live up to another promise it made in 1994 to ratify the inter-American convention on the prevention, punishment and eradication of violence against women. The women of Canada have been waiting too long. Words do not fix problems, action does.

Canadians want to see a government that is working on their behalf to improve the quality of each and every life. It is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on implementing an agenda that improves the quality of life for today's families.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, first, I congratulate the member for her election in the riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan, a neighbouring riding to mine. I heartily endorse her invitation to members to visit Nanaimo and Vancouver Island. I am sure it will be found as one of the most wonderful parts of Canada. I heartily endorse her remarks related to our beautiful island home.

The member mentioned a number of items that I am sure are important to many Canadians, but I want to ask her about a couple of others that might benefit our own community. First, with huge infrastructure needs in Nanaimo, and I am sure in Duncan and Ladysmith as well as in my own riding and cities like Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni, the government promised a portion of the gas tax to help our cities. However, it did not tell us how much, when or how. There is no mechanism to get the money back.

Would the member care to comment on the deficiency of the government's plan in that regard and how it might benefit our ridings, if it actually implemented something? On the gas tax it did say that it would increase over five years, but we do not know how much or when.

Second, is the issue of EI. There is the extortion of about $6 billion annually from employers and employees in the name of employment insurance that hurts both our employers and our employees. That hurts people on Vancouver Island, our neighbourhoods, people who might be employed and small businesses that are beginning to flourish on our island. However, they need some help from the government. It would really help if EI was not being used to extort funds into general revenues.

Would the member care to comment on these items?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was a municipal councillor with North Cowichan. How the gas tax will be allocated is of great concern to the smaller municipalities and communities. Certainly, we would welcome a more progressive look at how rural and other smaller urban communities get an allocation. We would also appreciate seeing a concrete, detailed plan that outlines how much and for how long.

On the employment insurance, I would welcome a look at taking the surplus EI funds and using them to invest in an innovative training strategy that has us preparing Canadian workers for new and emerging jobs in the 21st century. We would welcome some initiatives and innovative debate around that matter.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with what the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan said. I know her region quite well. It is an incredible area to go mountain biking. I know for a fact that she comes from a very beautiful part of the country.

Since we are considering the amendment to the amendment put by the Bloc Quebecois, which will be voted on later tonight, my question to the hon. member is as follows: what position will she be taking? Will she vote in favour of our amendment to the amendment, since it includes almost everything she has mentioned?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his comments about my lovely riding. I believe our duty and responsibility to the Canadian public, given the opportunity, is to look at the kind of work that we can achieve over the next several months.

At this point, I will reserve my options.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment to the position of Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.

I also congratulate our new member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. We are so happy that she is in her place. She is well known as a local advocate and a very strong person in her community, and we are delighted that she is our new spokesperson for women's issues.

Would the hon. member talk about the new women's committee that is being set up and what she hopes to see happen there to ensure that women's equality finally is back on the political agenda? The NDP insisted that it be there.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a very important moment in Canadian history. As the hon. member pointed out, the NDP put this proposal forward and all parties agreed to it.

We have been working closely with women's organizations across the country to ensure that when policy and legislation is proposed we see how it impacts on women and children in our communities. I look forward to working closely with other members of the House on this very exciting new initiative.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by complimenting my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan for making such an exceptional maiden speech reflecting the long traditions of her own area, going back and including, but not restricted to, Tommy Douglas who was a distinguished member and leader of our party coming from the same region. It was a great speech, reflecting not only the great variety of her own riding but also concerns which she made clearcut right across the country. I congratulate her.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to briefly address the issue of electoral reform, something we have implemented in five provinces in Canada. Once again, the provinces have led the way. I must say that I am very glad to see that a federal government has, for the first time, referred to this important topic in the Speech from the Throne.

I want to note in my brief comments that my party and I have been advocating an electoral system for Canada that would combine single member constituencies with members elected on the basis of proportionality since the 1970s. I want to emphasize that such a system or a variety of systems like this is in place in the large majority of stable democracies around the world.

The evidence clearly indicates that a mixed system, combining single member with proportionality, does the following. It elects more women than we do in Canada. It elects more minorities than we do in Canada. It produces a generally higher level of voter participation than exists in Canada. It also allows new parties to gain a place in the electoral system and then grow if they have support. It is, I would add, profoundly democratic because the vote of every citizen, wherever that vote takes place, counts in some sense in shaping the government, which our voting system does not do.

Because I am going on to other matters, I want to conclude with this brief list of advantages of such an electoral system by saying that such a system is long overdue in a country called Canada. In my limited comments I want to concentrate exclusively on another of its advantages, namely its contribution to national unity.

The first time I noticed that the Canadian electoral system was obsolete, pre-democratic, regionalist, fractionary and non-inclusive was after the 1980 federal elections.

In doing so I want to illustrate why our present system is profoundly divisive, deeply harmful for national unity and alienating in its effect on border participation throughout the land.

After the 1980 election, the then prime minister, Mr. Trudeau, asked to meet with me as the leader of a minority party to discuss our participation in the government. I found this strange because he had just obtained a substantial majority and we were a minority party. In spite of the 25% of the vote his party won in western Canada, if we were to look at the results of the seats, we would see a completely different percentage. No Liberal was elected in British Columbia, none in Alberta, none in Saskatchewan and only two in Manitoba. The Liberals won two seats out of 25% of the vote and became the governing party.

The New Democratic Party had 26 seats in western Canada. Mr. Trudeau told me of his intention to bring in what was to amount to the national energy program and the repatriation of the constitution and he definitely felt his party was a so-called eastern party and, with the NDP being strong in the west, he wanted our participation because, in broad outline, he knew we were sympathetic philosophically to the directions on those issues in which he was going, although we differed in some details.

The point I want to make is that here is a party that has governed in Canada for most of my lifetime and yet systematically our system produces a set of MPs in the governing caucus that nowhere represents the strength that they got in western Canada.

The same pattern prevailed in the three elections that took place since I left the House in 1989. We have a governing party that does not reflect at all the very nature of the country. I would submit that if it did then the national energy program would almost certainly have been different if the governing party had elected members actually from the west proportional to its strength as well as other legislation at the time.

The other point I want to make is that our electoral system and its impact on governing is counterproductive in terms of the opposition parties. I want to mention the Reform Party, not exactly one ideologically to which I am sympathetic but the Reform, the Alliance and the Conservatives had negative impacts comparable to the Liberals in terms of vote.

Preston Manning was said to have been blanked out in Ontario. Mr. Manning received 20% of the vote in Ontario. In the large majority of democracies he would have had seats proportionate to his vote as a democracy should do. In spite of that 20% of the vote, no seats and his party was then regarded as simply “in the east a western party”.

Also, the 20% of people in Ontario who actually voted, not by political friends but they were equal citizens who actually voted for his party, became more alienated from the system because they did not see their desires reflected in the outcome.

I am deliberately choosing parties different from my own. I will just say in passing that if we had seats today proportionate to our vote we would be in excess of 40 seats in the House of Commons. However I am talking about other parties.

The point I want to make is that our system, as the Pepin-Robarts documented very clearly, is counterproductive to national unity. Our national caucuses, whether on the government side or on the opposition side, do not reflect accurately where their votes come from and therefore they see Canada through highly distorted, highly conflictual lenses that almost always come into the debates.

I want to stress this as a key point to leave with governing members and opposition members in the House as we approach the subject, and we will, of electoral reform in this session. I want to use my concluding moments to give particular praise, not to a government of my party but to a government in British Columbia that did introduce a citizens assembly process that has worked remarkably. It is one that my party would like to see duplicated at the national level. It is one that has involved in that province two citizens from each constituency, plus two aboriginal peoples. They have met for over a year, met in their communities, have professional experts so-called and real who give them advice, and have had systematic deliberation. Not one of the 160 citizens of British Columbia participating in this process has dropped out.

It has been inspiring and empowering for them and it has generated support wherever they have held meetings in the province of British Columbia. They are making electoral reform an issue that is engaging people throughout the length of that province.

I and my party believe that we should have this process at the national level. It could become exciting and it could engage Canadians.

In Canada's provinces, not all Canadians can directly take part in a process that is supposed to provide a fair system for everyone.

I deeply believe that if we were to engage our citizens, have them deliberate, think seriously about it and make a recommendation for a new equitable electoral system, we would finally get the electoral system the people of Canada deserve. Let us get on with it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again I am sure all members of the House join with me in congratulating the member, not only for his return to Parliament but also for an eloquent second maiden speech.

The member has spoken at great length on the issue of democratic reform, parliamentary reform, in particular in the area of proportionate representation. I am sure the House would like to know what the member's position will be with respect to the subamendment that has been placed by the Bloc inasmuch as that is the motion that we will be voting on later.

If I read between the lines of some of the things the member has said, my inference is that his position in fact goes contrary to, in federal terms and in terms of the role of the federal government, the subamendment. I and I am sure the House would like the member to just elaborate a little bit in terms of what his position and understanding is of the subamendment that will be voted on later this day.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to use the occasion to at least address part of what the question is intended as I see it. The subamendment did in fact refer to a citizens' assembly of the kind my party has advocated and I hope the government will take it seriously under consideration.

My reason for coming back to politics, by the way, was to get away from playing games. Canadians are fed up with the politicians who come here, whatever side of the House they are on, playing nice little rule games that they know the outcomes are going to be different from the words they use. If we were to accept the subamendment that is before us, the government would be defeated, and the people on the other side of the House, both the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois, know that very well.

I did not return to federal politics to indulge in this hypocritical, silly kind of politics and I will have nothing to do with it.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the measure of success of a country is related to the measure of the health and well-being of its people, certainly our children and issues like child poverty have to be addressed. I know that member had a lot to do with the subject of child poverty. When he left this place there was a motion passed in his name, that the House seek to achieve the elimination of child poverty by the year 2000, but the member will also know that 54% of all children living in poverty come from 15% of the families in Canada who are lone parent families.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on how we can seek to achieve the elimination of child poverty without addressing a serious problem in Canada and that is the breakdown of the Canadian family.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, it is a long and complicated question to answer in 30 seconds. I would be glad to take that up with him on another occasion.

I would, having received a question from a Liberal member, like to use the occasion to remind him that we will be coming up to the 15th anniversary of that motion. A similar motion is going to be presented to the House. This time I hope that when his party supports the motion, it will act on it, because in 10 of the 15 years that I have been out of the House of Commons, poverty among Canada's children has increased in spite of six surplus budgets by the Liberals, who did almost nothing to get rid of it when they had the power. I hope we will see some changes now.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member for Ottawa-Centre.

Why is it that he refers to the amendment to the amendment brought forward by the Bloc as “games”? Without our amendment to the amendment and all these amendments, he would not be able to vote for what is being proposed in the Throne speech before the House?

Instead of wholeheartedly supporting our amendment to the amendment to get the government to respect Quebec, why is this tough old fighter joining forces with the government unconditionally?

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Ed Broadbent NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as one old war horse to a middle-aged war horse, I want to say to her what I said a minute ago. These are parliamentary games.

She knows that the words they have used indeed reflect our values, but she also knows that these votes in this context in our system constitute or set in motion confidence in the government. We have no intention at this point of bringing down a government that the people of Canada want to see produce something.

We are not going to play games. We are going to work for concrete reform on child poverty, on the electoral system and on many other things.

Chris SaundersStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, like all Canadians, I was shocked to hear of the death of Lieutenant Saunders of the Canadian Navy, who was serving on board the HMCS Chicoutimi .

He was a 32 year old combat systems engineer who grew up in the Kennebecasis Valley near Saint John. As a teenager, Chris joined the cadets after graduating from Kennebecasis Valley High School in Quispamsis in 1990. He joined the regular officer training program on a full military scholarship.

One of his high school teachers this morning described Chris as a strong student who was a hard worker and who always had a smile on his face.

Lieutenant Saunders leaves behind his wife Gwen and two young sons in Halifax. He was a loving father, husband and son, and he will be greatly missed by those who loved him.

While serving our nation, the men and women who wear a Canadian Forces uniform put themselves in harm's way every day. Yesterday Chris Saunders gave the ultimate sacrifice, losing his life in the service of our country.

On behalf of the citizens of Saint John, I wish to offer our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Lieutenant Saunders. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult time.

Intergovernmental AffairsStatements By Members

October 7th, 2004 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rona Ambrose Conservative Edmonton—Spruce Grove, AB

Mr. Speaker, the recent first ministers meeting will not be remembered for any great innovations by the federal government with respect to health.

The Prime Minister claimed he had a vision of national standards. Instead, he turned his back on the shared legacy of Jean Chrétien and Pierre Trudeau and endorsed asymmetrical federalism.

Asymmetrical federalism is not a bad thing. In fact, it is the way federalism should work: provinces exercising their jurisdictional authority within the framework of our Constitution. It is not a new thing. It is just not a Liberal thing.

The Conservative Party has always believed strongly that areas of provincial jurisdiction must be respected. We were very impressed by the Prime Minister's endorsement of our policy, but this era of intergovernmental enlightenment did not last long. The throne speech mentioned no such commitment to asymmetrical federalism or to respecting the constitutional authority of the provinces.

What are the provinces to think? Is it asymmetrical federalism or Liberal politics as usual?

Speech from the ThroneStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak for the first time in the House to commend the Prime Minister for a throne speech that lays out the foundation for a strong and progressive vision for this nation.

It builds upon other recent successes: the first ministers meeting on health care, a bold speech at the United Nations, and the deftly executed first offering of Petro-Canada. It demonstrates clearly that our government is ready to make this Parliament work for Canadians.

What is of concern to me is the cavalier way in which this Parliament is being regarded by some members of the opposition: as a game of chicken, a game that will put the priorities of Canadians in a train wreck in the name of ego and partisanship.

While the opposite side of the House plots and schemes and engages in games of chicken, we on this side of the House are ready to govern. We are ready to make this Parliament work and achieve great things for Canadians and nothing will deter us from that course.

Saint-Émile Knights of ColumbusStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, this fall will mark the start of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Saint-Émile Knights of Columbus in the riding of Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

In the coming months, a number of special activities will take place in the community, reflecting the dynamism and vitality of this group.

The Saint-Émile Knights of Columbus are recognized as leaders and their commitment to the community has been acknowledged for the past 50 years. I could not, of course, begin to list all their wonderful accomplishments, but the commitment of these men over the past half-century is a fine tribute to their founder, Father Michael McGivney, and continues his example.

As the group prepares to begin its celebrations, I join with my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois in extending our most sincere fraternal wishes to the Sainte-Émile Knights of Columbus. Congratulations.

University of Prince Edward IslandStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise today to pay tribute to Mr. Norman Webster, who will soon be completing an eight year term as the distinguished chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island.

Chancellor Webster has had an exciting and diverse career in a variety of roles, ranging from Rhodes scholar to political columnist. He served as Beijing correspondent for The Globe and Mail during China's cultural revolution and went on to become editor-in-chief of both The Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette .

Appointed chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island in 1996, Norman Webster brought a love of education to the job and has contributed enormously to UPEI's development as a world class institution. I have always been impressed with the astounding energy with which Chancellor Webster conducted his affairs. His enthusiasm for students will be sorely missed.

I ask members to please join me in expressing our gratitude to a remarkable gentleman who served our university with optimism, grace and generosity.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, the closure of the American border to Canadian beef has caused the worst crisis seen in beef and related sectors in the past 30 years.

These industries had done well in an almost ideal free market environment, which included the United States, with very little in the way of subsidies. This has all been destroyed by U.S. protectionism, which is simply wrong.

Not only has our government's undiplomatic treatment of Americans contributed to our border remaining closed, but the Liberals have done little to deal with the problem.

The government must do better. It has to figure out that simply having the border open will not solve the problem, because the industry will remain vulnerable to future closures. What must happen is the quick expansion of packing and processing capacity to allow processing of all of our beef and related animals here in Canada. This will re-establish a competitive market and allow us to take control of the industry once again.

It is long past time for the government to act. Talk is no longer enough. Our cattlemen need action today.