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House of Commons Hansard #22 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was province.

Topics

Points of Order

10 a.m.

The Speaker

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Ahuntsic concerning remarks made by the hon. member for Central Nova during question period on October 29, 2004, where he made reference to “la famiglia libérale”.

When the matter was raised, I indicated I would take the matter under advisement, check the blues, and get back to the House if necessary. I have now done so and am prepared to rule on the question.

I have reviewed the tape of proceedings that day and it clearly shows that the hon. member for Central Nova used the expression “la famiglia libérale” in posing a question.

As hon. members know, there are few words in and of themselves that are not acceptable to the House to the point of being considered unparliamentary in any circumstances.

However, in dealing with unparliamentary language, as the House of Commons Procedure and Practice points out at, page 526:

—the Speaker takes into account the tone, manner and intention of the Member speaking; the person to whom the words were directed; the degree of provocation; and, most importantly, whether or not the remarks created disorder in the Chamber.”

As I recall, on Friday last there was some commotion caused by the question of the hon. member for Central Nova but, as I indicated to the House at the time, since the Chair was not actually familiar with the term famiglia , I had attributed the commotion to the usual high spirits that characterize exchanges during question period on Fridays.

However, after question period, the hon. member for Ahuntsic rose to take exception to the hon. member for Central Nova's use of language, arguing that the term famiglia used in the context of his question was language that she found unparliamentary and, moreover, that the term is offensive to Canadians of Italian origin, many of whom are her constituents.

I have now looked into the matter and I understand that the Italian word famiglia , meaning family, in the context of popular culture, is an indirect reference to organized crime, specifically the Mafia, a criminal organization that originated in Sicily but eventually became established internationally. In light of this new information, the Chair can appreciate why the hon. member for Ahuntsic has raised her objections.

I ought not to have to remind colleagues of the need to refrain from using words that might cause disorder, let alone using language in a way that might give offence to a particular ethnic group.

I understand, of course, that question period especially is one of those times when partisan feelings can run high and members quite enjoy exchanging barbs. However I would urge all hon. members to be very prudent in their choice of words. Strong language can still be temperate and respectful.

Accordingly, in this instance, the Chair has concluded that the remarks of the hon. member for Central Nova, taken in context, go beyond the limits of what is permissible. The hon. member did rise in response to the complaint of the hon. member for Ahuntsic and made a partial withdrawal with respect to certain persons. However the Chair does not find that to be sufficient in the circumstances and so I would ask the hon. member for Central Nova to withdraw his remarks completely so that we can bring this issue to a close.

Points of Order

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Peter MacKay Conservative Central Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I did instantly, I unreservedly withdraw the remark as I did previously.

Privacy CommissionerRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table the 2003 report of the Privacy Commissioner. This important report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

A message from Her Excellency the Governor General transmitting supplementary estimates (A) of sums required to defray expenses of the Public Service of Canada for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005, was presented by the President of the Treasury Board and read by the Speaker to the House.

Order in Council AppointmentsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table a number of orders in council recently made by the government.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the fourth part of the 2004 ordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe held in Strasbourg, France, October 4 to 8, 2004.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage relating to copyright reform raised in the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the third session of the 37th Parliament, entitled “Interim Report on Copyright Reform”.

I also have the honour to present in both official languages the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on the Canadian broadcasting system mentioned in the second report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the second session of the 37th Parliament and entitled “Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Broadcasting”.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

In accordance with the order of reference of Friday, October 15, 2004, your committee has considered Bill C-6, an act to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and to amend or repeal certain acts and, as agreed on Wednesday, November 3, 2004, to report it with amendments.

Canada Elections ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-261, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voter and candidate age).

Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill which seeks to increase the participation of youth in Canada's electoral system.

The bill would lower the federal voting age to 16 so that young people could learn to be active electors while they are still in school. Unlike previous bills on this subject, it would keep the age to be a candidate at 18.

I urge all members to support the bill. I am happy to work with members of all parties to make the bill a reality.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

National Veterans Funeral Honours ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-262, an act respecting funeral honours to veterans.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce my private member's bill, an act respecting funeral honours to veterans.

The purpose of the bill is to recognize the great sacrifice of the men and women who served in Canada's armed forces. The legislation would provide for a military guard of honour to provide the dignity and respect our veterans deserve.

Currently various regiments provide some benefits to their comrades on an ad hoc basis. The bill would provide recognition for service by a grateful nation.

An advisory council to the Minister of Veterans Affairs recently recommended improved funeral and burial benefits for veterans. Therefore it gives me pleasure to recognize their work and complement their recommendations with this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Labour CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Roger Clavet Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

moved for leave to present Bill C-263, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code (replacement workers).

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud to introduce an anti-scab bill this morning. Its purpose is to ban the use of strikebreakers by companies under federal jurisdiction.

René Lévesque gave Quebec such legislation in 1977. It is high time to fill the gap left by the Canada Labour Code. In particular, this bill is intended to avoid any more labour conflicts involving intimidation and violence. Examples of these are Vidéotron, Cargil, Sécur and Radio-Nord.

The intention of this bill is to civilize labour relations in the event of strikes or lockouts. I would invite all members of this House to support this totally non-partisan bill, in order to eliminate the use of scabs, which is still permitted by the Canada Labour Code.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Agricultural Supply Management Recognition and Promotion ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-264, an act for the recognition and promotion of agricultural supply management.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a private member's bill dealing with supply management.

The purpose of this bill is to establish and implement the Government of Canada's policy respecting agricultural supply management. Simply put, it is intended to recognize and promote supply management, and ensure that supply management is preserved in Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-265, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (exemption from taxation of 50% of United States social security payments to Canadian residents).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my first measure designed to restore tax fairness to those seniors living in Canada who collect U.S. social security as the basis of their retirement income.

These seniors, living not only in my riding of Essex and in the immediate region of Windsor, Ontario, but also living in communities from British Columbia to Quebec, and to New Brunswick, have waited nine years to see legislation introduced to roll back a 70% tax increase imposed upon them after they had already retired.

Sadly, thousands of these proud Canadians of modest and low income have passed away before ever seeing this measure introduced. Many years ago I pledged to these seniors that I would never forget their struggle to survive when I finally reached elected office in our Parliament. I have kept my word to them.

This is for Olive Smith, Bill Thrasher, Joan Eikre and others who have waited patiently. In the spirit of successful amendments to the throne speech, I urge my colleagues from all parties in the House to enthusiastically support restoring tax fairness to our retired seniors.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Memorial Cross ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-266, an act to provide for the issuance of the Memorial Cross as a memento of personal loss.

Mr. Speaker, as all Canadians know, when an armed forces person dies in the line of duty, the mother of that victim receives the Memorial Cross as a symbol of her sacrifice for all of Canada.There is another person who also suffers a great loss and that is the father of the armed forces member. This bill aims to extend the Memorial Cross award so that not only the mother, but the father of the soldier, airman or crew who dies in the line of duty is also recognized by the sacrifice.

As we know, the grief of the mother is not to be diminished in any way, but the grief of the father is as equal. I believe it is now time in the modernization of our country to allow both parents to receive the Memorial Cross as a symbol of their great sacrifice to all of Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege this morning to table a petition bearing dozens of signatures from the riding of Abitibi—Témiscamingue.

The petitioners are calling for a raise in employment insurance benefits given the fact that many workers in my region are seasonal workers and they are currently going through an unprecedented crisis period in the softwood lumber industry, in particular. It is especially appropriate since the government keeps putting off fair reform of employment insurance in order to adequately support workers.

That is why, through this petition, we are calling on the federal government to end the transitional measures, raise benefits for workers and adopt a universal employment insurance plan.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to once again submit a petition from the constituents of Yorkton--Melville. Despite the government's attempts to downplay the importance of the issue of traditional marriage, it continues to be a huge concern.

The constituents call the attention of Parliament to the fact that in 1999 a vote was taken to preserve the traditional definition of marriage, but a recent court decision has redefined marriage contrary to the wishes of Canadians. Now the government wants Parliament to vote on new legislation but only after it has been approved by the Supreme Court. This is a dangerous new precedent for democracy in Canada. Elected members of Parliament should decide the marriage issue, not appointed judges.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon Parliament to immediately hold a renewed debate on the definition of marriage and to reaffirm, as it did in 1999, its commitment to take all necessary steps to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I add these 216 people from my own riding of Saskatoon--Wanuskewin, adding to the several thousands I have done to this point as has my colleague. The petitioners call on Parliament to support the traditional, historic and sacred definition of marriage.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, it may surprise you, but I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you and I are very anxious. The member for New Brunswick Southwest has continually talked about particular questions that he has on the order paper. I see he is here in the House. I want to assure you, Mr. Speaker, that every effort will be made, and I think we will have some very good news for him, probably the week back after the break, so he can celebrate the success of the aboriginal fisheries policy initiative with us.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sure the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest will have something to say when the answer is tabled.

Is it agreed that all questions be allowed to stand?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

moved:

That this House deplore the attitude of the Prime Minister of Canada at and following the First Ministers' Conference of October 26, 2004, and that it call on the federal government to immediately implement its pledges of June 5 and 27, 2004, to allow the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia to keep 100% of their provincial offshore oil and gas revenues.

Mr. Speaker,I will be splitting my time with our deputy leader from Central Nova.

On June 5 of this year the Prime Minister arrived in St. John's, the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador. The context was the following. Obviously it was an election campaign when the Prime Minister was asked to respond to a longstanding Conservative commitment to ensure that the Atlantic provinces would enjoy 100% of their non-renewable resource royalties.

This is a commitment that was made by me in my capacity as leader of the Canadian Alliance when I first arrived here and has its origins in the intentions of the Atlantic accord signed by former Prime Minister Mulroney in the mid-1980s. These are longstanding commitments, our commitment to 100% of non-renewable resource royalties. It was our commitment during the election, before the election, and it remains our commitment today.

For the Prime Minister, this was something that he had opposed for 11 years and for most of his political career. But suddenly in the midst of an election campaign on June 5, he met with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams. He came out of that meeting and said the following:

I believe that Newfoundland and Labrador ought to be the primary beneficiary of the offshore resources, and what I have said to the premier is that I believe the proposal that he has put forth certainly provides the basis of an agreement between the two of us.

Premier Williams specified in a letter dated June 10 that:

The proposal my government made to you and your Minister of Natural Resources provides for 100% of direct provincial revenues generated by the petroleum resources in the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area, to accrue to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and be sheltered from the clawback provisions of the equalization formula--

The Prime Minister said he agreed with the Premier's proposal and he gave his word as Prime Minister of Canada. Premier Williams was asked at the press conference announcing the deal how he could be sure the Prime Minister would keep his word after the election. He replied that as a man of honour, that the solemn word of the Prime Minister was sufficient. Premier Williams said: “It's by word of mouth, and I'm taking him at his word, and that's good enough for me”.

Unfortunately, the solemn word of this Prime Minister turned out to be not good enough. The Prime Minister ignored letters from Premier Williams on June 10, August 5 and August 24 urging him to confirm his promise. Suddenly, the Prime Minister and his Minister of Natural Resources fell silent.

Finally, on October 24, two days before the first ministers' conference, the Minister of Finance finally replied offering:

--additional annual payments that will ensure the province effectively retains 100 per cent of its offshore revenues--

Then the minister added two big exceptions limiting the offer:

--for an eight-year period covering 2004-05 through 2011-12, subject to the provision that no such additional payments result in the fiscal capacity of the province exceeding that of the province of Ontario in any given year.

The eight year time limit and the Ontario clause effectively gutted the commitment made to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador during the election campaign.

Why should Newfoundland's possibility of achieving levels of prosperity comparable to the rest of Canada be limited to an artificial eight year period? Remember in particular that these are in any case non-renewable resources that will run out. Why is the government so eager to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador always remain below the economic level of Ontario?

The Ontario clause is unfair and insulting to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and its message to that province, to Nova Scotia and to all of Atlantic Canada is absolutely clear. They can only get what they were promised if they agree to remain have not provinces forever. That is absolutely unacceptable.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Everyone in Canada would be happy if one day our Atlantic provinces could fully benefit from their natural resources, everyone except the federal Liberals.

The Liberal attitude is as typical as it is senseless. There is no point pulling back non-renewable resource revenues from a have not province. This is an opportunity and it is a one time opportunity. It is a short term opportunity to allow these provinces to kick-start their economic development, to get out of have not status, to grow this short run opportunity into long run growth and revenue that will be paid back to Ottawa over and over again and that will benefit the people of those regions of Canada for a very long time.

This is what happened in the case of my province of Alberta. Alberta discovered oil and gas in the 1940s and 1950s, Alberta was a have not province. From 1957 until 1965, Alberta received transfers from the equalization program. Alberta was allowed to keep 100% of its oil royalties and there was no federal clawback. This is what allowed Alberta to kick-start its economy, to expand and diversify, to build universities, to advance social services and to become one of the powerhouses of the 21st century Canadian economy.

Of course the Liberals expended endless effort to limit the growth of Alberta's revenues, culminating in the experience of the national energy program. Now we see already, with this opportunity in Atlantic Canada, the same attempts to limit the opportunity. The Prime Minister's Ontario cap effectively limits the maximum benefit of the offshore resource to $452 per person in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. After that, every dollar will be clawed back by Ottawa, no matter how many billions the offshore resource turns out to be worth.

The Prime Minister, before he was here, was president of a company that largely depended on offshore activity. Does he not understand that energy resources are finite, temporary and a short term opportunity? The provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia should be allowed, indeed should be encouraged, to improve the living conditions of their citizens and to use this to attract new long term businesses to replace the temporary opportunities provided by the offshore resources.

Instead, when the Atlantic provinces rejected the latest federal offers, the caps, the limits and the exclusions, the government engaged in a clumsy divide and conquer tactic, a tactic which gave away its obvious objective of holding back the development of the Atlantic provinces. It has tried to negotiate with one province and not the other, but both Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia have made clear that their positions are the same and that they want to be dealt with fairly and at the same time.

Whether we live in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Alberta or anywhere else, we are all Canadians. We all have a right to a better future. That future is not for the Liberal Party to decide to speed up or to slow down, to start or to stop. It is not to negotiate. The Prime Minister gave his word. The terms of his proposal were clear. Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia requested and were promised 100% of their offshore revenues without equalization clawback, period. There is nothing to negotiate.

What is at stake is the future of Atlantic Canada, an unprecedented and historic opportunity for those provinces to get out of the have not status that has bedevilled them for decades. What is at issue is very simple. It is the honour of the Prime Minister, and all he has to do is keep his word.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Scarborough—Guildwood Ontario

Liberal

John McKay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech, which I would describe as somewhat disingenuous. Newfoundland and Labrador, along with all other provinces, receives the Canada health transfer. Newfoundland and Labrador, along with all other provinces, receives the Canada social transfer. Newfoundland and Labrador, along with all other equalization receiving provinces, receives equalization. Newfoundland and Labrador is asking for a special enhancement on its Atlantic accord, all of which we agree with and all of which the Prime Minister has delivered.

The hon. member has failed to answer the question as to why, when those revenues when pooled together achieve Ontario's standard, they should continue on with that. Can he say to the citizens of Ontario and of Alberta that the equalization formula with the Atlantic accord should in fact exceed Ontario's fiscal standard? If he says that for Alberta and Ontario, can he also say that to New Brunswick, which does not have any special arrangement? Can he say that to Quebec as well?

I want to hear from the hon. member as to whether he thinks the setting of an Ontario-wide standard is the appropriate standard so that all provinces in are treated equally.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Madam Speaker, the reason to treat these revenues differently is they are short term and temporary revenues. There has been much academic work done in this area. This is the depletion of a capital asset.

However, the reality is bigger than that. It is not a technical argument about how equalization should or should not be formatted. It is about the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador has an opportunity. It is in the midst of one of the worst economic declines of a region of the country we have seen in our entire history. Large portions of the province are losing their population. Their economy is disappearing. People are boarding up their houses and moving away. How dare, under these circumstances, that member and the government stand up and try to pit rich parts of the country against Newfoundland and Labrador and play some kind of envy among the provinces.

Frankly, it is not up to me to explain why the Prime Minister is not keeping his word. It is up to the Prime Minister to keep his word.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

West Nova Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, as a Nova Scotian, I applaud my premier for trying to negotiate the best agreement possible for the province. I also recognize the responsibilities of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health to negotiate the best deal possible for all Canadians.

Nova Scotia already receives 100% of royalties. The problem happens in the equalization formula. The problem is that as Nova Scotia receives the revenues they are calculated within the equalization formula as earned revenue and that reduces the equalization amounts we receive. I prefer we not have that. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance understand that and they are negotiating a deal which reduces that. I want that to happen.

I encourage the premier. I support that deal. We have a very good deal on the table now. However, I have to recognize as a Nova Scotian that what extra I get is not available for people from other provinces and the Prime Minister has to represent all Canadians. I support the premier in any improvements he can make to it.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Madam Speaker, I go back. We made a commitment, but more important, the Prime Minister and that member's party made a commitment. The Prime Minister is now trying to get out of that commitment. He has proposed a deal also to Nova Scotia, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador, that makes enormous exceptions and qualifications in terms and conditions to the promise he gave in the election.

I quite frankly say to the hon. member, who I hope wants to do the right thing, that this is not a time for divided loyalties. It is not a time to decide whether one is a Liberal or one is a Nova Scotian. It is time for that member to stand behind his province and his constituents and get everything that is owed to that province by the government.