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House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was municipalities.

Topics

Radiocommunication ActRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberalfor the Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-2, an act to amend the Radiocommunication Act.

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

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

David Price Liberal Compton—Stanstead, QC

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 NATO Parliamentary Association. This is the report of the official delegation which represented Canada at the conference, “Securing Peace: NATO’s Role in Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution”, which took place in Brussels on October 16, 2003.

I am also presenting the report on the visit to Canada by the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on October 27 and 28, 2003.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34 I have the honour to present to the House a report from the Canadian branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association concerning the 49th CPA conference which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from October 4 to October 12, 2003.

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-472, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of fines).

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to introduce for first reading today this bill which calls for an amendment to the Income Tax Act to put an end to what I believe is an outrageous situation where fines, penalties and levies can be written off income tax by businesses as legitimate business expenses.

I believe that the public is shocked at this situation. Parliament should act because the Supreme Court directed in fact that if Parliament does not intend to allow fines to be business deductions, then Parliament should clarify the Income Tax Act to put an end to this situation.

By the same logic no one should benefit from a wrongdoing and it undermines the deterrent value of a fine if a business can write it off as a legitimate business expense.

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

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

When shall the bill be read the second time? At the next sitting of the House subject to the Chair reviewing this bill. I have reason to suspect this bill is in the same form as one introduced in the previous session that was ruled out of order. I will be reviewing the matter with that caveat in mind and may get back to the House at a later date. There may be representations with respect to the matter also once it has been printed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of the people in the Peterborough area. They are concerned about kidney disease and problems associated with kidney disease. They point out that this is a huge and growing problem in Canada. They know that real progress has been made in dealing with various aspects in preventing kidney disease, in curing kidney disease and coping with kidney disease. They know that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research has done a good job in this matter.

However, they call upon Parliament to encourage the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to explicitly include kidney research as one of the institutes in its system to be named the institute of kidney and urinary tract diseases.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 it is my privilege to present to the House a petition signed by 27 constituents dealing with the benefits of stem cell research in the fight against juvenile diabetes.

The petitioners wish to draw to the attention of the House that scientists have demonstrated that the growth factors of embryo stem cells can be harnessed to develop into insulin-producing cells that might help to cure juvenile diabetes.

The petitioners pray and request that Parliament support the use of all types of stem cells to help provide a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present two petitions on behalf of my constituents today. One is requesting Parliament to immediately hold a review and a debate on the definition of marriage and reaffirm as it did in 1999 its commitment to take the necessary steps to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

The second petition deals with child pornography. It calls on Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to ensure that the materials which promote or glorify pedophilia or sado-masochistic activities involving children be outlawed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I also have a petition on child pornography. The petitioners condemn the use of child pornography, as it is condemned by the majority of Canadians. The courts have not applied the current child pornography law in a way that makes it clear that the exploitation of children will always be met with swift punishment.

Therefore, they call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all the necessary steps to ensure that materials that promote or glorify pedophilia, sado-masochism involving children are outlawed.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Sarnia—Lambton Ontario

Liberal

Roger Gallaway LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 4 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, and of the amendment.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the chance to comment on the Speech from the Throne that was delivered by the Governor General on February 2.

This is an exciting time, with a new government and a new leader. The throne speech charts the directions that our government will be taking over the next while. It sets some of the priorities and goals. It is important to know that the members on this side of the chamber and those in what we call the rump played an active role in developing and working on this throne speech.

I was very pleased to see a number of initiatives mentioned in the throne speech, and they will be some of the priorities of our government moving forward. In particular, I was happy to see that the new deal for municipalities is a real deal for municipalities. There were many skeptics who doubted our government's will to work with the cities, municipalities and communities to find a better way to provide sustainable funding and a funding for some key priorities with which Canadians identify.

Beginning February 1, there will a 100% GST rebate for municipalities. This will be a down payment while the government works with the provinces and municipalities to share with them a portion of gas tax revenues, or other mechanisms that may be deemed more appropriate by provinces and municipalities, as the federal government begins to work with them on that point.

This GST rebate is 100%, as I said. Over 10 years this effectively will amount to a $7 billion transfer to municipalities. For the city of Toronto, for example, this equates to some $50 million a year. This $50 million a year can be put to uses like public transit. It can be used to help with the development of affordable housing. It can be used to fight crime.

We have far too much violent crime in my neighbourhood, crime that is motivated by drugs and gangs. I know Chief Fantino has expressed concerns about his ability to deal with these matters. With these transfers to the municipalities, this will provide the city councillors some scope to start addressing some of these very serious problems such as the proliferation of handguns and the western-style shootouts that happen in my riding. Gangs arrive and start shooting at each other with handguns while innocent people are nearby and could easily be injured. We have to put a stop to that, and this money will start us on the way toward that.

As we work with the municipalities on ways to transfer the gas tax, this will be the next phase as the government's fiscal position becomes more clear and more certain and when the government has more flexibility in the next few years ahead.

We need to involve the provinces in these discussions. One thing we do not want to happen is the provinces clawing back this money from the municipalities. We have seen this before. Our government transfers money to the provinces for the CHST, for health, post-secondary education and social programs. The the Ontario government, under the former administration, then used some of that money to cut taxes. We all want to cut taxes, but we have to also step up to our responsibilities.

I do not want the province of Ontario scooping back this money that we will be giving directly to municipalities. We have seen it also with the national child benefit which went to many citizens in Ontario. The Government of Ontario clawed it back. We cannot have that happening again. We want to make sure this is new money is for municipalities, and I am sure our government is committed to do that.

Another key priority in the Speech from the Throne was a recommitment to our health care system and the follow-up and implementation of a further $2 billion in funding for the provinces for this fiscal year. We have to work on a sustainable health care system. We have an aging population. We have new technologies. The pressures on health care spending are enormous.

That is why this health council will attempt to build information so that citizens in every province can compare what kind of value for money they get out of their health care dollars. They will be able see what the waiting lists are for a surgery, for emergency rooms in their various provinces, and how that stacks up with the performance of other provinces. If their province is not meeting an acceptable standard, then they can then demand that it deal with the issue.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for York Centre.

The throne speech includes the creation of a new Canada public health agency. A new Canada public health agency will provide a much more coordinated approach to public health issues and threats. Right now we have a number of different organizations, agencies, bodies and people across a wide spectrum. This will bring people together. It will bring the experts and programs together under one roof so we can deal very effectively with SARS and with new threats like the avian flu if it should appear on our shores. That is a very important step in the area of public health.

More quality child care, more quickly will happen as indicated in the throne speech. That means more child care spaces more quickly, and for many citizens in my riding this is a very important matter. I have had many constituents talk to me about the importance of home care and child care. This would provide them with that relief.

Our government recommitted itself to fiscal prudence with no deficits. We will not spend our way into deficit, that is for sure. We will continue our track of reducing the debt in relation to the size of our economy. We started out many years ago at 71% debt to GDP. We are now at about 44% and we will get down to about 25% in the very near future.

To do that, we will be reviewing all expenditures to make sure that they align with the priorities of the government and priorities of Canadians, so we are getting good value for all our dollars and spending is being managed well.

The throne speech talked about investments in people, updating and improving grants and loans, to increase access for middle and low income families to deal with the rising cost of education. This is a big issue in Etobicoke North.

Registered education savings plans will be broadened or new incentives created to make it more attractive to low income Canadians so that they can save early on for the education of their children. There also will be more programs to support and encourage skills upgrading as the economy changes and evolves so rapidly.

The ability to live, breathe and walk about in a clean environment is absolutely critical. We have environmental problems in the city of Toronto. We have environmental challenges with air that is not as clean as it should be. Our government has said that we need an equitable national plan to implement the Kyoto accord. There is no point in setting goals unless we can achieve them. We need a plan that describes very clearly what the risks and benefits are, how this will be paid for and how we will accomplish these objectives in very real terms.

The government has committed $3.5 billion also over 10 years to clean up contaminated sites for which the federal government is responsible, and an additional $500 million for remediation of other sites. We have many brownfield sites in my riding of Etobicoke North, and I hope that some of that money can be redirected so we do not have to start new greenfield operations. We can build on the existing infrastructure and halt the spread of the urban sprawl.

The government is also intensifying its commitment to clean air and clean water by focusing on transboundary issues with the United States. There is also the one tonne challenge. Every citizen is going to be challenged to reduce emissions by 1,000 kilograms per person per year.

We are going to build on the investments in science and innovation, in basic research, which amounts to about $13 billion since 1997. We are now at the phase where we need to get that technology transferred and diffused into the economy. We need more commercialization so this innovation can be translated into jobs and economic growth as well, and benefit all Canadians.

We need to ensure that research and expertise is available to small businesses so that they can develop on their own.

The democratic deficit is mentioned also in the throne speech where parliamentarians like those in this chamber will be called upon to more fully participate in the decisions of the government. There will be more free votes. There will be a review by parliamentarians of appointments. When courts are making such important decisions, it is very important that parliamentarians know a bit about these people and what they stand for. I am looking forward to participating in that.

There will be the creation of an independent ethics commissioner.

On the international stage, there will be a review of foreign policy. I hope that includes a foreign policy review in respect to Somalia. I have many Somalia Canadians in my riding, and Somalia is a failed state. They are trying to put it on the right path, and I hope that can happen.

There are new capital investments in defence and also affordable AIDS and HIV drugs for African nations.

These are very positive initiatives. It is an ambitious agenda. I hope the members of the House fully support it, get behind it and support the Speech from the Throne.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was an interesting speech by the member for Etobicoke North. To hear him talk, one would think that like his leader, the new Prime Minister, the speech is all things to all people. Certainly in some respects it tried to do that.

He started out his remarks by bragging about the role of all Liberal members, including backbenchers--and he actually even referred to the members of Parliament from what he referred to as the rump--having input into the throne speech. Yet last night we saw a very important and I would l say critical debate in this chamber about BSE and the mad cow crisis that is affecting not only western Canada but indeed the entire country.

My first question to the member for Etobicoke North is, how is it that with 170 members of Parliament all providing this input into this throne speech no one found it important enough to have the BSE mad cow crisis mentioned at all, let alone an action plan laid out in the throne speech or at least outlined so that beef producers could take some heart?

The second thing he referred to which I want to ask him about is his use of the term, quite derogatorily I might add, of western style shootouts in Toronto. We all understand they have a very serious criminal firearm problem in Toronto. I wonder if this has caused him to rethink his support for the failed gun registry and if those millions of dollars that continue to be spent or wasted on this gun registry would not be better spent putting more police officers on the streets in Toronto.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Prince George—Peace River really has his sights set very low. The intent of a throne speech is to talk about broad directions for the government. BSE is very much a priority for the government. In fact, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the minister before him have worked very hard on this, working with the agricultural sector, travelling to Japan and Washington. This is not an easy problem. This is a very serious issue for farmers across Canada and is something that we have to work on.

The government is working on it, but I do not think there is any plan that could be articulated in a throne speech. The plan is to work with the various stakeholders to try to convince the international community that our beef is safe. That is what our minister is doing and that is what our government is doing. I applaud them for doing that.

With respect to gun control, in my riding I have gone to division 23, the local police, and asked whether gun control was useful to them. They say they get a lot of information from that registry and it is helpful to them, although it is not the panacea. So as long as the police tell me that, while yes, we need to improve the operation of that system and the gun registry, because we have built a house that cost too much that is no reason to burn down the house.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question to my hon. colleague is about how in the entire throne speech there was not one mention of the crisis we are facing in our forestry industry and in softwood lumber. It is a huge crisis right across the country, affecting every province, yet in the throne speech there was not a mention of it.

Part two of my question is about page 17 under “Regional and Rural Development”. There is talk about Canada's energy resources and maximizing the potential of coastal and offshore areas in a new oceans plan. Many fishermen and their families are very concerned about what exactly that means. Are we going to exploit the inshore areas, for example, off British Columbia and off the east coast of Canada, on oil and gas reserves and possibly do tremendous damage to those fragile fish stocks? This is the type of question that these fishermen would like to have answered today, if at all possible.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, for the member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, I find it ironic that both members opposite, or certainly the member for Prince George--Peace River, talked about how everything but the kitchen sink was in the throne speech, and then they want something about BSE, they want something about offshore drilling, and they want something about softwood lumber.

Softwood lumber is a very serious problem as well but what our government is doing is what has to be done. We are working with the stakeholders and we are trying to find solutions. This is not a simple problem. In fact on Tuesday I will have a motion, Motion No. 397, which talks about the need to come up with a different approach to countervailing duties and subsidies, but this is not something that will be accomplished easily, if ever. I hope it can be accomplished but it will not be accomplished easily.

We have situations now where the U.S. is implementing agricultural subsidies in huge amounts. They are implementing state and local government subsidies for manufacturing facilities in, for example, the auto industry. At the same time they turn around and tell us that we are unfairly subsidizing our softwood lumber industry. This is totally and patently--

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I am sorry to interrupt. Resuming debate, the hon. member for York Centre.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in addressing the Speech from the Throne I want to focus my time on the new deal for cities, or “new deal for communities” as it is fashioned in the speech.

I have three reasons for doing that. First, my riding of York Centre is located at the geographical centre of Toronto and when I go door to door and visit with my constituents I hear a lot more about high property taxes and complaints about inadequacies in municipal services than I do about federal problems.

Second, I bring a perspective as a former mayor of Toronto for some 11 years, and the issues of the financial squeeze that cities are facing is something that I personally understand.

Third, I am chair of the GTA caucus, which is a caucus of some 40 Liberal members of Parliament who represent a population of almost five million people in an urban situation.

The Speech from the Throne is outlining what I would see as the beginning of an urban strategy, and it is a needed urban strategy. It is something I have advocated for a long period of time. After all, 80% of the people of this country live in urban areas. The engines of our economy are urban areas. They are very important parts of the cultural mosaic of this country, so we need to have an urban strategy, just as we need a rural strategy, for dealing across departments on a horizontal level with the various issues we face.

In this throne speech we see GST relief for municipalities. That is a good thing. It puts money very quickly back into the hands of the municipalities. In my case, in the City of Toronto it is some $52 million. Also important is the fact that some $20 million will go to the benefit of the Toronto Transit Commission, the TTC, which it needs badly to help cover its deficit situation in terms of the provision of public transit.

The GST relief is a measure that has been applauded by municipal leaders. It may not be the opposition applauding, but certainly we have heard from the mayor of Toronto, the mayor of Winnipeg and the mayors of a whole lot of other cities who are unanimously and very vocally in favour of what has been provided in this Speech from the Throne. It was a very specific measure that was announced.

Second, there was the acceleration of infrastructure last year in the budget. We, for the first time, went to a lengthy period of time: 10 years for an infrastructure program. That is good, because what the municipalities want is some predictability. They want to know that over a long period of time they can plan and rely upon that money coming in. It is good that in the infrastructure program we lever provincial money and we lever municipal money. That helps add to the pot to do more to help strengthen our infrastructure and stop the deterioration of our infrastructure in our urban areas.

So now we are talking about accelerating, and we need to accelerate because we need to get more money in subsequent budgets. The infrastructure program, which I was pleased to have been able to start for the federal government when I was minister of the Treasury Board back in 1993-94, I think is a solid program of great need for urban areas right across the country.

Third, the throne speech says that city hall will get a place at the table and I think that is vital as well. There are three orders of government, maybe only two of them officially in the Constitution, but to the citizens out there who are the taxpayers for all three levels of government they are all important and we need to have the perspective of our municipal leaders at the table.

I can remember that back in the mid-1970s when I first became a municipal politician we had things called tri-level meetings, that is, federal-provincial-municipal. Those were great days in terms of dialogue and cooperation. There was even an urban affairs ministry of the federal government. I think we can get back to a table that does have three orders of government planning together. I think we could see agreements between those three orders of government that would help make our cities, our urban areas, more liveable places in continuing to contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of our country.

I think the throne speech is a solid, welcome piece of work.

As next steps, there are other urban issues and other aspects of the new deal that need to be examined. In Toronto, for example, we are in a crisis situation on two big issues, urban transit and affordable housing. In many other urban areas across the country those two issues are significant. However, overall, all municipalities are facing infrastructure problems.

Let me highlight the two problems because I think they are important. We cannot leave these problems to the municipalities. We cannot expect that the GST relief will cover these areas. There is a lot more that needs to be done. We need to be a partner with them. All three levels of government need to be partners in dealing with issues such as urban transit and affordable housing.

The problem of urban transit in Toronto results in the city suffering from gridlock. The board of trade says that we are losing $2 billion a year in our economy because of this gridlock. Part of the answer to that is to get people on public transit. However in the last few years we have been making it more difficult for people to get on public transit. There have been cutbacks in service and in maintenance, and higher fares.

The Toronto Transit Commission receives less government support than any major transit system in the world. It receives 20% support from the provincial government at this point in time. It was getting 50% support and 75% for capital. It receives a lot less but receives some support from the provincial government.

If we were to look at some of the major transit systems in the United States we would see that they get federal support as well. In fact, their total government support far exceeds what ours is, even in other parts of Canada. For example, in Montreal I think we would find 30% or 40% government support versus the 20% support that exists in Toronto.

Therefore the province needs to do more and the federal government needs to do more in terms of urban transit if we are to solve this gridlock problem. We have to solve it if we want to keep our cities viable and keep them as the economic engines of our country. Toronto, like a lot of the other cities, is very important to the coffers of the government as well.

I will now turn to affordable housing. This is a very sad situation. We need a housing strategy in this country. We need a federally led housing strategy with a partnership with the other levels of government as well. We need to deal with the problem of homelessness and the problems that seniors face.

In Toronto we have some 70,000 people on a waiting list for housing geared to income. Those people are being told they will have to wait seven or eight years. That is unacceptable. These are people who are spending 50% or 60% of their income in some cases on rent. They do not have enough money to make ends meet. In fact, they have to go to food banks. We have over 6,000 children who live in homeless shelters. We have seniors, even though there is indexing in their pensions and it is geared to the cost of living, the CPI, whereas rents in Toronto have been increasing twice as fast as that particular rate has. Therefore, they are into a squeeze as well.

I have had seniors in York Centre tell me that they are paying 50%, 60% or more of their income on housing. Again, that is a terrible situation in which to put our seniors. A lot of people are suffering as a result of this housing crisis.

We need a housing strategy. We need to get on with developing affordable housing with the other levels of government and we need to do it now in both of these cases because we are in a crisis situation.

The throne speech clearly says that in the new deal this is a down payment. That is welcome terminology because it means that there is a lot more to be done. I know the Prime Minister and his parliamentary secretary have a long list of things they want to do. We have talked about the gas tax, and that is certainly one item that I think can go a long way toward helping meet the transportation costs in our municipalities, whether it is roads or urban transit. Urban transit, certainly in the greater Toronto area, needs the major amount of focus.

Yes, the throne speech is a good down payment and a good start but there is more to do. I am glad we are heading down the road of an urban strategy. I congratulate the Prime Minister and the cabinet for helping move us in that direction in this throne speech.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, looking through the throne speech, listening to it carefully, and having been here for 10 years and having heard other throne speeches, it appears to me that about 90% of the throne speech is what I would call reruns. The hon. member who just spoke addressed one of those rerun items and that is poverty. One of the new ideas in the throne speech is the GST rebate to cities.

I have two questions I would like to ask the member with regard to both of those items.

I know how much the government loves money and how it hates to lose revenue. It has demonstrated that ever since I have been here. The government will lose some revenue by giving back the GST to cities. I was wondering if the government would be reducing the transfer payments to provinces to make up for the loss of the GST.

Why, when in 1993 one million children were declared to be living in poverty and the government declared a war on it and indicated it would be wiped out by 2000, is it that in 2004 we now have 1.5 million children living in poverty? It looks to me like a dismal failure on the part of the government.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is a novel throne speech in terms of cities because there has never been this kind of mention of cities before. In the case of the GST, there has been nothing quite as specific as that in terms of the instant benefit that will go back to our cities. Let us give some credit where credit is due in terms of something that is quite new.

Giving our cities and municipalities a place at the table is also vital toward solving problems, including poverty. Yes, I think we should all hang our heads in shame about poverty. However over the years the government has put a lot of attention on poverty, particularly for children. The child tax benefit and the entire child care program that is now evolving are all designed to help meet the needs of our poorer families and to meet the needs of our future generation of Canadian citizens and voters, our children.

A lot of progress has been made. A lot of good things have been done but, yes, there is still a lot to do. Every member of the House, of all political parties, decided that poverty should be eradicated. We all should hang our heads in shame because we still have that kind of problem.

The government has been dedicated over the last 10 years and continues to be dedicated to doing what it can to cut down on poverty and give people in this country an equal opportunity.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague's remarks, in which he raised the issue of municipalities. In my opinion, however, the most important thing in the throne speech is what is missing.

As we look at the whole world today, an unusual phenomenon can be seen: China is about to become the world's factory. Canada has also opened its textile import markets to southern countries. It has even gone ahead of international agreements on this matter.

But there is not one word in the throne speech concerning what the Government of Canada is going to do to face these realities. Is this not a major oversight by the federal government, which is not capable of attacking the problem, finding a solution and proposing tangible action? In fact, our entire manufacturing sector is disappearing because of this new reality.

Resumption of Debate on Address in ReplySpeech From The Throne

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

Art Eggleton Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier in my remarks, cities, where 80% of our population lives, are the economic engines of this country. Cities find themselves in the situation where they are competing more and more with other cities of the world. Toronto competes, not with cities within Canada, but with some of the major cities in other countries, whether they be in the United States, South America, Europe or wherever.

What we are attempting to do here with the new deal is recognize that. We are attempting to bolster our cities' opportunities to continue providing those economic benefits to our entire population. It is like the goose that laid the golden egg. We want to continue to nurture that goose so it can continue to do that for the benefit of all Canadians and advance our economic endeavours worldwide.