House of Commons Hansard #32 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


The BudgetGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, one thing I have come to know in this place is that the hallmark of Liberal budgets is they leave a legacy of broken promises. I will focus my comments on what some of those broken promises are.

We have heard the Liberals say that it would be a budget that would really support students and would deal with the crisis that is facing students. Only two days before the budget, I read in the Vancouver Province that tuition fees at the University of British Columbia were going up another 16%. Arts students will now pay about $4,000 in tuition compared to $2,000 three years ago. That particular increase was on top of previous tuition hikes of 23% and 30%, and in effect doubles the tuition costs for students at that facility.

That university is not alone. It is happening at every post-secondary educational facility in British Columbia and in many other parts of the country.

Why is this happening? Is it the fault of the facilities? Is it the fault of the students that somehow they are not paying their way? No. As was pointed out in the alternative federal budget, it is that the cash transfer from the federal government for post-secondary education is 50% lower than it was 10 years ago. That is why students are in a crisis.

I read another story the day before the budget which said that according to a new study, four out of 10 university students are unable to graduate on time because they have to drop courses in favour of paid work to make ends meet. Actually, this study was commissioned by the millennium fund which was set up by the former prime minister. This is further evidence of the kind of crisis students are in.

It quite astounded me to see the finance minister stand up in the House and hear him crow about all the good things the government was doing for students in this country. In effect what the government was doing was allowing students to borrow more debt. That is what the solution has been from the federal government, rather than addressing the systemic serious flaws and the fact that transfer payments have been cut back.

Let me turn for a moment to housing. When the Prime Minister was in Quebec City on February 23, he said in remarks to the media that there would be a five year commitment in new spending, five years of funding in this coming federal election. He said it would be in the Liberal platform. In the budget there is zero dollars for housing.

There are many members who represent ridings and communities where housing is probably the most serious daily problem facing people. People are unable to meet their rent payments. They are unable to secure decent, affordable and safe shelter.

The Prime Minister promises a five year commitment for funding in the election and a few weeks later in the budget there is a zero commitment to housing. Is it any wonder that people have lost faith in the Liberal government and the political process in general.

Michael Shapcott is the spokesperson and co-chair of the National Housing and Homelessness Network. He pointed out in his analysis of the budget that from 1984 until today we have suffered with cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars in social housing funding in Canada.

In fact, at that same press conference in Quebec City on February 23, the Prime Minister had the gall to say that he had not cut social housing. I remember raising the issue in the House a few days later. Not only did he cut social housing, but he demolished the whole program. It was when he was finance minister that social housing was cut.

There have been some commitments through the affordable housing framework agreement which was signed in 2001, and there was finally some money committed, although it was far short of what was called for across the country. Even after that, when the analysis is done and we look at what has been spent, only about 8.8% of the promised funds have actually been spent on developing affordable housing.

That is another example of a broken promise by the Liberal government. I would go further.

My colleague from Palliser has mentioned the situation with the debt. I remember in 1997 and again in the 2000 election, the Liberal promise was that whatever surpluses there were, 50% would go to debt reduction and tax relief and 50% would go to social programs. In reality, during that period of time, 44% of the fiscal dividend has gone to debt reduction, 46% went to tax cuts and only 10% of that so-called dividend has been allocated to genuine enhancements in federal programs. This comes from the very good analysis that has been done by the alternative federal government. Is it any wonder that people lose faith in the budgetary process.

The finance minister made a lot of noise about how he would target his budget to ensure that the debt to GDP ratio would go down to 25%. When we examine the impact of that in terms of the loss of revenue and investment in social spending that has suffered so much, we have to seriously question the logic and the priorities that have been put forward by the present finance minister, the one who came before him, and the one before him.

In his analysis of the budget, the executive director of the National Anti-Poverty Organization said:

First it was an obsession with the deficit. Now it's the debt.

It is a bitter pill indeed for Canada's poor, who as a result, get nothing for social housing, child poverty, employment insurance reform or other social needs.... As the finance minister in Chrétien's government who brought down the drastic budget of 1995, [the present Prime Minister] bears a large share of the responsibility for the unravelling of Canada's social programs that his father helped put in place.

There are people out there who watch what is going on. There are people who actually take the time to monitor the long term impacts of budgets and what the impact is on low income people.

I held a forum in my own riding of East Vancouver. We heard from the Vancouver and District Labour Council. We heard from the Vancouver Aboriginal Council and the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities. We heard from people from End Legislative Poverty and from the Tenants' Rights Action Coalition. They all said the same thing, that the people they were dealing with on a daily basis were suffering the terrible impacts of the broken promises from the government.

The budget was a great disappointment to people. I look forward to the day, soon I hope, when we can get out there and have a debate in terms of an election and examine what the real record of the Liberal government has been. People will have an opportunity to cast a ballot and to make a decision through a vote about what they want to see in terms of changes. I think people are really disgusted with what they have seen in terms of not only the corruptness of what goes on such as in the sponsorship scandal, but the broken promises through successive budgets that have hurt the most needy and vulnerable people in our society.

I do not think the budget is anything to be proud of. Indeed, it is something we should examine in light of all the other budgets that have come down to see how much the gap has widened in this country between wealthy, affluent people and poor people. That is the true measure of whether or not the federal government has done its job in distributing income, support and wealth in this country. I would say it gets a failing grade.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am rising for the first time to debate the budget speech. I would like to identify with Canadians who are viewing the proceedings in terms of trying to understand the process that we go through in capturing the essence of responsible management stewardship and a sensitivity to the issues that are on the minds of Canadians.

It includes those insights that come from people in the low salary categories, those who are on very low fixed incomes; an aging society; and on the other part of the spectrum, a society that has young people looking for their particular position in the budget and how their needs have been accommodated. It includes the needs of small business people, entrepreneurs and those who make the contributions that not only instill a sense of confidence, but a sense of hope that we can generate revenues that will be contributing toward carrying the costs of a society that from time to time needs that government support.

I am pleased to try to capture the feeling that Canadians have as they watch these proceedings. All of the documents that I am referring to are available through the ministry of finance website.

I would like to make the point, in particular, as it was made very eloquently by the last speaker, in respect to things that are not in this budget speech. Canadians should be aware that while this is a budget that is on the threshold of 2004-05 in terms of the financial positioning or repositioning of the financial accounts of the country, that it also is part of a context, a larger budgetary context that has been set by previous budgets.

While there may not be something mentioned in this budget, that does not mean that those priorities are not high. What it could mean, and I am going to give housing as an illustration, is that there have been major commitments made in other budgets. So, while it is not mentioned in the 2004-05 budget, housing is a very high priority.

I would like to direct the last speaker to the 2003 budget, and in fact 2002, under the homeless and affordable housing files. The government's position and record of accomplishment, and record of future opportunity is great.

Recent budgets indicate that more than $2 billion has been committed over the six year period between 2002 and 2008. One billion dollars has been committed for the affordable housing initiative, a capital grant program aimed at increasing a number of affordable rental housing units.

Almost $500 million, committed for housing renovation programs under the RRAP, had been included in that particular budgetary cycle. The home adaptation for seniors and dependents program, the emergency repair program, and the shelter enhancement program were also committed. These are all programs that are within that budget context. While they are not mentioned in this budget, they in fact have been allocated, and discussions and negotiations continue with the provinces in terms of the delivery of the programs.

That does not even mention the SCPI program, the supporting communities partnership initiative. Some $665 million was allocated on the national homelessness initiative, a key element of which was the SCPI program. As we know, negotiations continue to go on. In fact, additional announcements are being made with respect to local community groups applying for those funds to offer support of its services and facilities.

These investments are in addition to the $1.9 billion provided annually to support 640,000 households living in existing social housing units. Far from the government being disinterested in the housing initiative, here is an illustration that while housing is not mentioned in this budget, housing is an extremely high priority of the government. The record illustrates how that is being accomplished within the total budgetary context.

When families are looking at their capacity to acquire new capital goods, be they washing machines, dryers, sewing machines, a new car or whatever, they look at what their projected income is going to be and make a calculation based on responsible stewardship of their financial needs. They look at the risks that are associated with making specific decisions. That is not a far cry from what the government has to do.

In my remarks I would like to outline not only some of the risks but some of the records of accomplishment. When we look at Ernst & Young's evaluation of the budget, it said that sound financial management was a cornerstone of the this government's first budget. Canadians want to see their government involved in sound financial management. That involves looking at some of the accomplishments.

We might remind ourselves that the rate of increase in terms of the GDP was around 1.7%. That was below the economic growth rate that had been projected for a number of reasons. That tells us that sound and prudent financial management means that one should not inflate the expectations of economic growth in the business cycle of the country.

It is interesting to note that the culmination of sound financial management has resulted in interest rates being at a modern all-time low. Of course, low interest rates are an opportunity for people to enter the housing market and to look at the acquisition of capital goods, and they take that into consideration in terms of their financial management.

There is the additional fact that the economy, through sound and prudent financial management, has since December 2002 created 271,900 new full time jobs. We should compare that to the growth rates of our American friends. It has been suggested that in addition to international policy, unemployment will be the key point on which the Bush administration will be judged, the creation of new multipliers that create job opportunities for Americans. In Canada, because of sound prudent financial management, minimizing or lowering the risks, we have created confidence in the capacity for the management and stewardship of our economy.

However, while the Canadian economy continues to grow by an average of 1.3%, projections are that we must be very careful with respect to our future rate of growth.

There are risks involved. We all know that from time to time, when the dollar is falling, the opposition has asked if this means there is no confidence in the Canadian dollar. Yet, on the other hand when the Canadian dollar strengthens, opposition members will remind us that if we have too strong of a dollar, it means that our exports are going to be less competitive and the American relationship with our economy is going to put us at risk. They are quite right on that. The corollary we draw from that is that we just have to tune and calibrate our business decisions very carefully.

I would suggest that as our dollar bobs and weaves around the 75¢ mark, we are attempting to tack very carefully, according to the winds of international monetary and business change. In a global economy, it is always hard to get that exactly right, but the fact that we are creating jobs, the fact that our economy is relatively buoyant, and the fact that we are, in relation to other G-7 countries, in a relatively competitive position means that prudent financial management, the tools that we are using, are being used in a sensitive and responsible manner.

In terms of the general situation, as has been said before, this is the seventh consecutive balanced budget and the first time since Confederation that we have balanced budgets at that rate. We have included a $3 billion contingency reserve. Families can understand what that means. We do not go back on our capital to keep our general day to day operating budget in check. We are very careful to ensure that we keep our reserves there in case we have a rainy day. The government is doing that and Canadians can understand and respect that.

We are adjusting and calibrating our budget toward the day when, in our health care, in our services to seniors in an aging society, we can see that if there was an actuarial requirement to project what the needs of the economy were to be in terms of sustaining that standard of living, that we have at this point got it right. We are actuarially sound. We are investing in those areas that will create new jobs.

At the same time that we are doing these things--and I know it has been mentioned with respect to the sponsorship programs and so--that whole set on which Canadians will judge the government are not only the financial approaches that are being used in terms of prudent and careful management, but also the checks and balances.

At this time the cabinet committee, on an expenditure review, will be examining all accounts in terms of attempting to claw back up to $3 billion in expenditures that can be redirected. There is an order through the President of the Treasury Board to re-establish the office of the comptroller general. The public expects that will be done, but that should be seen within the total context of how the government has managed prudently and responsibly the concerns of all Canadians.

I would now like to relate in terms of what this budget means to low income Canadians. That is the bottom line. To me, the bottom line is how people accurately see in the budget their position with respect to how important they are in the tax regime to which many members have made reference.

I would like to point out that the $100 billion five year tax reduction that was introduced in 2000 continues to provide that kind of tax relief. Three-quarters, and this is an important point, of this benefit is flowing to individuals, with most of the tax relief going to low and modest income Canadians. If Canadians want to see where they stand with respect to a 2002-05 perspective, they should go to the website and look at that chart.

For example, on personal income tax from 2001, of that $100 billion, 75% goes in terms of personal income tax. That question was asked of the member for Toronto--Danforth. In terms of corporate income tax the amount is 10% of the $100 billion in tax reductions. In terms of employment insurance, another point that was raised, it is 15.2%. So a huge part of that $100 billion in tax incentives in terms of reductions goes to individual Canadians through personal income tax.

I think it is also important to point out what that means with respect to business and entrepreneurs. The tax system and this budget support the growth of small businesses by encouraging them to retain more of their earnings and by enhancing opportunities and incentives for investors, such as venture capital funds, to invest in small enterprises.

These measures mean, for example, that in terms of a small business deduction limit, that limit will rise to $250,000 from $225,000 in 2003. That limit will rise to $300,000 in 2005. In terms of the federal capital tax threshold for small businesses, the cap on that will be lifted and raised from $10 million to $50 million so that more businesses will qualify for that kind of tax relief.

What does that mean in terms of a Canadian advantage? It means that as a result of the actions taken from 2000 to 2003, Canada's average federal and provincial corporate tax rate, including capital taxes, will be 2.3 percentage points lower than that of the United States. That is the impact it has in terms of low income Canadians and, if we will, low income businesses and entrepreneurs.

We should also look very quickly at what the budget means in the priority areas. I am not going to talk about health because it has been accommodated by other speakers, as has the importance of learning in terms of the Canada learning bond. That learning bond will provide upfront annual grants of up to $2,000 for low income families who have children with learning disabilities.

As the Prime Minister has said, this prudent and financially responsible budget shows some future opportunity for flexibility. Additional contributions will be made to health, not to mention that on the community based health side over $600 million will flow into various clinic-type approaches that are more preventative in nature and are major contributors to our health care program.

I have spent a great deal of my life in political activity at the municipal level. I think it goes without saying that the announcement the government made in terms of the rebate on the GST will mean several billions of dollars to municipalities right across this country over the next 10 years. It will provide local municipalities with an additional opportunity to invest in transportation systems that are environmentally friendly, in housing initiatives that they wish to make their portion of the program, and in social programs that they wish to activate at their level.

The commitment given by the government to discuss its budgetary cycle with municipalities before a budget is announced looks at them as an order of government, as responsible partners in shaping economic policy for the country.

Finally, let me say that I think we have all been concerned with respect to the international situation and what Canada's role is. Traditionally it has been in peacekeeping. This budget allocates funds for major involvement in the international activity in the world to make it a safer place to live.

In closing, let me say that I do believe the budget represents a careful and caring agenda for action on the part of the government. I think it is consistent with the commitment the government has made to Canadians from all regions: that the government is sensitive to its responsibility and its accountability. Within the broader context of its stewardship over the last 10 years, over the last decade and into this decade, I believe the government has earned the respect and the right to continue to administer the affairs of the Canadian people, and I believe it will be supported in that.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask this esteemed colleague a question with respect to his speech. He indicated that basically the government has done a great job on this budget and everything is so fine and so well. I wonder whether he does not actually have some serious questions about some of the elements of the budget.

For example, one of the things that has come through loud and clear for many months now is the fact that the government is rolling into general revenue a huge windfall from EI.

We have the NDP on one end saying that this is a crime because people who need to have their benefits are not receiving them, and I would echo that. I think that we buy insurance because if we need it we want to be able to collect on it. Particularly in his area, that has to be a serious shortcoming. Meanwhile, we have the government rolling this money into general revenue and using it for whatever other reasons. That is specifically not a purpose of the EI fund: to just be a source of general revenue for the government.

I would like him to comment on those two things: the ineligibility of those who should be entitled to benefits and the fact that way too much money is being collected relative to what is being paid out.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member will be aware that the rolling into general revenues of the EI surpluses has been a question that has been raised by the Auditor General in two or three reports. In reaction and in response to those observations by the Auditor General, it is my understanding that the employment insurance premiums and rates have been reduced consistently over the last two or three years.

The government has given assurances that it is working toward the objective of using employment insurance for the very reasons that the member has raised, but I would say that part of those general revenues is used for employment creation, for skills development and so on. It is not a fiscal slight of hand. It is in fact just another financial tool that is used to achieve the objectives of employment and employment opportunities for Canadians.

The BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Let me advise the House that there will be approximately seven minutes remaining in the question and comment period for the hon. member for York South--Weston.

Auditor General's ReportGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I now have the honour to table the Auditor General's Report for 2004. Pursuant to Standing Order 108, this report is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

AgricultureStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Wheat Board, which represents 85,000 Canadian farmers, says there is potential economic danger in the introduction of genetically modified wheat into Canada.

Given that European, Asian and other markets are closing their doors to genetically modified wheat sales, the prairie farm economy would suffer even further than after the mad cow crisis.

In addition, the biotech industry would not benefit from the introduction of genetically modified wheat in the marketplace if there were no interested buyers.

Canada is putting at risk a $3 billion industry for a product that has already been rejected by our primary market sources.

Because of these consequences, I urge the Canadian government to stop the introduction of genetically modified wheat in Canada so as to avoid the widespread opposition it would face in the global marketplace.

Epilepsy Awareness MonthStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, March is National Epilepsy Awareness month. As the month draws to a close, we can congratulate Epilepsy Canada on its very successful “Lavender. Think Epilepsy” campaign, which included many media and public awareness activities and a new initiative: a lavender ribbon and lavender flower representing the solitude experienced by people with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is not a disease. It is a symptom of a neurological disorder and is a physical condition. Epilepsy causes people to feel hopeless, isolated, discriminated against and often ridiculed.

Approximately 1%, or about 300,000 Canadians, have epilepsy. Each day in Canada, an average of 38 people learn that they have epilepsy. That would be about 14,000 Canadians per year.

Let all of us in the House congratulate Epilepsy Canada and the many volunteers who made its campaign such a huge success this year.

Meals on WheelsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate and thank all Meals on Wheels volunteers across Canada, especially those from Peterborough. These volunteers provide hot meals to their fellow citizens who, for one reason or another, are shut in and unable to prepare the major meal of the day themselves.

Meals on Wheels volunteers work in all weather through all seasons. With the meals, they bring a friendly contact, a smile and news of the day. For many shut-ins the visit is worth as much as the meal.

I also would like to remind all MPs that most Meals on Wheels organizations provide frozen meals. They are good for MPs who live alone in lonely garrets here in Ottawa. MPs can help their local Meals on Wheels organization by buying these frozen meals. Last night I had sole florentine. The night before, I had traditional pot roast, and the night before that, fish and chips.

The frozen meals I bring from Meals on Wheels Peterborough really are on wheels. They travel three and a half hours by car from Peterborough to Ottawa.

I urge all members to support Meals on Wheels.

Mohawk CollegeStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently Mohawk College, on Hamilton Mountain, officially installed MaryLynn West-Moynes as the school's sixth president.

Ms. West-Moynes is focused, committed and forward thinking. She believes in the excellence and growth of Mohawk College, its academic programs and its students.

Mohawk College employs 814 full time staff that facilitate the 9,600 full time post-secondary students and 40,000 continuing education students enrolled. Mohawk College is the largest in-school apprenticeship trainer in the province, with more than 3,000 registered in skilled trades programs.

I wish to extend to Ms. West-Moynes best wishes for success in her role as president and to offer her our continuing support for the next few years.

Research and DevelopmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, all of us know that Canadians need access to safe, clean drinking water right across the country. While as a nation we are blessed with abundant water resources, we must manage our water wisely and effectively.

It is for this reason that I am so pleased Technology Partnerships Canada has announced a $9.2 million investment to develop clean water technologies. Partnerships with industry and the private sector are key to innovation in this field. The government has an important role to play in stimulating innovation and supporting research and commercialization of new technologies.

In this case, a leading Canadian company, Zenon Environmental Inc., is working to develop leading edge technologies to produce better and more affordable water filtration systems.

I am proud to announce this initiative because it is an excellent example of how government can act as a catalyst, bringing economic, environmental and social benefits to all Canadians, and let me say way to go to Zenon.

Athabasca ConstituencyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to say farewell to the riding of Athabasca, a riding I have represented since being first elected to Parliament in 1993.

I have always tried to represent the constituents of the riding with perseverance and conviction, and certainly enjoyed the time I spent there.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Brian Jean who recently won the nomination for the Conservative Party of Canada and will hopefully soon be a colleague in the House of Commons. I know Mr. Jean will do a good job representing the people of Athabasca when he is elected.

Due to redistribution, my residence no longer lies in Athabasca but rather in the new riding of Westlock--St. Paul.

Concerning media reports about my future in the House, I would quote Mark Twain, “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. I would like to clarify that I do in fact hope to be around for some time to come.

It has also come to my attention that I am not running in the upcoming election. Might I just say that I fully intend to run and represent the new riding of Westlock--St. Paul.

Toronto Transit CommissionStatements By Members

March 30th, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a very special day in Toronto. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Toronto Transit Commission, the TTC.

I am happy to inform the House that the Government of Canada, along with the city and the province, announced a $1 billion expansion. The money will renew all the TTC cars, buses and the entire infrastructure.

This is a very special day for the City of Toronto and we celebrate with the whole House.

Françoise Gamache-StantonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, “I think it is time I started to do less”. Those were the last words of Françoise Gamache-Stanton, who died this past Monday in Quebec City at the age of 89.

Françoise Stanton was deeply committed to women's causes, and that commitment encompassed involvement in the Fédération des femmes du Québec; promoting sovereignty, including a position as national head of the yes campaign in the 1980 referendum campaign; and work with seniors, including a position as vice-president of the Association internationale francophone des aînés. Although she is gone, we will continue to be inspired and guided by her open-mindedness and tenacity .

I knew this woman of conviction personally, and thus feel qualified to comment on her contributions. I was inspired by her dynamism, commitment, forward thinking and genuineness. She passed on those values to her four daughters, Michelle, Julie, Françoise and Danielle, of whom she was proud.

Speaking for myself and the Bloc Quebecois, I pay tribute to Françoise Stanton and extend our most since condolences to her family and friends.

Collège d'AlfredStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, today it is with great pleasure that I acknowledge the support our government provides to the University of Guelph's Collège d'Alfred.

For 23 years, Collège d'Alfred has been providing francophones with quality training in agriculture and agroindustry

When the college was founded in 1981, it was the first French-language college in Ontario.

Yesterday I had the pleasure to announce, on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, that Collège d'Alfred would be receiving nearly $35,000 in funding. This financial support was provided under the Minority Language Education component of the Development of Official Language Communities Program.

This money will help Collège d'Alfred reach an ever-growing number of francophones who wish to take the professional courses the college provides, and I thank the Minister.

HockeyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Canadian Alliance Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, you may have noticed a lot of hockey players in town this week, out walking about enjoying the Ottawa spring.

That is because the Canadian Adult Recreation Hockey Association is hosting the 2004 World Cup of Hockey right here in Ottawa this week. There are 126 teams competing, 51 international and 75 Canadian.

In all there are over 4,500 players participating from 10 different countries. Two teams from Alberta hail from my riding. They are the Grande Prairie Pentastars and the Spirit River Oldtimers.

Hockey of course is the national game of Canada and it is certainly a hotbed in the Peace River country. I am sure that it will be a fun and exciting week for all the players.

This is an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and make new friends. I am sure they are going to enjoy their week here in Ottawa. Good luck to all of them.

Northern CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the Governor General for her exemplary leadership in focusing our attention on Canada's north. She has worked tirelessly to promote northern and aboriginal issues, both in Canada and internationally.

The huge expanse of the Arctic, which makes up a significant portion of our country's land mass, is an integral part of our national identity and a strategic component of our country's future. Being a northern nation carries distinct responsibilities. First and foremost, we must ensure that the needs and aspirations of northerners are met through increasing indigenous and northern capacity for innovation, commercialization and job creation, the protection of our sovereignty, and the promotion of sustainable development.

Additionally, we must take an international leadership role in circumpolar north initiatives, particularly in the areas of northern science and social development.

AfricvilleStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canada prides itself on its support for multilateral institutions, particularly the UN.

Earlier this month, the UN follow-up report on Canadian compliance with commitments made at the World Conference on Racism, with specific reference to the community of Africville in my riding of Halifax, stated:

After 150 years of collusion between...government and the business community, through abuse of power, neglect, encroachment and invasion of hazardous industrial materials, in 1970, the community of Africville was forcefully removed...

The UN report called on all levels of government to redress this travesty in consultation with the community that lives on, in spirit and in the hearts and kinship networks of former residents and descendants of Africville. Shamefully, less than 24 hours after those recommendations, the federal government rejected any notion of reparation to the Africville community.

In the spirit of reconciliation, all levels of government must work in good faith by formally apologizing and supporting a community based compensation--

AfricvilleStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Terrebonne--Blainville.

HealthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, although health care needs are increasing at an alarming rate, the Minister of Finance did not see fit to transfer additional money to Quebec and the provinces.

Yet, he was quick to come up with $1 billion to beef up the bureaucracy by creating the Canada public health agency, and he did not hesitate to earmark money for a surveillance system which duplicates the responsibilities of the Institut de santé publique du Québec.

A few days ago, 10,000 women with breast cancer filed a suit against the hospitals, charging them with having waited too long to begin their treatment. The real guilty party in this situation is the current Prime Minister of Canada who, as finance minister, decided to make drastic cuts in health transfers.

We see that the Liberal government continues to intrude in Quebec's jurisdictions, preferring to impose its hegemony rather than help the sick.

Cape Breton IslandStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride today to announce that Cape Breton Island was named the world's second best tourist destination by the National Geographic Traveler Magazine .

Cape Breton's beauty is obvious to the people who live there and it is an honour to be recognized by a publication as prominent as National Geographic .

Cape Breton Island's rugged coastlines and the Cabot Trail are just two of the many attractions of our island. Our festivals and events and our rich Celtic music bring thousands of tourists to our shores every year. This, of course, has a significant economic impact.

Mr. Speaker, as you know with your visit there last week, with its wonderful people and diverse cultures, its many unique attractions and community events, Cape Breton Island is an oasis for visitors to return time and time again.

We are proud to be recognized by National Geographic and we invite all Canadians to discover the many treasures that make us proud to say “Ciad Mille Failte”, which means one hundred thousand welcomes from us to you.

Child PornographyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute today to seven Toronto police officers who are members of the child exploitation branch of the Toronto police sex crimes unit. They are: Detective Sgt. Paul Gillespie, Detective Ian Lamond, and Detective Constables Bill McGarry, Kris McCarthy, John Menard, Paul Krawczyk and Steffan Mueller. It was through their sheer hard work that a little girl in North Carolina owes them her life.

As was reported this past weekend, it was through this unit's perseverance that they managed to gather enough information from gruesome child pornography images to find and save this little girl. She is one of fewer than 300 children who have been identified worldwide from an estimated pool of 50,000 to 100,000 victims.

It takes a very special kind of police officer to be able to endure what would traumatize the average person in order to protect our children. On days when we hear the tragic news of Cecilia Zhang, we can find a little solace in the fact that one little girl was saved.

Jeffrey BowmanStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a remarkable young man, Jeffrey Bowman of North Wiltshire, P.E.I., who passed away at the age of 21.

Jeffrey was afflicted with a lifelong degenerative disease. He lived with courage and dignity which should challenge us all. In spite of his severe physical challenges, he won friends well beyond the Island with his positive attitude. He always wanted to be involved in the activities around him and he was.

Jeffrey had a love of horses and horse racing. Beginning in 1994, Jeffrey's story won him the support of standardbred horse owner, Tom MacPherson, whose filly won a long shot race with the winnings going to a fundraiser for Jeffrey. He became an honorary member of the United States Trotting Association and maintained close connections to the P.E.I. Horse Owners Association.

Jeffrey's life was remarkable for what he achieved. He set an example for all of those who had the chance to share in it.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Canadian Alliance Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, for three years I have worked on behalf of former JDS Uniphase employees regarding current tax treatment of employee stock purchase plans. These innocent people are caught up in a tax nightmare which has taken a tremendous financial and emotional toll.

I have written to at least three ministers of finance including the current Prime Minister. Former JDS employees have also been writing to both the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister. I have also personally raised this matter with the Minister of Finance in recent weeks. To date, we have received no response.

I believe that the government is more concerned with covering up the sponsorship scandal than addressing this matter. It is simply not acceptable that the government refuses to deal with this matter, yet it has no problem cutting special deals to write off Mr. Radwanski's $600,000 income tax owing. Of course, he is a well connected Liberal.

We are asking for the government to treat former JDS Uniphase employees fairly. If the Prime Minister expects us to believe that he actually cares about these people, he should show us and deal with this matter before he calls an election.

National SecurityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in 1996 the Auditor General said that the government had inadequate information to support frontline officials responsible for national security. Eight years later, nothing has changed. The Liberals are still asleep at the switch on national security matters.

Given the Prime Minister's track record, a scandal, incompetence, and mismanagement, why should anyone believe things are going to change now?