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House of Commons Hansard #33 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sports.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for York South—Weston.

[Editor's Note: Members sang the national anthem]

David StrangwayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, David Strangway retires as president of the Canada Foundation for Innovation this week. Dr. Strangway is an officer of the Order of Canada, a former president of UBC and a distinguished geologist who worked on moon rocks retrieved by the Apollo missions.

Since 1998, under his leadership, the CFI has transformed the research landscape in Canada. It has helped change research and development in institutions in every province. Some 3,208 projects in 115 institutions in 56 municipalities have benefited from CFI support. Its investments have helped recruit 3,000 new faculty, retain 3,000 more and attract about 9,000 graduate students.

In a very short time Dr. Strangway strengthened institutions large and small, and decentralized research across the country. He helped research institutes, universities and colleges. I particularly appreciate his support of smaller research centres, as well as larger ones, and his recognition of the importance of linkages between such centres.

On behalf of all members, I thank David Strangway for his service to Canada and wish him well with the Sea to Sky University project in Squamish, B.C.

Volunteer Emergency WorkersStatements By Members

March 31st, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, a provincial inquest into the deaths of three Manitoba residents has determined that many rural Manitoba communities lack an acceptable level of resources to protect residents from the threat of fire. This ruling further underlines the need for the House to consider amendments to the Income Tax Act, such as the proposal to allow volunteer emergency workers to deduct $3,000 from their taxable income, as the Conservative members of Parliament for Lethbridge and South Shore have long advocated.

This move would not only recognize the importance of volunteer men and women in emergency services and Canada's dependence on their services, but it would go a long way in helping communities attract and retain volunteers. In a small way, it would compensate those courageous individuals for their important service to their community.

Insurance IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, many people across Canada have found the dramatic increases in insurance premiums to be quite debilitating. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, insurance claims costs in Ontario were more than 50% higher during the last quarter of 2000 than during the last quarter of 1999. Last April, Statistics Canada reported that auto and home insurance premiums had risen 26.3% and 6.7% respectively.

In addition, there has been considerable coverage in the media addressing the great increase in the insurance industry's profits, which exceeded $2.6 billion in 2003. This is calculated to be almost 675% higher than the previous year.

Taking these numbers into consideration, I ask my colleagues in the chamber to become involved in working together federally and provincially in addressing this issue.

Arts and CultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that the Minister of Canadian Heritage has confirmed that the Government of Canada will continue to pursue its efforts in building the capacity of Canadian arts organizations through the renewal of the government's investment in arts and culture, known as “Tomorrow Starts Today”, in the new fiscal year. After just three years, we are seeing extremely positive results of this initiative.

Through this program, the government is awarding an amount exceeding $9 million this year to qualified arts organizations across the country, matching every dollar raised from the private sector and deposited into an endowment fund. In three years Canada will have invested more than $20 million for that purpose, which leveraged $26 million from the private sector.

Together we can ensure that the organizations that contribute so much to the cultural life of our communities have the means to continue to do so.

User Fees ActStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Fontana Liberal London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, democratic reform is alive and well in the House of Commons.

Today Bill C-212 will receive royal assent. This bill represents what can be achieved when MPs from all sides of the House and ministers collaborate to help great ideas become good government policy. The bill represents the long and hard work of the Liberal member for Etobicoke North, of whom we should all be proud.

The bill will bring greater transparency, accountability and parliamentary oversight to federal government departments and agencies when they attempt to recover costs through user fees. It will provide greater parliamentary oversight; greater stakeholder participation in the fee setting process; improved links between user fees and performance; and the requirement that a more comprehensive stakeholder impact and competitiveness analysis is done when new user fees, or fee increases, are contemplated.

Who says an individual member of Parliament cannot make a difference in this place?

Gertrude CrosbieStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle Progressive Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the late Gertrude Crosbie of St. John's, who died on Saturday at age 78.

Mrs. Crosbie and her late husband Bill formed a local Cerebral Palsy Association in 1961 and opened Virginia Waters School for Children with Cerebral Palsy in 1968.

Gertrude Crosbie was a tireless volunteer with many causes: CNIB, YWCA, Meals on Wheels, the Newfoundland Historic Parks Association and the Maritime History Archives at Memorial University.

In recognition of her efforts on behalf of the community, Mrs. Crosbie was awarded an honorary doctorate from Memorial University and the Order of Canada.

I am sure all hon. members join me in passing on our condolences to her family and friends and our thanks for a life well lived in the service of her fellow citizens.

Wilbert KeonStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to salute one of Canada's top visionaries and top cardiologist.

Dr. Wilbert Keon is the heart and soul of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. Dr. Keon saved my life in 1996 when he performed emergency triple bypass surgery on me.

As a surgeon, a senator, a builder and an administrator, he consistently put people first.

Tomorrow, Dr. Keon hands over the reins of the internationally reputed Ottawa Heart Institute. It is a day that he will leave others to continue in his footsteps to continue to build on the research and administration of one of the world's top heart institutes.

The heart institute provides extraordinary care to Canadians, and does so in the country's two official languages.

Diane DescôteauxStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, for Diane Descôteaux, a poet from Bon-Conseil, the past few months have been quite memorable, with 10 of her poems winning awards on the other side of the Atlantic.

To name a few, she received the award of merit for unpublished works, won the Apollon d'or French literary competition, an honourable mention in the 2003 poetry competition, first prize in the classic, neo-classic sonnet category of the Millen'Arts Journal , the first Robert-Jolly award from the Société des poètes et artistes de France, and the bronze medal in classic poetry from the Académie européenne des Arts-France.

For 2004, the poet hopes her two new collections will be picked up by a publisher. For the rest, she will continue to write and keep writing for a long time.

I congratulate Diane Descôteaux for her excellent work and for the well-deserved recognition she has been given.

New Horizons ProgramStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Liberal Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes the importance for Canadian communities of the so-called “social economy enterprises”. Not only do we recognize the importance of these organizations, we also follow up with concrete action.

Indeed, in the 2004 budget, our government pledged to allocate $8 million in 2004-05 and $10 million annually thereafter to the New Horizons Program.

The New Horizons Program provides funding to seniors' groups for various projects that are dear to them. In so doing, it helps maximize the impact of the volunteer work done by our seniors across Canada.

Our country can take great pride in the fact that it can count on a large number of volunteers for whom retirement is not synonymous with inactivity and social disengagement. It is critical that our government support their initiatives.

Salvation Army International Staff BandStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Canadian Alliance Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I have the distinct honour of welcoming, on behalf of the Conservative Party of Canada, an elite musical group to Ottawa.

Parliament Hill will soon resound to the resplendent brilliance of brass and stirring percussion of the world renowned Salvation Army International Staff Band.

The band, visiting Parliament Hill from London, England, will entertain and inspire all assembled at 3:15 today on the very steps of our House of Commons.

Formed in October 1891 by Commissioner Bramwell Booth, the band promotes the highest standards of the Salvation Army band excellence and spreads the message of the Christian gospel by presenting the best musical ministry.

I want to congratulate the bandmaster, Stephen Cobb, and all the members of the band who give freely of their time in addition to their commitment to their local church where many are involved in a leadership role.

I want to welcome them to Ottawa.

Kyoto ProtocolStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, a Compas poll of over 500 senior corporate executives found that almost three-quarters of those interviewed in November and December 2002 supported Canada's commitment to the Kyoto protocol. Clearly, these business leaders understand that environmental challenges can be turned to advantage through leadership in green technologies, through more energy efficient transportation and housing, and through non-polluting industrial processes. This will stimulate new innovation, new market opportunities and cleaner communities.

In fact, since we ratified Kyoto, Canada's employment numbers rose by 334,000, the highest employment rate in Canadian history. The dollar rose from 64¢ to the 75¢ range. In the oil patch, drilling levels rose to an all time, high while profits were also at record levels.

Canadians are proving that what makes good sense for the environment is also good for the economy.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, on April 7 we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. One million men, women and children, entire families, were brutally slaughtered while the world stood by.

Canada must do more to ensure that the world never forgets the Rwandan genocide.

Amnesty International's “Stop Violence Against Women” campaign points out that every day in our world women and girls particularly are assaulted, threatened, raped, mutilated and killed.

That is why the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security, established to advance UN security resolution 1325, is important. It will increase women's participation in conflict prevention, peace processes and peace-building.

Violence against women is a global human rights crisis. We must end the silence that faces these women and girls when they attempt to seek justice, peace and genuine security.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, we will vote on a motion that I presented and which seeks to create a special status for seasonal workers, regardless of the economic region in which they live. Right now, many families from the North Shore and Charlevoix regions are without any income because the employment insurance program put in place by the Liberal government does not provide support to them.

Despite repeated requests to this effect, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development is still refusing to meet with officials representing the Sans-Chemise and the Mouvement Action-Chômage, who are in Ottawa today to try once again to explain to the minister that the current situation is cruel and unacceptable for the unemployed, who are starving.

I am urging those hon. members who care about the plight of seasonal workers in their ridings to set aside their political differences and to support this motion, rather than abandoning the unemployed, who need their support more than ever.

In so doing, members will show that they are not complicit with the misappropriation of the employment insurance fund, and they will also show that their decisions are based first and foremost on the people whom they represent.

House of CommonsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, the eighth soccer tournament between pages and members of Parliament was held last night at the Ottawa police centre. The MPs won by a score of 5 to 3.

So far, the MPs have won six times and the pages twice.

I would like to begin by thanking the hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, the outstanding social director of the House of Commons and superlative organizer of the soccer tournament.

The pages team was led by highly skilled players like Mbimangil, Guillaume, Sabrina and Brent.

We would like all the pages to know how much we appreciate their sense of fun and sportsmanship but, above all, their untiring efforts on our behalf here.

For me it was also a nostalgic event. It was the last time I dragged my ancient bones onto the soccer field on the MPs team. It was also the last time I played defence along with my esteemed friend, the MP for Davenport. Together we represent some 1,000 years of life on this earth, or close to it.

Finally, but not least, Mr. Speaker, your presence was especially welcomed and appreciated. Thank you on behalf of all of us.

Government AppointmentsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister's promise to end the democratic deficit is being abandoned.

Today we learned that the Prime Minister will appoint five Liberal candidates in British Columbia.

Among those the Prime Minister will appoint is former NDP premier, Ujjal Dosanjh, who was a senior cabinet minister in a scandal plagued NDP government that proved so unpopular that, under Dosanjh's leadership, only managed to elect 2 MLAs in the 79 seat B.C. legislature.

If this is the Prime Minister's response to B.C. alienation, he has proven that he, like all Liberals before him, fails to understand British Columbia.

Appointing candidates is precisely the kind of undemocratic elitism that Canadians want to see ended in politics. British Columbians will not be impressed by the Prime Minister's games and will punish the Liberals at the polls in the coming campaign.

However I would like to thank the Prime Minister for giving British Columbians and all Canadians one more reason to vote for the new Conservatives and against the Liberal government.

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, before the Prime Minister runs out of town once again, I would like to observe what a disappointment his government has been.

He promised Canadians an ambitious agenda but all we have is empty plans and recycled legislation. Now he wants to bury all the important issues until after the next election, whether it is the judicial inquiry into sponsorship, the Arar inquiry, the gun registry review or his own plans for health care.

After more than a decade of coveting this job, how can the Prime Minister explain his total failure to offer an agenda?

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, speaking of disappointment, given the fact that the democratic deficit has been so important and that this government has brought in ground-breaking measures time and time again, I would like to ask the Leader of the Opposition if his definition of the way to respond to the democratic need is by asking the chairman of the public accounts committee to systematically obstruct its work.

If it is his idea that the chairman of the public accounts committee should refuse to call witnesses, if the public accounts committee should stall on every major issue, it is not our view.

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I will tell the Prime Minister that in a few weeks he will be asking the questions and I will be sitting where he is.

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I know preambles are always popular but we do have to be able to hear the question. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor and we will want to hear the question.

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister promised to get to the bottom of the sponsorship scandal and instead we see today that he is undermining the chairman while he has been blocking the release of documents, hurrying to get a whitewashed, premature report, and his own public inquiry has not even started yet.

How can the Prime Minister explain his total failure to accept accountability for the sponsorship scandal?

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the release of documents, why has the chairman of the public accounts committee refused to allow the testimony of Mr. Guité to be made public? Why did they vote against it yesterday? Why has he refused to call witnesses who are prepared to come? Why has he ridiculed witnesses who have been there? Why has he trampled on civil liberties? Is he doing it on the Leader of the Opposition's instructions?

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the public accounts committee would not have to do it all itself if the Prime Minister were trying to get to the bottom of this scandal.

Let me ask about another failure, the failure to fix the democratic deficit. No real reform at committees, instead the same old games the government is playing with public accounts. The government invoked closure in the House after only six days. There is no reform or election of Senators. He is driving opponents out of his party, appointing candidates and playing with the election date as a personal political football.

How does the Prime Minister explain his total failure to implement even a single, meaningful democratic reform?

The Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is right, the chairman of the public accounts committee is not doing it on his own. He is doing it with the connivance of every other single member of the Alliance Conservatives and sitting in that seat.

The fact is that Canadians want to get to the bottom of this. Liberals want to get to the bottom of the matter but they are being obstructed by the Alliance Conservatives who are afraid of the truth. The fact is we want the parliamentary system to work. We want Parliament and committees to work and the one committee that is being headed up by the Alliance is turning into a farce because its leader will not allow it to function.