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House of Commons Hansard #52 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industries.

Topics

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for sharing her time with me.

It took me only a few weeks here in the House of Commons to realize, with great disappointment, that the government is a lot better at creating crisis than at managing them. The current crisis in the Quebec's apparel and textile industry is a testament to the federal government's inertia and incompetence.

Unfortunately, several Quebec textile and apparel plants recently had to close their doors and we can be sure that the minister's inability to take the necessary actions will cause several others to go under.

It took time for the federal government to act and the few measures it took are clearly insufficient to solve the problem. None of these measures could prevent a massive job loss like we saw in Huntingdon, for example.

For several months now, the Bloc has been warning the Liberal government about the serious threat that would represent the loss of thousands of jobs in the textile industry in Quebec. For several months now, the Bloc has been asking for transition measures to alleviate the negative impacts of the elimination of quotas on Canadian imports of clothing and textile material.

A number of businesses had already been hit by fierce competition in that field. The elimination of quotas will inevitably force more workers into unemployment.

In spite of our numerous reminders, the Liberal government has been dragging its feet on that issue and has not reacted to the job losses and the economic downturns in the regions in Quebec.

The Canadian Apparel and Textiles Industries Program, CATIP in short, was put in place in January 2003 and is being offered to businesses until September 30, 2005. However, all the assistance made available under that program has been distributed already.

That program could subsidize up to 50% of all eligible costs to a maximum amount of $100,000. The ceiling was strongly criticized by the members of the Bloc Québécois when it was put in place, because it greatly restricted the ability of larger businesses to adapt.

Another similar initiative, the Canadian Textiles Program, CANtex in short, was put in place by the Liberal government in 2004 in order to help the Canadian businesses involved in textile production to become more competitive. That program is similar to the Canadian Apparel and Textiles Industries Program, but only the textile sector is eligible. It is a poor plan, and so stingy that it does not even enable the industry to improve its lot in a significant way.

There have been many closures and layoffs despite the existence of these two programs. It is high time that the minister took action to help workers in this industry.

The government is the one responsible for negotiating international trade agreements and it chose to have open borders in this industry. It is also this same government that terminated the Program for Older Worker Adjustment, or POWA. It is also this government that, through its inaction, accumulates huge budget surpluses, over $9 billion last year alone, at the expense of workers and of the provinces.

This government needs to act responsibly once and for all by putting in place transition measures and providing assistance so the industry can adapt.

On December 14, 2004, as a result of constant pressure by the Bloc Québécois, the Liberal government announced precipitously various measures to help the clothing and textile industry.

The motion brought forward today by the Bloc Québécois calls upon the House to acknowledge the inadequacy of the assistance plan and the need for the government to further elaborate with regard to the following elements.

First, it is imperative to use the safeguards provided for in trade agreements by ensuring that import duties on clothing and textile not made in Canada are maintained.

It is necessary to impose quotas on Chinese imports under China's WTO accession protocol. Such a measure would protect the industry while it is adjusting to the new reality of international competition. Moreover, the government would then prevent the Canadian market from being flooded with clothing and textiles made by the Chinese industry at a very low cost.

Second, we should have incentives to use Quebec and Canadian textiles.

Third, we should earmark funds to help the workers of those mills that are shutting down, by facilitating quick access to employment insurance and by restoring the Program for Older Worker Adjustment, or POWA.

The closure of the Huntingdon mills, just before Christmas last year, is a graphic example. These sad events clearly demonstrated the urgent need to set up a program that is geared to the reality of that industry, where a large number of the workers who are laid off are 50 years old or more and will have a hard time getting back into the workforce. A show of compassion towards these workers could help give them pride and hope.

I will conclude by saying that the Bloc Québécois is asking the government to act. The Bloc is proposing solutions to this issue. We cannot do too much to help an industry that has survived NAFTA and that will survive the WTO, provided the minister can convince his government to help that industry and to do so right now.

What does the government intend to do to help the textile and clothing industries? Is it because of a lack of political will that it is taking so long to help affected communities?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to speak today on the Bloc motion that has been put forward to address one very important, fundamental issue that is taking place in this country, that is, the free trade, the business environment and globalization change that has taken place in the last 10 to 15 years since the WTO was formed.

I want to say at the outset that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Cambridge.

Since the WTO was formed there has been a fundamental change in the way the world sees how business is to be conducted and in how Canada needs to conduct its business. Canada is a trading nation. Our prosperity lies in trade. Close to 46% of our GDP is in international trade, so international trade does become a very critical part of Canada's long term planning to have a good standard of living.

To that end, the Conservative Party and I have always been in support of free trade. It has been my pleasure to attend WTO meetings in Seattle and in Doha. At the time I attended, it became very evident that the fundamental changes taking place around the globe with the opening of the markets and globalization would have a profound impact on countries like ours and even on developing countries as well.

We knew that the day would come when we in Canada would be facing the questions that we face today. As we look around, we see crises brewing, with a crisis in BSE, a crisis in softwood lumber and now a crisis in the textile industry, all directly related to our trade agreements.

It leads us to wonder, when we signed the trade deals of which we are very supportive, did we do enough studies? Did we recognize the impact they were going to have on our domestic industries and on Canadians? At that time I stood in the House in support of all those agreements and thought we had done so, and yes, we had trade agreements that would address these issues.

NAFTA was an agreement to allow us to have open access to the American market. We supported the free trade area of the Americas so that we could have access there; of course the FTAA has not started. We went to the WTO because we wanted fair trade and a rules based system whereby we could trade freely with stronger economies like those of the U.S.A. and now the European Union.

We supported all these agreements, but we also thought that the government with all its resources would understand the impact they would have on the domestic industries. I was on one of the trade missions in India when it opened up its markets. Its workers were facing a crisis in light industry as well. Today in the U.S.A. and in Canada, we can see the IT crisis taking place. The presidential election focused on the IT sector because of the same crisis facing the domestic industry. It has been happening everywhere, so we should have known this was coming.

As I listen to this debate today, I hear the Liberals talking about how much they have done for the textile industry to help the textile industry become competitive and more modernized and all these things. The facts speak differently.

This Bloc motion talks about six industries closing down in Huntingdon. The colleague next to me has had job losses in his riding as well. As we see, there are job losses happening. It was anticipated that there would be change and job losses, but we needed to be prepared for these days to arrive and not wait until the end and then say, “Oh, now we have to do something. Now we will run around and do something”. That is the typical Liberal approach: waiting right to the end before starting to do anything.

Today's speeches the Liberal members are making about how much money they have given or what they have given are of no comfort to the workers who have lost or who will be losing their jobs. They want to know what is in store for them. If they had had time, they could have prepared for retraining. The government could have made sure that other areas were there which would be viable in a long term solution working with industry.

We have a letter from the industry representatives in which they have given some excellent proposals, but the government seems not to have listened. All this government thinks is that if it throws money around it will be fine and this problem will go away.

This problem will not go away in the textile industry with the WTO agreements that we have signed. And let us be very blunt about it: we need the WTO because we are a smaller economy and we can be marginalized out of the world economy by others.

We need the WTO, but we have enough time and resources to think about how we can address this changing environment and not wait until we face this crisis of workers losing their jobs.

One of the reasons why the Conservative Party will support the Bloc motion is to tell the government that it has failed in its response, its obligation and its duty to Canadians. The BSE crisis and even the softwood lumber crisis really reflect the issue of what is wrong with our trading relationships. When we sign trade agreements, we also need to ensure that there are teeth behind our trade agreements. We must not just run around and say that we have signed a trade agreement and it is great for us, only to find out later on that it is not great for us.

Insofar as the textile industry is concerned, where the job losses are, I can address the issue. I was here and I applauded when the government allowed the least developed countries free access to our country, because I had attended the conference in Geneva on the least developed countries and that was one of the areas where the government could help them. But as my colleague from Edmonton indicated, while opening up our market we ensured that others would take advantage of that, not the least developed countries. Economies like China's, Pakistan's and India's could access our markets through the back door. That was not the intent when I stood in support of the initiative.

It boils down to the fact that this government had not been preparing itself for the changing global environment that it knew was happening. That is why we are standing here today debating an issue which really should not have to be discussed. It should have been easy for us to stand and say that we have done this, we have done that, and so there will be no closures taking place. The textile industry, with this help, would have been more healthy than it is today. Today the Liberals stand and say that this portion of the textile industry is healthy while we have other portions closing down. The Liberals say that those portions are inefficient and everything, but they are all Canadian and we need to have programs that assist them.

I have only one minute left, so I will say in conclusion that while the Conservative Party supports free trade and we understand the impact that globalization will have, we must also make sure that Canadians do not unnecessarily suffer from this globalization and that we have programs and assistance packages to help them in this transition. At the same time, we must make sure that these industries are viable. Because opportunities always take place; when one door closes, another door opens. It is up to us to make sure that we take advantage of this and that we do not just run around the country signing trade deals without looking at what is happening in the background.

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1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on a wonderful speech, and since he is much more experienced than I am, perhaps he can give my constituents and me some advice.

I represent the riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. We are having some great difficulties that in some ways are connected to free trade. My constituents and I are believers in free trade. We understand the global economy, but as a result of our relationships with our American trading partners, I have a BSE problem in my riding and now I also have a textile problem in my riding. The ridings next to me are experiencing the same difficulties. There is a paper mill in my riding that had to lay off 390 people because of our poor relationships with the Americans. In a lot of cases, we cannot seem to get our borders working properly.

The frustrating part about all of this, especially in this last closure in the textile industry, where I have lost 175 jobs in my riding, is that the company was talking to the Liberal government for two years trying to get some relief and some help and nothing was forthcoming. There was dithering on both sides. This dithering goes on and on, one way or the other.

I wonder if I could I ask my esteemed colleague about this. What if we were to be more proactive rather than reactive in these cases, if we were to do something at the start when we have industries come to us? We have known about the BSE crisis for months. We have known about this textile problem with this company for at least two years.

In the member's experience, do you think it would be better to handle these situations and be proactive rather than reactive? Also, what the heck can we do to stop this? I must protect the jobs in my riding.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I remind hon. members to direct their questions and comments through the Speaker.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, what my colleague has identified here is one of the fundamental problems that we now see happening, which is that while we cite trade agreements and everything, we have to go one more step forward. The one more step forward is that we need to maintain relations with our trading partners. We simply cannot get up and begin bashing our trading partners and at the same time expect favourable treatment from them.

We need to understand that we can disagree with our trading partners, but we do not need to go down to the level of personal insult that we saw taking place last year on the governing side. There was no action taken by the last government in addressing those issues.

Naturally there will be smaller frictions taking place and those frictions are going to impact ordinary Canadians. In the trade deals that we cite, and as softwood lumber and BSE indicate, yes, those other trading partners can turn their backs on us and go to where people are more friendly to them. In this case, maybe it is the southern border, but who knows?

The world is wide open. Everyone out there wants to deal with each other and wants to do work. It is up to us to make sure that while signing a trade agreement we also maintain those relationships in order to ensure that whatever was our objective in signing these deals does not come back to haunt us and impact our own Canadian citizens. In these cases, it is workers in the member's riding and workers in other ridings who are losing jobs due to BSE or it is the textile workers.

It is critically important that we have an overall policy here. We cannot pick and choose when we sign a trade deal and say that everything is fine. There is no picking and choosing. We must sit down and say that this is strategically important for us. Trade is strategically important for us. We can respectfully disagree, but we do not need to insult our trading partners.

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1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate the member for his speech and for the clarity of his remarks. I would still like to ask a very specific question of him, though. Currently, the textile and clothing sectors are going through a difficult transition. Let us hope that they will emerge from it with the help of an adequate policy from the federal government.

Given the current situation, does he feel it is normal and understandable that clothes made of Canadian textiles outside Canada be taxed when they come back to Canada? I think it is completely illogical, and all the more so since the Americans have that kind of policy with the Caribbean, as you know. They export textiles which will be transformed into clothes and imported back on the American market duty free. We, in Canada, tax our textile manufacturers. Does he understand this aberration?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is quite an interesting question and it shows there is something seriously wrong with the way we look at the whole issue of trade. His point illustrated quite clearly that there is something wrong with the way in which we do business and that we have not addressed the issue very well.

What we have done over here is that we have addressed the issue of signing the agreements and everything but on the other hand we have closed our eyes to what is actually happening out there. In coming back to the duties, he rightly pointed out in his question the need for an adequate response.

We have to look at the whole picture to see where we can close the loopholes and where we can strengthen the industry. We cannot just strengthen the industry by giving the industry money. A lot of other issues need to be addressed. We need to see the whole picture, which is the adequate response that he was talking about, which the government has not done.

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1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to also address the motion put forward by the Bloc on the textile industry, or perhaps I should say the lack of said industry due to the government's just in time policy that it seems to have adopted.

I will be referring to letters and statements from experts within the industry, experts such as Mr. Harvey Penner and Mr. Marcel Thibeault.

I have stood in the House and demanded action from the government, from the Minister of Finance, on this industry's struggles, problems that, in my opinion and many of the opinions of members of the House, were created by the government's inability to see the collateral implications of its poorly thought out so-called solutions.

I emailed the Minister of Finance and I sent notes to him during question period. I organized members of the House who, for the most part, supported me and helped put pressure on the government, which had been, along with the old member of Parliament from my riding, sitting aimlessly and carelessly on this file for years. The Minister of Finance himself admitted that the file had been sitting on his desk for months. That is shameful conduct from a government that professes to be a job creator.

In this case we have an industry that was disadvantaged by its own government. When the Liberal's program started to cost Canadian jobs, what we saw was not an action plan to solve the problem, but instead an obvious lack of concern for jobs we already had. Eight hundred jobs were lost In Huntingdon, Quebec, and almost 200 jobs in my riding of Cambridge due to the government's inability to get on the ball in time.

Just in time is an automotive industry success story. It is not and should not be a government policy. The original idea was sound and the objective of helping countries that require our assistance is very important, but the manner in which the government implemented the program has not only caused a dramatic decline in outputs for Canadian textile producers and apparel manufacturers but it has had questionable results in terms of the intended effect of helping the truly poorest of countries.

Under the rules of origin, up to 75% of x factor price of garments made in less developed countries can be of non-LDC materials from countries such as China, Korea and India, countries with huge and sophisticated textile and clothing industries. These countries hardly need Canada's help in their exports.

Another result is that these rules of origin deprive the less developed countries of any incentive for foreign investors to establish textile manufacturing facilities in their countries, investment that would lead to long term employment and advancement opportunities for the people who need it the most.

The Minister of Finance said on December 14, 2004, that these were issues of competitiveness, of market access, of new technology and that these were issues he believed the government had to address in cooperation and partnership with the industry.

That statement alone confirms a complete lack of knowledge of this incredibly competitive industry in Canada.

I toured John Forsythe Shirt in my riding of Cambridge where hundreds of thousands of dollars have been reinvested to keep that plant at the leading edge of technology. I strongly suggest that the minister get his facts correct and I would offer him the researchers on our side of the House.

The facts are that this industry in Canada is innovative, capital intensive and has continually invested to the tune of more than $1 billion in the last five years alone simply to survive an increasingly competitive international trade environment. It is as modern and efficient as any textile industry in the world.

However increased efficiencies, enhanced productivity, modern high tech equipment and skilled workers will not do the industry any good if it does not have customers and markets in which to sell. That has been obstructed by government policies.

Let me repeat that it will take good government policies to make this happen. The government cannot blame this problem on someone else. It must accept the problem in this industry full face. The industry is and always has been at the plate. The government has not stepped up to the plate yet.

The government's decision to provide duty free and quota free entry for textiles and clothing from at least 48 LDCs as of January 1, 2003, has had a profoundly negative impact because Canadian apparel customers switch to importing and price points fall to impossible to sustain levels.

The program could have been, and I believe it still can be, very successful if given a little more thought.

Thanks to Brian Mulroney, the textile industry has in the past been a FTA and NAFTA success story. Textile exports grew from $0.8 billion in 1989 to $3.3 billion in 2003.

However, most of that growth preceded 2000 when the U.S. government embarked on a series of bilateral agreements with third parties. Those agreements effectively cut Canadian textile producers out of the picture. The industry is losing export business because of these U.S. measures and they have contributed to several recent bankruptcies and closures in our country. Again, the government appears to have no action plan on this front either.

I will talk a little about what I see is a very simple solution, either not thought of or ignored. I am sure the House can achieve what again appears to have been overlooked by a government that appears to be too lazy to solve the problems that it has created.

I will talk a little about outward processing. In 2003, $5.6 billion worth of apparel was imported into Canada, which is double the amount only 10 years, but all of that apparel was 100% foreign content. These imports represent approximately one billion square metres of equivalent fabric, a massive loss of opportunity for the Canadian textile manufacturers. If we were able to repatriate even a small portion of that foreign content Canadian production and employment would benefit significantly. Providing duty free entry for imported apparel made from Canadian fabric would enable the Canadian textile industries to grow. They could grow export business with foreign customers who would now have an incentive to buy from Canadian textile manufacturers.

Outward processing may be the missing link. By replacing an imported garment made of foreign fabric with an imported garment made of Canadian fabric is a very good idea in my opinion.

Contrary to the finance minister, who was recently quoted as saying that the industry needs to be more competitive and modern, I say strongly that this industry is not dying. It is an industry with a future in Canada if the proper framework for investment and job creation is in place.

Textile manufactures provide high quality, well-paying jobs that contribute to the high standards of Canadian living. This industry is modern, dynamic and innovative and textile firms have been proactive in adopting new technologies and developing new products to be successful in an increasingly competitive world. What they do not need are further roadblocks, potholes, dead ends and destructive policies.

On that note I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the honour of speaking once again for the jobs in my riding of Cambridge.

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1:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is not only the textile industry that is being affected by the government's trade problems. I want to talk a bit about some of the things western Canada has run into on agricultural issues.

The U.S. farm bill turns billions of dollars over to its agriculture sector each year. This year alone $16 billion in direct tax subsidies will go to supposed producers and organizations. Two of the biggest rice producers in the United States are the biggest recipients of agricultural aid. The U.S. has a huge farm program and the Liberal government has never challenged any portion of it. The U.S. continues to subsidize its producers and our government says nothing.

With respect to BSE, there is a renegade group of troublemakers in the United States that have succeeded once in keeping the border closed. They are scheduled to go before the courts again in early March for an injunction to keep them closed to our beef, and our government is completely silent on this. We have not heard anything from it with respect to this issue.

The European Union will bring in export subsidies on its grain and Canadian producers will be affected by that. We have heard absolutely nothing from the government, but farm groups, the Wheat Board and others have spoken out.

Why is the government unable to represent Canadian interests in either domestic or international trade disputes?

SupplyGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question delves into a huge problem. The common problem within the question itself and what we are debating today is the fact that the government really is ineffective when it comes to dealing with Canadian issues such as the apparel industry or the beef industry. That ineffectiveness stems from its weak or perhaps lacking foreign policies, especially with the diminished relationship with our friend and largest trading partner, the United States.

In the case of the apparel industry, the United States has put bilateral trade deals in place, but they have cost the apparel industry. Similar, deals that have been put in place by the agricultural community also have affected Canadians negatively. The government does not appear to have the ability nor the will to solve these problems. I believe that stems from simply a lack of creativity and a lack of leadership.

Regional DevelopmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, on January 13, I was in Campbellton, New Brunswick, announcing the contribution by the Government of Canada to the Business Expertise—Rural Atlantic Canada program.

The Restigouche CBDC was selected from 71 other applicants at the national level to manage the project for Atlantic Canada. I am extremely proud that the project for the entire Atlantic region will be managed from my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche. My thanks to all those involved, including the partners and participants, who will ensure that this undertaking is an unqualified success.

This program provides young graduates with the opportunity to acquire practical work experience in their field of study, while at the same time providing small and medium businesses in Atlantic Canada with workers highly skilled in the knowledge economy.

I am sure that this project will have some highly positive outcomes and I commend the Restigouche CBDC for its commitment to ensuring the success of the project.

TaxationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Lunn Conservative Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, due to a glitch in the tax law, former JDS employees owe hundreds of thousands of dollars to Revenue Canada on money they never earned. Many have gone bankrupt. I brought this issue to the Prime Minister four years ago when he was the minister of finance. He promised me he would help and he did not.

On May 27, 2004, the Prime Minister came to my riding to campaign during the election. At the Victoria airport, he met with former JDS employees. He looked them in the eye and promised he would fix their problem. He did not.

Two months ago I was told an administrative solution was doable to this problem. Now I learn they never intended to do anything other than seize these people's money. I have tried to work with the government for over four years on this file. Every promise I have been given has been broken.

The Prime Minister should be ashamed of the way he has treated these people. I implore him again today not to turn his back on these people, fulfill his promise, keep his word, show the House that his word means something and help these people.

Toque TuesdayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Liberal Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is Toque Tuesday and across the country Canadians will be buying and wearing toques as a reminder that too many Canadians are homeless.

Each year--

Toque TuesdayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

May I remind the member that no props are allowed.

Toque TuesdayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judi Longfield Liberal Whitby—Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, each year on Toque Tuesday, Raising the Roof volunteers take to the streets to raise funds for local agencies working directly with homeless men, women and children.

Since 1998, more than 80 grassroots agencies across Canada have received funding from Raising the Roof to provide much needed long term solutions to homelessness.

Raising the Roof is a strong partner of the Government of Canada's national homelessness initiatives. These initiatives reach out to those who are most vulnerable: seniors, persons with disabilities, aboriginal people, new immigrants and low income families. They address not only those who live on the street, but the hidden homeless who sleep on a friend's couch or live in substandard accommodation.

All in all, 1.7 million low income Canadian families are poorly housed and at risk of becoming homeless.

André ShatskoffStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am tremendously honoured to pay tribute to Mr. André Shatskoff, a man with a big heart who has for the past 17 years been volunteering in our community.

As the director general of Caisse populaire Desjardins de Terrebonne, board member of the Chamber of Commerce and founding president of the Terrebonne cultural development society, he has just achieved his dream of providing the citizens of Terrebonne with one of the most beautiful theatres in Quebec. the new Théâtre du Vieux-Terrebonne.

In addition, he was recently named volunteer of the year for 2004 by the newspaper La Revue .

The Bloc Québécois congratulates André Shatskoff for his remarkable accomplishments. A tireless and dedicated volunteer for social, cultural and economic causes, there is no doubt that he is deserving of our deepest respect.

Congratulations, Mr. Shatskoff.

Middle EastStatements By Members

February 8th, 2005 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Kadis Liberal Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is a day of cautious optimism for peace in the Middle East. After four and a half years of violence, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have signed a formal ceasefire.

While this step is not a solution to the problem, it does give hope that peace may be on the horizon. Although agreements similar to this have been made in the past, it appears that today's does have more weight. Both the Israelis and Palestinians have made great strides in recent weeks, and the concessions which have been made today may prove to be instrumental to an everlasting peace.

Canada has an important role to play in this process. We must do everything we can to encourage the return to the peace process. Canada must be vocal in calling for and ensuring that any agreement will be just and long-lasting.

I urge those involved in upcoming negotiations to put an end to the aims of those who seek destruction and annihilation. I encourage them to have the will and the courage to bring to reality a long held hope and desire for peace, prosperity and coexistence.

Income TaxStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, 20 years ago Patrick O'Connor, who lives in my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, was a successful young manager and entrepreneur. At the age of 25 he contracted both HIV and hepatitis C from tainted blood transfusions.

Patrick has spoken to students, community groups, home care workers and others about HIV. He has written over 500 newspaper columns and published a children's booklet, 10,000 copies of which were distributed free of charge in the Cornwall area.

In 1992 he founded the United Counties AIDS Project, which raised over $35,000 in three years to help others with HIV. Today he is working on a second book for teens, and continues to write and speak about AIDS.

How has the government rewarded him? By insisting he pay $90,000 in interest because he failed to file his taxes in 1990, the same year he was told he was dying and was forced to sell his business at a loss.

I call upon the government to forgive the interest on Mr. O'Connor's back taxes. It is the least it could do for this community hero.

Food Freedom DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Middlesex—Kent—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, February 8, is Food Freedom Day. Today Canadians have earned enough money to pay for their entire year's food supply. It takes just 38 days out of the whole year for the average Canadian to pay for his or her groceries.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2003 Canadians spent 10.6% of their disposable income on food. That number has dramatically decreased over the years. In 1997 Canadians spent over 12.5%. By comparison, Food Freedom Day in Australia falls on February 12, in Japan on February 20, in Iceland on February 27, and Mexico does not reach it until March 4.

Farmers are earning just a fraction of the average food dollar. While Food Freedom Day is February 8, January 9 is the day on which we have paid for the farmers' amount. That is right, January 9. It takes only nine days to pay the farmers for a whole year's worth of food.

We need to recognize our primary producers so that Food Freedom Day can be a day that everyone can celebrate, including our farmers.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maka Kotto Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, history teaches us that the best way to alter or wipe out the identity of a people or a group of people who identify with one homeland is to cut off its historical and cultural memory. We can clearly see that a tree without roots is a tree that will die.

For a number of years now, February has been a time to remember the role played by Africans and their descendants in ancient, recent and contemporary history.

Children and grandchildren of African descent have a great hunger for role models. In fact, they have great need of role models with whom to identify in order to reach their full potential.

Many thanks to all those women and men in Quebec and in Canada who keep on fighting, not counting the hours or the energy spent, in order to ensure that Black History Month will continue.

NunavutStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, again this year Nunavut will experience a banner year in mineral exploration. Right across the territory, exploration companies are exploring for gold, platinum, iron ore and diamonds.

This year over $120 million will be spent trying to find that mineral deposit worth developing into an operating mine. Projects like Tahera's Jericho diamond project and Cumberland Resources' Meadowbank gold deposit demonstrate that perseverance and determination do pay dividends.

Industry and governments are working together in Nunavut to make projects happen, to develop infrastructure to support this economic development and ultimately give Nunavummiut the jobs they want and need.

Nunavut will be a real contributor to the Canadian economy with the right investments.

Tsunami ReliefStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the efforts of my constituents Gordon Florence, Fern Brothers and Sheryl Lane who have come together to organize a concert to raise funds for the orphans of the tsunami.

The variety concert will take place at the Community Hall in my town of Claresholm on Thursday, February 17 at 7 p.m. It will feature artists from across the riding of Macleod and a fitting choral rendition of I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing .

Scores of people have donated their time and services to make this concern a success, including the Salvation Army which will ensure that 100% of the money raised will go directly to those in need.

I am proud to be a member of such a kind and generous community. I invite the members of the House and citizens across Canada to join me in Claresholm on February 17.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, February is Black History Month, an occasion of much pride for black Canadians whose presence in Canada can be traced to the early 1600s when Mathieu Da Costa worked with Samuel de Champlain as an interpreter of the Mi'kmaq language.

Black History Month provides an opportunity for all of us to learn about the experiences of black Canadians in our society and the vital role they have played throughout our history. The year 2005 is a milestone in our celebration as it marks the 10th year since the motion declaring February as Black History Month was passed in the House.

I would like to thank some of our special guests who have travelled from Toronto to be with us today. I would like to recognize special people like Speaker Alvin Curling, Delores Lawrence, Denham Jolly and Dr. Stephen Blizzard for their continuous dedication and special contribution to Canadian society.

YouthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the shooting of Matthew Dumas last week in Winnipeg is a tragedy for our whole community. It is a tragedy for Matt's family and a tragedy for the police officer involved.

As we try to sort out the specific details in this case, we must look at the bigger picture of troubled youth in our society and assess the adequacy of our urban aboriginal strategies. Research on housing, health and poverty points to an urgent need to invest in communities like Winnipeg's North End, to invest in strategies that will unlock the tremendous potential of our youth.

The cycle of poverty, neglect and violence is not acceptable. I do not accept it. The NDP does not accept it. Why does the Liberal government accept it?

The future for these kids is now, today. They cannot wait for a future that comes some time after the national debt is paid off or corporate greed is satisfied. We appeal to the government not to take for granted our inner city neighbourhoods and our aboriginal communities and to put the necessary resources in place to help youth out of the tragic downward spiral into despair and violence.

World Cup Giant Slalom ChampionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend heartfelt congratulations and well done to Canada's next crazy Canuck, Thomas Grandi of Canmore, Alberta. After 12 years on the World Cup circuit, Thomas captured two world giant slalom wins in just three days.

Those who know him well will see those back to back victories as a result of the lifetime dedication to his sport. This is the first time in this discipline that a Canadian male has won in 38 years of the World Cup's existence.

Thomas hit the slopes in Banff at age two and a half. For a time the family operated a ski lift at Banff's Mount Norquay so practising was not a problem. From the time Thomas enrolled in the Nancy Greene program he was a natural on skis. He became one of the country's best technical performers and won nine national alpine titles.

Even though the Italian team has tried to lure him away with a great deal of sponsorship money, Thomas has said that he wants to make it as a Canadian.

On behalf of all of Canada, on behalf of all members of Parliament, I want to thank Thomas for his years of dedication and obvious patriotism. We will all be glued to our televisions at next year's Olympics.