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House of Commons Hansard #120 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla and to several of his colleagues, screaming and yelling about how this $4.6 billion, very carefully allocated to some very clear priorities that are absolutely supported by Canadians and desperately needed by people, is somehow reckless, irresponsible, and it will break the bank. They infer that it is just totally irresponsible for this kind of big money to be dedicated.

Yet the member just stood up and acknowledged himself, in a very accurate way, that there have been very large surpluses that the government has not acknowledged. The potential is there for it to trot out the surpluses. The last time around the projection of the surplus was $1.9 billion and the surplus was actually $9.1 billion. What is the reversal of those two numbers? Something like $8 billion. What is the problem?

How is it that the Conservative members who understand this would not support something as clearly targeted to the needs of Canadians. Bill C-48 deals with four things: first, accessible and affordable education that we know is critical to a prosperous and productive society; second, affordable housing, which is an important job stimulus as well as something that Canadians desperately need. I heard the member for Central Nova talk about making sure families can live together. Affordable housing is part of that. Third, public transit; and fourth, energy retrofitting of low income housing, so we can have clean air to breathe. In addition, we finally make a tiny step in the direction of meeting the 0.7% commitment to international development aid, which his own party has now finally reluctantly come around to support.

How can the member explain the contradiction between the excessive rhetoric on how this cannot be afforded and what he knows to be the facts?

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have given our support to each and every item that the member has mentioned. There are elements of that in the first budget that was tabled, Bill C-43, the very elements to which we gave support. We do not and cannot support unplanned and unprecedented spending.

The member for Halifax is quite right. I said in my remarks that when the government projects a surplus, it is wildly off the mark, but intentionally so. It hides the surplus throughout the year when we are asking for the true needs of Canadians, until we approach either election time or the end of the budget year, which we call March madness, because we know in March, spending goes crazy. It was close to seven times the amount. The member was quite right, $1.9 billion is all the government said it would have as surplus. We get to the end of the year and surprise, it is $9.1 billion.

Where does that excess come from? One of the biggest areas of excess is from an EI fund that is grossly overtaxed. We have hardworking employees paying out of their paycheque every day into the EI fund. Even the Auditor General has agreed with our figures and told the government that it was putting way too much burden on the shoulders of hardworking people in the EI fund and the business community, especially small business. They are paying far too much into the EI fund.

There is enough in the EI fund to take care of long term unemployment problems or even a catastrophic crisis in employment. Yet the Liberals continue to tax at too high a level. They are overtaxing hardworking Canadians to get surpluses that they hide and then announce with unplanned and unprecedented budgeting. It is not the way to go. It is not honest. It is not good for the economy and it is not good for hardworking people.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is important to review the events that led up to the introduction of Bill C-48 and how our socialist friends in the NDP down at that end have reacted with the corrupt Liberal government.

In weeks prior to the deal being made in some hotel room with respect to Bill C-48, the NDP stood up on a daily basis in the House reflecting and railing about the corruption that was being made public through the Gomery commission. This corruption was not being made known through arbitrary allegations, but through sworn testimony and sworn confessions by key Liberal Party members who had participated in the biggest corruption scandal that we have ever had in the last decade.

The NDP knew that. It acknowledged that on a daily basis. Those members criticized the government over and over again, every single day, for the corruption and the ripoff of taxpayers' money. Those NDP members cried about the Liberals scooping that money for their own campaign coffers when it could have been used on things such as affordable housing, the environment, and helping students with tuition fees. Those members talked on a daily basis about the nasty corrupt Liberals.

Then came the time when the corrupt Liberal minority government was possibly going to go down in political flames through a non-confidence vote. We have to perhaps forgive the leader of the NDP for being a little naive about the honesty of the Liberals, but then again maybe not because several people in his caucus have a lot of experience dealing with that crowd over there.

The NDP leader and some of his party members knew the Liberals were corrupt. They knew the Liberal Party stole tens of millions of dollars from taxpayers and had given it to their friends or used it on their campaign. However, the NDP members felt the Liberals were in a real tough spot and were going to go down in flames on a non-confidence vote, so they thought they would see what they could get out of it. The NDP members thought they could scoop some of the money for some of their projects.

In the blink of an eye NDP members went from calling the Liberal government corrupt, which it is, to being best friends via a deal made in some hotel backroom brokered by Buzz Hargrove, the new Liberal finance minister apparently. They came up with a deal. The NDP knew the Liberals were corrupt. That party knew the Liberals did politics in a very suspect way. The NDP members told the Liberals that if they received about $4.5 billion for some of their projects, they would forgive them, sleep with them, and everything would be fine. I did not say this, but that type of arrangement has been described by some as basic political prostitution. I did not say it, but I tend to agree with that statement.

Here is what happened. The Liberal finance minister presented a budget in February 2005, Bill C-43. The Conservative Party proposed some amendments to the legislation because we did not quite agree with it. The Conservative Party wanted to make this Parliament work. We were committed to making this Parliament work, so we decided to propose some amendments. We decided to support the legitimate budget, Bill C-43, for the 2005-06 parliamentary year.

Suddenly, because of the sinking ship fiasco, this new deal came along with $4.5 billion written on a napkin with Buzz Hargrove's signature on it. The NDP made a deal with the Liberals to provide them with support for the non-confidence vote.

This is $4.5 billion of taxpayers' money that came out of the sky, 23 floors up in a hotel, that the Liberals want us to accept when there is absolutely no plan for spending attached to it. There are some vague areas, but there is no plan. The areas that they describe are ones that have been criticized soundly by the Auditor General and we cannot support them.

An Act to Authorize the Minister of Finance to Make Certain PaymentsGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

We will now move to statements by members.

The 1918 Anti-Greek Riot in TorontoStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about a turbulent time in our history. Between August 2 and 5, 1918, mobs of about 50,000 people took to the streets in Toronto waging pitched battles with police and destroying every Greek business they came across. The riots were the result of prejudice against new immigrants and the belief that Greeks did not fight in World War I.

Today, Mr. George Treheles, Mr. Michael Vitopoulos and Mr. Thomas Gallant presented a book entitled The 1918 Anti-Greek Riot in Toronto , documenting the causes and the results of the 1918 riot to the Library of Parliament.

I want to thank these gentlemen for writing and publishing this book so that this tragic event in our history is not forgotten. Although the riot took place in 1918, it brings into sharp focus the need for all Canadians to respect and accept the cultural diversity which makes Canada such a vibrant place to live and bring up our children. We must remember our history so we do not repeat our mistakes.

National Aboriginal DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jeremy Harrison Conservative Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, 2005 is the year of the veteran and today is National Aboriginal Day. It seems only appropriate that on this day we honour Canada's aboriginal war veterans.

This morning at the National Aboriginal Veterans War Monument, Canadians from all walks of life paid their respects to the first nations, Innu and Métis who served their country, many of them making the ultimate sacrifice.

Thousands of aboriginal people volunteered to serve their country. From the warriors under the leadership of Joseph Brant who helped repel the American invasion of 1813, through the first and second world wars and the Korean war, to the numerous peacekeeping missions of today, aboriginal people have served Canada despite the fact that many of them were not accorded full rights as citizens.

While laying a wreath or making a speech can only pale in comparison to the sacrifices made by these brave men and women, they symbolize our gratitude. In Cree they say “ Kahgee pohn noten took ” on Remembrance Day. It means “the fighting has ended”. On behalf of all Canadians I say, may we never forget.

Canadian Forces Naval SwordStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, on June 12, Lieutenant Ralph Edwards was presented the Canadian Forces Naval Sword with the gold braid on behalf of cadets, officers and parents at the Sea Cadet Corps Iron Duke in Burlington for his 25 years of outstanding contribution to youth in our community.

A sea cadet first in 1957, Ralph Edwards joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1967 and served on board HMCS Fraser . In 1974, he became a member of the RCMP. Ralph Edwards has made an extraordinary contribution to youth as a cub scout leader since 1970 and with many youth organizations, including the Sea Cadet Corps Iron Duke as civilian instructor and eventually commanding officer.

Ralph and his wife Sandra Edwards have been foster parents with the Halton Children's Aid Society for the past 29 years and their two older children have followed their example.

On June 4 this year, the RCMP recognized Ralph Edwards for his outstanding volunteer service. He received the IODE Police Community Service Award in Edmonton.

All Canadians and all citizens thank Lieutenant Ralph Edwards for his contribution and wish him all the best.

Carmel PaquinStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, some people touch our lives because of their dedication, or their love for others, the arts, artists, young people and life in general. These big-hearted people make us wonder what we would do without them.

I know of such an exceptional man. His name is Carmel Paquin and he is a parish priest in Lac-à-la-Tortue. He has touched my life and the lives of the people of the Mauricie and all of Quebec during 50 years of religious service.

His dedication, work and concern for others are proof of an unwavering open-mindedness that has made a lasting impression on the hearts of everyone he meets.

Carmel Paquin, we wish you a happy anniversary and many more years among us.

Volunteer FirefightersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, last week, my father-in-law's home in Bouctouche, New Brunswick, caught fire as a result of a problem with the electrical panel. In less than 45 minutes, the house was totally consumed by flames.

However, the volunteer firefighters in the town of Bouctouche arrived on the scene, got the fire under control and prevented it from spreading. With the help of other volunteer firefighters from Cocagne, Saint-Antoine and Shediac, further losses were avoided and the fire was brought under control and eventually put out. We offer them our thanks.

Such difficult times make us think about the extraordinary services our voluntary firefighters provide. These brave men and women often face great danger but they always do their duty, and our communities are much safer as a result of their commitment and courage.

It is time that Parliament recognized their services by, as I have always said, supporting the bill granting them a tax credit as compensation for their efforts and commitment and, above all, the sacrifices their families make.

Health Care ProviderStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is with bittersweet feelings that I speak to the House today. Melissa Anderson, who has been my primary health care aid for two years, is leaving to get married.

Melissa is special in many ways and I would like to highlight two of them. She is the first unelected person to sit with members in the House of Commons and she embodies the same selfless, patient care administered every day by health care workers across Canada.

My logistics as an MP are complex. With Melissa's help, I have been able to fully perform my duties.

For Melissa, family is her first priority. I know she will provide the same compassion and care she has given me to her new husband, Carlin Thiessen, as well as her stepchildren Devin, Colin and Bryce.

I would like to thank Melissa for her commitment, dedication and her unswerving patience with me. It has been an honour to serve my first year as an MP with her. I wish Melissa all my best.

National Aboriginal DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, today, June 21, is National Aboriginal Day. As founding peoples, first nations, Inuit and Métis have played a vital role in shaping Canada's history and future.

Canada is a country of great cultural diversity built upon compromise and understanding.

Today in Iqaluit, 11 Inuit students will be the first graduates from the Akitsiraq law program. Inuit are participating in key areas of leadership and social awareness. I congratulate them.

I would also like to congratulate the Premier of Nunavut, Paul Okalik, on attaining an honorary Doctor of Laws from Carleton University this past Saturday.

Inuit and all aboriginals alike are playing a leading role in this great country's future and we will do more. I join all Canadians in celebrating National Aboriginal Day.

Gisèle and Jean-Charles BurelleStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Caroline St-Hilaire Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 30, two volunteers who have been heavily involved in working for the children of the world will be taking retirement. They are Gisèle and Jean-Charles Burelle, the directors of UNICEF Montérégie.

Mr. and Mrs. Burelle have been involved with UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, for over 40 years, working with it to provide disadvantaged children with a better world. They also founded Mécènes de la Montérégie, a philanthropic organization which works more directly with disadvantaged families on the south shore.

In my capacities as a mother, who believes every child is entitled to a good start in life, as a proud ambassador for UNICEF Montérégie, as a citizen of the riding of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, as well as its MP, I assure them of my deepest admiration and appreciation of their exceptional commitment to humanity's greatest treasure: our children.

Anne-Marie AlonzoStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec cultural community mourns the loss of Anne-Marie Alonzo of Laval, playwright, poet, novelist, critic and publisher.

Laval's annual Festival de Trois owes its existence to her. The author of some 20 books, she won the Émile-Nelligan award in 1985 with her Bleus de mine .

Anne-Marie Alonzo was a contributor to the Gazette des femmes , Spirales and a number of other periodicals. She co-founded Trois magazine and in 1989 launched the Festival littéraire de Trois.

In 1996 she was made a member of the Order of Canada and in 1997 was awarded the bronze medal by the Société Arts-Sciences-Lettres of Paris.

Ms. Alonzo leaves a permanent legacy to the culture of Quebec. My most sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Members of Parliament StaffStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, as we approach the end of this parliamentary session, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to thank all the individuals who help us fulfill our roles as members of Parliament.

We as members depend on our staff for support at all hours, for advice on issues facing the nation and, in most cases, help with our day to day lives.

I must make special mention of three Conservative staffers who are leaving the Hill to pursue other interests. Jim Armour will be missed for his fatherly advice and his fast quips. Mike Storeshaw will be missed because of his leadership and his ability to stay cool under pressure.

Nancy Heppner, our question period director, will be missed because of her ability to focus us on the topical issues and put the Prince of Meanness, the member for Calgary Southeast, in his place.

On behalf of my Conservative colleagues, I want to thank all of our staffers for their sacrifices, their sage counsel and their support during this past session.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

June 21st, 2005 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to be able to recognize the investment promised by the Government of Canada to the communities in Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

As part of the new deal for cities and communities, the government will divert over $13 million in revenues from the gasoline tax directly to the 10 municipalities in my riding. These funds will help all the communities to improve their infrastructure, thereby improving the quality of life there.

I look forward to seeing progress on the innovative projects this money will make possible.

I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Infrastructure and Communities on this excellent initiative.

National Aboriginal DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is National Aboriginal Day and I am proud to reaffirm that New Democrats stand in solidarity with Canada's first nations, Innu and Métis peoples. In this Year of the Veteran, it is appropriate to especially honour aboriginal veterans.

So it is a very special honour for me in this Year of the Veteran to pay tribute to Canada's aboriginal veterans.

Aboriginal veterans fought side by side in wartime but have been treated shamefully in peacetime; Canadians, like Sergeant Tommy Prince of Manitoba, our most decorated veteran. He won service medals, the Military Cross and was even awarded the Silver Star of the United States. Despite his great service to our country, he died like so many other aboriginal war veterans, in poverty, without access to the compensation other veterans enjoyed.

As we celebrate today our solidarity with Canada's aboriginal peoples, let us not forget those left behind and let us vow not to let it happen again.

May we never forget.

Public ServiceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Lanark, ON

Mr. Speaker, the federal public service is the largest employer in the national capital region. There are over 119,000 employees, thousands of whom reside in my constituency of Carleton--Mississippi Mills.

As we know, federal public servants are known for their professionalism, resourcefulness and hard work on our behalf. I support sound and innovative policies that continue to foster an efficient, effective and independent professional public service. As well, I firmly believe in legislating robust whistleblowing protection to ensure that those who expose corruption and wrongdoing are protected from reprisal.

In honour of National Public Service Week, I extend my appreciation and thanks to all public servants, especially those in Carleton--Mississippi Mills who work every day to provide Canadians with the services that make our society a healthy, safe and prosperous one.

National Aboriginal DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Cleary Bloc Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention today, June 21, to National Aboriginal Day.

This is a very special day set aside to celebrate the heritage, culture and unique contributions of first nations peoples, the Inuit and the Métis to all the other peoples of the world.

For the first nations, the summer solstice marks the celebration of light and the longest day and is marked by festivities in the communities.

I would like therefore, on this special occasion, to offer my best wishes to all aboriginal persons in the fullness of peace and friendship.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had the rare privilege of meeting U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson in March. The Texas congressman was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for seven years. His book, Captive Warriors , is one of the most meaningful, significant descriptions on inhumanity that I have ever read.

Thirty years later there are continued allegations of maltreatment of religious organizations, harassment of practitioners and persecution of leaders. Political dissidents in Vietnam called for respect of human rights, freedom and democracy.

In January of this year, I visited Hanoi. I learned that the current political regime takes note of international opinion because it wants to ascend to the WTO and, in that context, is showcasing Vietnam by hosting the APEC summit in 2006.

This weekend, Vietnam's prime minister is visiting Canada. We must be honest with him. Canadians want to constructively help with the peaceful evolution of true democracy in Vietnam.

Etobicoke—LakeshoreStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, as parliamentarians, we all know the importance of a strong community base. I am proud to represent the people of Etobicoke--Lakeshore because they have an incredible sense of civic pride and are working continuously to improve our community.

Through their contributions, our community continues to flourish. Community activities not only create camaraderie but they also establish a supportive network that helps people improve issues of common concern.

This coming weekend the Grand Hamptons Owner's Association will be hosting their summer street party to meet each other and celebrate their neighbourhood. Throughout the GTA, members will be promoting safety in their communities in the National Night Out campaign.

I wish every one of my constituents a wonderful and safe summer. I look forward to seeing them and their families in and around the riding and at my summer community picnic on August 28 at Marie Curtis Park. Have a safe and enjoyable summer, to all my colleagues in the House and all of my constituents.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativeLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it has now been confirmed that the former immigration minister was caught in a serious conflict of interest. During last year's election, the former minister rushed through ministerial permits to the benefit of campaigning Liberal MPs. In fact, she signed off on some 74 of them during the campaign and 19 in a two day period leading up to the writ.

Will the Prime Minister tell the House if anyone in his office was aware of this policy at the time?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have not had a chance to read the report. I have just come back from Montreal, where the cities announcement for Quebec was made. My understanding is that the report does not conclude that there was any personal wrongdoing on the part of the member for York West herself. That obviously answers the hon. member's question.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me explore my first question a little further. The Prime Minister has consistently defended the actions of the former minister. In fact, he stood up for her actions 100% up until today, and I guess including today. Can the Prime Minister tell us when he became aware that the former minister was distributing ministerial permits on a partisan basis?

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, in fact no permits are issued on any partisan basis. They are issued to the applicant, wherever that applicant comes from.

In response to that kind of initiative it is probably instructive for the Leader of the Opposition and in fact for all of us to understand that the department makes some 1.1 million positive decisions a year and that some of these TRPs are in those 1.1 million decisions a year, according to a very transparent and merit based system that the department exercises.

Citizenship and ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Conservative Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Ethics Commissioner found that 98% of the rushed permits went to Liberals. Nobody is fooled that this is not on a partisan basis.

Members will remember that in the lead-up to May's confidence vote, the government staged a phony complete exoneration for the former minister here in the House. The Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and the communications director of the Prime Minister all sang the former minister's innocence, which is not exactly what the report says.

When did the Prime Minister learn that this so-called complete exoneration was in fact a fabrication?