Mr. Speaker, I will attempt to do that. I thought I was very clear that by talking about the urgency of debating Bill C-48 and Bill C-38 the member would understand why I will be supporting the motion to stay next week to debate them. I thought that my process here was extremely clear.
I would like to speak to a third project in my riding, a senior's village. This again speaks to volunteers and just normal citizens who would like to provide seniors with a continuum of care. Bill C-48 is essential because it would provide affordable housing dollars for these people. The tie for me is very obvious, and I do not know why the hon. member does not understand that.
There is some urgency to staying here and debating Bill C-48 and Bill C-38. I am making the point that Bill C-48 is urgent. These dollars are needed in our communities. I am using my community as an example, but I am sure it applies right across Canada. I support additional funding for affordable housing. There are several reasons why we have to act quickly on approving this additional funding.
Bill C-48 covers environment issues, which is the second item I would like to discuss. The bill would allocate $900 million for the environment. Environmental issues are important to all of us.
Contrary to what my hon. colleagues on the other side of the House think, climate change is not a myth. It does exist and it is extremely important that we continue to invest in it. Canadians know that we have made some substantial investments in the Kyoto protocol and we will continue to do that.
The Kyoto protocol is also supported by many developing countries around the world. We understand the impact of global warming and of greenhouse gas emissions. We cannot underestimate their impact on Canadians and on people around the world. The impact of global warming on the north, for instance, is critical. My colleagues from Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon will tell us about the impact it is having on tundra for instance and on icebergs.
These are real problems for Canadians. Bill C-48 proposes to some extent investments in remedying some of these issues. Once again, the tie we are making to the importance of staying here is quite relevant.
We are also seeing some radical changes in weather patterns in Canada as a result of global warming. In my province of Manitoba, two or three weeks ago, we had floods like we had not seen in 100 years. Our colleagues in Alberta are now experiencing the same thing.
These are radical changes to weather patterns. I believe they are connected to global warming. Bill C-48 would invest a considerable amount of money, $900 million to be exact, for climate change issues.
I would like to talk about some of the projects that the government has been funding. The tar ponds in Nova Scotia is a good example. This is one project where hundreds of millions of dollars are needed to resolve one problem. I would like to congratulate my colleagues from Nova Scotia who worked extremely hard to ensure that funding went toward cleaning up these polluted sites.
Mine sites in northern Canada are also totally polluted and need millions of dollars to be cleaned up. The government has been very aggressive in investing in the environment, but we could always do more, and we all believe that.
Bill C-48 would allow us to invest in public transit systems. The city of Winnipeg is discussing exactly that. Members from the province of Manitoba, particularly the city of Winnipeg, would know that almost every Winnipegger uses a car. Not many of them use buses because it is a city that is fairly easy to get around in. We would like to encourage those citizens to use buses and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That is certainly one of our objectives, and it is one of the objectives of Bill C-48. There is an urgency in getting these bills passed.
Bill C-48 will speak to reducing energy costs for consumers who renovate their homes because there is less heat loss and that kind of thing. I really feel that the investment that we will be making is worthwhile and urgent.
The third item in Bill C-48 that we will be investing in with an amount of $1.5 billion is post-secondary education. In the past our government has invested substantially, up to $5 billion a year, in post-secondary education but mostly in the field of research and development.
We realize that it is important to target lower income families to ensure that everyone in Canada has access to post-secondary education. That is certainly one of our objectives. This $1.5 billion investment will certainly assist in attaining that objective.
In my riding I have a university, Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface. I get to speak to students on a regular basis. My nephews and nieces go to Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface. One of the challenges they have is that after a four year post-secondary degree the average debt is $26,000 per student.
We can imagine when they go into a different level of education, to a master's degree or a Ph.D., they may end up with debts ranging from $50,000 to $80,000. I believe that we have a responsibility to alleviate some of that debt and invest in our post-secondary education facilities, institutions and in our students.
The fourth item is international aid. This is an area that I am particularly interested in. I used to be a member of the foreign affairs committee. I had a chance to travel to many Asian countries where people talked to us about Canada's role in the world, not only in terms of our prowess in industry and commerce but in terms of the leadership role that we should be taking when it comes to investing in international aid and the respect that we have worldwide.
For me this was an eye opener. It was my first year as a member of Parliament. I would like to say that I believe that Canada has a responsibility. I believe that we should invest this $500 million in international aid. I am one who believes that we have to play a more aggressive role when it comes to international aid. Therefore, this $500 million investment shows clearly that we are in fact taking our responsibilities seriously and following through on our commitments to playing a lead role on the world stage.
I feel that Bill C-48 is urgent and essential to the well-being of Canadians and I am prepared to extend the sitting hours to ensure we deliver on these commitments.
I would like to speak briefly as well to Bill C-38 because we are here I believe to discuss both bills. This is obviously a difficult issue. It has been a difficult issue over the past months that it has been debated in the House. In my three years as a member of Parliament it has been the most difficult decision that I have had to make. I have made my vote count on this issue. I have decided not to support Bill C-38 and in fact I was free to do just that.
However, I also participated in many debates in the House. I sat and listened to members from all parties discuss their opinions on these issues. It was done in a very respectful way on such a delicate and serious issue. I applaud all members of the House for having discussed it in this way because it is an issue that is very sensitive and very close to many people's hearts.
I feel that it was an issue that was debated very strongly in the House of Commons. Opinions were put forth on both sides of the issue. People had an opportunity to express their views on this issue. I feel members have in fact stated their positions.
After having voted several times on amendments and second reading of Bill C-38, I do not see a lot of movement by members. The justice committee has had an opportunity to travel across Canada. In fact, in Manitoba it came not only to Winnipeg but it ensured that it heard people from rural Manitoba. It visited two towns in Manitoba and it was important for rural people to get their points of view across as well because they may not have necessarily the same point of view as the urban community. I thought the justice committee did an excellent job, came back and reported to the House.
Lately a legislative committee had an opportunity to hear witnesses. I am not sure if it was 56 or 64 witnesses who came forward to testify before the committee and express their concerns. If I am not mistaken, an amendment was put forward that would ensure religious organizations had even stronger protection in Bill C-38, if there was ever an issue with that.
We have been debating Bill C-38 for months on end. The government House leader was talking about 200 hours or so of debate. I believe people know where they stand on this item. I am prepared to vote on it. Canadians want us to deal with it. I think we should sit next week and the week following that if we have to in order to continue debating these issues, but we should rectify these issues and deal with them before we leave for the summer break.