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House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was code.

Topics

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Halifax West.

[Members sang the national anthem]

AgricultureStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today in the House of Commons on behalf of the residents of Palliser and Canada's new government to state my appreciation and this government's appreciation for the tremendous contribution made by Palliser producers.

Farm families in Palliser have spent more than a decade trying to convince Liberal and NDP governments to take Canada's farm crisis seriously.

Canada's new Conservative government understands farm families. We share their values and we are standing up for them.

Our first budget provided an additional $1.5 billion for agriculture, tripling our campaign commitment.

We are going to scrap the failed Liberal CAIS program and replace it with a new farm income support program that will meet farmers' needs.

We are moving forward with our biofuels strategy.

We have listened to farmers who told us they wanted choice in marketing.

I am proud of the outstanding contribution made by Palliser producers. I will continue to fight hard for farm families here in Ottawa.

LiteracyStatements By Members

October 4th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, there has been a national outcry in response to the government's decision to slash $17.7 million in federal funding for regional and local literacy programs. These devastating cuts will force literacy organizations across Canada to close their doors.

This is not the only blow delivered to literacy by the government. The Conservatives have also cut $17 million from the workplace skills strategy, which has a key focus on literacy and employability.

The government has cancelled the $3.5 billion set aside by the previous Liberal government for labour market partnership agreements with the provinces, which focused on increasing workplace training in several areas, including literacy and essential skills.

Basic education and skills are critical for Canadians trying to access employment and earn advancement on the job.

These cuts are a step backwards in our ability to meet the literacy challenges of Canadians and to build the kind of workforce our country needs.

Mental Illness Awareness WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to recognize that October 1 to 7 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. This week is about fighting prejudice by bearing in mind that mental illness can affect anyone.

Indeed, statistics in this regard speak for themselves; they show that 20% of the population will experience mental illness at one time or another during their lifetime, and that 80% will be affected by the illness of a close relative.

Under the slogan “Our mother has a mental illness... We need help”, this year's event is designed to reach out to children of all ages with a mentally ill parent.

Given that children have the right to know and, more importantly, to understand what is going on, let us wish all the best to those organizations which strive to reach out to them in an effort to spare them a great deal of suffering.

Aboriginal WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, October marks Women's History Month. This year's theme is Aboriginal Women: The Journey Forward.

Bev Jacobs is a Mohawk from Six Nations and a member of the Bear Clan. She is the president of the Native Women's Association of Canada. I have met with Bev regularly since I became an MP and she inspires me with the dedication she brings to the issues affecting aboriginal women.

Today Bev Jacobs led aboriginal women and their supporters in rallies across Canada to remember their 500 missing sisters as part of the Sisters in Spirit campaign to document violence against aboriginal women.

Bev Jacobs has also been a leading voice in denouncing Canada for its poor record on the rights of aboriginal women.

This week she hosted the UN special rapporteur on human rights, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, who disapproves of Canada's plan to derail the adoption of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

I ask my colleagues to join me in celebrating Bev Jacobs and the journey forward for aboriginal women in this country.

Forest IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, British Columbia has been engaged in a devastating battle against the mountain pine beetle since 1993. Throughout that time, I have fought alongside the forest industry and our forestry dependent communities to help them stand their ground against the infestation and federal Liberal neglect.

Now that we have formed government, we have swiftly provided that long overdue support. This new Conservative government has committed to $1 billion in new federal funding over the next 10 years to help B.C. communities ravaged by the pine beetle to address local priorities associated with the epidemic, diversify their economies and create new long term jobs, jobs like those the Prince George airport is striving to create through its expansion and development plans.

We will continue to invest in the scientific research necessary to help manage the aftermath of the infestation and to remain competitive under its threat in the future.

In just eight months, the Conservative government has already put B.C.'s forest industry on track for a much brighter future.

LiteracyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 8, the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development stated that the Government of Canada was working to help citizens enhance their literacy skills. Barely two weeks later, the government announced it was cutting $17.7 million from funding to local and regional literacy programs.

These cuts will have a serious impact on services provided to minority communities in Canada. Such cuts will destroy the minority language literacy services network, including the Pluri-elles group which will have to shut down nine literacy centres in French-speaking rural Manitoba.

That is a disgrace.

Automotive IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, what drives the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association and the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association to come to Ottawa?

Climb into the rumble seat and fasten the seat belts, because it is auto days on Parliament Hill. My engine revs because these associations represent nearly 600,000 direct jobs across Canada, no mini-achievement.

In case people have not picked up on it, highly paid auto jobs power Canada's economic engine and fuel our quality of life in our communities.

It does not stop there. These associations are leading the way with cutting edge environmental technologies and processes.

I would not steer members wrong. These associations have parked themselves in Ottawa. They are not in neutral on the need for more competitiveness measures. They will not reverse their call for continued investment in this sector.

To the representatives of CVMA, AIAMC, APMA and CADA, I say welcome, and I wish them many miles of continued success in Canada.

Craig Paul Gillam and Robert Thomas James MitchellStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was with great sadness that the Bloc Québécois learned yesterday of the deaths of two Canadian soldiers, Sergeant Craig Paul Gillam and Corporal Robert Thomas James Mitchell of the Royal Canadian Dragoons. They were working on a road construction project 20 kilometres west of Kandahar.

The members of the Bloc Québécois mourn the loss of these men and offer sincere condolences to their families and friends, as well as to the Royal Canadian Dragoons.

We would like to tell the bereaved families that their loss will not have been in vain. The men were working to rebuild democracy and improve quality of life for Afghans.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

Federal Accountability ActStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is day 105 of the Liberal Senate's foot dragging and filibuster on the toughest anti-corruption law in Canadian history. It is shameful that the Liberal Senate is deliberately delaying the passage of the accountability act after this House passed it in a mere 72 days.

Canadians remember the sponsorship scandal as a terrible stain on our country's history, yet when Canada's new Conservative government acted immediately to clean up the Liberal mess and restore the public's trust in government, the Liberal Party did nothing but play games.

Canadians want to know why the party of corruption has done nothing to help move forward the federal accountability act. Canadians want action. Canadians want an end to corruption. Canadians deserve better than these games that are being played by the Liberal Party of Canada.

LiteracyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government spending cuts announced last week included the slashing of $17.7 million for literacy organizations throughout Canada. The cuts mean that local and regional literacy programs will no longer be funded.

The cuts mean that literacy organizations such as the Saskatchewan Literacy Network will have to close their doors. Yukon will lose the Yukon Literacy Coalition. Nunavut will lose its Arctic College culturally based pilot program. Manitoba will lose approximately $620,000 from local and regional literacy programs.

Twenty-two per cent of adult Canadians have serious problems reading simple printed material. In light of these numbers, it is unconscionable that the Conservative government has chosen to slash a program to help adults who want to help themselves to learn to read and write, while at the same time posting a $13 billion surplus.

National Family WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week Canadians across the country celebrate National Family Week. This is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate families and recognize their importance in our lives.

Strong families draw from and benefit the communities in which they live, work and play. Families are the building blocks of our society and our country. This government is committed to providing them with the support and recognition they deserve.

Canada's new government is helping families with the cost of kids' sports, public transit and everyday purchases.

We are there for farm families who need short term financial relief, while also looking at ways to improve income for the long term.

Millions of parents are now receiving direct support for child care through the universal child care benefit.

Canada's new government will continue supporting our country's future by supporting Canadian families. I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing National Family Week.

Conservative Government PoliciesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, far from standing up for Canada, the Conservative government is waving the white flag of surrender. We see this with the softwood lumber sellout. We see this with the Wheat Board sellout and we see it in the secret Banff meetings.

That government is prepared to give away everything in its endless efforts of capitulation to the Bush government, with ministers committed to giving away even more of Canada under the so-called security and prosperity partnership.

Remodelling Canada as a carbon copy of the United States, means lowering our quality of life and Canadian standards in food safety, health, labour rights, transportation and the environment.

The NDP is pressing for full disclosure of everything the Conservative government is doing to sell us out, just like the Liberals did, and diminish our ability to build the society Canadians deserve.

In the upcoming election, Canadians will have a clear choice between the sellout versions of Canada by the Conservatives and Liberals and a vision of a new, proud, independent Canada, promoted by the NDP.

LiteracyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, economists from across Canada agree that literacy is fundamental to boosting economic productivity and prosperity. Canada currently has one of the highest levels of post-secondary attainment among OECD countries. However, this achievement is in jeopardy, as the Conservative government does not believe in literacy.

Without warning last week and despite a budget surplus of $13 billion, the Conservatives eliminated $18 million from the federal literacy skills program. Incredibly, this announcement came out on the same day that the Prime Minister's wife was on the streets of Ottawa campaigning for more literacy programs.

While cutting literacy programs, the Prime Minister is spending $3 million of taxpayer dollars on renovations for his official residence at 24 Sussex. I hope that includes plans for a comfortable, new doghouse with room enough for two. I have a sneaking suspicion that the Prime Minister will be spending a lot of time in it.

Bernard LandryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal declared Bernard Landry Patriote of the year for 2006-07.

Since 1975, this title has been awarded annually to a notable Quebecker. The official award ceremony takes place in November, the month during which we commemorate the Patriote victory over English troops on November 23, 1837, at Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu.

As a former Quebec premier and a minister many times over, Mr. Landry helped create the quiet revolution and modern-day Quebec. His foremost concern has always been serving Quebec and the nation.

With uncommon determination and intelligence, he has worked tirelessly to this day to give Quebeckers the only tool that will enable them to express themselves and reach their full potential as a people: national independence.

He constantly reminded us that our sense of conviction keeps us faithful to our ideals. Throughout his half-century of public life, Bernard Landry remained faithful to his ideal: making Quebec a country.

The Bloc Québécois salutes Bernard Landry, a truly great patriot, on being awarded this honour.

Government ProgramsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, 22% of Canadian adults have considerable difficulty reading.

Funding for literacy programs does more than help only these people. We know that the literacy rate of our population is directly linked to the strength of our country's economy.

Yet the minority Conservative government is cutting funding for literacy programs by $17 million, thus jeopardizing the survival of organizations that run those programs.

Despite a surplus of $13 billion, seven major projects launched in Nova Scotia will no longer be funded, and the future of the PEI Literacy Alliance is now at risk. In my own riding, projects such as Tiny Pencils and the Kent dyslexic support committee are at risk. These groups deserve our support and our recognition, not a slap in the face from the Conservatives.

This money is used to help adults who want to help themselves.

I call upon the government to restore these funds immediately.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, as we get closer to Halloween, the Liberals continue to take cheap, partisan shots over qualified appointments, yet they remain haunted by past cronyism. Let us take a moment to remember the ghosts of Liberals past.

As immigration minister, the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie thought it fitting to reappoint her ex-husband to the Immigration and Refugee Board.

The Immigration and Refugee Board had other scary appointments, including the husband of none other than the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

As justice minister, the member for Mount Royal tried to keep the spirits at bay by making his chief of staff a judge on the federal court.

However, nothing was more frightening than the ghost who hid out in a castle over in Denmark, as the Liberals made the great public works minister, Alfonso Gagliano, the ambassador to Denmark.

As the ghosts of hypocrisy and cronyism continue to haunt Liberals, Canadians must not be scared because Canada's new government is improving the lives of all Canadians.

JusticeOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I am advised that yesterday I incorrectly attributed anti-Muslim statements to the chief of staff of the Minister of the Environment. I apologize and totally withdraw those remarks.

The other concerns raised yesterday have been borne out in the news. The government is planning legislation which will effectively destroy protections provided under the Human Rights Act.

Let us be clear. Religious freedom is fully guaranteed in law in Canada. It is in the charter. It is scrupulously protected by our Supreme Court judgments. It was guaranteed in laws passed by Liberal governments.

Since religious freedom is already fully protected, what protections is the Prime Minister presently intending to remove? Is this not just an attempt to remove sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination in our country and totally against what was already adopted by Parliament?

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the apology from the Leader of the Opposition. When I heard the quote, I thought it was, at least, out of context. It turns out not to have been said at all. I therefore caution the Leader of the Opposition in engaging in speculation in his next question. The government has no plans at all along the lines that he has suggested.

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I totally accept what the Prime Minister said.

I ask him then to engage on the floor of the House, since this is an opportunity to deal with that, not to engage in a smokescreen, not to let his political calculations trump his responsibility to uphold human rights and assure the House that he is not preparing legislation which has the intent to drive a horse and cart through the protections for Canadian citizens, who may be gay and lesbian, and that are provided for in the Canadian Human Rights Act, the charter and other provisions of Canadian law.

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. Leader of the Opposition knows, I have been clear for some time that the government will bring forward a motion for debate and for a free vote this fall. Beyond that, the hon. Leader of the Opposition is worried about the charter. Let me read the following quote to him:

Pierre Trudeau believed the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would bring us together. Yet the results haven't worked out that way.

I take that quote from the front runner for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Prime Minister would like to answer the charges and comments made this morning in the newspapers, telling us that the Prime Minister is considering a bill that would allow discrimination when some Canadians try to do business with companies?

Can the Prime Minister tell us whether gays and lesbians will be the only victims of this obvious discrimination or are there other groups in our society that the government will be considering later?

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will say it again. Rather than engage in unfounded speculation about what this government is proposing, the Leader of the Opposition should be worrying about the positions taken by the next leader of his party.

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for several days we have seen that the government is not serious about protecting minorities: the President of the Treasury Board is cancelling the court challenges program; the Minister of Justice is bent on prolonging the debate over same-sex marriage; and the Minister of Economic Development of Canada is using his discretion to deny the gay community of Montreal grant funding.

Has the Prime Minister given his ministers the order that no government program is to support the gay and lesbian community?

JusticeOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Labour and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I believe that Canadians are entitled to know that 70% of the Economic Development Canada budget envelope, which amounts to about $200 million, is going to various non-profit organizations in the province of Quebec. That being said, when an application is submitted to me, it is analyzed based on quality and merit.

In this case, the Black & Blue Festival was asking us for $55,000. I looked at all of the partners and we came to the conclusion that our contribution was not essential for the event to be held. We were not mistaken, given that the event is taking place.