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House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I want to address a component of the accountability act for which the member can have some personal satisfaction. It was he who put forward an amendment that banned political patronage and enacted transparency in the public appointments process to end what over the last decades has been a tradition in Ottawa, that of party insiders getting privileged access to plum patronage positions.

It was the member for Winnipeg Centre who stepped forward with an amendment to ban political patronage and to put in place a public appointments commission that would elevate merit above political connections in the appointments process. That is what is at stake. If this bill is stalled and delayed until after the next election it will not pass, and initiatives like the one the member for Winnipeg Centre is responsible for, that of banning political patronage, will die along with it.

I would like the member to comment for a moment on the important work that he and his fellow NDP member for Ottawa Centre did to ban political patronage and on how important it is that this law be passed as soon as possible so that those principles can be enacted into statutory law.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, one of the many details about Bill C-2 that we in the NDP found worthy of support was the idea that we can put an end to patronage with a public appointments commission, so that people would get these appointments and fill these many governor in council appointments based on their merit and qualifications, not on which political party membership card is held in a person's back pocket. I would argue that this is one of the key three irritants for the general public with regard to the way politics operates in Ottawa today: it is who people know that gets them to the top.

There are literally thousands of these appointments made every year, and they used to be done from a single desk and a single telephone in the PMO. People simply would work their Rolodex of party faithful. That is who would get these important jobs, critically important jobs such as those at the Immigration and Refugee Board, jobs that do require great specific skills in order to provide a service to the public.

The public appointments commission alone would be worthy of our support. If it were a stand-alone bill or the only thing we managed to achieve in passing this bill, that alone would be worthy of the support of members of the House of Commons. I am proud to be associated with and to have played a role in the introduction of this important reform of how we do things in Ottawa.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, earlier, our colleague spoke at length about the debate in the Senate on Bill C-2. He asked whether we knew that the same discussions were taking place, the same questions were being asked and sometimes the same witnesses were appearing before the legislative committee in charge of reviewing Bill C-2.

He went pretty far in criticizing the work of the Senate and even questioned the Senate's role. The Bloc Québécois has a position on the Senate. For a long time, the Bloc has been convinced that the Senate is not really useful, although it does make its presence felt. In light of the questions he asked and the points he raised, is he going so far as to question the relevance of the Senate?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the official position of the NDP is that the Senate should be abolished. I do not share that view. I have different views. I think the Senate can be salvaged and that we should have a bicameral system of government in Canada, but what the Senate has done with Bill C-2 makes it very difficult for me to say that the Senate has any merit or should be staying in any form. The Senate has overstepped its boundary. It has interfered with this bill in a way that is far beyond what senators are mandated to do.

Let me simply and by example say that even though there was great urgency to Bill C-2 and even though we wanted the bill to be passed in the first session of this Parliament, the Senate took the entire three month summer break. When the Senate came back for a week, it lost another full week of work because one of the senators had to be on a parliamentary junket to the Philippines. One senator was on a beach in the Philippines and we had another week's delay for Bill C-2. How can that be defended? It simply cannot.

As well, many of the amendments that the Senate has put forward simply put the Senate's nose into business where it has no place being. In regard to the public appointments commission, some of the amendments put forward by the Senate say that the Senate should have a role in the process of appointing those commissioners. That is simply problematic. It is unclear if it is a constitutional issue.

Much of what the Senate did was self-aggrandizing. Fully 43 of the Senate's 154 amendments dealt with this separate ethics commissioner, as to whether there should be one, two or three ethics commissioners. It was all about the senators. It was not about making the bill better. It was all about protecting their own backyard.

I think the Senate wasted an enormous amount of time. I do not apologize to anyone for saying it. I think it was political mischief so that the Senate could delay this bill until the Liberals have had their Liberal leadership campaign. Those Liberal leadership hopefuls should fall in line now, show some leadership and tell their rogue senators to stop mucking around with this bill and allow it to pass.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member was a member of the government operations and estimates committee when we dealt with the whistleblower bill in the last two Parliaments. The member will know that the committee basically rewrote the bill from the beginning, including introducing the creation of a new officer of Parliament who is going to oversee the whistleblowing complaints function.

Bill C-11, the whistleblower bill, received royal assent in the last Parliament, but it is not in force in Canada under the law because it has not been proclaimed. It brings into play all of the crown corporations and agencies under a redefinition of what constitutes a public servant. It creates an officer of Parliament. It also provides protection for public servants.

Will the member advise the House of whether or not he believes that the whistleblower bill, as passed unanimously by all parties in committee and in this place, should be proclaimed immediately?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, many of us spent the 37th Parliament and the 38th Parliament trying to get the Liberal government to introduce some measure of whistleblower protection. I had a private member's bill and I think my colleagues did, even those within the Liberal Party, trying to get the government to move.

What we wound up with in Bill C-11 was the best we could achieve with an unwilling government of the day. It was a flawed bill from the start. I like the chapter on whistleblowing in Bill C-2 far better than I ever liked Bill C-11, so there was no point in trying to implement Bill C-11 while Bill C-2, we hoped, would have had royal assent by now.

I do not agree that we should have done both of them, because implementation would have been a nightmare. The best thing we can do to introduce meaningful whistleblower protection is pass Bill C-2 as quickly as possible.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not really have a question. Instead, I have a comment.

The member for Winnipeg Centre said earlier, in reference to the Canadian Wheat Board, that the Access to Information Act undermined the organizations subject to it.

I am extremely surprised to hear such a statement from the member for Winnipeg Centre, and I just wanted to let him know. I do not need to hear his response.

On the contrary, the Access to Information Act makes organizations stronger and more effective, because they look at themselves, becoming more democratic and more transparent in the process.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not care if the member wants to hear what I have to say afterwards. I will tell her what I have to say afterwards. Access to information legislation for government agencies is fine. I believe in absolute freedom of information.

The Canadian Wheat Board is not a government agency. It is an organization of farmers. Not one penny of government money goes into the Canadian Wheat Board. The government has a plan to try to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board. The Conservatives are on a mad crusade to try to abolish the Canadian Wheat Board because they are ideologically opposed to collective action.

It is the collective action of farmers trying to look after their own interests that formed the Canadian Wheat Board and continues to serve them well. We should not play into the Conservatives' scheme to undermine the will of the people on the Canadian prairies. The Canadian Wheat Board is a great prairie institution. We on this side of the House will do nothing to undermine it.

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, to include an organization under access to information does not equate to attacking that organization. I know the member supports expanding access to information. He believed in expanding access to information to the CBC, and quite rightly. Does he believe that he was attacking the CBC when he put forward that expansion?

Access to information is perfectly consistent with good governance. He has always been an advocate of access to information. Why will he not join us in supporting giving farmers the right to access to information at the Canadian Wheat Board?

Federal Accountability ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Briefly, Mr. Speaker, treated in isolation, I did not object to the notion at the committee stage. Shortly following our treatment of the Wheat Board at the committee, the government undertook a full frontal assault on the Canadian Wheat Board, announcing that it would undermine the board's single desk selling without a vote, and muzzling farmers and the Wheat Board from even representing their own points of view. It then became clear this was part of a package to undermine the Canadian Wheat Board. We will not play into that. We may have been duped at one point. We are going to fix that today.

Sri LankaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to represent a riding which many Sri Lankans call home: Tamil, Sinhala, Muslim and Christian. As such, my constituents keep me very well informed about the conflict in that country.

One constituent has explained that the northern region is experiencing great hardship due to conflict and resurgent violence. Residents, who once produced their own food and exercised freedom of movement, are locked down and unable to meet their daily nutritional needs. They are surviving on remittances from Canadian based family members.

This is a civil war that no one can win. NGOs, which went into the country post-tsunami, are well funded and eager to help, but they are pulling out, discouraged, frustrated by bribery, corruption and intimidation.

Allan Rock, the former UN ambassador, reports that the government of Sri Lanka has been complicit in allowing the abduction and enlistment of child soldiers, as have the Tamil Tigers. Canada cannot sit by while that nation spirals into civil war.

I call upon the Government of Canada to take an active, even-handed approach, as did the previous government--

Sri LankaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale.

AutismStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to recognize some constituents of mine who have travelled to Ottawa this week to raise awareness about autism spectrum disorder.

Members of the Families for Early Autism Treatment and members of the Autism Society of British Columbia have come to Parliament Hill to meet members of Parliament and inform Canadians about this disorder.

Autism is a neurological disorder that impairs social interaction and communications skills. Despite autism's sometimes serious impacts, there is treatment available to help many of those affected. For example, applied behavioural analysis therapy has proven beneficial for many autistic children.

While funding for this therapy is at the discretion of Canada's provincial governments, our new government is proud of the $1.1 billion increase in the Canada health transfer that we have provided in budget 2006. Our government is also proud to invest $3.5 million annually in research into the causes and treatment of autism.

Universal Children's DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to acknowledge the significant step for the well-being of children throughout the world taken on November 20, 1959, when the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.

Principle 2 of the Declaration states:

The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity—

What measures does the federal government intend to take to help the million children still living in poverty in Canada despite the promise made in 2000 to eradicate child poverty?

The Bloc Québécois is calling on this government to stop taking action that can diminish the quality of life of children in this country and throughout the world.

Lucille BroadbentStatements By Members

November 20th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Lucille Broadbent, who passed away this weekend, and to offer condolences to her lifelong partner, Ed Broadbent, her children Paul and Christine and to people everywhere who loved Lucille with a passion.

Lucille was a tireless fighter for social justice, francophone rights, women's equality and more. Lucille was a leader in her own right. As I said in 1989 at our farewell to Ed as leader, she was not born to shop.

She was also Ed's partner. She was the wind beneath his wings. For 35 years, Lucille was there working with Ed. Then, when serious illness confronted her, Ed left the job he loved to be by her side.

As our leader said on May 5, when Ed announced his decision not to run again for member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre:

--the sharing we should salute today is that which Lucille has done, because without it, this country never could have come to love Ed, and without it, our political discourse would be the worse for it.

This is the legacy that will live on, a commitment between two people that supports dreams and that rises above personal and political ambition. It is about a love that endures.

When I first met Ed and Lucille, I saw them loving to dance. Today I say, Lucille, dance wherever you may be.

2006 Grey CupStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians from coast to coast watched the 94th Grey Cup that was held in Winnipeg. Named for a former governor general, the Grey Cup is one of Canada's great sporting traditions.

As a British Columbian and an avid fan of the B.C. Lions for more than 45 years, and a seasons ticket holder, I am proud to say the B.C. Lions are the 2006 Grey Cup champions after a hard fought win over the Montreal Alouettes.

The B.C. Lions' fight song says, “From the mountains to the sea, you are the pride of all B.C.” From Nakusp to Nanaimo, from Vanderhoof to Vancouver, B.C. is proud of its five time Grey Cup champions.

I know all B.C. MPs will want to join me in congratulating Coach Wally Buono, coordinators Jacques Chapdelaine and Dave Ritchie and all of the B.C. Lions. They made us proud and we are looking forward to another successful season in 2007.

I know I am not alone when I say, go Lions go.

Veterans AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, despite nine months in office, the government has failed to advance the serious issue of helping individuals exposed to agent orange and other herbicides at CFB Gagetown.

The Prime Minister's promise of full and fair compensation has yet to materialize. While it made a nice story during a New Brunswick election stop in January, the Conservatives have not even followed through on the demands they made of us on this file while in opposition.

The former government expanded the independent review and looked into claims by veterans and civilians who believed they were sick as a result of working during the annual spray programs at CFB Gagetown between 1956 and 1984. This is what the community and the Conservative opposition asked for.

Veterans Affairs is still only considering applications for disability pensions, retroactive to a handful of days when agent orange was tested in 1966 and 1967.

Veterans are passing away each week. It is time for the government to act on its promise.

2006 Grey CupStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I wish to acknowledge the tremendous success of the 2006 Grey Cup game held in my hometown of Winnipeg.

The people of Manitoba once again have demonstrated to the world that Winnipeg is an excellent city to host world-class sporting events, including the Pan Am Games and the World Hockey Championships.

This past weekend, the Grey Cup parade attracted over 100,000 spectators. The game was sold out, and the week preceding the game was jam-packed with fun an festivities. In fact, many Conservative youth caucus members of Parliament were in Winnipeg this past week reaching out to students in high schools and universities and telling them how to get involved in their community. The MPs were also able to enjoy the legendary Winnipeg hospitality.

Congratulations to the CFL finalists, Montreal Alouettes and B.C. Lions.

Once again, Winnipeg has demonstrated why we say “friendly Manitoba”. I encourage all Canadians and citizens of the world to visit and enjoy the glorious beauty and unbridled entertainment that Manitoba has to offer.

African Industrialization DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this African Industrialization Day we should be celebrating the achievements and development of that continent so long plagued by humanitarian crises. However, development work for Africa is far from being completed.

Instead of helping—far from it—the Conservative government is hindering Africa's development by withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol. As noted at the conference in Nairobi, Africa will be the continent the most seriously affected by the environmental and economic repercussions of global warming, not to mention the actions of a number of Canadian companies that continue to exploit this continent.

The Conservative government is so afraid to upset the oil industry that it is jeopardizing decades of efforts to ensure that Africa can finally begin to develop. Shame on the Conservatives.

Universal Children's DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, today countries around the world celebrate Universal Children's Day. This day reminds us of our shared commitment to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention recognizes the fundamental role that parents and families play in the lives of children.

Indeed, supporting families with children is a key priority of the government. That is why we have introduced Canada's universal child care plan, a plan that helps all parents balance work and family life as they see fit, regardless of where they live or their child care preferences. We recognize the diversity of families. We know that no two families are exactly alike and each has its own distinct needs.

On this day of the child, my wife Debi and I are thankful for our own children, Jaden and Jenae, and the joy that they bring to our lives.

Let us all take a moment today to celebrate our children, to be thankful for their presence in our lives and for the future that they represent.

Nima Maamobi Community Learning CentreStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I want to salute the efforts of Kathy Knowles, a constituent in Winnipeg South Centre who has had a dream realized: the completion of a major project to promote literacy in Ghana.

On November 18, Ms. Knowles, along with the Canadian High Commissioner, Ghanaian dignitaries, many Manitobans and hundreds of local school children, unveiled the Nima Maamobi Community Learning Centre, a literacy centre to supplement the community library in Accra, Ghana.

On November 27, the Governor General of Canada will be paying a visit to see this remarkable centre that has been constructed there. The centre, designed by Ghanaian-born Canadian architect Roger Amenyogbe, is designed to resemble an open book when looking at it from one angle.

The centre is indeed a testament to what happens when the power of one, in turn supported by a group of dedicated people, puts committed heart and soul into a project to make it happen.

We thank Kathy. Her dream will provide opportunity for many.

Osteoporosis MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the House and the Canadian public that November is Osteoporosis Month.

Osteoporosis is a chronic bone disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Bone loss happens without any noticeable symptoms to those affected. It affects approximately 1.4 million Canadians, including one in four women over 50 and one in eight men over 50. It may however appear at a younger age. There is no cure for osteoporosis, but it can be treated with medication. The Osteoporosis Society of Canada works to educate, empower and support individuals in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

I urge all members to join me in congratulating the Osteoporosis Society of Canada for its education and support work with Canadians in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Trans Day of RemembranceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, today, around the world, members of the transgender and transsexual communities and their allies are marking the Trans Day of Remembrance. This annual event remembers the victims of transphobic violence, hate and prejudice, those who have died, those who have been beaten and those who face daily discrimination.

Canada must take a leading role in ending violence against members of the trans community. Discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression must be prohibited. Trans Canadians must enjoy the direct, full protection of the charter and the Human Rights Act and have full and fair access to health care, to housing and to employment.

We must challenge our assumptions and behaviours that put unacceptable limits on the lives of trans Canadians. We must ensure that opportunities exist for trans Canadians to tell their stories and for us all to learn from their life experience.

Trans Canadians, who are members of our families, our friends, our neighbours and our co-workers, must be supported as they take their place in Canadian society. Today we commit to that transformation as we stand in solidarity and as we remember.

Bionorth 2006Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, today and tomorrow the 13th annual Bionorth Conference, “Canada's International Biotechnology and Life Sciences Conference and Exhibition”, will be held in Ottawa by the Ottawa Life Sciences Council.

Canada is an international leader in research and development. Since 1995, the city of Ottawa has attracted over 50% of all incoming venture capital to Canada.

This year Bionorth focuses on competing in a global market. Now, more than ever, investments in education and research put us ahead. For that reason, I am very disappointed that the Conservative government has not made innovation a priority. Where is its plan?

Our government's innovation strategy fostered an outstanding business climate. The private sector today spends more than $3 billion a year in life sciences research and development, producing well over 70,000 Canadian jobs.

Innovation is at the core of Canada's economic success. Where is the minority Conservative government?

Canada Volunteerism InitiativeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite exorbitant surpluses, the Conservatives have eliminated the canada volunteerism Initiative. In Quebec alone, this cut is affecting over two million volunteers who do 308 million hours of volunteer work. Yet, according to Canadian Heritage's website, 80% of Canadians feel that the government should encourage people to do volunteer work.

Unfortunately, the Conservative government is turning a deaf ear. Two weeks ago, I met with the president of the Regroupement des organismes communautaires de La Baie et du Bas Saguenay, Lise Savard. She strongly condemns this measure, because it jeopardizes organizations such as the Maison de l'Espoir, youth centres, the Maison des Familles, and many more. These organizations manage to survive thanks to volunteers.

I challenge the Minister of Canadian Heritage to come and visit the organizations that she just abandoned, and to explain to them her decision to do so.