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House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was communities.

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 Simcoe North.

[Members sang the national anthem]

TaxationStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, some people talk about social justice, and some make it fiscally possible.

Under our government's first budget, Canadians have enjoyed a decrease in the lowest tax rate. For the riding of Louis-Hébert, this means that 1,243 people are now tax exempt.

Seniors will soon benefit from new tax measures. They will be entitled to a higher tax credit because of age and pension income splitting. These measures will affect nearly 16,000 retirees in my riding.

By reducing the tax burden by more than $1 billion, Canada's new government is acting in the interests of seniors and retirees.

This is another example of the impotence of the Bloc Québécois, which will never, ever, be able to do as much, because it is a party permanently attached to the opposition benches.

Since the January 23 election, seniors in Louis-Hébert are no longer forgotten.

I am proud to be a member of a team that cares about the well-being of Canadians.

Child CareStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government has not delivered child care to Canadians. The choice in child care plan consisted of giving parents too little for child care that costs so much and tax credits for businesses to create spaces.

Parents still struggle to afford child care and businesses have not created the 125,000 spaces the government promised. It has been reported today that businesses are not creating spaces for child care because it is cost prohibitive for them to do so.

The Liberal government had signed deals with 10 provinces and had committed $5 billion over five years to create over 600,000 child care spaces across Canada. Under the present government, parents have no choice in child care.

When will the government act and give parents choice in child care?

Shelter ShowStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, can we aspire to a more caring world? I hope so. I want to pay tribute to a songwriter whom I admire for his work and his human values, which I share. I am proud of this citizen of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, who works every year to produce a show to benefit a drop-in centre that helps street youth.

The famous Show du Refuge will return to Place des Arts in Montreal on December 6, 2006. I would like to thank all the volunteers who are giving of their time and talent to help this noble cause that often receives little attention.

I also want to thank Robert Charlebois, Nicolas Ciccone, Corneille, Alain Lefèvre, Richard Séguin, Marie-Chantal Toupin, Annie Villeneuve and Georges “Boule Noire” Thurston, who will be performing at the show, which is in its 16th year. The Refuge des Jeunes is a drop-in centre whose mission is to help young men between 17 and 24 who are homeless and in trouble.

The Bloc Québécois pays tribute to all those who are helping these young people who are so desperately in need.

Status of WomenStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, 25 years ago, Canada ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. We should be celebrating but we cannot because the Conservative government clearly does not support women's equality.

It has cut the Status of Women's budget by 40%. It has removed the word “equality” from its mandate. It has abolished the court challenges program. Funding rules for women's groups no longer promote equality. Women in my community and across Canada face severe repercussions because of the government's actions.

Canada had a reputation for upholding women's rights. We should forge a path forward, not march back in time.

The Prime Minister said that he would respect women's rights but, clearly, this was an empty promise.

I urge the Conservative government to honour the principles of equality and fairness that all Canadians value.

Hobbema Community Cadet CorpsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, today marks the first anniversary of the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program in the constituency of Wetaskiwin.

A year ago, when gangs and violence were causing havoc in this first nations community, RCMP constable Richard Huculiak started a community cadet program that has attracted over 800 young people from the Samson, Louis Bull, Erminskin and Montana bands. The program is closely associated with schools and supported by community leaders.

The activities are specifically tailored to the needs and concerns of native reserve youth. There is a strong emphasis on native culture, sports and a healthy lifestyle.

This incentive based program has proven to be an effective crime prevention initiative that draws from the same age group targeted by the gangs. Today, school attendance is up and there are fewer bullying issues, fights or other complaints.

The phenomenal growth and success of the Hobbema cadet program is attributable to the commitment of the organizers and the participants. It is an important step in engaging young people in a positive, life-enhancing experience that will help them make the right choices for their future.

I want to congratulate the cadets and thank the elders, chiefs, volunteers, RCMP and everyone else who supports this dynamic program.

Sri LankaStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, Sri Lanka has seen internal conflict for some 20 years now. The period of relative peace that prevailed during the ceasefire and negotiations showed that life with peace is better than war.

This conflict cannot be solved with a military solution because the cost would be greater than Sri Lankans could afford. The many thousands killed and assassinated include children, journalists, members of parliament, academics, clergy, party leaders and government officials.

On behalf of the Sri Lankan community in Canada, the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others, I plead with the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE to abstain from new hostilities and negotiate. Courage in embracing negotiated solutions to this political conflict is what the people want and is less costly than courage in a killing war without end.

I call upon Canada and Canadians to aggressively promote this approach in every way that we can.

Tom MinhinnettStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is often said that one can judge a man's character by what he says, what he does and what others say about him.

Tom Minhinnett, “Big Tom”, who passed away on November 14, was such a man. He left a great impression with everyone who knew him. Big Tom was a tireless volunteer. For more than 20 years he gave his time to the Tuxedo Community Association of Calgary, raised funds for charities, sang in the Chalmers Presbyterian Church choir and served on the Boxing and Wrestling Commission, all the while working as an orderly at various care centres in Calgary.

His long-time friends, the “Tuxedo Gang”, including Premier Ralph Klein, Don Phelps, Don Shaben, Roger Werth and Joe Yarrow, speak volumes about the importance of relationships to Tom.

Tom's wife, Margaret, and his family were his love and where his commitment stood. He would always put them and others before his own needs.

I want to thank Tom for caring. He made this world a better place and he will always hold a special place in our hearts. We will be seeing him in Heaven one day.

Audrey Lehoux FoundationStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year, all of the recipients of the Audrey Lehoux Foundation awards, which were given out on October 14 in Saint-Bernard, are women. Every year, to promote agricultural training, the foundation gives graduation awards to students who meet the criteria.

This year's winners are: Marie-Ève Lehoux, Excellence/Agri-Marché award; Kelly Labonté, Grand Mérite-Expo du Bassin de la Chaudière award; Maryline Fillion, Grand Mérite Promutuel award; Isabelle Paradis-Faucher, Grand Mérite Desjardins award; and, in the baccalaureate category, Marie-France Blais, Grand Mérite UPA de Beauce-Nord and UPA de Beauce award.

These awards prove that women are making an ever-increasing contribution to agriculture.

The Bloc Québécois congratulates the next generation of farmers, these young women whose excellent work has earned them these graduation awards.

Canadian Health Research AwardsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, tonight, some of Canada's most outstanding health researchers will be recognized at the fifth annual Canadian Health Research Awards. CIHR and its partners are hosting this event to celebrate our nation's health research superstars.

This government recognizes the importance of investing in health research, which is why in budget 2006 we increased funding to CIHR by an additional $17 million. As a result, CIHR is now supporting over 10,000 researchers and trainees across Canada.

This past October, the Minister of Health announced $348 million to support more than 1,600 health research grants.

In my riding of Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, $13 million for health research was allocated to McMaster University. These strategic investments are making a positive difference in the lives of ordinary Canadians by furthering work in areas such as wait times, cancer, mental health and obesity.

I congratulate the health research community and all those who will be recognized for their outstanding efforts at this evening's Canada Health Research Awards.

Elimination of Intolerance and DiscriminationStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, November 25, 2006, is the 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

This declaration, which has worldwide importance, is of particular interest to the Baha'i community. This is because of the continuing discrimination and persecution displayed toward the Baha'i in Iran. The Baha'i teachings focus on unity and equality of all peoples and all faiths with the elimination of discrimination of every kind, encouraging all peoples to have the benefit of higher education.

Sadly, the Baha'i youth in Iran are being denied many of these fundamental freedoms. Representatives of the Canadian Baha'is are deeply involved in the United Nations and are especially active in the areas of human rights.

I encourage Canadian UN delegates to make relieving the suffering of the Baha'i spiritual community in Iran one of their priorities.

Milton FriedmanStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, last week we lost a great defender of personal freedom. Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman was truly one of the great economic thinkers of all time.

To Friedman, inflation was a product of too much government and very bad government monetary policy. In the midst of runaway inflation, big spenders like Pierre Trudeau and Bob Rae ignored his advice. Fortunately, there was more enlightened leadership in the U.K. and the United States and they had positive results.

Milton Friedman was always a critic of big government, big spenders and big taxes. He was always a great defender of the individual's freedom to make his or her own choices.

Dr. Friedman coined many phrases. Perhaps his most famous was that “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. Today, only socialists, big spending Liberals and the foolhardy believe there is a free lunch.

Government ProgramsStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, on September 25, the Conservative government announced draconian cuts that affected dozens of federal programs. Since then, the organizations affected have not stopped calling for what they are entitled to and proclaiming the need for federal funding.

Whether we are talking about the court challenges program, the Canada volunteerism initiative, investment in youth employment, Status of Women Canada, international youth internship or literacy programs, they all had a raison d'être and a valid mission in the eyes of Canadians. The consequences to the beneficiaries of these programs are heavy and will be felt for a long time if the Conservative government does not backtrack.

These organizations and the Canadian public feel abandoned by their government. Who will support them in achieving their objective? Who will contribute to the development of young people, women and the illiterate? Who will protect the rights of minorities without the court challenges program? Who? It will certainly not be the Conservative government.

Eid al-FitrStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, Eid al-Fitr is one of the major festivals in the Islamic faith. It is celebrated after the month of Ramadan during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown.

For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a month of blessing, marked by prayer, fasting and charity. It is also an opportunity for social and cultural dialogue, enabling Muslims from countries around the world to interact and to develop better relations and understanding of each other's heritage.

On behalf of the organizations involved, I extend an invitation to all colleagues in this House and the other place to attend the 12th annual Eid al-Fitr celebration tonight on Parliament Hill in room 200, West Block, from 6 to 9 p.m.

On behalf of all parliamentarians, we extend to all Muslims best wishes for a happy Eid Mubarak.

LiteracyStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, during Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill, I encountered some delegates storming out of the office of the Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages.

The government's explanation for the cuts to these programs is simple: literacy programs are ineffective, since there are still people who are illiterate.

The Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages and the Minister of Human Resources have to understand that by cutting the literacy programs, the illiteracy rate will only increase.

The Minister of Human Resources bragged about allocating $2.5 million to new projects in the adult learning, literacy and essential skills program. And yet, she is unable to justify the $17.7 million cut to that very program.

The Minister of Human Resources should have stayed a little longer at Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill. She would have seen that the needs are still there and that we get results when we reward the good initiatives.

Income TrustsStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the minority Conservative government dropped an atom bomb on income trusts and cost ordinary Canadians over $25 billion.

Yesterday, unelected cabinet minister Marjory LeBreton said, “I have not seen any evidence that individuals have lost large sums of money”. This is saying to let them eat cake: aristocratic indifference from out of touch Conservative senators while ordinary Canadians lose their shirts.

I say to all Canadians, let us send Marjory a message. Let us get out the pencils. Her telephone number is 613-943-0756. On the Internet, Canadians can send her a message at lebrem@sen.parl.gc.ca.

Let us send Marjory a message. Maybe she will quit stalling and apologize to Canadians for the Conservative broken promise on income trusts.

Official LanguagesStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, as chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, I would like to thank the representatives from official language minority communities who appeared before the committee during its recent tour through the eastern provinces.

From November 6 to 8, 2006, the committee visited St. John's, Moncton, Sherbrooke, Toronto and Sudbury.

The purpose of the tour was to gain an appreciation of the vitality of official language minority communities, to better understand the issues they face and to assess the success of government programs.

The committee will visit the western provinces from December 4 to 8, 2006.

I would also like to point out that it had been over 10 years since the last time any official languages committee has traveled to meet the communities it serves. It took a Conservative government to do this.

Transfer PaymentsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, since the government came to office, it has acted to worsen the situation of the provinces and territories by $6 billion. It has off-loaded and downloaded and has broken agreements on child care, labour market development, environment money for Quebec and more than $3 billion for the people of Ontario.

Could the Prime Minister explain why, due to his actions, today the provinces are out over $6 billion in funding that they came to count on in previously signed agreements with the Government of Canada? Instead of trying to confuse Canadians with his illusory promises on fiscal imbalance, will he first restore the more than $6 billion he has taken away from the people of our provinces?

Transfer PaymentsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, completely contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition has just said, this government has increased transfers to the provinces. They are now at record levels.

This government has done what the previous government failed to do, indeed, what the Liberal Party still fails to do, and that is to recognize that there is a fiscal imbalance in this country and deal with it.

Transfer PaymentsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the Prime Minister alleges, the provinces know that he needs to invest $6 billion just for them to get back to even.

It is not governments we are talking about here; it is real Canadians who are being shortchanged and deprived. We are talking about money that the government has deliberately refused to deliver for aboriginal infants, university and college students, housing for the poor, immigrant settlement, climate change, workplace skills, apprenticeships and employment for those with disabilities.

Will the Prime Minister please tell the House today that he will end his shell game that is really hurting Canadians in need and restore their money before we belabour his question of fiscal imbalance?

Transfer PaymentsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, hearing the Liberal Party defend the provinces is like hearing the fox defend the chickens.

The reality, as I have said, is that this party has recognized the fiscal imbalance that the Liberal Party created. We are committed to dealing with it. Maybe the leader of the Liberal Party could tell us whether he even yet recognizes a fiscal imbalance.

Transfer PaymentsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we shall see who the chickens are in this House.

The Conservatives eliminated billions of dollars earmarked for child care. There was a signed agreement with the provinces. However, children still need these day care spaces. The Conservatives cut millions of dollars in transfers for university students. And, if the Prime Minister is suddenly truly concerned about the environment, why is he withholding over $300 million from Quebec to combat climate change? These are concrete examples of this government's contempt. There is not a shred of social or economic justice.

Will it restore the $6 billion that it has taken away from the provinces—

Transfer PaymentsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Transfer PaymentsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, this government has increased transfers to provinces and they are now at record levels. At the same time we have cut taxes and put money back into taxpayers' pockets. We recognize that the fiscal imbalance is a reality and we are taking action to deal with it. That is why Quebeckers will continue to reject the centralism of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Transfer PaymentsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, last December the Prime Minister fooled Quebeckers by promising to practice a so-called open federalism. Today, after he has deprived Quebec of some $800 million by ripping up the day care agreement and refused to lift a finger to support the government in attaining the Kyoto protocol targets, not to mention the labour market agreement, we see that Quebec has not received almost $1 billion.

Will the Prime Minister undertake to restore the funding he has withheld from the provinces and territories, or is this another broken Conservative promise?