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House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was afghan.

Topics

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Sarnia Building TradesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the honour to attend a very special graduation ceremony in my riding, a ceremony that does not occur anywhere else in the province of Ontario.

The Sarnia Construction Association and the Sarnia Building Trades Council worked together to honour 88 graduates of the apprenticeship program. There were graduate electricians, pipefitters, plumbers, millwrights, boilermakers, bricklayers, sheet metal workers, carpenters, labourers, and operating engineers.

As well as honouring these graduates, the two groups have worked diligently to have training provided at our local community college. As a result, those seeking training as steamfitters, carpenters and electricians can now access that training locally, thus keeping our local youth in the community.

This is a huge success story in my riding. I am proud to pay tribute on a job well done to the graduating apprentices, the Sarnia Construction Association and the Sarnia Building Trades Council.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak on behalf of one of my constituents, Master Warrant Officer James Tolmie, who has served this country for the past 33 years as a member of the Canadian Forces.

Mr. Tolmie has expressed his sadness and disappointment in the government's decision not to fly the flags at half-mast for the fallen soldiers in Afghanistan. He feels as though our government owes this gesture of respect to all the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while serving our country. I would agree.

I would like to recognize all the members of the Canadian Forces who have served and who are presently serving our country and to let them know that this House honours their commitment and respects the great contributions that they have made at home and abroad.

We are grateful and we are indebted to them.

Sister Annette BellavanceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge Sister Annette Bellavance of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, who was principal of Collège Regina Assumpta for 35 years. This educational institution is located in the heart of my riding, Ahuntsic.

As the members may recall, in March 2005, Sister Annette received an eloquent tribute during a ceremony organized by the Ahuntsic Cartierville Business People's Association, which also gave her an award for her community involvement.

On May 21, she will participate in the closing ceremonies of Collège Regina Assumpta's 50th anniversary celebration during a reunion of the college's alumni, teachers and staff members.

I would like to wish Sister Annette a happy reunion and to thank her for her devotion.

Pay EquityStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to congratulate our sisters and brothers in the Communications, Energy & Paperworkers Union of Canada on their historic pay equity settlement with Bell Canada. These 4,700 telephone operators, dining service and house service workers, almost all women, bravely and patiently brought pay equity to the forefront of the struggle for equality for women workers in Canada.

CEP took on this fight in 1992, when women earned 30% less than their male counterparts. This victory, a $104 million pay equity settlement, is a victory for all women in this country, but let us not forget that two years ago the former Liberal government released a pay equity report recommending new legislation to protect equal pay for work of equal value. Yet nothing has been done.

The NDP joins in solidarity with our sisters in CEP and the women across Canada to call on this government to immediately implement the recommendations of the pay equity task force. Justice delayed is justice denied.

AfghanistanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lee Richardson Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, today Parliament will debate and vote on extending our mission in Afghanistan. With that in mind, I am pleased to congratulate a Calgary constituent on the release of his heroic documentary highlighting the value of Canada's efforts in Afghanistan and the progress that is being made every day. After nearly three decades of reporting on Afghanistan, journalist Arthur Kent has returned to document Canada's military mission in the war-ravaged country.

Recently I was fortunate to attend a screening of his new film, Afghanistan: Peacemaking In Progress. The documentary, independently financed and produced by this Emmy award winning filmmaker, takes audiences on patrol with Canadian General David Fraser and his troops. Kent also reunites with Afghans he filmed during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, including two inspiring individuals now serving in President Hamid Karzai's cabinet.

The film serves as a testament to Canadians deployed in Afghanistan and a tribute and inspiration to the people of Afghanistan and those brave Canadians who serve to restore their freedom.

PovertyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, a recent Statistics Canada report contains some very good news for Canadians. That news was contained in some typically technical statistics that measure poverty and for the most part seems to have gone unnoticed by this House and the public. I should give some credit to the Globe and Mail for shining some light on this in an editorial.

First, the number of children living in poor families declined between 1996 and 2004 from 1.3 million to 865,000, a huge reduction of 33%.

Second, the proportion of families living below the poverty line has declined from 12.1% to 8.5% over the same period.

These huge improvements are the result of a strong economy, more jobs and increased transfer payments from governments. There is still poverty and there is still much more work to do, but this is still real progress that all Canadians, all parties in this House and anti-poverty advocates can celebrate.

This shows that government can make a big difference in improving the lives of Canadians, just as this House was seeking when it passed its resolution on the subject in 1990.

Conservative GovernmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been roughly 100 days since the Prime Minister and this Conservative government took office. We came into office promising to clean up government, to do things differently in Ottawa, respect Canadians and deliver real results for them.

In 100 days we have cut the GST by 1% and delivered a budget with tax relief for all Canadians. We have given parents the choice in child care through a universal benefit for all families. We introduced legislation that will finally get tough on criminals. We introduced the federal accountability act, a landmark document that will give Canadians a clean government. We are the first government to take a hard line on Hamas. We have given Quebec a greater voice within our Confederation. We have settled the softwood lumber dispute and negotiated a new long term agreement.

We have accomplished more in 100 short days than the previous government did in 13 long years, and we will continue to deliver for all Canadians.

Seal HuntStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday I had the opportunity to participate in a meeting in Paris of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the seal hunt was on the agenda.

Several of the European MPs were against it, and I found that their opinions were based on false information. The Conservative government must rectify this situation before it is too late.

That said, in light of the importance of this industry for communities of the Magdalen Islands, the North Shore and Newfoundland and Labrador, why did the federal government not send a representative to this significant meeting? Despite the fact that this industry could lead to a boycott by European countries, the federal government did not send a delegate. This is unacceptable.

If the Conservative government supports Quebec and Canada's seal industry, it should send a representative to the next meeting of the committee on June 9 in Paris.

Honda CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand up today on behalf of Canada's new government to help celebrate Honda Canada's announcement of investing $154 million for a new engine plant in Alliston located in my riding of Simcoe—Grey. The investment will create 340 new jobs, as well as many additional spinoff jobs and other economic benefits. This is tremendous news not only for Alliston and New Tecumseth, but for Canada and the entire Canadian automotive industry and its dedicated workers.

Honda has been a tremendous corporate citizen, enjoying a worldwide reputation for tremendous quality and continuous innovation. 2006 marks the 20th anniversary of Honda vehicle production in Canada. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the anniversary than for Honda to announce a new engine plant, new investment and new jobs in Alliston.

Today's great news is a strong sign of competence in Canada and in Canadian workers. With the recent budget delivered by Canada's new government, we are showing that Canada is open for business and ready to compete on the global market.

MusicFest CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome to our nation's capital both the Regina High School Jazz Band and the Herdman Collegiate Stage Band. These young men and women from Corner Brook, Newfoundland are participating in the 34th annual MusicFest Canada program here in Ottawa.

The Regina High School Stage Band earned this special honour by its performance at the Atlantic Band Festival in Halifax, and having already performed here in Ottawa, has been awarded a gold standard performance by MusicFest Canada organizers.

The Herdman Collegiate Jazz Band attended the provincial competition in St. John's some time ago and was awarded a gold placement as well, which qualified the band to participate in MusicFest 2006. It too is up to the challenge of a gold standard performance here in Ottawa.

Congratulations to music directors Mr. Floyd Thomas and Mr. Darren White and to both of these very talented bands that they direct. I am very proud of their accomplishments.

Government AppointmentsStatements By Members

May 17th, 2006 / 2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we witnessed the sad spectacle of the opposition parties turning a parliamentary committee into a kangaroo court to shamefully slur the reputation of Canada's most respected business leader. Gwyn Morgan recently retired as head of EnCana, one of Canada's largest and most successful companies, where he capped off a sterling 35 year professional record by being voted Canada's top CEO by his peers.

Universally lauded for his integrity and community service, Mr. Morgan had agreed to serve as the founding chairman of the Public Appointments Commission for $1 a year to help depoliticize the government appointment process. But the opposition did not want Canada's top CEO offering his services for $1 a year and the Liberals certainly did not like the idea of a transparent professional appointment process, so they organized a sordid lynching of Mr. Morgan's reputation, outrageously contorting two lines from one speech in a 40 year career to imply that Mr. Morgan was a “racist”.

This odious drive-by smear was used to justify the opposition's predetermined outcome. It says a lot more about the opposition than it does about Gwyn Morgan.

Child CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Victoria hundreds of people gathered in front of the legislature. On a weekday afternoon, parents, child care workers and dedicated citizens took time from their work and busy lives to show their frustration and disappointment with the Conservative government.

Their message was plain: The Conservative plan for child care is empty and unrealistic. Their signs said it all: “Mr. Harper, I have $100. Will you care for my child?”

Child CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member knows that she cannot refer to hon. members by name. I am sure that the hon. member was referring to the Prime Minister, I would judge from the sound of the name.

Child CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I apologize.

“Mr. Prime Minister, I have $100. Will you care for my child?” “Find me safe child care for 70¢ an hour”. “Quality child care builds quality citizens”. “One hundred dollars buys a month of child care--in 1986”.

My constituents are--

Child CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I am afraid the hon. member's time has expired.

The hon. member for Oak Ridges—Markham.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my statement on the budget, I wish to welcome residents from my riding of Oak Ridges—Markham who are in Ottawa celebrating Asian Heritage Month.

Tax measures in the Conservative budget do very little to truly help my constituents.

First, the lowest tax rate for Canadians will increase to 15.5% and the basic exemption will decrease by $200. While raising the taxes we pay, the Conservatives are implementing a GST cut that only benefits the wealthy who spend more money on luxury goods.

Also, the transit tax credit of 15.5% does very little, if I may say, to benefit the transportation needs of my riding. Commuters in my riding benefit when money is pooled and goes toward such projects as light rail, subway extension and improved bus services. These are what encourage people to use the transit system, not the paltry tax cut for those that already use it.

National Day Against HomophobiaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is the national day against homophobia and this year's focus is a homophobia-free workplace. Recognizing this national day was a Quebec initiative, proposed by Fondation Émergence. Legal equality for homosexuals was achieved in 2005 with the right to same-sex marriage. However, further work is needed to achieve social equality for homosexual and transgender individuals.

May 17 was the date chosen to mark this event because it was on May 17, 1990 that the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. This year, more than 30 countries will organize activities to denounce homophobia all around the world, from Canada to Russia, from Turkey to Sri Lanka, and even in China.

I ask you to support this international day to fight against homophobia and to encourage our governments to implement measures to prevent this discrimination, which is similar to racism, sexism or anti-Semitism.

National Day Against HomophobiaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, for the past four years, May 17 has been recognized by Fondation Émergence as a national day against homophobia.

The theme of this year's campaign is fighting homophobia in the workplace and in the world of sports. All too often, gays and lesbians are victims of harassment based on their sexual orientation.

I encourage all Canadians to speak out against homophobia and to work for a better and more tolerant Canada.

I would also like to take advantage of this national day against homophobia to encourage the members of this House who still oppose civil marriage between same-sex partners to reflect carefully on the negative consequences of their belief.

I ask everyone to join me in support of this day.

AfghanistanStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, for months the opposition parties have called for a vote on our role in Afghanistan. Our Prime Minister has agreed to that vote. Opposition members are now playing politics with our mission in Afghanistan.

Liberal and NDP members just weeks ago supported this mission. The member for Halifax said, “It's not a question of should we be in Afghanistan. Yes, we should, we need to be, we need to be in for the long haul”. The member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore said, “We have got to be a party that stands for human rights everywhere, that does the tough lifting when it has to be done”. And finally, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca said, “The courageous Canadians who are in this dangerous theatre must have our unequivocal and steely support. They must know that we fully support them and that their mission is critically important to Canada, Canadians and the world”.

This government could not agree more. We hope that the opposition parties will keep their word, do the right thing tonight and support our men and women in uniform and their continued efforts in Afghanistan.

Canadian ForcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that members of the House will have learned that today a Canadian soldier died in Afghanistan. I would like on behalf of our party and I believe all members of the House to express our deepest sympathies to her family and friends.

Of course, we regret this tragic loss of life.

I would ask the Prime Minister if he would like to comment on this.

Canadian ForcesOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question. He is correct. Today we suffered a combat casualty in Afghanistan. I have the name of a female officer who was killed in combat action against Taliban forces. I am not at liberty to release the name. The next of kin, a husband, is being notified.

These are always terrible tragedies. I do not know if this is a first female combat death. It is certainly not a first that we ever want to celebrate, but it does underscore the tremendous courage that our young men and women show in our theatre. I believe they have the right at all times to know that those of us who send them into combat stand behind their mission.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, this House clearly expressed its wishes with regard to Canada's environmental policy. A sizeable majority of elected representatives of the Canadian people asked the Prime Minister to ensure that Canada meet the objectives established by the Kyoto protocol.

When the current Prime Minister was the opposition leader, he continually asked the government to respect the wishes of Parliament. Will he do so in this case, also?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government's position has been clear for quite some time: we intend to respect our election promises.

It is unfortunate that the former government accepted targets but refused to take action to meet them. It is easy for the opposition parties to vote for sentiments. However, a government must have plans and take action. And we intend to take real action.

Government AccountabilityOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, you and all members of the House will recall that during the previous election, the current Prime Minister assured Canadians who were concerned by the extreme views of his caucus that he be held in check by a minority Parliament. The Prime Minister wanted to work with all parties in this minority Parliament, he claimed. But the Prime Minister has no intention of respecting yesterday's vote on the environment. His commitment to accountability was jettisoned when his choice to head the appointments commission was rejected because he was one of his bagmen.

How does that give the members of the House any confidence about the consequence of tonight's vote on Afghanistan?