This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was water.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal AffairsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the member for Toronto Centre.

The motion states:

That the House recognize the urgent need to improve the quality of life of Canada's Aboriginals, First Nations, Inuit and Métis, living both on and off reserve, which requires focused and immediate initiatives by the government in areas such as health, water, housing, education, and economic opportunities and, especially, immediately moving forward with the implementation of the Kelowna Accord with its full funding commitments.

If we talked to Canadians from coast to coast to coast, we would find that they support this motion. If Canadians went to Métis communities, Inuit communities, and first nations communities throughout this land and saw the shortcomings in those communities they would ask why governments are not getting together and working with these people to address their concerns. They would ask why we do not see the shortcomings in these communities, why we do not see the potential in these communities. Canadians would ask why we are not addressing these problems together rather than all levels of government taking individual initiatives. When each level of government has its own initiative, they are often disjointed and seldom reach what we would like to achieve.

What was the Kelowna accord? It was not a deal done on a napkin prior to a press release. The Kelowna accord was the result of a lot of lobbying done by people in those communities talking to the federal government, the provincial government and local municipalities. Negotiations were held among federal and provincial officials and first nations. An agreement was reached.

To cancel the accord sends the wrong message. It does not recognize our responsibilities as Canadians. It does not look at the errors we have made in the past and provide solutions for the future. The Kelowna accord was a very good initiative. It was very well supported. To be able to get the provinces, the territories and communities together to come to an understanding took a lot of work, a good plan and a lot of compromise. Now it has been cancelled.

What are we telling those communities? What are we telling the young people who have dreams and aspirations? We are telling them that they cannot look to governments for help. We are telling them that they cannot trust the Government of Canada to enter into an agreement with them because a minority government on a whim might renege on it and remove federal participation.

The situation in which these communities find themselves is unfortunate and regrettable.

People are losing their faith and see no future in using the institutions available to them. They use means that I completely disapprove of.

Nevertheless, they see no other solutions. The burgeoning difficulties and the lack of partnership make them feel that they have to barricade roads, hunt and fish illegally—hence poach—and use illegal means to boost the economy of their community.

Canadians and the federal government should recognize that they have an obligation to guarantee to them that when a document is signed or a verbal agreement is made, the agreement is honourable and will be honoured.

We hear often from members on the opposite side who tend to be very, very right wing that if we do a special agreement, it is race based. We have to recognize the specific needs of these communities. We have to work together.

Sometimes I hear it said that the court is ruling Canada. Sometimes it is because sometimes these decisions are forced by the court. Sometimes the court forces us into action only when we do not recognize our responsibilities. Generation after generation do not see what the treaties really mean and do not recognize that perhaps we have some liabilities and some responsibilities as Canadians toward those treaties. I remember a member of another opposition party saying that when we buy the dog, we get the fleas. With those treaties came some responsibilities and we have not always met them. For the first nations in most cases, it all has not worked to their advantage.

We should go to the communities and see the lands that they have lost. They were forced to live on reserves, their resources stripped from them, their potential stripped from them and they were reduced to a mere existence. That is not acceptable. We cross oceans so that does not apply to other nations, to other countries, to other peoples. We send our military. We send our aid. This is what we have to do in Canada, but not in the same way. We have to recognize the majority.

I had the opportunity to work with Bob Nault, as well as the member for Fredericton, when each was the Minister of Indian Affairs. We would want to work with the communities, to look at the fundamental problems in the governance and the administration, to look at the role of women, to look at the possibilities, to look at the shortcomings and how we can address them.

When we look at an agreement like Kelowna that gave such a sense of hope, that looked at those elements, at health care, at education, at infrastructure, at water and sewers, how can we back out of that? How can we go home and tell our people that our government has led us down this path?

Opposition Motion—Aboriginal AffairsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but we have reached an order of the day. The hon. member has approximately three minutes left in his 10 minutes. We will proceed now to statements by members.

Millennium Excellence AwardStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and congratulate two accomplished young people in my riding: Amy Florian and Jillian Kaulbach.

Amy and Jillian are recipients of the prestigious Millennium Excellence Award. This honour recognizes their academic achievement, community involvement, and their demonstrated leadership abilities.

As they begin their post-secondary studies this fall, they should be proud of their accomplishments and know that we stand beside them to offer our support as they dream big and realize their potential.

I would ask my hon. colleagues to join me in congratulating Amy and Jillian, as well as all the recipients of the Millennium Excellence Award for this important honour.

John HormanStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. John Horman, who was born in Matane and helped found the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.He was also the league manager and statistician from 1969 to 1975.

Mr. Horman was the discipline prefect, vice-president and even interim president in 1983. He also helped found the Canadian Hockey League, which heads up the three major junior leagues. John Horman was inducted into the Quebec Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Hall of Fame, which honours him by naming its executive of the year trophy after him.

I offer my sincerest condolences to Mr. Horman’s family and the fans of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, who are mourning his loss. A great hockey man has passed away, but his fame and teachings will live on.

Inter Tribal Health AuthorityStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Inter Tribal Health Authority serves 28 first nations communities on Vancouver Island and the surrounding areas.

First nations are challenged by health issues, such as the legacy of residential schools and the epidemic of diabetes and heart disease.

The ITHA works with first nations leaders and community health staff to ensure culturally appropriate services are available even in the smallest communities. This includes state-of-the-art health information technology that will ensure modern services and programs are available that are second to none.

The ITHA is among the first in the country to work closely with first nations and Health Canada to develop comprehensive community-based pandemic plans.

ITHA is on the leading edge of health care in Canada, based on first nations initiatives and leadership through self-determination and proactive programming.

I salute its hard work and look forward to seeing even more innovation in its health care services.

TaxationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take advantage of the opportunity this afternoon to thank the Minister of Finance who, in his budget of May 2, 2006, changed the excise tax on beer produced by microbreweries.

This tax adjustment had been requested for more than five years and will help these brewers take their rightful place on the highly competitive beer market.

Among other things, this tax holiday will enable them to create more than 2,500 jobs all across Canada. The microbrewery proprietors in my region, who helped me become very familiar with this issue, asked me to insist on its inclusion in our budget and have shown their appreciation and asked me to thank the House for resolving this.

These sentiments have been echoed all across Canada through their association. I therefore thank the Minister of Finance.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Fabian Manning Conservative Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, recently I have heard several members of the Liberal Party try to position themselves as defenders of Atlantic Canada. We are not holding our breath waiting for that to happen because the Liberal record speaks for itself.

Take for instance the member for Kings—Hants, a candidate for the Liberal leadership, who on May 17, 2003 told the Ottawa Citizen:

I believe we need to replace failed regional economic development programs and corporate welfare with dramatic corporate-tax reductions--

Or another leadership hopeful, the member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore, who in Maclean's magazine, on December 8, 2005 implied that Maritimers were dependent on employment insurance by saying:

In the Martimes recently, I was struck by the number of people who find the rhetoric of equalization condescending, as if the only way to keep the Maritimes in Confederation is to maintain EI--

Or how about the Liberal finance critic from Markham—Unionville who suggested in Hansard, on February 9 that Atlantic Canada and equalization-receiving provinces are “mired in the world of have not clamouring for subventions”.

No, we do not need Liberals pontificating about what they would do. In Atlantic Canada we know all too well what they have done. The track record of nothing speaks for itself.

Child CareStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal government successfully negotiated early learning and child care agreements with all of the 10 provinces last year.

Early childhood education is critical for the development of social and intellectual skills.

Canada's children need quality early childhood education to prepare them for the future, as in this global economy, Canadians must compete with the rest of the world for the best jobs and the best opportunities.

Giving parents a tiny taxable allowance will not contribute to a child's healthy development and future education through early learning.

The Conservative government is failing Canadians by denying our children the opportunity for early childhood education. This is just another example of the difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives.

The Liberals invest in opportunities for our children while the Conservatives are busy building jails.

I am proud to be a Liberal. I am proud of the plan that the Liberal government put forward and I look forward to us having the opportunity, when Liberals form the next government, to produce a national child care program.

Human TraffickingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, on June 10 of this year I hosted a forum in Winnipeg entitled “Stop the Slavery”, a forum on the growing crime of human trafficking.

Her Excellency Abina Dann, the Canadian ambassador to Ukraine, Victor Malarek, the author of the book The Natashas, Laura Lederer from the U.S. State Department, Irena Soltys from Help Us Help the Children organization, Sonja Bejzyk of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and myself made up the list of presenters.

Over 2,000 women and children were trafficked through Canada last year alone. This is a growing crime that trafficks nearly a million women and children across the globe into the sex trade every year. Human rights groups, women and children's advocates, and police are applauding our government for announcing measures that will protect these vulnerable victims.

This is a crime our government is addressing. This is a crime we will not tolerate on Canadian soil.

Lebanese FestivalStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maria Mourani Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, last weekend the Lebanese community of greater Montreal held their annual festival in the riding of Ahuntsic, which I have the honour of representing.

All of Montreal was invited for three days of discovery. Tens of thousands of people had an opportunity to experience and appreciate Lebanese culture, through music and song. This year, the theme was the family.

Since I am of Lebanese origin, I can tell you that this festival gave Quebeckers an opportunity to get to know the beauty of the fundamental values that unite the Lebanese people, with their extraordinary diversity of ideas, traditions and religions.

The festival was a chance to get together and to renew acquaintances, and it was a great success. I offer my warm congratulations to all of the organizers from the Saint-Maron and Saint-Antoine churches and their 300 volunteers.

Bravo. I am looking forward to next year.

TibetStatements By Members

June 19th, 2006 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, around the world, political conflicts are rife with violence, but the Tibetan people, under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, continue their strict adherence to the principles of non-violent conflict resolution as they seek to resolve the half century old Tibetan issue.

With five rounds of dialogue completed since 2002 between his envoys and Beijing, there is renewed optimism that a resolution on the Tibetan issue is finally possible.

Tibet represents the ultimate test for the future of peaceful dialogue and reconciliation. A peaceful resolution to the Tibetan issue prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics would, therefore, be the perfect gift to His Holiness, to the Tibetan people, but also to the Chinese people and the world community.

Non-violent conflict resolution is or should be a core value for Canadians. Therefore, it is essential for Canada to play a role.

His Holiness, who is now 71 years old, has had to spend the majority of his life in exile. He deserves our support to return home, along with the exiled Tibetan community.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell a story about a woman in my riding who recently became a mother of two, two standard poodle puppies.

That will have to satisfy her maternal urge for the moment as having human babies and being an entrepreneur does not seem to be attainable given the current lack of government support for parental leave for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Under the employment insurance rules, self-employed workers may not pay EI premiums. They are therefore not eligible for parental leave. Without that safety net, many entrepreneurs do not have the resources to have children.

It is somewhat hypocritical to encourage people to go into business and then deny them the opportunity to start a family and benefit from the same social programs as other Canadian families.

I call on the government to take immediate action on the issue of parental benefits and EI for entrepreneurs. Let us extend the opportunity to have children with full social support systems to all Canadians, not just a select few.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, recently Liberal leadership candidate Gerard Kennedy continued the Liberal attack on hard-working rural Canadians. He suggested that they pay even more tax on the vehicles that they depend on for their livelihoods.

In saying this, Kennedy took another low blow at our struggling farmers and our rural communities. I would like to say that Mr. Kennedy, like the Liberal Party, is simply out of touch with rural Canada.

Does he not understand that our construction trades, oil and forestry workers, and our farmers need these methods of transport to support their families?

Do Liberals believe that rural Canadians should bear a greater burden for choosing an honest and essential Canadian profession?

Mr. Kennedy has criticized the Liberal Party and even stated that “Western Canada has to stop being the afterthought when it comes to Liberal policy”. In true Liberal fashion, Mr. Kennedy is contradicting himself. Canada needs policies that respect all Canadians, including rural western constituents like my own.

Community EventsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, I was honoured to be invited to march and participate in events celebrating two diverse communities.

The Sikh community gathered and I marched five kilometres with it to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of one of its most beloved gurus, Arjan Dev.

Guru Arjan Dev laid the foundation for the Golden Temple in Amritsar and is celebrated for his work in writing The Guru Granth Sahib, which compiled the writings of past gurus into one book.

I also joined several hundred friends and members of the Hamilton area gay, lesbian and transgendered community in a march celebrating our community's diversity through downtown Hamilton.

Once again, members of the downtown business community showed its support for Pride events and there were a series of successful events including a gala awards reception recognizing important community leaders.

This weekend's events served to remind that diversity and equality, core Canadian values, are alive and well in our community and we are one step closer to ensuring it is free of racism and hate.

VeteransStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, recently two outstanding volunteers in my riding, Mr. Andy Block and Mr. Marc Searle, saw their efforts to commemorate war veterans meet with great success in a ceremony to mark veterans graves in Surrey.

The Lieutenant Governor of B.C. along with MLA Gord Hogg were on hand to commemorate the 36 brave soldiers who fought for our freedoms.

I am pleased to see today in Ottawa another B.C. MLA and parliamentary secretary, Dave Hayer and his wife, Isabelle.

There are an estimated 3,000 veterans in unmarked graves across British Columbia, and who knows how many across this country? I urge this government to implement a national program to mark the graves of these unsung heroes who gave so much for us.

Tashi WangdiStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we welcome Mr. Tashi Wangdi, the representative of the Dalai Lama in America, to Parliament Hill.

He is a member of the negotiating group in the secretariat of the extended Kashag—the cabinet of the government of Tibet in exile—which plays an advisory and support role in negotiations between the Dalai Lama’s emissaries and China.

Mr. Wangdi is a senior official in the government of Tibet in exile; he joined that government in 1966, and since that time he has held office numerous times as a kalon, the equivalent of minister.

He has headed a number of ministries, including Religion and Culture, Interior, Education, Information and International Relations, as well as Security and Health. For many years, he was also the Dalai Lama’s representative in New Delhi.

The Bloc Québécois welcomes him to Parliament Hill and wishes him a productive visit among us.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the heels of abrogating on the Kelowna accord, the government now intends to eliminate the aboriginal standing offers on government contracts.

This aboriginal business strategy was created in order to increase the number of aboriginal suppliers bidding for and winning federal contacts. Many aboriginal businesses, large and small, rely on the Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business. Each year the livelihoods of many aboriginal entrepreneurs depend on these opportunities.

The previous Liberal government recognized that when it came to federal government procurement, aboriginal businesses pursuing and winning contracts were underrepresented. This government must realize that when it comes to fostering better opportunities for hard-working aboriginals, it must look beyond the bottom line and consider what is just.

The government should do what is right. It should honour and maintain the aboriginal standing offers on government contracts.

Member for Kings—HantsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, ageism is a very real prejudice that exists in our country and is in fact being fostered within the Liberal Party. In a recent interview, the hon. member for Kings—Hants, who wants to be leader of the Liberal Party, clearly showed his disdain for seniors.

He dismissed former external affairs minister Barbara McDougall's role in representing the federal government in the Caledonia situation and actually suggested that she had no role to play because of her age, calling her a “wax museum figure”.

These comments are not only insulting to Ms. McDougall, but they are also an insult to Canadian seniors. We should be applauding Ms. McDougall and considering ourselves fortunate to have someone with her expertise and experience so committed to this cause.

The member owes Ms. McDougall an immediate and full apology. He should also apologize to all Canadian seniors for his insulting and demeaning comments and boorish behaviour.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today in the House we call on the House to direct the attention of Canadians to the need improve the quality of life of our aboriginal peoples, the quality of their housing, health, clean water, education and economic opportunity, our daily reproach to Canadians who live in one of the most fortunate and prosperous countries in the world.

The Kelowna accord represented an opportunity to break out of this situation, to turn the page, to start a new non-confrontational approach to our dealings with our aboriginal peoples.

Why has the Prime Minister turned his back on this historic opportunity for our aboriginal peoples and for Canadian society?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition talks about opportunity. He had an opportunity while he sat on this side of the House for 13 years to act on the problems faced by our aboriginal people and for 13 years the Liberals failed to meet that opportunity.

At the last minute, days before an election, they made commitments that they never funded over 13 years and that they did not even put in their budgets. Whereas our minister of aboriginal affairs and the Prime Minister have committed $3.7 billion in new investments, for water, for aboriginals who do not live on reserves, to help improve their living conditions. They talked, we are acting.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it may have taken the Liberal government 13 years to put together an historic accord for the aboriginal peoples of Canada and for Canadians. It took that government 13 days to turn its back on the possibility of an aboriginal accord. It is disgraceful. It is not acceptable in the House to continually throw out historic agreements.

In that precedent, a mood was set, a new mood for our aboriginal peoples. It was a commitment of all levels of government. Every premier across the country called upon it as a great move forward. This was no Liberal commitment. It was Canada's commitment. The Conservatives turned their back on Canada. They turned their back on the commitment of Canadians for our aboriginal people. It is not acceptable.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, every one of those words is a word of self-condemnation. For 13 years the Liberals had an opportunity to deal productively and concretely with the problems faced by our first nations people and for 13 years they offered platitudes and rhetoric and no action.

However, in the very first budget of this new government, there was $3.7 billion in new investments to help improve the living quality of aboriginal people, to help improve the quality of water on reserves, of housing off reserves. They talked. We are acting and we will continue to act.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in contrast to the absolutely disdainful attitude of this government and this member, the parties to the Kelowna accord—the leaders of our aboriginal communities and the provincial and territorial first ministers—agree on one thing: this accord established a framework for addressing the serious problems of our aboriginal communities in a consistent and practical way. This government scrapped the accord without coming up with an alternate plan.

Why did the Prime Minister break this historic agreement between the Canadian government and Canada's aboriginal peoples and citizens?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was very clear about this: the Kelowna accord had valid points, objectives and targets. The government is aware of these. But we want to act. We do not simply want to send out press releases and give speeches. That is why we have made a major investment in housing for aboriginal people. We have also invested in quality drinking water for first nations people. We will continue to act under the leadership of the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the report card is in and the government has failed Canadians on the environment. The Sierra Club of Canada has issued its annual assessment and the Conservative government has been given a great big fat F: F for having failed Canadians on environmental responsibility; F for having forgotten that the environment is a priority for Canadians; and F for foolishly abandoning Kyoto because it was afraid to do the heavy lifting.

Giving this stinging condemnation of the government's inaction on the environment, will the Prime Minister apologize to Canadians for abandoning the fight against global warming?