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House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-17 poses a significant problem for the government and for Parliament. It challenges one of our fundamental institutions. It challenges the independence of our judiciary, which is one of the significant pillars of our democracy.

We need to put the bill in the context of where our judiciary stands, both nationally and internationally. Its reputation certainly has no superiors and very few peers.

I have had the opportunity to travel to other countries, mostly within the Commonwealth. It is interesting how often I hear extremely favourable comments about our judiciary, how it has, for instance, reached out to any number of countries which are trying to develop their judges and their judicial system. Our judges have helped them to do that.

We have a model that has no superiors, which I can see in the whole world, and very few peers. However, it is a model that is under attack. Our judges are under attack. We have seen that in a number of ways from the government and from some commentators in the media. When we put it in that context, we are going after a very fundamental thing for our judges, and that is their compensation package.

Back in 1999, we developed, I believe in good faith with our judges, under the direction of the Supreme Court, a methodology as to how to deal fairly and equitably with judicial compensation. What we did was build in a system that was very akin to binding arbitration in the labour context. Binding arbitration basically says that both parties submit their positions to a neutral, in this case, commission of three members and allow it to decide what is fair and equitable to both parties. That is what we have done.

When the report came down from the McLennan commission, there were very specific recommendations, as was required, as to what the compensation should be. It was based on reasons that are set out in the commission's report, which the government has seen. It analyzed the status of our judiciary. Some of the tests were what they would be paid if they were practising in private practice, the ability of the government to meet the recommended compensation levels, the status of the judiciary in the country and, to some degree, internationally and a number of other points. It was a reasoned, detailed report. It met all the requirements of the statutory framework.

What happened? It was reported to the House. The former government sat on it, in effect. It came through with a bill in the spring of 2005, just a little over a year ago, but the government did nothing to press it forward. Then we had a change in government.

The new government has a fundamental attitude that is very disrespectful of our judges. Quite frankly, ignorance pervades the Conservative Party with regard to our judiciary in terms of understanding its status, the importance of judicial independence and the importance of maintaining our judiciary at the high calibre, as we have seen over the last good number of decades, at least since the second world war, if not before.

What did the Conservatives do? Shortly after coming to government, they looked at the report again and determined that there was no way those elite judges, sitting in the Supreme Court, or in our Superior Courts or in our Federal Court, were deserving of the compensation recommended by the independent commission.

The Conservatives proceeded to slash the compensation through Bill C-27. The government had the hypocrisy to challenge the reasons on two basis. One was on the government's ability to pay, which is an absolute joke. For the periods of time that we are talking about, the Government of Canada had surpluses of $10 billion and $12 billion. The new government is now trying to convince the Canadian people, and perhaps at some point they will have to convince a judge, that this is a reasonable argument. I think the facts belie the credibility underlying that argument.

The second attack on the commission's report was that it had not properly taken into account what judges were being paid both in smaller communities and in our larger cities. Again, if the government had analyzed the report to any degree of accuracy, it would have realized that the commission had looked very specifically at the issues of compensation at a lower level for those lawyers practising in smaller communities versus those in larger communities. The commission analyzed it, came to its conclusions and made its recommendations, all of which was its responsibility, all of which was within the criteria and its mandate.

Looking for excuses to justify their disrespect for our judiciary, the Conservative tried to latch on to what are very specious arguments. It comes down to this. If the government does not begin to appreciate the significance of the independence of our judiciary, our judiciary will be undermined. If, in some cases very personal attacks on some of the judges continue, our model will be threatened and will be undermined.

With all the passion I can muster, I urge the government to take this opportunity to grasp this. There is an opportunity for the government to rehabilitate itself in the eyes of the public and in the eyes of our judiciary. There is an opportunity for the government to convince our judiciary that it respects the principle of its independence and that it is a fundamental pillar of democracy in any country.

Last week I was with the Minister of Public Safety in Moscow. One of the reasons I went with him was to deal with issues around terrorism. While I was there, I had the opportunity to meet with their judiciary and with some of the human rights groups. It was stark the difference between that country and ours in terms of the protection and security that an independent judiciary can provide.

At one point in one of the meetings I had with the human rights groups, I asked for their opinions on independent judiciaries. The five or six leaders who were present laughed at me. They laughed at the suggestion of an independent judiciary because they knew it did not exist in that country.

While I was preparing my speech for this evening, I could not help but think of them. I wondered if we would be faced with this at some point in the near future. Are our judges going to be treated as jokes? Unless the government changes its attitude toward them, we are clearly facing this as a risk.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:15 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have to take issue with some of the thesis of the member on the underpinnings of the bill.

First, the government has adopted almost all of the commission's recommendations. Second, this government has taken steps to respect the judiciary, to ensure that we have a process that works. We have done that by acting quickly to move the bill forward. I hope my hon. colleague will acknowledge that the former government's bill, Bill C-51, sat on the order paper and did not move forward. We are trying to move this bill forward expeditiously. We have moved forward very quickly with the bill.

Judicial compensation has been set in different ways. A commission was set up. Does the member acknowledge that the very judiciary we are talking about, the highest judges, the Supreme Court of Canada, the highest court in this land, has set out that Parliament is ultimately responsible for taxpayer dollars? Parliament is ultimately responsible for how that money is spent. The government has taken the commission's recommendations very seriously. We have looked at them and we have responded, as we are entitled to do as a government, in a very responsible manner.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:15 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, to be blunt, I do not believe the government has responded responsibly. Why is its judgment to be taken over that of the independent commission? We have a rule of law in the country, and it provided for that. Would the parliamentary secretary take the same position on any number of cases involving an independent arbitrator and binding arbitration where one of the parties can say it is not going to agree? That is what we have here. The government is unilaterally overthrowing this system.

With regard to the government's speedy response, it is easy enough to do a speedy response when it is not complying with the recommendations. He knows this as well. Bill C-9 and Bill C-10 are in front of the justice committee. This issue will not be dealt with by the justice committee this year. It is as simple as that. Bill C-9 and Bill C-10 will take up the rest of the year after the summer break, so it will not be a speedy process.

The Liberals and the NDP are on line. If the Conservatives came on line and moved the royal recommendation back to the recommendation from the commission, this could be resolved in a speedy way. It could be done at all three stages and done before the end of the week.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, my colleague pointed out the government's attitude toward the Supreme Court. We all know too well the Marshall decision in 1999 and the concerns about same-sex marriage. Many members of that party indicated that the notwithstanding clause should be used because in their eyes it was politically popular to do that. However, it would not have been respectful of the court's decisions.

Could my hon. colleague discuss this a bit and give us his point of view about using the notwithstanding clause when it comes to basic human rights and aboriginal rights?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the use of the notwithstanding clause has been an issue of great debate in the country. However, when we come down to the fundamentals, it is there to protect human rights, civil liberties and the rights of all Canadians, especially those of our minority groups.

The government seems to have had an equivocal attitude toward it, the Prime Minister in particular. I have never been quite sure where he stands on this. It seems his position with regard to the use of the notwithstanding clause depends on whether we are in an election or after an election. It is there for a very specific purpose. Thankfully, it has been rarely used because legislators have generally been more respectful of our civil rights and civil liberties.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased not only as a lawyer and the associate justice critic for the Liberal Party, but also as an ordinary Canadian, to stand before the House today to lambaste the government for not respecting the independence of our judges.

Judges are well respected people with learning and wisdom, who for many people represent “the law”. It is often said that our fine law enforcement officials such as local police and RCMP administer the law to so many in the first instance, and it is true, but let me give an example of how that first ministration is almost always subject to the good decisions of a judge.

Not so long ago, in my own province, which is proudly bilingual, individuals suspected of having violated traffic regulations could be questioned in any language by otherwise well-intentioned police officers.

Through careful application of our laws and, I add, common sense, judges determined that the first question to be legally put was what language the alleged violator desired service in. That is common sense. It came from judges, not the legislature. I use this point to illustrate how lost we would be without judges and why they deserve to be treated fairly on the pay issue.

Secondly, the days are long gone where favouritism is shown to the privileged classes in the judicial system. A lawyer or judge charged with an offence now is always tried and prosecuted by an out of town, faraway lawyer and judicial prosecution team. This was settled by judges, not legislators.

If the method of payment of judges is at the whim of legislators, this independence is put in jeopardy.

That is why the previous government established the Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission in 2003 and, having received the commission's report in 2004, it tabled its response in November 2004.

Bill C-51 was later introduced, following numerous consultations, but it died on the order paper when the government fell last November.

This bill approved wage increases, but I will touch on that later.

First, let us look at the process. The commission was comprised of Earl Cherniak, Gretta Chambers et Roderick McLennan, three distinguished Canadians.

They received many submissions and conducted public hearings. Expert evidence was called. They hired their own independent consultants. The commission drew particular comparisons to the public sector and the salaries of DM3s at the Department of Justice and also those from the private bar, where many of the good candidates for judiciary come from.

In many cases, judges today accept pay decreases for a promotion. This does not often happen in other jobs or professions. Imagine the head of the English department at the high school, the head nurse at the hospital, the foreman of the water plant or the captain of a firefighting brigade accepting less upon promotion than before. It is absurd and it is what the commission concluded.

The former government approved the findings of this independent commission for the sake of fairness.

Let us now turn to the issue of workload. The minister, who introduces legislation and works like a real sheriff, has caused a direct increase in the workload of judges.

An increase in mandatory minimums and a decrease in conditional sentencing leads, as any lawyer knows, to more jail time and therefore more careful consideration of the evidence, timing of trials, submissions on sentencing, writing of decisions, and further appeals, all the attendant work relative to the loss of liberty that is occasioned by the other two bills that the justice minister felt were a priority to this one. It is more work for judges.

At the same time, this government has indicated that the dream of a unified family court in four provinces of this country, and its concomitant appointment of new judges to fill the same, is not coming any time soon, so having retired judges work more often is the solution for the logjam in the courts of our country.

If anyone on the other side has listened to parties wishing to have key issues such as overdue child support, delayed marital property settlements, and prolonged and unsatisfactory child custody and visitation situations dealt with quickly, they will know how long it takes in provinces like New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario.

No relief is on the way. That is the message from the government. On top of which, we are going to underpay the judges who are available. Justice delayed is justice denied, I remind the minister.

The government, in its two and a half page response, reached the following conclusion:

In particular, we do not agree that paragraph 26(1.1)(a) is simply directed at establishing whether the Government has sufficient funds to pay for whatever amount the Commission might otherwise think is appropriate.

In its 2006 budget, the government identified its key priorities, such as enhancing accountability, creating greater opportunity, et cetera. We have heard the five before, but one of them was protecting Canadian security. That was supposed to be important. One would think the judiciary was important to implement that.

The government said in its report that this is not one of their fiscal priorities:

In sum, the Government does not believe that the Commission’s salary recommendation pays adequate heed to this reality, as embodied in the first statutory criterion.

It is all about money and the priorities of the government. It has its five priorities. There is no money for a good judiciary, kept independent.

It is total hypocrisy. The current government has inherited the best financial situation it could have hoped for—and certainly one better than it was in 1993 when the last gang of Conservatives was tossed out—with a surplus totalling $80 billion today.

What do they with this? What do they do with this financial gift given to them by the Liberals? They cancel universal child care, eliminate $6,000 per university student for tuition fees and, touching on this subject, set aside $225 million for jails. But they failed to show the proper respect for the people who will order those jails full, or perhaps not, and they have failed to give respect to the subtle instrument that will put people in those jails, or not, and that instrument is the law.

A note on the law: judicial independence is an entrenched legal principle. Let me quote the Law Society of Saskatchewan:

Judicial independence has many definitions, but ultimately it means that judicial officers of the Court have the freedom to decide each case on its own merits, without interference or influence of any kind from any source...It is crucial that the judiciary both be independent and appear to be independent so that there is public confidence that judicial decisions are made without bias.

In order for judges to apply and interpret the law, they need to be free from inappropriate influences. As we know, in Canada there are three branches of the government. It is somewhat blurred sometimes when the government talks about it. There are the judiciary, or the courts, the executive, which is the cabinet, and the legislature, the lawmakers.

Judges are independent and should not be controlled by either elected officials or government employees. To ensure judges are independent, three important safeguards have been developed, and this is from the B.C. law association: security of tenure, which means they cannot be fired on a whim; financial security, which means that money matters, including judges' salaries, will not influence judicial decisions; and finally, institutional independence, which means the judiciary is kept separate from the other branches of government.

Judicial independence was established in 1701 by the British Act of Settlement. This allowed judges from that point on to do their jobs, immune from the pressures of outside influence. It seems the government does not respect our judicial system or the Constitution. We saw this with the accountability rebels in the last few months who wanted to take away rights of this Parliament that have been established since 1868.

In summary and in conclusion, the only accountability and the only independence the Prime Minister and his Roundheads want are the same that Oliver Cromwell wanted and that pretty much goes along these lines: “Agree with me and my authoritarian ways or off with your head”.

Judicial independence is at stake here. There are sufficient resources to secure judicial independence. Let us go with the recommendation of the commission and get rid of the tardiness that is involved around this issue.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I will begin by making some general comments on the bill and then I will talk about the judges in my region of the country.

Of course we want the independence of the judiciary and the independence of its compensation system. I do not think many people would disagree with that. The Judicial Compensation and Benefits Commission is made up of three members, one appointed by the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association, one appointed by the government and one appointed by the chair. This is an independent commission that would be, in my view, far more independent than simply having the minister decide the appropriate salaries.

The government says that it wants someone who is independent. It is not as though the minister and the government have made no comments on judges. They have certainly made comments and had opinions. I do not think that would be a very independent mechanism.

The other point I want to make, which I think other members have made in this debate, concerns the reason given for making this change and not accepting the recommendations of this independent commission. The government said that it was because of its overall financial position and it talked about things like insufficient funds. Would anyone in Canada believe that? The government came into power with the largest surplus of any government in history and in the best financial position.

The government saved money when it cut the greenhouse gas emissions program. It saved $5 billion by cutting the Kelowna accord. Everyone voted today in support of bringing that back except the Conservatives. I am sure the government will not be paying the judges more than the $5 billion. We also had $10 billion allocated for child care.

I am sure no one in the country believes that the decision the government made was because of the financial position of the country. When the bill gets to committee I will be delighted to look for a good reason to do this but that is certainly not it.

The main reason I wanted to speak tonight was to talk about the judges in the three territories who are treated slightly different. I was hoping to discuss this in committee and to ask for a change that would make it more equitable.

If we look at subclauses 22(1), 22(2) and 22(2.1) of the bill which refer to the territories, the first line says, “a) the senior judge” and shows an amount of pay. In all the provinces the wording is “chief justice”. I am happy that their salaries are the same because they have the same duties, responsibilities and functions and have about 40 deputy judges reporting to them. They have extensive experience and responsibilities over a wide geographical area, which is almost half the country.

Under the bill they have the same remuneration but I think it is an anachronism that they have a different name. Senior judges have the same responsibilities as the chief justice in the provinces. Why would we not simply, while we have the opportunity, change the name?

Each of the three territorial governments agree. I am not criticizing the government for this. I am simply saying that it is an opportunity for the committee to make a good change. In the year 2000 the three territorial governments passed a law creating the position of chief justice but the legislation has not yet been proclaimed because the federal government has not agreed to the change of creating the position of a chief justice in the territories.

At the time that bill was passed, the federal minister of justice sought the approval of the Canadian Judicial Council and its view on changing the name and remuneration levels. Its position was quite clear. It had no problem with that change.

If the Canadian Judicial Council, the federal Minister of Justice at the time and the three territorial governments are in agreement that we should change the name in the territories from senior judge to chief justice, with the same responsibilities and remuneration, I think it would be fair to make that administrative change while we are going through a review of the act.

I ask all members in all parties in a non-partisan way to look at this change in the name from senior judge to chief justice as in the 10 provinces. They have parallel responsibilities and parallel remuneration and now they would have the same name.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I have the utmost respect for the member for Yukon and he knows issues of the north very well.

I would like his comment on the good part of Bill C-17 which was of course contained in the previous bill which died on the order paper in November. That is the increase in moving allowances and other allowances in northern or remote regions for judges and their partners, as defined in the act. Does the member think those were good recommendations from the commission and the previous Liberal government with respect to the administration of justice in recognizing the hardship and costs in our northern and remote regions?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Yes, Mr. Speaker, of course I agreed to those provisions for a cost of living allowance in the north and moving expenses to get to the north.

Some areas in the north have to build their infrastructure on solid rock which makes it way more expensive than in other areas. Some parts of the north have huge housing deficits where there are 17 or 18 people living in a two bedroom house. This is absolutely shameful. The result in general is that housing costs are so huge that people in other parts of the country would not believe. Of course there is the cost of shipping food, transportation and all the other costs.

If we want talented people to live in some of those conditions that I am talking about, as someone mentioned earlier, who are not subject to negative influences, we have to pay them what is fair, pay them for the very difficult decisions they have to make. To make it fair in the north we have to make those adjustments, so I think that is a fair part of the legislation.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Resuming debate. Is the House reading for the question?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The question is on the motion. Is it pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

On division.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to and bill referred to a committee)

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is really incredible how much we have accomplished here working cooperatively and productively together. I think if you were to seek it, you would find unanimous consent to see the clock at 12.28 a.m.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

8:40 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that this is the first time that I have participated in adjournment proceedings. I assume that I start immediately and that my colleague will then second the motion.

On June 7, I gave the Minister of Transport the opportunity to clearly state his position on his commitment to moving the Canada Science and Technology Museum to Gatineau. The City of Gatineau passed motion No. CM-2006-363 on April 25, 2006, stating:

Whereas over 20 years ago the federal government decided to locate the Canada Science and Technology Museum in the former City of Hull;

Whereas the federal government is today preparing to relocate the Canada Science and Technology Museum;

Whereas new museums have been built and established in Ottawa recently, namely the National Gallery of Canada, the War Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the National Portrait Gallery, not to mention the $100,000 spent on renovations to the Museum of Nature;

Whereas it is vital to this Council that the Canada Science and Technology be located in Gatineau and thus that the decision previously made by the federal government to locate this museum in the former City of Hull be respected;

Whereas the City of Gatineau has two sites (Jacques Cartier Park and Des Chars de Combat Park) available for the Canada Science and Technology Museum;

It is proposed and unanimously resolved that this Council formally request the federal government locate the Canada Science and Technology Museum in the City of Gatineau.

This resolution was sent to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Minister of Transport, and to the federal and provincial members from the Outaouais.

That said, on April 13, before the Gatineau chamber of commerce, the Minister of Transport and the hon. member for Pontiac in the Outaouais formally promised to attract the museum to Gatineau. The same minister went back on his word in The Citizen on June 1 and Le Droit the following day.

I should hope that the Minister of Transport was having a momentary lapse and that it was not undue pressure from a federal cabinet colleague unaware of the promise to locate the Museum of Science and Technology in Gatineau that distracted him from his noble task, which is to defend the interests of the Outaouais.

During the last election campaign, the Minister of Transport kept saying that he wanted it to be understood that the region would come out a winner if it elected a minister. Since his election, it has been a lucky thing that the Bloc Québécois is in the Outaouais to remind the minister of his commitments.

Will the minister ensure that the Canada Museum of Science and Technology ends up in Gatineau as soon as possible?

8:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would just remind the hon. member to address his comments through the chair and not directly to members of Parliament or to ministers.

8:45 p.m.

Kootenay—Columbia B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the member's question regarding the Canada Science and Technology Museum on behalf of the Minister of Canadian Heritage who is responsible for Canada's national museums.

The importance of the preservation of Canada's scientific and technological heritage as represented by the Canada Science and Technology Museum is an important issue and one that deserves to be set in the proper context.

Our history, beliefs, values and way of life are shaped by the stories and collected experiences of the people that have inhabited this country. Each new generation builds on the legacy of the past. Collecting institutions such as our national museums are the repositories for the wealth of experience, the stories, the people and the events that have shaped this country, and through their public programming and research they provide us with a lens into our future.

The Canada Science and Technology Museum is an institution, a living entity. it connects Canadians through its exhibitions, outreach programs, educational initiatives, partnerships with sister institutions across the country, and by celebrating the ideas and achievements of the innovators that have shaped our past and are leading us into a bright future. This museum represents the collected consciousness of Canada's scientific and technological heritage and our hope for the future.

The museum receives over 400,000 visitors through its doors each year. These visitors come to learn about communications, space technology and exploration, transportation, energy, medicine, engineering, manufacturing and industry, natural resources and the burgeoning new technologies.

The museum is where Canadians can experience how science, technology and innovation converge. They are introduced to Canada's innovators in the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame, with new inductees each year. They experience how science and technology have influenced and continue to shape our society.

I have personally visited the Canada Science and Technology Museum and have seen first-hand the extent of the collection and its relevance to our past, our present and our future. I have also been well apprised of the issues that confront the institution in the delivery of its national mandate and the design and development of its vision for the future.

The museum has been engaging Canadians and presenting significant Canadian innovations and scientific and technological accomplishments in a dynamic and thought provoking manner for almost 40 years. I would like to commend the dedication and hard work of those who have worked tirelessly to achieve such an important success story.

I would like to conclude my remarks by stating that the integrity of this important collection and the continued viability of the institution that provides for its stewardship are key issues that will deserve significant consideration as we move forward. With these priorities in mind, I would put forward that the question of a new facility for the Canada Science and Technology Museum is premature, but it will be dealt with at an appropriate time.

Having said that, one of the first tasks the Minister of Canadian Heritage undertook in her new position was to meet with representatives from the Canadian Museums Association. This is an important step in ensuring we have a strong museum policy.

The government will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure that in a culturally diverse country such as Canada, we can build a shared sense of citizenship by acknowledging and preserving the multiple perspectives of our past. Our country's connection with its diverse past defines its spirit and solidifies its sense of achievement. These national collections are our tangible link with our past and our investment in the future.

8:50 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Bloc Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would have been interesting to get an answer to the question. However, I will continue.

The inequity between the two banks of the river is obvious: eight museums on the Ottawa side for only one in the Outaouais; eight to one. Of these eight museums, four were built recently in Ottawa, that is the Art Gallery, the War Museum, the Photography Museum and the Portrait Museum. The city of Gatineau already has two sites available for the construction of the Science and Technology Museum. The elected people in the region unanimously support this project. The Minister of Transportation is the only one who has not supported it yet.

Twenty years ago, the federal government had decided to build the Science and Technology Museum in the former city of Hull. People have waited long enough. The federal government must keep its word. It made a commitment to this 20 years ago, and the Minister of Transportation committed to it on April 13, 2006. It up to the federal cabinet and the Minister of Transportation—

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The time has expired.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, although we are certainly aware of the recent discussions surrounding the proposal for a new Canada Science and Technology Museum, as I stated in my earlier address, much work remains to be done before a decision is taken.

It is without question that the preservation of Canada's scientific and technological heritage for future generations is important. Canada has a rich history of innovation in these fields and our stories must be preserved and celebrated.

The importance of the continued viability of the Canada Science and Technology Museum and the effective delivery of its mandate are key concerns in the present context. However, within the context of the current situation, it is premature to enter into detailed decisions concerning the site that a proposed museum would require and therefore there are currently no plans to move this museum.

The Canada Science and Technology Museum is continuing its important work on assessing its needs for ensuring the integrity and accessibility of the collection it holds for all Canadians.

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 8:52 p.m.)