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House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was education.

Topics

TradeRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to standing order 32(2), I have the honour to table on behalf of the Minister of International Trade, in both official languages, the seventh annual report on Canada's State of Trade, Trade Update 2006.

The EnvironmentRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and I believe you will find unanimous consent for me to table a report from the Climate Institute entitled “First Progress Report on the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate”.

The EnvironmentRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table this document?

The EnvironmentRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table in both official languages the government's response to 17 petitions.

An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identificationRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Agriculture and Agri-FoodCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gerry Ritz Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present today, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food. The committee studied the import of milk protein concentrates and has agreed to report on it today.

Controlled Drugs and Substances ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Conservative Yellowhead, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-320, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (minimum sentence).

Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation deals with the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The reason for it is as a result of violations being taken lightly in our courts. It would add minimum sentences to serious violations of Schedule I and Schedule II drugs. This is something that will protect Canadians. It is something that I encourage every member of this House to consider as it comes forward.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Lake Saint-PierrePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present to the House today a petition signed by citizens from various regions of Quebec, but concerning particularly the communities surrounding Lake Saint-Pierre, in the riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, which I represent.

These petitioners are calling on the government to take its responsibilities by acting on the removal of the 300,000 shells abandoned by DND in Lake Saint-Pierre. They remind this House that Lake Saint-Pierre was designated a UNESCO world biosphere reserve in 2000 and that these shells are preventing surrounding communities from safely enjoying the lake again and undertaking sustainable development projects.

I therefore table this petition in this House.

Age of ConsentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a number of petitions with respect to raising the age of consent from 14 years to 16 years. The petition asks that this government assembled in Parliament take all necessary steps to immediately raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 years of age. The petition comes from the communities of Estevan, Bienfait, Wayburn and area.

AirportsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present five pages of petitions regarding the Toronto Island airport, given that it is heavily subsidized by taxpayers and has been losing money for at least 15 years.

Operating the airport is contrary to the vision of a clean, green and vibrant waterfront. These petitions call on the government to abolish the federal port authority, close the airport, and return the waterfront to the people of Toronto.

Citizenship and ImmigrationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition consisting of seven pages concerning undocumented workers. Given that Canada has significant labour shortages, we need these workers. They are being exploited.

The petition calls on the government to stop deportations while a new immigration policy is being put in place and to establish an in Canada program allowing these workers to apply for landed immigrant status if they have been here a significant amount of time.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Kootenay—Columbia B.C.

Conservative

Jim Abbott ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

June 8th, 2006 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, discussions have taken place among all parties and I believe you will find consent for the following motion. I move:

That at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the hon. member for Halifax West, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put, a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13, 2006.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Mississauga South have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Opposition Motion--The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

moved:

That, in light of the rapid increase in the value of the Canadian dollar, high global energy costs, the overhang from huge budgetary and trade deficits in the United States of America, the rise of new economies such as China, India and Brazil as major global players, and the unprecedented demographic change that is about to take place in Canada with the imminent retirement of the Baby Boom generation, in the opinion of the House, future Canadian economic growth and broad-based prosperity demand--in addition to a competitive tax regime (especially in relation to income tax rates and brackets) and the strategic positioning of Canada at the centre of global commerce and networks--focused and immediate investments by the government in:

(1) measures to reduce financial barriers that now stand in the way of students seeking greater access to post-secondary education, including most particularly grant programs aimed at offsetting the high costs of tuition;

(2) labour market partnership agreements with provincial/territorial governments to help promote a culture of lifelong learning and workplace skills development in conjunction with business and labour;

(3) targeted initiatives to strengthen skills, job-readiness and successful workplace participation among First Nations, Metis, Inuit and other Aboriginal peoples--as envisioned as part of the Kelowna Accords--as well as among new immigrants, older workers and people with disabilities;

(4) a suite of measures, including more adequate support for the indirect costs of university-based research, for graduate studies, for Canada’s three major granting councils, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Genome Canada, to strengthen Canada’s hard-won global lead in publicly-funded research and development;

(5) the accelerated commercialization of new technologies and the practical adoption of the best advanced technologies by Canadian business, industry and academia.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora.

One of the most vital roles of government is to respond to the challenges of its time, to empower Canadians to meet those challenges, to prepare the country through strategic investments and sound policy, and to show true leadership and a clear vision.

Over a decade ago, the government in place brought forward a bold, new vision for the future of Canada, one that provided the economic conceptual framework which governed policy decision making during a decade of progress and growth.

Canadians remember the daunting challenges facing their government at the time. Unemployment was above 10%. The national debt was nearly 70% of national revenue. There had been one deficit budget after the other for over a quarter of century. A sad state of affairs was threatening to turn our country into an economic disaster.

However, what a difference a decade makes. Today Canada has emerged as a global leader: strong, proud and prosperous. We now enjoy the best job creation performance of the G-7.

Since the deficit was eliminated, Canada has ranked first among all G-7 countries for growth and living standards. The average standard of living has risen faster in the past eight years than in the previous 18 and the incidence of child poverty in this country has declined.

Canadians are proud of their achievements, but it is not enough to sit on our laurels. It is time to build on our successes, not implement a handful of priorities that look more like an election platform than a path forward.

It is time to set out a real vision for the future and offer Canadians a plan to deal with the challenges that lie ahead. Since the Conservative government came to office, we have seen no plan, no vision for the future, not in the throne speech, not in the budget.

Nowhere have we seen measures to deal with productivity. Nowhere have we seen a plan to deal with the rise of new economies like China, India and Brazil. Nowhere have we seen a plan to deal with high global energy costs or the rapid increase in the Canadian dollar.

These are the responsibilities of this government. Without a comprehensive strategy to meet each of these challenges our country will be like a rudderless boat, doomed to flounder on the rocks.

The focus of the motion before the House today is to ensure we remain on a steady course and to ensure we take the measures which our future economic growth and broad-based prosperity demand. Canadians expect their governments to stand firm as unmistakable champions of balanced budgets, fiscal responsibility and declining debt.

Only then will we be in a position to continue enjoying the benefits of a healthy economy and general prosperity, increased employment and better jobs, higher disposable incomes, a better standard of living and a continually improving quality of life.

As a nation, we must continue to invest in the talents, brains and creative powers of Canadians and bring higher education and innovation to their highest levels ever, not only for economic reasons, but also to ensure that every member of society—students, aboriginals, people with disabilities, new Canadians and older workers— maximizes his or her potential.

We must achieve the smartest possible marriage between Canada's economic success and environmental sustainability. In the last few months, I have had the opportunity to see our country from a new perspective. It is a new perspective from this side of the House as well, as my hon. colleagues have laughingly noted.

As the Liberal critic for human resources and skills, I have had the pleasure of discussing the future with a wide range of Canadians. I have met with student groups like the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and the Canadian Federation of Students and with nurses, labour leaders, university presidents and others, and a clear theme ran through each of these discussions. The prerequisite for entry into the global economy of tomorrow is education, quality education that gives Canadians the skills not only to survive in a competitive world but to thrive in it, to seize their potential throughout their lifetimes.

I think we all agree on the importance of lifelong learning. It is important to individuals themselves to enhance their quality of life and their employment options. It is important to employers who want the well educated and skilled employees who will contribute to productivity and prosperity. A determined focus on the future, on preparing for the impact of demographic change and the rise of emerging economies, is absolutely necessary to allow Canadians to succeed.

Canada approaches today's world from a position of strength. We have the highest proportion of people with some form of post-secondary education, but here is the crucial thing that the government fails to understand: when we can identify a strength, when we can identify our competitive advantage, we build on it.

Rather than truly expanding access to higher education, the government has chosen to tinker around the edges of the tax system, with a minor tax cut here and a rebate there. That is a short-sighted approach. It does not come close to recognizing the potential of our greatest resource, our young minds. Too many Canadians, particularly those from low income or modest income families, are not pursuing post-secondary education because of high financial barriers.

Canadians need expanded access to higher education and real support for undergraduate students, more opportunities for Canadians to study abroad to learn about the world outside our borders, and more opportunities for foreign students to study in Canada and experience our country and our culture. We need to increase the support to graduate students in science, engineering and other disciplines.

Instead of a far-reaching vision that prepares us for the future, all the government has offered are tax credits for textbooks and tax breaks on scholarship income. These measures do not go nearly far enough. We see the same nearsightedness from the government when it comes to lifelong learning. It has walked away from labour market partnership agreements, agreements that would increase workplace-based and employer-led training and apprenticeships and that would improve literacy and essential skills, develop workplace skills and enhance workforce participation of aboriginal people, persons with disabilities and new Canadians.

It is time for this House to look beyond just the next election, and to look to the future, to admit to and embrace the challenges and opportunities before us, to build on Canada's progress over the last decade and to ensure this kind of progress for generations to come.

The diligent work of the previous government has given this nation the freedom to plan and the strength to succeed, to improve access to universities, to promote a culture of lifelong learning, to live up to the Kelowna and Kyoto agreements, to strengthen Canada's hard-won global lead in university research and development, and to make Canada a leader in transforming R and D into new technologies.

It is time for the government to step up to show Canadians a plan for the future. We need a government that recognizes these clear objectives, that mobilizes Canadians to reach them, that is truly committed to a country of economic and technological excellence, a country of fairness and equal opportunity, a country that is ready, willing and able to take its place in an ever-changing world. We have yet to see that from the current government, and this is worrisome, because what is at stake is Canada's continued leadership in a new world of giants.

Therefore, I ask my colleagues to support the motion before the House today and call upon the government to take action today.

Opposition Motion--The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of empty rhetoric in the House this morning.

Tuition fees have almost tripled in the last 12 years and students now graduate with an average debt of at least $20,000. The former Liberal government had nothing in its budget. In fact, the only section that it had was to give student loan forgiveness to students who had died. That is a really amazing policy. The former Prime Minister, on national TV in the CBC debate in 2004, said that he would restore the billions cut in the 2004 budget. Of course, that did not happen.

The EI fund has been taken away. It has been ripped off of workers instead of going to apprenticeship programs and instead of being given back to the workers who need employment insurance. The new immigrant settlement fund has been cut. There are computer scientists and doctors driving taxis. They cannot find jobs they want.

I want to ask the hon. member the following question. Which part of the policy and practices of the former Liberal government does the hon. member not support? Certainly in the last 12 years we saw a lot of talk but not a lot of action in any of these areas that are in front of us today.

Opposition Motion--The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague talks about empty rhetoric and then engages in a great deal of it. The fact is that we have taken action.

First of all, I should say that we really ought to be looking forward. The hon. member wants to look back and rehash the past. The fact of the matter is that her party never supported any measure taken by the previous government to get our finances in order, to get our economy stronger, measures that allowed us to have the strength we have today and that allows the present government to have a surplus of $12 billion so that it can do the things it is not doing and that we are still waiting for it to do. But at least it has the ability to do that because our economy is strong.

The member's party did nothing to assist that. It opposed every measure possible that the previous government took to get our finances in order, so how she can stand there and complain about that is beyond me.

The member talked about us doing nothing for students. She totally ignores, for example, the Canada access grants gave students $4,000 a year for the first and fourth years of university. As we can recall, her party was opposed, I guess, to the proposal we brought forward in the election of extending that to all four years.

In fact, the measures we had in the economic update in November provided $2.75 billion for education, but those members did not want to have that happen. They wanted to have an election instead and put a Conservative government in place. That was the choice. The Conservatives are obviously delighted about that, but it is remarkable to me that the NDP would be delighted about that also. That seems to me to be most peculiar in view of what they tout as their priorities.

I think we have certainly heard a fair amount of empty rhetoric in a very short time from my hon. colleague.

Opposition Motion--The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I find this motion brought forward by the Liberals very strange. It is clear that the motion encroaches somewhat on the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. It deals with education, tuition and labour force training and development. All these areas are under Quebec's jurisdiction.

The motion says nothing about the role the federal government could play in areas such as the furniture and the textile industries. We know that the Liberals did nothing to help the textile industry during their tenure, over the last years, despite repeated calls for action from the Bloc. As for the furniture industry, there seems to be no plan to take action in that area. The motion is totally silent on the subject.

I would like my colleague to comment on that and to explain why he avoided dealing with the industries that are the most threatened right now in Quebec.