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House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreement.

Topics

2 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 Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Juvenile ArthritisStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to highlight the story of Samantha Whiteside. Samantha was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at the age of two, yet in spite of a very challenging early childhood, Sam has persevered.

Fourteen years of rehabilitation later and despite overwhelming odds, Sam set out to become the fastest woman to cross Lake Ontario. Sam did not swim across Lake Ontario simply to put her name in the record books, but to achieve a far more noble purpose: to raise awareness and money for juvenile arthritis research.

I was there on August 8. I watched her swim from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto in 15 hours and 11 minutes, a journey of 52 kilometres, most of those hours in the dark. She raised over $20,000 for juvenile arthritis research.

We all salute Samantha Whiteside. She is an inspiration to all of us. Her perseverance, personal sacrifice and dedication to a very worthy cause make every one of us proud.

Kitchener--Conestoga is home to a Canadian national hero, and we say way to go, Sam.

Human Resources and Social DevelopmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the cuts announced at the beginning of the week confirm that the Conservative government is playing favourites with the interests of Canadians.

The current government has let down Toronto museums and cultural centres that need these funds.

Although it is forecasting a $13 billion surplus, the government has cut $45 million from the budget of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, supposedly for reasons of efficiency.

Who will be affected by these cuts made in the name of efficiency? Will it be our senior citizens or disabled who benefit from CMHC programs, or will it be the first nations? We do not know because the government acted unilaterally.

It is too late for the CMHC to recoup the funds cut, but I urge the (Minister of Human Resources and Social Development to do her duty and to stand up to her superiors to save the Supporting Communities Partnerships Initiative.

HealthStatements By Members

September 27th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, a study of the mortality rate among women who received cosmetic breast implants between 1974 and 1989 indicates that the suicide rate among these women is 75% higher than in the general population.

In light of this alarming statistic, does the Minister of Health still intend to support the use of cosmetic breast implants by approving the licence applications of Mentor and Inamed even though these companies withheld information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration?

The Special Access Program, available only for particular situations, approved silicone gel implants for cosmetic surgery in 65% of the cases. This is unacceptable.

The minister must implement the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health, tighten the rules of the Special Access Program, and put on hold his decision to approve the licences.

Carol McGregorStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, my friend and long-time colleague Carol McGregor passed away last Saturday in Toronto after a brief struggle with cancer.

Carol was courageous throughout her life. As an advocate for human rights, especially people with disabilities, she knew how to organize support and make the powerful very uncomfortable. That is why I believe Carol McGregor would have been furious with the cuts announced by the government on Tuesday.

Some find it easy to dismiss the cuts as small, with $1 billion out of $210 billion in federal spending, cuts already decided on by the Liberals. However, these cuts were made with no consultation or debate except with a Chicago consulting firm at a cost of $24 million. What arrogance.

These cuts represent huge chunks of already meagre budgets and hurt the most vulnerable people. They are not fat to be trimmed.

We owe Carol McGregor a debt of thanks. Given the cuts this week, we certainly have to rededicate ourselves to continue her struggle.

AfghanistanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, with a finger in the wind and his head in the sand, the member for Markham—Unionville announced that his Liberals want to one-up the NDP call to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan by pulling out reconstruction teams too. In a rush to see who cuts and runs faster, he is hoping Canadians forget he was in cabinet sending our troops to Kandahar and as defence minister oversaw our mission.

Worse, the former prime minister was in cabinet when his Liberals sent our troops to Afghanistan. As prime minister he sent them to Kandahar, but recently Mr. Dithers went to New York to hobnob, too busy to show up for a vote on extending the mission and too busy to show up for President Karzai's speech, but not too busy to criticize from the shadows the mission he started.

A Liberal pullout is not a big surprise. After all, they pulled out half their caucus before President Karzai's speech last week. The Liberals cut on Afghanistan before its president could ask for more of our support.

Liberals can run, but this government will stay firm in our commitment to the people of Afghanistan.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, Status of Women Canada is the federal government agency that promotes women's equality and the full participation of women in economic, social, cultural and political life.

On the other end of the spectrum is REAL Women of Canada, a socially conservative group with close ties to the minority government and the Prime Minister, ties that go back as far as the Reform Party.

REAL Women of Canada exists to oppose women's equality and is against women's full participation and equal rights. It does not represent the views of the majority of women in this country.

On Monday the minority Conservative government slashed the Status of Women's operating budget in half. Coincidentally and not surprisingly, REAL Women of Canada mounted a campaign over the summer to cut funding to the Status of Women.

The minority Conservative government claims that it consulted with Canadians before announcing $1 billion in cuts. We now know exactly which Canadians they consulted: those and only those who already share its narrow, socially conservative views.

Eastern Ontario Development ProgramStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Eastern Ontario Development Program, which was announced this summer, is very important for my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. This initiative consists in a $10 million contribution for a program to alleviate the socio-economic problems in the rural regions of Eastern Ontario. The money is used to support economic and community development, small business development and job creation. This money is essential for funding and developing small and medium enterprises in the riding.

We have worked hard to guarantee that this program receives the budget it needs and by providing this funding, our government is showing the importance it places on local industries. We know the assets Eastern Ontario has to offer and I can assure the people in my riding that I will work tirelessly with my colleagues in order to see that we make the most of them.

Journal Le NordStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, 20 years ago in the beautiful riding of Rivière-du-Nord, a newspaper took root that was just as audacious as its founders. Over the years it has witnessed the events that have given our community its identity and, through it all, the Annonceur, which became the Journal Le Nord, has been punctuated with success.

Its creators were passionate about delivering news that is fair, straightforward and respectful of the readers, which made this paper a leader in the information industry. It has stood out for its great independence and journalistic rigour.

I commend the extraordinary work of the president and editor, François Laferrière, and the assistant editor and director of information, Mychel Lapointe. I also want to acknowledge the tremendous contribution of the collaborators who simply want to offer their many readers a top notch newspaper that is accessible and to ensure that this wonderful relationship they have had with the public over the past 20 years is a lasting relationship.

My colleagues at the Bloc Québécois join with me in wishing a happy 20th anniversary and long life to the Journal Le Nord.

Fern NiblockStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Betty Hinton Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, early this week Kamloops lost a volunteer extraordinaire. She will be sadly missed. Fern Niblock grew up right here in Ottawa, but shortly after marrying her husband John, an RCMP officer, they moved west and eventually settled in Kamloops.

Fern was a loving mother to her three daughters, Jackie, Rachel and Jeanne, and she doted on her grandchildren, Sara-Jane, Anthony and Hanna.

Even with her hectic schedule, Fern always found time to devote to the Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo constituency association. During an election, there was just no stopping her. Whatever needed to be done, Fern was already there and doing it.

Fern remained a devoted Canadian to the end. She requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Western Canada Theatre Company or the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, two more organizations she fully supported.

Fern Niblock was a personal friend and a community asset. Fern will be missed but never forgotten.

Government ProgramsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, the uncaring Tories might not listen to what we on this side say about their program cutting and community gutting, but I ask them to adjust their earpieces and hear what my constituents are saying.

From a literacy activist in Cartwright, “I am very upset to learn about the decision...to cut spending on literacy. Words cannot express the detrimental effect this will have on our residents...Once again, we in the Atlantic provinces are left to flounder on our own”.

From the Labrador West Status of Women Council, “We clearly have a Government...that not only does not value women's equality, but seems to have a fundamental belief that they can do whatever they want, to destroy what women have worked so hard to gain”.

From a provincial literacy group, “The literacy community is virtually in shock!”

Liberals warned and Canadians now know that the neo-conservatives would gut social programs. The President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Finance have proved that we were right.

The Hon. Member for Saint-Laurent—CartiervilleStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, the statements made by the Liberal leadership candidate and former Minister of the Environment are confusing and bothersome for Canadians.

In July, he said, “Canada cannot meet its Kyoto targets” and that Canada's targets for Kyoto were unattainable. In the same breath, he added that the former Prime Minister “had only proposed these stringent targets to trump the Americans”.

Then, in August, the candidate flip-flopped and told The Globe and Mail that Canada can meets its targets. One thing one day and the opposite the next. Who are we to believe? The candidate from July or from August?

With all this rhetoric, contradiction and flip-flopping, one thing is certain: under the Liberals, we saw 13 years of inaction during which our greenhouse gas emissions increased not by 10, 20, 25 or 30%, but by 35%

Fortunately, in January, Canadians replaced the Liberal spin doctors with a new Conservative government, which sets the record straight for Canadians.

Government ProgramsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, this Conservative government made cuts without any debate, without any consultation.

More than 12 programs essential to the development of francophone and Acadian communities will be seriously affected, including programs for literacy and court challenges.

This is quite a shock for all minority communities.

What about Bill S-3, which was supported by the Conservatives at the time and aimed to strengthen the government's obligation to respect and promote the Official Languages Act?

And what about the 29 unresolved complaints?

The Conservative government has placed minority communities at the bottom of its agenda.

The NDP and the organizations affected by these cuts demand explanations and immediate action to re-establish funding for the survival of these programs and our francophone communities.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Liberal Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, on September 26, articles in two Saskatchewan newspapers described the horrendous, black mould infested and overcrowded housing conditions in first nations communities in my riding.

Chiefs from those reserves are in Ottawa today demanding action from this novice government. The chiefs' stories of terrible living conditions reveal great suffering. The mother of one of the chiefs recently passed away, succumbing to black mould that was literally growing in her lungs. This is totally unacceptable.

Improved housing conditions and road access to these remote communities are key to a better quality of life. The Indian affairs minister clearly does not understand that he should advocate for my people. Instead, he has killed the Kelowna accord, opposed the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous people and now has overseen millions of dollars in cuts to aboriginal people, money intended for those most in need.

This novice government has had plenty of time and opportunity to address these issues, but has chosen to abandon Canada's aboriginal people.

I think the minister should pack his silk tie and cufflinks, and spend a month on the reserve in one of my communities to know what this is all about.

Manufacturing IndustryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, about two weeks ago, a hundred textile workers in my riding were temporarily laid off. This morning, we learned that a plant was closing, with the loss of 200 jobs.

We all know that the former government did nothing to protect jobs in the textile industry. The current government is refusing to do anything, such as apply safeguards.

Manufacturing jobs are rapidly disappearing all over Quebec. The government must put programs in place immediately to help workers who are losing their jobs.

Given that this sector is clearly in crisis, is the government telling workers that it still has no solution to offer them, that it has no interest in their future and that it has no programs for them?

Government ProgramsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Liberal Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, a Tory federal government is poison for the city of Summerside, P.E.I.

In 1989 the last Mulroney government closed CFB Summerside, the only military base in the province of P.E.I.

Now this rapidly aging minority Tory government is closing the GST rebate program which is delivered out of the tax centre in Summerside, a tax centre that the province, the city and all Islanders fought to get as an offset in lieu of the military base.

This unnecessary cut will eliminate 60 permanent jobs, 30 term jobs and 50 casual jobs. It will be a heavy blow for the families and the economy of P.E.I.

In addition, members of the tourist industry from Victoria, B.C. to St. John's, Newfoundland are decrying the elimination of the program, saying it is a critical blow to the industry already suffering a severe downturn. This was a decision made with absolutely no consultation with the provinces or the industry.

The president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Randy Williams, said, “This is a more serious blow to the industry than 9/11 and could result in bankruptcies for tourism businesses in Canada”.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, under the previous Liberal government farmers in my riding suffered through years of neglect and disastrous Liberal policies.

We can imagine the surprise of farmers two days ago when the Liberals suddenly announced they have a plan for agriculture. Where was support for farmers when Liberals were in power?

In 2005 the member for Malpeque was the parliamentary secretary to the agriculture minister. What was his plan for farmers?

In a report on farm income last year, the member for Malpeque recommended exactly none of the solutions he calls for so loudly today. It is Canada's new government that is standing up for farmers.

We promised an additional $500 million. We delivered $1.5 billion. We promised a better inventory evaluation method. We not only delivered, we made that change retroactive.

The member for Malpeque and the Liberal Party had their chance. Unfortunately they failed farmers miserably for 13 long years. Canada's new government is standing up for and will keep delivering for farmers.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Official Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister treated us yet again to Conservative twaddle about how his cuts will not affect minorities.

Today, the president of the Canadian Bar Association said that the court challenges program is often the only way for the vulnerable and underprivileged to be treated fairly.

Will the Prime Minister admit that, among other things, he has just cut an opportunity for our minority francophone communities to seek justice in the Supreme Court? Let him explain that to the Acadians.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, let me make it clear that none of the cuts affect the Official Languages Act.

This government supported that important legislation. The truth is that the government is under no obligation to pay lawyers to support the Official Languages Act because the government itself will do so.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, perpetual hyperbole and bluster no longer fool the House or Canadians.

The Prime Minister's assertion in the House yesterday that the government is not cutting funding to immigrant youth is simply not true. The court challenges program for visible minorities is gone. Workplace programs for disadvantaged youth are gone. Reading and writing programs for refugee kids are toast.

Why did the Prime Minister not at least admit the facts? Why were programs for visible minority youth cut in such a meanspirited way? I use that term not only in its parliamentary sense, but in the sense that every common Canadian would understand.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition never lets the facts get in the way of a good argument. The Leader of the Opposition had already written his supplementary before he even rose in the House to ask the first question. Let us look at the facts.

We are looking at spending to see if it meets the priorities of the people of Canada. This year we are putting $100 million more toward helping families with a child with a disability. This year we are spending some $450 million to provide clean drinking water to our first nations, something that the previous government after 13 years still could not do.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts. The youth employment strategy specifically targets visible minorities for help. Cutting it is a direct assault on the finest values of our society.

The Conservative government is undermining programs for equality. It is undercutting access to the courts for minorities, access to reading and writing help, and access to housing and job skills.

In the name of decency, in the name of compassion, how can the Prime Minister be so incredibly harsh and ultimately so short-sighted for Canadian society?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, again, nothing could be further from the truth. This government has not made any reductions with respect to summer employment programs for disadvantaged youth. That is something that was specifically exempt from the cuts.

I say to the member opposite that we are looking at reallocations for the budget. The member voted against our budget. He voted against providing hundreds of millions of dollars more for clean drinking water. The member voted against spending $52 million a year for a strategy on cancer control. The member voted against every single good initiative contained in our budget and he is going to have to defend that at the next election.

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minority Conservative government cut blindly on the basis of its ideology rather than the merits of the programs.

In the past, the Prime Minister called the regional economic development programs corporate welfare. Not only is there no new money for Economic Development Canada, its budget has been slashed and some programs have been cut.

Now that it is clear his Marshall plan has fallen through, can the minister explain why he has so little influence on the Prime Minister, not to mention his failure as the minister responsible for this issue?

Government ProgramsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our record. In its last budget, this government managed taxpayer dollars responsibly. We put money back in Canadians' pockets. We lowered the GST and reduced income and corporate taxes. My colleague did not support a single one of these fiscal measures. She voted against the last budget. She should be ashamed.