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House of Commons Hansard #99 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there they go again. The government members are laughing again, but it is not that funny to the Canadians who benefit from those programs, because the Conservatives are not going to lead on those issues. That is why it took the NDP and the CCF being in the House to bring about those changes that affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Whether or not we ever end up in the cabinet room, I am a proud New Democrat. I am proud of the impact we as a small caucus have had on the national agenda in helping millions of people who otherwise would not have a voice in this place.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned the visitors GST rebate program and the fact that it is going to be scrapped. Some correspondence which has come to my desk recently from a small businessman in my riding says that according to a study the government will actually be losing money and not saving money on this program.

I wonder if the member could comment on this, please.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is why I commented earlier that it makes no sense to do this. It makes no common sense; it makes no dollar sense.

The reality is that the amount of money involved is relatively small when we talk about the GDP of Canada or our national budget. Its impact from a marketing point of view, its impact in terms of making Canada an appealing destination point for a whole host of reasons including conferences, conventions and outright tourism means that this was a non-starter.

All we can hope for is that given it is not in the bill, the government has reconsidered and it will not be brought in as it is a bad idea from all perspectives.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, for a while I thought the NDP was going to claim authorship of the Constitution and one of the books of the Bible.

I am pleased to continue the debate on Bill C-40. It is a tax amendment bill. Many have called it a technical amendment bill and it certainly is that.

One of the points I would like to make is that it is never possible to make tax policy changes in a vacuum. Even though this bill may be regarded as technical, Parliament must always be vigilant, as should taxpayers, to make sure that tax changes, however small they are said to be, do not radically change the strategic direction of tax policy unless it is the will of Parliament to do so.

On at least three occasions not involving this bill, the government appears to have made three separate policy moves to alter tax policy, I feel, in a vacuum, in a way that has had negative impacts.

One of them was the possibility of revoking the GST rebate for visitors. Reference has already been made to this. The government appears to have walked from that, but the very fact that the statement was made may have altered the perception of visitors to Canada and travel agents who organize visits to Canada. That was a mistake, frankly. The amount collected in that tax is relatively small.

I realize one of the reasons for considering the revocation was the extent to which fraud had taken up some of those resources, but again, it is a small amount of money and it is probably worth the enforcement costs to make sure our visitors feel they are welcome in Canada and welcome to spend here in Canada. That was a mistake.

Another mistake, as my friend from the NDP discussed at some length, was the 1% reduction in the GST. That reduction is small to many Canadians. One could class that GST 1% reduction as regressive because it is the big spenders who will get the biggest tax reduction. If one lives hand to mouth in Canada, if one is not spending big bucks, if almost all of one's money goes out for rent and food, then 1% of nothing is nothing. There is no tax rebate available to those people. Maybe the government would rather have the photo op and the glamour tax reduction statement instead of really considering the tax impact on individual Canadians.

The third mistake had to do with the taxation of unit trusts. In a flagrant, obvious, blatant reversal of an election promise, one Friday afternoon the finance minister announced that the government would terminate the tax vehicle known as the unit trusts. This had huge downside financial implications for thousands of Canadians who had put their savings into unit trusts relying on that commitment and the existence of the tax interpretations. This issue is being canvassed at this time by the finance committee.

These are all examples of why Parliament cannot let a government make tax policy decisions in a vacuum. One has to look at the entire picture.

Mr. Speaker, I realize we are getting close to members' statements. Perhaps this might be a point when we could pause and I will resume my remarks later.

Sales Tax Amendments Act, 2006Government Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I appreciate that from the hon. member. The hon. member will have approximately 16 minutes at the end of question period to resume his remarks.

Sri LankaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada deeply regrets the return of active conflict in Sri Lanka and the consequences this has had for the safety of civilians. Canada has expressed these concerns to the Sri Lankan government.

The Sri Lankan president has created a commission of inquiry to investigate these reports. He has also agreed to the establishment of an international independent group of eminent persons to ensure that the work of the commission remains transparent, objective and credible.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs has accepted an invitation for Canada to participate in this initiative and has named Professor Bruce Matthews, a world renowned scholar and an expert on the nexus of religion, ethnicity and conflict in Sri Lanka, as the Canadian candidate to this group.

Canadian participation in the eminent persons group represents Canada's support for the Sri Lankan peace process through promotion of accountability and respect of human rights.

HealthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, “Out of the Shadows at Last”, is an appropriate title for the Senate report dealing with the important issues of mental health, mental illness and addiction. The time has come for these issues to move to the front of the agenda of Canadian health concerns.

The Senate report calls for three key recommendations to be implemented: the establishment of a Canadian mental health commission; the establishment of a mental health transition fund; and increased support for research funding. The report also spends much time examining the issues specific to the mental health status of women, aboriginal people, children and youth, seniors and Canadian Forces members.

I add my voice to those of the Canadian Psychological Association, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health in applauding the recommendations included in this report.

I urge the government to act on the report and, indeed, move the issue of mental health out of the shadows and into the light.

Lanaudière Centre for Innovation in Food ProcessingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, last spring, the Lanaudière regional cegep in Joliette, the Lanaudière bio-food development board and their partners launched the Lanaudière centre for innovation in food processing. I would like to salute this initiative, which will promote local products, create quality jobs and offer a high-level service to all regional food processing companies.

The mission of the Lanaudière centre for innovation in food processing is to support the start-up, growth and development of regional agri-food businesses. Its work will take place in the cegep's agri-food facility.

Congratulations to everyone working on this initiative. The Bloc Québécois hopes that it will be a long-lasting one.

Natural GasStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that Canada is an energy superpower and has created a powerful cabinet subcommittee on energy security. However, it is clear what the Conservatives are saying on energy in Canada is not what is being said by government agencies here and abroad.

I just returned from Russia and was briefed there by our embassy. It is saying that Canada is running short of natural gas and needs to import liquefied natural gas. Imported Russian LNG is not a secure form of energy. Hardball energy politics are part of the Russian play book. This imported natural gas will also hurt ordinary working Canadians who earn a living in our oil and gas industry.

For the Northwest Territories, Russian LNG means direct competition for Mackenzie Valley natural gas. For the residents of Lévis, Quebec, Russian LNG represents an unacceptable environmental hazard in a terminal. For all average Canadians, Russian LNG means higher taxes as the government makes no money on it, unlike Canadian gas.

Without any process or plan, the Conservatives want—

Natural GasStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for South Shore—St. Margaret's.

Six String NationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak about the Six String Nation. It started as an idea by Jowi Taylor on the eve of the 1995 referendum and became reality at the hands of master luthier George Rizsanyi of Pinehurst, Nova Scotia. George took this great idea and built a guitar called the Six String Nation, made from the spirit of Canada.

I had the great honour of watching this guitar being crafted in George's workshop. Over 60 pieces of Canadiana are included in its design: a piece of the Golden Spruce from Haida-Gwaii; a piece of Paul Henderson's hockey stick from the 1972 series; a board from the oldest Acadian house on P.E.I.; Maurice Richard's 1955-56 Stanley Cup ring; Trudeau's canoe paddle; decking from the Bluenose II; and a piece of Sir John A. Macdonald's sideboard.

The Six String Nation is coming back to Ottawa this Thursday and will be in room 238-S from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Take a moment to see this guitar for, as George has said, “the voices of each story combine as it is played and he hopes that it will give Canadians a sense of the richness of their own country”.

Child CareStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, people in the riding of Churchill have had a resounding voice on the issue of early learning and child care. As we near the end of this fiscal year, it marks the end of the funding which had been delivered through the past Liberal government's national early learning and child care strategy.

The minority Conservative government has chosen not to honour those agreements and therefore Manitoba and families in the Churchill riding are deeply concerned, frustrated and outraged.

The Conservatives have failed to meet the needs of Canadian families and have not come forward with any concrete plans to ensure choice in early learning and child care as there are no plans to ensure spaces.

Not only are families and communities under provincial jurisdiction affected, but those in first nations are as well. In the Churchill riding there are 33 first nations and they had their early learning and child care funding cut without any dialogue with the government on the issue.

The Conservative government gives little with the one hand and takes lots with the other. It has not provided child care choice for the people in the Churchill riding.

Archbishop of TorontoStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, today the 1.6 million Roman Catholics of the greater Toronto area officially welcome their new Archbishop, Thomas Christopher Collins, who was consecrated as Archbishop of Toronto at an installation mass in St. Michael's Cathedral today.

Archbishop Collins was appointed by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in December to be the 10th Archbishop of Toronto. As Canada's largest Roman Catholic diocese, Toronto has 223 parishes, where holy mass is offered on altars in more than 30 languages each, including Latin.

At a time of great social change, there is an increased need for the church to instruct the faithful, minister to the needy and strengthen the family.

We pray His Grace will have the strength in his office to follow St. Paul's instruction to St. Timothy:

—proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, call to obedience – but do all with patience and with the intention of teaching.

Canada's new government sends its greetings and says, Ad multos et faustissimos annos, Your Grace.

Post-secondary EducationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, the daily newspaper La Presse reported that Quebec's cegeps are facing a $305 million shortfall. The fact that these educational facilities are in dire need of cash is proof positive that the need is in Quebec while the money is in Ottawa.

Despite the Conservatives' wonderful promises, the government has not done a thing to correct the fiscal imbalance.

The province is not asking for much; it wants transfers for post-secondary education. Transfers should already have been raised to 1994-95 levels: $5.1 billion for the provinces including $1.2 billion for Quebec.

Transferring the $1.2 billion the Bloc Québécois is asking for would be a first step toward correcting the fiscal imbalance. Without it, our cegeps, colleges and other post-secondary educational institutions will continue to experience hard times.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, Benjamin Franklin once remarked, “well done is better than well said”. When it comes to the environment, the government has done well. We have turned words into action and are bringing about a cleaner and greener tomorrow.

To promote smarter use of energy, we are investing $300 million. To develop clean energy technologies, we are investing $230 million. To boost Canada's supply of renewable energy, we are investing $1.5 billion. To get people out of their cars and into public transit, we are providing a tax credit of $350 million. To clean up one of the most toxic sites in North American, the Sydney tar ponds, we are investing $400 million.

We are removing the equivalent of 1.3 million cars from the road by requiring a 5% renewable fuel content. We brought in tough new regulations on 18 declared toxic substances.

After more than a decade of inaction, of words without deeds, rhetoric without results, Canadians finally have a government that is getting the job done on the environment.

Eva BeaulieuStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, on January 14, I had the honour of extending my best wishes to Eva Beaulieu on the occasion of her 100th birthday, which she celebrated on January 15.

Mrs. Beaulieu, who had 18 children, now has 51 grandchildren, 97 great-grandchildren and 17 great-great-grandchildren, with an 18th on the way.

Along with many others, I was inspired by Mrs. Beaulieu's remarkable fortitude and energy and her kindness. In addition to being a full-time mother, Mrs. Beaulieu found time to join the Dames fermières for many years. Her hobbies include knitting, weaving, sewing, crochet and even cooking.

On this singular and happy occasion, the people of Madawaska—Restigouche join me in wishing Mrs. Beaulieu a happy birthday. We wish her continued good health so that she can keep on charming us with her strength and her dignity for many more years to come.

Congratulations to an amazing woman.

Leader of the Liberal PartyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, while our government is keeping its promises and avoiding scandal, the leader of the Liberal Party is constantly changing his stand on a number of important issues for Canadians.

Just two months after becoming the party leader, the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville seems to have fallen into the same old Liberal habits that were criticized by the Gomery commission.

The same member who supported the mission in Afghanistan when the Liberal Party was in power is now opposed to the Canadian mission. The leader initially said that he would raise the GST, but then recanted. On the environment and the Kyoto protocol, the man who has trouble setting priorities used to say that Canada would not be able to meet the targets. Now he is saying the opposite.

How can Canadians trust a party leader who changes his mind as often as he changes his shirt?

Softwood Lumber MillsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Western Forest Products mill in New Westminster is closing on February 7. Unless the government steps in to clean up the mess created by the softwood sellout, another 300 families will lose their breadwinner and 1,000 jobs will be lost indirectly.

The softwood lumber sellout has resulted in the hemorrhaging of thousands of jobs throughout Canada. It is hard to keep up with the mill closures and layoffs.

The Conservatives, with the support of the Liberals, have bolstered the incentive to export raw logs and give away Canadian jobs. Some CEOs receiving partial payback of the illegally taken monies are using it to buy American mills instead of reinvesting in communities here. What a mess!

The NDP calls on the government to immediately begin to clean up the mess it created, stop raw log exports from federal lands and implement now an emergency plan to assist softwood mills to stay open.

We demand that the Minister of Industry do his job and take action to prevent the closure of Western Forest Products and so many other mills in Canada.

Old Age BenefitStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, during my travels across Canada and within my riding of Brampton—Springdale, I have had the chance to meet with many seniors who have expressed serious concerns regarding the old age benefit.

Depending upon their country of origin, some seniors have to wait up to 10 years before receiving the benefit while others receive the old age benefit immediately. This practice is unjust, unfair and discriminatory.

We, as a country, have always promoted equality and acceptance and hence should not have two classes of seniors who are eligible for the old age benefit.

Regardless of their country of origin, all seniors must be treated with the same equality, fairness and respect. Many of our new seniors are living in poverty due to these long and unfair requirements.

I urge the government to act quickly on behalf of seniors and organizations like the Old Age Benefits Forum and grant old age benefits to all Canadian seniors, regardless of their country of origin, and remove the discriminatory condition of 10 years.

Hrant DinkStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, the assassination last Friday in Istanbul of Hrant Dink has shaken both Turkish society and the entire international community. Mr. Dink, a Turkish journalist of Armenian origin, was a staunch defender of democracy in Turkey and long-time activist for the recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Orhan Pamuk, the great Turkish writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature, after being prosecuted for explicitly insulting Turkishness and the Turkish nation, said that perhaps he should be worried, since the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink was tried before the same court for the very same crime and was convicted. He said, however, that he remains optimistic. Mr. Dink spent time in prison, but the State did not pursue Mr. Pamuk, even after he also said that a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in his country and he is the only one who dares to talk about it.

The Bloc Québécois hopes that Hrant Dink did not die in vain and that the indignation provoked by this assassination will help the Turkish people to be more accepting of differences.

GTA's Most WantedStatements By Members

January 30th, 2007 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to inform the House about a grassroots initiative aimed at tackling crime in the greater Toronto area.

Last week I attended a launch of a new local TV program on Rogers Television called GTA's Most Wanted.

Rogers Television in partnership with the Peel Regional Police and other GTA police agencies are working together to profile wanted criminals and unsolved cases. Up to 250 criminals wanted for murder, kidnapping, robbery and other crimes will be profiled to the local public in the hopes of drawing their assistance. Citizens will help police agencies track down dangerous outlaws and bring them to justice.

In order to capture criminals, I believe we need to engage the Canadian public. Therefore, I fully support this project and hope the House will join with me in endorsing this initiative and recognizing the efforts of Rogers Television and GTA police agencies.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to address an inconvenient truth, not the movie but rather the inconvenient truth about the opposition leader's record on the environment.

The previous Liberal government talked a good game when it came to the environment but the truth is that in 13 years it did not get it done.

Under the Liberals' watch, greenhouse gas emissions rose to an astonishing 35% above Canada's Kyoto targets. Under their watch, Canada slid to 28 out of 29 OECD countries in air quality rankings. Under their watch, Canada set records for the number of smog advisory days in our cities.

Canadians are demanding action and finally getting it from a new Conservative government that in just one year has established a reputation for action on the issues most important to the people we represent.

Wearing a green scarf does not make the Liberal leader an environmental champion any more than wearing a blue and white jersey and a foam finger makes a 40 year old with a beer gut the captain of the Maple Leafs.

As for the opposition leader's now famous dog named Kyoto, my seven year old daughter could name every one of her stuffed animals A-plus but she would still have to take responsibility if she earned an F on her report card.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in 2005, the Liberal government tabled what Elizabeth May, now leader of the Green Party, called “the greenest budget since Confederation”. It was a budget which, according to the Clean Air Coalition, was “so green that it should have been announced on St. Patrick's Day”.

If the Prime Minister cut and slashed the programs that came with this green budget, is it not because he has always been a climate change denier?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the only person in the House of Commons denying something is the leader of the Liberal Party who is denying his own record on the environment.

The fact of the matter is that the programs the hon. member cites, as the Minister of Natural Resources said yesterday, the Liberal Party actually never got around to delivering on those either, as it did not with so many things. In fact, the former commissioner of the environment said that his plan was “not up to the task of meeting the Kyoto obligations”.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in April 2005, the Liberal government launched a plan to fight climate change, project green. This plan was described by the Sierra Club as “probably the most innovative approach anywhere in the world for a government to actually reduce emissions”.

When he came to power, the Prime Minister killed project green and cut and slashed the programs that the Liberals had put in place to fight climate change. Is it not because he has always been a climate change denier?