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

House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was democratic.

Topics

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member forgot to mention that his government cancelled the Kelowna accord. If the Conservatives recognize the prosperity gap, the throne speech did not suggest any ways for addressing it. Not only that, but it confirmed a cut of the GST by 1% and corporate tax cuts. These cuts will only continue to shrink the government's ability to invest in measures that would address the prosperity gap.

With respect to the member's question on democratic reform, my first answer would be to reference a member who sits in the Prime Minister's cabinet but does not actually sit in the House. If there is anything that betray's the government's real agenda and shows it is not interested in democratic reform, it would be the appointment of that individual to a position of responsibility in cabinet when he is not an elected member. It is difficult to take the Conservatives proposals of democratic reform very seriously at this point.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to speak in the House on behalf of my constituents on Hamilton Mountain.

Over the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to be back in Hamilton and to listen to the concerns that are top of mind for families in our community. Without a doubt, the single biggest issue is Canada's growing prosperity gap.

Seniors and working families are increasingly finding it difficult just to make ends meet. At a time when more wealth is being created in this country than at any other time in our history, people in Hamilton are working longer and harder, not to get ahead, but simply to keep up. In fact, average Canadians today are squeezing 200 more hours of work out of each year than they did just nine years ago.

While a few people at the top are enjoying the benefits of the current economy, everyone else is not. Sure, we have seen the windfall salaries and extraordinary bonuses of CEOs, but wages for everyone else are essentially stagnant or falling. The middle class in Canada is falling behind. That is what we have been calling the prosperity gap, and nowhere is that issue more relevant than in Hamilton.

Our manufacturing sector is in crisis, but the government's agenda for this Parliament did not even mention it. There was no mention of an industrial strategy for either the automotive or manufacturing sectors. There was no mention of wage and pension protection for workers affected by commercial bankruptcies. There was no mention of using the $3.3 billion EI surplus to retrain displaced workers. There was no mention of beefing up the Investment Canada Act to protect key industries from foreign takeovers.

With a $14 billion surplus, it simply did not need to be that way. There is a better choice and I will continue to advocate for those alternatives until working families on the mountain get the positive change they deserve.

I know that my time here today is limited, but let me just speak to four such alternatives that represent missed opportunities in the throne speech. They relate to seniors, youth, our city and the environment.

In the summer I had the privilege of organizing and hosting an environmental forum for businesses on Hamilton Mountain. The panellists included representatives from Green Venture and TABIA in an interactive discussion on saving both money and the environment through energy conservation.

Business leaders understood the benefits immediately. Whether they represented the retail, manufacturing or service sectors, they understood that far from having to choose between helping the environment and helping their bottom line, energy conservation will achieve both. In fact research has proven that ignoring climate change will ultimately damage economic growth.

Why then is the Prime Minister not seizing all opportunities to link economic growth with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions? Here is but one small example of how that could be done.

At the urging of the NDP, the Canadian government has put into effect a ban on incandescent light bulbs effective in 2010, but as Hamilton business leaders learned during the environmental forum, almost none of the alternative CFL or LED bulbs are actually being manufactured in Canada.

Here the government is creating a huge market for new products without recognizing and supporting the equally huge domestic manufacturing opportunity that its policy has created. Instead of importing almost all of the more energy efficient light bulbs from China, why are we not supporting Canadian manufacturing and Canadian jobs by encouraging the production of the alternative light bulbs in Canada?

It would be good for the economy, good for jobs and good for the environment, but apparently such a win-win situation is still not good enough for our Prime Minister. Go figure. That kind of inaction speaks volumes about the disconnect between the government's directions and the priorities of the Canadian people.

Let us look at seniors next. The Conservative government is quick to talk the talk when it comes to seniors, but it is loath to walk the talk.

The government supported my seniors charter which created a road map to ensuring that seniors can retire with the dignity and respect they deserve. Indeed it was passed in the House of Commons by a vote of 231 to 52. Instead of implementing the charter's priorities to enhance the quality of life for seniors, government inaction has made it increasingly difficult for seniors to make ends meet.

One of the reasons, of course, is tied to what is happening in the economy. Every time a plant closes its doors in Hamilton, the pension and benefits of its workers are threatened. It is time for the government to acknowledge that pensions are deferred wages. They are not bonuses paid to workers at the end of their working lives. They are part of an agreed upon compensation package for hours worked.

That is why, upon being elected, I was proud to introduce Bill C-270, the workers first bill, in the House of Commons as my very first legislative initiative. Once it becomes law, this bill will ensure that workers' wages, pensions and benefits receive superpriority in case of commercial bankruptcy. If we really want to ensure that seniors can retire with dignity and respect, then we must ensure that they have an adequate retirement income.

Because so many jobs do not have adequate or indeed any benefits, it is essential that we finally act on universal drug coverage. Not only can millions of Canadians not find a family doctor, but the cost of prescription drugs continues to skyrocket to points where people simply cannot pay for the medications that are prescribed. Out of pocket spending on prescription drugs is now more than 70% higher than it was in 1992. Canadian households are spending $3 billion a year on prescription drugs. We must ensure that people can get the drugs they need based on the advice of their doctors, not on the advice of their accountants.

Speaking of health care, we must protect public medicare. This is Canada's hallmark social program. In Hamilton the health care sector is now the largest employer. Just a few years ago no one would have believed that about steel town. One of the best ways to protect our medical system is to ensure that we have an economy that generates the kind of revenues needed to allow our system to flourish. Minimum wage jobs do not do that. We need the decent paying jobs that our industrial sector provided for our hospitals, for our community centres and therefore, for our seniors.

That brings me to the needs of our cities. Working families in Hamilton pay a lot of money in taxes and the more their jobs pay, the more they pay in taxes. But it is not fair that the lion's share of those tax dollars goes to the federal and provincial governments. In spite of calls from Hamilton citizens, the big city mayors, the chamber of commerce and many others, the federal government refuses to recognize that Canada is the world's second most urban country with 80% of our population living in cities.

With an estimated infrastructure deficit of over $100 billion, our cities are in dire straits. Our federal government is rolling in cash but it is refusing to invest in our cities. Investments in infrastructure and housing would create jobs. Investments in public transit would create jobs. Investments in environmental initiatives like the cleanup of Randle Reef would create jobs. The list goes on and on. Our city desperately needs this kind of investment, but property taxpayers can no longer shoulder the burden alone. It is time for the federal government to pick up its fair share and with a $14 billion surplus, do not tell us it cannot be done.

That brings me to the last issue I want to raise on the throne speech, and that is the issue of youth. When the government set out its agenda for this session of Parliament, it mentioned youth exactly three times. Appallingly, all three were in the context of tackling crime.

I was proud to support bills in the House which imposed mandatory minimum penalties for firearms crimes, raised the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 years, and placed the onus on those accused of firearms offences to prove why they should receive bail, but I would never describe these initiatives as an agenda for Canada's youth. To stereotype all youth as criminals is to abdicate our responsibility to the vast majority of teens whose parents are working hard to afford them every opportunity to become law-abiding contributing members of our society.

An agenda for youth needs to be an agenda of hope. It needs to include sports, recreation, education, training, and opportunities for employment. Instead of helping our students to excel in today's knowledge based economy, the government is refusing to deal with unaffordable tuition fees and unreasonable interest rates on student loans that have become major roadblocks to post-secondary education. We need to restore needs based grants, lower tuition fees and overhaul the Canada student loans program to make it more flexible, fair and responsive. We need to invest in apprenticeship programs. We need to raise the minimum wage.

Students are not asking for a free ride. They are simply asking for fairness and a chance to succeed.

In fact, that is what all working families have been asking from the government. They are asking for some basic fairness, but this throne speech misses the mark. I have a mandate to represent the goals of my community in this House and since those aspirations are not reflected in the throne speech, I will be forced to oppose it on Wednesday.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my comment will be on infrastructure and my question will be on human rights.

The government is putting in new infrastructure programs and replacing all the old ones. I want to go on record as saying it is absolutely essential that in the new program the municipalities get at least the same percentage they are getting now. It is very important that municipalities get infrastructure money. I am sure the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Association of Yukon Communities and all municipalities in the country would agree.

Regarding human rights, the throne speech said that the government was a champion of human rights. Does the member find it surprising that there was nothing on the largest human rights tragedy in the world right now, Darfur; that there was not one dollar for the court challenges program so people who otherwise could not afford it could fight for their rights and freedoms; and finally, that the government is still not supporting aboriginal human rights at the UN?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I actually agree with my hon. opponent that indeed the government throne speech is silent on Darfur. It is silent on court challenges. It does not do anything to move toward the implementation of the Kelowna accord. One issue that the member did not mention is that the throne speech is absolutely silent on issues affecting women.

While I share those same sentiments and concerns about the direction of the throne speech, I would like to know why the member opposite feels compelled to support the throne speech when in fact it has these very serious deficiencies. One wonders, if we are elected to represent our constituents in the House and to stand up for principles, why the member having so eloquently pointed out its deficiencies would then go ahead and vote for the throne speech.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the seniors charter of rights, something which, for a number of years, the NDP has pushed to have passed in the House of Commons. We have not seen real action on that.

I would like the hon. member to talk about how we can improve those elements which will actually assist seniors not only in terms of income supports but more important, in terms of their quality of life. I would like her to explain why that charter is so important, not only in terms of its being passed as a figurative motion in the House of Commons but more important, in terms of real action for seniors who are living in poverty today.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for raising the issue about the seniors charter and I want to thank him also because it was his leg work that created the basis upon which the seniors charter was built.

The member is right. The charter passed in this very House of Commons. We made a collective commitment to seniors across the country that we would guarantee them the right to retire with dignity and respect. The charter called for a minimum standard of income security. As I pointed out in my speech, income security just is not there for today's seniors. That income security will lead to our being able to talk about other issues related to quality of life, whether they be health care issues, issues of lifelong learning, a whole basket of issues that have not been raised in the House, except in our caucus and through the debate we have initiated in the House. We have been advocating on behalf of seniors.

The government's agenda for this Parliament is completely silent on that. The official opposition party is voting for that silence. I am appalled that members of the House are so complicit in giving up on standing up for our seniors.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I compliment my colleague on her excellent speech.

In terms of failure to live up to the expectations that were created in the last Parliament, I stood here with the member when the Prime Minister agreed to send the clean air act to committee so that we as a group could consider the important issue of climate change and put it in perspective.

In the throne speech he has come back and said that only the positions that the Conservative Party agreed to in the committee are going to be the ones that the government supports. What kind of action toward this institution did the Prime Minister make with that declaration? I ask the hon. member, has the Prime Minister completely lost the point of government and representation that is so fundamental to our system?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course I would concur with my colleague that the Prime Minister has indeed lost his way, if he had ever been on the right way toward dealing with the climate change crisis.

I find it absolutely ironic that earlier in the debate, a member from the government caucus had asked about how we reform our democratic institutions. It seems to me one of the best ways to deal with democracy in the country is to act on the will of Parliament. Bill C-30 was that kind of opportunity. All parties had collaborated. We had a comprehensive bill that would tackle climate change in a meaningful way and the government decided to let that bill fall by the wayside and to introduce a watered down version that has all the right words but will not do anything to address this very serious problem that is top of mind for most Canadians.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, over the past weekend, members of four bands on Vancouver Island ratified a historic treaty. The Toquaht, Uchucklesaht, Ucluelet and Kyuquot joined the Huu-ay-aht in voting for an overwhelming endorsement, making this the second treaty approved under the B.C. treaty process.

Inasmuch as four of the five bands are situated in my riding of Nanaimo—Alberni, I take great pleasure in offering congratulations to the chiefs, counsellors and the treaty ratification committees. Perhaps Tom Happynook of the Huu-ay-aht said it best, “As of today, I am proud to be a Huu-ay-aht. I am proud to be a Maa-Nulth. I am proud to be a British Columbian and I'm proud to be a Canadian”.

Congratulations are also due to Premier Gordon Campbell and our own Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. This historic agreement will now be presented in the B.C. legislature and eventually here in the Canadian Parliament for ratification.

This treaty offers great potential to launch a whole new future for these first nations. It is hoped that the spirit of collaboration and goodwill that has infused the treaty process will spearhead a whole new chapter for all of British Columbia.

Polish CanadiansStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the discourse of Canada's political history, the roles played by our first nations, and the French and the British components regularly overshadow the important roles played by Canadians of other origins.

In fact, for over a century we viewed our country as bicultural. It was not until Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau that for the first time we formally acknowledged that Canada was in fact a multicultural nation. For this reason, it is important and proper that we acknowledge and pay tribute to those communities that helped to build Canada's foundations.

To underscore this point, this year marks the 140th anniversary of the election of the first Polish Canadian, Alexandre Édouard Kierzkowski, to Canada's first House of Commons in 1867. Kierzkowski was a Polish officer who came to Canada in 1842. In the year of Canada's Confederation, he was elected the Liberal member of Parliament for Saint-Hyacinthe.

For 140 years Polish Canadians have contributed in building our great multicultural nation and, as such, they should be considered one of Canada's founding peoples.

Monique SourdifStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute today to Monique Sourdif, a resident of Laval and recipient of the Quebec “Hommage aux Aînés" award. The award recognizes the contribution of an individual to improving the well-being, quality of life, participation and role of seniors in Quebec society.

Her commitment is incontestable. For more than 25 years, she was involved in the Canadian Cancer Society, bringing support to cancer patients and their loved ones.

For more than 10 years, she worked to promote the participation and integration of seniors within organizations and private residences, and was involved in the “celebrating seniors” committee in Laval.

She helped initiate intergenerational days and, in the same spirit, founded the Maison des grands-parents. She was an administrator at the Laval FADOQ for a few years and was a co-founder of the Table de Concertation des Aînés in Laval.

Monique is an exceptional woman, and a wonderful mother and grandmother, but most of all, she is my friend. I am proud to see her honoured in this way. No one is more deserving. Bravo!

Manufacturing IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise today to speak with my brothers and sisters in the CAW calling for a federal task force on manufacturing.

In the last five years more than 300,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in this country. These are real jobs, where Canadians were able to provide for their families, that are gone. They have disappeared and the government has not been fighting back to maintain those jobs. Hence, we need a task force.

On top of this, we have seen a government continue down a wrong path of not putting in sectoral strategies. Instead, what it is doing is large corporate tax cuts that would actually reward companies when they move to Mexico, Alabama and other places.

Today we are calling for a fight for our jobs and, most importantly, to put actual workers back on the workshop floor so they are actually able to support their families.

CancerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I stand in the House to pay tribute to some real Canadian heroes.

In January of this year, a U of A doctor published findings that DCA, a commonly used drug, had shown real potential in the fight against cancer. When Peace River resident Terry Babiy learned that pharmaceutical companies would not fund the necessary $800,000 human trials due to the limited profit potential, he and the local community stepped into action.

Believing that they could raise $250,000 to contribute to the effort, the local radio stations, businesses and citizens held countless fundraisers of every imaginable form. To date, their efforts have yielded over $260,000 and an announcement that clinical trials will commence was made in recent weeks.

I commend the people of Peace Country for giving so generously for such a worthwhile cause. Their generosity is an example for communities across this great nation. I am proud to represent these hard-working and compassionate people, and even more proud to congratulate them on this success.

HomelessnessStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week was the second annual homelessness week in Greater Vancouver. Vancouverites overwhelmingly identified homelessness as their number one social challenge as do many other Canadian cities.

The last Liberal government had committed $1.4 billion to a partnership with municipalities, provinces, non-profit and private sectors to provide shelters, single occupancy units, and temporary living for those Canadians who have no shelter. We had developed a cities plan with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

These were all swept away by the new Conservative government. Its 2004 platform along with the 2006 and 2007 budgets never mentioned homelessness nor housing. Instead, it cut the Liberal homelessness fund, restoring it much later as the rebranded homelessness national strategy with greatly decreased funding.

Now the Speech from the Throne mentions the word “homelessness” in passing: no plan, no funds. Are we to believe that after three years the government has developed a social conscience or is it just more of that smoke and mirrors trick that it does so well?

Canadian Cardiovascular SocietyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, I ask the House to join me in congratulating the Canadian Cardiovascular Society as it celebrates its 60th year.

Since 1947 the Canadian Cardiovascular Society has provided outstanding leadership to members of the cardiovascular medical community and helped them deliver quality health care to Canadians.

This includes the development of the angina classification system used worldwide, the creation of the pan-Canadian access to care benchmarks, and the development of recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

These examples demonstrate the remarkable work of Canada's cardiovascular physicians and scientists through the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. The society is also a key member of the Canadian heart health plan developed by this government.

It will undoubtedly remain an organization of great value to our country. Congratulations to the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. We look forward to the next 60 years.

Ohtli AwardStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, Ms. Louise Guinois, a resident of Saint-Isidore, was honoured on September 13 by the Consul General of Mexico for her voluntary work with Mexican seasonal workers in Quebec.

Founder of Fraternité québécoise mexicana and organizer of community events for Latin American workers, Louise Guinois has been given the Ohtli Award by Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Relations for her dedication to Mexican communities in Quebec, especially the one in her riding.

Ms. Guinois' concern for the well-being of migrant worker is a testament to her great humanity and represents a model of civic values for all citizens of Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.

Our congratulations to Ms. Guinois.

Speech from the ThroneStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, by presenting the Speech from the Throne in prime time, our government affirmed its desire to dialogue with Canadians.

The stated priorities demonstrate the coherence of the government and its desire to take up the challenges faced.

These priorities are as follows: strengthen Canada' sovereignty and our place in the world; strengthen the federation and our democratic institutions; provide effective economic leadership for a prosperous future; tackle crime and strengthen the security of Canadians. Not to mention the major issue of implementing effective policies to improve the environment and Canadians' health.

With regard to the environment, our government has announced allocations of more than $9.3 billion to projects, five times the $1.6 billion spent by the Liberals.

We did not just make promises; we have taken real action.

Relève du Nord SchoolStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, on October 13, I had the opportunity to see a show put on by the Relève du Nord school in my riding of Madawaska—Restigouche.

It was great to see the talent of those taking part, and I would like to acknowledge the remarkable performances of all those who, despite their stage fright, participated in this show.

I was also quite pleased to have been able to attend this event and discover our hidden local talents. I would like to congratulate the participants and choir members who took part in the show: Kera Long, Sophie Bélanger, Caroline Joyce Mallais, Stéphanie Albert, Megan Ouellette, Danielle St-Onge, Marie Eve Belzile, Savannah Paradis, Steffany Paradis, Sylvie Martin, Serge Nadeau, Cédrick Charest and Zoé Michaud.

I would also like to thank Nadine Caouette Foster, the chair, Barbara Michaud, and their entire team for organizing this show and showing their dedication to the arts, culture and youth.

Government AccountabilityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Conservative Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, under previous Liberal governments Canada's place on Transparency International's annual clean government index was in a downward spiral. After ranking fifth in 2001, by 2005 Canada dropped to fourteenth. It seemed that reports of corruption during the Liberal sponsorship scandal had taken its toll on Canada's reputation around the world as an honest, clean country that could serve as an example to the world.

However, the Conservative Party made a commitment to Canadians in the last election campaign: give us a mandate to govern and we will clean up Ottawa.

After passing the toughest anti-corruption legislation in Canadian history, the Federal Accountability Act, and other measures to strengthen accountability in government, we did just that.

This year I am proud to say that under the leadership of this Prime Minister Canada has reversed the trend and is now ninth in the world on the clean government index.

However, we are not yet satisfied. We will continue to take action and make our institutions more democratic and accountable to ensure Canada is a leader on the world stage when it comes to transparency, openness and accountability in government.

Christopher WordenStatements By Members

October 22nd, 2007 / 2:10 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, over the Thanksgiving weekend the people of the community of Hay River awoke to a terrible event when a respected RCMP officer was shot and died in the line of duty.

Constable Christopher Worden had built a fine reputation in his time in the north. He was raising a family in the north and participated fully in his northern home. Such a senseless act will remain with northerners for a very long time.

Constable Worden represents so many other Canadian men and women who have taken up policing with the RCMP in the north. We are grateful for the professional, caring and sensitive work that the members provide in our far-flung communities. Like Constable Worden, their efforts go beyond police work and that makes them an integral part of the life of the people they serve.

There is little anonymity in our northern life. We know our police officers and respect them. The tragedy of the shooting of Constable Worden has touched us all. We mourn together with his family and friends in the community of Hay River. A memorial for Constable Worden will be held in Hay River this Saturday.

Visitor VisasStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration's refusal to institute a system of visitor visa bonds is hurting Canadians with family members living abroad who want to visit Canada.

Every week I hear from constituents whose close relatives and friends are denied entry to Canada for important events like weddings and funerals. Some applicants have been rejected multiple times without any proper reason. Other applicants who were granted entry under previous governments are now seeing their applications denied.

This government's lack of compassion is causing great distress to Canadians and their families in times of need.

I call on the government to immediately institute a system of visitor visa bonds and end the unfair treatment of these Canadians and their loved ones abroad.

Poverty and HomelessnessStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 19, a vigil was held in 21 cities in Quebec to raise awareness of poverty and homelessness.

As part of this event, the “Pompon minute” prize, symbolized by an old patched blanket, was awarded to the Prime Minister of Canada by the organizations and people taking part in the vigil, to make him aware of the deplorable conditions in which the poor are living.

This group is on the Hill today, in the hopes of drawing the Prime Minister's attention to the issues of homelessness and social housing. Its members hope that the Prime Minister will be so concerned about the dire circumstances many people are living in that he will take real steps to improve their living conditions.

We hope that this government will stop rationalizing the funding earmarked for social housing and the fight against homelessness and will work to facilitate access to increased funding.

BMO Nesbitt MarathonStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to share with members news of the BMO Nesbitt Prince Edward Island marathon which took place October 13 and 14.

Over the past number of years, the marathon has been a much-anticipated tradition in Prince Edward Island and has grown tremendously to its present state of a weekend-long event with seven races, including a full marathon, a half marathon, a 10k walk, a kids run and a corporate relay.

More than 1,000 people participated in this year's marathon weekend. Race participants hailed from across Canada and the United States, and as far away as Nigeria and Japan. I should point out also that our very own member of Parliament, the member for Cardigan, completed the half-marathon walk. Not only was the marathon weekend great fun for all who attended, but it also helped to promote physical activity and healthy living.

I ask members to please join with me in offering our congratulations to race organizer Myrtle Jenkins Smith and her capable team of organizers and volunteers, and all the runners and walkers as well. It was truly a great event.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, getting tough on crime is not a part of the Liberal agenda. It was not a priority when the Liberals were government and now, as opposition, it is even less of a concern.

This past weekend the Liberal leader outlined his vision for an alternative plan for Canada. One key element was missing, their fighting crime agenda. While this is no surprise, what is surprising is the fact that the Liberals are now trying to say that they actually care about fighting crime. In fact, for the past four months, the Liberals have been missing in action on the justice files. Now, only when there is talk of an election and the cameras are rolling, do the Liberals say that they are interested in getting tough on crime.

The tackling violent crime bill is a priority for this government because community safety is a major concern for Canadians. Two-thirds of Canadians support the government's approach to criminal justice issues, including mandatory minimum penalties for serious crime.

While the Liberals are idle on the subject of justice, this government has and will continue to deliver what Canadians want.

Msgr. Bertrand BlanchetStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Independent

Louise Thibault Independent Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 19, on his 75th birthday, the archbishop of Rimouski, Msgr. Bertrand Blanchet, retired.

Msgr. Blanchet has always been deeply committed to his community and the land it occupies, and in 1975 he did his PhD in forestry sciences. He has never hesitated to take a stand on regional issues and has made people, their progress and their development his top priority.

Msgr. Blanchet develops the region as well as the consciousness.He is a committed man who uses his wisdom and humanity to help people cope with today's challenges without ever imposing his own views.

He is an inspiration. The archbishop of Rimouski helps us represent the Quebec we love. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to this compassionate man of the cloth who has kept his feet firmly on the ground in eastern Quebec where he has truly left his mark.