House of Commons Hansard #20 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.


Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are discussing Bill C-15, the Donkin coal mine and it seems that the hon. member has gone completely off on a tangent talking about something unrelated. Let us get down to the topic. Let us have a debate on Bill C-15 and talk about things that are relevant.

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I would ask all hon. members to remember when they are speaking to a particular bill that they stick to pertinent facts and details about the bill itself.

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage all hon. members to get to understand and know the bill that they are discussing. Bill C-15 specifically provides an exclusion to the Canada--Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act. If I am speaking about the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act, it is because it is included in this particular bill. When I do that, I am speaking about the substance of the bill. So I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for reminding members of the government that when they introduce a bill, they should get to understand the bill that they are introducing before raising points of order or objections.

That is very important. There is a matter of trust that has to be brought forward to the people of Nova Scotia. Exactly what will the bill result in for them? How will this translate, because a side deal of which nobody understands the content, as in the original Atlantic accord and the changes to the equalization act, does not do anything to instill confidence in the people of Nova Scotia. But what does is when members stand up and represent their constituents, like the member from Cape Breton and the member for Sydney—Victoria. They are keeping their eyes on this sort of stuff. They are making sure that their constituents and the people of Nova Scotia, and indeed all of Atlantic Canada, are fully aware of the consequences of this. This bill is going to be supported by the Liberal Party of Canada and this caucus because of the hard work that came forward by members of our caucus to make sure that the work got done.

There will be 275 new jobs as a result, should the private company, Xstrata, decide to go full force and develop the mine, which we are all extremely confident that it will. There will be significant resource revenues that come into the province of Nova Scotia. I note that one element of this bill requires that all royalty payments should go to the Receive General for Canada first and then flow to the government of Nova Scotia second. That, quite frankly, causes me some concern, because we know the track record of this particular government. It could decide to block that particular flow of royalty revenues if the government happens to have a future disagreement with the province of Nova Scotia.

However, I have confidence that this mine will proceed because of the hard work of all interested members of Parliament, those who actually got to know the bill and the context of it, who supported it and are adding to this. But one thing has to be clear. There is a matter of confidence and trust that if people say that they will do something, they should do it. There was an absolute guarantee given to all 10 premiers and 3 territorial leaders of this country. It was broadcast to the entire country in the middle of the election campaign back in 2006 that there would be 100% exclusion of non-renewable resource revenues from the equalization formula with absolutely no caps involved.

What do we have? We do not know for a fact because we cannot actually get a copy of the briefing materials from the Minister of Finance or the Department of Finance as to exactly how he intends to amend the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act because of course they have scheduled four separate briefings and on four separate occasions they have cancelled those briefings. But one day, we will have that particular piece of legislation, I am confident, tabled in the House and we will be able to see with the rest of Canadians what exactly is entailed in this.

What we do know is that a letter was put forward by the current Prime Minister, then the leader of the opposition, stating there would be 100% exclusion of non-renewable natural resources from the equalization formula and no caps. We now know from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, the former minister of national revenue and others who clearly stated in the House that that is not the intention of the current Conservative government, that it intends to impose a cap and that it is requiring an either take it or leave it position by the provinces that are so affected. They accept certain elements and abandon others because they cannot have both.

Quite frankly, it would have been very helpful to the electorate in Atlantic Canada in the last election campaign if they had known that little detail.

I thank the member from Cape Breton and the member for Sydney—Victoria for keeping their eyes on this file and making sure it happens for the people of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member is a former minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and understands very well the plight of the people of Cape Breton.

He recognizes, I am sure, that there has been a sea change in Cape Breton. Employment is increasing. Over the last 10 years there have been some great improvements, but there have been some very difficult times with the closing of the mines. Now we have a bill here that makes it possible for a mine to reopen, operated by the private sector. It gives an opportunity to have a good regulatory system that brings the feds and the province together. That is good news.

Would he not, like me, like to see good news like that continue to extend with good cooperation between the federal and provincial governments? He raised the fact, and I raise it again, of honouring past commitments, such as the Canada-Nova Scotia accord and the Newfoundland-Canada accord.

We have seen today where the minister at the very last minute backed out of a briefing, where he was going to explain why the figures that we have been able to see, between what the feds are telling us and what we know to be true, are completely different on the Canada-Nova Scotia side deal.

Does he know from his vast experience in Parliament any other reason than completely trying to hide, why a minister of the Crown would put off these meetings so many times, and again today cancel it at the very last minute?

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Gerry Byrne Liberal Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte, NL

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the excellent question, because it does provide a context to this.

The people of Cape Breton, as the hon. member rightfully pointed out, as throughout Nova Scotia, have really adapted to a new economy. They have developed new manufacturing expertise. They have delved into and succeeded in information technology. They have developed a strong and robust tourism sector. They are exporting their products, their goods and their services to the entire world.

The initiative of Nova Scotians is to be admired. It is a role model for the rest of the country. I for one look at the successes of the people of Nova Scotia with some amount of admiration, reflecting on the fact that I have had some involvement with it with my hon. colleague, who is as well a former minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

The people of Nova Scotia know that they need a cooperative relationship with their federal government in order to succeed, to be able to harness those resources. Without that cooperative relationship, we have no success.

This particular bill does provide a glimmer of hope that there is that sort of basis of trust and support to be able to do that by streamlining those regulatory regimes. But I can also say that this mine provides 275 jobs to the coal sector. Just imagine if there was complete and full disclosure on exactly what the environment of the offshore oil and gas would be for Nova Scotia if we understood what rules would be imposed by the Conservative government.

The hon. member quite rightfully points out the fact that there is an impasse in one of the strongest growth resource sectors that we have in this country. The people of Nova Scotia are being denied a benefit from that.

He is quite right that as of this morning, for the fourth consecutive time the Minister of Finance and his departmental officials refused to meet, after scheduling an appointment to brief caucus members and those interested parliamentarians on the specifics of those particular changes that they imposed which were contrary to their election promises. For the fourth consecutive time that particular briefing was cancelled.

That is an affront to the people of Nova Scotia. It is an affront to the parliamentarians in this House and in the other place who wanted and needed to attend that briefing in order to be fully informed of a deal that was stated to be signed, sealed and delivered. It does not exist. Perhaps the reason the budget implementation act has not yet been tabled in this House is that the Conservatives do not yet know exactly how they are going to word the budget implementation act, because they do not know the context of their own deal.

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, like the previous member, I am very pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-15, the Donkin coal block development opportunity act.

This basically involves a jurisdictional issue involving a provincial mine. It is good legislation. I certainly will be supporting it when it comes to a vote.

I would classify the mine as a provincial mine. It is a mine that is not being developed fresh. A lot of the infrastructure is there, although when the infrastructure was established, it was determined at the time that it was too expensive to take the coal out of the mine, the coal which is a proven resource.

The mine is located six or seven miles subsea. As such, it would be under the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada. However, the entry to the mine and all other aspects of the mine would be provincial issues. We can see the chaos and confusion that would result, because at certain points in time workers would be doing activities in certain locations that would be under the jurisdiction of the Province of Nova Scotia and then if they moved on into the mine pit, they would be under the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada. There would be uncertainty, confusion and chaos. It is incumbent upon the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia to clarify that so that the private sector developer, along with the Government of Nova Scotia and the people who live in Cape Breton, can move forward on this particular development.

I am pleased with the legislation. I am pleased with the level of cooperation that exists between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada on this particular issue. I am not going to get into the other issue that was discussed in the last 15 minutes.

The legislation transfers most of the jurisdictional aspects in connection with the operation of the mine to the Government of Nova Scotia. For example, occupational safety, workers compensation, labour, prosecution of offences, et cetera, will be under the ambit and at the expense of the Government of Nova Scotia. There is a detailed platform for dealing with all jurisdictional issues that has been agreed to by the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia. Basically, it is a delegation of responsibilities.

Like other speakers in this House, I want to congratulate the member for Cape Breton—Canso and the member for Sydney—Victoria for their hard work, their dedication and their perseverance in bringing this matter forward. They are to be congratulated. Certainly the people in Cape Breton can go to bed tonight knowing full well that they are well served in this institution.

I come from the province of Prince Edward Island. We have actually had a similar experience there which worked well. That was when the fixed link was constructed, the bridge that connects the province of New Brunswick with the province of Prince Edward Island.

Again, that involved legislation and an agreement. In that case, as members can see, a lot of the site works were done either in the province of New Brunswick or in the province of Prince Edward Island and so there were jurisdictional issues involving the Government of Canada. All parties came together in a cooperative agreement and it really did not result in any issues.

Of course sales tax is one of the other issues that has to be worked out in these agreements.

As I alluded to briefly in my opening comments, this is not a new mine. It has been around for quite some time. A lot of the exploratory work has been done. The tunnels actually were done quite some years ago. After the analysis and a lot of the work was done, it was determined at that point in time that it was not economically feasible to mine the coal that was there. It was just too far out.

Again, things have changed over the last number of years. As everyone is aware, the price of coal and energy in all its elements has increased dramatically. Technology has improved substantially, not only technology involving the clean coal issues but also the extraction of the coal. Those issues have all combined together to make this particular initiative now economically feasible, as I understand, and I hope it will be moving ahead. This will be an excellent development for the island of Cape Breton.

We are dealing with legislation that deals with a particular mine. I know the mine is important for the Island of Cape Breton and for the province of Nova Scotia but I suspect that this situation will be repeated over and over.

Many activities are occurring in the Arctic. There are other issues. It is my recommendation that the government ought to consider some type of overarching legislation that would deal with incidents such as this where we deal with a mine or a bridge or some other installation that would have cross-jurisdictional issues involved so that the overarching framework can be dealt with through agreement.

The agreement would need to come to Parliament and a parliamentary committee but I am not sure we would need to deal with it through legislation in each and every instance. We might be dealing with a mine or a project that is not as big as the Donkin coal mine and it would be a shame if the expense and the delay would have to be involved in getting legislation through both the provincial legislature, the Parliament of Canada and, of course, the Senate of Canada. That is just a suggestion I would make as we go forward.

In researching this particular issue, it is clear to me that the major stakeholders on this particular project are very much behind this legislation and this initiative. The Province of Nova Scotia and the people who live in Cape Breton, the municipality of Cape Breton, the trade unions, including the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, all seem to be very supportive of this particular legislation. That is one of the reasons why I support the legislation 100%.

There has been some discussion about environmental concerns and that needs to be dealt with. I hope and I believe it will be dealt with by the Province of Nova Scotia and that all the legislation that it has on its books will be vigorously enforced as this project goes forward.

Another issue that has been raised in the debate is that this is a wedge issue between different provinces and different regions of the country. I do not see it that way at all. I see it as a positive development where one province or one jurisdiction has made an agreement with another jurisdiction and, in each case, it required legislation. This is the legislation that has to deal with the Government of Canada. I do not see it, in any way at all, as different jurisdictions. It is a cooperative initiative.

I consider this legislation to be positive. I congratulate the people who were involved in bringing it forward to the House. I want to tell the House that I will be supporting the bill when it comes to a vote.

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the tone of the debate here today and the fact that we have support in principle from all parties. I would like to see Bill C-15 fast-tracked and ushered on through.

I know that my colleague with his legal background is very aware of the history of coal mining in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. However, the Province of Nova Scotia would be taking on full responsibility for all matters around labour relations and occupational health and safety. We are very much aware of the Westray tragedy. It was an incredible tragedy for the people of Nova Scotia and the entire coal mining community. I had hoped that we had learned from that experience.

Is the member confident that with the regulations there, that the federal government will be able to keep the Province of Nova Scotia's feet to the fire and ensure that matters of labour relations and occupational health and safety are carried out? Is there enough clout on the part of the federal government to ensure that this operation is played out in a safe and practical manner and that looks after the best interests of those who are working with this operation? Does the member believe those safeguards are within this legislation?

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the quick answer is yes. The regulations are there. There is no question about that.

Several years ago, I read a lot of the material that arose as a result of the inquiry dealing with the Westray matter. I would point out that the regulations were there then too but they were not enforced at the time. There was a very lax enforcement structure to deal with occupational safety issues. The people who were supposed to be acting on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia and on behalf of the miners who worked in the Westray mines were not, in my opinion, doing their job.

The regulations were there but they were not being enforced and we all know the final consequence, which was a tremendous tragedy in Atlantic Canada. It is etched in the minds of all people living in that region. I would hope and I would think that the people who enforce the legislation bear those scars as they proceed on this particular project.

I am confident that the regulations will be enforced.

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member spoke about this as being a one-off bill. He said that he would prefer an overarching bill that would help deal with a situation where a project crosses jurisdictions. He mentioned the Confederation Bridge project, which has been a great asset for Atlantic Canada and certainly a great asset for his home community of Prince Edward Island.

A few years ago, I remember dealing with the Canada offshore development and the concerns that the developers had in that instance about the regulatory time. The time it takes to get approval in Canada, if there are more hurdles in Canada, is two to three times as long as anywhere else internationally without having any additional safeguards.

For those reasons, would it not be good to have discussions on labour regulations and environmental regulations and the arguments about provincial and federal jurisdiction and having to answer to both? I would ask the member if he cares to comment further.

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, yes, that could be. I know where the member is coming from but I just thought this was a consideration. We could be dealing with overarching legislation.

The people who are developing the projects off Nova Scotia and off Newfoundland are extremely annoyed, I think would be the word, about the amount of regulation that they need to go through provincially, sometimes two provinces, and federally. That should be streamlined. However, I find the issues somewhat separate.

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to address this bill for a couple of reasons.

First, what a lot of people who may watching or later reading in Hansard do not know is that today is a day with special emphasis on mining issues on the Hill. It is partially coincidental, though not totally, that today we are dealing with the Donkin coal block development opportunity act, a piece of legislation that is specifically meant to assist in the growth of a particular project in Cape Breton, just off the coast of Nova Scotia. It is very important for that specific reason.

While we are talking about the overall general theme of mining today on the Hill, with people from the industry, workers, et cetera, we also have the privilege of dealing specifically with a bill that would help build this industry in a particular location for a specific town.

The second reason I am particularly pleased to speak to this bill is because of my personal professional background. Prior to being elected to the House of Commons in June 2004, I had previously worked as a mining and exploration geophysicist, having obtained my geophysics degree and graduating previously from the University of Saskatchewan.

I had the privilege of working in all three of Canada's northern territories, the wonderful territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. I also spent some time working in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. My final project before I was elected was in a place called Salluit in the most northern town of the province of Quebec where I worked on a nickel sulfide project.

It is a great pleasure for me to speak to a piece of legislation that is in some way related to my previous profession. People need to understand that mining is important for Canada. It is important for Canada historically and in the present.

While the fur trade was probably the first industry that really flourished in Canada from coast to coast and pushed inland the exploration, mining was not far behind. Some who have read their history books may remember that some of the explorers who came to Canada came specifically to look for mineral deposits, gold, diamonds and copper.

In fact, one of the more amusing stories in Canadian history is how some of the early explorers from France became very excited when they thought they had discovered massive diamond deposits in Quebec. They filled up many barrels of these diamonds and returned home. However, after a little investigation, they were not quite sophisticated enough to tell the difference between quartz and diamonds.

Historically, mining has been very important to Canada. We export somewhere in the neighbourhood of 77 different products. We are internationally known for our uranium deposits, potash, nickel and coal. We have seen the rising price of coal impact on our dollar. This is an industry which impacts every region of the country, be it oil and gas, hard rock mining or whatever.

We have particular expertise in this country for the development of our laws, geological infrastructure, the Geological Survey of Canada, the well done mapping programs and the organization and stability of our programs. That is one of the reasons why, not only in Canada but around the world, Canadian mine engineers, geoscientists and all others are recognized as experts in this field. That is just an introduction.

Today we are dealing with a particular piece of legislation that deals with a specific situation off the coast of Nova Scotia, which makes it an important bill for Cape Breton and, indeed, for all of Nova Scotia. This legislation deals directly with the prosperity and jobs in the region of Cape Breton. I am pleased to stand and support this bill.

The development of the Donkin undersea coal resource located off Cape Breton Island has the potential to bring significant economic benefits to the Cape Breton region and to all of Nova Scotia.

Both the province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada contend that they have legal obligations regarding matters such as regulating resource development, labour matters, occupation, health, safety, et cetera. In December 2005, Nova Scotia announced Xstrata Donkin Mine Development Alliance was successful in its bid to explore and develop the Donkin coal block resource. After more than one year of exploration, Xstrata will make its final decision on the development, in August 2008.

Neither the federal government nor the provincial government wish to see issues of jurisdiction hamper the prospects of this project. We do not want red tape to kill jobs with people of Cape Breton. However, for the commercial operation of the mine to proceed, an effective regulatory regime is needed. The bill is about that. What we need is a clear understanding among all parties affected, proponents and possible employees and the community at large as to what the rules of operation are going to be on this project.

The federal government sees it as necessary to find a way around this impasse. I believe it is important to understand the process that brought us to this point of view. In my view the legislation is an example of good will and commitment by both levels of government, provincial and federal. Consequently both levels of government have put the question of jurisdiction aside to collaborate on a mechanism permitting the development of a safe and efficient mine.

Representatives of the federal government and the Nova Scotia government worked together for a year to develop the proposed legislation. Starting in March, federal and provincial officials agreed on an approach to develop an appropriate regulatory regime to develop the Donkin coal block. The agreement involves the incorporation of provincial statutes by reference into federal law of laws related to coal and coal bed methane resource management, labour relations, labour standards and occupational health and safety.

Prior to this, Nova Scotia agreed to amend its occupational health and safety laws to ensure that subsea coal miners would have the same level of protection that they have under federal legislation.

Also under the agreement, administration of the new federal laws will be delegated to a provincial government official or authority. This helps us to move forward to clear the path, to move forward for the development of the Donkin site if the private sector decides if the mine is a viable, profitable operation. Again, to be clear for everyone who is listening, the legislation only enables and takes away the red tape so that the private sector can have its own initiative to grow and develop these necessary jobs.

Public meetings were held this past April to discuss the regulatory framework. These sessions resulted in assurances that labour, community and industry groups understood and supported the proposed regulatory regime. The outcome is this bill, the Donkin coal block development opportunity act, introduced in this Parliament by the hon. Minister of Natural Resources.

Dealing with the issues of health and safety, we know there are dangers faced by coal miners and we know safety is paramount for them. Throughout history worldwide, I think of some particularly tragic incidences in Canadian history. We do not want any dangers or loss of life to happen again to our miners. Bill C-15 would clarify the occupational health and safety regulations that would apply to the Donkin resource. By eliminating confusion over who would protect these workers, we hope to protect each and every worker better.

The proposed legislation will permit the incorporation into federal laws of existing provincial laws regarding such matters as labour standards, labour relations, occupational health and safety and coal and coal gas resource management. The administration and enforcement of these laws would then be delegated back to the province of Nova Scotia. This provides a clear and stable regulatory system, the Donkin coal development. It also permits both levels of government to retain their positions with respect to ownership and regulatory jurisdiction.

As well, the bill would ensure that coal and coal bed methane royalties associated with exploitation of the offshore portion of Donkin could be collected by Nova Scotia and then remitted to the Government of Canada. In turn, a remittance of an equal amount would then be made by Canada to the province of Nova Scotia. It is my understanding that is being done to be in compliance with other previous acts and legislation even though to the untrained ear it sounds somewhat cumbersome.

As all members can see, the immediate objectives of the bill are to facilitate provincial management of the Donkin coal block and provide a clear regulatory regime to govern its development

Moving on from health and safety issues, we need to talk about the economic advantage. We know not all areas of the country are equally advantaged with various economic assets and so forth. Cape Breton is one of those areas that, in spite of the ingenuity its people, has had on few more challenges, so these jobs and this growth is very important for this area.

The legislation provides Cape Breton with an opportunity to advance its own economic development to let the people of Cape Breton continue to be masters of their own house. Nowadays, clean coal burning technology exists and we have an opportunity to employ hundreds of experienced people from the coal mining industry.

By facilitating a return to Cape Breton's time honoured tradition of mining coal and by creating up to 275 direct jobs and 700 indirect jobs, the Donkin enterprise will give us another chance to revive the coal mining industry in Cape Breton.

The legislation for the Donkin mine would ensure that local people, who know the resource, would be there to inspect these mines and inspect them in a timely manner. As well, the project could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for the provincial economy in salaries, equipment purchases and so on, all very good things for the economy of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.

Finally, as far as the specifics of the bill, the Donkin coal block development opportunity act is an outstanding example of federal-provincial cooperation. We are pleased to see that similar legislation already passed in the Nova Scotia legislature. It is now up to us, as federal members of Parliament, to do the same thing.

While that sums up the specifics about the bill, let me also add a few other things.

As I said when I started out talking about the broader issues of mining, mining is a part of Canada's heritage. We see this very clearly in Cape Breton. I am not all together perfectly acquainted with Cape Breton, being a prairie boy who has worked across it. However, the image I have of it has to do with coal mining. When we think of the interior of British Columbia, we think about the mining and the resources. We go to places in Canadian geography, names we know of but many us have not been to, places like Flin Flon, Trail, B.C. and areas farther north. We see the new diamond mines in the north. Mining is a part of who we are as Canadians.

We are very proud of our high tech and knowledge based economy, but we also need to understand that this high tech knowledge based economy interacts with our natural resources economy and our mining economy. Canadians are world-class leaders when it comes to geological sciences to geophysics.

We look at the work of the University of Toronto in developing things, projects that were started in the second world war for military applications for mining and mining for the military. These things have developed because of the mining infrastructure and the knowledge that we have in Canada.

It is important that we continue to develop and build this industry. It provides jobs from coast to coast. It will continue to provide economic development. It is one of those core elements that we need. We need agriculture and food to live. We need elements to provide shelter. For our industrial and manufacturing production, we ultimately need minerals.

That is how I would like the people of Canada and those listening today to view the bill, not specific legislation on its own, standing for one area, but as a symbol, something to speak to the whole broader issue to develop our act.

I am very glad the members for Cape Breton have supported it. I am not quite sure I credit—

Donkin Coal Block Development Opportunity ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I am afraid I will have to cut off the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt at this point. He will have approximately five minutes to finish his remarks when the bill is debated again.

We now move to statements by members. The hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, on July 12, 2006, the terrorist organization Hezbollah crossed the border of Israel in an unprovoked attack, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

Today the families of the missing soldiers met with the members of the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group and the Canada-Israel Committee as part of an international campaign concerning the plight of their missing soldiers.

More than 16 months after the kidnapping, Hezbollah continues to behave unacceptably. The safe return of these soldiers to their families is long overdue. We must all stand together and make it clear that this act is out of step with international norms. It is incidents like this that mark Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

I know that all members of this House will want to see the immediate release of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

PovertyStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economy may be doing well, but across the country there are millions of Canadians who live in poverty. This is especially true for women and children, as has been reported across the country today.

Single female seniors are particularly challenged. One report provides the example of a single female senior who, having worked all her life to raise her three children, has had to give up her car, buy second-hand clothes and live on combined benefits of $16,000 per year.

The United Nations agency for children, UNICEF, reports that in Canada “our children are suffering from unacceptable rates of poverty”.

The levels of poverty in this country, especially for women and children, are totally unacceptable.

The Leader of the Opposition has recently outlined real and meaningful plans to deal with the issue of poverty in Canada, but from the government we hear nothing. That is an absolute shame. Canadians deserve better.

Joliette Art MuseumStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, 40 years ago, Father Corbeil, lawyer Jacques Dugas, the Joliette town clerk at the time, Jacques Desormiers, and Serge Joyal founded the Musée d'art de Joliette. The museum's collection began in the 1940s and now contains more than 8,000 works, including paintings, sculptures and works on paper, as well as a large collection of religious art with several works from the French middle ages.

The pride of Lanaudière and a Joliette institution, the art museum adds to the cultural fabric of the region and makes an invaluable contribution to the region's identity as well as Quebec's. The museum relies on unfailing support from friends such as René Malo, a filmmaker, who generously donated $100,000 from his family foundation, as well as the town of Joliette, which supports its museum year after year. I would also like to congratulate the current executive director, Gaétane Verna, the president, Yvan Guibault, as well as all their predecessors and the volunteers who have helped make this institution a real treasure.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to wish the Musée d'art de Joliette continued success.

Trans Day of RemembranceStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is Trans Day of Remembrance, when people in communities across Canada and around the world gather to remember the victims of trans-phobic violence and to dedicate themselves to working to end all forms of discrimination against transgender and transsexual people.

The government and this House could take an important step toward ensuring the full equality of transgender and transsexual Canadians by including gender identity and expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Other actions are needed to end discrimination in the workplace, in housing, in health care, in the justice system and in the provision of identity documents.

The theme of this year's Trans Day of Remembrance is “Claiming our history, claiming our pride, contributing to our community”.

Transgender and transsexual people are members of our families and they are our neighbours and our co-workers. Canada is richer for their life experiences and the many ways in which they contribute to our understanding of our humanity and the meaning of equality.

New Democrats are honoured to stand in solidarity with them on this day and in this struggle.

Mining DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, today is Mining Day on the Hill.

The mining sector is one of Canada's greatest assets and sources of wealth. It is a key economic driver for some 1,200 communities, mostly in rural and remote areas of our great country. The mining and mineral processing industries generate more than 369,000 jobs and contribute some 4% of the GDP.

Our government stated in the Speech from the Throne that the “mining and resource sectors present extraordinary opportunities across Canada”.

New projects will provide many employment opportunities, including partnerships with aboriginal people to provide skills and training necessary to take advantage of these prospects.

The Mining Association of Canada has committed to further strengthening this relationship with a draft framework on mining and aboriginal peoples as part of its “Towards Sustainable Mining” initiative. Our government will do its part through initiatives such as the major projects management office and the northern regulatory improvement initiative, and through corporate tax reductions.

I would like to welcome representatives from the mining sector to the nation's capital as they participate in Mining Day on the Hill today and say happy Mining Day to them.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the presence in Ottawa of Zvi Regev, Shlomo Goldwasser and Omri Avni. They are members of the families of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped by Hezbollah last summer.

On July 12, 2006, in an unprovoked attack, the terrorist organization Hezbollah crossed the border between Israel and Lebanon, killing eight Israelis and kidnapping Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. This event exacerbated last summer's Lebanese war.

In spite of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, the fate of both Regev and Goldwasser is still unknown.

I call on the Government of Canada and on all my colleagues in the House to do whatever they can to make sure the soldiers are returned to their loved ones. It is a question of justice, a question of human rights and a question of basic humanity.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince PhilipStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks the diamond anniversary of the wedding of Her Majesty the Queen to the Duke of Edinburgh.

It was 60 years ago today that Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip pledged eternal love and loyalty to each other in the presence of many of the great figures of the 20th century, and with the blessings of many others, ranging from Mahatma Gandhi to the millions of Canadians who had to wait days to see newsreels of the event.

Their marriage is the longest for any reigning king or queen in the history of our monarchy and gives us cause, as the Archbishop of Canterbury has observed, “to celebrate the relationship between monarch and people of which that marriage is a symbol”.

The royal couple's devotion to each other has been as constant as their devotion to their dominions and to the Commonwealth. I have no doubt that in time their love match will become as much the stuff of legend as that of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

On this happy day, I say God save the Queen and long may she reign with Prince Philip by her side.

Mining IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the French-speaking Canadian section of Amnesty International is campaigning this fall against the abuses by certain Canadian mining companies that have mining operations abroad. I would like to commend the efforts of students at Cité-des-Jeunes, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Chêne-Bleu, and Pincourt secondary schools in my riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, who are actively participating in this campaign by collecting signatures on a petition.

Since last week, Amnesty International has collected 11,141 signatures, including those collected by the students in my riding, asking that Canadian mining companies respect the rights of the inhabitants of poor countries where they operate.

Canada is an important player in global expansion. The Canadian mining industry, we should note, supports these efforts. Canada must demonstrate leadership in this area. Let us follow the lead of these students in demanding the respect for human rights by our mining companies working abroad.

Youth Criminal Justice ActStatements By Members

November 20th, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.


Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Justice tabled legislation that seeks to establish new measures to protect Canadian communities from young offenders who pose a risk to public safety.

We must do everything we can to prevent at risk young people from falling into the trap of becoming criminal offenders early in life. This new legislation will provide law enforcement and judicial institutions the tools they need to prosecute and hold young offenders accountable.

We fully recognize the importance of rehabilitation, which begins with offenders taking responsibility for their own actions, and the bill promotes such rehabilitation.

In addition to providing meaningful deterrents to the commission of crimes, the new legislation also seeks to establish justice reforms that would teach at risk youth the importance of being accountable for their actions and that there are indeed consequences when they choose crime over the law.

Through this new legislation, Canada's government is fulfilling a commitment that it made to Canadians, a commitment for safer communities and a safer Canada.

Sunset Country MétisStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am privileged to rise and honour the Sunset Country Métis people.

These children of the fur trade carry a proud history in Canadian society, filling many key roles with wisdom, tenacity and quiet confidence as they helped to build the Rainy River district.

From their example, we have learned respect for the environment, a sharing of the harvest, and a caring for others.

I ask members to please join me in thanking the Sunset Country Métis people for their valuable contribution to the prosperity and development of Canada.

I am honoured to call many of them friends and also honoured to be able to represent such great communities in Parliament.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie is criticizing our government with regard to climate change. Yet since 1990 the Bloc Québécois has been unable to meet the challenges of climate change, because it cannot implement any measures to do so.

The Parti Québécois farm team is lecturing us today, yet 10 years ago the Bloc could not even convince its head office to make a commitment to comply with the Kyoto protocol.

On February 12, 2007, the Conservative government transferred $350 million to Quebec so that it could implement its own plan. That is $350 million more than the Bloc has ever been able to get for environmental initiatives in Quebec.

In short, in just 371 days in power, the Conservative government has done more for climate change in Quebec than the Bloc has in 17 years in Ottawa.

Deceit has its limits. The Bloc's record on climate change is a failure.

National Child DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is National Child Day, a day to celebrate the rights of children.

Sixteen years ago, Canada signed on to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, yet for 16 years Canada has had no one to monitor the well-being of children. It has had no target or action plan to fight child poverty or obesity. It has had no national child care plan.

In fact, it has had no plan for kids at all.

To make matters worse, Conservatives are doing nothing while foreign corporations are trying to buy up child care centres right across Canada. Big box child care centres have a lower quality and higher fees. Worst of all, they make 40% of their revenues from public dollars.

However, there is an answer. The NDP's early learning and child care act returns to Parliament today. I urge all members to vote yes to higher quality, affordable and non-profit child care and yes to Bill C-303.

Our children deserve the best possible head start in life. Let us stand up and be counted and support our children and their working families.

Juvenile Diabetes Research FoundationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to Stephanie Hermans from Brantford.

In August of this year, Stephanie swam across Lake Ontario, a distance of 30 miles. Many persons attempt the swim, but only one in three succeeds.

Stephanie succeeded in magnificent fashion, completing the swim in only 18 hours. More impressive is the fact that her swim was all about helping others. She raised $7,500 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Stephanie's twin sister Sarah, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes, was present for Stephanie's swim, as were other justifiably proud family members.

Stephanie is a credit to her family, a credit to her community and a credit to her country. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.

I would like to thank Stephanie for what she has given to others.