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House of Commons Hansard #34 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question. She was asked by the member for Wellington—Halton Hills if she finds any similarity between the government's position on a sole regulator for securities in Canada, which is something the government talks about here and in Ontario, but it is never mentioned when the government comes to Quebec.

Does she find a similarity in the position of my favourite poser, Gerald Kennedy, who is always against the recognition of Quebec as a nation when he is in Mississauga, but conveniently forgets to mention that when he is in Laval-des-Rapides?

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting how politics can sometimes trump common sense when it comes to the positions that members take on issues. It is important when we take a position on an issue, whether it is about sovereignty or finance, that we have the good of the entire country at heart and that we are true to those answers.

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion that is before us today seeks to provide a simple amendment to Bill C-28. It would remove a clause that the Conservatives intend to use to reduce the corporate tax rate.

I have been listening to several of the interventions from some of the Conservative members in the House. It has been very interesting. The argument goes something like this: we have to become more competitive with what exists elsewhere in the world.

One of the problems we have in Canada right now is that we have built, over the past century, a very balanced economy that includes a very strong resource sector. Of course, mining and forestry have always been the backbone of the Canadian economy, but we also have, especially since the second world war, built a very strong industrial base, especially in the central and eastern parts of Canada.

Because of the increase in the Canadian dollar's value, especially in the past year, the Canadian manufacturing sector has been under a lot of stress and strain. The same thing applies in particular to the forestry sector. Whether it be in Ontario or Quebec, we have seen a lot of companies closing. We see companies like Baronet, which is a wonderful Quebec company that has been manufacturing furniture since the 1940s, simply unable to compete with the current value of the Canadian dollar.

Instead of recognizing that in a country the size and the breadth of Canada that the government has to play a role in shaping the economy and maintaining it when there are these types of ups and downs that we have been going through, what have we got from the Conservatives? They have thrown themselves headlong into a race to see how quickly they could reduce the corporate tax rate.

What is the result of that? It is quite simple. In the forestry sector, companies have not made any profit in the past year simply because the Canadian dollar is so high and exports have become that more difficult for those companies. As a result, those companies will not benefit in any way, shape or form from this purported help that the Conservatives are providing. It is the same thing in the manufacturing sector, where very few companies have actually made a profit in the last year.

Who will get the $14 billion that the Tories are putting on the table and that they keep snapping their suspenders about? The companies that have made the biggest profits and that have been throwing the economy out of kilter, precisely the oil and gas sector, especially in the west, in Alberta to name it, where the companies have made huge profits in the past year.

Several companies will get cheques back from the government for $50 million, $60 million or $70 million because of the fact that we are reducing the corporate tax rate. It will benefit those companies that have made the most profit and therefore they should be paying the most taxes.

The banks are also in for a windfall. We all had the benefit of watching our current Finance Minister go cap in hand to the banks last year and ask them to do something about reducing the fees at ATMs, the automated teller machines. What happened? They told him to take a hike. He thinks they are his boss. He does not realize that he is in charge of regulating the banks in the public interest. They told him to get lost and he did. He came back to Ottawa, reported duly to the House, and said, “Sorry, they will not move”, and that is where it stayed.

It was the same thing earlier this year when he talked to the retail sector and asked them if they really found that it was fair that a product had two prices on it, one in Canadian dollars and one in U.S. dollars, and that the Canadian price was 35% higher than the U.S. price, given the fact that generally speaking in the past year our dollars have been pretty close to par. There was no problem there either. The retail sector told him he did not understand anything about inventories and sent him packing.

What is interesting is that when we look at the oil sector, no one ever argues that the existing inventories were bought at a lower rate. The minute there is an increase in the per barrel price of oil around the world, somehow the company that is pumping the oil into the tank in our basement, if we have oil-fired hot air at home, increases the rate overnight to go along with that worldwide increase. Anyhow, the argument of the companies works sometimes and not at other times.

The amendment before us would remove the tax cuts proposed by the Conservatives in their so-called mini-budget.

It is worth noting the following for everyone watching today: the Liberal Party of Canada is supporting the Conservative Party on these cuts for companies, for big corporations, such as the oil and gas companies and the banks. This is interesting, since the economy in Quebec is destabilized because of the massive increase in the production of oil and gas, which has caused the economy in the west to overheat. Instead of trying to alleviate the negative impact of this overheating in the west, what do the Conservatives propose? They would like to issue $50 or $60 million cheques in tax refunds to the oil companies.

What does that do for the manufacturers in Quebec and Ontario? What does that do for forestry companies in Quebec and Ontario that are in the process of shutting down, putting hundreds or thousands of families out on the street without a job? The Conservatives are doing absolutely nothing because they strongly believe that it is a mistake for the government to take care of the economy. They do not think that the government, even in a country as large as Canada, has a role to play. It means nothing to the Conservatives that this manufacturing sector has been built up over 60 years a mari usque ad mare. They are prepared to destroy this sector.

It is interesting to note that the Liberals tend to preach in major cities such as Toronto and to speak in favour of food banks. We forget that it would be worthwhile asking, when speaking to the managers of food banks and those working in this sector, what was the Liberal Party of Canada doing when the Conservatives were handing over a nice gift to the big oil companies? I will tell you what the Liberals were doing. They were sitting on their hands, as they have been doing since the beginning of this parliamentary session. Why are they doing nothing? Because they believe in nothing. They do not believe, not for one second, in the people who need help in our society. They do not at all believe that the government has a role to play in a modern and diversified economy such as that of Canada. The Liberal Party of Canada has a great deal of explaining to do.

Right now, the only political party that has the courage to stand up in this House, and to tell the public that we must help the manufacturing and the forestry sectors, is the New Democratic Party. The only political party with representation from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and a real chance to form the next government is the NDP. The people of Quebec and Ontario who believe that the government must play a more active role will vote for the New Democratic Party in the next election.

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to what the member had to say. He is beating the same drum as the other NDP members who do not seem to understand that when we make the economy stronger overall, we provide more jobs and is that not what the government has done?

We had another record job producing month. After last month a record 17 million Canadians are working in this country. That is what the government has done for Canada. It is what we have done for the economy and that is the result of working with companies to build a stronger economy.

There is one thing on which I can agree with the member. The Liberal Party can get upset, jump up in the air flailing its hands, and come down firmly on both sides of every issue which means that it is very difficult to stand for anything in particular. But the member does not understand that not only are we assisting manufacturing, assisting forestry and industry but we are making all industry stronger which is going to result in better paying jobs for all Canadians.

I would love to know why the member does not support that?

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague seems to have difficulty understanding that when we allow the economy to become as unbalanced as it is right now, and we start hollowing out a whole manufacturing sector that has been built since the second world war, we are not doing ourselves any favours.

It is not true that the jobs that are being created at Starbucks and at Wal-Mart are going to properly support families and allow us to replace the good paying jobs in the manufacturing sector.

I believe that he knows that and I also believe that he knows that his government is on the wrong track, and yet by ideological blindness he continues to convince himself, although he is not able to convince other Canadians, that his Tory government is right to allow the manufacturing and forestry sectors to simply die on the vine.

Look at the agricultural sector. We are going through the same problem right now. It has simply become too expensive to export. We have seen this type of economic problem before. It existed in Holland when hydrocarbons were found there in the 1950s. It emptied out its manufacturing sector and it took them a long time to rebuild a balanced economy.

We have the second largest country in the world but only a population of 33 million. We must have some form of assistance to maintain a balanced economy. That is what the Tories simply do not understand.

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to narrow this down to a couple of people in my riding who are having great difficulty. This is about people who served their country with valour and honour and now are veterans. One of these people is the widow of a veteran.

Here is what happens. When we speak to officials at DVA privately over a glass of beer and with no microphones or anyone looking over their shoulder, they will tell you that the reason why they say no and deny so many people their proper rights and pensions is because they simply do not have the money. They would love to go public with that, but they cannot because we do not have proper whistleblower protection

I will give two examples. Chris Beattie is the widow of a veteran who served at Chalk River. Just before he died, DVA said to him that he was entitled to the veterans independence program. However, two days before the program was actually delivered, before DVA came to his house to deliver and assist with the VI program, he died. Because he died and because he did not actually receive the program, his spouse is not entitled to VIP.

Another example, which is reported in today's Chronicle-Herald, is that of a veteran firefighter with the Department of National Defence, 73 years old, who has been denied repeatedly for cancer and heart problems because of the smoke inhalation he suffered in his career.

The province recognizes that pension disability, but DVA says no. With a $14 billion surplus, does the member not think that for their service to their country the government can assist people to have some semblance of a decent life ?

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague just pointed out a glaring example of where the Tories are wrong. Instead of giving a $14 billion tax break to the large oil companies and to the banks, of course we should be taking care of veterans and their families and providing them with a proper allowance. Those are the types of things that governments are there for.

Governments are there to take care of people. Unfortunately, for the Conservatives it is more important to take care of corporations. That is the difference between the New Democratic Party and the Conservatives. It is something that people will be able to concentrate on at the next election. Of course, when they look at the Liberals sitting on their hands, they will also be able to understand that they do not constitute an option any more.

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

We will move to resuming debate now. The hon. member for Sackville--Eastern Shore will have about four minutes and then will be interrupted for question period. After that, he then can finish his remarks.

Budget Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I was very proud a couple of years ago to stand with the NDP caucus and amend the budget at that time to eliminate the corporate tax cuts and put that forward for the reinvestment of $4 billion in things such as public transit and housing. I will never forget the current Minister of Human Resources and the current Minister of National Defence ripping up Bill C-48, saying that this was fiscally irresponsible and was going to do damage to our nation.

And what did they do when they formed the government? The Minister of National Defence, as the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, was in Halifax giving out a cheque for public transit, money that the NDP fought for in the budget. The Conservatives can howl all they want, but the reality is that when banks and petroleum companies are making record profits under the current tax regime, giving them tax breaks is not the answer.

If we really want to give people a tax break, we can eliminate taxes on funerals and crematorium services. We can eliminate taxes on over the counter drugs. We can eliminate taxes, for example, on home heating essentials, as we are advocating in Nova Scotia. That is a good tax break. We also can help the poorest of the poor and stop taxing their disability pensions, for example. That is where good tax relief should go.

I have always believed in a one-third, one-third and one-third approach: one-third of the budget on debt relief, one-third on strategic tax incentives and one-third on social reinvestment. But those folks over there put the vast majority of it to the most profitable corporations.

What do we tell veterans and their widows? We cannot help them. What do we tell fishermen and their communities? We cannot help them. What do we tell the Inuit in the far north who are trying to get housing? We cannot help them. What do we tell students who are struggling under massive debts? We cannot help them. What do we tell parents with autistic children who are struggling to pay for the treatment the children require? We cannot help them.

It goes on and on. I remind the government about the children at Base Petawawa. When some of those kids whose fathers died in Afghanistan were having psychological problems, we asked a question in this House and the Minister of Health's response was that mental health issues are “a provincial responsibility”. What nonsense. They were kids from a military base who required assistance. Thank goodness for the report of Ontario ombudsman André Marin, who slammed both the Ontario government and the federal government. We are glad to see that there was an arrangement after that.

However, we should not have had to have a report. We should not need to have media influence in order to do the right thing. If the government has this kind of surplus, when is it going to invest in the people and communities of this country? My colleague from Toronto is absolutely correct, but it is not just Toronto that is struggling under a massive infrastructure debt. Halifax and others are as well. I will continue this right after question period, Mr. Speaker.

World VisionStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Christian world relief organization World Vision has created the One Life Experience, a 2,000 square foot interactive exhibit that allows people to walk in the shoes of one of four children affected by AIDS, guided by a soundtrack of their personal stories on an MP3 player.

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to tour the display in my home community of Kitchener. The people at World Vision have done an incredible job of taking a very crucial subject and capturing the hearts and minds of casual observers on a very real personal level.

This is especially important to me because my daughter and son-in-law have just returned from Zimbabwe, where they were studying ways to address the AIDS tragedy.

I am proud that the government is stepping up and working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and providing up to $111 million for our HIV prevention vaccine initiative.

I say thanks to World Vision for its incredible work. This is an organization that is not just talking; it is putting boots on the ground and getting work done.

Special Olympics SoccerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Team Canada for winning Canada's first gold model in soccer at the Shanghai Special Olympics.

I applaud: Marc Theriault; Jay Laitar; Derek Tomm; Rick Bussey; Steven Dew; Glen McIntyre; Ben Felling; Bryce Schaufelberger; Hank Vielvoye; and Mandy Manzardo. They have shown all Canadians how to triumph over adversity.

I invite all my colleagues to join me in congratulating the team, their parents and their coaches on the gold medal win. They have made us all proud.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, on November 13, the Conservative government refused to support the Bloc Québécois motion to save thousands of jobs in the manufacturing sector in Quebec. Since the beginning of this session, the Conservatives have been ignoring the calls from Quebec, despite the huge budgetary surplus that could reach $69 billion in five years.

The only thing that matters to the Conservatives is not to touch the surplus, but in the meantime, thousands of workers do not have access to employment insurance.

The government will not touch the surplus and it is also denying seniors full retroactivity for the guaranteed income supplement; students will see the budget for summer jobs cut in half; and manufacturing and forestry businesses will close their doors one after the other.

The Conservatives are so focused on their surplus that they do not even see the glaring problems that have to be resolved right now, not three months from now.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, food sovereignty is an extremely important issue for Canadians.

In Nelson, B.C., a conference was held recently to discuss the future of food.

The National Farmers Union convention this year focused on the issue of food security and democracy.

A few weeks ago, I attended an event in Russell, Ontario, where we learned that a strategy is being developed for food sovereignty in Quebec.

The president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture said we must take action or Canada will lose its food self-sufficiency.

The report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food recommends that a national food policy be established that will help guarantee long-term food safety.

The response often given by government officials to food sovereignty is that our hands are tied because of trade obligations.

Other countries are putting the needs of their citizens first. It is time for Canada to develop a food policy that puts Canadian farmers and all Canadians ahead of any WTO, NAFTA or other trade obligations.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, recently the Government of British Columbia signed on to our government's building Canada plan, the largest investment in infrastructure since the second world war.

British Columbia became the first province in Canada to sign on to our plan, which means that projects will move ahead, infrastructure will be built, and B.C. will see our tax dollars put to work addressing our needs.

This plan provides more funding over a longer period of time than any previous federal infrastructure program, and B.C. will receive our fair share of tax dollars, invested in our communities.

At the signing ceremony with the Prime Minister, Premier Campbell said,“I thank [the] Prime Minister...for working with us to make British Columbia the first province to sign onto the Building Canada Fund that will help meet the needs of a growing population and a strong economy”.

For too long, British Columbians have watched in frustration as our tax dollars went to Ottawa and never seemed to come back. Those days are over.

By working together, putting in place the building Canada plan and putting commitments into action, British Columbia will be made stronger and more prosperous. When it comes to B.C. issues, we are getting the job done. Our government is serving the people of British Columbia.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, across Canada there is a massive infrastructure deficit that is impacting the everyday lives of Canadians.

The Canadian Federation of Municipalities estimates our national infrastructure deficit has reached $123 billion and, of this, $40 billion is for community, recreational, cultural and social infrastructure.

Recreational facilities, many of which were built as memorial projects and centennial projects, need reinvestment or replacement now. The infrastructure deficit has become a significant health and safety issue.

Community projects, such as the East Hants Sportsplex, Glooscap District Arena, Brooklin Fire Hall and Community Centre and the Windsor Curling Club, all deserve investment now. Tax credits for hockey equipment will not matter if there are no rinks for people to actually play hockey in.

The government's responsibility is, first and foremost, to work with municipalities and the provinces to help provide social infrastructure and ensure that these facilities continue to exist.

The Government of Canada needs to provide meaningful support to its communities now.

Riding of MacleodStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share with the House good news from my beautiful riding of Macleod.

When the good people of Macleod requested help from the government, this government listened and our government delivered: from High River to Coleman; from the South County Fair to the Empress Theatre Society; from Western Biodiesel to the Claresholm & District Museum. They have all gained from this government's commitment to invest in the prosperity of its citizens.

These significant investments will assist in the development of both the economy and the culture of the riding of Macleod. It is proof of this government's commitment to supporting all facilities that enrich the lives of our communities.

For years the Liberals talked about these kinds of investments. What matters is what one does, not what one says.

This government has answered the requests of the citizens of Macleod, and though I have never believed it was possible to improve on perfection, it seems that with this government's strong leadership and generosity today, my riding of Macleod is more prosperous and more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my constituents and all Canadians from coast to coast to coast a safe and happy holiday season.

Human Rights DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we celebrate Human Rights Day, which is an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its desire to eliminate torture once and for all.

This year's theme is “End torture now!” The Bloc Québécois is very concerned about the Conservative government's attitude towards human rights, particularly when it comes to Afghan prisoners. It originally denied allegations of torture, then it hid reports, and in the end, it reluctantly admitted that there was a possibility the prisoners were tortured.

In November, Amnesty International actually expressed its doubts about Canada's willingness to get to the bottom of these allegations of torture. On top of that, this government will not call for a moratorium on the death penalty at the UN.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I are very worried.

Quebec Union of Agricultural ProducersStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to congratulate Christian Lacasse, the new president of the UPA, Quebec's union of agricultural producers, who was elected on December 6.

With his ability to unify people and promote agriculture, Christian Lacasse intends to focus on food sovereignty and supply management to set a course for the future.

This fall, during the UPA's open house days, I had the privilege of visiting his dairy farm in Saint-Vallier de Bellechasse, the Gendron-Lacasse farm, which he manages with his wife, Sylvie, and his three sons. I discovered the man's passion for agriculture and his desire to protect and promote the interests of Quebec's agricultural and forestry producers.

Mr. Lacasse is taking over from Laurent Pellerin, who was the organization's dedicated and passionate president for 14 years. Mr. Lacasse is a leader in the communities of Lévis, Bellechasse and Les Etchemins. His appointment honours agricultural businesses in my riding and in all of Quebec.

On behalf of all of my colleagues, I wish him a successful and productive mandate.

Lester B. PearsonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Lester B. Pearson.

The Nobel selection committee said that Pearson had “saved the world” when he diffused the Suez crisis through the creation of the United Nations Emergency Force.

The concept of peacekeeping changed the world and Canada's role in it forever.

For Lester Pearson, the Nobel was only the beginning of a lifetime of contribution and achievement.

As prime minister, Pearson operated strictly within the confines of a minority government and yet he changed this nation too: the Canadian pension plan, loans for students, a new flag, a bilingual nation and health care for all.

Known to history as Lester, beloved by a nation as Mike, Pearson shall be forever known as one of the most influential Canadians of the last century.

On this day, I invite my colleagues in the House to proudly remember the contribution and the legacy of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.

Human Rights DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a historic anniversary. Fifty-nine years ago, on December 10, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. John Peters Humphrey, who was born in my riding, in the town of Hampton, New Brunswick, was a principal drafter of the declaration.

The year 2007 also marks the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which inspired a vision for Canada in which all individuals should have an opportunity equal with other individuals to make for themselves the lives that they are able and wish to have, free from discrimination. One of my predecessors in the riding of Fundy Royal, MP Gordon Fairweather, was the first chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Every year this day reminds us of persisting challenges in our communities and all over the world. Human rights are our common heritage and their protection requires our unwavering attention. We believe that a world where freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are paramount will ensure a better world for us all.

On the anniversary of Human Rights Day, we wish for all of us, who live in our country of compassion, a renewed vigilance and commitment to the cause of human rights.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

December 10th, 2007 / 2:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is leaving Canada's cities to crumble.

Last month, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities told the government that cities and communities across the country desperately needed better infrastructure funding. What did the Minister of Finance say? He said that the federal government was “not in the pothole business”. That was an outrageous response to a serious issue.

My community of Surrey North is among those in need of help. We urgently need $20 million to upgrade the Fraser Highway, a critical transportation route. We need $800 million to build better commuter transit along the King George and Fraser Highways. As one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, we need $10 million each year to upgrade its roadways.

The Conservatives say that they are not in the business of fixing potholes but the federal government must be an active partner in building Canadian cities.

On behalf of the city of Surrey, I call on the Conservatives to do the right thing: give Canadian cities the support they need to maintain a good--

InfrastructureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Madawaska—Restigouche.

Manufacturing IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my riding was rocked by devastating announcements again today. We had already heard announcements from Atlantic Yarn in Atholville, AbitibiBowater in Dalhousie, and WHK Woven Label in Edmundston, and we have just learned about the closure of two Shermag plants in Edmundston and St-François, leaving 213 employees out of work.

Despite this very serious crisis, the Conservative government says nothing, does nothing and remains silent. With the holiday season just around the corner, this crisis is affecting our workers and their families right now.

For months now, my colleagues and I have been warning the Conservative government about this crisis. During all this time, the Conservatives have always given answers that are not good enough for our workers.

Why does the Conservative government do nothing, when it accumulated a surplus of $11.6 billion in the first six months of the year?

Now—not in the next budget—is the time to help workers. I would like to make something very clear to the Conservatives. If they are not capable of helping workers, well, they might as well stay at home during the next federal election.

Aboriginal Communities in QuebecStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, on December 10, 1948, the UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this 60th anniversary year, poverty is still both the cause and the result of human rights violations.

In Quebec, first nations still live in disgraceful conditions, too often in poverty. That poverty has an impact on the entire aboriginal population, but especially on young people, who make up 50% of that population.

Today, the chiefs of the first nations of Quebec are on the Hill to propose tangible measures to eliminate poverty in their communities. It is an opportunity for the members of this House to meet with them and find out more about the “10,000 possibilities” plan they have for solving their problems.

The Bloc Québécois commends this initiative, which is bringing nations closer together and, we hope, will lead to real solutions to eradicate poverty in Quebec's aboriginal communities.

Human Rights DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, today is International Human Rights Day, starting a year long commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The theme for 2008, “Dignity and Justice for All of Us”, reinforces the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR is not a luxury or a wish list. It is a commitment to universal dignity and justice.

Adopted in 1948, the declaration continues to be a source of inspiration for national and international efforts to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Sixty years on, we pay tribute to the extraordinary vision of the declaration's original drafters and to the many human rights defenders around the world who have struggled to make their vision a reality.

I would like to quote the UN home page as it reads today. It states:

The Declaration belongs to each and every one of us--read it, learn it, promote it and claim it as your own.