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House of Commons Hansard #35 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I am going to ask everybody to come to order. Normally I can hear the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster just fine but today I am having a little bit of trouble.

Could hon. members maybe hold off until the question and comment period to make their remarks, then we will allow the hon. member for Burnaby—New Westminster to continue.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see the Conservatives are awake in the House now. Hopefully, they will actually read the bill and exercise their due diligence by voting against it.

It is important for Canadians to know where these tax gifts are going. I do not think any Conservative member would be opposed to that because they believe in accountability.

The EnCana Corporation saw $6.4 billion in profit in 2006 and the Conservatives want to give it more. Shell Canada saw $1.7 billion in profit. Suncor Energy saw $2.9 billion in profit. Husky Energy had $2.7 billion in profit. Talisman saw $2 billion in profit. That is the list of Conservative beneficence and generosity. The Conservatives just shovel it out of the back of a truck to the corporate sector.

Bill C-28 contains nothing for poor Canadians, nothing to deal with the housing crisis or the income crisis, and nothing to deal with the post-secondary education crisis and the crisis on aboriginal reserves. It contains nothing to deal with the crisis among Canadians with disabilities. We simply see no reference to any of that. Why? The Conservative government is so profoundly out of touch that it thinks the greatest priority for Canadians right now is to shovel tens of billions of dollars to the corporate sector.

The government does not take care of veterans or aboriginal people. It does not take care of poor working families that have been working their fingers to the bone over the last 20 years and average over 200 hours more of work as commuting times increase and as the overall quality of services deteriorates given how irresponsible the Liberals were when they were in government. The Conservatives are not addressing any of that.

They will say that Bill C-28 has a slight adjustment in the lower levels for income tax payers. However, it is important for Canadians to know that there is one thing that will help them in terms of income tax and that is a net benefit of $15 a month for average families earning less than $30,000 a year. The government is giving tens of billions of dollars to the corporate sector but it is giving families $15 a month.

I come from British Columbia and I have seen this kind of hocus-pocus with tax cuts under the Gordon Campbell government. It did the same thing. It gave massive gifts to its buddies in the corporate sector while lower income families were given $15 or $20 a month. It turns out that all families earning less than $80,000 a year, which is the vast majority of Canadian families, actually ended up paying more user fees than they received from that small tax break.

As I mentioned earlier, the massive cuts that the Conservative government is making in all the services I just mentioned from the Library of Parliament documentation, essentially gives poor working families $15 a month to adjust for the user fees or the deterioration of services that they will see right across the spectrum of federal government services.

That is not what Canadians want. Canadians want an effective federal government. They want an activist federal government that will use money wisely but put it where it counts the most. They do not want a government that fritters away, in this appalling irresponsible way, tens of billions of dollars to the corporate sector.

The government had a choice. It could have taken a different direction from the failed, corrupt Liberal government but it chose to take exactly the same route, which is why we oppose Bill C-28.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder when the NDP is going to become mired in the present and the future instead of mired in the past.

The member for Burnaby—New Westminster and his colleague, the member for Sault Ste. Marie, keep going on about the Canada assistance plan. While it is true that we replaced the Canada assistance plan in 1993, it was dead in the water in the late 1980s. The reason for that was that the Canada assistance plan was money that was being spent by the provinces. The provinces were reimbursed 50% by the federal government. The provinces were abusing that. If a province is spending 50¢ dollars, that is a very cheap way of doing things.

Also, established programs financing was collapsed into the Canada health and social transfer. Established programs financing was a very ineffective tool because it was trying to allocate funds to various programs. The government in its wisdom in 1993 or 1995, whenever it was, replaced the Canada assistance plan, which was an archaic and ineffective tool, and the established programs financing with the Canada health and social transfer. Over time, through the Canada health and social transfer, the Liberal government brought in some accountability measures, some performance measures, some outcome measures.

If the NDP members were actually mired in the present and the future, the issue before us is the Canada health and social transfer and should we have a dedicated portion of that fund to deal with post-secondary education. That is one of the burning issues. I do not hear any of the NDP members talking about that. They are mired in the past with the Canada assistance plan which has been gone for 15 years. For goodness' sake, let us get into the present and the future and talk about where we are taking this country moving forward, not going back into the past.

When will the NDP be mired in the present and the future and get out of being mired in the past?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, any time a Liberal talks about accountability, it makes me smile. The Liberals were the most unaccountable government imaginable, mired in corruption and entitlement. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have taken on exactly the same shine.

We have been talking about the present and the future. We have been talking about all the elements that Canadians want to see, support for our health care system and post-secondary education, support for an industrial strategy and a trade strategy that would actually mean family sustaining jobs and not the cut rate jobs at Wal-Mart which is all the Conservatives and Liberals have been offering the country for the last 20 years. We have been talking very clearly in the present and the future.

I am not going to let the Liberals escape their responsibility for gutting and destroying the national housing program. What that has led to is hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have to sleep in the doorways and parks of our country. It is absolutely appalling.

For members of the Liberal Party to try to defend in some way that sorry record, it only goes to show that they have not learned their lesson.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for his excellent speech. It was an excellent exposé of what the present government wants to do in terms of tax breaks for corporations at the expense of investments in infrastructure for people and communities.

I was wondering if the member had spent any time trying to compare the track record of the Liberal government over 13 years. In fact, the previous Liberal government, maybe even in a more aggressive way under the aegis of fighting the deficit which they got through quite quickly because of the aggressive nature of their program, reduced the social transfer to the provinces by some $7 billion to $8 billion. Then the previous Liberal government took advantage of the good economy that came after 1995 and began to deliver huge corporate tax breaks to corporations, banks, insurance companies and oil companies across the country at the expense of the social infrastructure.

I look at, for example, that vehicle which defines us as Canadians which is health care. I have to look no further than my own backyard to recognize the cuts that were made by the federal government and passed on to the provinces. Then the provinces passed those cuts on to the institutions that the provinces are mandated to deliver to communities and to people. Health care was one of those institutions that got savaged.

There are waiting lists, long lineups and various diseases beginning to creep in. This is very troubling for people. I would suggest that our health care system is in crisis.

In comparing what the new Conservative government that has been around for almost two years is proposing to do for the country with what the Liberals did over 13 years, does the member see any difference?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, it seems to be only NDPers in the House who are asking the intelligent questions about Bill C-28. The member's question is a very valid one.

We saw gutting of the health care system under the Liberals continued under the Conservatives. There are the recent cutbacks that I just cited in terms of the overall cutbacks to government departments. Rather than making sure the money is being adequately invested and ensuring that our health care program is adequately funded, the Conservatives are taking exactly the same approach as the Liberals.

The member for Sault Ste. Marie has raised an important question. It is important to note that health care is a major part of the competitive advantage for Canadian companies. Study after study has shown that Canadian companies are far more competitive because they do not have to pay health care benefits as they do in the United States. We have a major competitive advantage.

Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have ever attempted to match corporate tax rates to that effective competitive advantage that companies get through the health care system. They just keep slashing corporate tax rates down to the bone without taking into consideration that the support for the health care system is a major competitive advantage.

If the government wants to help the corporate sector, why does it not invest in health care? Why does it not invest in a pharmacare program that would allow corporations to have an even more effective competitive advantage without slashing the federal government's ability to help ordinary Canadians?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, today my colleague has been accused of living in the past and dwelling on things that have happened before.

I would like to get his idea on what he sees for our country in the future. Does he see that we are perhaps at a crossroads where we have the gradual takeover of the citizen's agenda by the corporate sector? If this is the case, how can we grab our country back and get on the right track, which most Canadians expect us to do?

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that none of the Conservatives are standing up to defend the budget because they understand full well there is not much to defend in it.

The member for British Columbia Southern Interior asked what I envisage for the country. Certainly in the next Parliament I envisage the member for Toronto—Danforth as prime minister and a lot more effective, hard-working New Democrats in the House doing their due diligence, which the Conservatives seem to fail to do. They do not do their homework. They do not do their due diligence. The result will be that Canadians will judge them on that basis.

Canadians expect us to address the issues that they are living through. They want us to make life better for them, to build a better quality of life for most Canadian families. That means helping with escalating drug costs. That means helping their kids get adequate levels of post-secondary education and training. It means making sure that we have a better and cleaner environment. It means making sure that we have an industrial sector in place to actually create family sustaining jobs. It means having a trade strategy that is not based on reverse as the only gear.

Since the Conservative government came to power, we have had the softwood sellout, Liechtenstein bamboozling the government on negotiations in the trade sector. We have seen it time after time that the government only seems to negotiate going backwards.

What Canadians expect is a federal government that is actually proud of Canada and is able to stand up for Canadians' interests and most important, for the interests of Canadian families.

That would include stopping the SPP, the security and prosperity partnership. I know the hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior has been a very strong advocate against the secrecy and the anti-democratic nature of the SPP, and how it affects the quality of life of Canadians. An NDP government would put a stop to the SPP immediately.

I have a lot of optimism for the future. I know Canadians have seen that the Conservatives are just the same as the old Liberals.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to put some thoughts on the record regarding the agenda put forward by the present Conservative government and to say to members of the House and the public that it is not something that we New Democrats would do.

With respect to the priorities in this country, we believe what is necessary is that we invest whatever money is available to us in community infrastructure, social infrastructure, health infrastructure and education infrastructure. In that way we can position this country to be the best in the world when it comes to economic performance and look after our citizens in the many ways in which Canada has come to be known in the rest of the world.

What is happening out there and in here are at cross purposes with each other. The government is proposing in its economic statement a cut in the federal corporate income tax rate from 22% to 19.5% in 2008, to 18% in 2010, to 16.5% in 2011, and to just 15% in 2012. That will take anywhere from $6 billion to $12 billion out of the government coffers.

That money could be used to invest in the programs that we all know we need to support our children, to provide a future for generations to come, to make sure our health care system becomes once again the envy of the world, to make sure that our post-secondary education system is available to everybody so that we will have the kind of workers we will need to compete in the evolving global economy.

That cut significantly outstrips the promise in budget 2007 p to cut the corporate income tax rate to 18.5% by 2011. The Minister of Finance commented that the corporate tax cuts are the deepest and fastest ever contemplated. When that is stacked up against the kind of corporate tax cut that was given in the 1990s under the previous Liberal government, one has to be amazed at the aggressive nature and zeal the government has to return money to big corporations that already have more than they will ever need.

Unfortunately, as we look for allies in this place to stop this agenda, we heard the leader of the Liberal Party comment that he supported the corporate tax cut and noted he had called for that very same measure himself. To suggest for a second that there is any opposition in this place, aside from the NDP and at times the Bloc, by the Liberals is to not understand what is going on in this place.

Over the last couple of months since Parliament returned in October after the prorogation, time after time the Liberals have had the opportunity to stand and say no to this slash and burn and cut agenda, this agenda to diminish the capacity of government. Time after time the Liberals have had the opportunity to actually participate in the building up of the common life of this country but they consistently have sat on their hands and have refused to vote. They will not stand to vote yes or no, in that I think some in that party are conflicted, but in any case they will not vote.

The economic statement forecast that the annual revenue cost on full implementation in 2012-13 will be $6 billion. That is $6 billion which is not available to government to invest in those things that students out there know are needed if we are going to ensure that post-secondary education is affordable, and that seniors know are needed if we are going to work with them to ensure they can live lives of dignity, to reflect the work they have done throughout their years in the workplace.

That is $6 billion out of the government's capacity to respond to the crisis in health care. That is $6 billion that will not be available to help our veterans, who have fought in wars on behalf of this country. They have fought for freedom and democracy and have come back to find themselves living in some very desperate circumstances and without the support they need to look after themselves and their families and to live with dignity.

Progressive economists conclude that this $6 billion is actually understated and that the actual figure of forgone revenue from this measure is more likely to be in the $12 billion range. That is a lot of money.

That is a lot of money not available to the government to transfer to the provinces to fix those roads, to invest in public transit, to build bridges and to make sure that our communities are in good shape, to provide clean water, to help the smaller communities that have a very small tax base to deal with some of the new regulations that are coming in with regard to how they deal with waste, waste water and sewage disposal.

The banks and resource sector benefit most from these cuts, so big oil and big banks are the winners. The financial sector, one-third of Canadian corporate pre-tax profits, and the booming oil, gas and mining sectors, one-sixth of Canadian corporate pre-tax profits, account for the bulk of corporate income. They will benefit nicely from this corporate boondoggle that we are going to see delivered if the Liberals do not develop a bit of spine and backbone, and oppose with us this very devastating and damaging agenda that is coming forward.

These blanket corporate tax cuts will do nothing to target the sectors we want to stimulate. So not only will they take away from government's ability to invest in the infrastructure that we need if we are going to continue to have Canada number one and number two in the world when it comes to investing in its people, but it is not going to stimulate the economy either in the way that the government suggests it will because this money is going to the wrong sectors.

We need investment in sectors like manufacturing and green companies where we can help stimulate quality job creation and invest in renewing machinery and equipment, and strengthening research, development and innovation.

What is happening out there, as we debate this very draconian approach to the finances of the government and the country? As I travel the country and meet with people, I find there is an anxiety growing, an unease among the populace, around their future and what they will be able to count on.

Mr. Speaker, I will continue my speech after question period.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have 12 minutes remaining to conclude his remarks.

VolunteerismStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to tell the House about one of the most successful volunteer accomplishments in our country.

It was the 14th year of the Festival of Trees in the community of Red Deer. The appeal was put out to raise funds for new technological equipment for our local hospital. Our volunteers responded. They raised $1.1 million.

Our city of Red Deer, with a population of nearly 90,000, raised the same amount as Edmonton and Calgary, and they are 10 times bigger.

This is not the first time our volunteers have stepped up. The Red Deer College Library, David Thompson Health Unit and Collicott Centre have all raised public awareness and major donations.

Our volunteers have made the World Junior Hockey Championships and the Scott Tournament of Hearts, to mention just a few events, massive success stories.

I am extremely proud of our volunteers. The whole community thanks them.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, in December 2005, residents of Halifax were shocked by the murder of teacher Paula Gallant.

As a result of this violent crime, our community lost a strong, intelligent woman and gifted artist. Her family lost a loving mother, sister and wife.

Last week, several hundred people reaffirmed their determination to find her killer and see justice done. They used a birthday memorial to launch a website devoted to Paula and the ongoing effort to end violence against women.

I recently met her sister Lynn, who is determined to make people aware of Paula's life and her unsolved murder. Lynn is an impressive advocate and dedicated sister.

I am sure the House will join me in commending her and others for their efforts on behalf of Paula and women everywhere who are victims of violence.

Jean-Paul-Raymond AwardStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Fédération de l'UPA of Bas-Saint-Laurent recently received the Jean-Paul-Raymond award for its meat processing centre project. The Jean-Paul-Raymond award is handed out every year at the annual assembly of the Union des producteurs agricoles in recognition of an outstanding union activity or project.

Federation president Claude Guimond said that this was a wonderful recognition for farmers in all regions of Quebec, and that it showed there was still a place for collective projects.

The processing centre, which specializes in cut lamb and beef, set up temporarily in La Pocatière and will move next summer to Saint-Gabriel-de-Rimouski, when construction of the centre is complete.

Congratulations once again to Mr. Guimond and his entire team on this unique initiative, which is a source of pride for everyone in the Bas-Saint-Laurent.

Canada Pension PlanStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, there are over 70,000 seniors living in my hometown of Hamilton. One in four of them lives in poverty, dependent on the government pension programs they paid into all their lives, and assured that the money they invested in public pensions would be there when they needed it.

They have been betrayed. Payments under the Canada pension plan have always been woefully inadequate.

Now, the federal government has learned that Statistics Canada underestimated the inflation rate for the past five years, meaning that CPP has not even kept up to the cost of living increases. Seniors' pensions should have gone up much more, but they did not.

In their recent mini-budget, the Conservatives gave billions of dollars in tax cuts to some of our most profitable banks and oil companies, but withheld the money that seniors are rightfully owed.

That is right. The Conservatives took money from the pockets of our poorest seniors and handed it over to the wealthiest oil companies.

Our seniors deserve better. They deserve more respect and they certainly deserve their fair share of the very pensions for which they paid.

Elder AbuseStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Goldring Conservative Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, while many forms of abusive relationships exist in our society, one of the most reprehensible is elder abuse: physical, mental or, perhaps the most perverse of abuses, financial.

The elderly, whose wills have been weakened by the advancing onset of age, cannot defend themselves as they surely would have in their younger years and are shamed into silence.

Lifelong savings carefully planned to provide security and independence from the state, planned small gifts to family members or charities of choice from the remaining assets on demise are heartlessly drained away by those most closest to them, right before their eyes.

We, as parliamentarians, must recognize the problem of elder abuse and be the architects of its resolve.

I commend those on the front lines for their efforts: police departments across this country. But they need more resources and better tools.

Elder abuse is pervasive and shamefully growing. We need to do better to protect our seniors.

AgricultureStatements By Members

December 11th, 2007 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, as most members will recall, the past several years have been difficult times for our grains and oilseeds producers. Simply put, our farmers experienced a massive and nearly unprecedented drop in commodity prices while, at the same time, input costs rose to a record high.

Unfortunately, that same kind of challenge is now looming on the horizon for Canada's beef and pork sectors. The beef industry is still recovering from the events surrounding the BSE crisis. Now, while still financially diminished, our beef and pork sectors are facing an impending financial crisis which could spell disaster for these cornerstones of the Canadian agricultural economy.

As agriculture is the second largest employer in Canada and a mainstay in our national economy, I would urge the government to take immediate and decisive action to assist our farmers to move beyond crisis management to preserving their industries for the future. Time is of the essence. Our farmers need action now.

AlgeriaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have just learned the sad news of two horrific terrorist attacks that took place this morning in Algiers. More than 60 people are believed dead and many injured, including employees of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

While Algeria is recovering from a long decade of civil war that claimed over 150,000 lives, it is particularly appalling that terrorist elements, probably linked to al-Qaeda, launched these deadly attacks against innocent victims and members of the UN staff who are working for the good of the Algerian people.

Over the past few years, Algeria has put forth considerable effort in the fight against terrorism and in establishing peace and reconciliation within its borders.

The Government of Canada strongly condemns these terrorist attacks, which are aimed solely at undermining the foundations of democracy and destabilizing Algeria.

Quebec Farmers' UnionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois would like to congratulate Christian Lacasse, a dairy farmer from Saint-Vallier de Bellechasse and the new president of the Union des producteurs agricoles. We also congratulate the vice presidents, Pierre Lemieux and Denis Bilodeau. I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous contribution to Quebec's agricultural community made by Laurent Pellerin, president of the UPA for 14 years, and Martine Mercier, the first female vice president.

Upon his election, the new president of the UPA said, and I quote:

We will pull together to help our fellow members, those who are having difficulty in the forestry, pork, beef and grain sectors. Government support is needed, providing emergency assistance in order to get through this crisis. If nothing is done, there will be some closures.

His message fell on deaf ears, since the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food did not announce any assistance for farmers at the UPA convention. He refused to answer their questions. He must listen to them, however, since the Bloc Québécois will continue to defend the interests of Quebec farmers.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada plays an important and dynamic role in the global economy. This Conservative government has strengthened our economic foundations, set a long term vision, and Canadians are reaping the benefits: a robust economy and record employment.

We are working with Canadian businesses to improve investment conditions, boost innovation and increase global trade, but this Conservative government will ensure that the rules are fair and that our national interests are protected.

That is why the Minister of Industry moved to protect Canada from state owned enterprises that are not transparent when taking over a Canadian business. There are no guarantees that their interests are strictly commercial and they often answer to their home governments.

We are ensuring the Canadian workers are not left to the mercies of a foreign government. SOEs will be required to prove that their investments are in our national interest.

The message is clear: This government will protect our Canadian workers and our national interests.

Canada is open for business, but we are certainly not for sale. We are making sure our economy, like Canada itself, will always be strong and free.

Mount Allison UniversityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today to salute Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Mount Allison has been named the top undergraduate university in Maclean's magazine's 17th annual survey.

This year Mount Allison tied with Acadia University. For 12 of the past 17 years, Mount Allison was ranked number one and second for another five years, a fantastic record of achievement for a world class university.

Dr. Robert Campbell, Mount Allison's president, said it well:

The Maclean's university rankings tell the world about Mount Allison's strengths, from our award-winning faculty teaching and small class sizes to our innovative residence system, which includes a sustainable residence, and a myriad of extracurricular activities...the Mount Allison experience gives the students more than a degree and prepares them to become engaged citizens of the world--

Congratulations to the students, staff and teachers at Mount Allison University.

Manufacturing and Forestry IndustriesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, on December 7, our Prime Minister went to Rivière-du-Loup and Rimouski, where he met with a number of constituents from the Lower St. Lawrence region, who gave him a warm welcome. For one of the few times in 14 years, economic players in the region were able to share their concerns directly with a federal elected representative who is not stuck on the opposition benches and who has the means to act.

As usual, the Prime Minister talked about the real challenges, such as the situation in the manufacturing and forestry industries, which have to operate in a demanding economic environment. Our government, which has a strong presence in Quebec, has taken steps to support these industries, the communities where they are located and their workers. Our government will do more for these industries in the new year and in the next budget, because it is in the interests of Quebeckers and Canadians.

During that time, the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup can continue to listen and ask questions.

SeniorsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, our senior citizens deserve much better treatment from our government. Seniors work hard. They have paid into their pensions. They deserve security in their retirement, but more and more they find themselves done out of their own money. They do not get their GIS automatically. Some who qualify are missing disability pensions. Some have to go to court to fight for basic CPP. Now a five year miscalculation of the inflation rate means seniors lose again.

When I publicized this in my riding, the Secretary of State for Seniors issued a release within hours. Will the government fix the problem? No. It blamed the Liberal government for the mistake and said that other western countries also kept money from inflated mistakes.

We teach our children not to hide behind other's actions when they make a mistake. Why not our government? It can instantly get out a press release, defending not doing the right thing, but cannot act fast enough for seniors. Actions do speak louder than words. Give the seniors their money.

The Aga KhanStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Thursday, December 13, marks the 71st birthday of His Highness The Aga Khan.

His Highness is an important spiritual leader to millions of Ismailis around the world. An even wider audience knows him as the head of the Aga Khan Development Network, one of the world's largest private foundations dedicated to the eradication of poverty, hunger, illiteracy and diseases in the developing world.

His selfless philanthropy has been recognized worldwide, as has his commitment to pluralism. Canada conferred on him the Companion of the Order of Canada.

The Aga Khan is establishing the Global Centre for Pluralism, to be headquartered in Ottawa. The centre will engage in research and promote dialogue about ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity, with a view to helping foster pluralistic values worldwide.

I ask all members of the House to join me in wishing best wishes to His Highness The Aga Khan for his continued success in bringing light to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.

Women's Employment OrganizationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the organization Partance was established in Drummondville in 1982 to help women deal with the difficulties of integrating into the job market.

Twenty-five years later, the job market has been transformed, but many obstacles remain for women who wish to realize their professional objectives. Almost 4,000 women have used the services of Partance, which has come to symbolize a beginning, a jumping off point, a door to the future.

On the occasion of this anniversary, tribute was paid to the winners of the “women of influence” contest: Berthe Tessier of the Association des retraitées et retraités de l'enseignement du Québec, Drummondville region; Francine Ruest Jutras, mayor of Drummondville; Mariette Saint-Laurent, founder of La Rose des vents; Micheline Locas, President and CEO of Association des clubs d'entrepreneurs étudiants; and Paula Provencher, President of AFEAS, central Quebec chapter.

They bear witness to the place occupied by women in Drummondville. They have paved the way for others. I congratulate all of them.

Canada PostStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, the government has dealt a serious blow to the rural mail delivery in my riding of Cardigan and across Prince Edward Island.

Canada Post has its officials ordering people to use superboxes in areas on very busy highways, which is very dangerous. An incident already occurred on the Trans-Canada Highway in my riding last week, where someone picking up their mail had an accident while leaving the site.

Canada Post has installed these superboxes in areas with no concern for the safety of the public and without adequate room for people to safely stop and pick up their mail. This is unacceptable and it must stop.

My message is simple. Stop this situation where islanders are being placed at risk just to pick up their mail. If the government allows this to continue, this will be the end of rural mail delivery across Canada, which will have a direct effect on seniors in rural areas.