House of Commons Hansard #106 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.


Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question.

Indeed, it is hard to understand why the present government would not like Quebec to succeed in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. If you look at our level of emissions per capita, it is already the lowest in Canada.

We could keep up this effort and become a model for all of Canada to follow. Other provinces could follow suit.

Is jealousy involved? I doubt it. It is not possible. But in Quebec, we are trying to forge ahead. Between 1990 and 2004, we had the lowest percentage increase, compared to an average rate of 6.1%. Only Newfoundland had a slightly lower rate, and they deserve our congratulations for that.

Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be given the opportunity to speak today on this particular motion. I will be voting yes to the motion with a caveat or a reservation. I will develop that reservation in my remarks. Climate change and the Kyoto accord are very important issues and I do appreciate the opportunity to say a few words.

There has been a lot said in the House and outside the House on the whole issue of climate change and Kyoto, and whether this country should continue in its efforts to meet the Kyoto accord. As an assembly we have to sit back and look at the whole thing in perspective and the background of this accord.

The Kyoto accord was signed by well over 100 different countries. It is an international treaty. It took approximately 10 years to develop the accord. The accord involved a lot of time, energy, effort and resources. I would equate it to herding a hundred cats into a room. Then, after the tremendous effort of many international players, there was an accord signed and certain greenhouse gas emission targets were agreed upon on a worldwide basis. The accord has to be implemented on a worldwide basis.

It was hoped at the time that the accord would not pit country versus country, industry against industry, developed parts of the world versus the developing parts of the world, and the rural areas of the various countries against the urban areas, but everyone would put their shoulder to the wheel and be involved. It was hoped that everyone would support the accord and, as a result, greenhouse gases would be reduced.

There has been a lot of talk over the years about Kyoto. There has been a lot of talk in the House. I submit that it is no longer debatable. We have moved beyond debate. The science is clear that this is a very serious issue that has to be resolved by the people living on this planet that we call Earth.

However, we do still have naysayers in this country and in North America. I was reading a poll not that long ago and on a Canada-wide basis approximately 5% of people do not believe in the concept of climate change and Kyoto. However, 11% of the population still believe Elvis is alive.

George Bush is one of those naysayers. To the shame of this country our Prime Minister is one of those people that does not believe in the Kyoto accord. It is documented by the record that the Prime Minister spent his entire working life fighting or in his words “going to the wall” against this particular accord. This was the fight of his life. The Prime Minister went out and he raised thousands and thousands of dollars to assist him and his party on this fight of his life. He promised that he would not implement the Kyoto accord. This was a solemn promise that he made to the Canadian people.

When Canadians look back I think they can say that our Prime Minister has attained a reasonable amount of success in this promise. There are many promises that have not been fulfilled to the Canadian people, whether it is child care, wait times, the Ontario agreement, income trusts, the equalization agreements and so forth. The pile is getting bigger. On the issue of climate change I think we can put it down as a promise made and a promise delivered. He promised he would not implement it and the first thing the Prime Minister did when was sworn in as our Prime Minister was that he revoked our commitment to the Kyoto accord. He said that the country would turn its back to the Kyoto accord and the international agreements that Canada made.

We as people who make public policy have to realize that there are so many levers at our disposal. There is no switch here in Ottawa where we can turn the temperature down. We have to use all the levers at our disposal.

I have always thought that the first lever that has to be started is public education. We have to convince the public, and I think that has probably been done, that this is a serious issue and that it warrants a very serious effort on our part.

We also have to incentivize our industries, people, associations and organizations to get involved, especially those industries and people that need assistance in adapting their industries, jobs and lives to the new reality.

Under the previous government, a number of programs were developed. One that was in the process of being implemented was the partnership program. It was a government to government cost sharing initiative to invest in technologies and infrastructure development important in lowering levels of greenhouse gases. I am talking about an initiative that was federal government to provincial government and also federal government to municipal government. I am talking of clean coal technology, carbon dioxide capture and storage, ethanol, and the creation of an east to west energy grid.

A number of agreements were signed under the partnership program, but let me go on to the third point. Governments of course have the right, and the obligation too, I submit, to legislate and to regulate so that we as a country meet our commitments. We have to do it.

There have been discussions recently about the Alberta energy industry, the car industry, different industries, and the coal industry in Canada and worldwide, but we have to get beyond that. Everyone has to be involved in this process. If there is oil that is drilled in the province of Saskatchewan, refined in Alberta and goes into a car that is made in Ontario and is being driven in Quebec, we cannot divide that up into four or five different provinces. This is a countrywide problem that we have to solve on a countrywide basis. We have to get beyond that particular discussion.

To go back to the partnership program agreement, I thought at the time that it was an excellent agreement, because this is one of the levers. A lot of the initiatives that have to come about to solve this particular problem have to be at the provincial and municipal levels, and this was an incentive. They were going to take advantage of this. The province of Ontario took advantage of it. It signed an agreement. It was a government to government agreement whereby Ontario and the Government of Canada signed an agreement--and not the Liberal government but the Government of Canada--for $538 million to eliminate certain coal-powered stations over the next couple of years.

The province where I come from signed an agreement to put in an electrical cable from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island. Again, that was all part of this east-west energy grid that would have helped us out immensely, but what happened after the present government got in? First it cancelled our commitment to the Kyoto accord. More seriously, it went ahead and cancelled 92% of all programs dealing with climate change. Of course the Ontario agreement, the $538 million, went on the chopping block, and then there was the $12 million. These were signed agreements. The cable also went on the chopping block, very unfortunately.

The motion before us talks about $328 million. I am going to get to my reservation or caveat. We are talking about $328 million going to the province of Quebec to implement its plan to meet the Kyoto targets. I assume it would be the intent of the mover of the motion that this fund would come from the partnership initiative or a similar type of program whereby we can have government to government agreements, but, and this is my caveat, that this has to meet with the objectives of the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

Having said that, I have extreme confidence in the province of Quebec and I have confidence in the people who live in Quebec. They seem to be ahead of the curve on this particular issue. They have done a lot and I believe they certainly understand the issue clearly. They understand what has to be done and it would appear from everything we read and everything we hear that they are prepared to do it.

On that basis, I am certainly prepared to support the motion. I hope the motion passes, but I also hope the finance minister does not just cut a cheque. The funds would have to be for a certain agreed upon program that is developed between the province of Quebec and Canada, which I am totally confident will be developed very quickly.

I have talked about the broad brushes here and am very pleased to be supporting the motion, but again, we are talking about a larger issue, and the way this country is heading is very disturbing. I am very disturbed as a member of Parliament about what we are not doing with respect to this particular accord. We are getting into a shouting match. It is 1:40 p.m. now and in 40 minutes members will be shouting and screaming at each other in the House as to who is to blame. Some members will be screaming that we cannot implement Kyoto because we cannot meet our targets. Some members will scream back and say that we can.

However, this is a process. If, because of political issues or other reasons, the country cannot meet its targets, we do not turn our back on the people who live here. We do not turn our back on the world. We do not turn our back on the other countries. We explain it to the 100 and some countries that signed the agreement with us. It is a process. Maybe it will take us two years beyond 2012 to meet our agreed upon targets. That would be disappointing, but it would not be the end of the world. What would be more disappointing and shameful would be for us to say that we cannot meet the targets by 2012 so we will forget about them.

It would be disappointing and shameful to say that we are going to forget about Kyoto and climate change, to say that we are prepared to turn our back on the other countries and the people who live in those countries. I find that totally shameful.

We will be into that discussion in 40 minutes. To the shame of this assembly, in 40 minutes we are going to hear the words I have just mentioned, because members are going to be pointing fingers and screaming at each other. I suggest that we stop screaming for 10 minutes. I suggest that we just sit back and, instead of pointing fingers, say that whatever we can do, we will do.

First of all, we have to acknowledge the international agreement that we signed in good faith with 100-plus other countries. That has to be the condition precedent to any discussion. If we are not prepared to do that, then we are a shameful country. I hope reason and common sense will prevail in this House. I hope that we will sign the agreement, get to work and do what, first, we agreed to do and, second, what we should do.

Those are my remarks. I hope the motion passes. I hope the funding will be made available to the province of Quebec. As I said before, I have extreme confidence in the province on this particular issue. Again, this is just one small step in the larger issue, but I hope we can get on with it. I hope the motion passes and the plans develop, and I hope the funds are transferred as soon as possible.

Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's overview with respect to the partnership fund. I appreciate also the thrust of his comments that the initiative taken by the Bloc with respect to the funding to bolster Kyoto strategies in the province of Quebec is worthy of support.

However, while my colleague has stated the broader context for the partnership fund very well, I would like to give him the opportunity to expand on that a little, because I am not sure the tremendous work that went into the partnership fund is fully understood by Canadians or even by members of the House.

To illustrate that, I would like to point out that budget 2005 had booked $250 million for those kinds of projects across the country, projects that would be partnerships between the federal and provincial governments. An additional $1 billion was in the green budget to expand upon that and we know that certainly did not go ahead. Also, it was evident that the province of Ontario was written to by the Minister of Finance to confirm that he was reneging on $5.6 billion in funding as part of the commitment of the Canada-Ontario agreement.

Does the member see that even to support the Quebec initiative is very, very far removed from both the spirit and the very comprehensive nature across this country of what that partnership fund was designed to do, which was, in a visionary way, to attempt to establish a very broad, sector by sector, province by province comprehensive strategy to get buy-in on a Kyoto strategy?

I would like the member to comment not only with respect to where he would like to see the support for Quebec, but also with respect to where he could see a real partnership fund progressing if it were within the context of the approach, both in spirit and in strategy, that had been put forward by the previous Liberal government.

Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, the member has elaborated on the substance of the program in perhaps a better manner than I have.

Again, though, I will point out that the federal government, in implementing the Kyoto accord, has only certain levers at its disposal. It is very important that we use each and every lever we have. A lot of the actual greenhouse gas emissions are the bailiwick or in the jurisdiction of the provincial or municipal governments. We have to work with those other levels of government to create the opportunities and the incentives so that everyone will put their shoulder to the wheel.

This was a perfect program. It was just getting off the ground. The member who asked the question is from Ontario. I know that a $538 million agreement was signed by the Ontario government and the Government of Canada, and these agreements do not get worked out in 48 hours. Anyone who is an executive knows that it takes months to negotiate the terms, the conditions, the parameters and the timelines as to when the $538 million will be spent, how it will be spent, and what the deliverables are.

As I said, there was a smaller agreement in my province, but again, that agreement with the province of Prince Edward Island was thrown off the back of the truck. It was cancelled.

This was a terrific program. It was just getting going. It was not going to be the be-all and the end-all, but it was one item in the arsenal the government was using to solve this problem. It is so disappointing to see everything abandoned and to see it disappear as if the problem does not exist.

Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

Although Canada ratified the Kyoto protocol on December 17, 2002, after a majority vote in the House of Commons, and the government thereby committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Canada by 6% from the 1990 level between 2008 and 2012, Canada's record on greenhouse gas emissions is not a glowing one.

In 2004, Canada emitted 26% more greenhouse gases. To reach the target of 6% less than 1990, Canada will have to eliminate over 200 megatonnes of greenhouse gases, or nearly 32.5%. Liberals and Conservatives are both to blame for this sorry situation.

Quebec itself has made very different choices. Between 1990 and 2004, it experienced an increase of barely 6% in its greenhouse gases, four times less than the Canadian national average. Quebec continues to show leadership, with its plan to combat climate disturbances, which incorporates all of the targets in the Kyoto agreement.

The greenhouse gas emissions picture is often cited. Quebec still holds the record when it comes to greenhouse gases, in terms of the minimum produced per capita. It produces approximately 12 tonnes per capita, about half the Canadian average. If we exclude Quebec, for what is called the ROC, the rest of Canada, that 23.7 tonnes per capita average climbs to 27.2 tonnes.

While greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec were rising by barely 6%, they grew by 39% in Alberta, and by 61% in Saskatchewan. It is often said that the decision to opt for hydroelectric energy has contributed greatly to Quebec's enviable performance. The collective choices made by the public, by their industries and by the National Assembly, however, are also contributors.

Emissions from Quebec manufacturing industries fell by 7% from 1990 to 2002. The pulp and paper industry reduced its emissions by 18%. The Quebec inventory of greenhouse gases in 2002 illustrates how emissions are distributed in Quebec by industry. We see that the transportation industry is the largest source of emissions, representing 38% of total emissions in Quebec. Road transportation alone accounts for 85% of emissions in the transportation industry, which is why it is important for Quebeckers to target motor vehicles, our dependence on oil and public transit.

Currently, with regard to public transportation in the immediate region of Montreal, there are feasibility studies on three major projects. First, on the North Shore, there is a rapid commuter train that links Montreal to the region of Terrebonne-Repentigny-Mascouche and which is at a little more advanced stage than the two others. Indeed, the government has already committed $300 million to solve this problem.

Quebeckers are asking for $328 million, and we see already that the money will almost certainly be totally spent on the Montreal-Mascouche commuter train.

Our minister and senator recently came to us with a new project to link downtown Montreal and the Montreal-Trudeau airport, in Dorval. The minister and senator probably has in his pockets some interesting amounts for public transportation.

In my area, the riding of Brossard—La Prairie also has its pre-feasibility studies. Our Minister of Transport could probably tell us more about this project. There is a plan for light rail on the boom of Champlain bridge. The pre-feasibility studies are completed. We are waiting for the results. All the chambers of commerce on the South Shore are anxious to see these results.

A few months ago, the cost of this project was estimated at $1.2 billion. Once again, we see that it would be very easy for the Quebec government to invest in public transportation. There are three projects that would easily reach $1 billion, I would even say $2 billion, if we include all the infrastructures and all the structures to cross the St. Lawrence River. Public transportation is very important in Quebec.

Quebec is trying to free itself from its oil dependency. Here are a few numbers randomly chosen. In 1962, 67% of energy needs were filled with fossil fuels. With the big hydroelectric projects, that percentage was reduced to the point where, in 1981, our oil dependency had dropped to 53%.

In 2002, that percentage fell to 38% thanks to the increase in hydroelectricity production in Quebec. The reduction of our dependency on oil is mainly attributable to the implementation of programs like EnerGuide and the shift towards electric heating.

In 2005, Quebec consumed 200 million barrels of oil a year. We want to reduce that consumption by at least 20% by 2016. So, it is very important that the $328 million we are demanding from the federal government be directed toward public transit. The government must act swiftly and make public the studies the Agence métropolitaine du transport spent $12 million on.

There is a project that is of particular interest to me and that has become a priority for the population of Montreal's South Shore. It concerns highway 10, which has reached its full capacity. Every day, the population must cope with traffic congestion on the Champlain bridge. A light train could transport 20,000 people an hour and reduce the number of cars using the bridge by about 8,000.

In fact, the addition of a train would bring enormous savings for the area. Furthermore, the time lost by workers is estimated at $1 billion every year.

I urge our Minister of Transport to invest in public transit as soon as possible and not 10 years from now, after two or three further elections.

Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to put a question to the hon. member. He is talking about a light train to replace 8,000 vehicles on the road. The average vehicle produces four tonnes of CO2 annually. Since we are talking about 8,000 vehicles, this means a reduction of 32,000 tonnes of CO2 in the environment. The objectives set are in megatonnes, that is in millions of tonnes. Therefore, these 32,000 tonnes of CO2 represent only 0.3% of these objectives. I wonder if the hon. member could tell us what he will do about the other 99.7%.

Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned a lot of figures. Unfortunately, since I do not have these numbers in front of me, I will be very cautious in commenting on them. The figures that I mentioned are from studies by chambers of commerce on the south shore, which are very active on this issue. It goes without saying that a project on the south shore will not solve the whole issue of greenhouse gas emissions across the province. In our opinion, public transit and then automobiles are very important factors in the reduction of these greenhouse gas emissions. The number of automobiles must go down, while the number of hybrid and electrical vehicles must increase. The figure of four tonnes per vehicle may be based on old technologies, and vehicles of the future will consume less fuel.

Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague must know that we now have a new commuter train in Saint-Jérôme. This is the result of long-term efforts, but we finally succeeded, thanks to the AMT and the Quebec government. We are proud to have this new means of transport, which is already extremely popular. We even have shuttles carrying passengers from municipalities around Saint-Jérôme to ride the train to Montreal. Of course, this is a minor step, if we consider our extensive territory. Does my colleague think we should go on investing in research on an electrical car? In Saint-Jérôme, the CEVEQ is doing some research on an electrical vehicle. Would the hon. member care to comment?

Opposition Motion—Kyoto ProtocolBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that we invest so little in the development of new technologies for an electrical car. These technologies need to be refined. The weather we have in Quebec creates a few problems, such as a shorter life span for batteries. Scientists are aware of these problems and are looking for solutions.

We should also understand that there is a link between commuter trains and cars. We need incentive parking lots for the cars that carry passengers between the train station and their homes. These parking lots are an integral part of the public transit long-term solution.

We could also consider incentives for carpooling. Five people who live in the same area could share a car to go to the incentive parking lot and take the train. We should encourage carpooling, incentive parking lots, and public transit.

Junior Curling ChampionshipStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, you may be wondering why I am wearing this sweater but let me explain.

It is a big week for all curling players and fans here in Canada. The National Junior Curling championships are underway in the curling capital of the world, the great city of St. Catharines.

For the second time in six years, the city has been called upon to host 13 male and 13 female junior teams from 10 provinces and 2 of our territories. Including their families and friends, over 600 people are visiting the garden city.

We delivered in 2001 and the curling folks in St. Catharines are delivering in spades in 2007. The young men and women from across our great country are playing their hearts out and showing the world their skills as athletes and, most important, their abilities as young leaders in our country.

These young people are shining examples of the future of our country and, I am proud to say, they are in St. Catharines this week. I would like to invite all Canadians to tune into this weekend's finals. On Saturday the junior men compete and on Sunday afternoon the junior women go all out for our country's championship.

St. Catharines is the place in Canada to be this weekend.

Kamil SadiqStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Lui Temelkovski Liberal Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, the Regional Municipality of York Police Services posthumously granted Kamil Sadiq its award for civic leadership.

Mr. Sadiq was a visionary, humanitarian and resident of Markham for many years and recently lost his battle with cancer. Mr. Sadiq was committed to creating an inclusive, equitable and peaceful society and his community involvement spoke to these goals.

He initiated two alliances to foster understanding and to seek non-violent ways to resolve conflicts: the Canadian Federation of Intercultural Friendship and a new partnership between the federation, police agencies and municipal governments known as the Canadian Federation of Intercultural Friendship Community and Police Committee. Just last year, he marked 50 years as a Freemason.

Mr. Sadiq's legacy serves as an example to all of us and I am pleased to honour him in the House today.

Maurice HuardStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, shortly before the House resumed, one of our colleagues passed away following a brief illness.

Moe, as he was known to most of us, fulfilled his Assistant Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms duties with pride and was blessed with a sense of humour that we will all miss.

For 21 years, he was a nurse with the Canadian Armed Forces before joining the House of Commons family in 1993.

Sadly, it is when members of this family leave us that we recognize how tightly knit we are, all allegiances and partisanship aside. We work together every day in this place and the loss of one of our own reminds us that we must respect one another.

The Bloc Québécois extends its condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Assistant Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms Maurice Huard.

Multiply Forest Products MillStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of northwestern Ontario's few good news stories burned to the ground this week in a devastating fire at the Multiply Forest Products Mill in Nipigon.

This community northeast of Thunder Bay is in shock. One hundred and fifty people worked at the mill, the number one employer in a small town of 1,800.

While, thank God, no one was injured, the fire is a human and economic catastrophe. With so little good news in the forestry sector, this mill was successful. It was locally owned, built on residents' investments, labour, management collaboration and new technology.

New Democrats share Nipigon's grief. New Democrats will do our part to help get relief and rebuild. Nipigon can rise from the ashes. Mayor Harvey, council, mill owners, employees and volunteers will do their part but we must help too, and quickly.

I have spoken with the FedNor minister and he tells me to tell the people of Nipigon to get their requests to him. Saturday I will visit and see what more we can do.

International Development WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, as part of International Development Week, many events are being held across the country to highlight the involvement of Canadians in international development.

Afghanistan is the largest recipient of Canadian aid and it is fitting that representatives from the Microfinance Investment Facility for Afghanistan are here today to report on the impressive results. MISFA is one of the most successful programs that Canadians can be proud of supporting in Afghanistan. Over 300,000 people are benefiting from loans and savings services and 10,000 more are being reached every month.

Canada's new government has taken a leading role in providing Afghans, especially women, with opportunities for greater financial autonomy, access to goods and services and, above all, a better way of life.

This week's funding announcement for MISFA, which boosted Canada's contribution to this important program by 40%, up to $56 million, is another example of our government getting things done and obtaining real results, not only for Afghans but also for Canadians who want to know that their tax dollars are being spent well on proven initiatives in Afghanistan.

David BiggarStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Joe McGuire Liberal Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, Prince Edward Island lost one of its foremost advocates for conservation and for the environment when we lost David Biggar of Portage, P.E.I. recently.

David did not only talk about the conservation and rehabilitation of Prince Edward Island's watersheds, he actively worked to reclaim our waterways. He epitomized the adage of “act locally for global impact”.

For many, many years, David would have a federal project proposal to do work on his favourite river, the Trout River in Coleman, P.E.I., or the Mill River and other streams that needed reclamation, improvement or to be stocked with fish.

He never accepted a denial of his proposals. He always hired individuals who needed work and he always fulfilled the objectives of his proposals.

He raised money for the O'Leary Wildlife Federation almost single-handedly and relentlessly drove the agenda of the Federation of Western Prince Edward Island.

David was a vocal, hard-working member of his community. He will be missed. I extend my sympathy to his wife Mary, his mother Mary Ellen and his family.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Dave Batters Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, one year ago, Palliser residents voted for a government that would get things done for Canadians.

As the home to 15-Wing, the people of Moose Jaw know that they now have a federal government that will support our armed forces and ensure that the men and women of our military have the equipment they need to get the job done.

Since being elected last year, our government has made a major commitment to strengthening the Canadian armed forces.

Our $17.1 billion “Canada First” procurements to date include: $5 billion for strategic and tactical aircraft; $2 billion for medium to heavy-lift helicopters; $1.1 billion for medium sized logistics trucks; and, $2.1 billion for three supply ships.

Our commitment to protect Canadians, defend our sovereignty and strengthen our role in the world is good news for Canadians and for Palliser.

Our Conservative government is committed to Canada's Snowbirds and to funding the NATO flight training in Canada program until 2021.

With our new military investments, we will continue to deliver real results for Canadians.

Richard CoutureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2001, Richard Couture's two sons, who were barely 20 years old, died in a terrible car accident when one of them fell asleep at the wheel.

Since then, the Saint-Hubert resident has campaigned to make our roads safer. Thanks to him, rumble strips have been installed along several highways in Montérégie and guardrail design has been improved.

This business leader has worked closely with the Quebec ministry of transport and the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec to implement these measures all over Quebec, which is no small task. Nevertheless, his remarkable determination and hard work are making a big difference and have elicited the respect and admiration of all. He has even been awarded the medal of the National Assembly.

This is road safety year in Quebec, so I would like to highlight Richard Couture's courage, devotion and determination to make Quebec's roads safer and save lives.

National Blind Curling ChampionshipStatements By Members

February 8th, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.


Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to recognize Dean Martell, Sandy Neddow, Frank Costello, Bob and Barbara Comba and Janet Dyck who are in Ottawa for the National Blind Championship bonspiel.

These individuals have represented Kelowna, British Columbia and Canada with distinction and class.

They have won the national bonspiel the past two years and are returning to defend their title once again. I am proud to call them my constituents and to celebrate their accomplishments.

This bonspiel, organized by the Canadian Council of the Blind, is one of the premier events of White Cane Week, a week dedicated to celebrating the equal talents and abilities of the blind and visually impaired community.

Events, such as this national bonspiel, demonstrate the self-sufficiency and determination of the blind and visually impaired and their commitment to maintaining an active lifestyle.

I would like to congratulate the Kelowna team on its past victories and on its 8-0 record at this year's championship bonspiel. We wish them the best of luck as they defend their title and go for a “three-pete”.

VolunteerismStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, more than 12 million Canadians provide $2 billion worth of voluntary work annually and approximately 45% of Canadians use their spare time to volunteer and serve the community.

However, in the draconian cuts announced by the so-called new government of Canada last September, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women announced that she was eliminating federal funding to the Canada Volunteerism Initiative. This makes no sense. The Conservatives inherited a $13 billion surplus and yet they feel it necessary to eliminate this essential service.

What was the rationale for these cuts? Were they based on any form of evaluation? Did anyone bother to look at whether the goals of the program were being met before making this decision?

I understand that the minister, after four months, has still not met with Volunteer Canada to discuss these drastic cuts.

Why has the mean-spirited government targeted volunteers and why will the minister not make herself accountable to Canadians?

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, in recent months, there has been quite a bit of misinformation in the media about Status of Women Canada.

We have succeeded in making administrative savings of $5 million at Status of Women Canada. This means $5 million more for women, in addition to many other measures this government has taken for Canadian women and their families.

An independent assessment has revealed that when the Liberals were in power, it cost 31 cents to provide one dollar in funding for women. This is unacceptable both for women and for taxpayers in general.

We are investing in supporting women, not in creating more bureaucracy.

I am happy to announce that the first grant under the new conditions, worth $49,140, has been awarded to an agency that will provide sex trade workers with tools to help them quit the industry.

On this side of the House, we are all working for the well-being of Canadian women.

Slave TradeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, last night, thanks to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, members of Parliament were given an opportunity to preview the movie Amazing Grace, which tells the story of British MP William Wilberforce's long fight to abolish slavery. This superb movie was produced to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire.

At a time when human slavery is making a comeback illicitly, in a way that calls for concerted international action, it is important to remember that before 1807 slavery was a legal and an integral part of the imperial economy. Wilberforce had to contend with arguments that the abolition of slavery would make Britain less competitive, that it would advantage Britain's enemies, that it would eliminate jobs and that government revenues would be affected.

Wilberforce contended not only with the sugar barons and profiteers, but against an embedded economic system that contradicted God's will for human equality. He insisted that the moral thing to do was the best thing to do and that the example would catch on as ultimately it did. Surely we would do well to heed this insight when dealing with the issues of our own time.

Official LanguagesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval—Les Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, 40 years after the Laurendeau-Dunton report, a CROP poll has found that 81% of Canadians want Canada to remain a bilingual country. Yet there is very little access to provincial services in the minority language.

Under the Dion action plan, the Liberal government earmarked $786.3 million over five years for official languages. The Liberal opposition is asking the Conservative government to maintain that Liberal commitment and take action to correct the huge disparities faced by linguistic minorities in Canada.

Canada cannot be a bilingual country on paper only. Canadians are clearly highly motivated to learn the other official language.

I invite the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together to find ways of expanding second language instruction from early childhood on.

Suicide Prevention WeekStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, in every region of Quebec, there are hundreds of individuals who are working tirelessly day after day to ensure that suicide is no longer the primary cause of death among men between the ages of 20 and 40.

As this is Suicide Prevention Week, I want to stress the significance of this cause of death, and particularly what we should all do to prevent such deaths.

The hon. Michael Sheehan, a Quebec court judge, himself deeply afflicted by the loss of a son, recently gave a conference that left no one indifferent. In the past ten years, 12,000 Quebeckers have taken their own lives; this happens to be the exact number of people living in La Tuque, where we attended this conference.

It is important that all the citizens of Quebec realize that there are effective ways of fighting this terrible affliction. Suicide prevention centres are in great need of support, which we should really provide them. It is a matter of life.

Heritage DayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 18, St. Mary's Anglican Church, built in 1872, the same year Richmond Hill was incorporated, is being honoured during Heritage Day in a celebration of historic places across Canada.

The Hon. Jean Chrétien, the minister responsible at the time of the foundation's creation, said:

Maturity may be recognized in a nation when its people take thought for their past: take thought... in the dynamic sense of knowing the past as a key to understanding the present and future.

Heritage Day is an important opportunity to celebrate the architectural heritage and historic places of Canada. The Heritage Canada Foundation promotes the third Monday in February each year as Heritage Day.

A Victorian tea will be held at St. Mary's Anglican Church and the archives committee will put on a display of historic artifacts. This will include a presentation and historic photographs of area churches from the Richmond Hill Public Library's unique collection. Church architecture in the region from 1850 to 1900 will be the topic of conversation.

It is hoped that the residents of Richmond Hill will join in celebrating national Heritage Day in the beautiful and historic chapel.

Alberta Oil SandsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Diane Ablonczy Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, a Liberal rookie has slipped up and given Canadians a glimpse of the Liberals' secret agenda.

The member for Ajax—Pickering made a direct attack on a success story of our nation's economy that just so happens to be located in a region the Liberals have written off for the next election.

The member let it out of the bag that a future Liberal government would be ordering oil energy companies to simply stop it, that they could put their plans on hold because if it cost too much energy to get it out of the ground, to get it out of the oil sands, then so be it. In fact the member said that if the energy companies did not cooperate, there would be consequences.

Bullying, threats, pitting one region against the other in a shallow trade-off for votes is the Liberal way.

However, Canadians know that the strength of one is the strength of all and the whole is important. Our government wants all sectors of Canada's economy to grow and prosper for the benefit of all Canadians.