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House of Commons Hansard #153 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was measures.

Topics

Pesticide ManagementOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the health minister has claimed that his government's decisions are based on science and has promised he would not lower the level of safety, but the United States discovered, for example, that the fungicide vinclozolin can result in abnormalities in living things over multiple generations. A Health Canada report noted similar findings.

If Canada bows to the U.S. on this, it would allow eight times as much vinclozolin as it does now. Can the minister tell the House on what scientific analysis he based his decision?

Pesticide ManagementOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia Manitoba

Conservative

Steven Fletcher ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is a bit rich for a Liberal member to raise this issue since the harmonization began in 1996 under the Liberal government.

Moreover, there is no political interference with any scientific procedures put in place by Health Canada, and there is no intention that there would be political interference as the member suggests. We will have the best standards based on scientific evidence, period.

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources claims to be a strong supporter of nuclear power, which he says is “very clean”. No doubt the minister is not aware of the many warnings that have been issued concerning the potential danger of the intensive use of nuclear power to extract oil from the oil sands.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources explain why he has a plan that could lead to the construction of 10 or even 20 nuclear reactors even though we are not even close to solving the problem of nuclear waste disposal?

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her interesting question.

This matter falls under provincial jurisdiction. The provinces are the ones to decide what kind of energy can be used to exploit the oil sands.

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources is clearly not aware that nuclear power falls under federal jurisdiction.

Is the minister aware that his position runs counter to the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, which stipulates that “no decision be made on using nuclear energy to extract oil ... until the repercussions of this process are fully known and understood.”

Will he put a stop to these plans?

Nuclear EnergyOral Questions

2:50 p.m.

Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière Québec

Conservative

Jacques Gourde ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, any increase in oil sands production falls under provincial jurisdiction. We are working with Alberta to make this decision.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Dryden Liberal York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, because of repeated statements by Iranian officials, including the president of Iran, for the annihilation of Israel and for Israel to be wiped off the map, a foreign affairs subcommittee passed a motion for the government to ask the United Nations, under its charter, to stop this incitement to commit genocide and to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.

Of all the members on the subcommittee, only the two Conservative members voted against it, no one else. Why?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for Mount Royal for bringing this motion forward.

All members of this House agree with the substance, and the sentiment is shared. President Ahmadinejad's comments with respect to Israel are hateful. Canada does not accept such hatred, such intolerance and anti-Semitism of any kind. This motion calls for a referral to the courts, which would give President Ahmadinejad a platform to proclaim his noxious views on Israel and the Holocaust.

It is highly unlikely that this motion would pass. With respect to that, Canada will continue to have its voice heard loud and clear in the international community on the promotion of hatred as we have seen coming out of Iran.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government is proudly moving forward with human rights protection for first nations citizens through Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act. However, while the government is looking to rectify this long-standing inequity, the opposition parties continue to dither and delay.

How much longer do first nations citizens need to live without the protections that are taken for granted by all other Canadians?

Could the Minister of Indian Affairs please highlight the importance of the bill now before the committee?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, the Senate is not the only place where the opposition is denying justice to Canadians.

The operative clause of Bill C-44 is only nine words long but the House of Commons standing committee has been studying these nine words for 14 weeks and the opposition MPs have now decided to continue their searching analysis into October.

Therefore, first nations Canadians, who have been deprived of human rights in this country for 30 years, will remain so for another summer while the opposition members retire to their golf clubs and tennis clubs.

Court Challenges ProgramOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Commissioner of Official Languages has confirmed it: the Conservative government's massive cuts to the court challenges program violate the Official Languages Act. The report says that the government has not taken the needs or interests of linguistic minorities into account.

Will the Prime Minister accept the recommendations of the Commissioner of Official Languages? Why did the government refuse to hand over all the documents that would have helped the commissioner's inquiry?

Court Challenges ProgramOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, we have just received this preliminary report. We will respond to the commissioner within the 30-day deadline.

That said, our government has clearly shown its constant support for linguistic duality. As far as official languages are concerned, we have signed agreements with the provinces, territories and the communities. In the last budget, we announced an additional $30 million for communities and the NDP voted against that.

Court Challenges ProgramOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, these are hard times for bilingualism in Canada.

Justin Trudeau is in favour of abolishing separate English and French education systems. The Conservative chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages is cancelling committee sessions, and the federal government is making more unilingual appointments.

What is more, we cannot ask much of the Bloc Québécois because it is too busy doing its spring cleaning.

Will the Prime Minister defend the minorities and could he start by relieving the chair of the Standing Committee on Official Languages of his duties?

Court Challenges ProgramOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows full well, the Standing Committee on Official Languages makes its own decisions. I have full confidence in its chair.

The hon. member knows very well to what extent, both on the world stage and here in Canada, our Prime Minister and our government are committed to promoting linguistic duality.

Could the hon. member explain why he is opposed to granting an additional $30 million to official language minority communities?

Passport CanadaOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has failed Canadians on the passport issue and now the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs is blaming Canadians because they are applying for their passports at an unprecedented rate.

It is unacceptable that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Public Safety have refused to respond to the calls from the media.

Who is in charge over there and why will someone not take responsibility for this bungling?

Passport CanadaOral Questions

3 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite and his colleague from Vancouver may like to grandstand in front of the media and spread misinformation about the facts but the reality is that Passport Canada has hired 500 more employees to deal with the issue of backlog. In fact, we have increased capacity and output by over 40%.

Faced with an avalanche of passport applications of over 20,000 a day for a period of time, we are now dealing with that backlog, eating into the capacity by the professionalism, hard work and overtime hours of officials at Passport Canada. This issue is coming in hand.

Democratic ReformOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, today an MP in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia represents, on average, approximately 21,000 more people than MPs in other provinces. Under the current formula that allocates seats in the House of Commons, this imbalance is projected to rise to nearly 30,000 people after the 2011 census.

Would the Minister for Democratic Reform please inform the House of what action he has taken to correct this imbalance?

Democratic ReformOral Questions

3 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, a cornerstone principle of democracy is that each vote should carry equal weight to the extent possible. With that in mind, in the last election we committed to restoring the principle of representation by population, which had fallen behind for the faster growing provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. At the same, we committed to the provinces with slower growing populations that their seat counts would be protected.

As part of our agenda to strengthen accountability in democracy, I introduced new legislation on Friday entitled the democratic representation act, which keeps our commitment. This legislation provides a modern, balanced and practical approach to ensuring fairness in representation for all provinces in Canada.

Human RightsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, one year ago, the UN was informed that Baha'is in Iran were being secretly monitored. Since then, Iran's Bahai's have been further persecuted, their rights have been violated and their lives have been in danger.

The Government of Canada has been in place long enough to have an official position on this situation.

What is the Minister of Foreign Affairs waiting for to clearly state that Canada is concerned about this situation and to demand that Iran honour international human rights commitments?

Human RightsOral Questions

3 p.m.

Central Nova Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

Clearly, Canada will continue to work in many forums, especially the United Nations, to address this deplorable situation in Iran. The Iranian government is continuing to oppress many groups and many people of this religious belief. We need to work with all the members of this House.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Clyde Jackson, Minister of the Environment for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Chinese Exclusion ActRoutine Proceedings

May 14th, 2007 / 3:05 p.m.

Calgary Southeast Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney ConservativeSecretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate an important anniversary in the history of this Parliament and a central moment in the history of Canada's Chinese community.

Sixty years ago today, this Parliament repealed the Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, and, in doing so, brought to an end generations of legislated racism directed at people of Chinese origin.

The government of William Lyon Mackenzie King introduced the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1923, this after Ottawa had collected $23 million in head tax revenues from Chinese immigrants to Canada in the preceding 50 years.

This unjust law prevented anyone from China from immigrating to Canada. As a result, Chinese men already here endured two decades of stigma, solitude and discrimination, separated from their families and barred from the rights of subjects of the Crown here in Canada. Let us not forget that many of those bachelors helped to unite this country by their work on the railroad.

During the second world war, a brave generation of Chinese Canadians volunteered for the Canadian Forces in order to serve their country but, again because of discrimination, they were not put into action until, toward the end of the war, the British recruited them into Sir Winston Churchill's Special Operations Executive. They served with honour overseas in the defence of freedom and the defeat of fascism.

Douglas Jung stands out as one of those who volunteered to defend Canada overseas, training for service behind enemy lines. Thanks in part to the brave service of men like Douglas Jung, on May 14, 1947, the Dominion government could no longer maintain its unjust policies so the Chinese Immigration Act was repealed as part of the new Citizenship Act.

Today marks the 60th anniversary of that historic achievement. On June 22, 2006, in this place our government helped to bring a final end to that sad period in our history with the Prime Minister's formal apology for the injustice of the head tax and his expression of deep regret for the Chinese Exclusion Act.

As the Prime Minister said at the time:

It was an unconscionable act.

An act for which Canadians are deeply sorry.

Canada is infinitely richer because of the contributions Chinese-Canadians have made and continue to make.

Today we salute the brave Chinese Canadians whose military service led to the repeal of that act and which paved the way for the elimination of unjust laws at the provincial and municipal levels.

Since the Prime Minister made his apology, the government has issued ex gratia symbolic payments to 42 living head taxpayers. We are making ex gratia payments to the spouses of deceased head taxpayers. We will soon be announcing the details of the national historic recognition program and the community historic recognition program, which will fund projects commemorating this sad period in our history.

Fifty years ago next month, in 1957, Douglas Jung became the first Canadian member of Parliament of Asian and Chinese origin. He subsequently represented Canada at the United Nations. We pay tribute to his spirit and to the spirits of all those who rose up with dignity and overcame decades of discrimination against people of Chinese and Asian origin.

In his maiden speech in the House of Commons, Douglas Jong said:

While those of us in the Conservative party will take particular pleasure in my election, which election will refute any argument that this party has been discriminatory to certain groups in the past, I am sure that hon. members on both sides will rejoice that we in this country have a system of government that does not extol its virtues by fanfare, but by expressing our belief in our principles by deeds and not words.

On this important anniversary, let us all call to mind those who overcame adversity and injustice to help build a Canada that is a nation of freedom, democracy and equality of opportunity for all.

Chinese Exclusion ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Colleen Beaumier Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to recognize and to commemorate May 14, 2007, a day which marks the 60th anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act by Mackenzie King's Liberal government.

The Chinese Exclusion Act, and the head tax it followed, is a blight on Canada's history of tolerance and diversity, and an affront to the values all of us hold dear today.

Liberals understand that an apology is an essential part of the healing process for a community that was once the victim of past injustices. For this reason, in 2005, the member for LaSalle—Émard, as the Prime Minister of our country, apologized to the Chinese community for the head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act. That apology expressed on behalf of all Canadians our regret for the hardship and difficulties inflicted on those victims and their families directly affected by the Chinese head tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Liberals also believe it is critical that there is an appropriate plan to educate Canadians on this chapter of our history. That is why we signed an agreement in principle with several communities to provide funding for education and commemoration initiatives.

We hope that the government will honour these agreements and deliver in full the funds that were committed by us. This would allow those communities to shed a new perspective on their past, share their histories, educate us all, and help ensure that these kinds of injustices are not repeated in the future.

Canadians should also reflect today on what is required of our government to ensure these kinds of grave injustices are not repeated in the future. That is why the Liberal opposition has voiced its disapproval of the Conservative government's decision to cancel the court challenges program, which provided an important tool for Canadians to exercise and defend their charter of rights.

As the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville said recently in a speech commemorating the anniversary of the charter, the legacy of the charter is too precious for us to remain indifferent to those who, through antagonism or neglect, would seek to undermine it. There are still battles to be fought. There are still rights to be won.

Finally, and most important, let us also celebrate today the extraordinary success that Canadians of Chinese origin have achieved. The talent and energy that they have brought to Canada has contributed to our success as a country, whether in business, the professions or in politics. Today Chinese Canadians are truly the face of Canada, as demonstrated by our former Governor General who, as a woman and Canadian of Chinese origin, has raised the profile of Chinese Canadians here at home and around the world.

Today's anniversary presents us with an opportunity not only to remember those who overcame adversity and injustice but to cherish and protect the foundations of tolerance and diversity on which Canada is built. Only by defending the values of equality and respect on which our society depends can we ensure that injustice is avoided.

Today, let us remember and learn from the grave injustices of the past and let us work together to create a future where these injustices are all but impossible.

Chinese Exclusion ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating an important anniversary in the history of the Chinese community.

I join with the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie and leader of the Bloc Québécois and with the other members of the House of Commons to commemorate this day, which marks the abolition of the Chinese Immigration Act, which required a security deposit from people wanting to come to Canada. Sixty years ago, the government made history by abolishing discriminatory measures based on race.

Today, we remember that between 1923 and 1947, people of Chinese origin were treated a lot more harshly than others. The government intentionally stopped Chinese immigration after having taken $23 million from the Chinese people. At that time, people of Chinese origin had to endure being separated from their families and could not become Canadian citizens. It goes without saying that forcing those people to live far from their wives and children was a totally exaggerated and inhumane measure.

When we read the papers from that time, including those from Quebec, we can see that the difficulties of the Chinese community were already recognized. The problem was much worse in British Columbia, where the great majority of people of Chinese origin had settled.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois and myself, I would like to recognize the hard work of the people who pleaded for history to finally be corrected here, in this House, on behalf of the victims. Without them, without their exemplary dedication to this cause for many years, nothing would have been possible.

Several of them are here today and I salute them. They were relentless in the pursuit of justice. We should pay tribute, once again, to the memory of all those who could never be reunited.

Since the apologies that were made last June, the community has started to turn the page on this sad chapter in the history of Canada. It has celebrated this announcement as a great victory for the future of the community. However, we deplore the fact that the government has not provided a symbolic compensation to direct descendants. Yet, last June, the parliamentary secretary had not closed the doors to such a possibility.

Has everything been settled? It goes without saying that we have to learn from these events to ensure that history does not repeat itself. The memory of the victims and the great injustices that were committed must inspire our daily thoughts as parliamentarians and leaders in our communities and help us to make better, fairer and more humane decisions.

Several members of the Chinese community are still having difficulty talking to their children about this. This action from another era was extreme and had severe consequences.

Such discriminatory acts should never happen again. We carry this great responsibility. It is a matter of justice.