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House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

Topics

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

May 31, 2007

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 31st day of May, 2007, at 9:05 a.m.

Sheila-Marie Cook

The Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor

The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment)—Chapter 12, Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code in order to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption—Chapter 13 and Bill C-252, An Act to amend the Divorce Act (access for spouse who is terminally ill or in critical condition)—Chapter 14.

Greenbelt AwardStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, on May 22, the Hon. William Grenville Davis, Premier of Ontario from 1971 to 1985, received the Greenbelt Award, in recognition of his environmental vision in protecting the Niagara Escarpment.

The Niagara Escarpment is a unique 725 kilometre land form stretching from Niagara Falls to the Bruce Peninsula. Its wilderness and agricultural areas host a myriad of species, some endangered or rare. In recognition of its ecological significance, it was named a World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations in 1990.

In 1973 Premier Davis and his Conservative government took the remarkable step of protecting the Niagara Escarpment from urban sprawl and from development. It was Canada's first environmental land use document designed to protect natural heritage features and prime agricultural land.

Urban sprawl is a serious environmental challenge and it was Premier Davis's first bold move to protect the escarpment that allowed the Oak Ridges Moraine to be designated in 1996 and the Greenbelt to be created in 2005. This truly is a legacy for future generations.

ALS Awareness MonthStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge June as ALS Awareness Month in Canada.

The ALS Society of Canada, founded in 1977, is the only national voluntary health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The ALS Society is a leading not for profit health organization working nationwide to fund ALS research.

I would like to recognize a constituent of mine, Benjamin Lindberg, who passed away on April 29 of this year. He was diagnosed with ALS in 1991, and courageously battled the disease for more than 15 years. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. Imagine not being able to walk, write, smile, talk and sometimes breathe on one's own, yet the mind usually remains intact and senses are unaffected. This is what it is like for the 3,000 Canadians who have ALS.

According to the World Health Organization, neurodegenerative diseases are predicted to surpass cancer as the second leading cause of death in Canada by 2040. I hope a cure will become a reality soon.

Quebec Collective Kitchens AssociationStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Collective Kitchens Association is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its foundation. These kitchens pool together time, money and skills to prepare healthy, inexpensive and appetizing meals that are served to school age children among others.

Since 1995, the number of collective kitchen groups has gone from 500 to over 1,400, a 280% increase. Last year, these groups fed approximately 37,000 people. In Quebec, close to 7,000 participants get together to cook healthy meals. This means that, every month, thousands of people eat some 850,000 healthy, balanced and inexpensive meals.

The Bloc Québécois and myself congratulate the Quebec Collective Kitchens Association, and we urge it to continue its work in the community.

Mackenzie Valley Gas ProjectStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Rex Tillerson, Exxon's chief executive officer, said in Dallas that unless there were significant royalty and tax breaks, they were going to shelve the Mackenzie Valley gas project.

Instead of handing out corporate welfare to a company that just posted its largest profit ever this year, I have a suggestion for the minister. Government should become a partner in the project as it is a partner in the Norman Wells oil field. Every year the Norman Wells oil field has returned very significant revenues to Canadians. This is the type of government involvement we need in the oil industry. We do not need more giveaways.

With the federal government as a partner, average Canadians can actually see a return on their investment rather than the loss they would see by handing over more tax and royalty breaks to an industry that already gets over a billion dollars in concessions.

Properly developed, the Mackenzie project could be in the national interest, but Canada cannot allow itself to be bullied into giving more corporate handouts. Rather, if Exxon wants taxpayer money, we should see a return on the investment.

Arts and CultureStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past Monday I had the privilege of representing the Minister of Canadian Heritage at the opening night of the Stratford Festival.

On this season's playbill, plays like King Lear, Oklahoma and To Kill a Mockingbird will not disappoint.

Our thanks go out to Richard Monette who will retire this year after 14 successful seasons as artistic director.

Theatre audiences will also love the Drayton Festival Theatre which offers a playbill including Cash on Delivery, Funny Money and The Buddy Holly Story.

The Drayton Festival, under the artistic direction of Alex Mustakas, has theatres across southwestern Ontario, in Drayton, St. Jacobs, Grand Bend and Penetanguishene.

I encourage all members to visit my riding of Perth—Wellington this summer or any other theatre across our great country for culture that is second to none.

Foreign AffairsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I add my voice to the chorus of people demanding justice for Munir Said Thalib.

Munir was Indonesia's most prominent human rights defender and an especially vocal critic of the human rights abuses committed by that country's military. In 2004, on a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam, Munir was poisoned. The president of Indonesia commissioned a fact finding report, but refused to release the results of that investigation.

I had the honour of speaking with Munir's widow, who with dignity and courage described her quest to hear the truth about her husband's murder. I stand with her and groups like Rights and Democracy, Amnesty International, KAIROS and Human Rights Watch, among others, in calling for the government of Indonesia to put justice and human rights above politics and to release the report. I also call on the Government of Canada to pressure the government of Indonesia to do the right thing.

Organ DonationStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently learned of a young girl in my riding named Mackenzie Walchuck, who was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver disease at the age of three. Mackenzie is now 11 and the disease has progressed to the point that her liver can no longer function.

She is the youngest person in Canada in need of a liver and she needs it now, but Canada has one of the lowest organ donation rates among industrialized countries. This is something we need to change.

On behalf of Mackenzie and the thousands of other Canadians waiting for new organs, I have a simple request. I ask people to sign their organ donor cards and consider becoming a living donor. Certain types of organs, including kidneys and liver, like Mackenzie needs, can be given safely by living donors. At the cost of a minor inconvenience, we could all save a life.

Health Canada and provincial ministries of health can provide more information for people who want to help. All we need to do is act.

Shawn McCaugheyStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to Captain Shawn McCaughey, a 31-year-old resident of Candiac in Montérégie, who lost his life when his plane crashed while the Snowbirds were training for a show in Montana.

Captain McCaughey learned to fly when he was studying physical geography at Concordia University in Montreal, and his dream was to one day fly a CF-18 fighter.

I have expressed my sincere sympathies and the condolences of the Bloc Québécois to his parents, Mr. McCaughey and Ms. Veilleux, who live in my riding, Brossard—La Prairie, and to his fiancée, Claudia Gaudreault, of Chicoutimi.

SEVECStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about SEVEC, the Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges in Canada, an organization that has been bringing together young Canadians from different parts of the country for over 70 years.

SEVEC's youth exchanges provide practical experience for students between the ages of 12 to 17 to learn about their second language, experience a different culture and volunteer in two communities in Canada.

I am very proud that one of the largest SEVEC exchange groups is from my riding. As I speak, Hillcrest public school students in Owen Sound are hosting an exchange group from Quebec. Also, it was my pleasure today to meet SEVEC participants from across the country who are on the Hill to talk to MPs about their experiences.

Many students from my riding and certainly from across the country have benefited from this great program. They are the future leaders of this country. I am very proud that this government strongly supports a great program.

Election in Prince Edward IslandStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to outline breaches of protocol by the federal Conservative government in its attempt to influence the P.E.I. election. Canadians know how the Conservative government tried to influence the Quebec election through the budget, but the Prime Minister took a different tack to influence voters in P.E.I.

Jason Lee, the Prime Minister's senior appointee for P.E.I., who operates the ACOA minister's regional office, ran as a Conservative candidate, stating on his website, “Lee currently works as a senior aide” to the minister. There are questions about if or when he took a leave of absence without pay.

Further, the Conservative premier's campaign director was appointed to the ACOA advisory board and continued to actively campaign in violation of public service guidelines. Worse, ACOA's computers were used to bolster the Binns blog campaign.

It is time the Prime Minister stopped using federal resources for partisan purposes.

Criminal CodeStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy about the passage at third reading of Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, which provides for tougher mandatory sentences for persons convicted of serious offences involving firearms.

But the Liberals should be ashamed. They state publicly that they want to fight crime, yet they consistently refused to vote for Bill C-10. Why do the Liberals not want to protect victims of crime?

As for the Bloc, they voted against Bill C-10. The Bloc claims to be defending the interests of Quebec, but it is neglecting to protect the rights of victims of crime in Quebec. Whose interests is the Bloc really protecting? Clearly, the Bloc and the Liberal Party prefer to protect the criminals rather than the victims.

We are taking real steps to make our streets and communities safer.

SeniorsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I often share stories in this House about people who live in my riding. Today I would like to recognize the 17,000 seniors who call Surrey North home.

I was pleased to meet many of my neighbours at a public forum I sponsored last week to help seniors protect themselves from fraud. Not surprisingly, our discussion turned to other issues facing seniors today, such as how there are many elderly people who cannot afford the rising costs of prescription drugs, how it is getting harder to find quality home support in Surrey, and how the responsibility of looking after spouses is difficult without help.

Seniors in Surrey tell me that they are behind the NDP's plan to ensure dignity and security for Canadians as we grow older. They support the seniors charter our party has passed in the House of Commons. They are grateful that we are trying to guarantee retirement security and protect pensions, the only party to do so.

They want the government to act on the NDP's call for free drug and dental coverage for seniors. It is the least we can do for the people who helped build our country.

SeniorsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, by 2021 senior citizens will constitute 18% of Canada's population. The Conservative government has failed them.

Seniors in my community say that the Conservatives have failed to deliver on their promise to guarantee shorter medical wait times and have failed to deliver the needed resources to deal with our health care problems.

Seniors in my community say that the Conservatives have failed to address the need for affordable housing. We must work with the provinces to provide funding for affordable housing.

Seniors in my community say that the Conservatives have failed them by breaking the income trust promise, costing them their savings and costing Canadians over $25 billion in investments. We must cut the income trust tax from 31.5% to 10% and refund Canadians their money.

When will the Conservative government stop misleading the public and failing our seniors?

Education for AllStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Centrale des syndicats du Québec is now holding its general meeting in Gatineau and its president Réjean Parent gave me 425 letters addressed to the Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for la Francophonie and Official Languages asking Canada to continue its efforts to achieve the objectives of the education for all program.

At the UNESCO World Education Forum held in Dakar in 2000, Canada made a commitment to meet basic education needs by 2015. Throughout the world, 781 million adults are illiterate and 80 million children do not attend school. The signatory countries, including Canada, have a lot of work to do to meet their objectives.

The Bloc Québécois and I add our voices to the CSQ to urge the government to allocate 0.7% of gross national income to development aid, as it promised.

Sacha BondStatements by Members

May 31st, 2007 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform my colleagues and the Canadian public about the sad situation Sacha Bond, a Canadian citizen, is in.

At 22, he is serving a 20-year sentence in a Florida prison. He is not a hardened criminal. At the time his crime was committed, he was 20 and visiting Florida. Sacha Bond was ill at the time: he has bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness.

Sacha Bond requires special medical care, and I do not believe he is receiving it in the Florida prison. This care is available in the Canadian prison system, in particular at the Archambault Institution.

I have appealed to the compassion and understanding of the Minister of Public Safety to allow Sacha Bond to serve his sentence in Canada, but to no avail. Sacha bond requires special care to be able to continue to live a healthy life and to eventually reintegrate into society, without posing a threat.

Let us support the transfer request of young Canadian Sacha Bond.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada's Conservative government is getting the job done for our farmers.

The first piece of legislation we passed into law in 2006 was about improvements to cash advance payments now available to producers. These changes allowed the spring credit advance and the fall advance payments to be merged into a single program.

Our government's improvements include: increasing the limit on cash advances from $250,000 to $400,000; doubling the interest-free amount from $50,000 to $100,000; expanding the coverage to include livestock and an additional variety of crops; and extending from 12 to 18 months the time producers have to repay their cash advance, that is, from April to September of the following year.

Farmers apply for a cash advance through producer organizations. Repayments of cash advances are guaranteed. Where I come from, it really helps farmers when money can be borrowed at lower interest rates and cash can be advanced on the anticipated value of farm production. This is another positive step for agriculture.

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the defence minister--

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition appreciates the enthusiastic reception, but it is question period. We have to get moving. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has the floor.

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the defence minister misled the House about the Red Cross, detainees, the transfer agreement to the Afghan government, the cost of tanks and, worst of all, the funeral costs for our fallen soldiers.

Each time, he reminds Canadians that he is unfit for the job. His incompetence cannot be allowed to go unchecked any further. Will the Prime Minister demand his defence minister's immediate resignation?

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what the Leader of the Opposition says is completely untrue. In the case that he refers to, the Minister of National Defence has indeed and did indeed at the beginning instruct the Department of National Defence to pay all normal funeral costs, even if those exceed the guidelines put in place by the last government. To the extent that we have been able to find out, that has in fact been the case and that has been followed.

In the case raised yesterday, it is the case that some time ago expenses were paid above the limit. There are further expense claims and those are being looked into.

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in their touching and brave press conference, Mr. Dinning said:

It is about the principle of the thing. It should be a no-brainer: Your sons or daughters give their lives for Canada and we shouldn't be penny-pinching over whether we're going to pay for funeral expenses.

That is indisputable.

Since the Prime Minister does not have the courage to ask him to do the right thing, will the defence minister do it on his own and step aside?

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, in the case raised and in all cases the deaths of Canadian Forces members are terribly tragic events for this country and obviously we feel for their families. The fact of the matter, as I said, is that already some time ago expenses exceeding the limit had been approved. There are further expense requests and those will be dealt with expeditiously.

Minister of National DefenceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have had enough. This has gone on long enough. The Minister of National Defence has misled this House too many times. He has shown how incompetent he is too many times.

Since the Prime Minister does not have the courage to ask him to do the honourable thing, will the Minister of National Defence do the honourable thing himself and resign?