House of Commons Hansard #166 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was scotia.


Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic AccordsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, that was an excellent speech by my hon colleague from West Nova. I am sure he is aware of the brochure that was sent out by the Conservatives in our province during the discussions over the Atlantic accord some two and a half years ago. It stated:

The Conservative Party of Canada believes that offshore oil and gas revenues are the key to real economic growth in Atlantic Canada. That's why we would leave you with 100 per cent of your oil and gas revenues. No small print. No excuses. No caps.

Then we have the comments of the Minister of Foreign Affairs on May 15 in answer to a question from my hon. colleague from West Nova. He said:

We will not throw a member out of caucus for voting his conscience. There will be no whipping, flipping, hiring, or firing on budget votes as we saw with the Liberal government.

Yet our hon. friend, the member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, was in fact thrown out of that caucus. I would like my hon. colleague's comments on what has happened.

Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic AccordsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Robert Thibault Liberal West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it was amazing. I have never seen anything like it and I have been in this House going on seven years. I have never seen the government stand in this House and say that a vote would not be a confidence vote and then, after the vote has been held, declare it a confidence vote.

A senior minister of government, the Minister of Foreign Affairs no less, the former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, the same guy who said he would not unite the Progressive Conservatives with the Alliance but did, the guy who said he did not make disparaging remarks about one female MP of the Liberal caucus, but all witnesses say he did, that same guy stands in this House and says that it is a free vote and that members of Parliament from Atlantic Canada or anywhere else will have the freedom to vote their conscience.

However, when one of them has the courage to do that, he cuts the legs out from under him and kicks him out of his caucus. The member for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley did not have time, according to what I read in the papers, to make it to the curtains. He was kicked out and expelled from that caucus on the spot.

It is not unusual for members to have whipped votes on the budget and the Speech from the Throne. What is unusual and amazing is that the government would make an announcement that a vote is not a confidence vote, that members have the right to vote how they feel, and then, when one member votes his conscience, he is immediately expelled from that caucus in a very hypocritical fashion. It is either a misleading of members or total buffoonery or both.

Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic AccordsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the discussion on the Liberal Party's motion today, which reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government has failed to live up to verbal and written commitments made to Premiers by the Prime Minister during the last election campaign with respect to the Equalization Program and the Atlantic Accords.

The Bloc Québécois supports this motion because to do otherwise would be to deny the obvious. As we have said in the past, we did not agree with the Atlantic accords in principle, and we still do not agree with them. However, it is perfectly obvious that the government has broken its promise, and we will not argue with that whether we like it or not. No matter what we think of the promise, we do, in principle, agree with the motion.

Unfortunately, this is not the only commitment that this government has broken since coming to power. This government calls itself the “new government” and promised to do things differently from the previous Liberal government. Unfortunately, it seems that the government has learned quickly and has wasted no time following in its Liberal predecessors' footsteps. This government has broken a lot of promises.

The Atlantic accords we are talking about today are a prime example, even though—and I will come back to this later in my speech—we do not agree with these accords and we do not think the government should move forward with them.

According to this motion—or at least according to the Bloc's interpretation of it—the government is being criticized for, deliberately or not, making irresponsible election promises. I would hope it did so out of incompetence and not with the deliberate intention of misleading and fooling the electors. The fact remains that a promise was made and it is not being kept. The Bloc Québécois denounces this irresponsible promise.

Among the many other areas where the government has not kept its promises is the matter of the seat at UNESCO. Once again, the government is playing with words and repeating the same thing ad nauseam—that it made good on its promises— in the hope that by constantly repeating the same thing, whether it is true or not, the public will believe it one day. That is what happened with the seat at UNESCO.

During the election campaign the Prime Minister promised to give Quebec a seat at UNESCO, like the seat Quebec has in the Francophonie. That is what he said, verbatim, what he repeated, what he wrote down and has never denied. Obviously, when we talk about a seat in the Francophonie, we are talking about a full seat, a voice and a vote. That is what all Quebeckers were expecting. That is what everyone was talking about. The Prime Minister never said to Quebeckers during the election campaign that what he was really promising was a small folding seat, a little stool at the back where they could whisper their agreement, or stay quiet should they disagree. That was never the case.

When the Conservative government proposed this accord, it was saying to Quebeckers that it agreed to bring its delegation along, that it would be allowed to participate and give its opinion provided that this opinion fell within the general position of the federal government, or something to that effect.

In other words, Quebec would have the right to indicate its agreement, but if it does not agree, it would not be allowed to say so. More importantly, unlike what was promised, Quebeckers would have no right to vote, as it does at the OIF. That is another promise that was completely broken. It is so true that nothing has been done. When the government made that proposal, even my predecessor in Jeanne-Le Ber, who was once the Minister of Canadian Heritage, said that, in any case, that was already how it was done. No one ever stopped Quebec representatives from coming along, sitting in the background and whispering comments. We are really no further ahead. This has been nothing but smoke and mirrors, with basically nothing new to indicate that this promise, giving Quebec the right to vote, will be honoured.

The Prime Minister resorted to false arguments concerning the issue of Quebec's right to vote, saying that, at UNESCO, only independent states have the right to vote. First of all, with all due respect, I would point out that, when the Prime Minister and the Conservatives made this promise to Quebeckers, they knew that. Second, they could have allowed for a mechanism by which, when the two positions are at odds, Quebec would abstain, which would mean the same result. That is another broken promise. For people in the maritime provinces, there was a broken promise regarding the Atlantic Accords, and for Quebec, it was our seat at UNESCO. Income trusts have been discussed at length in this House. The structure of these income trusts allowed certain legal entities to get out of paying taxes, and we saw more and more businesses convert to income trusts under pressure from their shareholders to pay less tax.

The Bloc Québécois had asked for a moratorium on the conversion to income trusts. It has always said that the conversion of businesses to income trusts for tax purposes was not a good thing. This was its position before, during and after the election campaign. Naturally, when the government decided to tax income trusts to partly close this loophole in Canadian taxation, we thought it was a good idea and we supported it. Nevertheless, that was another promise that the Conservatives did not keep. The Prime Minister had personally promised, in black and white, during the election campaign to never—and not just maybe—never tax income trusts. Consequently, some Quebeckers and Canadians, taken in by the Prime Minister, invested in income trusts believing that they would realize large returns. The value of income trusts continued to climb on the premise of the Prime Minister's good faith. The mistake made by these investors was that they probably believed the Conservatives would keep their promise. They did not. The day the government announced that it would put an end to the special tax treatment for income trusts, they dropped sharply in value, placing many investors in very unfortunate circumstances because they suffered huge losses. And all this because the government, to get elected, made unacceptable and irresponsible promises resulting in this situation.

And that is not all. Many other promises were broken by this government. I would like to speak in more detail about the promise regarding the fiscal imbalance. This has been a long fight for the Bloc Québécois

Here again, the government seems to think that it only has to continue repeating the same thing and the public will end up believing it.

I was amazed to see how the Minister of Finance “corrected the fiscal imbalance” in his latest budget. He just tabled a budget, increased cash transfers to Quebec and the provinces and then got up in the House and said that the fiscal imbalance had been fixed. To him, just saying that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, was enough to convince people. When the Conservatives promised Quebeckers to correct the fiscal imbalance, Quebeckers expected that the solution would be along the lines of the consensus that had formed in Quebec, which had been built around the Séguin commission on the fiscal imbalance. When the concept of fiscal imbalance was put forward, the phrase “fiscal imbalance” was not chosen at random, out of a hat, it was chosen deliberately, because there was an imbalance between the federal government and the provinces and this imbalance was fiscal in nature. Otherwise, it would have been called the budgetary imbalance or the monetary imbalance. But it was called the fiscal imbalance.

When the Conservatives promised Quebeckers to correct the fiscal imbalance, Quebeckers had reason to expect a fiscal solution. Yet this budget contains no tax measures. I asked the finance committee, officials and the minister himself. The minister admitted quite candidly that his budget contained no tax transfers to Quebec or the provinces. At the same time as he is saying that the budget contains no tax transfers, no tax measures to correct the fiscal imbalance, he is telling us that it has been fixed. Something is wrong there.

We voted for the budget because it represented a step forward and transferred significant amounts to Quebec and the provinces. But there is no guarantee that those amounts will still be there in one year, two years or three years. Quebec and the other provinces that receive equalization transfers, for example, are still subject to the whims of the federal government. The equalization formula has just been amended, but it could be amended again in the next budget, whether that budget is brought down by this or another government.

Quebec wanted financial autonomy, it wanted to receive stable, predictable revenues which would grow over time, and over which it would have control, so that it would not be at the mercy of the federal government's choices. It is so true that the fiscal imbalance is not permanently corrected and that Quebec still depends on the federal government, that even the Conservatives' Quebec advertising says—and I want to get this right—that the Leader of the Opposition, if he became prime minister, could take back the money. This is what the Conservatives are saying. Their advertisements in Quebec say that the fiscal imbalance that they claim has been permanently corrected, could return if another government were elected. This is not a correction. It would have been corrected if tax fields had been transferred, GST for example, to the Government of Quebec. It could have had complete and total control over the revenues, which would be predictable over time, and all this with no chance of the federal government backtracking. It could have been the transfer of tax points, as was done in the past, but this was not the case.

A number of promises have been broken by this government, and the government before it. We can objectively say that it is fortunate this is a minority government, because it is breaking just as many promises despite the fact that it is a minority. I cannot imagine what would happen if it was a majority government and could do what it wanted in the House.

We can imagine that the number and importance of the broken promises would increase significantly.

Today's Liberal motion has the advantage of being a reminder to Quebeckers. They must send as many Bloc Québécois members as possible to Ottawa to ensure that their voice is strong. No matter which party is in power, we are crossing our fingers that it is a minority so that it cannot do whatever it wants.

I have made a list of some election promises broken by the government. I would now like to get down to specifics and talk about the Atlantic accords, which the Bloc Québécois does not agree with. On the one hand, these accords violate the equalization principle, which should ensure that all provinces can offer similar services to all their citizens, with a similar tax rate, regardless of how rich the province is. On the other hand, Quebec has already contributed financially to the development of the fossil fuels industry. Now that this development has taken place, we absolutely do not agree with continuing to contribute to it.

For example, from 1970 to 1999, Ottawa gave $66 billion in direct subsidies to the fossil fuels industry, including coal, natural gas and oil—an industry that for all intents and purposes does not exist in Quebec. During the same period, a paltry $329 million was given to the renewable energy sector. Of that money, not a penny went to hydroelectricity. While Quebec was investing in hydroelectricity, Ottawa was supporting the development of polluting energy sources instead.

The oil and gas industry was developed in large part with the taxes paid by Quebeckers, even though this development went against the fundamental interests of Quebec, economically or environmentally speaking, since polluting energy sources, as their name suggests, create more pollution. Some $66 billion has already gone toward this development. In the case of Hibernia, we can talk about $5 billion, roughly a quarter of which came from Quebeckers' taxes. Now that we have paid for this development, now that the companies have become profitable and the development of these non-renewable resources has become lucrative for the provinces, Quebeckers are being asked to keep paying for this development? It seems completely illogical to me to give a bonus to provinces for developing non-renewable energies, but not for renewable energies.

This exclusion of non-renewable resources is completely arbitrary. Why was this choice made when there are hardly any such resources in Quebec and other tax fields could have been excluded? Excluding the aerospace industry, for example, would have benefited Quebec greatly. Excluding renewable energies such as hydroelectricity would also have represented billions of dollars in equalization, but no. Non-renewable resources were chosen and are excluded from the equalization calculation. This seems completely arbitrary and unjustified.

I want to close by dispelling a myth I have heard far too often in this House, that Quebeckers were the main beneficiaries of equalization. It is true that the amount is greater. That said, the population of Quebec is larger and, per capita, Quebeckers receive the least amount of equalization. Just take the amount and divide it by the number of people in Quebec.

Opposition Motion--Equalization Program and Atlantic AccordsBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber will have a 10 minute period for questions and comments after question period.

Elgin RegimentStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, 20 surviving World War II veterans and their families gathered at St. Thomas-Elgin to celebrate the Elgin Regiment's 60th and last reunion of World War II veterans.

Festivities began Friday with a reception honouring the veterans. Saturday, the veterans, accompanied by soldiers of the 31 Combat Engineers, the Elgins, paraded to city hall to request the freedom of the city. The parade even included a Sherman tank.

This weekend's activities concluded Sunday at the Royal Canadian Legion's Last Post Branch in Port Stanley. One of the Elgin's young veterans attended, a 21-year-old corporal, Kayla Campbell, who recently served in Afghanistan.

Lord Charles Bruce from Fife, Scotland attended to serve as the honorary colonel for the Elgins, and Charlie Phillips, the oldest surviving World War II veteran in Elgin, joined in the celebrations. Charlie faced battles in Sicily, France, Belgium and Holland before returning to St. Thomas in 1946.

I would like to take this opportunity to salute Charlie, Kayla and all of the Elgin veterans for their service to Canada.

Retirement CongratulationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to congratulate and pay tribute to Mr. Mike Campbell who is retiring this month from his position as chief executive officer of the Charlottetown Airport Authority.

Mike Campbell has been the manager of the Charlottetown airport for many years now. In the late 1990s, the Charlottetown airport was transferred from the Government of Canada to the Charlottetown Airport Authority and Mike at the time stayed on as general manager.

Since the transfer, Mike has guided the activities of the Charlottetown airport as it has expanded its facilities, welcomed new domestic and international carriers and increased traffic.

He will continue to serve the industry as a member of the board of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. The Charlottetown airport is a vital component to the economy of Prince Edward Island and Mr. Campbell always understood this very clearly.

Mike is retiring this month and on behalf of all residents living on Prince Edward Island I want to thank him for his many years of service and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Abdelkader BelaouniStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Vivian Barbot Bloc Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, for a year and a half, Abdelkader Belaouni has lived in a church in the Pointe-Saint-Charles area of Montreal. He is an Algerian national and he never leaves the church, for fear of being arrested and deported from Canada.

Mr. Belaouni, who is diabetic and has been blind since 1992, fled Algeria during the civil war, to live in the United States. In 2003, after being discriminated against in the wake of the September 11 attacks, he applied for permanent refugee status in Canada. Unfortunately, he still has not been successful in obtaining such status.

Mr. Belaouni is very well integrated into Quebec society. He has enough support to guarantee that he will never be a burden on society.

Having myself been a refugee in the Argentinian embassy in Haiti for nearly two years, I am particularly aware of what Mr. Belaouni is going through.

I appeal to the compassion of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and urge her to meet with Mr. Belaouni, as he has requested, and grant him permanent refugee status for humanitarian reasons.

Jean GauvinStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am very sad to rise today in this House to mark the passing of the hon. Jean Gauvin at the age of 61.

Mr. Gauvin was the fisheries minister in the New Brunswick government of Richard Hatfield. He represented the riding of Shippagan-les-Îles from 1978 to 1987 and again from 1991 to 1995. In all, he fought nine election campaigns at the provincial and federal levels and was elected three times.

Mr. Gauvin earned the nickname “Vroom-Vroom” because of his choice of official vehicle. He was an ardent defender of francophone rights and campaigned fiercely against allowing former members of the anti-francophone Confederation of Regions Party back into the Conservative Party.

Mr. Gauvin left his mark on New Brunswick as an MLA and a minister, but he was also known for his involvement in his community.

I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to Mr. Gauvin's family and friends.

Thank you, Jean.

InfrastructureStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Norman Doyle Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the federal Minister of Transport and the provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs for Newfoundland and Labrador, the hon. Jack Byrne.

Last week, Minister Byrne and I, on behalf of the Minister of Transport, announced a $10 million road project in my riding of St. John's East in the provincial district of Cape St. Francis.

The Torbay bypass road was a long awaited road project for the area. It was on the drawing board back when I was provincial minister of transportation in the 1980s.

At present, Torbay Road is the major artery for traffic in and out of the city of St. John's and the entire northeast Avalon region. During rush hours, traffic congestion on this road is terrible and the bypass road will go a long way toward alleviating these problems.

Again, I congratulate all those involved in this $10 million project. It is an excellent example of federal-provincial cooperation for the common good.

Jean PedneaultStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, New Brunswickers were very saddened to learn of the passing of Jean Pedneault on Tuesday evening, at the age of 67.

Mr. Pedneault was a great humanitarian and worked in the journalism industry for more than 30 years, in particular, for the weekly Edmunston newspaper Le Madawaska and, more recently, as a columnist for the daily newspaper L'Acadie Nouvelle.

A dedicated journalist, Mr. Pedneault was actively interested in international development, politics and social justice. Personally, I always held Jean Pedneault in the highest esteem.

Mr. Pedneault received an award from Pope John Paul II for service to the church and was named Knight of the Order of the Pleiade of the International Association of French-speaking Parliamentarians in 1989. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate in communication from the Université de Moncton in May 2001 and received the Louis-Napoléon-Dugal award in 2003 for his dedication to the French and Acadian cause in Madawaska.

Mr. Pedneault marked all of our lives in some way, and we owe him one last tribute to thank him for his active contribution to our community. I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Death of Two Laval University StudentsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to your attention the tragedy that has struck a family from Lévis.

You are undoubtedly aware of the unfortunate accident that caused the death of two Laval University students on May 28 in Bolivia. The young women were on field training for an agricultural economics course and decided to end their stay with a vacation in a small community. The hotel where they decided to spend the night they died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a faulty heating system.

One of these students, Andréanne Lacroix-Pelletier, was the daughter of Hélène Lacroix and Clarence Pelletier, a lung specialist at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital in Lévis. In a cruel twist of fate, these same parents lost their older daughter in January in an automobile accident. They had only these two children.

The spirit of human solidarity makes it impossible to pass over such circumstances in silence. I wish to extend, on behalf of my colleagues and myself, sincere sympathy and support to these bereaved families.

François BeaucheminStatements By Members

June 7th, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate first-time Stanley Cup champions, the Anaheim Ducks.

Outstanding defenceman François Beauchemin, of Sorel-Tracy, was one of the team's most noted and valuable players. François played minor hockey in Sorel-Tracy before getting into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the American Hockey League. Drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, he moved on to Columbus before joining the Ducks, where he became an integral part of the team and one of the best defencemen in the National Hockey League.

His exceptional talent, hard work, determination and desire for constant improvement enabled him to play at the highest level.

I would like to join his parents, his partner, his friends and everyone from Bas-Richelieu in offering my sincere congratulations and wishing him a long career in the National Hockey League.

Thank you, François, for being such a good ambassador for Quebec. You are a role model for our young people.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again we are still learning about Liberal incompetence.

The Liberals commissioned a report surrounding Status of Women Canada's role. The report was conducted by an independent research group and, after several interviews and surveys with Status of Women Canada officials, the report concluded there was a lack of political will and leadership and that Status of Women Canada could no longer go forward with the status quo.

While the Liberals were happy to allow this 30 year old agency to become, as its own officials described it, a relic of the past, it took a Conservative government to modernize the agency, inject new money into programming for women and prioritize areas of concern.

This is true political leadership from a government that knows how to make a difference, a real change from Liberals who are still scratching their heads and telling Canadians, “Do you think it's easy to make priorities?”

The truth is out. They were out of touch with women. They could not deliver results but we did. Canadian women deserve better and now they know the truth.

Northern Youth Leadership ProgramStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Gary Merasty Liberal Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Saskatchewan Association of Northern Communities, better known as New North, has recently launched an ambitious program aimed at empowering youth, aged 13 to 29, in my riding.

The Northern Youth Leadership Program is designed to allow young people to play an active role with their local village and town councils.

Ten communities in my riding, La Ronge, Beauval, Buffalo Narrows, Cumberland House, Île-à-la-Crosse, La Loche, Pinehouse Lake, Sandy Bay, Stony Rapids and Black Lake are involved in the project so far.

The program allows first nations, Métis and non-aboriginal young people to participate in elected youth councils that run parallel to the local councils and report to them once a month. The goal of the program is to engage a generation of young people in civic issues so that they may encourage their peers to reject crime, substance abuse, vandalism and violence. Some of the project ideas in the various communities include the creation of a youth centre, a skate park and working more closely with elders.

The Northern Youth Leadership Program aims to provide practical, hands on experience for tomorrow's generation of leaders. I ask my colleagues to join me in wishing them success.

Senate Tenure LegislationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the first part of our plan to strengthen accountability through democratic reform was a Senate term limits bill. This simple, three clause bill was introduced on May 30, 2006 and for over a year it has languished in the unaccountable, unelected Liberal dominated Senate. We introduced this Senate reform bill for one simple reason: the Senate must change.

The 45 year terms for unelected, unaccountable politicians are simply not acceptable. Remarkably, yesterday the Senate committee recommended that the Senate not consider this bill at third reading until the government refers it to the Supreme Court, even though the Senate has no constitutional authority to do so.

These obstruction tactics are a dangerous grasp at power by the Liberal dominated Senate and simply offer more proof that the opposition leader is powerless within his own party and that the Senate must change.

Our Conservative government is leading the charge to end the practice of 45 year terms for unelected, unaccountable politicians.

Rail TransportationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a matter that I have raised before in this House and that is the growing length of trains and the subsequent length of time the trains take to clear a crossing.

Waits of 10 to 15 minutes are not uncommon. This is a problem in many constituencies but it is particularly acute in Transcona where constituents report that some crossings are tied up for close to half an hour because of switching in and out of the nearby yard.

I urge the Rail Safety Task Force, headed by former transport minister, Doug Lewis, to look into the effect that these 10,000 or 11,000 foot, or two mile trains, are having on public safety and community access to emergency services. Otherwise, it may be only a matter of time before someone in an emergency situation is sacrificed to a railway bottom line.

Environment WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honour of Environment Week. Unfortunately, this year Environment Week is a reminder that the Conservative government celebrated its return to power by slashing over $5.6 billion in environmental spending.

Following a strategy of deny, delay and deceive, the government released a climate change plan rejected by 9 of 10 provinces and not endorsed by any independent third party. True to form, it allows emissions to increase well past 2010 and contains gaping loopholes for the oil sands.

After rewriting the clean air act, Bill C-30 has been suppressed and debate around it censored. Just an hour ago, at the environment committee, we confirmed that the Minister of the Environment misled all Canadians by claiming that his ecotrust funding had been delivered.

After all the photo ops, after all the gimmicks and after all the bravado, now we learn that his department cannot confirm the status of $1.5 billion while the Prime Minister works to weaken G-8 commitments abroad.

It is Environment Week. How unfortunate that Canada has been tossed into complete uncertainty about its environmental future.

Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine RegionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the people of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine are highlighting the fact that they live in such a beautiful and great region by dressing in blue, the colour of the sea and rivers so characteristic of the region.

This initiative from the Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine youth commission is part of its promotional campaign to make the public aware of the growing number of young people who have decided to settle in the region, and of their involvement in developing their community.

I would like to take this beautiful blue day to invite all of you to come visit the wonderful region of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine. I am sure you will enjoy experiencing island life with the panorama of sky and sea in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, and that you too will fall in love with the Gaspe Peninsula.

Age of Protection LegislationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to denounce Conservative duplicity. Last week, the government made a number of patently false statements about the opposition in this House. The government House leader claimed that we had held up Bill C-22, the age of protection bill, in committee.

This is clear disinformation when in fact the committee dealt with the bill in six productive meetings for a total of six hours. He also neglected to say that his own reckless government MPs voted against Bill C-22 when it came time for third reading. If it were not for the Liberals, that bill would not be in the Senate at this time.

This proves once again that the Tories simply will not let facts stand in the way of a good smear. I say shame on the Tories, shame on the Conservatives.

Asia-Pacific GatewayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, this week we read that the deputy leader of the Liberal Party, Elizabeth May, is calling for the federal government to withdraw the $1 billion in funding that our government has committed to the Asia-Pacific Gateway and corridors initiative.

This is one of the most important initiatives in British Columbia's history and it is crucial to addressing our infrastructure needs in western Canada. The policy proposed by Ms. May would jeopardize infrastructure plans in Vancouver, Surrey, Port Coquitlam, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Delta, Saskatoon, Banff, Richmond and Coquitlam.

This Conservative government backs the Asia-Pacific Gateway. We believe in creating Canadian jobs through world sales. We believe in opening new markets and opportunities for Canadians. We stand with the premiers of all four western provinces in support of the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

We want to ensure the Liberal leader will actually show some courage and speak out and tell Elizabeth May that she is wrong in jeopardizing $1 billion that this Conservative government has committed to western Canada for our economic future.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec


Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister said that he wanted to be a bridge at the G-8, he did not say that it was a bridge to nowhere; to a watered down declaration that does not recognize the scientific imperative to limit a temperature increase to 2°C, that does not set targets for global emission reductions, and that does not set clear energy efficiency targets.

Why has the Prime Minister failed Canada and the world?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, we are quite proud of what has happened at the G-8 meetings. There is a declaration that has been issued today by the G-8 which states:

In setting a global goal for emissions reductions in the process we have agreed today involving all major emitters, we will consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan which include at least a halving of global emissions by 2050.

Canada is now being cited as a leader in the world after a decade of waste.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec


Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the bar has been set so low to please the Prime Minister of Canada that this agreement does not achieve what is needed to really fight climate change. The Prime Minister wanted the world to agree to do the minimum, because that is all he wants to do here in Canada, the bare minimum, with his bogus plan.

Will the government not admit once and for all that it is prepared to do only the bare minimum for climate change in Canada and around the world?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario


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

Mr. Speaker, the bar was set ridiculously low by that leader's track record as an environment minister. But there is something else that is ridiculous that is going on for which he must be held accountable.

The Liberal leader must be held accountable for an alarming development unfolding in the Senate. Liberal senators have initiated an extraordinary process to unilaterally amend Canada's Constitution, grabbing powers that are granted solely to cabinet, the power of reference to the Supreme Court.

I ask the Liberal leader, will he instruct the senators to abandon this dangerous attack on Canada's Constitution and ask them to do their job of dealing with government legislation?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec


Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the proof that this government is embarrassed by this watered down international declaration is that it is even unable to speak about it.

Canadians expected from their Prime Minister that he would raise the bar. Instead, he helped President Bush lower the bar. This is not what Canadians expect from a Prime Minister who is supposed to be a leader.

Is this what the Prime Minister calls leadership? Is his definition of leadership to lower the bar so much that all the experts have said that this argument was not what was needed to fight climate change?