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

Topics

Public TransitStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Dawn Black NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, several years ago, families in Coquitlam and Port Moody were promised a solution to their transit woes. In 2004, the Evergreen Line was approved to connect our communities with Skytrain, with buses and with each other.

Today, the project is on hold until a $400 million shortfall is filled. In the meantime, ordinary families are without an affordable, sustainable transit system.

We know that investment in public transit helps families get their kids to school and regular folks to work. It is good for business and it is good for the environment.

Last year the Conservative government provided nearly a billion dollars to fund transit in Toronto. Why are families in B.C. left in the cold?

It is time for this government to step up to the plate and fund the Evergreen Line. For too long, Coquitlam and Port Moody have been ignored by this Conservative government. Working families and a sustainable environment must come first.

It is about fairness for B.C. and it is simply common sense.

HomelessnessStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Art Hanger Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, earlier today a Calgary committee released its 10-year plan to end homelessness. This government recognizes that a safe and stable home is an important first step on the path out of poverty.

That is why we are working with other levels of government, the private sector and community organizations to find local solutions to address local problems.

We appreciate the work of the Calgary committee. Our government wants to continue the fight against homelessness. This government is committed to helping individuals break free from the cycle of homelessness and poverty, and move toward self-sufficiency.

The new homelessness partnering strategy is our plan and it is delivering results.

I would like to recognize today the tremendous innovative work the Calgary committee to end homelessness has undertaken.

This government looks forward to continuing to work with community leaders to ensure that all Canadians receive the care and support they need.

LiteracyStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in recognition of the 10th anniversary of Family Literacy Day which was recently celebrated in communities like my own riding of Brampton—Springdale.

Low literacy rates are a fact in Canada: four out of every ten adults in Canada struggle with low literacy. This represents almost nine million people.

Created by the ABC CANADA Literacy Foundation, Family Literacy Day encourages family reading and lifelong learning. The founders of Family Literacy Day, as well as literacy organizations, schools and libraries, deserve recognition for their tireless efforts year-round to assist Canadians with the skills, tools and resources they need to learn and succeed.

The government must stop cutting and start investing in literacy. We, as parliamentarians in this House, must do everything we can to support literacy and literacy programs in Canada.

Academy AwardsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate this year's class of Canadian Academy Award nominees.

Canadian artists are tremendously talented and have excelled in the competition with the best in the world. Through their work, they share our Canadian perspective with audiences abroad, and our country is better for it.

I am pleased to congratulate Ellen Page, Jason Reitman, Sarah Polley, Josh Raskin, Chris Lavis, Maciek Szczerbowski, Craig Berkey, Paul Massey and Jim Erickson on their nominations.

I ask members to join me in my congratulations to them and in wishing them the best of luck on Oscar night.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous PeoplesStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me reiterate once again to this Conservative government the importance of supporting the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. While a vote took place in September, it can still adhere to the principles of the declaration.

This is why, this morning, representatives of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the Assembly of First Nations of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Amnesty International, Rights and Democracy, KAIROS and several human rights advocacy organizations hosted an information breakfast on Parliament Hill.

We at the Bloc Québécois have heard their message. We are hoping to see the Conservative government finally adhere to the principles of the United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.

AfghanistanStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Canadians, I wish to express my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the soldiers who died in Afghanistan.

Our thoughts are with Gunner Jonathan Dion of the 5e régiment d'artillerie légère du Canada who died on December 30, 2007; Warrant Officer Hani Massouh of 2 Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, who died on January 6, 2008; Trooper Richard Renaud of the 12e Régiment blindé du Canada, who died on January 15, 2008; and Corporal Étienne Gonthier, of the 5e Régiment du Génie de Combat, who died on January 23, 2008.

We pay tribute to these brave Canadians. Thanks to their courage and that of their fellow soldiers, Canada is fulfilling with honour the UN-led mission to provide the people of Afghanistan the security they need for a better future.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the mourning families of those whose sacrifice was not made in vain.

Human RightsStatements by Members

January 29th, 2008 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, this morning MPs gathered at a meeting on Parliament Hill in support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The meeting was hosted by a group of organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations, Amnesty International Canada, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Canadian Friends Service Committee, KAIROS and the Native Women's Association of Canada.

Their voices were strong and unanimous in calling on the Government of Canada to fully implement the standards of the declaration adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13 last year. As members of the House will remember, the declaration was passed by an overwhelming majority vote of 144 to 4, with Canada's Conservative government shamefully voting against rights for indigenous people.

The government must realize Canadians took pride in our reputation in the role we used to have as a human rights champion in the global community. It should take back this role and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples today.

Bloc QuébécoisStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, over the past few weeks, a number of people have told me how tired they are of seeing the Bloc Québécois leader pat himself on the back over the same, old issues.

Quebeckers are fed up with seeing these opportunists treat them as though they were victims. The Bloc leader should admit that his time in Ottawa has been a failure. Even their head office is trying to take back some power by refusing to hold a referendum on separation.

He should also take off his blinders and acknowledge that we have a stronger Quebec and a better Canada with a Conservative government in Ottawa. Yet the Bloc Québécois wants to take us a step backward.

Last week, the Bloc rolled the dice and, with its Monopoly money, proposed a budget that would plunge the country back into deficit.

We simply cannot let the next generation take a step backwards, and we will ensure that our children and grandchildren have a bright future.

The Bloc can continue to deny its powerlessness, but the Quebec nation recognizes that, thanks to the Conservatives, Quebeckers are freeing themselves of this stumbling “bloc”.

Citizenship and ImmigrationStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, Chhaya Teliawala fell in love with a young man from New Delhi, got married and paid $75 to sponsor her husband. Two and a half years later, her husband finally made it here. She is not alone.

With a backlog of 850,000 applicants, thousands of ordinary Canadian families wait for years to see their parents and other loved ones. What a shame that is. Worse still, there are reports that the department is overcharging millions of applicants and has gouged them over $700 million since 1998. The Liberals caused this mess with deep cuts in overseas offices while increasing application fees, and Conservatives do not seem to care.

Gouging millions from hard-working Canadians is simply unfair. The NDP demands that the minister either refund the money or use it to shorten the wait times to unite families. It is time for leadership.

Saul ItzhayekStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking on behalf of Saul Itzhayek, a Canadian citizen and resident of my riding, who has been languishing in an Indian jail for eight months on charges of entering India on an expired visa.

This is despite having been assured safe passage to retrieve his documents and belongings.

Municipalities in my riding have adopted resolutions calling for his release. Human rights NGOs have taken up his case. The government has pressed Indian authorities at the highest level and a distinguished interfaith delegation has come to Ottawa to press for his release as well.

Through you, Mr. Speaker, I say to the Indian government, as a fellow democracy and Commonwealth country, in the interest of our bilateral relations and having regard to the humanitarian dimension of this case and the anguish of Mr. Itzhayek's family and friends, send him back to Canada. It is the right and necessary thing to do.

Status of WomenStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week marks the 20th anniversary of a very important ruling for women. In the Dr. Morgentaler case, the Supreme Court of Canada decriminalized abortion.

After a tough 20-year battle led by doctors and women's groups, this ruling finally allowed women to take control of their bodies and their pregnancies and to have access to safe abortion. Since then, they have had the freedom to choose.

That is why any threat by this Conservative government to limit the right to abortion is a direct affront to women's rights. Bill C-484 by the hon. Conservative member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park opens the door to criminalizing abortion.

We are against taking any steps backward. Abortion is a vested right ensuring the well-being and equality of women.

DiabetesStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, Lynda Stockton is a devoted mother of two children who have diabetes.

Ms. Stockton is justifiably of the view that a Canada-wide policy should be implemented to ensure that the health needs of diabetic children are met when they attend school. Examples of the lack of awareness by some educators and school boards are frightening and obviously very worrisome for children and their parents.

I am calling on the Minister of Health to mandate a national policy consistent with the safeguards recommended by the Canadian Diabetes Association, a copy of which I have sent to the minister.

Kudos to Lynda Stockton for her leadership on this issue and her sensitivity to the needs of all children who live with diabetes. Canada's children deserve to attend school knowing that their health needs will be safely and properly accommodated.

JusticeStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to remind Canadians that this government is taking action on tackling violent crime. Bill C-2 is our comprehensive legislation that will finally get tough on crime.

The proposed bill will impose mandatory jail time for serious gun crimes. It will toughen bail rules when a gun is used to commit crimes. It will increase the age of protection. The bill cracks down on drug-impaired driving. It ensures that dangerous offenders face tougher sentencing.

Liberals pretend to support this legislation, but the Liberal-dominated Senate is stalling, delaying and obstructing this much needed legislation, and the Liberal leader does nothing. It is time he got up off his hands and stood up for something. He does not listen to the Liberal Premier of Ontario. He does not listen to the people of Canada. His concerns about crime are all smoke and mirrors. It simply—

JusticeStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Alzheimer Awareness MonthStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Independent

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

Mr. Speaker, January is Alzheimer Awareness Month, and I would like to focus attention on the realities facing the friends and relatives of people suffering from this devastating disease.

Forgetting is a terrible thing, but being forgotten—suddenly realizing that we are no longer part of the memory of a person who has shared much of our life, a person who made us who we are—is even more difficult to cope with. When it is no longer possible to hear echoes of shared joys and pains in quiet moments together, it is hard not to feel unfairly rejected.

Day by day, as our loved ones slowly distance themselves, they begin to live lives in which we no longer play a role. As doors close day after day, the sense of loss deepens.

I would like to thank those who have been working so hard to understand Alzheimer's disease so that one day, it can be treated. They offer hope to those confronting the loneliness, confusion and uncertainty that accompany this terrible disease.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister allowed his government to mislead Canadians on an issue as serious as torture. Conservatives even blame the military for their own failure of leadership. This is completely unacceptable.

Why will the Prime Minister not do what he should have done months ago: stop blaming others and take responsibility for his own decisions?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the hon. member is even talking about. We have one credible allegation against Afghan authorities in terms of prisoner abuse, an allegation that this government revealed publicly in the House of Commons.

In two years there have been all these attempts to write the Canadian Abu Ghraib story. The fact is there has not been a single credible allegation made against any member of the Canadian military, and that is something of which we are proud.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have the utmost respect for the judgment of our officers in the field. The issue of whether or not to transfer detainees to a system where they might be tortured does raise questions of operational security, but it is first and foremost a human rights issue. It is a matter of principle, and responsibility for this ultimately rests with the Prime Minister himself.

Will he promise that, from now on, he will make such decisions himself and be accountable for them in this House and to Canadians?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, that is the reason this government created a new agreement with the Afghan government to monitor our prisoners and meet Canada's international obligations.

As we said, we have one credible allegation of abuse of a Taliban prisoner, an allegation this government revealed in the House, but there have been no allegations against Canadian soldiers in two years, and we are very proud of that.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, when will the Prime Minister realize the buck stops with him on the leadership of this mission? He cannot scapegoat the military. This is completely unacceptable.

The Prime Minister announced the transfers would resume at some unknown time. What steps is he putting in place then? Does he even have a concrete plan to ensure that when the transfers resume, the torture will stop?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, we have a prisoner transfer agreement with the Afghan government that allows us to fulfill our international responsibilities to do surveillance, to ensure that there are inquiries when there are problems and that action is taken. That is what has happened.

The government has not attempted to scapegoat the military for anything. There is nothing to scapegoat the military for. Members of the military are doing a tough and dangerous job in Afghanistan. They are doing it in our interests. They are doing it with a United Nations mandate and in the interests of the Afghan people. They deserve to be congratulated for everything they have done.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister said that he accepted the broad recommendations of the Manley report. I wonder whether he accepted the scathing criticism of his leadership.

The Afghan mission cannot be delegated to an assistant deputy minister, no matter how hard he works. When will the Prime Minister address this failure? Specifically, when will he grab hold of the mission, show prime ministerial leadership and end the departmental dysfunction that has plagued this mission on his watch?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the report of the former deputy prime minister was a strong and balanced report. It does lay out some criticisms of all the governments that have handled this mission. However, it does point out also that on all these various things governments have been making progress under very difficult circumstances.

Obviously the prime minister is ultimately responsible for everything in the government. However, let me assure the hon. member that not only ministers and officials at all levels, but literally hundreds of thousands of Canadian government officials and military people are involved in making this mission a success. That is what we are going to continue doing.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Manley report criticized the Prime Minister's lack of leadership on Afghanistan. We have noticed the same thing from the start: ministers contradicting each other, confused messages, management chaos.

What specific changes in managing the mission will the Prime Minister propose in order to respond to these specific criticisms of his lack of leadership?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Manley report is a very balanced report that recognizes not only the difficulties of the mission, but also the progress that has been made on many fronts.

I can assure the hon. member that the government intends to continue working alongside its allies to achieve success in Afghanistan.