This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 40th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economic.

Topics

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment ActRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-215, An Act to change the name of the electoral district of Sackville — Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, a few folks would know that in my riding is the great community of Preston. It has the largest indigenous black population in Canada. They trace their roots back over 400 years.

The community of Preston is a very historic and wonderful community and it is geographically right in the centre of my riding.

I would like to change the name of my riding from Sackville—Eastern Shore to Sackville--Preston--Eastern Shore in recognition of that fabulous community.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-216, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (services to a charity or public authority).

Mr. Speaker, there are many organizations, like legions and others, that do a great job in this country and yet the membership dues to those particular agencies are not necessarily tax deductible.

We are looking for more people to join things like the army, navy, air force veterans halls, legions, et cetera, but we think the membership dues they pay to join should be completely tax deductible.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-217, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code (compassionate care benefits for caregivers).

Mr. Speaker, I worked on this bill for many years. This a reintroduction of a former bill. I give the previous Liberal government and the current Conservative government recognition for putting in a provision in a very small way into the Income Tax Act. However, the allowable leave is only for eight weeks.

We have asked that the Employment Insurance Act allow up to six months' leave. This would allow individuals to take time of work and stay at home to provide extreme rehabilitative care or palliative care to their loved ones.

We have a program which provides maternal and paternal leave for parents at the beginning of a child's life. We would like to have a complete program called eternity leave. This would allow people to care for their loved ones in their own homes for a period of up to six months. This would allow people who wish to die with dignity in their own homes the opportunity to do so under the care of their loved ones.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian Forces Superannuation ActRoutine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-218, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (increase of allowance for surviving spouse and children).

Mr. Speaker, this recommendation comes right out of the Royal Canadian Legion playbook from its last convention and the previous one as well.

The legion's members are concerned that when a veteran dies, unfortunately the surviving spouse only receives 50% of the veteran's pension, which means that most of the surviving spouses are living at or below the poverty level. They have asked that the amount be increased to up to two-thirds to offer more financial assistance to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.

That recommendation comes from the Royal Canadian Legion. It is something this side fully supports. I know on an individual basis a few Conservatives support it as well.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Fisheries ActRoutine Proceedings

November 21st, 2008 / 12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-219, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (deposit in lakes).

Mr. Speaker, schedule 2 of the Mining Act allows mining companies to use freshwater aquatic systems of fish-bearing lakes as cheap waste disposal sites. We think that is absolutely wrong. We have seen three lakes in the great province of Newfoundland and Labrador now destroyed and four on Baffin Island are being destroyed. We also know that 16 across the country are slated for destruction.

Freshwater in this country is a fragile resource. Fish habitat must be one of the greatest priorities of the fisheries minister. We are asking that the government stop the practice, as was done in New Brunswick, of using freshwater habitat as toxic waste tailing ponds for mining companies.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Excise Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-220, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (no GST on funeral arrangements).

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, there are two things hard to avoid and they are death and taxes, but when one has to pay tax on one's death, that is objectionable.

When the Conservatives introduced the GST in the 1980s, they put a tax on funeral and crematorium services. We think that is wrong. A grieving family should not have to pay tax for those services on the death of a loved one. We would like that tax removed from funeral and crematorium services and the sooner the better.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-221, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (peace officers).

Mr. Speaker, when a peace officer pays the ultimate sacrifice and dies in the line of duty, it affects the entire country. We believe very strongly that the minimum sentence should be 25 years in jail with absolutely no chance of parole. Personally I would like to see it increased. The reality is that when a peace officer pays the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, the justice system should make it very clear, no ifs, ands or buts, that the criminal will serve a minimum of 25 years with no chance of parole during that period.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-222, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (physical activity and amateur sport fees).

Mr. Speaker, this bill has been around for a quite a while. I thank the government for introducing legislation in previous budgets that allows a very small deduction for amateur sports fees for children under 16 years of age. I would like that tax deduction for amateur sports fees to apply to all ages. For example, I pay annual dues to play on a soccer team. Some members in the House play hockey and they pay fees for that. There should be a tax deduction for people who join gymnasiums and various athletic associations.

Regardless of a person's age, the fee should be tax deductible to encourage further physical activity, not just for young children but for everybody in the country. This would result in a savings for our health care system down the road as well.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-223, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (community service group membership dues).

Mr. Speaker, this is very similar to the bill I just introduced. Members of Lions and Kiwanis clubs, church groups or whatever who allocate 250 hours a year of volunteer time should be able to have a tax deduction of up to $1,000.

We have worked on deductions for volunteer firefighters, but the reality is that many Canadians volunteer countless hours to various charitable organizations across the country. With the rising cost of gasoline, et cetera, we think that a small stipend of $1,000 for those who volunteer for those charities, such as food banks, Meals on Wheels, et cetera, should be allowed a small annual tax deduction.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian Bill of RightsRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-224, An Act to amend the Canadian Bill of Rights (right to housing).

Mr. Speaker, not many people in the House have to suffer this problem, but thousands and thousands of Canadians lack affordable housing. There is a national housing crisis in Canada right now. We believe that shelter should be an inherent Canadian right. We would like housing to be included in the Canadian Bill of Rights to ensure that every Canadian has a safe, warm and affordable place to call home.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-225, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (expenses incurred by caregivers).

Mr. Speaker, this bill relates to the bill concerning employment insurance, where people can take time off work to care for their loved ones. They incur expenses. They may have to purchase medical equipment, prescriptions, et cetera, or they may need to hire someone for respite leave. Those expenses should be tax deductible.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Assistance to Students Visiting Military Memorial Sites Abroad ActRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-226, An Act to propose and examine a program giving financial assistance to high-school students visiting military memorial sites abroad.

Mr. Speaker, as the veterans affairs critic for the NDP, and on behalf of my constituents and the House, I have had the opportunity to travel with delegations to very famous war sites and gravesites of our brave fallen around the world.

Several times while there, the great Mr. Cliff Chadderton indicated that it would be wonderful if all students had an opportunity at least once in their lives to go overseas to Europe to see these gravesites in order to completely understand the sacrifices made by our brave men and women in previous conflicts around the world.

This bill would encourage discussions by the federal, provincial and municipal governments and the school boards to see if there is a way to allow all students, at least once during their educational career, a chance to travel overseas to see these gravesites and understand the sacrifices made by our brave men and women.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interprovincial BridgePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition, the second of these petitions, from the greater national capital region but principally from the people of the riding I have the honour to represent.

The petition is to the effect that the petitioners understand there is a need for a new bridge in the national capital area so that we can get the heavy truck traffic out of the downtown core, but at the same time not to inflict the same problem on another community. It is also to see to the eventual construction of a ring road around the national capital region.

These petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to instruct the National Capital Commission to proceed with a detailed assessment of an interprovincial bridge linking the Canotek Industrial Park to the Gatineau airport, which is option 7 of the first phase of the interprovincial crossing environmental assessment, as opposed to option 5, which calls for a crossing at Kettle Island, which would essentially put heavy truck traffic in established communities, which, in the view of these petitioners, would be unacceptable.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Mount Royal.

This is the first opportunity I have had to thank the wonderful people of St. John's South--Mount Pearl for giving me the opportunity to work on their behalf in the Parliament of Canada. I consider it a great honour to represent them and their interests, and to serve my country. I will work hard every day to ensure they are well represented.

I would also like to recognize the many volunteers who worked so diligently to ensure a healthy democracy. Their efforts were appreciated by all who sit in this chamber and all those who offered themselves for public service.

We are joined together in the House in common purpose: to improve the lives of Canadians. Let us focus on ensuring that the decisions we make reflect the needs of our citizens a hundred times a day; no, a thousand. We should remind ourselves that we are here on behalf of the people. Let us always be reminded of and always do what is right for the citizens of our great country.

By way of introduction, I am a first generation Canadian, an eighth generation Newfoundlander and Labradorian, and I am proud to have the opportunity to contribute to building our great country.

Nearly 60 years ago, my father, as a young man, voted in favour of Confederation. He, along with my mother, have instilled a sense of responsibility to ensure that Canada, and Newfoundland and Labrador in it, develops along a successful path.

I mentioned that I am a Newfoundlander. I also hold the seat held by the Hon. Loyola Hearn and the Hon. John Crosbie. Their contributions have been numerous and they are known not only for their work, but for being great orators. I can only hope that one day I will be too.

Among the first honours I had as a new member of Parliament was to participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony to pay tribute to those who served our country. Many hon. members may not be aware of the tremendous contribution that Newfoundland, as a country at the time, made during the first and second world wars. Many hon. members may not be aware of the contribution that many young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians make today as members of the Canadian Forces. In fact, the number of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians serving in the Canadian Forces today is way above the national average. My sister is one of them.

The riding of St. John's South--Mount Pearl is the location of Bowring Park, the home of the statue of The Fighting Newfoundlander. This statue has come to symbolize not only our respect for those who have served in the armed forces, but it has also come to symbolize our determination and persistence as a people. I will reflect upon this contribution and the statue of The Fighting Newfoundlander as I make decisions in the House. They who has given so much deserve our respect, our admiration and, most of all, they deserve dignity.

In the Speech from the Throne mention was made of our heroic Canadian Forces, however there was little mention of our veterans. Today, many of our veterans face uncertain and difficult times. I have spoken with numerous who have struggled financially, as pensions are clawed back despite their sacrifices.

I am sure I am joined in the House in giving recognition to our veterans and ask that the government recognize their contributions to global security by working to improve their well-being.

The Speech from the Throne weighs heavily on the economic situation we are now facing in Canada. It states “structural deficits must never return”, yet a series of deliberate policy decisions by the government has led to the challenges we currently face, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, a situation of the Conservatives' own doing by not providing sound fiscal management, a steady hand at the wheel.

As we navigate these fiscal waters, we find ourselves in a gale of uncertainty. The rough winds of the mortgage, credit, fiscal and now global financial crises are blowing us to the shoals of uncertainty.

Let this be our goal then: to instill in our institutions, in our companies, in our investors, in our communities and, as important, in our people, a knowledge that we are working on their behalf to ensure stability, to ensure a strong and productive Canada.

The Speech from the Throne indicates that the building Canada plan will be expedited. These important infrastructure investments would not only stimulate the economy, they would indeed improve our country.

It reminds me of an extremely important project under way in St. John's right now, the cleanup of St. John's harbour and the building of the sewage treatment plant.

The city of St. John's, the city of Mount Pearl and the town of Paradise have a combined population of 130,000 people. Municipal waste water from these municipalities is currently discharged, untreated, into St. John's harbour. Thankfully, since 1999, the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the municipal governments of the cities of St. John's, Mount Pearl and the town of Paradise have partnered in ensuring this environmentally challenging, not to mention aesthetically concerning, project is under way. This has required incredible engineering, carving from rocks, unearthing streets and sewers.

I am sure the members of the House are very pleased to be a partner in this project, in ensuring that raw sewage is no longer spewed into this historic harbour, a partner with the citizens of Mount Pearl, St. John's and Paradise, a partner.

As members can imagine, the costs have escalated over the last decade. The cost of materials and labour has soared. The project is close to $50 million over budget.

As a partner, one believes the federal government would help, would participate in its responsibility. I ask that it does. I ask for this in the spirit of the Speech from the Throne in protecting Canada's future by preserving Canada's environment.

I also noted in the Speech from the Throne that fisheries was mentioned with respect to giving assistance for international marketing and helping businesses to innovate. I look forward to further details on these initiatives.

As members of the House will remember, the largest layoff in Canadian history occurred in 1992 when the cod fisheries was placed under moratorium, where it remains today. The modernization of the fishery continues and there is much to be done to ensure its sustainability and its viability.

We have to help those who wish to retire to do so with dignity and assistance.

We need to continue to ensure funding for small craft harbours so we have adequate infrastructure.

We need to ensure to that foreign overfishing on the Nose and the Tail of the Grand Banks is stopped.

These are a few of the further initiatives not found in the Speech from the Throne but which are important in the fisheries today.

The Speech from the Throne also refers to securing our energy future by developing our rich energy resources and pursuing new greener strategies. This is particularly relevant to Newfoundland and Labrador as one of the best opportunities for hydroelectricity is in the province. The Churchill River in Labrador is a significant source of renewable clean electroenergy. The Lower Churchill project consists of two of the best underdeveloped hydroelectric sites in North America. Securing our energy future will be made much easier by working with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to help develop this project.

There is much to be done. As I stand in this historic House, surrounded by its members, I recognize we have been entrusted by the people of Canada to work to improve their lives.

I started today by reminding Mr. Speaker and all hon. members that our responsibility is to the individuals who make up the mosaic of Canada. Let us never forget our duty to them. Let us never forget that our fiscal responsibility is to them. Let us never forget we are here because of them.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Let me congratulate the member on her election to this place. She is already an impressive orator.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Mississauga South.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member gave an excellent maiden speech. It is a very important time for new members to establish themselves. Clearly, with the respect she has paid to her predecessors, she has a very good start to one day earning the same level of respect that they have earned in the history of Parliament.

The fishery has been one of the most vital elements of the economy in the Maritimes and Atlantic Canada. It is usually the first one to suffer when things go bad and the last to recover when things recover.

We are now facing a severe economic and financial crisis, which is going to get worse. The unemployment rates historically in the Maritimes have been high. There has been some encouragement through the growth of the energy sector. However, we cannot forget that we rely on the fishery and the proper management of the fishery. I hope the member will continue the legacy of the representation of her riding and continue to fight for the resources and the support necessary from the Government of Canada to have a sustainable fishery in Canada.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed, the fishery has felt the burden of the economic crisis in the country and it has suffered under the heavy cost of fuels and insurances and the continuing challenges within our fiscal environment.

We will do everything we can to work with the government to ensure the fishery is set on solid footing and has the opportunity to contribute to our country and to our food sources. There is a lot to be done in the fishery, including ensuring that those who wish to retire can do so with dignity and that we have the proper infrastructure in small craft harbours. There is much to be done in this regard.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I, too, congratulate the hon. member on her speech. Given the state of the nation's economy, the fiscal mismanagement going on and the recent development in Newfoundland and Labrador whereby it became a have province as opposed to a have-not province and given that there is a large dependency for that status upon offshore oil, could the hon. member make some suggestions to the government, since it is apparently seeking suggestions after having ridiculed this party for a year and a half, as to how Newfoundland and Labrador can preserve its have status?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is a proud moment as a Newfoundlander and Labradorian to be in a have province. It is proud moment for all of us in Canada to see one of the regions of our country continuing to do well.

However, the hon. member is absolutely correct in that it is largely dependent upon the offshore oil and gas revenues that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador have enjoyed over the last number of years. While we have done much in Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure diversity within our economy and sustainability of our have status, there is much to be done.

We ask the Conservatives to work with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure its continued success. We ask them to have a plan for fiscal responsibility. We ask that they do indeed focus on ensuring fiscal responsibility and good sound fiscal management for the country.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise on behalf of the constituents of Mount Royal, one of the great and diverse ridings in our country, in response to the throne speech.

It is understandable that the throne speech focused on the economy, given as the throne speech itself put it, “This is a time of extraordinary global economic challenge and uncertainty”. The throne speech is not incorrect saying that the first order of business must be to put the international financial system on a sounder footing.

The government must also acknowledge that its own stewardship of the economy raises troubling questions and lessons to be learned here at home. I trust, and I say this in the hope that the government will reflect upon these questions and the lessons to be learned, and in the words from the Speech from the Throne, the government will “provide the strong leadership that Canadians expect...will protect Canadians in difficult times...will maintain a prudent course for the country’s finances...will work with Canadians to secure our future prosperity”.

We on this side of the House will join in that mission on behalf of all Canadians and in that context pose the following questions and the corresponding lessons to be learned.

How is it that, in the space of only two years, Stephen Harper's Conservatives have been able to transform eight consecutive years of strong growth and budget surpluses into economic slowdown and a deficit?

Why has Stephen Harper's government been the biggest spending government in Canadian history? Federal expenditures—

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. The hon. member is a veteran in the House and he knows he cannot name members.