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House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Joliette.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, regarding the first question, I think the hon. member has fully grasped this tactic on the part of the government and the Prime Minister.

We are seeing attempts to divert our attention in order to prevent us, the opposition parties and all of civil society, from forcing a debate on the situation facing the manufacturing and forestry sectors, and on the outlook for the Canadian and Quebec economies.

No one in this House, except the Conservative government, believes that the recession in the service sector—which is not only worsening, but also extends to the United States—will have no impact on the Canadian economy. I would remind the House that 75% of our exports go to the United States.

In the January 2008 edition of Affaires Plus magazine, Stephen Jarislowsky wrote: “Canada cannot survive exclusively on the development of the oil sands project in Fort McMurray ... That is completely unrealistic.”

However, this government thinks that, through the magic of oil from that project, an entire economy as diversified as the Canadian and Quebec economy can survive. They are therefore resorting to all sorts of diversion tactics in order to prevent anyone from forcing this debate.

As for the second question, unfortunately, the Speaker is signaling that I am out of time. It will have to wait until next time, my hon. colleague.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I think there is a question of relevance. I suggest that we please focus on the subject of the motion.

Other questions or comments?

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

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Independent

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

Mr. Speaker, earlier, our colleague from Joliette said that introducing this motion was a childish tactic. I agree with him.

Someone just referred to it as a diversion attempt. I am wondering if the member would agree that, more than that, it is a blackmail attempt because the government made it a matter of confidence.

I would also like to know what the use of all this is. Why should we support something that has been described as a diversion or blackmail attempt? At the end of the day, after the vote, what good will it do in practical terms to send this message to the other place?

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question.

My reply is as follows. It is precisely so we do not fall into the trap set by the Prime Minister and the Conservative government.

If this is treated as an important vote, people may be panicked into an election over a motion which, in the end, does not have a great deal of legitimacy. In fact, the Bloc does not believe that the Senate has legitimacy. Furthermore, we voted in favour of Bill C-2.

In our opinion, we should quickly deal with this motion in order to get back to what is really important. For the Bloc Québécois, the best way of neutralizing and dealing with it is to vote for it and not to create a false crisis that will distance us even further from the real debate about the economic situation, which is deteriorating with each passing day.

That is why we will vote in favour of this motion. When there are substantive issues, the Bloc Québécois will be there to force an election, if warranted. However, I remind the House that we were in favour of Bill C-2, even though we were uncomfortable, as stated just now, with reverse onus.

Therefore, in weighing the advantages and disadvantages,—which we must often do in this House—we believe that it is better to vote in favour of Bill C-2 and the motion before us.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, does the hon. member not think that this motion and the process we are following here might arguably be seen by some as subversive of constitutional governance in that this House, if we were to adopt the motion put forward by the government, would be demanding that the Senate complete, within two weeks, matters of business and legislation involving five bills that took this House a year and a half to go through carefully? Does he not think that imposing the will of this House on the Senate is subversive of everything we have done under our Constitution involving two Houses in this Parliament ever since day one?

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

I think that depends on your point of view. Because we do not consider the Senate a legitimate political instrument, I certainly do not share the member's view.

That said, I believe that the message the House is sending is respectful of the senators. In my opinion, the Senate is free to act on or ignore the message it receives from the House of Commons. I believe that the House has the right to send this sort of message to the Senate.

If the senators decide to take their sweet time, I will not be offended. In constitutional terms, the House cannot force the Senate to adopt the bill on March 31. We are making a request. If the Senate does not grant that request, we will have passed this motion for nothing.

As I said, we should not fall into the trap. This is a diversionary tactic by this government to avoid discussing real issues like the growing economic problems in Canada and Quebec.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I believe the member was here in 1993 when I first arrived but he may have arrived a little later than that.

From the period of 1993 on, Alan Rock would not do it, Cauchon would not do it, Anne McLellan would not do it and the past minister of justice would not do it, which was to raise the age of consent. That was being called for continually during all those years by myself, by the member for Calgary Northeast and by Darrel Stinson, the past member for Okanagan—Shuswap.

We were screaming and hollering to get somebody to simply raise the age of consent but for all those years the Liberals said no. Now they are saying yes they support it. They probably have heard the public demand to do just that.

Does the member agree with me that the Liberals really do not believe in being tough on crime? They just want to pass it over to the Senate and ask those good old boys and girls over there to stall it and hold off on it because they really do not want it to happen.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

I would first like to inform my hon. friend that I have only been here since 2000. Time probably seems to go slowly when he is with me. That is fine. I think the Conservatives must feel that time goes slowly with the Bloc Québécois. Once again, the best answer to that is sovereignty for Quebec.

It is important to remember that the opposition improved the bill to raise the age of consent. The bill was unacceptable as it was, because it would have criminalized sexual relations between young people. That is not what we are trying to do. In Quebec, at least, we do not want to criminalize sexual relations between consenting young people. We therefore improved this bill here in this House. We were comfortable with the bill.

I agree with my colleague that the Senate does not have the necessary legitimacy to delay work, but it is not my fault that the Senate has remained as a vestige of British colonialism. We should abolish it and not talk about it any more.

Mount Pearl Sport AllianceStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Fabian Manning Conservative Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the MP for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, I would like to congratulate each and every person associated with the Mount Pearl Sport Alliance for such a successful year. On February 1 they celebrated at their annual banquet and recognized individuals and team accomplishments. It is great to see that there are so many dedicated individuals who give their time, effort and resources to making sport a fact of life for so many people in their community.

Our government supports an active lifestyle. We were proud to introduce in the 2007 budget a physical fitness tax credit of up to $500 per child on registration fees and memberships paid for young people under 16 years of age.

Whether they are an athlete, a coach, an official, an executive member or play some other part in the Mount Pearl Sport Alliance, everyone is to be congratulated and applauded for their hard work. Volunteers put in a tremendous amount of work, and that makes a significant difference in the lives of many people.

Once again, congratulations to all of them.

David Dunlap ObservatoryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, despite the bitter cold and mounds of snow, I, along with members of our concerned community of Richmond Hill came out to voice our concerns regarding the sale of the Dunlap Observatory.

The David Dunlap Observatory has been a research centre for the department of astronomy and astrophysics since 1935. In 1972, the first black hole was discovered by the observatory.

It is a valuable site to our community. My goal is to ensure that it remains a working teaching and educational centre for astronomy.

I recently had a meeting with the president of the University of Toronto, David Naylor, and other key officials to press for an extension until mid-May for the request for proposals. The purpose of the extension is to provide the consultants, Lord Cultural Resources, more time to do a thorough study of the site. I was pleased with the meeting.

The Dunlap site is one of historic significance. My ultimate goal is that the Government of Canada will protect and purchase the site for a national urban park, to preserve its legacy for future generations to enjoy.

Social HousingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, in its brief to the Standing Committee on Finance, Quebec's Réseau SOLIDARITÉ Itinérance described the critical shortage of low income housing in 2007. In 2005, 35,000 households in Quebec were on a waiting list for low cost housing.

Since 1993, the federal funding shortage has denied the homeless and those living in substandard housing nearly 43,000 social housing units in Quebec. Currently, it is estimated that an additional $2 billion per year is needed to address the need across Canada. That is less than 1% of the federal budget.

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommended that Canada consider the severe housing shortage to be a national emergency. The government must accept the Bloc Québécois' recommendations immediately and allocate $1 billion of the CMHC's current $7 billion surplus—

Social HousingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Hamilton Mountain.

Prebudget ConsultationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, while the Prime Minister is beating the election drums, the Liberals are silent. On the crucial issues that affect countless ordinary Canadians, the Liberals are still figuring out what they believe. They are busy strategizing their way out of an election that they think they will lose.

Seniors and hard-working families do not deserve to be treated like pawns in this political chess game. They deserve to have their concerns addressed in Parliament.

I asked everyday people in Hamilton Mountain about their priorities for the upcoming budget. Seniors want income security, protected pensions, accessible health care, and drug and dental coverage. These are all things that were included in my seniors charter. It was adopted by this House, yet seniors are still waiting for the government to act.

Working families told me they want decent paying jobs, access to education and training, child care, concrete action on the environment, and property tax relief through federal investments in infrastructure.

None of this is pie in the sky, but just as we are heading into an economic downturn, the cupboard is bare. Last fall's mini-budget gave away over $6 billion in corporate tax cuts to big business. Unbelievably, the Liberal leader said that he would go deeper on that.

It is time for real leadership. It is time to put the needs of ordinary Canadians first.

Grammy AwardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 50th Annual Grammy Awards show took place on Sunday. This year more Canadians than ever before were nominated for an award. I wish to congratulate the Canadian winners at this year's Grammy Awards. Canadian artists who won an award include:

Joni Mitchell, best pop instrumental performance for her song, One Week Last Summer. Mitchell was also the muse for the winner of the best album of the year and best contemporary jazz album by Herbie Hancock for River, the Joni Letters.

James Ehnes, a world-renowned violinist and Brandon, Manitoba native, best soloist with orchestra for his work with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Bramwell Tovey.

Michael Bublé, best traditional pop vocal album for his album, Call Me Irresponsible.

The lifetime achievement award was given to The Band, a group made up of almost all Canadians.

Congratulations again to these fine winners. We are proud of them.

Student Debt LoadStatements By Members

February 11th, 2008 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, representing over 6,000 medical students across Canada, is visiting Parliament today. The students are here to discuss their rising debt load. A first year resident in Ontario has an average debt of $158,728.

These debts are stressful and interfere with medical residents' ability to serve Canadians well.

Furthermore, this financial situation prevents some young people from going to medical school, discourages medical students from choosing to specialize in family medicine, and makes it more attractive for new graduates in medicine to practice in the United States to pay off their debts.

As we are facing a doctor shortage crisis in Canada, we should be doing everything we can to support our medical students.

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students is asking the government to take action and provide some relief.

I do not understand why the Minister of Health is refusing to talk about this fundamental issue.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week auto parts supplier Nemak announced it is closing its Essex aluminum plant leaving 600 jobless in 2009. It is difficult news we are concerned about. It is harder to accept when Nemak opened a new plant in China only a few months ago.

If the Liberals and NDP had their way, more closures would be in Windsor's future. They support greenhouse gas emissions targets for Canada post-Kyoto that force our industries into deep reductions, but give industries in China and South Korea a 20 year pass to belch CO2 and keep their export costs low at the cost of Canadian jobs.

Our government's approach is based on science, a tough emissions target that is Canada's fair share while ensuring all major emitters take on the share that real science demands.

We cannot change China's low currency or the low wages that give its manufacturers an edge over ours, but we can start to level the playing field with a new global accord that requires its polluting industries to pay more.

While the opposition favours China's manufacturers and workers, this Conservative government will fight climate change and protect Canadian workers.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, each year, in February, we are invited to celebrate Black History Month. Through the involvement of many community organizations and artists, the people of Quebec will gain a better appreciation of the richness and diversity of Black communities, and the unique contribution of a number of their fellow citizens.

I would especially like to congratulate the Maison de la Famille des Maskoutains, a family support organization which, as part of Black History Month, is hosting in conjunction with the Saint-Hyacinthe school board and the local media a gathering where citizens coming from various countries will talk about life in their country of origin in front of students at Larocque elementary school.

On behalf of myself and my colleagues from the Bloc Québécois, I encourage my fellow citizens to take part in the activities marking Black History Month, thus promoting the development of closer ties with that community.

AfghanistanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to voice my support for a motion on the mission in Afghanistan. The motion reflects the recommendations of the Manley report.

Despite the fact that the Leader of the Opposition was part of the cabinet of the previous government that sent our troops to the most dangerous battlefields of Kandahar, he now wants to handcuff our soldiers. Military specialists have all said that the Liberal position is unrealistic.

The NDP plan is to cut and run. Canada has a proud military history. Imagine if we had decided to cut and run during the Battle of Britain, or at Vimy Ridge, or on Juno Beach.

Canadians are serving bravely and sacrificing for all of us so the Afghan people can have a better future. The choice is clear. It is time to decide. We need to stay and finish the job and help the people of Afghanistan realize their dreams in a free and open democratic society.

I encourage all members to stand with our brave men and women, support this motion and have the courage to stand up for what is right.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, throngs of people gathered at the Greater Moncton International Airport last Wednesday to recognize the service and commitment of four servicemen returning from Afghanistan after six months of field duty.

These brave men—Corporal Mattieu Jacob, Corporal Joël Richard, Trooper Martin Cormier and Master Corporal Emanuel Gaumont of the 8th Canadian Hussars—have done their province and their country proud. Greater Moncton supports them and all Canadian troops.

As we underscore their courage, let us not forget the sacrifices of those who have fallen in combat and their families.

Let us remember something else. The government has not yet articulated a clear mission statement in Afghanistan even as it puts the flower of Canada's youth in harm's way. It has not bothered to secure the resources necessary to deal with the rising incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder among our servicemen and servicewomen returning home.

All Canadians, but especially our returning heroes, deserve better.

Job CreationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, despite my opposition colleagues' dire predictions about how the economy was going to be destabilized, a new Canadian job creation record was set in January.

More than 46,000 new jobs were created in January, which is proof that more Canadians have work thanks to the leadership of our Prime Minister.

The unemployment rate reached its lowest point ever. These new jobs are full-time jobs that pay nearly 5% more than last year, which is twice the rate of inflation.

There is also good news for Quebec. The unemployment rate is at its lowest in 33 years. In January, more than 24,000 full-time jobs were created in Quebec, including 17,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Fortunately, Quebeckers are not as negative when it comes to their future as the members of the eternal Bloc opposition. They know that the economy will continue to shine as brightly as the north star thanks to our Prime Minister's leadership.

Credit Card Interest RatesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP wants the government to show leadership and fairness by taking action for working and middle class families.

Hard-working Canadians deserve protection as consumers. The government should be capping credit card interest at no more than 5% above prime. Here are five reasons why credit card rates and the banks should be reined in.

One, today's interest rates are outrageous. Nineteen per cent or higher interest rates unfairly hurt working families.

Two, consumer debt is six times higher than in the 1980s, at $300 billion, and total household debt driven by high interest debt is over $1 trillion.

Three, families that used to be able to save 15% to 20% of their income now can only save an average of 2%. That will not be enough to retire on.

Four, the high costs of medications, training and of course child care are driving up the cost of essential items, forcing more hard-working families into debt.

Five, big banks are making record profits and are heading toward another $20 billion year as they gouge consumers.

The Conservative government has given massive corporate tax cuts that have benefited the big banks. The NDP wants to see the banks reined in, with capped credit card interest rates so that hard-working Canadians can meet the needs of their families.

Grandmaître Award GalaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the recipients of the Grandmaître awards at the 8th annual gala, which was held February 7, 2007. Among the winners were André Brisebois, young person of the year, Jean-François Picher, educator of the year, and Alain Vachon, citizen of the year.

Le Patro d'Ottawa was recognized as organization of the year, an award that has been well earned, as the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary. Congratulations to its executive director, Denis Bédard, and his predecessors.

Dr. Harvey Barkun was recognized as francophile of the year. After a brilliant career in hospital administration, he became a board member of the Montfort Hospital in 1998 and has been actively contributing to its development ever since.

I would especially like to congratulate Pierre De Blois, a good friend, who was awarded the Grandmaître prize. After over 35 years of activism, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude for the Festival franco-ontarien, homogeneous school boards in Ontario, the important role played by the University of Ottawa in the francophonie, and I could go on.

Bravo, Pierre, and my sincere thanks.

Manufacturing IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, last January, Cabico announced a third wave of staff reductions at its Coaticook plant. This flourishing company once employed just over 800 people. Today, Cabico has only 300 workers.

As it exports 90% of its production to the United States, this kitchen cabinet manufacturer is facing very difficult market conditions given the manufacturing crisis.

The Bloc Québécois believes that the $1 billion aid package is not enough and should be increased to $4.5 billion. The Bloc Québécois is proud to have convinced the government that the situation was beyond urgent and that immediate action had to be taken. However, the aid package must be improved and the government has the wherewithal.

The Bloc Québécois will continue to press for assistance for this region and all others affected by this crisis and will continue to defend the interests of workers.

Non-Profit OrganizationsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was recently contacted by a constituent who shared a sobering message regarding the current government's increasing neglect of non-profit organizations across this country.

This constituent, who works to promote and support volunteers and volunteerism in her community, said, “It is becoming a real struggle for non-profits. Since the Conservatives have taken over, funding has basically dried up”. She went on to express her concern for the continuation of non-profits. She said, “Many volunteer centres across Canada are currently in survival mode”.

I do not know why the Prime Minister wants to be remembered as the cruellest ever. Does he not see that volunteers and non-profits across this country are the backbone of a caring society? Will he use the upcoming budget to provide funds to help the non-profit organizations?

I call upon my parliamentary colleagues to join me in expressing our appreciation for the volunteers across this great country.