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House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to our hon. colleague's speech and the thoughts he shared with us. The thing that worries me the most is accessibility for candidates.

I wonder whether this legislation encourages—and he mentioned this—women, minorities or people who belong to a political party that does not have much money. What I am hearing is not an argument that opens the door to other people or to many people. It is an argument whereby a party with a lot of money can close the door to other parties.

I would like my colleague to comment on what I heard.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right to say we should think about ensuring that those who want to get involved in public life can do so even if they may be at a disadvantage.

One of the ways to remedy this is to make political parties publicly funded. When political parties are publicly funded—and the hon. member knows it is $1.75 per elector—that means that all recognized political parties receive annual, statutory public funding pro-rated to the number of votes obtained in the last election. It is estimated that if a party receives public funding, it will ask for less money from those who want to run under its banner. Accordingly, this could help people who might be discouraged from doing so.

Let us talk about women. It is true that certain roles are still assumed more by women and less so by men and that political parties have the responsibility to ensure that no one is discouraged from seeking office just because a woman may have certain responsibilities.

Some women are saying political party conventions can be a deterrent. They think there is an adversarial aspect to political parties and this can discourage them.

It is up to us to make politics more harmonious and that, more and more, is what the Bloc Québécois is striving to do.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague from Hochelaga on his speech.

We all know that we have reached the report stage, a time when we finally receive the amendments proposed in committee and we decide whether or not to accept them. In rare cases, as it is at this time, the government is trying to bring us back to an earlier position, prior to what was originally planned. Two clauses are involved, and I will focus on one of them in particular, the one by which the government would like to make each political party responsible for all the personal loans of a candidate.

I have a hard time understanding why the government wants to put forward such a practice, given that this will allow candidates to shirk their responsibilities, add to the responsibility of the parties and could even cause fewer serious candidates to be interested.

Does the hon. member for Hochelaga believe that it is important to reject this government amendment and return to the amendment passed, the one proposed by the Bloc Québécois in committee?

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. If I understand correctly, the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup is worried. First of all, it is very possible that a candidate who is elected to Parliament could incur a debt that his or her party does not know about and, in terms of contract law, he or she is solely responsible.

In my opinion, holding a party responsible for a commitment that might have been made without the party's knowledge, and that might not even concern the party, makes absolutely no sense. Thus, the member is quite right to say that we should return to the amendment presented by the Bloc Québécois in committee. I believe the amendment was supported by other political parties in this House.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to this bill at report stage. First of all, for the benefit of the people listening to us, I want to say again what can be done at report stage.

First, a vote is held at second reading on the principle of the bill. Then it is considered in committee to improve it and correct it as much as possible. The committee reports to the House, which considers the proposed amendments. The government is entitled at this stage to propose new amendments, as are the other parties.

In the current case, the government wants to reverse what the committee and Parliament have done in regard to two things. First, the committee adopted an amendment, moved by the Liberals, specifying the maximum possible contribution to a leadership race. The current bill reads therefore as follows:

(c) $1,000 in total... to the leadership contestants in a particular leadership contest

We added “in any calendar year” to that. The entire bill is based on the fact that contributions are always calculated over a calendar year, and so it seemed appropriate to us to adopt this amendment. The government now wants to return to the original wording in the act, which seems unclear to us. The House should concur instead in the amendment suggested by the committee. The discussions in committee are held in greater depth. We studied the situation in considerable detail and arrived at a more acceptable wording than the one presented now.

The second government amendment concerns the fact that a loan becomes a contribution when it has not been paid back after three years. It was actually the opposition parties that managed to push the timeframe for the conversion of a loan into a contribution back from 18 months to three years. In light of this major change, the modifications that the government is proposing in Motion No. 2 seem minor to us and we can accept them. It suggests returning to the original proposal that the three-year time period should start after the selection date in the case of a nomination contestant, rather than on the selection day; after the end of the leadership contest in the case of a leadership contestant, rather than the voting day; and for a party, three years after the end of the fiscal year in which the loan was made, rather than the day the amount is due. The important thing in this clause is that the time period for the conversion of a loan into a contribution is pushed back from 18 months to 36 months. There is additional leeway, therefore, which is more realistic.

In its third proposal, the government is returning to the wording of the current act and wants to reject the amendment that the Bloc Québécois made in the previous session. The government wants to make parties responsible for all the debts contracted by their candidates.

Let us look at the reality and take an example. A political party nominates a candidate or chooses one at a convention. Before or after the election campaign, the candidate takes out a large personal loan, without notifying the party, to cover election expenses. The government would have the party be liable to the bank for that loan.

This shows no sense of responsibility. I am very surprised that the government is defending such a position, and I am still trying to understand how this would benefit the party or the candidate. Clearly, an irresponsible candidate could decide to borrow a lot of money because the party would have to pay it back. In the long run, this would seriously weaken the parties' financial position and would not help democracy.

Consequently, with regard to this motion, we believe it is important to revert to the Bloc Québécois amendment. It was drafted and adopted in the spirit of realism and cooperation, so that candidates would have a real sense of responsibility and be fully aware of what they are getting into. Running for office is an important step to take, and candidates must be aware of what that involves. I have taken part in five elections and been re-elected every time. Every time, you have to look at your financial situation and specific needs. If such a measure had been in place for the past 15 years, things would have been different, not for me personally, but for everyone.

Since my time is up, I will conclude by saying that I hope the House has listened to our arguments.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have five minutes after question period to finish his speech.

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

February 14, 2008

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 14th day of February, 2008, at 9:42 a.m.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook

Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor

The schedule indicates the bills assented to were Bills C-11, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act—Chapter 2; C-3, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificate and special advocate) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act—Chapter 3; and S-220, An Act respecting a National Blood Donor Week—Chapter 4.

Certified General Accountants Association of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

John Williams Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, as a fellow of the Certified General Accountants Association, I rise to recognize the association's centennial anniversary.

In 1908, John Leslie, the assistant comptroller of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and two fellow accountants, E.B. Manning and F.A. Cousins, formed the Canadian Accountants' Association.

Five years later on June 6, 1913, the association was federally incorporated as the General Accountants' Association. Today, known as the Certified General Accountants Association, it is the fastest growing accounting designation in Canada and has representation in over 80 countries around the world.

During its 100 years, the association has developed knowledge and professionalism for the accounting industry. By its work, it has created value for the private sector and credibility for the accounting and auditing profession.

When there is money to count and taxes to pay, there will always be a need for a certified general accountant, and by virtue of this House, we all know there will always be taxes to pay.

Gary MartinStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an extraordinary resident of Halifax West.

Last Sunday, Halifax Regional Councillor Gary Martin passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. He will be remembered as a loving father, a dedicated police officer, and an impassioned public servant.

Gary has been described by friends and colleagues as a fierce advocate for the people he so proudly served. He will be remembered as a true champion of Bedford where he lived his entire life.

On behalf of the people of Halifax West and all members of this House, I wish to express our heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Darlene, and his three daughters, and I am sure all colleagues would join me.

Certified General Accountants Association of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, certified general accountants, or CGAs, are celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2008. For 100 years, the Certified General Accountants Association, of which I have been a member for 32 years now, has had the same goal: protecting the public and maintaining high standards of multidisciplinary professional practice and training.

For more than a century, CGAs have built a solid reputation of excellence across the country. The recent passage of Bill 46 in the Quebec National Assembly, granting full practice rights to CGAs, was very important since businesses and individuals can now call on CGAs and use their professional services in all of Quebec.

I invite all CGAs to come out and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the association as it searches for 100 CGAs who have made a difference.

RADARSAT-2Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the proposed sale of MacDonald Dettwiler, MDA, to the American armaments giant ATK undermines Canadian sovereignty and must be stopped.

The sale of MDA is an unacceptable transfer of publicly funded technology to a private U.S. military contractor. Canadians invested over $400 million in RADARSAT-2 with the promise of priority access to the satellite in cases of emergency, such as oil spills and suspect vessels entering Canada's north.

Control of RADARSAT-2 by ATK is against our national security interests. Ottawa's access to the images produced by the satellite could be lost. Worse still, RADARSAT-2 could be used to develop space based weapons and missile guidance systems for the U.S. military.

The government must defend Canadian sovereignty and immediately halt the sale of RADARSAT-2's licensing authority to Alliant Techsystems. It is vital for RADARSAT-2 to remain under Canadian control and to be used only for peaceful purposes.

Valentine's DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the past two years I have had the incredible privilege and honour of serving the constituents of Kitchener—Conestoga here in the Parliament of Canada.

While the list of those who have influenced my life and encouraged me along my journey is a long one, there is one person to whom I am most indebted and who deserves great thanks on this very special day: my wife Betty.

From our university days to the establishment of our home and a private dental practice, her support has always been there 100%. Her love and care for our three children and her personal involvement in their lives has been priceless. I thank her, our children thank her, and our seven grandchildren thank her.

Our most recent years have been filled with huge transitions and challenges, but again she has given me her support at every turn and together we have the honour of serving the great people of Kitchener—Conestoga.

I will never be able to thank Betty for her faithful commitment over the past 36 years, but today I want her to know how deeply she is loved. I am grateful that God has blessed my life with her as my best friend and wife. She has made Canada a better country and enriched my life in incredible ways.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Road to Excellence ProgramStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my concern over the Conservative government's apparent lack of commitment toward our elite Canadian athletes. With the Beijing Olympics fast approaching, as well as the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010, I believe that the government owes it to our athletes to show them much greater support.

The Conservative government has yet to renew the road to excellence program, a Liberal initiative designed to prepare and support our athletes for competition on the international stage. Several Canadian athletes, including Mr. Steve Omischl, a world champion freestyle skier who lives in my riding, have made very clear to me the financial adversities they now face as a direct result of the current lack of federal funding.

The negligence toward our Canadian athletes must end. I am calling on the Conservative government to include the road to excellence program in its upcoming budget and demonstrate the same commitment to our Canadian athletes as these athletes demonstrate to our country.

Child PornographyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the Ontario police agencies and officers for their outstanding work that resulted in the arrest on February 12 of more than 20 people and 73 criminal charges being laid in the largest coordinated child pornography investigation in the history of Ontario. That is the good news. The bad news is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Although our law enforcement agencies are working hard to protect young Canadians, they need more tools. One of those tools is the tackling violent crime act. I just do not understand why the Senate, the members of which are most likely grandparents, is holding up this bill. It contains legislation that would make it so much easier for our law enforcement agencies to fight child exploitation.

Our children rely on us to protect them. The House has done its job. It is now time for the Senate to do its part and pass Bill C-2 immediately for the sake of our kids.

Once again, congratulations to the police. This government and this Prime Minister will do their part to get the job done.

Quebec Scout-Guide WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, February 22 is World Scout Day, and Quebec's Scout-Guide Week will take place from February 17 to 23. Scouting is both a program and a lifestyle. It enriches the lives of thousands of children and youth from 5 to 26 years of age, focusing on the integrated physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual development of the individual.

Leaders who contribute to educating these young people are committed adults who facilitate activities that are in harmony with nature to instill values of leadership, independence, self-confidence, respect, cooperation and environmental protection in youth. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I salute all young scouts and guides, as well as their group leaders, for their civic participation. Have a great week.

Sponsorship ProgramStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal sponsorship scandal continues to haunt Canadians. It is clear the Liberals still have not learned their lesson.

Canadian taxpayers are still missing over $40 million as a result of the sponsorship scandal. The Liberal Party and its advertising friends are still not coming clean on their involvement with the scandal or where the money is.

Even Federal Court judges do not believe senior Liberals when they claim they did not know anything. In today's Ottawa Citizen, Justice Max Teitelbaum made it very clear that he did not agree with former Liberal chief of staff Jean Pelletier's claim that he did not provide any direction to Chuck Guité, telling him, “I have a problem with what I've heard."

Canadians agree with the judge. They want to know when the Liberal Party will stop misleading Canadians and tell us which Liberals benefited from the missing $40 million.

Francofan Day at Harbour StationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, at the end of next week, the people of Saint John, New Brunswick, an officially bilingual city in the only officially bilingual province, will gather to celebrate the Journée des Francofans at Harbour Station.

This event is an opportunity to get to know and appreciate the thousands of francophones of Saint John and to cheer on our Sea Dogs, who will take on the Titans of Acadie-Bathurst.

I invite the entire city of Saint John to join the students of Samuel-de-Champlain school in activities to celebrate and honour the francophone community, which contributes to the richness of our city.

SeniorsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I was not surprised to learn that the member for Repentigny held a press conference outside the House of Commons. After all, he recently said that no one listened to him in the House.

Seniors have every reason not to listen to him, since our Conservative government is acting in their best interests. We increased the guaranteed income supplement maximum benefit. Our government will put nearly $900 million back in the hands of seniors over the next two years.

With these two examples alone, our government has done more for seniors in two years than the Bloc has done in its 17 years in Ottawa.

André Boisclair, the former leader of their head office, said: “It is fun to make shocking statements; when one does not have the responsibility that comes with wielding power, one can say whatever one likes.”

Is it not time to admit that the Bloc is powerless in Ottawa, because it is the Conservatives who are making Quebec stronger?

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

February 14th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a beautiful biblical phrase that says, “Out of the mouths of babes you have perfected praise”. It reminds us all too often that children can see with a clarity what the spinmeisters and the politicians do not.

I would like to thank the children from J. R. Nakogee school in Attawapiskat, St. Patrick's school in Cobalt and the children of Iroquois Falls public school who are fighting for a simple truth that all children, regardless of their race, have a right to proper education. They have launched a campaign to shame the government into living up to its commitment to build a school in Attawapiskat.

What a disgrace for the Indian affairs minister to break up a deal that was eight years in the works. He does not even have the decency to speak with people in the community and tell them why he thinks their children do not deserve proper schooling.

However, the children know better. They are writing letters, posting blogs and putting on plays to shame him and his government into doing what is right and just.

Government PoliciesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, it seems that every day the Prime Minister has introduced a new confidence motion.

In his party's campaign promises made two years ago, he promised that only the budget and the Speech from the Throne would be confidence votes. This, like most of the promises he made, was broken.

The government continues to promise one thing and do the opposite. In fact, in a quick review I have found that the government has not kept at least 55 of its promises to Canadians. Other examples include: its promise to establish a public appointments commissioner to curb political appointments; its promise to honour the Atlantic accord; its promise to not tax income trusts; its promise to put 2,500 police officers on the streets; its promise on patient wait times guarantees; its promise to create 125,000 child care spaces; and the list goes on and on.

I may be old fashioned in my thinking, but keeping a person's word is part of that person's honour. As I have shown, the only issue of confidence in this town right now is the government has no honour.

Nobel Peace PrizeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, a reception was held on Parliament Hill to honour Canadian scientists for their contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, which with Al Gore was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for helping to raise awareness and disseminate knowledge about global warming.

The Conservative Party refused to pay tribute to these scientists, preferring to ignore them. The Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment were noticeable by their absence, as all the other parties honoured these scientists for receiving no less than the Nobel Prize.

The Conservative government is maintaining its policy of inaction on the environment, an ideological policy that led to its refusal to honour the scientists.

Road to Excellence ProgramStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Olympic athletes are in Ottawa today to plead with the government to implement the $30 million road to excellence fund so they can train for the Beijing summer Olympics.

The road to excellence fund is modelled on the $60 million Own the Podium fund started by the Liberal government in 2004. This program resulted in an unprecedented number of Canadian medals at the Turin Olympics. Today, Canada ranks second in the world in winter sports.

Funding for the summer and Parlaympic Games is pathetic. I have been inundated with letters from Olympians and prominent members of the Canadian sports community anxious about the road to excellence funding.

For over two years, summer athletes have been asking for this fund, hopefully. Now, with only a few months until Beijing, they are desperate.

Once again, the Conservative government does not get it. To win a medal, one needs to be able to train. To be able to train, one needs money.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader admitted that his party had made a serious mistake by inviting corporations and lobbyists to illegally bid as high as they wanted at a party fundraiser held in Ottawa last night.

While I have to agree with the member for Ottawa—Vanier, who stated, “If anybody is going to pay $50,000 to have lunch with my colleagues, they ought to have their head examined”, this attempted illegal fundraising event clearly demonstrates the Liberal Party has not changed and will never change. The culture of the entitlement is alive and well in the Liberal ranks. While the Federal Accountability Act clearly bans corporate donations, Liberals are once again showing their truest value is that it is only wrong if one gets caught.

This “bid as high as you want” event followed the Halloween “spooktacular” in Mississauga, with illegal corporate sponsorships. Who knows how many other illegal Liberal fundraisers there have been. It all demonstrates one thing for Canadians; that one would have to be sky-high to think one could ever trust Liberals to obey any law that restricts corporate donations.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has said that he is coming to the Liberal position about the future of our mission in Afghanistan. However, for two days he has refused to answer clear questions about what that means. Yesterday he said, “we are both seeking an end to the mission around 2011”.

Could he drop the word “around”? Could the Prime Minister confirm that February 2011 is the firm end date for the mission in Kandahar?