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House of Commons Hansard #54 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was development.

Topics

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to engage in the debate on an issue that is of great importance to Canadians.

It has been said that this may be the most important debate that is taking place during the 39th Parliament. Why is that so? This debate is not about criminal justice in Canada. It is not about our economy. It is about Canada's place in the world and whether we will stand up and defend those Canadian values of freedom, democracy and human rights, not only at home but around the world.

Before I proceed, I want to pay a special tribute to the fine men and women serving our country overseas. Whether they are serving in the military, providing development assistance or strengthening the Afghan economy, they are making all Canadians proud of their accomplishments. The dedication and courage shown by them is an example of how to succeed under very trying circumstances. Their deeds have started to build a legacy that now needs to be strengthened even more.

Every day members of our armed forces put their lives on the line. In fact, my city of Abbotsford has experienced loss. Master Corporal Colin Bason died in Afghanistan serving our country, serving our community and, by all accounts, he understood the mission in Afghanistan and supported it. He believed in that mission and was prepared to lay down his life for that mission.

It has been said that this is a Canadian mission, and that is true, but it is also a mission that is sponsored by the United Nations. We have gone to Afghanistan under the auspices of NATO. This is not a Liberal or a Conservative mission, although it was the previous Liberal government that sent our troops to Afghanistan, that actually moved them from Kabul to Kandahar and put them in harm's way without imposing any conditions on that, not even a condition on rotation.

Today we have to re-examine that mission and ask, are we still doing the job we were sent to do? To do that we asked the hon. John Manley and a group of other distinguished Canadians to come together to investigate our role in Afghanistan to determine what successes are there, where the challenges are still great, and to provide a report.

That panel provided a report that we now commonly know as the Manley report. That report strongly supported continuing our mission in Afghanistan with a number of conditions.

We as a government have generally accepted those recommendations that were contained in the report. A number of those conditions were that we provide our troops with better equipment to make sure that they are better equipped to do the job they are supposed to do there, that they are better protected against the risks that are inherent in Afghanistan. We are also committed to making sure that they have more human resources; in other words, more military personnel to provide them with the support that they need.

We have also told them that we would like to have an end date for this mission, that we are working toward 2011 to make sure that the Afghan army is equipped to do the job itself; in other words, to provide the very security that it needs to rebuild the country into a vibrant democracy.

There has been much consideration given to whether this should be a peacekeeping mission or some other kind of mission. I want to remind the members of the House that before we could ever keep the peace, we have to make the peace.

Our focus in Afghanistan is to build a lasting peace for Afghans so that they can build their fledgling democracy, so that they can enjoy some of those fundamental human rights that all of us as Canadians take for granted, and that sometimes requires the use of force.

To suggest that Canada's history has always been one of peacekeeping misunderstands our history. We have to look back to world wars one and two, to the Korean conflict, to see that when required, Canadians stood for what was right and were prepared to make the sacrifices to make our world a better place to live, to defend democracy, to defend freedom around the world.

What are our successes there? I do not have an unlimited amount of time to regale the House with the successes we have had in Afghanistan. However, it has been repeated many times before in the House that today six million children in Afghanistan attend school. Six years ago there were 650,000 and none of them were girls. Today some two million girls attend school in Afghanistan. For democracy to flourish we need a strong education system even in Afghanistan.

We have improved basic health care dramatically for the Afghans. We have built thousands of miles of roads. We have actually encouraged the Afghans to start their own small businesses. In fact, the micro-loan program that our government sponsors through CIDA and through other Canadian NGOs has been a remarkable success. It is my understanding that there are some 350,000 new businesses that have been started up in Afghanistan.

I want to take note of one organization. It is the Mennonite Economic Development Associates, called MEDA. It is a Canadian NGO that is actually providing micro-finance loans to the Afghans so that they can start their own businesses. For example, a mother can purchase a small commercial oven and start baking, providing not only for her family but goods to sell in the open market, so that she can support her family and also grow the economy.

These are Canadian organizations that are doing this great work in Afghanistan, but they cannot do it without having the security that our armed forces provide. Let us make no mistake about it. Without security, the rebuilding, the reconstruction, even the diplomacy could not work in Afghanistan.

Therefore, I am proud of the role Canada is playing. It is not only our armed forces. It is all the NGOs who are sacrificing and risking their lives there to make it a better place for the Afghans to live in.

I think we also have to remember that there are some 20 million Afghans who have thrown their lot in with our international community. As the House knows, Afghanistan now has a democratically elected president. He and his government have asked us to remain in Afghanistan because the alternative is unthinkable. To leave the Afghans without any security and just give the country back to the Taliban would be a mess. What a disaster that would be.

I hear talk from the NDP and the Bloc saying that we need to get our troops out of there. Yet, these very parties are the ones who claim to represent women. They claim to represent children, the marginalized, the poor and the disabled. However, if we withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, what will Afghans be left with? They will be living in fear of the Taliban.

Make no mistake about it. If the Taliban return to Afghanistan, it will be an international chaotic situation. Have we not learned our lessons from Rwanda? We need to provide the Afghans with the resources necessary to provide for their own security.

I am very encouraged by the position that our government has taken and the courage that our government and the Prime Minister have shown in stepping up to the plate and saying that we will not abandon Afghanistan.

The security created by our military presence in that region provides the needed protection to do the work that is required of us to make sure that Afghanistan has a bright future, to make sure the children there can look to us and count on us and to say, “We have depended on you. We have thrown in our lot with you. We have trusted you to complete the job at hand”.

Today we are debating that particular mission. I encourage all members of the House to take seriously not only those Canadians who have already given their lives in defence of human values around the world but to take into consideration the risk that we impose on Afghanistan women, men, children, the disabled and the marginalized if we abandon them in this their time of need.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, our colleague has spent a great deal of his time talking about both the military requirement with respect to holding the security in Afghanistan, particularly in Kandahar, and he devoted some of his comments with respect to the progress that is coming through the reconstruction of schools, the courts, municipal institutions and so on. I think the whole House would agree that those two go very much hand in hand.

The Manley report was a balanced commentary on both of those initiatives, but it seems to me that Canadians want to have a bit more assurance that it is not just the 1,000 troops we are asking from NATO with respect to securing the peace, but also that all of our allies are engaged in the reconstruction initiatives the member talked about.

One of the suggestions has been that this become more visible if there were a report from the House either through the foreign affairs committee or another committee. I wonder if the member could speak for a moment on that and elaborate.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member referred to the Manley report as being a balanced report. That is true. What we are doing is tying reconstruction to security. Of course, we add to that the whole issue of diplomacy. We need to make sure that Afghanistan is a sustainable democracy in the long run.

I want to suggest to the member that as we move forward with providing the kind of reconstruction the Afghan people need, it is truly going to take a joint effort of all of the nations involved. As the member knows there are some 37 nations participating in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, most of them are involved in areas where there is little, if any, conflict.

Canada is serving in Kandahar, one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister, our defence minister, our foreign affairs minister have all stated very clearly that it is time that others also take up some of that heavy work and do the heavy lifting required.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have heard from the government benches quite often that we do not want to repeat Rwanda and if we do not pass this motion we are going to repeat Rwanda.

Comments made by Senator Roméo Dallaire referred to the fact that at the time when we were asked for troops in Kandahar, the previous government was also asked for troops for peacekeeping missions in the Congo. That should be put on the record because we did not send anyone at the time and we all know what happened in the Congo.

If we change the mission toward peace and reconciliation, that my party has asked for in an amendment, will that somehow--

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I will have to stop the hon. member there to allow the hon. member for Abbotsford time to respond.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to comment on the failings of the previous government.

What I want to do is ask this individual, why is he prepared to abandon women and children, abandon the poor and the marginalized in Afghanistan who are going to be taken advantage of if the Taliban ever returns?

We can talk about peace and diplomacy, but without being able to provide the security that Afghanistan needs, that the women, children and marginalized deserve and need, there is no point in discussing ongoing efforts to develop dialogues with the various tribes and stakeholders in Afghanistan.

My question is rhetorical because the member is not allowed to answer, but how can he justify taking our troops out of Afghanistan and leaving the women and children to their own devices? It does not make any sense to me.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There are only 30 seconds left for questions and comments. If I have a 15 second question from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, I will allow a 15 second response.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo B.C.

Conservative

Betty Hinton ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, reading from a googled research paper, it says “Women in Taliban stronghold protest kidnap of US aid worker”. I will not read you the entire content, but I would like to hear what your views are on the fact that women, who 10 years ago would not dare speak out, are now protesting in--

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will not provide the answer to that, but maybe the hon. member for Abbotsford will.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is one of the remarkable things about the work going on in Afghanistan. Six years ago, women were not even allowed to leave their homes without being in the company of their husbands or fathers. Today there is much more freedom to do the kinds of things required to build a successful democratic society that also defends human rights.

I am so pleased to see how even our international community and our Canadian NGOs are prepared to go into Afghanistan, risk their lives and do the kind of humanitarian work and reconstruction that give the Afghanis real hope for the future.

I am so pleased that the member shares my views on this mission. She strongly supports it, as I do. I trust that other members of the House will look through all the rhetoric and will understand what is at stake with the motion before us today.

AfghanistanGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The time for questions and comments has expired. We will move on to statements by members.

World Hockey ChallengeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, from December 28, 2008 to January 4, 2009, the Alberni Valley on Vancouver Island will host the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Five regional all-star teams from across Canada will compete against national teams from the U.S., Russia, Finland, Germany and Slovakia. The 32 game series will take place in Port Alberni, supported by Nanaimo, Parksville, Courtenay, Campbell River and Duncan.

The residents of Port Alberni are renowned for their can-do attitude. It is the only community in B.C. to host all four provincial games: the summer games, the winter games, the seniors games and the disability games.

Everyone can be sure that Port Alberni will make this an event to remember. The talent scouts will be there as these top-notch young athletes showcase their skills. Many are going to find their way to the NHL and other top hockey teams.

The community has already invited the Prime Minister to attend. I would like to invite you, Mr. Speaker, all members and hockey enthusiasts from across the country to come on out to Port Alberni, escape the snow, visit Vancouver Island and witness some of the finest amateur hockey the world has to offer.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the past few years northwestern Ontario has been facing several challenges.

The forestry sector has been hit hard. Mills are shutting down, workers are being laid off and communities are struggling to survive.

All the while, our infrastructure is crumbling. New roads, bridges and water and sewer treatment plants are all projects that municipalities are desperate to move forward.

The government must recognize the importance and contributions of our region. For too long, municipalities and businesses in northwestern Ontario have been told what cannot be done.

Today is the day the government can tell northwestern Ontario what it can do.

The government can announce a comprehensive strategy to aid the ailing forest sector immediately, today. It can commit to ongoing funding for super flow-through shares, creating a favourable environment for mining investment. It can provide funding for much needed infrastructure projects in our region. It can close the gap between first nations communities and the rest of Canada.

These are all projects the government can do but the big question for everyone is this: will it?

Blainville's Portuguese CommunityStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, for many years, the Portuguese community has been flourishing in Blainville with its vibrant culture and deeply rooted family values. It is never easy to be accepted in a new place, so 10 years ago, the community began organizing a dinner and dance event to share its traditions.

Ida Tavarez pioneered this annual event. She has devoted herself, body and soul, to helping Portuguese people who are new to the beautiful Blainville region integrate and develop a sense of belonging, and to raise funds for the parish. Her smile, her perseverance, and her dedication have made her a leader and a symbol of the vitality of our community.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to congratulate Ms. Tavarez on her 10 years of community involvement and tenacity, which have proven how open the people of Blainville are to welcoming new cultures into their midst.

Windsor Police ServiceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this Thursday marks the last day of Glenn Stannard's tenure as the city of Windsor police chief. After almost nine years in that position and 38 years as a Windsor police officer, he is going to retire.

Chief Stannard comes from a family dedicated to serving the public. His grandfather Walter, father Donald, uncles George and Earl and cousin Dave were all police officers, and his cousin Kim and daughter-in-law Kristina are both on the force today.

Glenn Stannard was appointed to the Windsor Police Service on May 1, 1970. He was promoted through the ranks within the Windsor Police Service and has worked in all divisions, including patrol, investigation and administration. He was appointed chief in 1999.

As former deputy chief Roger Mortimore stated, Chief Stannard “is a down-to-earth, unpretentious individual who made the force absolutely better”.

Chief Stannard endeavoured to deploy the latest technology of modern policing while expanding and deepening outreach to the community.

Chief Stannard is a past president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. He has been involved in various organizations in the community, including junior achievement and the Special Olympics. The Governor General invested him with the Order of Merit and he is also a recipient of the Queen's Jubilee Award.

I extend congratulations to Chief Stannard for his work. All in the community celebrate him and congratulate him on his retirement.

SeniorsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past week in my riding of Burlington, I held an important income tax seminar for seniors. The response was overwhelming.

I want to thank the over 200 seniors who attended and the officials from Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency for making excellent and detailed presentations.

After the seminar, it was clear to Burlington seniors that the recent tax changes introduced by this Conservative government are going to have a very significant positive impact on their own everyday lives.

From legislating pension income splitting to doubling the pension income tax credit and the increase in the personal tax exemption, Burlington seniors stand to save potentially thousands of their hard-earned dollars because of this Conservative government.

I am proud to be part of a Conservative government that believes our seniors deserve a break after a lifetime of building this great country. I am proud that this government believes we should return seniors' hard-earned dollars back to where the money belongs: in their hands.

Fredericton Convention CentreStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am gratified that after years of hard work and negotiations that began between the former federal government and the government of New Brunswick and the city of Fredericton, our community will be home to a new downtown convention centre.

The centre will accommodate 1,500 people. The 66,000 square foot building will include a six storey office complex as well as two parking garages with a capacity of 750 vehicles.

I am pleased that the federal and provincial governments will cover a combined third of the total cost of the $24 million project. I particularly commend the city of Fredericton for pledging $16 million, the remaining two-thirds.

This kind of investment is crucial to development in downtown Fredericton. Not only will it showcase our city and enhance business and employment opportunities, but the new convention centre will also have a positive economic impact on all of New Brunswick.

Kraft Hockeyville 2008 ContestStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Denis Lebel Conservative Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the city of Roberval and the whole riding of Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean are bursting with excitement. Roberval has been named as the first finalist in the Canadian Kraft Hockeyville 2008 contest.

This weekend, Roberval will be pleased to welcome a team from CBC, which will announce the second finalist during Hockey Night in Canada. On the ice of Lac Saint-Jean, we will celebrate the unity of our big, beautiful country, as we welcome viewers from across Canada.

This result would not have been possible without the tremendous organizational skills of the corporation of the town on ice in Roberval. A winter paradise on Lac Saint-Jean, this family community, made up of rinks, a skating oval and a walking path surrounded by 325 small houses, owes its existence to the hundreds of volunteers who do everything they can to make the town a success.

Canadians from sea to sea to sea can discover our beautiful natural surroundings, our winter festival, the amateur hockey tournament and, of course, the town on ice.

I pay tribute to the men and women of these organizations who turn the city into a winter playground. Congratulations Roberval, the first finalist in the Hockeyville 2008 contest.

Sylvain PlourdeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday evening, the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean region lost a guardian angel. Sylvain Plourde, Executive Director of Maison des sans-abri, passed away at a meeting with his idol, the singer and advocate for the homeless, Dan Bigras.

The untimely death of Sylvain Plourde was a great shock. This kind-hearted man was completely dedicated to his cause and respected by everyone.

He was a staunch supporter of the disadvantaged and the marginalized in our society. A tireless worker, Sylvain Plourde constantly called for organizations to be given the support required to meet needs stemming from growing poverty.

He carried out his work with boundless enthusiasm and he will be deeply missed.

On behalf of my Bloc Québécois colleagues, I wish to offer my sincere condolences to the family, friends and relatives of this extraordinary man.

Thank you, Sylvain, and farewell.

Livestock IndustryStatements By Members

February 26th, 2008 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canada's cattle producers have been going through some difficult times. With prices for feed rising and prices for beef falling, Canadian producers need every market they can find for Canadian cattle.

Improved market access is one of the tools that will raise the value of Canadian cattle. This is why it is good news that yesterday the government of Mexico announced that it will now allow the import of Canadian breeding cattle. This new access is in addition to current access already permitted for Canadian beef and beef products.

This government will continue to work for full market access for all Canadian beef products with all of our trading partners. Working hard to expand our beef exports is one way this government continues to put farmers first.

Canadian beef and cattle producers are second to none in the world. This government and this member are proud to work with them and for them.

Temiskaming Hospital CAT Scan FoundationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Temiskaming Hospital CAT Scan Foundation for reaching its fundraising goal of $2.3 million.

Collecting this amount of money in small rural northern Ontario towns is no easy task.

This remarkable achievement can be largely attributed to the tireless efforts of countless volunteers and communities working together toward a common goal.

An anonymous donation of nearly $50,000 from a former New Liskeard resident earlier this month ultimately ensured the initiative's success.

The Temiskaming Hospital performed its first CAT scan on January 9, 2006. Since then, over 5,000 scans have been performed as a result of the CT scanner.

Once again, I express congratulations to foundation chairman George Kemp, his fellow foundation members and the various donors who contributed to this very worthwhile cause, thus ensuring that the people of Temiskaming Shores and surrounding area are well served by the CT scanner.

Canadian Women and Communications AwardsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, for many years Industry Canada has been proud to support the Canadian Women and Communications Program. CWC's mission is to help women advance in the field of communications.

Tonight CWC will hold its annual awards gala. Award winners for 2008 are: Golden West Broadcasting Ltd., for demonstrating outstanding leadership in its promotion of women; Amélie Poulin, Bell Canada, for helping to build CWC; Julia Elvidge, Chipworks Inc., as Trailblazer of the Year; Mentor of the Year, Pat Solman, MTS Allstream Inc.; and Woman of the Year, Ruth Kelly, president and publisher, Venture Publishing.

I ask all members of the House to join me in congratulating the many outstanding Canadian women in communications.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday morning my constituents in Hamilton East—Stoney Creek awoke to a news story in the Hamilton Spectator, which announced that there would not be a full environmental assessment of Liberty Energy's plan to build and operate a power producing sludge, sewage and incinerator in East Hamilton. Environmentalists say that the potential exists for the plant to double Hamilton's level of cancer-causing dioxins and significantly increase other airborne toxins.

My constituents are worried. Citizens and environmentalists across Hamilton are also concerned that this plant would not only burn Hamilton's sludge, but we would see sludge-laden trucks on Hamilton's streets from Toronto and other areas.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek has already had one debacle relative to incineration, namely the SWARU incinerator. Our citizens do not want a potential repeat with similar risk to our community as those which spewed from that high risk facility for years.

Hamilton city council unanimously called for a full environmental assessment. Local MPPs Andrea Horwath and Paul Miller have called for a full environmental assessment. Today I am joining the Hamilton city council, local MPPs—

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Nunavut.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government recently transferred 1,900 metric tons of offshore turbot quota in NAFO division 0B to non-Nunavut interests.

Violating Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, section 15, which explicitly obliges the government to seek advice in a timely manner from the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board on Inuit harvesting rights and opportunities in offshore and marine areas, the offshore turbot quota was given to southern fishing companies, without due process.

Why is Nunavut at only 27% of the total allowable catch of the commercial turbot quota in the marine area adjacent to Baffin Island? This violates the principle of adjacency. This unfair practice must end.

Atlantic provinces receive 80% to 95% of their quota in their adjacent waters. Atlantic fishermen would not tolerate their quota going to outside interests. Why should we? It is time that Nunavut fishers be treated fairly in our adjacent waters.