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House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was french.

Topics

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem, but we are going to be led today by a special group. The Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda will join us in the gallery.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Lunar New YearStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I send warm greetings to Canadians celebrating Lunar New Year. This year we enter the Year of the Rat, an animal traditionally associated with discipline, hard work and material success.

During this special time of year, Canadians of Asian heritage will join their families and friends in feasts and celebration.

As the Prime Minister said when attending a Lunar New Year event last year, Canada “is a country in which what you've done and where you're going matter more than who you are or where you're from, a country united at home and respected abroad, a country unwavering in its commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law; in short, a country of which we can all be proud”.

I encourage all Canadians to use the Lunar New Year period to celebrate the tremendous contributions that members of the Asian community have made to this country's rich and diverse heritage.

I hope the Year of the Rat fulfills its promise and brings all Canadians health, wealth and happiness.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, February is Black History Month.

This is a time to celebrate the many achievements and contributions of black Canadians, who throughout history have done so much to make Canada such a culturally diverse, compassionate and prosperous nation.

Today we are delighted to welcome to Parliament Hill young guests from the Children's Breakfast Clubs, a non-profit charitable organization that believes every child is entitled to a nutritious breakfast.

An estimated 4,000 meals are served each week in the more than 20 clubs across the greater Toronto area.

After question period today, all members are invited to a reception in Room 200, West Block with the Committee on Community, Race and Ethnic Relations of Toronto, where this year's Black History Month poster will be presented to all members.

Supply ManagementStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the chair of the WTO's negotiating group on agriculture is about to release a report on the modalities for agriculture. The Bloc Québécois shares the concerns of supply managed producers.

Tomorrow, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food will address the milk producers who are currently holding their AGM in Ottawa. He is to confirm that the government plans on respecting the full unanimous motion of the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc fought alongside Quebec producers to use article XXVIII in order to limit milk protein imports and to guarantee the protection of supply management.

The Conservative government's attacks on the Canadian Wheat Board have made us very vigilant. Quebec producers can count on the Bloc Québécois to keep fighting.

Social HousingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, 1.8 million Canadians cannot afford proper housing and 300,000 Canadians, including 20,000 children, are homeless.

This is a national disaster and a disaster for women. The government is failing ordinary Canadians. Women and children in Canada are disproportionately affected by the housing crisis.

One in five families with children is led by a single woman and 42% of these families experience housing affordability problems, while 72% of senior women cannot afford adequate housing.

Canada is the only industrialized country with no national housing program.

In January, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, led by Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best and Mayor Sam Sullivan, released an action plan to end homelessness and deliver affordable housing.

New Democrats applaud this report and call on the government to allocate an additional 1% of the federal budget toward social housing.

2010 Olympic and Paralympic GamesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are joined today by John Furlong, CEO of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Paralympian Ray Grassi, Olympian Jayna Hefford and Bell Olympian Jeff Bean.

Two years from now, the Olympic flame will be lit in Vancouver.

Around the world, three billion people will be watching Canada as we host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

That flame will shine a light on our country like never before, giving us a once in a generation opportunity to share our athletic and creative excellence.

It will also give us an opportunity to honour our aboriginal heritage and to present the very best of Canada to the whole world.

The Vancouver 2010 Games are Canada's Games.

I would like to invite all Canadians to join us in welcoming the people of the world in a spirit of peace, brotherhood and respect.

The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games are a time to celebrate, cheer our athletes to gold and show the world the best of Canada.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, 2008 marks the 175th anniversary of the act to abolish slavery in the British Empire.

It is also 12 years since the Hon. Jean Augustine introduced a motion in the House that declared February Black History Month in Canada.

It is time to celebrate the unique contributions of great Canadians such as Lincoln Alexander, former lieutenant governor of Ontario; Alvin Curling, the former Speaker at Queen's Park; and, naturally, jazz legend Oscar Peterson, who will be sadly missed by all Canadians and in fact the entire music world.

Unfortunately, in the past two years that the Conservative government has been in power, little has been done to advance the cause of pluralism and multiculturalism in Canada. That is why it is so important to recognize these great citizens of Canada.

On behalf of all Canadians and the people of Don Valley East, I invite all parliamentarians and staff to join us after question period in Room 200, West Block in celebration of Black History Month.

Government PoliciesStatements By Members

February 6th, 2008 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, two years ago on February 6, 2006, our Conservative government was sworn in. Today, we continue to deliver positive results for Canadians.

Two years ago, our Prime Minister said, “We will build on the shared achievements of Canadians--past and present--to keep our country strong, united, independent and free”.

With his strong leadership, this Conservative government is working together with Canadians to build a better Canada. By setting focused priorities, we continue to pursue an agenda of clear goals with real results.

Unlike our opponents, we choose to govern, not to rule. Our country has seen that leadership without service is self-serving, just as leadership without priorities goes nowhere.

Today, our government is more accountable, our economy is stronger, and our country is more united. Canada is back. Happy anniversary.

Suicide Prevention Week in QuebecStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week is suicide prevention week in Quebec. The theme is “Open your eyes”, which encourages people to pay attention and to eliminate taboos.

Although the suicide rate in Quebec is falling, it is still higher than in other provinces. Even more alarming is the fact that the suicide rate is even higher among first nations and members of the armed forces.

The suicide rate among aboriginals is three times higher than in the general population, and among aboriginal youth, it is five times higher.

Four percent of military personnel who served in Kandahar have thoughts of suicide, and 4.6% suffer from serious depression. In 2006, 10 soldiers committed suicide during their military service.

The Bloc Québécois is urging the government to open its eyes and take action to put an end to the psychological distress experienced by military personnel and aboriginals.

The Conservative PartyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, after two years, I would like to congratulate my Conservative colleagues, who are addressing the real issues that Quebeckers truly care about.

The softwood lumber dispute, which only deteriorated under the Liberal-Bloc regime, is finally over. We said yes to $8 billion in tax relief for the manufacturing sector. Yes to $1.3 billion for research in science and technology. Yes to a green plan with concrete targets, restrictive standards and more than $5 billion for renewable energy. Yes to $190 billion in tax relief for families and seniors. Yes to supply management with concrete action and not just rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the Bloc rambles on, endlessly criticizing and offering no concrete record of action for Quebeckers.

As everyone can see, while the Bloc Québécois blows every which way, advocating first one thing and then the very opposite, the Conservatives are thinking about the real interests of all Quebeckers and all Canadians.

Government PoliciesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, today marks two years of broken promises by the Conservative government. The government started off promising to be squeaky clean and to achieve five priorities. Instead, it opted for mismanagement and harpocracy. Here are some examples.

The government broke an election promise not to tax income trusts, resulting in a loss to Canadians of $25 billion and counting.

The finance minister flip-flopped on the disastrous interest deductibility measure.

The government gutted 92% of funding for climate change programs and then repackaged them with new names, less money and less commitment.

The government broke an election promise to honour the $5.1 billion Kelowna accord.

The government turned back the clock on women's equality by removing the word “equality” from the mandate of the women's program.

The government broke an election promise to create 125,000 new child care spaces.

After two years of harpocracy and two years of broken promises, this is not a happy anniversary.

Tackling Violent Crime ActStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, another week has passed and again I am forced to question why the leader of the official opposition allows his Liberal colleagues in the Senate to block passage of a bill offering free legal protection for Canadian families.

Bill C-2 was passed in the House of Commons after a month of debate. However, after 69 days in the Senate, the bill is not even close to being passed.

MADD Canada's national president said today, “We plead with the Senators in the Committee and in the Chamber, don't delay passing Bill C-2”.

The Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness also called on the Senate to move the bill quickly through the upper chamber. It stated, “It is essential to ongoing public safety and the maintenance of continued citizen confidence in the Canadian criminal justice system that this legislation be quickly passed”.

Despite the support of these organizations, the Liberal Premier of Ontario and ordinary Canadians, the official opposition leader's weak leadership continues while his Liberal senators stall and delay.

Member for Vancouver KingswayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, a little over two years ago a then Liberal candidate said:

If they get elected, they are going to begin a massive review of programs and a massive set of cuts to government programs....I'm going to be [the Prime Minister's] worst enemy.

However, two years ago today, the former Liberal MP for Vancouver Kingsway betrayed his constituents and Canadians by becoming a non-elected Conservative MP. It was only the beginning of a long career of broken promises.

As the minister of trade betrayals, he signed a softwood lumber sellout that rewarded U.S. producers with $1 billion in the proceeds of trade crime so far and cost over 10,000 lost jobs here. He has pursued a sellout with South Korea that guts the Canadian auto industry. He was out-negotiated by the tiny state of Liechtenstein and sold out Canada's shipbuilding industry to EFTA. He is selling out Canadian values of justice and human rights by pushing an agreement with Colombia, with the worst human rights record in the western hemisphere.

Betrayals, sellout, he sure is consistent. What a shame.

The Conservative GovernmentStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a pretty dismal second anniversary, I would say, for the Conservative government. For a party that ran on a platform of accountability and trustworthiness, it has a long record of broken promises and missed opportunities.

This government had promised to respect official languages, something that is at the heart of our identity. Since taking office, however, the Conservatives have launched attack upon attack on bilingualism. They have cancelled the court challenges program and weakened bilingualism both on military bases and in the armed forces in general.

The Conservatives had promised to maintain the level of funding for the Canada Council once elected, but we soon found out that culture matters little to this government, which quickly cut the budgets of museums, assistance programs and international initiatives.

When it comes to defending the fundamental elements of our culture, which define our distinct identity, the Conservatives have not hesitated to renege on their promises. And that is something the Canadian people will remember.

SeniorsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Raymond Gravel Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, over the past ten years, the various governments in office have put a total of $95 billion toward the debt, without prior debate in the House. Yet, over the years, in excess of $3 billion has been siphoned away from seniors. Even more despicable is the fact that the member who, when he was in opposition, was a strong and very vocal advocate for seniors, is now turning a deaf ear and is not doing anything to help those seniors who have glaring needs. The Bloc Québécois is asking the government to fully repay the seniors who were adversely affected by the poor management of the guaranteed income supplement program.

The poorest of our seniors are truly doing an incredible feat by surviving on what little money the government is giving them. It is terribly ungracious on the government's part to announce billions in surpluses, while leaving the needy to choose between getting adequate food and adequate clothing.

Seniors will remember that, and the Bloc Québécois will make sure they do.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, two years have gone by since the government was elected and it has been two years of Conservative neglect of a litany of consular cases of Canadians abroad.

It has also been two years since Brenda Martin has been languishing in a Mexican prison. For two years, Brenda's rights under international law, and even under Mexico's own constitution, have been ignored and for two years, the Conservative government has done nothing.

Yesterday, in a meeting between the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Brenda's lawyer and her close friend since high school, a promise to speak with Brenda via phone from her prison cell was not kept.

What would it have taken for the minister to tell Brenda Martin that everything was being done to gain her release? What would it have taken for the minister to comfort an innocent woman who feels that her government has indeed abandoned her?

As Canadians look at the two years in office of the Conservatives, let them also take time to wonder about Brenda's two years behind bars and the other cases that this inept government has clearly failed to address.

Tackling Violent Crime ActStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to highlight the unacceptable actions of the Liberals concerning a matter of great importance, the tackling violent crime bill.

Today the Canadian Crime Victim Foundation added its voice to those calling for the tackling violent crime bill to be passed immediately in the Senate. It said, “We call upon all members of the Canadian Senate to do the right thing for all Canadians and pass this legislation without delay”.

Canadians want the Liberal leader to show some leadership and have his Liberal senators pass this crime bill now.

As the father of five children, I and other Canadians like me want to see the age of protection raised from 14 years old to 16 years old in order to protect our children from sexual predators. Increasing the age of protection is part of the tackling violent crime bill and it is being blocked by the Liberal dominated Senate.

Shame on the opposition leader. Shame on the Liberal Party. Shame on the Liberal dominated Senate for delaying and obstructing a bill that concerns the safety of our children.

Community DevelopmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, leadership demands honesty. Yesterday when I asked the Prime Minister why he tried to blackmail Canadian workers and families by linking his aid package to the budget, he claimed that the link he made was not with the budget, but with the return of Parliament.

Everybody knows this answer is false. It was with the budget.

Does the Prime Minister not understand that the reason Canadians are more and more uncomfortable with him is that they rightly believe they are entitled to have trust in their Prime Minister?

Community DevelopmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in January the government made an important announcement of a $1 billion fund, which is important for Canadian communities and workers. We said that we needed budgetary approval. We also, when the House returned, offered to the opposition the possibility of passing this earlier, which all parties of the House did earlier this week.

This has been welcomed across the country, including by his friend, the Liberal Premier of Ontario.

I do not know why, when Parliament is actually working together to accomplish something, the Leader of the Opposition would bring petty partisan politics back into it.

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, leadership requires honesty and also competence. Let us examine the incompetence of this government in the case of Chalk River.

The Minister of Natural Resources could have prevented the crisis months ago but did nothing about it. The government put the business interests of a company ahead of the safety of Canadians. The government could have done much more to locate sources of the isotopes and cover the shortfall. The evidence is mounting.

Does the Prime Minister realize that his government's incompetence was the cause of the isotope crisis?

HealthOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this potential isotope crisis was very serious for the health system. That is why the government took action with the support of all parties in this House. This is an important matter affecting the health of Canadians.

I regret that later, when the Leader of the Opposition returned abroad, they decided to change their position. But it was the right decision for Canadians' health.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, leadership calls for honesty and competence, and also for rising above partisanship.

When the time comes for the Prime Minister to open the debate on Afghanistan, will he stop misleading Canadians about the mission? Will he stop hiding the truth about the mission? Will he stop excusing the incompetence of his ministers? Will he stop insulting Canadians who are asking legitimate questions about the mission?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the decision and the mission in Afghanistan are very important for Canada. This mission is being conducted under the United Nations mandate with our NATO allies, at the request of the democratically elected government of Afghanistan. It is a very important mission for us, for the morale of our troops and for our security. The decision is very important.

The government has every intention of being very clear with Canadians, just as the former deputy prime minister has been clear with Canadians. The choice is clear. We either stay and do the job with our military in Afghanistan or we leave. We believe we should get more commitments from our allies and stay.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, for two years, there has been mounting criticism of the Prime Minister's failure to lead in Afghanistan.

This week we learned the Prime Minister has finally, at the eleventh hour, begun to call NATO countries to ask for much needed assistance for our troops. He should have made those calls last year, and we said so.

Why did it take a year, with the deadline fast approaching, for the Prime Minister to realize the urgency of the situation and take responsibility—

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.