House of Commons Hansard #59 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.


Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Gary Schellenberger Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been attempting to speak for quite some time. My question is not necessarily on what the minister talked about. The automotive policy he has introduced today is fantastic.

I would like to respond to one of the Bloc members who said there was nothing in the budget for agriculture. Betty Jean Crews, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture said:

Farmers traditionally turn to budgets for word of what governments have in store for them financially. This time the federal government introduced a change to that tradition.

Finance Minister...presented Ottawa's 2008 budget on Tuesday, February 26th, but the day before Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister...had his own announcement for agriculture. It was welcome news for the country's struggling livestock producers as it increased the maximum available as an emergency advance payment to 400 thousand dollars from 25 thousand per producers.

The OFA and our partners at the Canadian Federation of Agriculture right across the country are really pleased with the Minister of Agriculture and the budget, the way it has been presented.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, certainly the responses to our automotive strategy have been quite exceptional. I defer to my colleague on the subject matter that he has raised which is important as well.

Across industry the automotive strategy has been well received. I note that the vice-president of corporate and environmental affairs for General Motors said, “Directionally it's very, very positive....they've really shown they're listening and they're moving forward”.

There were similar comments from Chrysler as well. There were similar comments recently from a number of experts in the automotive industry. I would point out in particular that Mr. Dennis DesRosiers, of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants in Thornhill over the last several days has pointed out that the emphasis on innovation could open up what he refers to as “a floodgate of activity in the automotive sector” and that this is something very good for the Canadian industry.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have heard some comments on the budget from Jay Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, that the finance minister does not seem to understand the seriousness of the problems facing industry in Canada today. He said, “Disadvantage Canada, that's what this budget represents for Canada's manufacturing and exporting sectors”. This just does not cut it. We have had condemnation from the manufacturers and exporters.

My question is very simple. Why did the government not listen to the industries that have seen the hemorrhaging of jobs over the past two years?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Jim Prentice Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Myers of course can speak for himself, and I think that he will in the days ahead. I can assure the hon. member that I actually had breakfast with him this morning and he continues to be very supportive of the steps that the government has taken to reduce corporate income tax and to ensure that we have a fiscal framework.

Many of the things that the Minister of Finance has alluded to in “Advantage Canada” are producing a sound fiscal framework for industry in this country and will continue to move forward.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec


Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today, not only in my capacity as Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages, but also as the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, concerning the tabling of the Conservative government's third balanced budget.

First, I would like to talk about the approach our government has taken in this budget, as in the previous one, with respect to the sound management of public funds.

In budget 2007, the Government of Canada made a commitment to adopt a new way of managing taxpayer money. We believe that it is very important to ensure that every dollar spent produces concrete and positive results for all Canadians. One of the requirements of this new approach is to examine all the programs and expenditures based on a four-year cycle. Having done that, our government is better able to honour the priorities of Canadians with effective programs focused on the essential role of government.

The government has been looking towards the future. It took preventive and decisive measures in fall 2007 and winter 2008 to reduce the debt, by lowering taxes and offering targeted support to the industries in need. We prepare the budget using conservative financial principles. That is why budget 2008 is balanced, targeted and cautious. The budget is an extension of what we have already achieved. We are lowering taxes for individuals and corporations, we are paying down the debt and reducing the size of our national mortgage, we are offering targeted support to the industries in need, we are investing in the future by creating programs that focus on science, education and the environment, and that make it possible to help the least fortunate.

When we took power, we had to take care of some important priorities and had to sort out some files that had been neglected for years by the Liberals: the fiscal imbalance, health care, the environment, the state of our armed forces and security, and our families. We are getting the job done while still properly managing our finances.

Canadians believe that their government must contribute effectively to our society's cultural vitality. This is one of the main goals of my department and other organizations in my portfolio and it is a priority for our government.

In fact, since our arrival in government in 2006, we have allocated $50 million in additional funding over two years to the Canada Council for the Arts, with $20 million for 2006-07 and $30 million for the current fiscal year. To mark the 50th anniversary of the Canada Council for the Arts, the government announced that the $30 million in funding will now be provided on a recurrent basis.

In addition, communities across Canada are benefiting from an additional investment of $30 million a year as a result of budget 2007. In September I had the pleasure of announcing details of this investment. Among other things, it includes the creation of a new program, building communities through arts and heritage, which supports festivals and activities celebrating local heritage and arts.

Support is also being increased for arts festivals under the arts presentation Canada program. The diversity of our cultural and artistic expressions is a treasure to which all Canadians must have access. We believe that national cultural institutions can be located outside the national capital region. We believe that all sectors of our society, including the private sector, must take an active role in the effort to disseminate culture. This is why we have signed an agreement with public and private sector support to establish the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg.

Our government has also launched a call for proposals to build the portrait gallery of Canada in one of nine Canadian cities.

Together with the Aga Khan, we have created the new Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa.

In terms of official languages, funding for linguistic duality and for official language minority communities will be increased by $30 million over two years.

Some of my colleagues closely followed Bernard Lord's consultations held across Canada. Mr. Lord gathered Canadians' opinions about important issues pertaining to linguistic duality and support for official language minority communities.

Our government is currently working on phase two of the action plan for official languages and the results of these consultations will be very useful.

The Government of Canada also has an important role in the celebrations marking the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. The Department of Canadian Heritage is coordinating the government's participation in these celebrations. The founding of Quebec City was a historic event for all of Canada. It marks not only the founding of Quebec City but also of Canada.

Our government has demonstrated leadership in all these important matters and we are proposing new ways of meeting citizens' needs.

The budget that my colleague, the Minister of Finance, brought down last Tuesday provides funding for major projects that will give Canadians many opportunities to enjoy rewarding experiences.

On February 6, the two-year countdown began to the opening of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler. The Government of Canada is working very hard to make these games Canada's games.

Budget 2008 supports this effort by providing $25 million for the celebrations around the Olympic and Paralympic torch relays. From November 2009 to February 2010, activities will take place in 350 communities across the country in connection with these relays. I am confident that the relay will inspire pride in Canadians all along the route.

This year, we will also cheer on our summer athletes who will proudly represent Canada at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing. Budget 2008 supports excellence in summer sports by providing funding of $24 million over the next two years and $24 million per year subsequently to support the road to excellence program for summer athletes.

In the national museums sector we are reinvesting $9 million over two years to strengthen our four national cultural institutions: the National Gallery of Canada; the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation; the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation; and the Canadian Museum of Nature.

This support is a clear example of the results of our government's responsible approach to managing public funds. It is an investment in institutions wholly under the responsibility of the federal government. It is also an investment that will allow us to better protect and disseminate our cultural heritage.

Finally, as a follow-up to budget 2007 which increased the budget for the women's program by $20 million, our government will work to develop an action plan over the coming year to advance women's equality in Canada.

We want to improve the economic and social conditions of women while helping them to participate more fully in our country's democratic life. Citizen participation is highly enriching, as I can testify by my own experience, and my sincere wish is that all Canadian women have access to similar experiences in their lives.

And we must not forget what our government has done for the people of Quebec City. We have invested $70 million in Beauport Bay, the Louise Basin, the Brown Basin and Pointe-à-Carcy.

In 2008, the National Battlefields Commission will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The Plains of Abraham will be at the centre of the celebrations in Quebec City, and our government has granted more than $500,000 to mark this anniversary.

With this budget and with its achievements, our government has proven that it remains committed to Canada's culture, arts and heritage.

Our government continues to feel strongly about promoting our cultural diversity, our linguistic duality and all Canadians' participation in our society.

We plan to give everyone the chance to take part in two major celebrations: the 400th anniversary of Quebec City and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver. These are perfect opportunities to promote our unique history and the excellence of our artists and athletes.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

We will have the five minute question and comment period after question period. As it is two o'clock, we will move on to statements by members.

Olivier VilleneuveStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Luc Harvey Conservative Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I will not be talking about the Bloc Québécois. I have something much more important to talk about. I would like to tell you about an 11-year-old boy.

This little boy's life has been a struggle since day one. Before his first birthday, he went through three heart operations and spent over 80% of his life in the hospital. To illustrate just how big a challenge he faced, he had to relearn how to eat at 18 months because he had been force-fed continuously since birth.

Now, he goes to school and dance class, and he participates in lots of other activities. Little Olivier Villeneuve has shown the kind of courage that so many should find inspiring. There were many times when he could have given up, but that was not his way: he did not know how to give up or back down; he only knew how to forge ahead.

I thank Olivier for setting an excellent example for everyone who knows you. I salute and respect him.

Marion ChristieStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour the memory of Marion Christie, who passed away at her home on February 23. On April 5, she would have turned 102.

Known as Bedford's matriarch, Marion Christie was a wonderful volunteer who made a lasting impact on her community through a lifetime of dedicated involvement.

She spent decades educating and informing residents of Bedford as a teacher and journalist and still she found time to participate in numerous volunteer endeavours and public speaking engagements.

Marion Christie was active in all aspects of life in Bedford, especially Bedford United Church, where she was an honorary elder and honorary historian and held a UCW life membership.

Scott Manor House was one of her major interests. Until late 2007, she presided at the reading room. A meticulous historian, she kept detailed scrapbooks which chronicled events in Bedford.

She was a remarkable woman who was loved and respected by all.

Second International Decade for the Eradication of ColonialismStatements By Members

2 p.m.


France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you are aware, 2001 to 2011 has been declared the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism. It deserves to be recognized.

More than 60 years after the UN declared the right to self-determination and even after the withdrawal of European countries from Africa, colonialism still exists. This colonialism is more insidious than at the time of the conquest, but the fact remains that certain populations and nations are still trying to assimilate others through their actions and their values.

When I see the Conservatives' attitude towards the French language today and their actions that go against the values of Quebeckers, and above all, when I see members from Quebec acting against the best interest of their nation, I wish that colonialism really was a thing of the past.

Multiple Sclerosis Society of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the central nervous system. Most commonly it begins in young adulthood. In Canada, it is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults.

When one learns that Canadians have one of the highest rates of MS in the world and that every day three more Canadians are diagnosed with MS, it would be easy to get discouraged. The dedicated volunteers and activists of the Hamilton chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada refuse to be discouraged. Their work in my community is inspiring.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a benefit for the Hamilton chapter. With over 500 people in attendance, it raised over $30,000 to fight MS in our community. I would like to recognize the work of John Fuca, whose family put on this eighth annual edition of this event in our community.

My sincerest thanks go out to Mr. Fuca and his family, along with the honorary MC, Angelo Mosca, former CFL player and member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and all the other volunteers who made Sunday's event such an amazing success.

As a community, we can beat MS.

Afghan Women ParliamentariansStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the lead-up to International Women's Day, our government is hosting the first ever delegation of Afghan women parliamentarians to Canada. Their role in shaping Afghanistan's future is a symbol of progress and of hope.

These parliamentarians have been invited to Canada to take part in a capacity building program that will address issues including women's rights and the roles women parliamentarians can play on issues relating to nation building, conflict resolution and peace building.

While we as Canadians are doing our part to transform Afghan civil society, it is the people of Afghanistan who will be the agents for real and long term change.

The active participation of Afghan women in Afghanistan's political future shows that their society is changing and that the foundations are being laid for the future.

We are deeply honoured by their visit and we look forward to continued cooperation and exchanges with them and their colleagues.

I hope all members of Parliament will join me in welcoming them to Parliament Hill today.

HealthStatements By Members

2 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians, especially children, are being exposed to dangerous toxic products. Lead-based paint on children's toys as well as plastic bottles containing bisphenol A are threatening the health and safety of all citizens.

Bisphenol A is a chemical used in the creation of plastic food containers and baby bottles and has been known to cause many adverse health effects. The leaching of this chemical has led to trace amounts being found in human tissues and also has been associated with causing developmental problems, including cancer, obesity and early puberty, to name a few.

Some Canadian companies have already removed merchandise containing this toxic chemical from their shelves. Others are still looking to the federal government to provide guidance on the safety of such products.

I call on the government to take immediate action to ban harmful products of this nature from retailers' shelves and to prohibit such products from entering our country. The health and safety of Canadians must be protected without qualification.

Alberta ElectionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Mr. Speaker, we in the Alberta federal caucus are proud of many things in our great province, not the least of which is the fact that we are rat free.

For weeks the opposition parties and the national media were convinced that the winds of change were blowing across the prairies, but once again a warm chinook wind has taken over Alberta.

Albertans have decided on a change that works for them. With 52% of the vote, Premier Stelmach will be bringing 28 new Conservative MLAs with him to the legislature, with 72 of 83 seats.

Albertans have chosen a leader who brings a mature, professional approach to federal–provincial relations and a Conservative government that leads on issues such as the environment, health care, infrastructure and accountability.

Albertans have once again proven that in Alberta good guys still do finish first.

I extend congratulations to Premier Stelmach and his government.

The Conservative GovernmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are accustomed to not receiving satisfactory answers to our questions. However, last Thursday, the Conservative ministers reached new heights of ineptitude. Their answers had absolutely nothing to do with the important questions we asked.

The Minister of Human Resources and Social Development was particularly adept at this when he spoke about the Mental Health Commission in response to a question on social housing. When asked another question about the fiscal imbalance, he spoke about the student loans program. His colleague, the Minister of Justice, spoke about the tackling violent crime act in response to a question about a young girl who was able to leave Canada and go to Morocco unaccompanied and without permission.

This type of attitude demonstrates the disregard of the Conservatives for citizens who find themselves in difficult situations. The lack of interest in the questions of opposition members and the failure to take them seriously shows a lack of respect for the House and is an insult to the Quebec nation, which democratically chose to be represented by a majority of Bloc Québécois MPs.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, in the budget tabled on February 26, 2008, our government put words into action, by creating the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board, an independent crown corporation that will ensure that EI premiums are dedicated exclusively to the EI program.

This is a pivotal event when it comes to the protection of premiums paid by workers as well as employers.

By opposing the Conservatives' third budget, the Bloc Québécois is once again letting down Quebec workers. The Bloc members should know that doing an about-face and voting against workers is not a value admired by Quebeckers.

If we think about it, this party, which should never have even become one, is aptly named. Since it is unable to get anything done, all the Bloc Québécois can do is block things, while our government is determined to build a stronger Quebec and a better Canada.

Fortunately for Quebec workers, the Conservatives are in their path delivering the goods.

Post-Secondary EducationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, today members of the Liberal caucus met with representatives from polytechnic schools across Canada. We have seven polytechnics with 37 campuses and approximately 94,000 full time students, and many more part time.

These are unique institutions that offer students a wide range of educational options, including undergrad degrees, diplomas, apprenticeships, postgrad certificates and complete student mobility. They partner with industry to address skills shortages and quickly develop solutions.

These schools help keep Canada at the forefront of the business and technology sectors by using a combination of theoretical learning and applied research targeted at the most dynamic areas of our economy.

We need more research funding in Canada, including the applied research offered by the polytechnics.

Canada is the only OECD country that does not have a national credential framework, which would help students transfer between universities, polytechnics and colleges and increase international recognition.

I want to acknowledge and thank our polytechnics for the excellent programs they provide to students across Canada. I urge all members to visit these campuses and experience the great work they do.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, last night, during the broadcast of election results coming out of Alberta, a CBC analyst commented that it might be time for the provincial Liberals to consider a name change due to the damage the federal Liberals have done to the Liberal brand.

With last evening's vote here in the House of Commons on the Liberal budget amendment, the Liberal Party dealt itself another devastating body blow. Unbelievably, only seven Liberals even bothered to show up to vote for their own amendment.

I know the Liberals have been abandoning ship at an alarming rate and, sitting here on the Liberal side, I am used to being surrounded by a sea of empty seats, but last night's vote only highlights the Liberals' growing internal confusion and disinterest, resulting from their complete void of coherent leadership.

As it seeks to address its growing internal crisis, perhaps the Liberal Party should consider stepping aside for the time being and relinquishing its official opposition status to an opposition party that, while terribly misguided, at least knows what it stands for.

Salmon Habitat Restoration ProgramStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Penny Priddy NDP Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I frequently hear the statement that the environment and youth are the keys to our future.

The city of Surrey has a program that exemplifies those two things. It is called SHaRP, salmon habitat restoration program. This program has provided career oriented training and employment to hundreds of high school and post-secondary students.

Over its 12 years of operation, SHaRP has been recognized as an innovation that promotes sustainability and assists students to fund their education. The goal is to rehabilitate creeks and streams to improve salmon habitat.

The students are involved with ravine cleanup, stream bank planting, spawning bed enhancements and minor erosion control works. Over 100 tonnes of debris have been removed from local creeks, 5,300 plants have been established in riparian zones and there has been the stabilization of over 100 metres of creek banks.

Funding comes largely from the city with contributions from the provincial and federal governments, until this year when the federal government decided to withdraw its funding. Youth and the environment are keys to our future.

ChinaStatements By Members

March 4th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.


Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, China has suffered from severe cold weather to an extent not seen in hundreds of years. In Bijie, located in the province of Guizhou, the already very difficult lives of the people living in this mountainous region have been further complicated by the extreme weather conditions.

Twenty of our fellow parliamentarians, along with the Ice Breaking Care Society, have joined together to form the Bijie ice storm relief committee aimed at raising funds to provide emergency relief to these victims.

Mr. Speaker, we thank you for hosting a reception this afternoon to honour the efforts of the committee. I would also like to thank my fellow parliamentarians and members of the committee, some of whom are here today: George Chen, Zhao Zai Chen, Danny Ng, Michael Ching, Kim Kum Chow, Henry Hung, members of the Heart2Heart Club, Ting Ting Wang, Clara Chow, Yuen Li and the many volunteers and artists.

I thank them all for sharing their good fortune with our brothers and sisters in Bijie.

Minister of Public Works and Government ServicesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the past two years, Michael Fortier, the unelected minister and senator from Rougemont, was given four opportunities to run for office during byelections in Quebec, but he refused all four. That says a lot about how important he thinks democracy is. This situation cannot go on without being considered an abuse of power. Michael Fortier has no status as a representative of Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

Let us take a moment to discuss his remarks during a broadcast of Tout le monde en parle, about how the other place is expensive, and about how its members do not work very hard. He seems to have learned quickly, because in the past two years, he participated in only five of 34 votes, he delivered two speeches, and he did not even participate in the vote on Bill C-2, which his government deemed a confidence matter.

What did he fail to understand about his own government's expectations, and what does he fail to understand about the concept of democracy? He should face the voters as soon as possible.

Health AssessmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, getting a regular health assessment plays an important role in disease prevention. Today the Canadian Medical Association is hosting a complementary cardiovascular and diabetes risk assessment booth.

I know that many parliamentarians are so busy that they sometimes neglect their health. It is important for people to pay attention to their health needs, and to take preventive measures and undergo regular physical exams to stay healthy.

The booth is open today in room 602 in Centre Block. The examination is very quick and results are available in 10 minutes. I encourage all my colleagues to take the time to get an assessment. An ounce of prevention is, indeed, worth a pound of cure.

I wish all members good health.

EthicsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the depths to which the Liberals will stoop to create false smears and fake scandals has fallen to an all-time low.

The Liberals' outlandish attack on the Prime Minister's reputation is baseless and irresponsible. The allegations made by the Liberal leader, his deputy leader and others in the party are false and misleading and the Prime Minister deserves a full and immediate apology.

Chuck Cadman himself said on national television that no offer was ever made. Why will the Liberals not believe his word?

If the Liberals were so concerned about this matter, why did they wait for more than one year to bring this matter forward? Are they trying to divert attention from their weak leadership crisis and their weak leader? Are they trying to divert attention from how they are supporting us on the budget?

The Liberal leader should be ashamed of himself. Will he take the opportunity he has right now and apologize to the Prime Minister immediately?

EthicsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec


Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we all heard the tape. The first question: Could the Prime Minister tell Canadians whether it really is his voice on the tape, yes or no?

EthicsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta


Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have been clear and everybody in this matter has been clear.

We wanted Chuck Cadman to rejoin our party. The party was prepared to assist Chuck Cadman in securing his nomination and to ensure, financially and otherwise, that he was able to fight a successful election campaign. Those are the facts and Chuck Cadman is on the public record saying that those are the facts.

The Leader of the Opposition says that they are otherwise. We will see how that theory stands up when he has to deal with it in a court of law.

EthicsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec


Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, since I did not get an answer, perhaps I will try again in French.

Can the Prime Minister tell me if it is indeed his voice that we hear on the tape? Yes or no?