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House of Commons Hansard #69 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was english.

Topics

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Conservative

Fabian Manning Conservative Avalon, NL

Mr. Speaker, aboriginal people throughout Canada have been fighting for years for a better quality of life, progress on land claims and other key important issues, not only for them but for future generations.

I know this government has only been in office a little over two years but it has made some great strides in achieving these goals, for instance, cutting in half the number of high risk water systems which we inherited from 13 years of Liberal neglect.

Therefore, I would like to ask the Minister of Indian Affairs if he could highlight what other progress is being made in respect to aboriginal people and the issues that matter most to them.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to talk about the remarkable progress we have made since coming into office.

Last fall, for example, the Prime Minister announced Indian status for Newfoundland Mi'kmaq for the very first time. In a vote last weekend the agreement received overwhelming support by the band, over 90% support.

On Friday, the Prime Minister was in Kuujjuaq to hail the enactment of the Nunavut Inuit land claim agreement, the last of the Inuit land claim agreements. We also settled over 50 specific claims in the last year.

The difference is that over there they say the number one purpose of the Liberal Party is to gain power. We say our number one purpose is to serve Canadians, and aboriginals are well served.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Conservative MPs on the environment committee simply do not want to work. They prefer filibusters and sabotage.

The Conservatives are currently holding the only comprehensive post-Kyoto legislation hostage. Bill C-377 would finally put Canada back on track in the fight against dangerous climate change.

Will the environment minister tell his MPs to stop the delay and deny tactics? Why is there so little energy to tackle climate change and why is there so much energy for the monkey wrench gang over there?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, committees of the House act on their own accord. My role as Minister of the Environment is to clean up the legacy of inaction left to us by the previous government.

We are working hard with a plan to reduce in absolute terms our greenhouse gases by 20%. That is something that has never happened in this country. We have only seen greenhouse gases go up. Even the deputy leader of the Liberal Party told his leader that he did not get the job done. We are acting and we are getting the job done.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is only fair that if Canadian families are willing to do their share, so, too, should the big polluters and the government.

However, after 20 years of promises to get the job done, what do we see? The Liberals did not do it. The Conservatives will not do it. The climate change accountability act will do it.

No more delays and no more excuses from Minister Mugabe over there. It is time to let Parliament do its work.

Will the environment minister stop the scorched earth environmental policy and support a bill that would finally get the job done?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will not dignify the NDP's question with a response.

Government FlyersOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Garth Turner Liberal Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the member for Burlington delivered 29,000 copies of a flyer aimed at seniors to a postal substation in my riding for distribution.

The maximum number of copies that the House of Commons allows is just over 5,000. Thus, the member for Burlington has broken the rules with an illegal mailing that he expects taxpayers to pay for.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why is he instructing his caucus to abuse the rules and then force taxpayers to foot the bill for this garbage?

Government FlyersOral Questions

2:55 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, all the materials that are being sent out by members on this side are done fully in accordance with the rules of this House of Commons and approved by Parliament. Any suggestion to the opposite is incorrect.

I can understand why the member for Halton calls it an attack ad and does not like it. It is because it says, “You deserve to keep more of your money; pension income splitting; 2% GST cut; age credit increase $1,000; increased guaranteed income supplement benefits great for seniors”. He calls it an attack ad because in Halton it is. Those were all the things he campaigned on in the last election and which he has voted against ever since he got here.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

April 1st, 2008 / 3 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my riding is home to the St. Clair River. It is of great benefit to the local economies in the region and nearly 170,000 citizens rely on the river for drinking water.

For many years there have been few, if any, cleanup dollars from senior levels of government. Funding for serious environmental issue was very hard to come by.

Could the Minister of the Environment please tell the House how the government is supporting the people in my riding in helping to clean up the St. Clair River?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

3 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario

Conservative

John Baird ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, at the outset I should congratulate the member for Sarnia—Lambton who has worked hard on water quality issues in the Great Lakes and has delivered real results for the St. Clair River.

The government is investing some $3.3 million to help clean up the contaminated sediment on St. Clair River.

Mayor Bradley from Sarnia said, “We've had more action from this federal government in the past year than we had in the previous 15”, and that is because of the hard work by the member for Sarnia—Lambton.

TibetOral Questions

3 p.m.

Independent

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

Mr. Speaker, the whole world is distraught over the violence in Tibet. In order to resolve this crisis, the Dalai Lama's call for dialogue must be unanimously encouraged by the international community, and heard by China. The Conservative government must exert real pressure so that talks can begin immediately.

Apart from the empty rhetoric coming from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, what concrete steps will the Canadian government take to help resolve the crisis in Tibet, without compromise?

TibetOral Questions

3 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the situation in Tibet is of great concern to us, which is why we are asking for talks between Chinese and Tibetan authorities—in order to resolve the situation. We believe that Tibetans have the right to freedom of association and freedom of expression. Those are universal values, and we hope that they can be peacefully practised in Tibet.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of Mr. Alex Fergusson, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament.

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Bourassa on a point of order.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are many debates here in the House, but certain words are unacceptable. Although my colleague, the Minister of the Environment, and I may have heated debates at times, I find it absolutely unacceptable that the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley refer to him as “Minister Mugabe”. I ask that the member rise and apologize. Canada is a democracy, and we respect one another here.

Oral QuestionsPoint of OrderOral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my comments and apologize to the minister.

Oral QuestionsPrivilegeOral Questions

3 p.m.

Louis-Saint-Laurent Québec

Conservative

Josée Verner ConservativeMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, on March 13, 2008, the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst rose on a question of privilege regarding the invitation I received to appear before the Standing Committee on Official Languages. I responded as follows and I quote:

Appearing before the committee is a ministerial responsibility. Since being appointed, I have had the privilege of appearing before the committee on several occasions, most recently on December 6, 2007. I will be pleased to appear before the committee to discuss the next phase of the action plan as soon as I have finished working on it.

Thus, it was an unfortunate misunderstanding and I will indeed be pleased to appear before the committee when the action plan is presented.

Oral QuestionsPrivilegeOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member and, as I indicated earlier, I will consider all the statements made on the matter before reaching my decision.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition motion—Compliance with the Charter of the French Language regarding enterprises under federal jurisdiction located in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Before the oral question period, the hon. member for Hochelaga had the floor. He has a little more than 16 minutes left for his remarks.

The hon. member for Hochelaga.

Opposition motion—Compliance with the Charter of the French Language regarding enterprises under federal jurisdiction located in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the permission of the House to split my time with the hon. member for Drummond. I therefore understand that I have five minutes left and that my colleague will have 10 minutes.

Before question period, I was saying how proud I was to belong to a political party that had introduced a motion of national recognition—when you really think about it—and how much I believe, with all due respect to the other political parties, that no one else in this House could have introduced such a motion.

We appreciate the support of our NDP colleagues, but we saw before question period the extent to which the government and the Liberals had joined forces to fight obstinately side by side. When it comes to recognizing the weight of Quebec's language rights, the two centralizing parties stand shoulder to shoulder, incapable of giving content or substance to the recognition of the Quebec nation.

I want to make three points. First, what the Bloc is seeking is recognition for Bill 101. Camille Laurin said it was an act of national redress. For a very long time in the history of Quebec, it was considered acceptable that people who came to Quebec as immigrants learned English before learning French. It was, of course, impossible to accept that situation. Demographically speaking, the struggle for the survival of the French fact and the influence of anglophones in Quebec and Canada can never be considered in the same terms.

The Bloc Québécois motion also asks whether it is true that we are a nation, whether it is true that we have a history, whether it is true that we have a legal system, whether it is true that we occupy the land in our own way, whether it is true that we have a cultural life and whether it is true that we have different traditions from those of English Canada. We do not claim that they are superior; we claim that they are different. We are seeking recognition of the principal vehicle for the expression of this cultural reality, the Charter of the French Language, that is, our own vernacular, which is French.

Two members of the Bloc Québécois tabled bills. One member proposed an amendment to the Official Languages Act to recognize the French language as Quebec's only official language. When a member of the House of Commons rises to say that French is Quebec's only official language, his statement carries the weight of historical fact, because all governments in the National Assembly have recognized that. This is not a partisan issue.

The French fact also raises a distinction with respect to strategies for integration. I was not just talking through my hat when I said that this is a non-partisan issue.

Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, the minister responsible for immigration under Robert Bourassa's government in the 1990s, who is still the member for Saint-François in the National Assembly, suggested that immigrants be party to a “moral contract”. The moral contract comprised five elements. It recognized that French was the official language, the language of the common public culture. Things like that prove that historically, Quebec never supported ethnic nationalism, and that is even truer today. Anyone who knows or wants to learn French and who lives in Quebec is a Quebecker.

Gérald Godin, poet, former minister of cultural communities and member for Mercier, who defeated Robert Bourassa in 1976, quite rightly said that there are 100 ways to be a Quebecker.

But the 100 ways of being a Quebecker have to converge in one and the same reality, which is knowledge, learning and promotion of French.

In 1990, Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay, who is not a sovereigntist, who is not a separatist, proposed a moral integration contract in response to multiculturalism. There were a number of elements, among them knowledge of French and the fact that Quebec is a secular society. As far as the operation of institutions is concerned, Quebec is a secular society, which does not mean that people are not entitled to their religious life or to deep faith. That is not the issue.

We asked for a third element, namely recognition of the democratic culture that comes about by participating in Quebec’s democratic institutions. It may be remembered that Quebec is one of the oldest democracies in North America, if not the oldest. That is certainly true when it comes to the parliamentary system, which came about with the Constitution Act of 1791 and where the first Speaker of the National Assembly was, if I am not mistaken, Mr. Panet. I know that there are history teachers in this place, and I would hate to be wrong.

So, we have knowledge of French, development of democratic institutions, acceptance of the fact that Quebec is a secular society and another element in that moral integration contract for immigrants, an extremely important value that we had occasion to recall during the proceedings of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, namely that Quebec is a society which puts men and women on an equal footing. We do not accept the view that women are inferior or men are superior.

We ask immigrants to believe in the equality of men and women. After Pierre Elliott Trudeau, it was the Conservatives under Brian Mulroney—I do not know if I evoke good or bad memories in this House when I utter his name—who in 1988 passed the Multiculturalism Act.

The message of multiculturalism is that you can retain your original cultural without taking part in the common public culture of your host society. All governments, Robert Bourassa, Jacques Parizeau and the others promoted interculturalism. That is what the Bloc québécois wants, and the Quebec Conservative caucus votes for this motion out of national pride.

Opposition motion—Compliance with the Charter of the French Language regarding enterprises under federal jurisdiction located in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague on his speech. This morning, I heard an English-speaking Liberal colleague complaining that we were not protecting her rights in Quebec. If memory serves, her party offered Montreal’s McGill University $10 million to teach Francophone nurses in English so that they could serve Quebec anglophones.

We recognize the needs of the anglophone community in Quebec, and we give proper recognition to immigrants, too, by endeavouring to integrate them and refraining from practising multiculturalism.

I would like to ask my colleague to what extent Quebeckers are able to accommodate both the anglophone community and immigrants coming to Quebec.

Opposition motion—Compliance with the Charter of the French Language regarding enterprises under federal jurisdiction located in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I, too, was somewhat surprised by the statement from the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, a parliamentarian whom I respect. She is a very forward-thinking woman who has waged very courageous battles in the past, but I think that she was wrong in her assessment of the dynamics between francophones and anglophones.

Now is the time to bring this up, because the television series recounting the career of René Lévesque has been running on Radio-Canada for the past two weeks. It is important to know that on the very day the Parti québécois was created, René Lévesque battled within that emerging movement to ensure historical recognition, long-lasting recognition, of what he called Quebec’s founding minority, and that tradition continued with Jacques Parizeau. Remember that in the 1995 draft legislation, which was mailed to every household in Quebec, we recognized the historical rights of the anglophone community.

To the MacDonalds, the Browns and the Smiths who worked alongside francophones to build Quebec, we say that they have an historical place from kindergarten to university, that in every aspect of public life, this is their home and it would be impossible to imagine Quebec without them. That was the message conveyed by René Lévesque and Jacques Parizeau, and that is the message conveyed by Pauline Marois and the sovereigntist movement. That is the reason why there is civil rest in Quebec.

Opposition motion—Compliance with the Charter of the French Language regarding enterprises under federal jurisdiction located in QuebecBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for his fine presentation. Not so long ago — and I think it is still the case now — Quebec’s anglophone minority was considered to be the best-treated minority in all of Canada.

I would like to ask my colleague why it can be said today that we have integrated that minority better than any other province has integrated francophone minorities outside Quebec.