This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ndp.

Topics

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Tsawwassen First NationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bertha Williams' family has lived on the Tsawwassen reserve for generations. More than half of all Tsawwassen band members live off reserve yet are able to vote on the proposed treaty and the reserve's land use plan. This upsets her.

In a recent speech, Bertha stated:

A lot of our elders...are new to our community...They lost their status years ago. They went off, got married, they didn't want to be labelled as native....

These elders...don't know our history...don't know our culture.

Bertha states emphatically:

I have never surrendered my birthright...I have never left my homeland....

[But] we are outnumbered...The majority of those who are voting band members live off the reserve.

There are people that live in Alabama, Los Angeles...across the Prairies...They are band members but they have no intention of ever living on the reserve. Yet they are voting on our business.

A lot of them have never even visited the Reserve. It is just ludicrous how they have so much to say on our livelihood...I see it as the demise of my people.

Bertha's complete speech can be heard at johncummins.ca.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians have voiced their disapproval of CBC radio's plan to disband its Vancouver based orchestra, which has been performing live since 1938.

While this is troubling, especially for me as a Vancouverite, what should be the real cause for alarm is that this cut is symptomatic of a greater problem.

The CBC has been bleeding slowly from lack of funding for necessary infrastructure to convert to digital and for radio transmitters to expand its regional and rural reach. It has had to dip into operational funds. This means program cuts.

In its recent report on the review of the CBC, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage called for a substantial increase in funding, including urgent one-time infrastructure money. The Conservative government has yet to respond.

If the government continues to drag its feet, Canadians will be forced to watch CBC whittle away at its essential programming. Canada ranks 16th out of 18 western nations in funding its public broadcaster.

What a public shame.

Centre-du-Québec Tourism AwardsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, three Drummondville-area tourist attractions received awards at the recent evening presentation of the Grands Prix du tourisme de la région Centre-du-Québec. The three recipients were the Village Québécois d'Antan, AO La Fantastique Légende, and an outdoor adventure park called Réseaux Plein Air Drummond.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2007, the historical Québécois village, which won in the “Tourist attractions--100,000 visitors and more” category, beat all attendance records. And the neighbouring attraction, the multimedia show, AO La Fantastique Légende, performed a brand new show made possible by an investment of nearly $3 million. This show earned them the award for “Tourist attraction--Under 100,000 visitors”.

Réseaux Plein Air Drummond opened an aerial circuit called D'Arbre en Arbre in the Saint-Joachim-de-Courval sector of the park, which clinched the “Outdoor and Leisure Activities” prize for them.

Congratulations to all the directors and volunteers of these organizations.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Catherine Bell NDP Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian women are tired of being treated like afterthoughts by the Conservative government.

Half the population paying over $42 billion in taxes should have warranted more than a few words in the Conservative budget, and its promise to draft an action plan sometime next year to improve women's economic and social conditions is another slap in the face.

I guess the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages does not know that such a document already exists, and has since 1995, and can be found on the Status of Women website.

This promise to draft a plan and the Conservative budget do virtually nothing for Canadian women struggling to balance work and family life, and its “tax cuts are the answer” to a potential economic downturn means that women must wait even longer for the government to even consider their real and urgent needs.

Women benefit most from investments in vital services such as affordable child care, housing and tuition, but none of these appeared in the budget, despite the availability of huge surpluses.

Instead, the budget hammers home the government's key priorities: tax cuts and debt reduction. However, the bigger question is this: what happened to the surplus?

Member for Desnethé--Missinippi--Churchill RiverStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, tansi, delangete, bonjour and hello. On December 21, 2007, the byelection for the riding of Desnethé--Missinippi--Churchill River was announced. On March 17, the constituents spoke out loud and clear and now I stand before the House as a member of Parliament for the Conservative Party of Canada.

I am deeply honoured and humbled to be standing here today. I would like to thank my wife Leanne, my son Kobey and my daughter Kabree for providing me with the support and the opportunity to be the candidate for the Conservative Party.

I would like to thank all my supporters and volunteers. If I miss anyone, I apologize. I would like to thank: Fraser McFarlane; Brad Hvidston; the Cameron family from Meadow Lake; Leroy Laliberte; Bruce and Collette Janes; Thomas Syrzecki; Winston McKay; and Jimmy Durocher.

On July 7, 2006, while I was stationed with the RCMP in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan, two members were fatally shot. I would like to dedicate this byelection to the memory of Constable Marc Bourdages and Constable Robin Cameron.

Merci, thank you, and hi-hi.

National Congress of Italian CanadiansStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 28, 2008, the National Congress of Italian Canadians, Quebec region, held its first-ever “Ordine al Merito” gala evening, and as the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, I had the honour to attend.

This evening was in recognition of the extraordinary and exemplary contributions made by individuals to the development and well-being of our community over the years, economically, socially and culturally.

I would like to congratulate Antonio Sciascia, the president, and the members of the board of directors for this wonderful initiative.

I would also like to congratulate the recipients of the order of merit. Maria Marelli won in the social category, Gerlando Argento won in the economic development category, Ermanno LaRiccia won in the cultural category, and Joe Reda won in the economic category.

These remarkable people and their achievements in our society are indicative of the wonderful contributions made by members of the Italian community here in Canada.

UN World Autism Awareness DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Lake Conservative Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont, AB

Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago yesterday, my wife and I received word from doctors that our two and a half year old son, Jaden, had autism.

Today we mark the first ever UN World Autism Awareness Day. It is a day not only to discuss the many challenges that accompany this mysterious disorder, but to share and celebrate the truly unique and authentic individuals who have autism.

Jaden may not be a star hockey player or a straight A student, but he and other individuals with autism are remarkable in ways that we tend to undervalue in our goal oriented society.

Jaden does not know how to hate. He can be aggressive, but is never intentionally mean, and he does not know when other kids are being mean to him. He never gossips or holds a grudge.

He is 100% genuine and honest with his feelings, something that is particularly difficult when he is sad, because usually he is unable to communicate the reason for his tears.

Almost every single person in Jaden's life would say that they get more from him than he takes from them. We should all hope to one day achieve that kind of impact through our own lives.

Monique LerouxStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 15, Monique Leroux became the first woman in 108 years to be elected as the president and chief executive officer of the Desjardins Group. She is also the world's first female president of a major financial institution.

Ms. Leroux, who is 53, has served as Desjardins' chief financial officer since 2004. She was named one of Canada's top 100 most powerful women, and one of the top 25 women to watch in 2008. Last year, she received a leadership award from the Association des femmes en finance du Québec.

This appointment is the crowning achievement of Ms. Leroux's impressive career. She was an auditor with Ernst & Young, president of the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec, the Royal Bank's vice-president for the Quebec region, and vice-president and chief of operations with Quebecor.

Congratulations, Ms. Leroux. You are a model of success and accomplishment for all Quebeckers, both men and women. My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I wish you every success in your new job.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rahim Jaffer Conservative Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the new Liberal intergovernmental affairs critic, Gerard Kennedy, promised during the Liberal leadership race that he would run for election in western Canada.

Kennedy said the Liberals have to do a better job of representing the west even if he has to run in the region himself. He also said the only thing that would prevent him from running out west would be the Conservative government forcing an election before the leadership convention.

However, that did not happen, and this anointed Liberal candidate is now running in Parkdale—High Park in Toronto. I know Parkdale—High Park is on the western side of downtown Toronto, but it seems that our friend is a little lost. Maybe Mr. Kennedy needs a lesson in geography, but as we witnessed in the recent byelections, I think it will take a lot more than that to find fortune for the Liberal Party in western Canada.

JapanStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Japan. This is a historic relationship that has been nurtured over the years since 1928.

Although our countries are separated by the Pacific Ocean, we have built strong and lasting bridges in the areas of commerce, trade, cultural exchanges and peacekeeping missions: “Miles apart--Minds together”.

Japan has the second largest economy in the world and Canada has played an important and integral part in advancing business opportunities in Japan as well as encouraging Japanese investments in Canada.

Canadians of Japanese ancestry who arrived here over 100 years ago have contributed immensely in the areas of environment, commerce and architecture, to name a few.

Today, the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group will hold a reception with His Excellency, Ambassador Nishida of Japan, that will highlight the relationship between our two countries. This will be the first of a series of events bringing Canadians together to celebrate this unique and important relationship. Arigato gozaimasu.

Premier of OntarioStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, in yet another confusing development from Queen's Park, today Ontario municipal affairs minister Jim Watson is criticizing the federal government on our commitment to affordable housing. That is remarkable, considering the province has $165 million in unspent federal housing dollars from 2006.

Premier McGuinty often complains about our criticism of his government, but when two years have passed and he cannot seem to find a way to distribute federal housing dollars, people will understand our frustration when he sends out ministers like Jim Watson who are less than fulsome in their remarks.

Mr. McGuinty can try to play politics on important matters like affordable housing, but it would be nice if he recognized his responsibility and actually got the job done.

Perhaps while he is at it, Dalton McGuinty might also want to send a signal that the province of Ontario actually wants to compete with other jurisdictions by reducing the provincial corporate income tax rate and even getting around to harmonizing its investment in the job killing PST with the GST. It is just a suggestion, in the interest of all Ontarians.

First Nations Technical InstituteStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the sad record of the Conservative government on aboriginal education got worse.

First Nations Technical Institute was saved from closing, not by these Conservatives but by the Ontario government, which guaranteed additional funding of $1.5 million to make sure classes run next year.

For three budgets, two economic statements and uncountable lectures from the Conservative side of the House, Canadians have been told that education is a priority for the government, but its record proves otherwise.

There has been no support for a crown jewel of aboriginal education, FNTI, which was created through a partnership between Tyendinaga and the province of Ontario and the federal government. Now the Conservatives are telling FNTI it should replace federal funding with fundraising.

Congratulations to FNTI for this last minute step back from the brink, but shame on the Conservative government for refusing to come to the table and work with aboriginal people to ensure education really is a priority.

Anne of Green GablesStatements By Members

April 2nd, 2008 / 2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of the well-known story Anne of Green Gables. To mark this anniversary, there will be many events in Prince Edward Island to commemorate and celebrate this event.

The celebration of this anniversary offers my province and readers from around the world the chance not only to celebrate the character of Anne Shirley, but also to celebrate all things Montgomery's book has made famous, the creativity, optimism, determination and the beauty of Prince Edward Island.

The publication of Anne of Green Gables a century ago has inspired great musicals, plays, television shows, movies and other books that are thriving today. The imagination found in this book transcends the world, as it has been translated into 30 languages.

I extend an invitation to all to come to Prince Edward Island this year to celebrate the anniversary of this wonderful book, Anne of Green Gables.

Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of QuebecStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, in a burst of enthusiasm, the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and member for Jonquière—Alma accused the Bloc Québécois of not being vigilant.

Speaking of vigilance, he is incapable of negotiating his own budgets in cabinet and has no power within his party. As a result, $107 million for Quebec and the regions has been lost. “Powerless” is the first adjective that comes to mind, but “useless” is even more fitting.

By levelling these accusations against the Bloc, the minister is trying to divert attention away from the fact that it is the Bloc that brought to light the $107 million in cuts to his budget.

The minister can go ahead and criticize the Bloc's role in Ottawa all he likes, but the fact is that most Quebeckers chose the Bloc to represent them in Ottawa, because the Bloc Québécois best defends the interests of Quebeckers.

World Autism Awareness DayStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise today to acknowledge and celebrate the new UN resolution marking today, April 2, the first annual World Autism Awareness Day.

It has been more than a year and a half since I introduced my private member's motion calling for evidence based standards, innovative funding arrangements for diagnosis, treatment and research and a national surveillance program.

The motion was adopted in good faith and supported by the government. It is therefore regrettable that the Conservative government has made no mention of a national autism strategy in its past two budgets.

This is about improving the lives of hundreds of Canadian children and families. I call on the government to work with the provinces to take concrete action and make the necessary investments to finally implement a national autism strategy.

The Bloc QuébécoisStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, a few months shy of their 18th anniversary, the Bloc members are hoping to dispel the unprecedented existential crisis they are experiencing as the perpetual opposition party. We often hear the Bloc leader say that democracy should not be reduced to just exercising power because if that were the case parliaments would be closed.

Despite the Bloc's attempt to make democracy a simple matter of asking questions in the House, the fact remains that, before making such statements, it would be best that it consult its own members.

Last Monday, a Bloc member declared, “Being in opposition wears you down. I know some individuals who would like to use their abilities to govern.” I agree with this unidentified colleague.

The Bloc should immediately stop misleading Canadians and acknowledge that it is useful for an MP to be a member of government. In 18 years in Ottawa, the Bloc has spent more than 6,000 days in perpetual opposition, asked more than 4,000 questions in the House, made more than 700 empty promises and yielded no concrete results because it cannot come to power.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I used a 1988 quote from the Prime Minister on immigration, but he had more to say in 2001 when he said:

—west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from Eastern Canada; people who live in ghettos and are not integrated into Western Canadian society.

Is it not true that the Prime Minister's view about immigration has not changed in 20 years?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 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, the views are nonsense as is evidenced by the fact that under this government we have the highest levels ever of immigration in Canadian history, which helps fuel our economy.

On another note, I noticed today that the secretive and controlling Liberal leader is now trying to turn to the courts to censor the media. It is based on the argument that being publicly identified as a Liberal in the province of Quebec can cause irreparable harm to someone's reputation. I understand that argument.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

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

Here is what the Prime Minister had to say about immigrants and immigration in 2001: “West of Winnipeg, the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from Eastern Canada; people who live in ghettos and are not integrated into western Canadian society.” Ghettos!

It is not true the Prime Minister's opinion on immigration and immigrants has not changed in 20 years?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 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, that is nonsense. It was the Liberal Party that introduced the Chinese head tax. It was the Liberal Party that then expanded it to apply to all immigrants in the form of a high landing fee. It was the Liberal Party that opposed the reduction in the landing fee that we brought into place. When we presented an apology for the Chinese head tax, the Liberal leader was nowhere to be seen.

Do members know where he is this week?

I understand he is fighting in court. What I understand is that the leader of the Liberal Party wants to turn to the courts to censor the media. This action is based on the notion of being publicly recognized as a Liberal—

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have every right to be concerned about the government's hidden agenda on immigration, on censorship, on minority rights, on the Constitution.

That is why I am asking again: Why is the government attempting to make radical changes to the immigration system through the back door instead of bringing forward independent legislation and being honest with Canadians?

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 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, we are very honest with Canadians. We tell them where we stand and then we vote that way when we stand in our place in the House.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party are going to have a chance to do that on the very bill about which they are talking. The debate starts in the House tomorrow. They can debate it as long as they want. They can do what they like on the bill. They can even stand in their place and vote against it if they do not like it. We are waiting to see them do that, but I suspect they are going to implement his strategy of seeking only power and not bothering to stand up regardless of the issue.

The Liberals are only interested in calling an election when the poll numbers are right for them.

ImmigrationOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, we cannot fix the immigration backlog by giving the minister powers to pick her favourite immigrants. We cannot fix the backlog by throwing a meagre $22 million at the problem. We cannot fix the backlog by cherry-picking the queue. We should not fix the backlog by capping immigration levels. This is not a solution to the problem.

Will the minister admit that this so-called reform is a power grab so she gets to pick and choose who gets into the country? Will she then explain why we are supposed to trust her?