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House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

I rise today in shock and disgust over the way the government is attacking Elections Canada, one of the most respected electoral organizations in the world. Elections Canada has become an international leader in conducting fair, open and accountable elections. Whether it is the creation of the national register of electors or its successful introduction of computers into the administration of an election, our elections serve as a model for countries around the world.

Our honoured international reputation began to take shape in the 1980s when our assistant chief electoral officer was invited to observe elections in several Central American countries. By the 1990s, the trend had exploded as Elections Canada was flooded with requests not only to serve as international monitors but also to conduct assessments for fairness and to advise foreign governments. Over the decade, Elections Canada hosted more than 125 foreign delegations and participated in an amazing 300 missions abroad.

If one reads the official mandate of Elections Canada, it states that the organization is an independent body set up by Parliament. This is a fundamental point to note in light of accusations that the Prime Minister and his officials have been making about Elections Canada since the RCMP raided their party headquarters.

The Conservatives have called the raid “a PR stunt and a tactic of intimidation”. The government House leader has said that Elections Canada had no justification or right to begin such an inquiry, which is a comment that questions its very legitimacy. Other government ministers have accused the Chief Electoral Officer of abusing his powers by launching the investigation as a bargaining chip over a civil lawsuit.

The member for Nepean—Carleton has spoken about Elections Canada, inviting the Liberal Party to watch the raid. Internal documents revealed that the Conservative Party had even ordered its MPs and former candidates to deny knowledge of this issue.

The most ludicrous Conservative attack has been the claim that this raid was the result of a 10-year-old vendetta against the Prime Minister for his criticism of Elections Canada when he was with the National Citizens Coalition. This is absolutely ridiculous, as both the Chief Electoral Officer and the Elections Commissioner were appointed during the Conservatives' time in office. This government has stooped to these tactics to take the focus away from their own actions in the 2006 election.

Under the in and out scheme, the Conservative Party shifted money from its national office into 67 local ridings and immediately demanded the money back, allowing the party to disregard election spending limits and to unfairly spend an extra $1 million on national advertising.

What I find so surprising is how the party leadership completely ignored those local campaigns and candidates, which had a problem with the plot. For example, two ridings initially declined to participate, citing questions about the legality of the actions. How did the Conservatives respond? As always, they expected complete and utter control.

Mike Donison, the Conservative Party president, during the election campaign wrote in an email to Conservative officials, “Why should they be allowed to just outright refuse?” A better question would be: Why should they not be allowed to refuse? Other local officials knew it was wrong and did the right thing.

Barbro Soderberg, the official agent for Toronto candidate Steven Halicki, said she fought back against party officials, stating, “As a bookkeeper, I know that sometimes you have to use creative accounting between two small companies...but I found this move was being a little too creative”.

Andrew Kumpf, an executive with Retail Media, the company that designed the ads, emailed his concerns to the Conservative Party, writing, “While our thinking is that this option would be legal, we are not certain of this beyond all reasonable doubt”.

Douglas Lowry, the official agent for candidate Sam Goldstein in Trinity—Spadina in Toronto, told Elections Canada investigators that “There was no discussion pertaining to the advertising or its benefit to the Goldstein campaign”. There are many others.

As we can see from these statements, many people told the party that the in and out scheme would break rules and the laws of our country. The simple and sad fact of the matter is the Conservative Party chose not to listen.

The RCMP raids at Conservative headquarters would have never happened if the party fully cooperated with investigators. Instead, the Tories first refused to work with a parliamentary committee trying to investigate the scheme and then they declined to provide documents to Elections Canada.

This controversy is about a government that believes it is above the law and beyond reproach. It also demonstrates how arrogant the Prime Minister has become. He is no longer prepared to listen to his own candidates or local party supporters.

I want to conclude with the words of the Prime Minister during the last campaign. “I pledge to you”, he said, “to introduce the most sweeping reforms in Ottawa's history, to create a future environment where governments will have to be accountable”.

My question for the government is: What happened?

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the remarks of my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party and I would like to hear him on something that happened in December 2006, when the Conservative Party admitted having omitted to disclose to the Chief Electoral Officer hundreds of thousands of dollars that it had received. We will recall that these were fees charged to Conservative delegates to attend the party's convention in May 2005. The party having been forced to consider registration fees as contributions, the report stated that the Conservative Party then discovered that three delegates, including the Prime Minister himself, had exceeded the $5,400 yearly limit for contributions to the party and, as a result, the party was forced to return $456 to the Prime Minister and two other delegates.

Granted, these may seem like insignificant amounts, but something more significant is hidden behind them. The Conservatives who, at first, claimed that they had followed the law were eventually forced to backpedal, hence the similarity with this in and out scheme with respect to election expenses.

Will the member recognize that the Conservative Party would have been expected to act in this instance as it did when it admitted that illegal contributions were received in connection with the party's 2005 convention?

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I cannot agree more with the member. He already has covered it very well. In fact it is the culture of entitlement of the Conservative Party and that is clearly demonstrated.

When we look at the example my hon. colleague gave, the Conservative Party even on that issue always said that it followed the law as interpreted. In 2006, when Elections Canada questioned the party on the procedure to not book its 2005 convention fees as political donations, both the Prime Minister and Michael Donison, who was then the executive director of the party, claimed they had followed the law. Months later they quietly amended their 2005 filing with Elections Canada to include these fees.

What does that tell us? It clearly demonstrates that the Conservative Party is telling Canadians that it has followed all the laws, all the regulations. Similarly it had the same myth a few years back. In fact, it had to backpedal at that time. Now the Conservatives are trying to hide these irregularities in 67 ridings. They would not have formed the government if they had followed the law and had spent the money allowed for the advertising campaign.

I appreciate the input from the hon. member of the Bloc.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, 67 ridings is roughly 20% of the ridings in the country. It is a pretty significant number. Has the hon. member, within either his riding or in ridings immediately next to him, any knowledge as to whether any of the candidates who ran against him or ran against other colleagues in his approximate area participated in this scheme?

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the candidates who ran against me in the ridings surrounding me spent their money to the fullest. At this point in time, I do not have that information, but we never know. With the investigation going on, who knows what could come out in the next few months. What the government wants to do is sweep everything under the rug so it can go to an election before the investigation is complete.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak in support of the Bloc opposition motion:

That the House express its full and complete confidence in Elections Canada and the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

Noting that six of the British Columbia Conservative MPs participated in this in and out scheme, I wanted to share time with my colleague and speak in support of the motion.

The Conservative Party appears to have devised a systematic scheme to cheat the Elections Canada rules with respect to financing campaigns. Elections Canada caught the Conservative Party red-handed with this and is investigating.

The key that I want to bring to this debate is the lack of accountability by the Conservative Party and government, which I believe is at the heart of its response to the issue of having perhaps been caught cheating.

There appears to not only be a systematic scheme to get around Elections Canada laws, but this ties into what appears to be a systematic scheme to undermine democracy in Canada. One of my colleagues, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, spoke earlier about a number of officers of Parliament who were fired or forced to resign by the Conservative government when they criticized or did not support the Prime Minister or the Conservative Party in some way or another. That is a very long and now growing list.

I want to point out that the president of the Law Commission of Canada was fired in September 2006. A scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada, Andrew Okulitch, was fired in September 2006 for objecting to an order that he praise Canada's new government in supposedly non-partisan correspondence. Allan Amey, the president of the Canada Emission Reduction Incentives Agency was fired and his agency dismantled. Jack Anawak, the ambassador of Circumpolar Affairs, an important area and issue in Canada, was fired and his position eliminated in September 2006. The ambassador for the Environment was fired in 2006, and I wonder to what she was objecting.

We have a systematic pattern of the Conservative government not wanting people in positions of neutral responsibility and respect to comment on the its activities.

The ethics commissioner, Bernard Shapiro, resigned after several run-ins with the Prime Minister over the appointment of the trade minister. Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the Chief Electoral Officer, “resigned” in December 2006 after forcing the Conservatives to admit they violated election financing laws. It looks like forced out to many people. John Reid, the Information Commissioner, was forced out in September 2006 after criticizing the Prime Minister. The chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board “resigned” in March 2007 because of government's attempt to politicize the Immigration Review Board.

The list goes on. The ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces was forced out, only two years into a five year appointment, after months of not seeing eye to eye with the government.

We could then go to the muzzling of a respected Environment Canada scientist, Mark Tushingham, who was prohibited by the government in April 2006 from promoting his book on global warming, probably because the government had cut most of the Liberal programs to deal with the challenge of global warming and reduce greenhouse gases.

I am pointing to a systematic scheme to undermine democracy by treating commissioners and other officers of the House and other respected non-partisan members of the fabric and network of democracy in Canada of undermining them and their ability to scrutinize the government and to comment on the activities and actions of the government and the Prime Minister.

The decision to take the Chief Electoral Officer to court when that office discovered a possible systematic scheme of cheating the taxpayers of Canada through this in and out scandal is just one in that lineup of the undermining of our democracy here in Canada. It is certainly not something with which Canadians can be comfortable.

I am looking forward to having Elections Canada shed light on what actually happened and begin to stop this systematic scheme of suppressing, firing and forcing to resign, and specious lawsuits against anyone who has the courage to speak up about the activities of the Prime Minister and the Conservative government.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the hon. member's remarks and I would like her opinion on the following.

We know that the Conservatives were particularly keen on attacking the Liberal Party of Canada on the sponsorship scandal. The hon. member was not a member of Parliament at the time, but the Conservative Party was strutting around and patting itself on the back for being as pure as the driven snow, and particularly for having a Prime Minister who was the Mr. Clean of transparency.

But when something happens that the Prime Minister does not like, or the Conservative Party does not like, there they are attacking the credibility of others. They do not just attack the credibility of other opposition parties, feeling as they do that they alone have a monopoly on the truth, they tell us that Elections Canada is an imperfect institution. They proclaim themselves to be the champions of transparency, and, whenever they have an opportunity, they tell us how wonderful they are for having implemented C-2, the Accountability Act.

I would like to hear the hon. member's opinion on why Justice Gomery, two years after having submitted his report, is complaining about the Conservatives' delay in putting his findings into effect.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member points out the absolute difference between the Conservative Party approach and the Liberals' approach to problems when they were in government.

The government's approach is to obfuscate and attack and, in doing so, to try to fend off legitimate concerns about its activities that are undermining the integrity of government. The previous Liberal government, when the sponsorship issue was brought to the attention of the then prime minister, Paul Martin, immediately took steps to cancel the program, bring in the RCMP, call for an inquiry, and in every way be open and accountable and make sure that those who were responsible for breaking the law were identified and charged.

We have seen that happen. That is leadership. That is the responsible thing to do. Leaders who deny, obfuscate and attack are being irresponsible and are not transparent. The comment made by Justice Gomery that his recommendations are not being fulfilled is absolutely correct. It is just further to that pattern of the lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the Conservative government.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra is new, but I would remind her that the former prime minister is still the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard and should not be referred to in the way she referred to him until perhaps after the next election. The hon. member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member, who made a statement in her speech to the effect that the former chief electoral officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, was fired. I know she is new around this place, although she has been involved in politics elsewhere in the country for a long time. I will read from the Globe and Mail of February 2008, which stated that Jean-Pierre Kingsley “denied yesterday that his sudden resignation was sparked by political pressure from the Conservative government”.

I want to give the member an opportunity to withdraw what she just said. She is an hon. member and that would be the honourable thing to do. He went on to say, in referring to the allegation she just made:

There's no basis to that at all. I couldn't understand when that came out at all. There were linkages that were being drawn that escaped me entirely.

Mr. Kingsley revealed that he was leaving his job to take a new post heading a major Washington-based organization, IFES, that helps to organize and monitor elections around the world.

I will give the hon. member an opportunity to be honourable by withdrawing her statement, because clearly from the words of Jean-Pierre Kingsley himself he was not fired by this Conservative government but made a choice to move on to other opportunities.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe my words were that the former chief electoral officer was forced out, resigned under pressure, and if I said “fired”, I will correct that and replace it with the words “forced out”.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Drummond.

I am pleased to join the debate today to reaffirm the full and complete confidence of the Bloc Québécois and, I hope, of this entire House, in the work of Elections Canada.

We know very well that our democratic system is recognized around the world for its transparency, its fairness and its integrity. This is why teams created by Elections Canada are often invited to supervise voting in other countries, the Ukraine and Haiti being two recent examples.

If Elections Canada’s expertise has become a touchstone internationally it is mainly because voting in Canada is conducted within a very strict legal framework that allows the different parties to compete on an equal basis during an election campaign. Generally speaking, everyone respects the legal framework, which allows us to hold elections that are fair and democratic.

Obviously, it happens that some candidates make mistakes, through error or ignorance of the law. That is why we have Elections Canada; to monitor the parties and candidates, to ensure that no one abuses or infringes the law.

To ensure democratic elections, the people at Elections Canada have to feel that they have the trust of Parliament, of the candidates and the voters. If that trust is broken, the quality of our democratic life is affected.

For several weeks now, the Conservatives, in particular the member for Nepean—Carleton, have implied that Elections Canada is prejudiced against their party. As long as he was fantasizing, the member might also have said that Elections Canada is a nest of Liberals and horrible separatists. Why not go all the way?

Such remarks constitute an attack on the quality of democratic life. They create the impression that the agency has lost its independence. Allow me, Mr. Speaker, to record my disagreement in that respect.

What is happening right now is a beautiful example of the principle, “If you do not like the message, shoot the messenger.” In fact, since the election in the winter of 2005-06, the Conservatives have run out of ways to justify the things they did. The Conservative Party tried to get around the rules. They thought they were above the law and now they are clumsily trying to justify their actions. But there is no doubt in my mind about what happened.

The Commissioner of Canada Elections was doing his job when he refused to reimburse the expenses of 67 Conservative Party candidates, since the expenses were in violation of the Elections Act. Elections Canada maintains that the Conservative Party developed a system to surpass the authorized spending limits for a political party by having some candidates pay for national advertising.

Of the 67 candidates who allegedly helped their party surpass the authorized limit, several are from my region. In my riding of Compton—Stanstead, one of my opponents was caught up in this shady affair.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:50 p.m.

An hon. member

Say it outside the House.

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

I would be happy to.

My Conservative opponent, Gary Caldwell, said this week that he had trusted party leaders when he agreed to have money deposited in the local organization's account. Mr. Caldwell told the newspaper La Tribune that the money was supposed to be spent on local advertising, but that did not happen. He had the wisdom to return the money when he was informed by Elections Canada that this was illegal, and I can say that outside the House.

In Richmond—Arthabaska, former candidate Jean Landry claimed that he spent $55,000 on his campaign and that Elections Canada refused to reimburse $26,000 for a local advertisement that went national.

Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Landry are not the only ones who have come out about what happened in their party, but some do not dare say anything. Some of the candidates who participated in this shady scheme are sitting here today in this House, including the member for Mégantic—L'Érable and members from the Quebec City area. I was amused to learn on the weekend—

Opposition Motion—Elections CanadaBusiness of SupplyGovernment Business

2 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Order, please. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member for Compton—Stanstead but we must proceed to statements by members. The hon. member will have five minutes to finish her speech after question period.

Member for Red DeerStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Mills Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I have decided not to run in the next election and my replacement, Earl Dreeshen, has been chosen to run for the Conservative Party.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all the constituents of my riding of Red Deer who have, at each election, given me an increased mandate for each of five elections. At close to 80% of the vote, I guess I was afraid to try it one more time.

For the past 15 years, my constituents have treated Nicole and me with unbelievable courtesy and respect and have thanked us profusely for our service. These thanks are what kept both of us going over the years.

I will always remember my first question when I stood as foreign affairs critic for the Reform Party and how André Ouellet was so kind to me.

I will remember the stained glass windows and the feeling of honour in representing my constituents in this place.

I will remember the Monday to Thursday speech on Kyoto when I tried to tell the Liberal government and Canadians how hard it would be to hit the targets by 2012 and how we needed to start now.

I will remember the scrums, news conferences and interviews with people like Don Newman, Mike Duffy and Julie Van Dusen. Honestly, they treated me fairly. Not many politicians can say that.

I want to thank my staff in Ottawa and in Red Deer, especially Louise, who has been with my for 15 years. I also want to thank my constituents, Albertans and Canadians.

Grant Park High SchoolStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, April 2, the students of Grant Park High School in Winnipeg participated in the world's biggest lesson. I was privileged to attend as a witness.

Along with potentially millions of students around the world, 400 young people at Grant Park attempted to set a Guinness record for participating in the world's largest lesson. In the same half hour, these students learned about the necessary components of quality education for children around the world, the need for trained teachers, for adequate resources, enough textbooks and access to schools where they live.

They learned that one in four women world-wide cannot read or write. They also learned that if a girl in Africa completes primary school, her income has the potential of doubling. She also can reduce by half the chances of catching HIV or AIDS. And, they learned much more about the responsibilities of being citizens of the world.

Coupled with the lessons of the classroom, two students, Austin MacKay and Kyle Geronimo, produced a rap video to reinforce the importance of accessible quality education for students world-wide.

We have to give congratulations to Grant Park for a lesson well learned.

Gabrielle SavardStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, Ms. Gabrielle Savard passed away last fall at the age of 95. She was the very first woman to serve as committee clerk in the House of Commons.

In June 1961, she set a precedent in the House of Commons by becoming the first woman to serve as a committee clerk. Originally from Rivière-du-Loup, Ms. Savard was well versed in parliamentary procedure and fluently bilingual. Ms. Savard was a well-rounded individual and a staunch supporter of women and the French language throughout her career. Her courage and perseverance propelled her to the top of the senior civil service in Ottawa.

Ms. Gabrielle Savard was a pioneer who proved that women can be highly competent in areas formerly reserved for men.

National Volunteer WeekStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is National Volunteer Week, a chance to pay tribute to a precious resource in our communities.

Much of what we take for granted is delivered to us by volunteers. They serve on boards and service clubs, help out in schools, churches, health care, arts and culture, and minor sports. The list is endless. Volunteers fundraise, feed and comfort.

Just today, five Canadian Red Cross volunteers from the Sault Ste. Marie and District branch left for Thunder Bay to work in shelters set up for evacuees from Fort Albany.

This weekend, Johnson township will pay tribute to coaches and other volunteers helping in an outstanding recreation program.

This Friday, I will attend a Volunteer Sault Ste. Marie and United Way dinner honouring 337 volunteers, outstanding representatives of many more who give of their time and talents.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma and I want to thank them.

ChinaStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government has always supported dialogue between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama. We have always encouraged a peaceful resolution of differences; one that protects the rights of the Tibetans.

The recent unrest in Tibet has demonstrated the urgent need for a resolution. This government consistently pressed for dialogue between the Chinese government and the representatives of the Dalai Lama during this crisis.

This government welcomes China's recent decision to meet representatives of the Dalai Lama. We are pleased that it has acknowledged that it is time for dialogue.

As always, Canada is ready to support a meaningful, substantial dialogue. An early, peaceful resolution is in the interests of all.

Public TransitStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government of British Columbia has announced an ambitious plan to double public transit ridership by 2020.

It calls for investments in four rapid transit rail lines, nine new rapid bus lines and upgraded clean buses. In my riding, the old inter-urban rail corridor has been protected for the future.

The transit plan will reduce congestion, decrease greenhouse gases and lower energy use.

The province has committed $5 billion to the plan and is calling for the federal government to commit only $3 billion.

I, along with my constituents, Cory Hollick and Divia Matoo, who are here in Ottawa today, urge the federal government to get behind British Columbia so that it can become a world leader in public transit.

Clean Energy InitiativesStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I inform members about the clean energy initiatives in my riding of Macleod.

Macleod is among the most forward-thinking ridings in the country when it comes to using renewable energy. Hundreds of wind turbines produce almost 2 million megawatt hours of electricity, enough to power than 100,000 homes each year.

The Waterton hydroelectric plant produces a further 14,000 megawatt hours of electricity every year.

In addition, Okotoks boasts North America's first solar powered community.

By using renewable energies, such as hydroelectricity, wind energy and solar power, my riding is lowering its energy costs and is helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta and across the country.

I would like to congratulate my constituents for embracing these environmental initiatives and I applaud the Conservative government for encouraging the use of clean energy.

Jessica Bossé-CharlandStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to introduce Jessica Bossé-Charland, from Warwick, the winner of the second “MP for a day” competition for students of the Cégep de Victoriaville.

In a course entitled “Espace québécois et méthodologie”, participants had to discuss Quebec's territorial and political claims both inside and outside Canada. Jessica's analysis was the best. This non-partisan competition seeks to foster interest in politics and helps to raise awareness among young people about the realities of life as a parliamentarian, to showcase the work politicians do and politics in general, always, of course, with a critical eye.

I would like to thank Mr. Jean-François Léonard, a political science and geography professor at the Cégep de Victoriaville, with whom I set up the competition. My thanks also go to the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste du Centre-du-Québec and La Capitale Centre-du-Québec for their contributions to the $500 scholarship awarded to Jessica, who is a young woman with a promising future.

BiofuelsStatements by Members

April 29th, 2008 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, 200 years ago, people opposed to technological progress were known as Luddites.

Today's Luddites are called the NDP.

In 2004, the NDP claimed it wanted to support “family farms by expanding incentives for ethanol as a transitional fuel”.

In 2006, its party platform even called for Canadian ethanol to make up 10% of vehicle fuel by 2010.

Bill C-33 would create a mandate to kickstart a biofuel economy but what are the NDP members doing? They are voting against what they campaigned on two years ago.

The head of the UN environment program stated, “We have enough food on this planet to feed everyone”.

Canadians see biofuels as an important part of a diversified economy. The Saskatchewan and Manitoba provincial NDP leaders support biofuels, while the federal NDP opposes them.

The NDP has turned its back on farmers and on its own provincial leaders. The NDP refuses to support value added for farm families, stands against progress and cannot even be consistent from one year to the next.

It is no wonder Saskatchewan has turned its back on the NDP.

National Volunteer WeekStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is National Volunteer Week and I would like to recognize and thank all Canadians who take their time to get involved in their communities as volunteers. The theme of this year's volunteer week is “From Compassion to Action”.

The 12 million volunteers in Canada are motivated by their strong desire to help others and to improve their country. Many of the programs and events that we take for granted, like community health care, recreation and sport, arts and cultural events, and yes, even political campaigns, would not be able to function without volunteers.

During this volunteer week I encourage all Canadians to thank the people who make a difference in their communities and to consider getting involved as a volunteer. There are over 160,000 charities in Canada who could benefit from their compassion and their action.