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House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was safety.

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. member for Kelowna—Lake Country.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Canadian Forces Personnel Support AgencyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canada's mission to help the Afghan people is the focus of much of my work here.

My staff feels the same way. Some weeks ago, one of them asked if I minded if she went to Afghanistan as part of the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency. Yesterday we received a phone call in the office: she was accepted to go to Kandahar to help support the Canadian Forces.

The Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency employs civilians to support the supply chain, deliver programs and services for the troops and perform other important roles. These civilians are among the unsung heroes who represent the best that Canada has to offer the world.

For the next six months, our mission in Afghanistan will be lucky to have her. Over the past year that she has been in my office, Jane Houser has been a wonderful staffer. I hate to lose her, even for a little while, but it makes me very proud to have such courageous, honourable staff who are willing to make such a commitment to help our servicemen and servicewomen and the Afghan people. She is an example of the Canadian spirit: generous, courageous, and helping others despite the sacrifice it entails.

We wish Jane the best of luck on her new adventure. We will miss her and await her safe return.

Wind Energy InstituteStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Liberal Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Natural Resources is getting out of its meagre financial support for wind energy research in Canada.

Last Friday, the minister for ACOA announced that the cut to the operating budget for the Wind Energy Institute of Canada would be partly restored, to get through the election period, I presume.

Half of the restored cut would come from the regional development agency, so in reality NRCan is restoring one-third of its obligation to the institute. The institute must cut one-third of its operating costs immediately to meet the demands of the federal government.

Why must ACOA take responsibility for a line department's commitment? Where is the 10 year commitment we were led to believe was going to be put in place? Why is the government continuing to fund R and D in the oil sands and carbon sequestration while R and D for wind energy is cut?

In this time of climate change, the government's priorities are upside down.

MDF Plant in La BaieStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Monday employees at the MDF plant in La Baie, which specializes in manufacturing waferboard, protested in front of their company in order to receive a response to their concerns.

The company halted production on February 4 and has since been transporting raw materials to other plants. In recent weeks, employees have seen more than 90% of managers leave the plant and major pieces of equipment transferred elsewhere.

Employees at the MDF plant do not want to go through the same stresses as workers at the Port-Alfred Abitibi-Consol plant in La Baie, which had its production halted several times and was permanently closed in 2005.

I ask that Uniboard Canada's management be up front in their dealings with employees. These employees are worried about their future and have the right to straight answers about what is going on.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Inter-Parliamentary Union met recently in South Africa, where delegates from 135 countries adopted, without a single dissenting vote, the Governing Council's “Report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians”, which expressed “deep concern at the suspension of” Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya's “parliamentary mandate”.

I have raised Ms. Joya's suspension directly with the Prime Minister and with five cabinet ministers before the foreign affairs committee. To this day, the government remains silent while a woman parliamentarian, elected directly by her people, remains expelled from the Afghan parliament for her outspoken criticism of warlords and high level corruption.

It is reported that MPs called for her to be raped and even killed. She has been called a whore and a prostitute and pelted with water bottles while speaking, yet only Malalai Joya has been suspended from parliament and her passport and security detail revoked.

The government must support the IPU's recommendations and express its concern over the treatment of Malalai Joya and the suspension of her parliamentary mandate.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, during this National Volunteer Week, I am proud to honour two great Canadians. Ms. Grandbois of Burlington, Ontario, and Dr. Yang of Surrey, British Columbia, are the recipients of the 2008 Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award.

As the member of Parliament for Burlington, I would like to congratulate Ms. Elizabeth Grandbois for her efforts in increasing awareness of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. She herself was diagnosed with ALS in 1997.

Ms. Grandbois created the Elizabeth's Concert of Hope Foundation. It began as a one-time fundraising concert and it grew into a nationwide benefit concert tour. Her efforts have helped to raise over $2.5 million for people with ALS.

Both Ms. Grandbois and Dr. Yang have made valuable contributions to their communities and to Canada, helping improve the quality of life for many Canadians.

To mark National Volunteer Week, I am pleased to emphasize the government's appreciation of the invaluable work of all Canadian volunteers.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Valley Liberal Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the coming weeks, first nations communities in my riding will be celebrating their Treaty Days. These days are to commemorate the signing of the treaties between the first nations people and the Government of Canada.

These treaties outline the federal government's commitments to first nations people, both practically and in spirit, but this year there is little to celebrate. The federal government has forgotten or has chosen to abandon these treaty agreements, as demonstrated by the lack of attention given to the deplorable living conditions of first nations people in Canada.

Let us take Cat Lake as an example, where the school burned down in 2006. With the community in desperate need of a new school, the government assured Cat Lake that construction would begin this year. However, like so many other communities, Cat Lake recently was told that this project would be put off for years.

Cat Lake needs a new school. First nations people deserve to have their needs made a priority by the Conservatives, who should stop the delays, stop the cancellations and start living up to their commitments to first nations peoples.

Public SafetyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the floods in New Brunswick have led to the evacuation of certain regions and the Fredericton area is at risk of being flooded.

Our government is keeping a close eye on the situation. Yesterday the Minister of Public Safety spoke with New Brunswick's public safety minister regarding this issue, and federal Public Safety officials remain in continual communication with their provincial counterparts.

The minister reiterated our willingness to assist with any request from the province and reminded our provincial counterparts that, should the criteria be met, the federal DFAA program is available to assist with the costs of disaster response and recovery.

Furthermore, the Department of National Defence is monitoring the situation and the Canadian Forces are ready to provide heavy equipment and other emergency services as necessary.

I urge all New Brunswick residents to keep a close eye on the situation, stay informed and heed the advice of emergency officials.

The Great Builders GalaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 8th Gala des grands bâtisseurs was held a few weeks ago with the theme “400 years of great builders”. This gala honours five Quebeckers who have contributed to the development of Quebec.

This year's recipients stand out in their respective fields for their determination, their enterprising spirit and their creativity in fashioning a better and united Quebec. The winners are: Ms. Françoise Mercure, president of l'Office du tourisme de Québec; Mr. Jean-Guy Gagné, manager of business development for Desjardins; Mr. Germain Prince, senior advisor with Raymond Chabot Human Resources Inc.; Mr. Alain Girard, vice-president and managing director at Cogires and training evaluator; and Mr. Michel Gervais, CEO of the Centre hospitalier Robert-Giffard. They are following in the footsteps of those who, over the course of 400 years, have forged the Quebec nation.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I wish to thank these builders who are devoted to promoting the Quebec nation.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, thanks to the government, Canadians are feeling less pain as they are filing their income tax returns today. Canadians are benefiting from nearly $200 billion in tax relief over this and the next five years. Nearly 700,000 Canadians will be removed altogether from the tax rolls by 2009.

Since coming to office, we have reduced the bottom personal income tax rate, ended the marriage penalty, increased the basic personal amount, raised the low income age credit for seniors, introduced tax-free savings accounts, implemented the working income tax benefit, brought in the public transit tax credit, launched the children's fitness tax credit, and cut the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%.

These are tangible benefits that keep more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.

The empty rhetoric and broken promises of the previous Liberal governments are history. Our government is getting things done and is producing real results for Canadians, whether it is getting tough on crime--

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.

ZimbabweStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the UN Security Council was informed that Zimbabwe is in the midst of its worst humanitarian crisis since independence.

A month after the elections, with no presidential results yet released, Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, is supplying his thugs and child soldiers with weapons to brutalize voters to ensure that he wins a possible runoff in the next presidential election.

So far, 15 members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have been killed. Thousands have been displaced. New reports of human rights abuses, murder, torture, rape and beatings are coming in from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The UN Security Council is once again paralyzed while Zimbabweans are being brutalized by their government. Canada cannot remain silent any longer. We must ask the UN Security Council for a military force to be sent in to quell the state-sponsored violence and ensure that the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people prevails.

We have a responsibility to protect. Let us engage our obligation to act.

EconomyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, there are times in the life of nations when the word leadership should mean something. Three budgets and two economic updates later, Canadians now know what this government is made of.

While other countries are experiencing economic problems, our Prime Minister and our government are the epitome of responsible management.

Canadians were convinced of this last week in Laval. In a speech that was a model of clarity, the Prime Minister emphasized the balanced approach of the government's fiscal policy and explained how a responsible government must address economic challenges and plan for long-term prosperity for the entire country.

The Liberals have promised spending that would be irresponsible and would increase Canada's debt, while the Bloc Québécois recognizes that the economy is their albatross.

With a Conservative government, Canadians are confident that their affairs are in the right hands.

Price MonitoringStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, Londoners are paying record prices at gas pumps for gas while big oil and gas companies are raking in windfall profits.

Individuals and families are suffering not just because of the price of gas, but the price of food is increasing because of the energy costs for production and transportation.

The manufacturing crisis in Ontario has meant thousands of job losses for London. Now, on top of this crisis, Londoners are being forced to pay more for gas and food while the government subsidizes the record profits of oil companies.

The Conservatives and the Liberals have always supported the big corporations, be they banks, big polluters, or in this case, the oil companies. It is time to put money back into consumers' pocketbooks. Oil companies and energy producers should have to justify and defend cost increases.

Londoners want fairness. When will the government set up an independent watchdog to monitor prices and help protect against all gas gouging?

Religious PersecutionStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, April 13, I attended a very special rally in Toronto.

Many of my constituents and many people from across the GTA and Ontario gathered to call for peace in Iraq. We came together to call for the end of persecution of Christians in Iraq. We prayed together for an immediate end to the killing of Christian religious leaders in Iraq. The air at the rally was filled with children singing “peace for Iraq, no more killings”.

Religious persecution is an international crisis affecting many religious groups in countless countries of the world.

I am calling on the federal government to develop automatic interventions that may be imposed by Canada against foreign governments, such as Iraq, when they support religious persecution or fail to prevent it, and to improve measures for refugees who have suffered religious persecution.

Carbon Neutral CertificationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Lussier Bloc Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to announce that my colleague from the riding of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, the Bloc Québécois environment critic, will receive carbon neutral certification through Tree Canada's Carbon Neutral Companies and Organizations program.

Not only has he consistently worked to reduce his carbon emissions, but our colleague has also committed to planting 77 trees in his riding, which will completely offset his carbon footprint.

Michael Rosen, the president of Tree Canada, acknowledged the commitment of the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, saying that he has demonstrated environmental leadership.

The member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie has shown that small actions can have a big impact. Our colleague and the Montreal Canadiens players, who are participating in the NHL Carbon Neutral Challenge, are showing that it is high time to take our future in our own hands. I suggest that the government do the same.

Conservative Party and the RCMPStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Globe and Mail is reporting that senior members of the Conservative Party are attacking RCMP officers who are just doing their job.

These attacks, which we believe are from Doug Findlay, are completely unacceptable for a party in power that claims to respect all members of the RCMP.

Mr. Findlay attacked the RCMP officers who conducted the raid on Conservative Party headquarters. He accused them of forcing entry into the Conservative Party's offices, terrorizing the staff, and of overkill in executing the search warrant.

He even criticized the fact that RCMP officers wore their bulletproof vests while they worked. It is incredible that those who are the object of a search warrant feel they can criticize how the RCMP does its job.

Like an accused criminal, they are crying police brutality. That this attack on the RCMP comes from the top level of the Conservative Party is disgusting.

The fact that the Minister of Public Safety refuses to defend the RCMP officers against this kind of base attack by the Conservatives leads us to think that he is either complicit—

Conservative Party and the RCMPStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Peterborough.

PeterboroughStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, the embattled Liberal leader paid a visit to Peterborough. Flip-flopping his way through a number of issues, the Liberal leader now says he supports Toronto-Peterborough commuter rail service, stating he would be pleased to have a lot of light trains, including from Peterborough.

Additionally, the Liberal leader during his visit appeared to come to the realization that there is a waterway that runs through Peterborough. While he was part of a long line of environment ministers that starved the historic Trent-Severn Waterway of funding for more than a decade, I am sure he is happy to learn that our environment minister announced $63 million in new funding on Monday.

Under our government and the leadership of this Prime Minister, the electric city is shining brighter than ever, and our future prospects are strong. The people of Peterborough have no interest in empty Liberal rhetoric when they have a government of action.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

First, Mr. Speaker, I want to wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday, and as a gift, I have a very simple question for him.

When exactly was he made aware of the Conservative's advertising scheme for the last election, and did he approve this scheme?

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his kind wishes. I am 49 years old today and I intend to remain at that age for several years to come.

The Conservative Party has followed the rules that have been in place for years, practices that have been done by all parties of the House for years. Elections Canada has attempted to change its interpretation of the rules after the election campaign. We obviously do not think that is correct and that is why we are in court with it.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, now that the Prime Minister is older, he may start to answer questions. I will try again.

When did he know about the Conservative Party's election advertising scheme and did he approve it?

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, I would encourage the Leader of the Opposition to listen to the answers. The Conservative Party has followed the same practices for a long time now, and they are the same practices followed by all parties in the House. Elections Canada attempted to change its interpretation after the last election. That is not correct. That is why we are in court with it.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister cannot ignore his obligation to answer this question. I will ask it again. Canadians have a right to hear his response.

When exactly was the Prime Minister told about the Conservative's advertising scheme for the last election, and did he approve it? Canadians have a right to know.

Elections CanadaOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the practices have been the same for years. The same question could be asked of the Leader of the Opposition about members of his party taking Elections Canada to court to have funds transferred to candidates in the leadership race—hundreds of thousands of dollars were transferred. The Leader of the Opposition benefited from this money.