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House of Commons Hansard #88 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was food.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-5, An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's RulingNuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

Before proceeding to report stage debate on Bill C-5, An Act respecting civil liability and compensation for damage in case of a nuclear incident, the Chair would like to make the following ruling as is often the case when we get to report stage.

There are 21 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-5.

Motions Nos. 10, 13 to 15, 19 and 20 will not be selected by the Chair as they could have been presented in committee.

All remaining motions have been examined and the Chair is satisfied that they meet the guidelines expressed in the notes to Standing Order 76(1)(5) regarding the selection of motions in amendment at the report stage.

Motions Nos. 1 to 9, 11, 12, 16 to 18 and 21 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 1 to 9, 11, 12, 16 to 18 and 21 to the House.

I might also add that, given that there was a point of order made earlier by the hon. parliamentary secretary, the Chair will be coming back with a more detailed ruling as soon as is possible. However, what we will do at the moment is begin the debate and then, as soon as possible, we will come back with a ruling responding to the point of order made earlier this day.

Motions in AmendmentNuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 22.

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-5, in Clause 23, be amended by replacing lines 23 and 24 on page 7 with the following:

“contains nuclear material, financial security to”

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-5, in Clause 24, be amended by deleting lines 39 to 42 on page 7 and lines 1 to 18 on page 8.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 26.

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 30.

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 32.

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-5, in Clause 34, be amended by deleting lines 15 to 23 on page 11.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-5 be amended by deleting Clause 47.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-5, in Clause 61, be amended by replacing lines 23 to 31 on page 16 with the following:

“Majesty in right of Canada the total of all amounts paid by the Minister under this Act.”

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-5, in Clause 62, be amended by deleting lines 19 to 26 on page 17.

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-5, in Clause 66, be amended by deleting lines 3 and 4 on page 19.

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-5, in Clause 66, be amended by deleting lines 7 to 9 on page 19.

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-5, in Clause 66, be amended by deleting lines 10 to 12 on page 19.

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-5, in Clause 68, be amended by deleting lines 1 to 3 on page 20.

Mr. Speaker, after many months, the government is again bringing forward Bill C-5, the nuclear liability and compensation act. In the intervening times, different types of issues on the nuclear liability front have arisen and a full interest in this issue has been heightened over the period of time involved.

No one in any party wants to stand in the way of good legislation or to stand in the way of the things that need to be done for Canadians. While we supported the bill at second reading to get it to committee and to look at the types of issues that needed to be dealt with within the nuclear liability context, the results were less than what we felt were essential for Canadians.

As a member of Parliament from the Northwest Territories, the people I represent have had much experience with nuclear contamination over the years. Even though our numbers are very small, we have had that experience and we understand the results of that.

We have a community in the Northwest Territories called Deline. It used to be called Fort Franklin. It also was called the village of widows because it was on the shores of Great Bear Lake where the first mining for uranium took place in Canada on a large scale. The Port Radium mine brought lots of yellowcake out there. It was handled by the people in the community to a great extent. Even today we have not seen the end of this incident. We are in Port Radium cleaning up the mine. The people of Deline have gone through countless years of anguish over the results of what happened in that nuclear industry.

When we talk about nuclear liability and the need to protect individuals from the results of nuclear accidents and contamination spills, we in the Northwest Territories have a track record that we go back to. We know what the track record has been with other Canadian governments. The fact that we are still at a $650 million liability limit for nuclear installations in this country, in this day and age, strikes me as being the clearest indicator that work has not been done in this field.

As well, when it comes to more recent examples of contamination that have occurred in the Northwest Territories, I refer back to Cosmos 954 where we had a very small nuclear reactor in a Russian satellite that burned up over the Northwest Territories. The contamination from that unit was spread over 14,000 square kilometres. In fact, it required intensive searches by trained professionals throughout all our communities to locate very small amounts of nuclear contamination and eliminate them. It was a very expensive process.

What it showed us was how difficult it is to deal with nuclear contamination, how long the issues last and how long this goes on for in our society once there is a nuclear accident.

We felt that more work needed to be done on this bill. We put forward a number of amendments at committee but they were rejected by the Conservatives, the Liberals and, to a great extent, by the Bloc, which brings us here today with the amendments that we have in front of this House right now.

One of the key amendments that we are looking for is to take out any limit on nuclear liability. Unlimited amounts would probably be the preferred method to deal with it, just as Germany does. It has an unlimited liability on nuclear facilities. That means that whatever the costs are, when there is an accident those who are responsible for the plant will need to pay those costs.

The $650 million limit set in this bill pales next to that of our major trading partner, the United States of America, which has an $8 billion to $10 billion liability ceiling on its nuclear facilities. Most of our nuclear facilities are located in highly populated areas in southern Canada, areas similar to where the nuclear facilities are located in the United States.

Why should we think that our situation is remarkably different from the situation in the United States? Why should that be part of the equation? Is it because if we set the limit to where it should be, the nuclear industry would have to reflect the true costs of doing business in this country? If we set the ceiling at $650 million, would we be giving the industry another break and Canadians would not have a clear indication of the issues surrounding the industry and the associated costs?

The Conservatives are taking a very cavalier attitude toward nuclear safety. We saw that before Christmas. I do not want to denigrate the effort Parliament made with respect to the issues surrounding Chalk River, but it showed how much trouble we have working on issues around nuclear safety in this country. We saw the method by which these very serious issues were derailed by the government by its failure to pay attention to them. We saw the blame game that was played with the Nuclear Safety Commission.

Those things all stand out as stark examples of why we have to be very careful with the kind of legislation we are dealing with here today. We need to protect Canadians. The first and foremost job of this institution is to protect and enhance the lives of Canadians. This bill does not accomplish that.

Many of these amendments speak to the difficult time Canadians would have in trying to achieve compensation if there was a nuclear accident. Many of the proposed amendments would make it better for Canadians to get the compensation they should be entitled to receive. The amendments would make sure that all the issues surrounding a nuclear contamination incident would be addressed. They would assure Canadians about the compensation they would receive and that they would not be tied up in court forever trying to get that compensation.

Those are some of the issues that have brought us to this point. The NDP is not trying to obstruct Parliament. We are trying to get these issues out front for Canadians to make sure they understand what is at stake here with this nuclear liability bill. We are not going to simply push it forward so that some other restructuring in the nuclear industry can take place. We are not going to simply push it forward so the nuclear industry can be assured that it will not be judged by U.S. standards when there is a contamination accident and might be judged by these much softer Canadian standards.

These are all issues behind the legislation. These are all reasons that the legislation appeared when it did. We agreed that there was a need to move ahead with better nuclear liability provisions. We had hoped for a fulsome and useful debate in committee where we could put forward the correct type of amendments, but that did not happen, and that has brought us to this stage here in the House of Commons.

I urge all members to take a look at what we are doing here. I urge them to consider the amendments and to consider the spirit in which they have been presented.

Motions in AmendmentNuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Western Arctic for his intervention and for initiating these amendments. I would like to ask my colleague a question concerning this bill and why it has been so long since we have seen Bill C-5. Canadians are aware of the incident that occurred at Chalk River during that time. It is interesting to observe that this bill was put aside for quite a while. We had quite a spirited debate in this House and certainly in society in general around nuclear safety.

Why is it that Bill C-5 is only being brought forward now? Why was it not brought forward earlier? It has been almost six months.

In light of the concerns that Canadians have expressed around nuclear safety and accountability, and which we have certainly debated in this House and outside this place, and we see governments such as the Ontario government moving full throttle on nuclear, why is it that the government is not paying more attention to the issue of nuclear safety and in this instance to the liability that stems from nuclear power?

Motions in AmendmentNuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to impute motives as to why this bill has taken six months to come back to Parliament for discussion. Certainly we had a most active and interesting debate around nuclear safety during December and into January concerning the Chalk River incident. That heightened the issues in the minds of Canadians. The issues are still there. We see the same kind of concern today as we saw during December and January. I do not think any delay of legislation is going to change that.

On the other point that my colleague mentioned in terms of the nuclear industry and where it is going, we see many actions taking place here. We hear talk about the restructuring of the nuclear industry as part of what is going on. Once again I am not able to impute motives. My job here is to speak to the liability issues within the bill.

I wholeheartedly ask members to consider whom we are protecting with this bill. How the bill should work to protect whom is key to a lot of what is going on here.

Motions in AmendmentNuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Omar Alghabra Liberal Mississauga—Erindale, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to Bill C-5. I spoke in the debate at second reading and now I have the opportunity to speak at report stage.

Fundamentally, the bill is an administrative one. It does a lot of housecleaning on the Nuclear Liability Act. The last time that was done was over two decades ago. There has been a need for reforms, upgrades and updates. For several years the Department of Natural Resources did extensive work in preparing the bill and Bill C-5 was the outcome. We had the opportunity in committee to conduct a comprehensive study on the bill.

First, I will outline what the bill does. Initially it raises from $75 million to $650 million the limit of liability that any nuclear operator has to carry in case of an unlikely accident. Initially it was $75 million, a very small figure. Obviously there was a need to raise that amount and this bill raises it to $650 million. It also tightens up the definitions of liability and all associated legal terms that come with that liability.

The bill establishes clear criteria for operators to hold financial instruments or security to ensure that liability. Any operator must carry some type of financial security to ensure that the operator is viable and is able to comply with that liability. As well, the bill offers some flexibility on what type of financial instrument the operator can carry.

The minister is required to review the limit every five years. The bill allows for the liability to be increased through regulations; it is no longer required through legislation. Also, the minister has to review it every five years and perhaps amend it.

The bill establishes a nuclear claims tribunal, which did not exist before. If there is a claim and there is a dispute, rather than settling it through the courts, an independent quasi-judicial tribunal will be able to adjudicate on those things.

The bill does a lot of excellent housecleaning work. It establishes criteria, tightens up definitions and expands on certain areas. It is the product of a lot of work and consultation.

The natural resources committee has done a great job in talking to all stakeholders and experts about the bill, its ramifications and its implications. We heard from nuclear operators, from insurers, host communities and municipalities that have nuclear power plants in their vicinities. We heard from experts, from NGOs. We heard from organizations that are anti-nuclear.

We had an opportunity to ask questions. As committee members we had an opportunity to engage with the experts and stakeholders. We had some amendments. Eventually we kept the bill as it stands.

There was an issue whether $650 million was the right limit. There are other countries that have greater limits and there are other countries that have equivalent or smaller limits. The question is a legitimate one, not that other questions are not legitimate, but that question is the one we struggled with the most. What should the right limit be? Given that the royal recommendation of the bill set that figure as part of the core substance of the bill, it was very difficult logistically and procedurally to even contemplate an addition.

We are hoping that over the next few years the minister will look at this bill, conduct further studies, and consult with more groups. But, realistically speaking, the new figure of $650 million seems reasonable and in parallel with a lot of the international standards, the Europe standards, and those of many countries around the world. It is a big jump from $75 million, which is the current figure, and the bill is hoping to make it $650 million.

The committee, to its credit, did a great job examining all the evidence. The bill actually passed in committee last December. Therefore, the question I have now is: Why did it take the minister six months to bring this bill back?

Many nuclear operators and groups have been waiting for this bill because they need stability in the industry but the minister has chosen to wait for six months. Once the bill is passed at report stage, we want to pressure the minister to bring it back as quickly as possible. Operators are waiting for this bill to become law. It is essential for their business and the future of this industry.

There are a lot of remaining questions about the Conservative government's ability to manage the nuclear industry and their vision of the role of nuclear in the future energy mix of our country. We saw how the Conservatives bungled the situation with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. We saw how they took unprecedented action by firing a quasi-judicial, independent nuclear commissioner just for doing her job.

The Auditor General's report criticized the government's handling of AECL, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. We heard from AECL about its need for finance support and some direction about the future. We know now Ontario is looking to buy a nuclear reactor and AECL is in the bid for that proposal. The problem is that Ontario needs to know what the Conservatives' plans are with AECL. They have yet to tell us about their plans. We know they hired a consultant in February. We have yet to hear what the mandate of that consultant is, when to expect a report or anything about their vision.

We also know that they promised to conduct a review of the fiasco that happened in Chalk River. We have yet to hear anything from that examination. Canadians are really uneasy about how the Conservative government has been handling and managing the nuclear file. We all know that nuclear has a bright future.

Motions in AmendmentNuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but the time for statements by members has arrived. The member will have a minute and 42 seconds remaining in his speech.

Statements by members, the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton.

Clement BowmanStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today and pay tribute to one of the greatest minds Sarnia—Lambton has known.

Dr. Clement Bowman has won one of the world's most prestigious scientific honours, the Global International Energy Prize, which he will share with two prominent Russian scientists. The award is designed to foster international cooperation in solving challenges in the power generation industry.

Dr. Bowman came to Sarnia in 1960 and his research and development has taken him across the world, yet he has always returned to Sarnia.

Dr. Bowman's career highlights include: chair of Alberta's technology and research advisory committee, president of the Alberta Research Council, vice-president responsible for the research centre at Esso Petroleum Canada, founding chairman of the Alberta oil sands technology and research authority. This latest award is just one of many, including becoming a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994.

I commend Dr. Bowman for his continued dedication to research and development on behalf of Sarnia—Lambton and all Canadians, who are so proud of his accomplishments.

National Youth WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, National Youth Week is held during the first week of May and is dedicated to the celebration of youth and their active participation in their community.

Youth Week brings young people of different communities together to promote youth achievement, activism and volunteerism.

Its goal is to motivate and inspire young people in Canada and internationally to contribute to their community year round.

I encourage all members of the House and all of the communities across this great country to celebrate this highly enthusiastic and immensely valuable segment of our society.

National Youth Week is an opportunity for all communities to celebrate our youth.

Maskinongé Business Awards EveningStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, the regional municipality of Maskinongé recently held its 20th Soirée des sommets, an event celebrating excellence in the municipality's socio-economic sectors.

Through their actions, their vitality and their creativity, the honorees are helping to enhance the wealth and quality of life of this part of the Mauricie region. I congratulate Maskinongé's chamber of commerce and industry, the many volunteers and the local development centre, the community futures development corporation, Emploi-Québec, the regional municipality and the municipal councils, which enthusiastically support our socio-economic sector.

However, the regional municipality is suffering because of cuts this government has made to regional programs and the lack of support for its manufacturing sector. This is yet more proof that this government does not understand or respect Quebec's interests.

HousingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate members of Faith in Action in Victoria for organizing one of 80 silent protests throughout B.C. last Saturday to raise awareness about the crisis of homelessness and inadequate housing in our country. They call for action by all levels of government.

Despite the urgent and critical problems of housing affordability, the 2008 federal budget was virtually silent about extending existing programs.

Churches and other organizations can play a role, but they do not have sufficient resources to solve this crisis. It is clear the marketplace will not house the poor either.

Only the federal government has the ability to make the policy changes to end homelessness and make affordable housing a reality across Canada.

Victoria residents call on the government to establish a national social housing policy in Canada.

Battle of the AtlanticStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, this month marks the 65th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic during the second world war.

It was not until May 1943, after receiving more training, air cover, special intelligence and better equipment, that the tide turned in favour of the Allies.

The Battle of the Atlantic is further proof of the determination and resilience of our Canadian heroes. This battle would last six long years. Six long years of repeated enemy attacks and severe conditions.

However, the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Merchant Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force protected Allied convoys and our own coastline and prevailed. Sadly, more than 4,600 brave men and women lost their lives at sea.

We pledge to remember for all time the bravery and courage of our veterans and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, so that we might enjoy a country blessed with peace and freedom.

National Elizabeth Fry WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is National Elizabeth Fry Week, celebrated each year by the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

The goal is to enhance public awareness and education regarding the circumstances of victimized and criminalized women involved in the justice system.

The majority of women who are imprisoned in Canada are mothers; most of them the sole supporters of theirs families at the time they were incarcerated. When mothers are sentenced to prison, their children are sentenced to separation. So, attention is drawn to this reality by ending Elizabeth Fry Week on mother's day each year.

This week gives us a chance to consider the work being done by the Elizabeth Fry Society. It is challenging all Canadians to reach behind the walls and bring women into our communities, so that they may take responsibility and account for their actions in ways that make sense to them and to us.

Mental HealthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, mental health week is upon us. I am pleased to take this opportunity to update the House on Canada's new mental health commission.

It was just last year that this Conservative government, led by this Prime Minister, established the mental health commission to bring forward real action and solutions to the issues facing Canadians. In budget 2007, we committed $55 million to the commission itself and then this past February, we announced an additional $110 million for five regional projects.

These projects will undertake activities in three areas: facilitating the development of the national mental health strategy, fostering knowledge exchange, and undertaking public education and public awareness activities to combat the stigma associated with mental illness. The new mental health commission will develop these projects and implement them in five cities across Canada: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton.

Mental health is a significant public health issue. I applaud the government, mental health agencies and groups across Canada for their passionate and committed work. Canadians have asked their government to get involved, and that is exactly what this government has done.

Quebec First NationsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, a large delegation from Quebec's first nations participated in a UN session on aboriginal issues. Richard Desjardins' documentary, The Invisible Nation, was screened to show the living conditions in some communities.

But everyone knows that there is a need for huge investments in these communities. I remind the government that the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador presented an action plan, proposing that 10,000 jobs be created, that 10,000 young people get their diploma, and that 10,000 housing units be created over 10 years. It has not received a response from the Conservative government since it presented this action plan over a year and a half ago.

The Bloc Québécois supports these measures, and urges the government to take action. The survival of many first nations communities is at stake.

Automotive IndustryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal circus continued its big-tent tour last week of Houdini-style magic, trying to erase its record on the auto industry.

Disappearing acts cannot hide the Liberals' record of inaction on the Windsor-Detroit border, layoffs of over 3,500 employees, and bloopers and blunders on the major competitiveness issues. No acrobatics can undo their leader's approach to the big three, when he said that if the big three automakers focused on developing fuel-efficient vehicles instead of gas-guzzling SUVs, they would not be experiencing the current downsizing.

Their trick of “roll over and play dead” will not cause Canadians to forget that their policies will cost Canadians about $2.00 per litre at the pumps.

The Liberal record is one of broken-down beaters and flat tires. That is why Canadians voted for this Conservative government that is getting results for our auto industry and its workers.

Arthur MutambaraStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to honour Arthur Mutambara, a World Economic Forum young global leader, who has fought courageously for freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe.

As a student, Mr. Mutambara led anti-government protests for which he was arrested and imprisoned. After establishing himself as a leading scientist at Oxford, MIT and NASA, he returned to Africa to continue his efforts for democracy in Zimbabwe.

As leader of one of Zimbabwe's two MDC formations, Mr. Mutambara has been harassed, injured and imprisoned without charges by state authorities. Despite the risks, he remains a strong voice for unity and cooperation in Zimbabwe's pro-democracy effort.

I urge Canada and the entire global community to recognize and support his efforts.

We must condemn ZANU-PF's campaign of terror against opposition supporters. We must support democratic efforts in Zimbabwe, so that peace and security may be enjoyed by all Zimbabweans, regardless of their racial, tribal or political background.

Bloc QuébécoisStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, after 18 years in the House of Commons, the Bloc introduced its 250th private member's bill, knowing full well that, for the 248th time, it will accomplish nothing.

In 18 years in Ottawa, the Bloc has had only two of its private member's bills passed, and they served only to change the names of two ridings. Bloc members cannot do anything about the major legislative priorities of their voters.

Fortunately, the Conservative government is present in Quebec, and has the desire and the means to act in Quebec's interest here in Ottawa: open federalism, fiscal balance, $350 million for Quebec's green plan, funding for the Quebec City airport, the program for the sale of property in Mirabel, air force expansion in Quebec and the reopening of the military college in Saint Jean.

Instead of always making empty promises to Quebeckers through press releases and bills, the Bloc Québécois should admit that it is empty- handed.

Ottawa's Asian CommunityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I support the Asian community in Ottawa, building Chinatown's gateway on Somerset Street West. The gateway will pay tribute to Ottawa's vibrant Asian community and its cultural heritage.

To date, organizers have raised $150,000 to support the building of the gateway. Our community is calling on the Government of Canada to support this worthwhile project. It will be an invaluable investment in the culture of our nation's capital. I invite all members of Parliament, particularly those from Ottawa, to join me in seeking federal support for this community project.

I congratulate the people behind this endeavour, members of the Ottawa Chinese gateway committee, particularly those like acting chair, Peter Yeung, co-chair Larry Lee and the executive director of Somerset BIA, Grace Xin . I want to thank Dr. David Lai, the builder of Victoria's Chinese gateway for his advice on this project.

I wish them all the best in the building of this cultural landmark to celebrate our Asian community in Ottawa.

Saint BonifaceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, the parish of St. Boniface will celebrate its bicentennial in 2018. Its colourful history will be well celebrated, I have no doubt, and we will acknowledge the significant contributions of Louis Riel, the church, voyageurs and, among others, the aboriginal, French, Irish, Scottish and Métis people.

This year, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Saint Boniface. Festivities have already started with the enthusiastic launch of Célébrations 2008 and last Friday's incredible ball.

The co-chairs of Célébrations 2008, Mariette Mulaire and Normand Gousseau, assure us that this is just the start of festivities and that Manitobans will have the opportunity to celebrate this special anniversary throughout the year. The mayor of Saint Boniface at the time, Joseph Bleau—yes, I did say Jos Bleau—has resurfaced and is helping to recreate the political and cultural life of this beautiful city in 1908.

I congratulate all those volunteering at the many events and I am very proud to recognize the contribution of the City of Saint Boniface to the development of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada.

Broadcasting and TelecommunicationsStatements By Members

May 5th, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, to recognize the nation of Quebec is also to recognize the importance of telecommunications for this francophone nation in North America. That is one of the reasons I have introduced a bill to transfer authority for regulating broadcasting and telecommunications within Quebec to Quebec. Quebec could then have its own broadcasting and telecommunications commission. This new Quebec communications regulatory body would make it easier to broadcast regional content such as local news, because it would take into account the needs and realities of every region in Quebec. To the CRTC, Quebec is a region like any other.

Given the impact telecommunications and broadcasting have on promoting Quebec culture, the Bloc Québécois believes that this important sector needs to be regulated by Quebec.

Charles CacciaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise today to acknowledge the passing of a dear friend and former Liberal member of Parliament, the Hon. Charles Caccia.

Mr. Caccia was first elected to the House of Commons in 1968 to represent the riding of Davenport and was subsequently re-elected nine times, where he served as minister of labour, minister of the environment and Liberal opposition critic on environmental issues.

After leaving Parliament, he went on to serve as Senior Fellow at the Institute of the Environment at the University of Ottawa.

Mr. Caccia was more than a respected member of Parliament. He co-founded COSTI, Canada's largest immigrant service agency and was cherished and respected by his community. He was a great Liberal who dedicated his life to building a better Canada. His many accomplishments and his longstanding commitment to the people he served as an MP will not be forgotten. His passion for environmental and social justice issues was a great inspiration to all.

On behalf of the Liberal Party of Canada and our caucus, I wish to extend my sincerest sympathies to Mr. Caccia's family and friends. He will be missed.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, as our government continues to focus on a strong economy I thought it was time to review what the Liberal leader would do if he were in charge.

Here are his top five expenditures.

Number five, would be to spend $1 billion on project green, a program that would do nothing for national objectives, but it would cost a fortune.

Number four, would be to spend $5 billion on a wasteful daycare program, not on child care spaces, but on a bloated bureaucracy and interest groups.

Number three, would be to spend $5 billion on implementing the Kyoto accord. That is how much it would cost today because they did not get it done 13 years ago.

Number two, would be to increase the GST from 5% to 7%, over $12 billion in new taxes.

Number one, would be a new gas tax, billions of new taxes at the pumps so each and every one of us will have to pay 60% more than we are paying now.

These billions equal one thing, a Liberal deficit. One person wants to bring our country and our economy to its knees. Who is that? The person who is about to stand up.

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the government took another step to limit transparency and accountability. It quietly killed the CAIRS, which allowed everyone to know what information Canadians had requested about their government through access to information.

Why did the government shut down the registry? What does it have to hide?

Access to InformationOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

In fact, Mr. Speaker, this is a government that has actually widened access to information. The database in question was created by the previous Liberal government. It was called the product of a political system in which centralized control was an obsession. That is why the government got rid of it.