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House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was recovery.

Topics

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, again, I spoke briefly about that particular issue during my comments. It is a complete role reversal. The Prime Minister wants to position himself as a champion and poster boy for the G20.

We have seen it time after time, on issue after issue. On income trusts, the Conservatives said one thing and did something completely different. With respect to the promise to the veterans and the veterans' widows on VIP, the Conservatives said one thing and did something completely different. We have seen this time and time again. That is why we have no confidence in the government. It is why we do not have trust in the government. With the information the Conservatives are giving Canadians, it has become spin, it has become a campaign to position themselves, and the spending of public dollars to put their position out there is unconscionable.

All Canadians want is truth. If we could get that, I think this House would operate on a much better basis.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. May I have the consent of the House to table a document?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to table a document?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker criticized at length the government for all of the spending we are doing. Yet, less than a week ago, members of his party stood en masse and applauded their leader when he accused this government of starving the beast, in other words, not investing enough in government agencies.

I wonder how, on one hand, the Liberals are accusing us of not spending enough and, on the other hand, are saying that we are spending way too much.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the whole essence of the leader's comment was that it is starving the revenues coming in to the federal government and handcuffing the federal government in its ability to provide services for Canadians, especially Canadians in need.

What we have seen is that the government has not been fair and it does not care. There are citizens out there who are hurting. The reference was made by the Liberal leader that the government is starving the revenues and it is no longer able to provide for those most in need in this nation, and that is a shame.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak to second reading of the economic recovery act. This important piece of legislation before the House includes key provisions from budget 2009, Canada's economic action plan, along with many other important initiatives.

During this ongoing global crisis, our Conservative government's number one priority throughout remains protecting the economy. We also believe, as do the vast majority of Canadians, that the economy should remain the number one priority of this Parliament and certainly not throw Canada into another unnecessary election.

This is not the time for political games but a time to focus on the important work that is needed to be done to ensure a strong economic recovery. We must continue to work on implementing Canada's economic action plan. It is a plan that is working, a plan that is protecting and creating jobs. It is a plan that we need to ensure stays on track.

While we are seeing some early signs of a potential global economic recovery, we must remember that it is just that. It is a potential recovery and one that is both tentative and fragile.

The G7 finance ministers and the Central Bank governors stated in a communiqué following meetings in Turkey this weekend:

In recent months we have started to see encouraging signs of a global economic recovery and continued improvement in financial market conditions. However, there is no room for complacency since the prospects for growth remain fragile and labor market conditions are not yet improving.

On the international scene as well as the national scene, obviously the recognition is there.

Clearly, the job is not done. We have to stay the course. We must ensure implementation of Canada's economic action plan both to ensure a strong recovery and, very important, to support the co-ordinated global efforts under way across the entire world where we are working collectively on the same track with other nations. The economic recovery act is just one way that we are doing exactly that. This economic recovery act will implement key measures in our action plan, another vital initiative that will help to secure a sustained recovery and certainly protect jobs.

We are continuing our proud tax-cutting legacy with the economic recovery act, legislation that will implement a slew of tax-slashing measures, measures as popular with Canadians as they are important in spurring a strong recovery, such as: implementing the temporary home renovation tax credit, or HRTC; implementing the first-time home buyers tax credit; enhancing the benefits provided under the working income tax benefit to help the working poor; extending the existing tax deferral available to farmers dealing with severe weather; and relaxing tariffs on temporarily imported shipping containers. These are but a few of the many elements in this progressive plan.

Shamefully, the Liberal leader and Liberal members are voting against this bill and all of these important measures. It is incredible. I ask why they are doing that. Is it to throw Canada back into another election which nobody, I repeat nobody, wants?

The Liberal Party is voting against helping the working poor, farmers, homeowners and the men and women in retail and construction whose jobs have been saved by the success of programs such as the HRTC. Maybe our Liberal colleagues have not picked up a local newspaper. Maybe they are not watching television these days. Maybe they are not listening to radio shows. Maybe they have not walked into their local Home Hardware store. Maybe they have not talked to their constituents. Maybe even some of them have not talked to a family member.

I can assure them that the home renovation tax credit is working. As a matter of fact, it is more than working; it is a runaway success. It is successful in doing exactly what we said it would do and more. It is helping families improve and build value in their homes, their most important investment, while supporting jobs in areas ranging from contractors, construction, retail, forestry and more all at the same time.

As a respected financial columnist, Sun Media's Alan Caplan, remarked, the HRTC is “financial stimulus where it counts”. It is the fastest and easiest way to get money into the economy, create jobs and then get new income tax payments from the people hired to do the work. It is a well rounded success at both ends of the spectrum. Putting people to work is something this tax credit has done in spades.

The tax rebate of up to $1,350 for home renovations has created a flurry of small projects. The result? All over the country there are brand new decks, roofs, driveways and brickwork.

The Canadian Home Builders Association said that the renovation credit is creating a construction spike across the country. I can see it in my riding and any other riding I have been in. This is keeping construction workers employed, who in turn spend money to keep other people employed. The spinoff is wonderful. Home centres and hardware stores are humming. Helping the construction industry was exactly the right thing to do.

Let us give credit where credit is due when it comes to the reno credit. We really have to wonder how why the Liberal Party would boast about opposing it and voting to defeat the HRTC.

From our side the positives continue. We are doing even more through our economic recovery legislation. I will mention a few of the highlights. We are strengthening pensions by allowing for increased flexibility in how Canadians live, work and retire through reforms to the Canada pension plan, as agreed upon by federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers in their triennial review completed last May. These are reforms that the Edmonton Journal approved and referred to as:

--welcome changes...[that] will allow Canadians of a certain age to draw on their Canada Pension Plan benefits and still be allowed to work...the prospect that thousands will be able to discern a horizon when they can not only choose to be gainfully employed but also collect on a pension they paid into for years must come as certain relief.

We are promoting global growth and cooperation by giving small and low-income countries across the globe a bigger voice at the International Monetary Fund. It is not just about local or national responsibilities, but international responsibilities as well. We will also strengthen our commitment to debt relief by making multilateral debt relief payments statutory.

We are increasing the CBC's borrowing authority to ensure dependability is maintained for public broadcasting.

We are improving government transparency and accountability by requiring federal departments and Crown corporations to prepare and publish quarterly financial reports. We are following through on a commitment the Prime Minister made to Canadians in the 2008 election campaign.

When one hears the term “adscam” or recalls the waste and mismanagement of the gun registry, both notorious legacies of the former Liberal government, it becomes clear why the Liberal Party of Canada and its leader would work toward the defeat of the economic recovery bill. We cannot let that happen.

Canada's economy right now, while clearly being impacted by the most challenging economic crisis of our time since the second world war, is in relatively decent shape when we compare it to the economies of other major industrialized countries, all this as we manage a recession whose causes were outside our borders. We undoubtedly have a responsibility to deal with these. It is not simply a made in Canada problem. This is a global reality.

Of course, we would all be happier without the recession; there is not a person who would not be, but today's Canadians are better off, relatively speaking, than people in just about any other nation on the planet.

We cannot rest on these past achievements. We must build on our strengths and keep the Canadian advantage. Humorist Will Rogers noted that even if we are on the right track, we will get run over if we just sit there. The Liberals may be content to sit, but we intend to run.

Moving Canada forward is exactly what the economic recovery legislation has been doing and will continue to do by building a stronger future for all Canadians. We have to stay the course and complete Canada's economic action plan. We have to make sure we have an entrenched recovery. We have to do what is right for Canadians and what is right for our economy, but if the Liberal leader thinks he has a better idea, then he should simply say so. If he does not like Canada's economic action plan, he should tell Canadians, especially the unemployed and their families, what his plan would mean for them, but if he does not and he will not and he cannot, what is his answer? Wait and see.

Liberals should start asking themselves what is best for the Canadian economy, not the Liberal Party. They should stop the games today and in the future and pass the economic recovery act.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Liberal Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague. We should play back the tapes from 2005 when members of the government were in opposition and they helped engineer the defeat of the Liberal government. We might play back the tape and realize that the $42.5 billion deficit that we inherited, we eliminated. And for my NDP friends, 33¢ of every dollar in 1993 was borrowed money.

I am fed up hearing from that side that somehow we did it on the backs of the provinces and the unemployed. That is from members of the government over there who cut the environmental assessment for houses. People had put money in for programs, and suddenly in the middle of the night they were eliminated.

The Conservatives have a $56 billion deficit and growing. What is your exit strategy? How do you intend to get out of it?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Again I will remind the member for Richmond Hill to address comments through the Chair, not directly to a member.

The hon. member for Prince Edward—Hastings.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that we are not going to do what the previous government did. As he stated, and I cannot believe he had the audacity to do so, a government should not take a $50 billion deficit and then throw it on the backs of someone else. We would not download to the provinces which would then be forced to download on to municipalities. We would not cut 25% off the health and education transfers to the provinces. We would certainly not mortgage the future. We would simply not walk up to someone and suggest that we had cured all the problems of the world and say that it was simple and easy.

Our government has eliminated the deficit when we could have simply put it on someone else's shoulders.

It takes courage to stand up and deal with a problem, and that is what we will continue to do.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to a lot of speeches today and I have been looking for some information about Bill C-51.

I have yet to find anybody other than maybe one speaker all day who has talked about drought relief for livestock owners, which is part of Bill C-51.

I have heard maybe only one speaker all day talk about the revenue-sharing agreement with Nova Scotia, which includes a $175 million payment, which is part of Bill C-51.

I have heard only one or two speakers all day talk about the first-time home buyers' tax credit and more so the home renovation tax credit program.

I am just wondering why we cannot confine our questions and speeches to the subject at hand, which is Bill C-51.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, I actually agree with my hon. colleague. The regretful thing is I had only 10 minutes. I thought we would have had at least 20 or more to speak to this legislation.

Bill C-51 and all of the implications of such are comprehensive. They cover almost every segment and aspect of the economy from one end to the other, whether it is in Nova Scotia, of whether it is our agricultural producers. Everybody is going to be impacted by this.

I am actually blown away that the Liberal opposition could suggest that this legislation is not important.

Here is the thing that really confuses me. The Liberal leader suggested that after the election he would pass the bill, yet we are sitting here waiting for an election that the Liberals have on their minds. If the bill is good enough to pass after an election, why is it not good enough to pass before an election? Why delay the income and those dollars going out to all of the people who desperately need them in all the fields, from agriculture to environment, to social needs, to farmers, to small businesses, to the regular mom and pop.

The member's point is well taken. The focus should definitely not be on five, 10 or 20 years ago, but on the impact of Bill C-51 today on every Canadian.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we have to talk about Bill C-51 and also talk about the implications if it is not passed.

This is a minority government. I heard a great man once say that we can “get by with a little help from our friends”. It is important that we work together.

My colleague pointed out that the Liberals are not talking to anyone. We know they are not talking to each other. We saw that with the member for Bourassa in Quebec and the weakness of his leader in refusing to discipline him.

I want to ask my colleague why the Liberals do not listen to Canadians. Canadians clearly do not want an election. They would like the Liberals to support our government and get on with the economy and with fighting this recession. Why are they not listening to Canadians?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, I could maybe borrow just a few words from the same rendition that my colleague mentioned and just say Let It Be. Let us get this legislation passed so it can be effective.

I, like most of my colleagues on at least this side of the House, talk to constituents. I ask them what they want and what they need. How can we get the stimulus in place? Are they ready? Can we implement this?

We have built up a tremendous level of cooperation municipally, provincially and federally. We are moving forward in partnership across this country. It is just unfortunate that my Liberal colleagues cannot--

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I would ask hon. members for their cooperation in allowing the Speaker to hear the questions and comments.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Berthier—Maskinongé.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-51.

This bill implements the home renovation tax credit, a measure inspired by the proposals in the two plans the Bloc Québécois proposed to this House.

Bill C-51 introduces a first time homebuyers' tax credit, a measure inspired by the Bloc Québécois' most recent election platform. That is why we support this bill.

Bill C-51 implements Canada's international commitments to the International Monetary Fund, which were signed in 2008.

Bill C-51 amends the Canada pension plan, from which Quebec is excluded, based on consultations with the provinces involved.

Bill C-51 acts on the findings of a joint expert panel made up of representatives of Nova Scotia and the federal government to resolve litigation between the parties that has been outstanding since 1984, as an NDP member said here in the House.

For all these reasons, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of this bill. We will not be like the Liberals, who voted for this budget even though they were supposedly against it and who vote against measures they agree with. Logically, we will support our proposals in these budget measures and vote in favour of this bill.

The Bloc Québécois supports the measures in this bill, which is not at all to say that it has confidence in this government. The federal government's overall plan to tackle the recession is not good enough and misses the mark. We have criticized it many times in this House. That is why we opposed the budget that was tabled in the House. However, because the measures in Bill C-51 are acceptable to Quebec, the Bloc Québécois, true to its responsible attitude and its mission to defend Quebeckers' interests, will support this bill. We always work to defend the interests of Quebeckers.

Although the measures in this bill may be a small step forward, the Conservative government still does not have an environmental plan with a 21st century vision, and its record on economic issues is terrible. I would like to focus on this matter for a few minutes.

The Conservatives, like the Liberals before them, deliberately ignore the needs of Quebec and its citizens. These Canadian parties make their decisions in Calgary or Toronto, to protect their interests, even when they conflict with the interests of Quebec.

I am thinking, for example, of struggling economic sectors like the forestry industry and the manufacturing sector, which are not receiving the same handouts that are being given to Ontario's auto industry and western oil companies. Yet the Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec supported the last budget, which went against the needs and interests of Quebeckers.

Regarding the budget presented in this House, I am also thinking of the thousands of workers affected by the recession who will not receive employment insurance and who cannot have greater access to the system, even though they worked for many weeks. Over 50% of people who work do not have access to the employment insurance system.

I am thinking of our seniors, who are still being shortchanged by the federal government and its guaranteed income supplement.

I am thinking of the fight against greenhouse gases, which, in any case, must not harm the big oil companies, even though it prevents Quebec from properly equipping itself to move forward in the economy of the 21st century, the post-petroleum economy. My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi, a passionate environmentalist, often talks about this in his speeches.

There is nothing in this budget to support an economy based on sustainable development, to ensure that all Quebeckers and Canadians, and everyone in the world, have a better and healthier environment.

The government's plan to pay down the federal deficit did not go over well in Quebec. The government needs to find good ways to eliminate the federal deficit, without making the lower and middle classes pay. The federal government is racking up a deficit yet again, and the Conservatives and Liberals are not telling people what they plan on doing to bring back a balanced budget. In fact, just like the Liberals before them, the Conservatives promised not to increase taxes. But, just like the Liberals, they decided to secretly increase employment insurance contributions to make workers pay for the deficit. The Conservative government plans on taking more than $18.9 billion from the EI fund between 2012 and 2015. It is shameful to be stealing that money from the unemployed, from the least fortunate, the most vulnerable people in this country. It is shocking to make these people and middle-class people pay, while banks, big oil companies and the privileged keep getting richer, since they avoid paying taxes by using tax havens. Banks can save more than $2 billion a year by using tax havens. Nothing is being done to stop this.

What can we say about the measures implemented by Ottawa to save the big oil companies $9 billion over the next three years? They are scandalous.

The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-51. However, I say in all sincerity that our support for this government is tenuous. The Bloc Québécois rejects the Liberal-Conservative approach to deficit reduction that takes aim at the middle class, the disadvantaged and Quebec while protecting the privileged. The Bloc Québécois is proposing a plan to cut the deficit that, in the end, would result in an annual cushion of $16 billion and that would not be achieved at the expense of Quebec's middle class.

First, the Bloc plan proposes to reduce expenditures without eliminating a single program, unlike what the Liberals did in the 1990s. Their cuts to health and education transfers left Quebeckers high and dry. We do not want that to be done in this House again.

The federal government has lost control over its bureaucratic expenditures and so, through attrition, it could reduce the size of its public service. Between 1980 and 1998, the federal government's operating expenses rose by 74%.

Finally, the Bloc Québécois proposes to increase taxes for big oil companies, corporations and banks. Military expenditures should be scaled back slightly and the focus should finally be placed on the people who have lost their jobs and on economic recovery, support for the forestry sector, which is in crisis in Quebec, and support for the manufacturing sector. We have to move towards sustainable development, a greener economy and more investment in this type of economy. As for the infrastructure programs proposed by the Conservatives, that money must go to the ridings. As we know, under the plan recently introduced by the Conservative Party, there is still a lot of money that has to get to our ridings in order to upgrade our infrastructure.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for his wonderful speech on this bill.

I have a question for him. Earlier, there was some kind of strange misunderstanding between the Conservatives and the Bloc Québécois, where we were accused of being against support for the automotive industry. That is not at all the case. We never said we were against it; we said we also wanted support for the forestry industry.

The member mentioned a number of Bloc proposals. I would like him to clear things up. The government said that we never contribute anything. But it seems to me that we introduced the renovation idea. I would like the member to confirm that the Conservatives's ideas came from the Bloc Québécois.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

Of course we are not against investing in the automotive industry, because Quebec manufactures some of these car parts. There are jobs in the automotive industry.

But we are critical of the lack of support for the forestry and manufacturing sectors in Quebec, because a number of jobs have been lost. That is what we are talking about. In response to the member that, yes, we in the Bloc Québécois support assistance for the automotive industry. We are not against that, but we want money for the forestry industry.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member a question. I would like to thank him for supporting the bill, which is the right thing to do, but I would like to raise a few points.

Many of the people who have spoken today have talked about the same thing: a proposed surtax on the wealthy. If I understand correctly, Pauline Marois, Blanchet, Desmarais, Beaudoin and Jacques Parizeau are among the wealthy people in my province.

I am trying to understand how he would go about collecting that extra cash from the wealthy. I have named only five or six of them. Does he think that the government should take these people’s fortunes and put the money into the economy, all the while ensuring that these same people, who are the ones we all look up to after all, do not end up paupers the next day? That is what I would like to know: is he ready to bleed them before others?

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand why the member opposite does not get the Bloc’s proposal on this issue. Members of right-wing political parties like his are not very sensitive to the disadvantaged and the unemployed. They proved that in the past with their reluctance to improve the employment insurance system.

We proposed that people earning over $150,000 should pay a 1% surtax. Instead of attacking society’s most vulnerable, the poor and the unemployed, we want some members of the House and other people with high incomes to participate in the collective deficit reduction effort. I can see how that might clash with the member opposite’s ideology.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my hon. colleague this. Does he not think that one of the central responsibilities of a federal government is to control the public purse? Does he not think that the government has lost control over the public purse and over one of its primary responsibilities?

It was not a result of an omission. It was a result of its direct actions to overspend and create a massive imbalance by lowering taxes while increasing spending at two and a half times the rate of GDP, thus causing a structural deficit in the country today.

Economic Recovery Act (stimulus)Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I said in my speech, we no longer have confidence in this government.

Nonetheless, the Bloc Québécois is a responsible party and Bill C-51 contains proposals that the Bloc Québécois itself made. I gave the example of the home renovations. It is for that reason that we are supporting Bill C-51.

However, as we have said in the House before, it is clear that the Conservative government has done very little to support our workers during the economic crisis in the past few months.

Committees of the HousePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

October 6th, 2009 / 5:40 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I would like to say very briefly that today the NDP issued a press release as a result of a vote that took place at committee. In that press release we made an error and spoke about the vote itself which of course we should not have done because it was an in camera meeting. I have advised my colleagues in terms of the government House leader and the other House leaders, and have issued an apology for that.

However, I did want to come into the House to let the members know that the press release that the NDP sent out that did speak about the vote at the in camera committee this morning was issued in error and we certainly apologize to all members because we realize that this is something that should not be done.

Therefore, I would just like to be very up front with members of the House. There was no intention to undermine the committee, its work or what happens in camera. It was done in error and I wish to apologize on behalf of the NDP that that happened.

Committees of the HousePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 5:41 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

First Nations Cadet ProgramPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

moved:

Motion No. 271

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should examine First Nations cadet programs and develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor First Nations community cadet programs across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you how excited and pleased I am to present Motion No. 271 to my colleagues here in the House of Commons.

I know the motion was just read, but so that my colleagues who are just coming into the House will know what it is we are debating I will read it again:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should examine First Nations cadet programs and develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor First Nations community cadet programs across Canada.

My purpose in putting forward this motion is to bring to the attention of the House a unique and special community cadet program that is helping to bring a positive choice to the youth of the four bands of Hobbema, all the while stemming the tide of violence and the spread of gang recruitment that are plaguing those reserves.

Hobbema is located about 60 kilometres south of Edmonton with a population of approximately 13,000. The four Cree bands of Hobbema consist of the Samson Nation, Louis Bull Band, Ermineskin and Montana Bands.

Together, across these bands, high unemployment, family breakdown, and the rise of the drug culture have destabilized this once proud oil-rich community. Hobbema has been described as a very dangerous, unpredictable and unstable first nations community, plagued with crime, drug abuse, graffiti, school bullying, gang association and violence. Because some of the residents live in constant fear, it is very difficult to remove the negative criminal element or to reduce the violence.

In 2005 and 2006 there were over 150 drive-by shootings and other gun-related incidents in Hobbema. Thirteen gangs operated openly on the reserve and actively recruited young people. Age was not a deterrent for enticing children under 12 to join a gang, wear gang colours and show their allegiance. They were asked to commit felonies because gangs can exploit youngsters and the youth that are there with the protection that is afforded to them under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

With more than half of Hobbema's population under the age of 18, RCMP Constable Richard Huculiak recognized that the young people needed an option, so he started the Hobbema community cadet corps. They held their inaugural meeting under the leadership of Constable Huculiak on November 22, 2005. Instead of the free drugs and the status that the gangs were offering, the Hobbema community cadet corps offered an alternative, a chance to learn new skills, to make new friends, and to have new rewarding positive experiences.

Here is what their mission statements says:

Preparing today's youth to be tomorrow's leaders by providing positive social development, leadership and communication skills in a disciplined and respected Aboriginal community cadet program by culturally sensitive members of the Hobbema community.

Within its first year over 800 young people between the ages of 5 and 18 from each of the four bands signed up for this program. This brought an integration of young people, the likes of which had never been seen before.

Today over 1,050 cadets have registered in this program. There are 65 registered cadet instructors. There is one Hobbema RCMP community cadet corps program coordinator, which is Constable Huculiak, and one RCMP provincial youth cadet program manager, which is Sergeant Mark A. Linnell, five parent volunteers, and three senior cadets who recently turned 18 and are waiting to be trained as adult cadet instructors.

With over 1,000 participants this remarkable community cadet corps is the largest native cadet program in Alberta, and most likely the world. The phenomenal growth and success of the Hobbema cadet program is attributable to the commitment of the organizers and of course the cadets who come routinely. Hobbema RCMP Constable Richard Huculiak describes the program with the following words:

What we offer is a place to build relationships with others. A group of friends you can rally around to stay out of trouble together.

The program that started with four separate bands has grown into a collective unit that now solves problems as a team in the spirit of tolerance and patience. An added plus is that some of the parents and elders have also begun associating and working together.

The activities are specifically tailored to the needs and concerns of native reserve youth, and there is a strong emphasis on native culture, sports and of course a healthy lifestyle. It is closely associated with schools. As a matter of fact, the fundamental rule for becoming a Hobbema community cadet is that anybody participating in cadets must be attending full-time school, including correspondence, home-schooling, public school and alternate schools. As a result, school attendance has improved and there are fewer bullying issues, fights and other complaints on school properties.

This incentive based program has proven to be an effective crime prevention initiative that draws from the same age group that is targeted so frequently by the gangs. The program provides a safe environment where the young people can participate in structured, goal oriented activities as an alternative to becoming involved in the gang lifestyle. It is an important step in engaging young people in a positive, life-enhancing experience that will help them make the right choices for their future.

The Hobbema cadets are discovering that there is an alternative to gangs, drugs and violence. The youth crime rate has dropped significantly, thanks to the influence of the Cadet Corps. Everywhere they go, they are greeted enthusiastically by crowds. The cadets are immediately recognizable by their distinctive uniforms whenever they are called upon to demonstrate their drills at public events or to march in a parade.

They even received a standing ovation at the 2007 Models of Youth Excellence Provincial Congress in Toronto following the screening of the documentary Shades of Blue, which tracked their remarkable progress to that point.

With new-found confidence, these young people are on the road to becoming responsible future leaders who will ensure that the traditions and values of their heritage are upheld in a safe and vibrant community. Every effort is made to help the cadets with career planning by partnering with post-secondary institutions and other educational resources.

Government agencies and the private sector have come on board to offer information and to scout for potential future employees. Here are just a couple of examples of how cadets have used the program to set and achieve their own personal goals.

Teddi Baptiste Saddleback joined the Montana Community Cadet Corps in 2006 and left as a senior cadet in 2008 at the age of 18. Teddi worked as a summer RCMP student in 2008 and attended NorQuest College in Edmonton in the aboriginal policing program. She is now a full-time employee of Correctional Services Canada and is presently working in Hobbema at the Pe Sakastew Healing Lodge. Teddi continues to volunteer her time to the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program as a mentor and role model, and she assists with the Correctional Services Canada employment recruiting team.

Tyrone Cattleman joined the Montana Community Cadet Corps in 2006, and by the time he moved on two years later, he was to join the Canadian armed forces' Bold Eagle program. He is presently serving as a private in the Canadian armed forces reserves in Red Deer, Alberta. Tyrone is the communications and public relations liaison officer between the Canadian armed forces reserves in and around Red Deer and the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program.

Trent Young joined the Ermineskin Community Cadet Corps in 2005 and presently is a senior cadet with the leadership position of captain. Trent has been assigned the responsibility of commanding the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program with Sergeant Mark Linnell. Trent has prepared himself for a leadership position with the Ermineskin chief and council, to serve the community of Ermineskin and to support the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program. He has travelled across Canada and to Jamaica to promote and support the successful Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program. He was also given the rank of captain by the Jamaica Police National Inter-School Brigade Cadets when he was in Jamaica as part of an exchange. I would like to talk about that exchange that just happened recently.

Earlier this year, the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps accepted an invitation from the Jamaica Police National Inter-School Brigade Cadets to participate in its ninth anniversary, which was in April. Instead of a two week vacation in Spanish Town, Jamaica, 20 cadets met people who live in shacks made of scrap metal sheeting, where children had to sleep on bare cement. It was a real eye-opener for those cadets. As a matter of fact, 14-year-old Dean Bruno-Kelln was amazed to discover that “Hobbema would be like the cleanest city by comparison”. Those are strong words.

Their differences aside, both groups bonded over the shared goal of escaping gangs and the violence that plagues their respective communities. The Hobbema cadets then invited their international counterparts to visit Alberta in August. This would not have been possible without the generous help from Rob and Rose Paterson of the Ponoka Travel agency.

In addition to the rigours of the itinerary, they had the honour of meeting Canada's Minister of Public Safety.

Both the trip to Jamaica and the visit to Alberta became CBC documentaries. I hope many of my colleagues had an opportunity to watch the second installment of that documentary that aired just this past Sunday night. I would like to thank the CBC for its interest, and all the media, frankly, with the numerous articles that have been printed and the numerous reports that have been followed up o. The media's interest in this wonderful, positive story coming out of Hobbema cannot be understated.

If you had seen the show, Mr. Speaker, you would have had an opportunity to see the program at work and the challenges facing the cadets and the organizers. The Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program is considered to be the best police crime prevention and reduction initiative developed and implemented in Hobbema in the past 10 years that is still effective, efficient, accepted and active.

At their twice weekly meetings that are held at a warehouse on the Samson Band site, the cadets receive official recognition of their achievements through the use of badges and ranks. I have been to a couple of the ceremonies where the ranks have been handed out, the promotions have been handed out and the certificates, and to see the smile on the faces of these young people as they are promoted and gaining that confidence, I cannot say how wonderful that experience is and it is creating such a positive environment.

Although it is categorized as a program, there are no written manuals, policies or procedures that support the program. Despite the lack of an annual budget or paid positions, this program has earned the Hobbema cadets accolades and has sparked international interest. It may not be the panacea to solve all of the problems but it is a concept that has proven to be successful and can serve as a model for other troubled communities.

Most youth or crime prevention programs that were offered in Hobbema over the past 10 years lasted only from six months to a year and eventually failed. Studies have shown that gangs often target aboriginal youth as a means to increase their membership and to expand their territory. The gangs have not left town and the violence still exists on the reserve today but this and other initiatives stemming from the Samson Cree Nation safe community task force are making a difference. As a matter of fact, I mentioned earlier in my speech that there were 13 gangs operating. I believe that has now been reduced to eight gangs operating in that territory. So there is some positive take-back in that community and everyone involved should be congratulated.

One of the keys is to target programs for youth who are at risk and what we are trying to do through this program is reduce crime. I urge our government to get involved and to assist this extraordinary program and to develop a plan to facilitate, promote and help monitor first nations community cadet programs rights across our country where those programs are wanted.

We often say that our children are our future and it is incumbent upon us to make every effort and to take every step possible to prepare them for the future so they can become the future leaders of tomorrow.

I would like to thank Sergeant Mark Linnell who is back home in Hobbema, Constable Richard Huculiak and Noreen Buffalo who is president of the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps Program Society. They are with us today here in Ottawa donating much of their time to the cadet program. The program would not exist or be so successful without their contribution and the help of other volunteers who work with cadets.

I especially want to thank Brian Makinaw, Salty Lee, David Hucilak, Deanna Roasting and Deb Swanson for their commitment and leadership of the cadet program. The countless hours of time and their constant involvement speak to their passion for making the cadet program a success for all who participate.

I want to thank and encourage the members and elders of the four Hobbema bands for their support to this date and their continued support of this worthwhile grassroots initiative.

I want to thank all of the sponsors and donors to this program. Their willingness to support these young people demonstrates to me that the community is behind this cadet initiative and I hope they will continue to support the Hobbema Community Cadet Corps program.

I want to strongly encourage the chiefs, the elders, the parents, sponsors, surrounding communities and the RCMP to work with the cadet program organizers to ensure it continues and succeeds.

I ask our government to get involved by establishing a monitoring plan and to promote the concept of the community cadet corps on other first nations reserves and in troubled areas across our country.

Lastly, I want to thank all of the wonderful young people who participate in this program. They are my inspiration for moving this motion today. I have met too many of them to name every one of them but I do want to acknowledge some of the cadets I have come to know: Trent Young, Elishia Saddleback, Braylene Saddleback, Daniel Baptiste, Dean Bruno-Kelln and Telford Roasting. They and all their fellow cadets are excellent ambassadors of their community, their cadet program, their Cree culture and their the country. I am so very proud of all of them, as are many fellow Canadians. I know they will continue to make a positive choice not only for themselves but also for their fellow citizens.

I want to encourage all members of the House to give serious consideration to this motion and I look forward to their positive responses and questions for Motion No. 271.