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House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was special.

Topics

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of State for the Status of Women for the hard work that she has done. The work she is doing for financial literacy and for young women at risk is phenomenal, and I know it will yield great results in the future.

I would like the member to give us a contrast between the previous Liberal government and our current government. As far back as 1993, the previous Liberal government promised child care. In 2003, it promised parental benefits for the self-employed. That was the principal recommendation of the Liberal women on the Prime Minister's task force for women entrepreneurs. The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine admitted the previous Liberal government completely ignored it.

Could she briefly tell the House about the great work this government has done in delivering for families and for businesses?

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Helena Guergis Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not have enough time to highlight everything that we have done.

I would like to point out, however, that recently the third edition of the pink book was distributed. To be perfectly honest, I can understand how many of the Liberal women were probably upset, because once again they were relegated to the back pink room, handed a pink pad of paper and asked to write down, for the third time, the list of Liberal broken promises made to women over the past decade-plus. It is shameful. It is unfortunate.

It is this Conservative government that not only has delivered on every promise that it has made to women but it is working to ensure that women have the opportunity to fully participate in the economic, social, democratic and cultural life of Canada. We have the largest percentage of women in cabinet in Canada's history, the largest increase in funding to Status of Women Canada to support women and the status of women, and the largest amount to hand out to grassroots organizations across the country that the country has ever seen.

We are hearing from these organizations, which are helping women with concrete actions and plans in the individual communities across the country, how pleased they are with this Conservative government and the positive changes that it has made and the work it is doing for all Canadians.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-56 on behalf of the Bloc Québécois. I am glad to participate in the debate on an issue as important as employment insurance.

Earlier, I listened to the Conservative member list all of the things her government could have done for women. Opinion polls—one came out just today—show that the Conservative Party has far more male supporters than female, and for good reason. The Conservatives simply do not have the will to systematically address women's problems.

On the contrary, the Bloc Québécois does. That is why, day after day in the House, the Bloc Québécois speaks out vigorously on employment insurance issues, particularly since the economic crisis began. The crisis is affecting society's weakest and most vulnerable, those in unstable employment situations. Employees themselves are not unstable, but the jobs being offered by employers are.

The Conservatives' proposed reforms are nothing more than partisan tactics. Consider the previous bill on employment insurance reform—not Bill C-56, which is before us now, but the previous one introduced by the Conservatives—the one they say will help long-tenured workers. So much can be learned from a closer look at this bill that was passed by the House but opposed by the Bloc Québécois. The help for long-tenured workers bill creates two classes of workers. Their definition of a long-tenured worker is a person who has worked for the same company for at least five years and who has not collected more than 35 weeks of employment insurance in the past five years.

We all know that those employed in the tourism, agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, primarily in Quebec, who have worked for a long time—for 15, 20, 25, and 30 years—will not have access to these benefits. They are offered seasonal employment that is often unstable, meaning that it is not permanent. It is in some ways permanent because people return to the same job year after year. However, there are always times when people have to be laid off for all kinds of reasons—in tourism because there are no tourists in a given period of the year, in fisheries because of quotas, in agriculture because the weather makes it impossible to work all 12 months of the year, in forestry because of the weather also. This sector has been in crisis for the past five years and it all started with tariffs. The softwood lumber agreement was signed long before this recession began.

The Conservative Party believes that some permanent employees who are long-tenured workers in an industry do not deserve to have their benefits extended by 5 to 20 weeks.

It is difficult to listen to and follow the Conservatives. They are again boasting about helping women and the most disadvantaged with Bill C-56. We see that this is not the case.

The Bloc Québécois will vote for the bill at this stage to send it to committee and to explore these issues. We know how committees work. Witnesses are invited, target groups consisting of those who should benefit and those who believe they could benefit are heard.

Then we amend and improve the legislation. We will see what happens. However, the bill that is now before us, and which will be passed by the House, may be quite different when it comes back from the committee. We have to care about the most vulnerable in our society, but also about self-employed persons. In fact, ensuring that self-employed persons can benefit from the employment insurance program has always been a clearly stated objective of the Bloc Québécois.

As I said, the Conservatives are manipulating public opinion. It is quite something to hear the media convey the messages of Conservative ministers and members. The Conservatives give the impression that they are helping all self-employed persons, as if these people could contribute to the EI fund and be entitled—if they find themselves out of work for a period of time—to EI benefits. That is not the case. This bill is about a voluntary employment insurance program that will cover special benefits. It is important to make this distinction.

When we talk about special benefits, it is important to understand that self-employed persons will receive maternity benefits for 15 weeks, parental or adoption benefits for a maximum of 35 weeks, sickness benefits for a maximum of 15 weeks, and compassionate care benefits for a maximum of six weeks. Since participation will be on a voluntary basis, the program is not the same across Canada. Of course, in Quebec, some of these benefits—in fact the majority of them—are already included in the program administered by the Quebec government. However, this is not an employment insurance program for self-employed persons.

The Conservatives should stop manipulating and brainwashing the public by saying that they will allow self-employed persons to receive EI benefits. A self-employed person who loses a contract will not be entitled to employment insurance. That is not what the bill now before us provides.

I am repeating it again, because this is important. The Conservatives have become experts in manipulating public opinion. They influence public opinion with a statement from the minister or from members, saying that they are implementing an employment insurance program for self-employed persons. That is not the case. This is an employment insurance program that includes special benefits for those self-employed persons who decide to participate in it. Again, the special benefits to which self-employed persons would be entitled are as follows: maternity benefits for a maximum of 15 weeks, parental or adoption benefits for a maximum of 35 weeks, sickness benefits for a maximum of 15 weeks, and compassionate care benefits for a maximum of six weeks.

Again, there is nothing here for a self-employed person who loses a contract and who, after contributing to the plan, wants to collect EI benefits like any other worker who pays premiums. This person would only be entitled to special benefits, under specific circumstances, but definitely not when losing a contract or a portion of his income.

Now that I have cleared that up, it should be evident that this has always been a goal of the Bloc Québécois. What the Bloc would like is to improve this measure in committee, to ensure that we have a real employment insurance program to help self-employed workers who have been hit by the economic crisis like all other entrepreneurs, businesses and employees.

Contract work has become quite popular. To avoid paying different types of benefits or packages, business people are deciding to hire contract workers to cover a portion of their operations. A good number of self-employed workers are on contract. This is very common in the IT world. My son works in multimedia.

In this field, I would say that nearly 100% of employees are on contract. That does not mean that they are short of work, but during an economic crisis, there is less work. So a number of contract workers are currently out of work, and do not have access to EI because they have not paid premiums.

So we must be cautious about what the Conservatives are proposing, as they often manipulate public opinion for purely partisan reasons—I have no problem saying that—and use the media to serve their party's purposes. Sometimes the media are very sympathetic. They know that the Conservatives are using them and they want to do their work well. I will not say the dirty work that the Conservatives want done, although that could be the case. However it should not be surprising that the objective of the Bloc Québécois, the only party that defends the interests of Quebeckers in this House every single day, is to get the bills improved in committee and to provide a real employment insurance program for self-employed workers.

We also have to put what will be paid in perspective because participation to the program will be voluntary. The bill allows self-employed persons to have access on a voluntary basis to special employment insurance benefits, as I explained earlier. They will pay their premiums to the scheme via their tax returns. They will have to make a voluntary declaration in their tax returns or another return stating their income, and they will have to pay a premium per thousand dollars of income.

Obviously some conditions will apply. They will have to earn a minimum of $6,000 in the calendar year preceding their claim in order to be entitled to 50% of their income, as is the case for special and regular benefits. They will have to enrol in their 2009 tax return. So that will be in their next tax return, that they will have to file in February, March or April 2010 for the 2009 taxation year. They will have to enrol in their 2009 tax return to be able to claim benefits in 2010, a year of paying premiums before being entitled to benefits.

In the present situation, that measure could be in place by 2010, based on tax returns for the preceding year. So we are allowing workers to enrol as of now. They enrol and when they prepare their tax return, they pay their full premium for 2009, and this enables them to claim special employment insurance benefits starting in 2010.

We have to question this procedure because the employment insurance fund has forecast a $7 billion deficit in 2010. Will the purpose of the special premium to be paid by self-employed persons for 2009, which will be payable as soon as January, February, March or April 2010, be to top up the employment insurance fund? Obviously we will have to ask ourselves that question.

Workers who want to claim special benefits will have to pay mandatory, permanent premiums to the plan once they declare themselves as self-employed persons. This will be done on a voluntary basis, but those who begin paying premiums can decide to opt out as long as they have never claimed benefits. That is a choice they could make. However, once someone has claimed benefits under the program, they will have to continue to contribute to the scheme forever, or as long as they are self-employed.

The Conservatives tell us that self-employed persons will pay only the employee premium since they do not have access to regular benefits. That will mean that the premium required will be lower than what is required of regular employees who work for companies.

On the question of special benefits, there is the bill that self-employed persons are to have to pay and what is paid out of the employment insurance scheme in special benefits at present. There is already a plan in effect in Quebec, in fact. Special benefits represent about a quarter of total benefits paid by the plan, while the Conservative Party is seeking $1.73 per $100 from self-employed persons. In Quebec, those workers will pay $1.36 per $100 to be entitled to the two least costly components of the bill. They are already entitled to the other measures through the premiums they pay in Quebec.

Obviously there will be a whole debate in committee about the portion paid by self-employed persons in Quebec. According to the documents provided to the press by the government, self-employed persons who live in Quebec will continue to receive maternity and parental benefits under the government of Quebec’s parental insurance plan.

In addition, these workers will now be eligible for sickness and compassionate care benefits through the federal government's employment insurance scheme. If they decide to take part in the scheme, they will have to pay the same employment insurance premiums as other workers in Quebec, where the rates have already been adjusted to take into account the provincial maternity and parental benefits program.

Bill C-56 will only partially apply to self-employed workers in Quebec, since they are already covered by the Quebec parental insurance plan when it comes to maternity, parental and adoption benefits. Therefore, only the sickness and compassionate care benefits would apply to workers in Quebec.

The EI premium rate for workers in Quebec is $1.36. In Canada, it will be $1.73. The difference between the two rates can be explained by the fact that Quebeckers pay premiums for provincial parental insurance. However, Quebeckers already pay more than the difference between $1.73 and $1.36, which is 37¢, although at this time, they pay just over 80¢ to the Quebec system.

There will be a great deal of discussion and debate over whether this scheme will see Quebeckers paying more than the rest of Canada. People will soon realize that that is the case. The Bloc Québécois' goal will be to ensure that Quebeckers never pay more, that the premiums they currently pay to the Government of Quebec are taken into account, and that the amount of those premiums is in fact deducted from whatever premiums they pay as part of the scheme for the rest of Canada.

In all of the Americas, Quebec is where wealth is the most evenly distributed, and this is what we want as a society. Quebec has created programs that we often pay for ourselves. It serves as an example for the rest of Canada, but we are never compensated as much as the others are compensated. That is one reason why Quebec hopes to one day become sovereign. It is not because we do not like our neighbours; it is simply because we have a different perspective of society. This is confirmed every day.

When it comes to the environment, it is now clear that Canada is an embarrassment to the rest of the world. If Quebec were a country, it would have one of the best track records in terms of fighting climate change. Society makes these choices. Quebec developed hydroelectricity and I am proud to say that our hydro network was developed with no federal contributions whatsoever. Quebeckers chose to develop their hydro network without any help from the federal government. If Quebec were a country, it could take part in the carbon exchange, and Quebec companies that have made an effort to reduce their emissions beyond the Kyoto targets would now be entitled to huge sums of money.

Rivière-du-Loup closed a landfill and built a methane capture system, so it would collect $1 million. However, because Canada decided to go it alone, it has deprived Rivière-du-Loup of that $1 million.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for his comments, although I do not think his comments really reflect the Bloc's voting record when it comes to supporting people who are unemployed. Two examples would be the economic action plan which was tabled in the winter and which provided billions of dollars through a variety of different programs to support the unemployed and just recently, Bill C-50, which provided another $1 billion to help another 190,000 long-tenured workers.

The Bloc talk very much, but do very little when it comes to voting in support of the unemployed. How can the hon. member reconcile his words versus his and his party's actions in actually not supporting the unemployed on any issue so far in 2009? I am sure he must be disappointed with that.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I am not surprised to hear that from a Conservative member. The Conservatives have never understood how Quebec works. If there is one party in the House that does not constantly change its mind, that party is clearly the Bloc Québécois, and we saw several examples of that yesterday evening during the vote to eliminate the gun registry.

We have never wavered in our commitment to updating and improving the employment insurance system. Since coming to the House, the Bloc Québécois has been calling for an independent system. We will not forget that $54 billion was taken from the fund by both the Liberals and the Conservatives to do all kinds of things other than invest in employment insurance reform.

As I said before, Bill C-50, which we voted against, will protect long-tenured workers, but it does not apply to forestry, agriculture, tourism or fisheries. The program was created for Ontario's auto workers. That is a choice. They can go ahead and leave Quebec out. But those of us over here stand up for Quebec at every—

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Questions and comments. The hon. member for York South—Weston.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Madam Speaker, I think that all members in the House would agree that providing EI benefits to those who are self-employed is a very worthy, admirable objective that should have been faced up to many years ago. While the legislation is welcome, it has struck me that, as the member has pointed out, the special benefit that actually accrues as a result of the formula that is being applied will be one-quarter less than that for those where there is an employer and an employee contribution. Compounding that, our colleague has also pointed out that the employment insurance fund actuarially will be in deficit in 2010.

I am impressed with the manner in which the Quebec fund is administered, as the member has pointed out, but from a Quebec perspective, what approach will have to be taken with respect to that deficit where an actuarial charge now is going to be on top of that which will exist without having self-employed workers receiving benefits?

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

I said earlier that in Quebec, the premium for special benefits is now just over 80¢ per $100 in earnings, which is of course adjusted depending on plan expenses.

The problem is that the Liberals and the Conservatives had a surplus of $54 billion until last year, something we obviously always condemned. If the premium money had always been spent, we would have a better plan today.

I have a problem with my colleague's question, because he referred to employment insurance measures for self-employed workers. He then referred to special benefits, but he fell into the Conservatives' media trap, which was to announce a huge operation to create an employment insurance program for self-employed workers. But this is not an EI program for self-employed workers. Self-employed workers who lose their contract, earn less money or no longer have any income will not be able to receive employment insurance benefits. This program will only provide them with special benefits: maternity, parental or adoption benefits, sickness benefits and compassionate care benefits. That is what we are going to want to improve in committee.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, there are over 2.6 million self-employed in Canada. Of them, 21,000 are members of ACTRA. These are the people who work in television, film, in the arts. ACTRA has been pushing for years to extend benefits to the self-employed and to ensure that there is parental leave for workers in the film industry.

Steve Waddell, who is very active in ACTRA, said that this issue is one of basic fairness. I was speaking with Ferne Downey who said, “Our union has been fighting for years to get governments to recognize self-employed workers deserve these rights”. She said, “We are urging all parties to support the extension of benefits to the self-employed and for parental leave”.

In light of the hard work of what ACTRA does for the cultural sector of this country, will the Bloc work with the NDP, because we have supported these motions for some time, to ensure that our arts sector workers are given the parental benefits that they deserve?

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, we are cooperating to create a real employment insurance program for self-employed workers.

But we will not do what the NDP did in the case of long-tenured workers, which was to exclude workers in tourism, farming, fishing and forestry. That was the choice the NDP made. It is not the choice the Bloc Québécois will make.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Madam Speaker, I wish to congratulate my Bloc Québécois colleague for his excellent speech. I would like to ask him if he could again explain which unfair, additional premiums a Quebecker will have to pay if the bill is adopted.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord has done an excellent job of defending the workers in his riding, particularly those in the forestry sector. He is fighting hard with two Conservative ministers who refuse to get it.

I understand how he wants once again today to enlighten some Conservative ministers and members from Quebec, who do not seem to understand that Quebeckers already pay for certain special benefits.

We pay just over 80¢ on every $100. The Conservatives are asking Canadians to pay $1.73 and Quebeckers to pay $1.36, because they already cover a portion. That is a difference of 37¢, although Quebeckers already pay 80¢.

There must be real justice for Quebeckers in the House and it must not be just the Bloc that defends the interests of Quebeckers. The Conservative and Liberal members for Quebec should also rise and defend Quebeckers.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Edmonton--Sherwood Park can begin his comments and will have to be interrupted by statementss by members at 2 p.m.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tim Uppal Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today on a bill that provides improvements to the employment insurance program which would, if passed into law, set up a system to allow self-employed Canadians to collect EI special benefits for the very first time. This will mean that our self-employed Canadians and their families would have access to the same treatment as most working Canadians for major events, such as the arrival of a new baby, a serious illness, or the need to care for a gravely ill relative.

I am particularly pleased to be able to contribute to this discussion since it provides me with an opportunity to speak on behalf of this group of hard-working Canadians who, through their ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirt, have done so much to spur economic growth, inject new ideas, and foster greater innovation. There are some 2.6 million self-employed people in our country. They represent just over 15% of our workforce. This means we are talking about a large number of people who make a significant contribution to our economic well-being.

Self-employed Canadians are very often the people driving innovation in our economy. These are the people who harness creativity, courage and capital to build better lives. They themselves are creatively-driven, resourceful and entrepreneurial. They create businesses. They create new products. They innovate. They create jobs. They create wealth. They build our homes and they help us buy and sell our homes. They help us, when we need it, through the legal system. They fix our pipes and our wires. And they employ people who do all these things, too. They provide services that we need. We need them. They are farmers and realtors, carpenters and electricians, doctors and business owners, and so much more.

They build stronger communities and, in turn, a stronger country. Our self-employed entrepreneurs are the forefront of our economic vitality. We want to ensure our entrepreneurs can have strong, healthy businesses because stronger entrepreneurship means a stronger Canada.

We need their skills, we need their experience, and we need their energy and creativity to meet the challenges to come. They deserve fair treatment. I think this is most important. Self-employed Canadians deserve fair treatment. If the federal government is going to offer a framework and a structure for providing certain benefits to working Canadians, then all working Canadians should have the opportunity take part in that structure and to have access to those benefits.

That is why our Conservative government believes that these entrepreneurs deserve to have access to a system that would provide them with the same EI special benefits that other working Canadians can have access to. That is simply the fair and right thing to do.

Bill C-56 seeks to address the gap by giving such entrepreneurs access to EI special benefits for the very first time and, on a voluntary basis; a move that would improve their financial security and acknowledge the important role that they play in our economy.

When it comes to this action by our government, we listened to Canadians. We made a promise to them, and now we are delivering on that promise over and above what we said we would do.

Let me tell members about it. A year ago, our Prime Minister promised Canadians action. He said:

Self-employed Canadians, and those who one day hope to be, shouldn’t have to choose between starting a family and starting a business because of government policy. It should allow them to pursue their dreams, both as entrepreneurs and as parents...a re-elected Conservative Government will permit self-employed Canadians to join the EI system to access maternity and parental Employment Insurance benefits.

With this bill, not only are we keeping that promise and delivering access to that leave but we are also giving the self-employed access to sickness and to compassionate care that those other Canadians also have access to with EI special benefits. We are exceeding our promise made to Canadians. We are giving self-employed Canadians the same access as other Canadians. We are making this access voluntary because, of course, these benefits would require premium contributions, and we are ensuring that our federal government treats all working Canadians fairly in this manner.

We listened to Canadians. It is not surprising that many self-employed Canadians have been calling on the federal government to open up EI special benefits to them. They want fair treatment from their government and we agree. We do not want them to have to scale back or stop work when faced with joyous events like the birth or adoption of a child, or a difficult personal family challenge such as a serious illness or family crisis.

Fairness for the Self-Employed ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I will have to interrupt the member. When debate resumes, the hon. member will have 14 minutes remaining for his comments.

Veterans' WeekStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Madam Speaker, this year the world has mourned the passing of many veterans of the first world war, and Canada has only one member remaining, Mr. John Babcock, an amazing man. Mr. Babcock celebrated his 109th birthday this year and we are reminded that it is up to us as a nation to keep the memory of this great generation alive.

During Veterans' Week, which leads into Remembrance Day, let us remember significant milestones of the first world war, which are synonymous with our proud military heritage, for example, Passchendaele, the Battle of the Somme and the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Throughout these battles, regiments from coast to coast served and triumphed together, helping to create a new and stronger sense of Canadian identity.

Ninety-one years ago at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns of the first world war went silent. This November 11 we will pause to remember the generations of Canadians who bravely served our country and honour those still serving today.

Lest we forget.

Teaching ExcellenceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour Ava Gomes, an early childhood educator in the Blue Wave Child Care Centre in Don Valley West. Ms. Gomes is a recipient of the Prime Minister's award for teaching excellence and excellence in early childhood education.

Ava goes beyond her regular duties to provide one-on-one attention to children. She participates with them in their extra activities, sends home creative projects and motivates her students through skits, props and music.

A parent of one of her students said it best:

Every day Ava builds [my daughter's] confidence, fosters her independence, makes her feel special. Like Ava, her classroom is warm and inviting.... Every morning [my daughter] wakes up excited and inspired to learn.

This award recognizes not only Ms. Gomes but also the importance of early childhood education. Liberals recognize this point very well. That is why any future Liberal government will be committed to a national child care program.

I congratulate Ava on this tremendous achievement and for inspiring students at the most critical moment of their lives.

Renil BelisleStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an act of bravery by Renil Belisle, a blue collar worker from Delson, who rescued a neighbour, Yann Lamy, and saved his life.

Yann Lamy was repairing his car on October 6, when the vehicle, whose tires had accidentally not been secured, started to back up. Mr. Lamy was trapped under the vehicle.

Mr. Belisle heard his neighbour's cries for help. While his spouse called emergency services, Mr. Belisle remained calm and rescued Mr. Lamy by lifting the vehicle with a jack.

It is often said that it is the circumstances that create heroes. But I would say that these circumstances allow the hero inside to come out.

Mr. Belisle, your actions saved another man's life. You have every reason to be proud of this act of bravery, and on behalf of all my constituents, I commend you.

Canadian Olympic TeamsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, today the Olympic torch is in the Northwest Territories, in Inuvik and Yellowknife. As one can imagine, northerners have a special love of winter sports. Today allows them to show that love and to show their attachment to Canada.

Despite its small population, the NWT has been well represented on the Canadian Olympic teams, most notably by Sharon and Shirley Firth of Inuvik. The Firths were members of Canada's national cross-country team for 17 years. Between them, they won 79 medals at national championships and competed in four Olympics.

The NWT also has aspiring Olympians like Brendan Green of Hay River, who just made the national biathlon team. Others are still trying for places on those teams.

As part of the Olympic celebrations, Dene and Inuvialuit athletes will be showcasing traditional games. As well, NWT Day is being celebrated on February 19.

I support and encourage all northerners who aspire to Olympic greatness, and I know the entire NWT does as well.

Service OrganizationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, service organizations in Prince Edward—Hastings like the Rotary, Legion, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, Kiwanis, Shriners, Elks and Kinsmen, among many others, have been responsible for bettering our communities and helping thousands of people.

One particular organization in my riding currently involved in a very worthy initiative is the Prince Edward District Masons, who are volunteers in the Masonic child identification program. This program is one of the most comprehensive child recovery, identification and abduction-awareness programs in use today. With individually tailored child ID kits, it provides all parents with a tool for helping to keep their children safe. Thanks to the masons of Prince Edward district. We appreciate their efforts to protect the ones we love.

I would also like to take a moment to congratulate a very special constituent who truly is an inspiration to one and all. While standing only 4 feet 9 inches, at 114 pounds and 65 years young, Kenzo Dozono, an eighth-degree black belt, recently took home three gold medals from the world karate open championships in Athens, Greece.

I extend my congratulations to Kenzo.

Robert “Bob” BeauchampStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise here today to thank Robert “Bob” Beauchamp for his loyal service to the members of the House of Commons.

Bob Beauchamp has worked on the Hill for the past 31 years. During this time he has seen eight Prime Ministers and many members of Parliament come and go.

A devoted family man, Bob Beauchamp is also a loyal volunteer at the Aylmer branch of the Canadian Legion and with the Knights of Columbus.

I would also like to take this opportunity to underscore the quality of the work of all employees of the House of Commons. Their dedication and skilful performance of their duties supports the work of parliamentarians, and Bob Beauchamp was part of that great team. His was a career marked by enthusiasm and commitment.

We all noted, however, that his enthusiasm was inversely proportional to how fast he drove his car—we are sure he has never received a speeding ticket while driving on the Hill.

My colleagues and I would like to wish Bob Beauchamp a happy retirement, and we hope he will enjoy every minute of it.

Remembrance DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, on November 11 we remember the generations of Canada's most courageous who have answered the call of duty and served our country.

From World War I to our work in Kandahar and around the globe today, the constant has always been the valour, the courage and the sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform.

It is our duty to remember. That is why on Remembrance Day in communities like Barrie, throughout Canada, hundreds of families will stand before their cenotaph, like the one in Memorial Square in Simcoe County, to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

At this time I would like to pay respect to Pastor Jay Davis at Mapleview Church for his annual Remembrance Day service, Reverend Michael Cassidy, who conducts a moving service at Whispering Pines seniors residence, and of course our veterans organizations that lead Remembrance Day events on November 11.

I thank Jim Strang, president of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 147; Neil McKinnon, president of the Army Navy Air Force Club; Bill Wuerch, sergeant-at-arms; the Auxiliary Corps ladies led by the lovely Rosemary Ashton; and our honorary colonel of Base Borden, Jamie Massie, who all play a big role in honouring our veterans in Barrie.

Use of WoodStatements By Members

November 5th, 2009 / 2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean is proud to be a forest region. Inspired by an idea proposed by the mayor of Saint-Félicien, Quebec's Department of Transport is building the first bridge ever made with glue-laminated wood beams in the municipality of Albanel. This initiative could be the start of a new generation of bridges built exclusively out of wood.

This is an example of daring and vision. However, we cannot say the same about the member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and his party, who have problems and concerns with implementing such a measure in constructing or renovating federal buildings.

By supporting Bill C-429 introduced by the Bloc Québécois, the government would set an example by promoting the use of wood. This would show that it wants to help the forestry industry, which is in crisis. But it prefers to help the automotive industry in Ontario.

Ray LeitchStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark the passing of Ray Leitch, a long-time Conservative activist and volunteer. Sadly, Ray passed away in Vancouver on Monday night.

Ray was a great example of what it means to be Canadian. He took pride in Canada's democratic process and devoted the majority of his life to volunteering for the Conservative cause.

Ray served in many capacities, from volunteering on campaigns to serving as a national councillor, and most recently to sitting as an EDA president in Vancouver.

He was more than a volunteer. Ray was also a friend, a confidant and a trusted adviser who helped many who have served in this House achieve their dreams of participating in Canada's political life.

Today I rise on behalf of the Conservative caucus to honour the memory of Ray Leitch and to offer my condolences to his family. He was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed.

International Inuit DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, in 2006, the Inuit peoples of the entire circumpolar world, assembled in Utqiagvik, Alaska. They proclaimed November 7 each year to be International Inuit Day.

This year, Inuit Day will be commemorated this coming Saturday. On this day, the Inuit peoples of Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Arctic Russia celebrate their culture and heritage, and proclaim to their fellow citizens and to the world that the Arctic is the Inuit homeland.

At a time when climate change and resource development are altering the Arctic landscape, the Inuit peoples are acting together across international boundaries to defend the Inuit cultures, languages and way of life.

All nations would do well to follow the Inuit model of cooperation, consensus and concern for the environment.

On behalf of my constituents in Nunatsiavut and throughout Labrador and the residents of the other territories which make up Inuit Nunaat, Nunavik, Nunavut and the Inuvialuit region, I extend best wishes on International Inuit Day. Nakkumek.