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House of Commons Hansard #127 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was table.

Topics

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #152

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Pursuant to order made on Monday, December 7, 2009, the House will now proceed to the third reading of the bill.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Flaherty Conservative Whitby—Oshawa, ON

moved that Bill C-62, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act, be read the third time and passed.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #153

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

Provincial Choice Tax Framework ActGovernment Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Laval—Les Îles, International Co-operation.

The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth is rising on a question of privilege. We will hear the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth now.

Statements by Ministers Regarding Afghan DetaineesPrivilegeGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is to complete just briefly the arguments that I was presenting prior to the vote, so I do not need to take much more of the House's time.

As you will recall, Mr. Speaker, we were entering into the record here again, actually, examples of where the Minister of National Defence and other ministers of the government had spoken out, indicating such statements as the following. This particular one is from the Minister of National Defence on November 18:

I state again that there has never been a single solitary proven allegation of abuse of a Taliban prisoner transferred by the Canadian Forces.

He was echoed by the Minister of Transport, who said on December 4:

There has not been a single proven allegation of abuse of a Canadian-transferred prisoner.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs joined the chorus, saying on December 1:

Let me be perfectly clear. There has never been a proven allegation of abuse involving a transferred Taliban prisoner by Canadian Forces.

We had the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas on November 18 saying:

The Government of Canada has received no proven allegation of abuse since instituting our strengthened detainee arrangement in 2007.

The Prime Minister himself said on, and I do not have the date right in front of me on that quotation, but he said:

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the reports that the hon. gentleman is talking about, by their own admission, are not credible evidence of torture of Canadian detained prisoners. They are simply evaluations of the Afghan prison system based on second-hand and third-hand evidence.

Mr. Speaker, one of the most important things that has to take place in this place is that the government needs to tell the truth to the members of Parliament who are assembled to discuss important issues.

My point of privilege, as I mentioned before, is that the members of Parliament should have had an acknowledgement from the government benches that the statements that had been made in this place were in error. There should have been an apology for having led the House of Commons down a path which did not represent the truth, given the statements that we now have from the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Mr. Speaker, the privileges of members of Parliament are very important. I hope that you will rule that the government must take action to make amends for this breach of the privileges of members of Parliament.

Statements by Ministers Regarding Afghan DetaineesPrivilegeGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I have listened to the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth present his argument on this matter. It sounds a lot to me like a dispute as to facts. I know that members have been asking questions on a regular basis about this dispute as to facts, but I am not sure that the fact that they may or may not disagree with a minister's answer to any of the questions is a matter of a breach of the hon. member's privileges. This is the part I am having trouble with.

I know that the dispute as to facts is a continuing matter. We had more questions today in question period about these things, but I am not sure I am satisfied on anything I have heard to this moment that there has been a breach of any member's privileges as such.

Accordingly, I am not going to proceed with the matter at this stage. Maybe more evidence will come forward later that turns it into one, but I am not sure that we have such a breach of privilege of the House at the moment.

It being 6:10 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

December 9th, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

moved that Bill C-471, An Act respecting the implementation of the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force and amending another Act in consequence, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, I introduced Bill C-471, An Act respecting the implementation of the recommendations of the Pay Equity Task Force and amending another Act in consequence, in the House. This bill would repeal the measures that undermined pay equity in this year's budget.

The Conservatives hid behind economic recovery measures to launch an attack against the fundamental right to equal pay for work of equal value.

Bill C-471 would make clear in law what should never be in doubt: pay equity is not a labour relations issue, it is a human rights issue.

I take particular pleasure in introducing this bill. It is the first private member's bill I have had the honour to introduce, and I have chosen this subject because of its extraordinary importance to all Canadians, especially to Canadian women.

In this year's budget, the Conservatives put pay equity on the bargaining table and that was wrong. No human right should ever be subject to negotiation and that is the premise on which this bill is founded. My party and I believe the majority of members of the House are firm in their conviction that equal pay for work of equal value is and always must be a human right.

As members of the House will be aware, the fight for pay equity is not yet won. We have much to do.

Today in Canada, women earn on average 72¢ for every dollar earned by a man doing the same work. For a woman who has children, it is 52¢.

Two-thirds of all minimum wage earners are women and women are over-represented among part-time and unpaid workers, as well as those in the lowest income brackets. Among top earners, on the other hand, men outnumber women by the astonishing figure of 330%. In recent years, if we take a global standard, we have fallen to 25th in the world in terms of the gender gap.

Canada is behind 25 other countries when it comes to women participating in economic and political life.

This is Canada. This is the remaining inequality we have to overcome in the country we love. We must do better.

The statistics speak for themselves, but they cannot represent the people these statistics represent. I am thinking of a single mom in Mississauga who cannot find a quality day care spot for her son and who cannot afford not to work.

I am thinking of young parents in Laval who cannot spend time with their children because they need a second job just to feed their family.

I am thinking of a family in Nanaimo, B.C., trying to put their kids through school with two parents working full-time for one and a half incomes. This is why pay equity is a human rights issue. This is why this party has brought this into the House.

This is why pay equity is a national issue, and this is why the House should pass this bill.

Bill C-471 would take pay equity off the bargaining table where it should never have been in the first place. We would create a federal pay equity commission to ensure pay equity in the federal public service, crown corporations and federally-regulated industries.

We will create a federal pay equity commission to ensure pay equity in the public service and federally-regulated industries.

Under Bill C-471, any pay equity measures would be considered human rights legislation.

This Bill C-471 would establish clear and present safeguards to protect pay equity in the workplace. Some of these safeguards have been undermined or eliminated by the present government. Others were called for in the 2004 task force report but never implemented.

This bill calls for the financial resources needed to create a proactive model of pay equity.

The Government of Canada is Canada's largest single employer and has an obligation to lead by example, to start a race for the top and not a race to the bottom. When human rights are in question as they are in this case, federal leadership is not an option, it is a responsibility. This leadership has been sorely lacking in recent years.

Women's equality has been a casualty of the current government's short-term politics.

Women's equality has been a casualty of the government's politics. It cut the operating budget of Status of Women Canada by 43%, and it cut the word “equality” from its key mandate.

The government axed the court challenges program, the national child care supplement and $1 billion in child care agreements with the provinces and territories.

It ripped up the Kelowna accord and the support for aboriginal health and education, especially for women, that went with it.

Now it is reneging on its own promise in the 2008 budget to present an action plan for the equality of women, in order to improve the economic and social conditions of Canadian women and increase their involvement in our democracy.

This is the record of the government. Canadians deserve better.

The Senate, the other Chamber, made its own report on pay equity earlier this year and now this bill is an opportunity for all of us across all divides in this House to make a clear statement about gender equality in this country, to say, in other words, that women are not a “left-wing fringe group”, that women's rights are human rights, and that any attack on pay equity is inexcusable and especially so in the middle of a recession.

We must get this bill passed and I believe we will. However, our work will not end there.

As long as all Canadians, men and women alike, young or old, in rural or urban areas, aboriginal or not, do not have equal opportunities in life, we will not be satisfied with our efforts as parliamentarians or citizens of this country.

Regardless of where we come from or on which benches we sit, we in this House share a common obligation to the people of this country to make Canada the fair society we all believe it should be. This bill is a step in that direction. It is the step we must take. I know that sooner or later, in this Parliament or in the next one, take it, we will.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Helena Guergis ConservativeMinister of State (Status of Women)

Madam Speaker, the World Economic Forum just released its gender gap report. Canada rose six places ahead of the Americans. We were leading in the top three categories: number one, economic participation; number two, educational attainment; number three, health. In fact, we were number one in economic participation and literacy rates. Where we did not do well was political empowerment.

I would like to ask the Liberal leader a question. He made some comments to the media that there were some unspecified costs. I would like him to outline how much he thinks those costs are.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Madam Speaker, I am surprised that the question of cost should be the first thing in the hon. member's mind. We are talking here about human rights.

The proposal is very specific: to create a federal pay equity commission. Costs are entailed, but when the human rights of women are in question, the question of cost surely is secondary. The primary obligation is to do the right thing.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I have to say that I am absolutely speechless.

The Liberal Party had the 2004 report from the task force on pay equity in its hands. The Liberal Party was in government. Why did the Liberals not act in 2004?

I would also like to ask the Liberal leader why he and his party voted for every one of the Conservative budgets that gutted pay equity? Finally, I would say that it is too late. The Liberal leader can never undo all the harm to women that he and his party have aided and abetted.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Madam Speaker, the 2004 pay equity report was the work of a Liberal government seeking to make progress in this matter. I remind the hon. member that it was her party that secured the defeat of that government and made it impossible for us to make the progress that we wanted to make.

I further remind the hon. member that we have taken steps with this private member's bill today to make sure that a federal pay equity commission devotes itself exclusively to the issue of pay equity for women, and that we restore pay equity as a human right and not put it in labour relations where it could be traded away.

That is the purpose of the legislation.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—East York, ON

Madam Speaker, we have talked a great deal in this House about a lot of things, but I want to put faces and real facts on this.

Women earn 72¢ for every dollar a man earns. Women have to put food on the table and pay bills just like everybody else. They have families to feed. I would like to ask my hon. colleague, how would this bill help that situation?

Since people want to talk about economics, let us talk about women's real economics.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Madam Speaker, it seems to me a federal pay equity commission will set the standard nationally for pay equity. It will create a system that is proactive, that focuses exclusively on the question of the human right of equal pay for work of equal value.

That focus, an institution that then sets the standard in all federally regulated industries and in the federal public service, will constitute a standard of action which we hope will improve the standards of pay equity right across the country.

The ripple effect of good practice, the ripple effect of advanced legislation at the federal level will directly address the disadvantages to which the hon. member has referred.

Pay Equity Task Force Recommendations ActPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-471, the private member's bill on pay equity proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.

This government respects the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. In fact, earlier this year we took action to modernize pay equity in the federal public sector. We introduced the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act as a part of the Budget Implementation Act which received royal assent on March 12 of this year. As all hon. members know, Parliament, including the Liberal opposition, passed this important piece of legislation.

The new legislation imposes joint accountability for pay equity and it is the best way to achieve equitable compensation in the public sector. We are replacing the old adversarial complaints based system with a collaborative one. It brings much needed reform to a system that was broken, a system that was lengthy, costly and adversarial, a system that did not serve employees or employers well. In fact, women had to wait up to 20 years to have their pay equity concerns addressed following gruelling, expensive and divisive court hearings.

I would also like to underscore that our legislation reflects the best of the recommendations of the 2004 pay equity task force, not all of them, but the recommendations that are practical and useful to help ensure equitable compensation.

It makes federal public sector employers and bargaining agents jointly accountable for ensuring equitable compensation by integrating pay equity into the wage setting in the public sector so that the unions or the employer cannot ignore the fundamental principle of pay equity.

At the end of the day, our legislation will stop the practice of women's rights being ignored at the bargaining table only to have multi-billion dollar pay equity complaints filed by parties against wages they themselves negotiated.

The bill introduced by the Liberal leader is typical of his approach to public policy. He will say anything to one group of people and do the exact opposite in a blatant attempt to curry votes.

I want to remind the House about why this government took the action it did in the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act.

When our bill was introduced, Canada was facing serious economic challenges with the global economic downturn. Our government's response was to take immediate action through the economic action plan and through measures like the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act. When it came time to vote on the bill, what was the voting record of the Liberal leader and his colleagues, the Liberal chair of the status of women committee, the hon. member for Vancouver Centre, and the Liberal finance critic, the member for Markham—Unionville? They voted in favour of the government's important actions, not just once, not just twice, but three times within the space of less than 30 days.

However, the Liberal leader and his party are now trying to undo it with this private member's bill. It is not clear why the Liberals have had a sudden change of heart. Why would they pass our legislation one day and then decide it is not good enough the next?

They speak well of human rights and yet were perfectly willing to support our budget knowing that that legislation was in the budget. The hypocrisy is astounding.

Perhaps even more baffling is the fact that their bill goes against the very position advanced by the former Liberal government before Parliament. I am speaking of the fact that this private member's bill requires the implementation of every single recommendation of the 2004 pay equity task force report.

There are 113 recommendations in all, and as the Leader of the Opposition has indicated, this will require unspecified costs of the government. He has not specified what these costs are but he has clearly indicated that there will be costs for the government. I think the people of Canada are entitled to know what these costs are. Are they simply financial costs? Are they statutory costs? What type of costs are they that his bill will bring forward, as he indicated to the media just a few hours ago?

The previous government publicly spoke out against supporting the task force recommendations in their entirety. In 2005, the former minister of labour and former minister of justice said:

--the Report does not provide an adequate blueprint for implementation of pay equity in a broad range of federally-regulated workplaces.

They also said that the report failed to address key issues that form the backbone of effective pay equity legislation. This includes the relationship between pay equity and collective bargaining, which is an issue I am pleased to say our legislation addresses.

The former Liberal ministers made these comments in a letter to the Standing Committee on the Status of Women in November 2005. A month later, the same justice minister appeared before that same committee to reiterate his government's concern with the task force report. Two former Liberal ministers saw the flaws in the task force report. One of them, the hon. member for Mount Royal, is still with us today. In fact, he supported our legislation last March when he, along with the Liberal leader, voted with the government to adopt the Budget Implementation Act.

It is not clear to this government why the Liberals have changed their tune. It is not clear why they would recommend adopting the entire task force report today when, back in 2005, they actively spoke out against such an action, including the fact that it did not properly integrate the pay equity with the collective bargaining situation. What is clear to us, however, is that this impractical private member's bill will carry undefined costs, as admitted by the leader, and it seeks to undo all of the positive changes that the House already voted in favour of.

By adopting all 113 recommendations of the task force report, we would end up with a pay equity regime that requires machinery changes and costs which have not been fully identified or quantified. With this bill we would also end up being forced into accepting a tight timeframe that would prevent any stakeholder consultations on regulations. This timeframe would also derail the consultations that the government has already committed to for 2010.

In addition, the bill seeks to cover all federally regulated private sector employers. These are employers who, as our government already knows, are not presently equipped to implement such far-reaching measures in the current economic context.

Moreover, I would note that a private sector consensus was never achieved on the majority of the task force recommendations report. This lack of consensus led our government to create the pay equity program for federally regulated private sector employers. This program was created in 2006 and it continues to provide support and resources to these employers to help them meet their pay equity obligations.

I would like to end my remarks today by underlining again that Parliament has already taken action to modernize pay equity in the federal public service. It did this by passing our Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act so that women would not have to wait 20 years in order to see pay equity just as a result of collective bargaining. The legislation that we pass is the best means to achieve equitable compensation in the public sector.

I am proud to say that this legislation has strong support. In addition to our Liberal colleagues across the aisle, the association representing most federally regulated employers supports our legislation.

We will continue to consult key stakeholders and employee representatives as we develop the regulations in support of our legislation. These regulations are scheduled to be in place in 2011, giving us plenty of time to conduct meaningful consultations with all interested and affected parties.

This government believes that women deserve fair pay rates now and every time their collective bargaining agreements are renewed, not 20 years from now. That is a fundamental right that our legislation protects. It is too bad that the Liberal leader does not understand that.