This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #17 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, when members are looking at some of the background, one of the things they may not be broadly aware of is that Quebec's approach is slightly different from the situation in the other 12 regulatory jurisdictions, in that it not only deals with securities but also with parts of the Quebec financial markets. That is a difference from the other 12. However, that is not the case with regard to the banking sector. That is a federal jurisdiction, a federal responsibility, and I suppose under the member's criteria it constitutes a monopoly of regulation.

Would the member agree with the assessment that in the current economic crunch we are experiencing now, when things go wrong, it is the federal government that turns out to be the ultimate lender and the bailout? That is the problem. We cannot have it both ways. When we have a broad-based securities regulator and things go wrong, it turns out to be the federal government that has to take care of the mess.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a position few people in Quebec would support. It is true that Quebec's securities commission operates differently; that is why we want to keep it. We want to continue putting forward our unique approaches. No one in Quebec sought help from the magnanimous federal government; no one spoke out on this. This is a rather blatant example of the paternalistic federalism of the Liberals and the Conservatives. Ottawa knows best. It will find the solution to our problems.

We do not want any Canada-wide securities commission. The federal government should look after its own areas of responsibility. It has plenty to do in Ottawa; there is no need to interfere in Quebec's jurisdictions.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Vincent Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, earlier I compared the government to a mother-in-law interfering in her children's households, but it is even worse than that. At least mothers-in-law talk to their children, whereas the government does not even talk to the provinces to try to find out what they think about securities. I would like to read a short paragraph from Monique Jérôme-Forget:

As for the expert panel, I note that you have ignored the proposals made to you by the Provincial-Territorial Council of Ministers of Securities Regulation. In so doing, I believe you have missed a good opportunity to obtain information that would have helped you better understand the point of view of the provinces and territories. Unfortunately, I fail to see that yet another panel, whose conclusions seem predictable to us...

This expert panel cost us $150 million, and its findings were a foregone conclusion. The government could not care less about what the provinces think. All it cares about is interfering in the provinces' jurisdictions.

I would like to know what my colleague thinks about this.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Thierry St-Cyr Bloc Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, my friend is quite right. It shows that even though Quebec may debate and reach wonderful consensuses, we are always blocked here in the House. Not because the rest of Canadians are bad people—far from it—but simply because they want to build a country in their own image, which is not the kind of society we want to build in Quebec. Now, we have to make a choice. We can choose to fight forever with the federal government, waging epic battles to try to protect what we have. I am not talking about making headway, but about not losing ground. Or we can decide to put that aside and create our own country. It will be a sovereign state that, like other countries, will negotiate how we want to collaborate with Canada.

It is incredible that we are talking about two issues that everyone in Quebec agrees on—unions and management, people on the left and the right, federalists and sovereignists—yet we still have to fight. Imagine how our society could move forward on issues on which there is not such a strong consensus. To get out of this situation, to stop constantly banging our heads against this brick wall, we have to go our own way and create a sovereign nation.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Mississauga South. I am pleased to rise here today to speak to the Bloc Québécois motion, which reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately renounce two measures contained in the recent budget:

(a) establishing a national securities commission, because establishing such a commission would constitute an intolerable intrusion into Quebec’s jurisdiction, and the current passport system functions very well; and

(b) unilaterally amending the equalization formula, since the Prime Minister, in a letter to the Premier of Quebec dated March 19, 2007, promised that transfers to the provinces would be predictable and long term, and would also comply with the government of Quebec’s request to give the revenues generated by Hydro-Québec’s transmission and distribution activities the same treatment, regardless of the equalization calculation, as that given Hydro One’s activities.

The motion refers to a letter sent in 2007, but it is now 2009, and the situation has changed somewhat. We are discussing a 165-word motion that is absolutely meaningless. It is even more meaningless for protecting the interests of Quebeckers. The Bloc is moving such a motion in this time of global financial crisis, the day after the Standing Committee on Finance met and heard testimony from over 60 witnesses for over 10 hours, from early in morning until late into the evening. Furthermore, I must point out that not one of those witnesses said a word about the matters proposed in this motion, namely, the equalization formula or the creation of a national securities commission.

This is just further evidence of the Bloc's irrelevance. They claim they are here to defend the interests of Quebeckers, but they are not even capable of defending the interests of their constituents. For example, yesterday during the Standing Committee on Finance meeting, we even heard the grievances of a former separatist, the president of the Quebec Forest Industry Council. His message was very clear. His message was that the forestry sector needs bank loans immediately.

During his testimony, he never spoke about equalization or the national securities commission. He told us that the forestry sector was the primary industry in 150 Quebec communities. None of them are located in my riding. I cannot believe that during this global economic crisis that is directly affecting Quebec, especially its rural regions, I am the one, an MP for an urban riding, who has to defend the interests of small villages and communities throughout the Quebec regions.

In this time of crisis—and I am referring here to the motion—our citizens need reassurance that their investments, their pensions and their savings are not just protected but are guaranteed to be there when needed. It is our job as parliamentarians to defend the interests of the voters.

Since I was elected, not one person has come to see me to say that the equalization formula is unfair or that creating a national securities commission is meddling in a provincial jurisdiction. But I can say that many people, from professional and other sectors, have shared their concerns with me about their investments, which are held by brokers, financial planners and other consultants, and their fears that their money is gone.

There are many examples in Quebec and elsewhere. In Quebec, we have Mount Real, Jitek, Norbourg, Norshield, IForum. And there are similar examples throughout Canada such as Hollinger and Livent. We could even include Nortel in this group.

How can crime on that scale have occurred in a country as developed as Canada? What can I say to my constituents who tell me that their investments have disappeared, that they had invested a certain sum in a given company and that the money has disappeared because of a criminal act? What do I say to them? That it is a provincial responsibility? I do not think that would be acceptable. To date, it has not been acceptable.

There is a problem we often hear about in this House. Investments are made for a reason, but two things are being mixed up. We cannot mix up the fact that investments and savings are losing value because of current stock market conditions and the fact that they are losing value because of bad decisions made in good faith.

There is a problem when an investment made in good faith is doomed to lose money because certain people are lacking in scruples and honesty and when investors have no choice. Most of the investing public in Canada and Quebec think, or are under the impression, that there is already a relatively respectable securities regulatory body that looks after certain areas. Securities regulators make sure that activities to raise capital by selling securities such as private investments and initial investments are properly regulated and properly overseen. Those agencies make sure that the firms are transparent and that there is ongoing disclosure of information relevant to investors. They have to stay up to date on how securities regulations are administered and on how misleading or fraudulent conduct is prevented, and they have to detect that conduct. They also have to make sure that securities dealers have the necessary qualifications and have a good reputation and are licensed.

My support for a national securities commission comes from a vision that is different from the Bloc’s. I see things from another angle. Quebec has made an enormous contribution to the rest of Canada in many areas, and the financial sector is a very important one. It is also something that we can bring to the rest of Canada.

As I said, Quebec is certainly not perfect, but Canada is just as certainly not perfect. We have seen, in the United States and elsewhere in the world, what has happened in the financial sector and in the stock markets. In fact, the stock markets have fallen because of the economic crisis and the fraud that has been committed, not just in recent weeks or months, but over a long time.

Quebec has a lot to bring to the table. Instead of fighting over who has jurisdiction, what belongs to whom, we might propose that the securities commission have responsibility for a number of things: regulation, prevention, oversight, new share issues. We could take on that aspect. Instead of holding onto responsibility for a small market, we could be responsible for all of Canada in one of those areas. We have talked about regional responsibilities. There is much to be done in that regard. There are a lot of proposals to make and Quebec has a lot to bring to that table.

Let me give the House an example relating to what would happen if the Quebec market were closed. In the past, we have seen that when there were attractive shares to be offered on the Quebec market, Quebeckers did not have access to them because demand was too high outside Quebec. So company directors do not come to Quebec to solicit investors to invest in their companies.

Today, we must not focus solely on the motion adopted in the National Assembly. Financial markets have changed considerably. There is a lot of change happening in the markets. We should work together, not just at the national level, but at the global level, the international level.

I will speak briefly to equalization, if I may, Mr. Speaker. After four years as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance, and speaking as an accountant, I have seen that right across the country, there are very few people who understand the details of the equalization formula and how it operates. I will leave you on that note. I am prepared to take questions.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, not unlike his Liberal colleagues earlier, the member was not all that clear: on the one hand, members should vote against the Bloc motion and support the government on this, but on the other, the entire matter should be referred to the courts.

As I said before, people did not give the government carte blanche in the election last October 14. The fact that the economy is doing poorly does not necessarily mean that we should tell the government to do whatever it wants and we will see about it later. As elected officials, we have a duty to do. The people of Quebec were very clear about what they wanted and elected a majority of Bloc members.

It is hard to understand how my colleague can justify some of what he said as a member from Quebec and as someone who voted in favour of the budget.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, for starters, the Bloc cannot speak for all Quebeckers. There are 75 members from Quebec and a lot of different points of view.

I did not mention the courts or going before the courts. Quebec has made a major contribution to this country and has already done a lot. But we have more to offer. In regard to the national securities commission, we can share all our advantages and all we have learned and help develop a better system rather than always withdrawing in our own little cocoon in Quebec and saying we want to keep our institutions to ourselves.

We have a lot to contribute to the rest of Canada and should be proud to do it instead of always being negative.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the equalization issue, we have to get the views of those who have been involved. One of my colleagues whom I consider to be quite knowledgeable summarized it by saying that the equalization issue is a mess. The member is quite right.

A government member confided in me that Conservative members begged the Prime Minister not to make the changes that were brought forward that affect Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

When we get down to it, the national securities regulator issue seems to be more politically motivated and in terms of the regulatory scheme does not represent, I would think in today's current economic crisis, a significant priority for us.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on how we should proceed with thoughtful consultation with all stakeholders on the best approach, whether it be national, passport, or some sort of a hybrid.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a comment on the equalization issue before I answer the second part of my colleague's question. Equalization is also referred to in the motion. I did not address it at length so I would like to make a couple of comments.

As I stated, I have been on the finance committee for the last four years. Bureaucrats from finance explained to us how equalization works. I do not think anybody was able to put his or her head around it because it is so complex. A couple of people in the federal finance department understand how it works and a couple of people in provincial finance departments understand how it works. A whole bunch of university professors actually study equalization and they are quite adept at explaining it. The equalization negotiations would probably be best left in the hands of those people. As long as it is done in good faith, Canadians will realize that equalization benefits all Canadians and no one is left behind.

I will give the House a quick example to put in context how difficult it is. With all these equalization formulas and agreements, the finance committee adopted in the supplementary estimates an additional $234 million for an agreement that finally was finalized for Nova Scotia based on 1982 equalization agreements and separate agreements.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, having followed the debate this morning, I must admit that I have some sympathy for all sides. There have been some very good arguments. My current assessment of the motion is that the motivation of the Bloc is quite clear. It is not really debatable. The Bloc has a position on Quebec's role in Canada. When we as members of Parliament address these issues, we have to address them from a national perspective. We have to look at the best interests for all.

I agree with the previous speaker that the whole mechanics of the equalization system are currently in very bad shape. The consultative process has broken down. In fact, it has been a point of division across Canada particularly with regard to the interests of Quebec and maritime Canada. There is no simple solution to this other than good faith consultation and discussion and working out the details in the best interests of all Canadians. This is part of the federation and part of our responsibility. I will not dwell on that; it is far too important an issue to try to do it justice in the short time I have.

I want to concentrate on the common securities regulator issue. The situation now is that there is no consensus among all of the provinces. There are three options on the table. One is the status quo, the passport system, whereby there are 13 established regulators who harmonize to some extent. If one is registered in one province one can still do business in other provinces with only the single provincial or territorial registration.

The second would be to have a national one, and I will give a couple of examples of the benefits, but a unified or national securities regulator is what is being proposed by the government. There are some good arguments. I personally tend to support moving in that direction because I have been involved in this area substantially. Prior to being a member of Parliament, I was the director of finance at TransCanada PipeLines and was involved in billions of dollars of public financing. I dealt with a whole bunch of regulatory aspects with a variety of jurisdictions, not only in Canada but in the U.S.

When one gets involved in the machinations of the differences between trust indentures and regulatory regimes, the whole system gets bogged down. My apologies to the lawyers in the House, but the only people who benefit are the lawyers. They are the ones who win. It tends to be a problem.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

An hon. member

That's not a bad thing.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

One of my lawyer colleagues said that is not a bad thing. I respect his opinion, but I do not agree with it.

This issue also has another option, and that is a hybrid solution where there is an opt-in proviso. When the provinces come in, they can decide whether or not they want to opt in and whether or not compensation becomes a consideration.

Jack Mintz is the Palmer chair in public policy at the school of policy studies at the University of Calgary. He has written on this subject and advised the Government of Canada. He has laid out some of the compelling reasons that we should move to a single regulator. Let me synthesize a couple of the points. He states:

One benefit of a single regulator is to reduce the costs. Businesses complying with the existing system in Canada face higher regulatory costs to the extent they issue securities in each province. Although not a major issue in boardrooms, companies will find it easier to comply with a single regulator rather than facing duplication and overlap among provincial authorities.

He goes on to say that today, because we are witnessing this global economic recession and we are experiencing financial distress, national regulators operating with global financial markets are one of the ways we can learn from each other and, in fact, defend ourselves, not only nationally but internationally in regard to the securities matter.

It is a very good article and I commend it to members.

The other article I looked at was from Mr. Marcel Boyer, who is vice-president and chief economist of the Montreal Economic Institute and Bell Canada professor of industrial economics at the University of Montreal. He laid out some of the criteria that members should keep in mind when we discuss this. I assume there will be a lot more discussions following this. He asks the rhetorical question, “Which type of system--centralized or decentralized--would help reconcile the preferences and interests of investors and issuers most effectively and at the lowest cost?” It is balancing the interests of investors and issuers of securities.

He also asks, “Which would help achieve the delicate balance between guaranteeing efficient financial markets for issuers and maintaining adequate protection for investors?”

Those are two extremely important questions. There is a balance. Some members have raised some concerns about whether it would be a monopoly situation, where we would have one regulator that effectively would constitute a monopoly, but it is a monopoly of the whole, which is kind of an oxymoron in itself.

I tend to agree that a national regulator, although there are good arguments on all sides, would bring to bear certain economies of scale.

The members from the Bloc have presented the interesting argument that in Quebec they not only deal with securities regulations, but with other parts of Quebec financial markets, except for the banking side, which is a federal responsibility.

However, the bottom line still comes down to the fact that we are suffering from a major recession induced by a credit crunch. It has been brought about by the underpricing of credit risks in asset-backed security markets. That is exactly what we are talking about. The housing crisis that started in the states and then all of a sudden the asset-backed security issue, the tremendous amount of money that was lost and the disruption of the markets, are the kinds of things that have to be guarded against.

What really ends up happening is we have separate jurisdictional authorities dealing with the regulations for securities. However, when problems occur, who fixes them? Who is responsible for bailing out the situation? It turns out to be the federal government. That is the problem. There is no accountability at the provincial-territorial level when the buck stops at the federal government table. It is probably one of the most compelling arguments for a national regulator, particularly in the context of the current situation, and who knows how long it will go on?

Mr. Mintz concludes:

Thus, regulation will need to become broader to ensure that all parts of the financial markets are included in the net. This is an argument for smart, not excessive regulation, which is a significant risk when government overreact to recent events.

Those are my inputs. I believe members will find there is no agreement. I am not exactly sure why this issue is in the budget and in this motion. It is a matter which will have to be debated much more fully. To resolve it through the budget or to force it through in the budget is not an accountable way to deal with it. It should have been handled as a separate item.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague started his speech by saying they need to see things from a national perspective when they are federalists and sit on his side of the House. That is exactly what is unacceptable in this House. Every time Quebeckers elect people from federalist parties, these members are forced to adopt a national perspective and every time problems arise in which Quebec’s vision is different from Canada’s, they are forced to defend Canada against Quebec. Only the members from Newfoundland have what it takes to go against their party. In Quebec, though, they do not. When they are told to defend Canada, they do it. That is why people who are elected from federalist parties are incapable of defending Quebec.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments, but I do not agree. People in Quebec are also Canadians.

In fact, I am proud to say that a piece of each and every square inch of Quebec is part of my Canada. A piece of every square inch of every other province and territory in our country is part of my Canada. We built it together and our job here, as federal legislators, is to keep it together.

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question for my colleague is on equalization. The concept of equalization is to balance payments through the equalization formula against the capacity of the provincial economies. Ontario's economy, because of the weakness in the manufacturing sector, is in very serious decline.

With this complex formula for equalization, what process would the member suggest the House could use to address the complexities of the formula and to come back with recommendations?

Opposition Motion—Securities Commission and EqualizationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the previous speaker outlined some of the concerns the finance committee had discovered. There was a lack of understanding even among parliamentarians. We have examples of where even agreements that were negotiated back in the early 1980s are now only starting to come into play.

This is much more complex and it smacks of political opportunism to have dealt with this in the budget in a way which was unilateral and without proper consultation. I hate to say it, but it appears it was a bit of payback. I do not believe that at a time of financial crisis, when the jobs of Canadians are at risk, businesses are going bankrupt and seniors are losing their stake for their retirement needs, et cetera, we should be dividing Canadians on issues like this. We should seek the necessary process to bring Canadians together.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

John Cummins Conservative Delta—Richmond East, BC

Mr. Speaker, commenting on the current global economic crisis in Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria notes that, “If President Obama is looking for smart government, there is much he...could learn from [Canada]”.

David Frum says that it is this government “that has met this crisis best” and “it is...[Canada]...who can most truly be said to offer hope and positive change” in these difficult times.

The Minister of Finance has noted that, “we conducted the most comprehensive pre-budget consultation in history” and then “laid out an economic action plan...to help cushion the impacts of the downturn, stimulate our economy, create and maintain jobs and support those hit hardest”.

Now is the time for Parliament to act and implement the economic plan set out in the budget. As parliamentarians, we need to set the political games aside and put the economic plan to work.

Retirement CongratulationsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to highlight the achievements of a dedicated and well-respected Ottawa resident and businessman, Mr. Otto Heberlein, who is retiring after four decades of service in the hotel and tourism industry.

As the city's longest tenured hotelier, he has presided over the initial opening and renovation of many successful hotels and restaurants. For 20 years, he has been associated with the Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority, three of those as its chairman. He was recently named the 2008 Hotelier of the Year by the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association.

Mr. Heberlein has also been active in the local Austrian community and has served on the board of the Austrian Canadian Council and co-founded one of the region's most prestigious events, the Viennese Ball.

The hotel and tourism industry will miss his creativity, his friendly, quiet and effective leadership and the high standards he set for himself and those he led.

Our region is better off today for having had him and his family among us for the last 40 years.

We thank Otto for a job well done and wish him a happy retirement.

Quebec GamesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, from February 27 to March 7, the cities of Blainville, Ste-Thérèse and Rosemère will be hosting the finals of the 44th Quebec Games. Under the honorary chairmanship of that great Quebecker, Gaétan Boucher, thousands of young athletes and accompanying members of their delegations from all of the regions of Quebec will treat us to a sporting event that reflects and celebrates commitment, hard work, pushing one's limits, and achieving success.

Stakeholders in the various communities have pooled their infrastructures, their resources and their budgets in order to achieve this extraordinary regional event. I would like to focus particular attention on the efforts of the organizing committee and their commitment to make these finals an environmentally responsible event. By so doing they have set a precedent, and from now on environmental responsibility will be an essential criterion for selecting host cities for the finals.

I take this opportunity as the finals begin to join with my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois in wishing the Quebec Games organizing committee and its president, François Cantin, along with all the volunteers, and of course all the young participants, a fantastic finals.

Bathurst PhantomsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Phantoms basketball team from Bathurst High School in New Brunswick won the provincial AA championship last Saturday after an impressive season.

This victory is not like the rest. It occurs 13 months after the tragic highway accident that claimed the lives of seven young people, who were part of the school's basketball team, and one teacher.

In winning the provincial championship, the players of the Phantoms overcame an unbelievable challenge. They were not discouraged or defeated in the wake of this horrible human tragedy. They demonstrated exceptional courage and moral strength.

The Phantoms' victory fills us with determination and hope. The team honoured the memory of their deceased schoolmates in the best way possible. Inspired by their predecessors, they worked hard and they won the provincial championship. Could anyone have done a better job of commemorating the loss of their colleagues?

We will never forget.

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Bev Shipley Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, Black History Month gives me the opportunity to recognize an extremely important Canadian historical site in my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.

Uncle Tom's Cabin commemorates the lives and contributions of former slaves on the Dawn Settlement, which was established by Reverend Josiah Henson to help provide a new beginning to those fleeing slavery.

A slave himself for 41 years, Henson moved his family to Dresden, Ontario in 1841 and fulfilled his dream to own land and help fugitive slaves.

Henson's name became synonymous with the character “Uncle Tom” in Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book that brought light to the brutality of slavery.

Black Canadians have a long and honourable legacy in my riding and throughout Canada. I am proud to recognize their struggles, achievements and esteemed place in our nation's history.

QuiltingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Annie Boomhour, a resident of North Bay, whose business Homestead Stitches and original quilting patterns will be featured in the May edition of the Quilt Sampler.

The Quilt Sampler is a U.S.-based publication which has been profiling North America's top quilt shops for the past 13 years. Over 3,000 contestants were asked to submit a detailed application of their history, business promotions, charitable work and design philosophies.

At just 25 years of age, Annie already has a well-established reputation for her unique sewing kits and creativity, and now her talents have helped Homestead Stitches earn recognition as one of the top 10 quilt shops in North America. Annie will be the only Canadian quilter being featured in the upcoming publication.

On behalf of the people of Nipissing—Timiskaming and all hon. members, I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to Annie Boomhour on being honoured for her work and wish her continued success as a business owner in downtown North Bay.

Anti-SemitismStatements By Members

February 24th, 2009 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, just a few days ago, I was privileged to take part in the London Conference of the Interparliamentary Coalition Against Anti-Semitism where 125 parliamentarians from 42 nations gathered to discuss the rising tide of renewed anti-Semitism around the globe.

The world has already experienced Nazi and Fascist regimes which embraced state-sponsored hatred of the Jewish people and the outcome of such evil unleashed. Today we are witnessing a new and virulent form of anti-Semitism, often wrapped in anti-Israeli rhetoric. It betrays itself in extremist vitriol emanating from Iran, from terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas, and tragically finds expression even here in Canada.

The London conference attests to our need to be informed, to be vigilant, to be vocal in rejecting and condemning this violent form of racism. Canada has adopted a clear and principled position. The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism eloquently and unequivocally outlined Canada's position before the nations.

“Never again” is more than a slogan. Let us ensure that such evil finds no home in Canada, and is exposed and opposed wherever it appears in the world.

Jacques BarilStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, Jacques Baril, former Parti Québécois MNA and the man behind the first marine policy in Quebec during his time as minister responsible for transport in the National Assembly, was recently honoured by Les Amis de la vallée du Saint-Laurent with the title of Great friend of the St. Lawrence river.

This honour was awarded in recognition of his contributions to raising awareness of the importance of this great river, protecting it, increasing public awareness, promoting it and furthering its development.

Jacques Baril has enjoyed a productive career, among other things representing Arthabaska in the National Assembly for 23 years, and this is just one more feather in his cap, alongside other accomplishments, such as being instrumental in the creation of the Centre-du-Québec administrative region.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, my hearty congratulations to Jacques Baril for this honour and for his unflagging commitment to the cause of Quebec.

Anti-SemitismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to condemn yesterday's acquittal of David Ahenakew following his trial for promoting hatred against Jews.

What Mr. Ahenakew said in 2002 was repulsive and he should have been held to account for wilfully encouraging hatred toward the world's Jewish community. This follows CUPE's anti-Semitic resolution from this weekend to boycott Israeli professors simply because of their nationality and political views.

Anti-Semitism has no place in Canada or any society that stands for our values of tolerance, respect and freedom for all individuals regardless of race or nationality.

I call on all members of the House to stand up in defence of Israel and Canada's Jewish population, and condemn anti-Semitism in all its forms.