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House of Commons Hansard #11 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was women.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the hon. member has read the budget but I do know she has been reading Conservative speaking notes.

However, if she were to read the budget, she would see that the government has amended the Canadian Human Rights Act so that complaints can no longer be made against an employer within the meaning of pay equity. It says “--including if the employer has engaged in discriminatory practices”.

There is a whole special section in the budget about going after students and student loans. I do not know what that has to do with an economic stimulus but it is certainly punitive.

I do not know how the member can stand up--

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned that regrettable attack on pay equity in my remarks.

However, the member's party, the NDP, has no understanding of economics, which is perhaps why the economic measures are immaterial. I disagree with that. We need to assist Canadians who are losing their jobs and we need to create the jobs of the future, and we need to do that now.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to let you know that I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

Today we are debating Bill C-10, the Budget Implementation Act, 2009, tabled by the Minister of Finance on January 27. The Bloc Québecois will not support this bill, because we have spoken clearly against the bill and the budget. We will remain true to ourselves, unlike our colleagues in the Liberal Party. The Conservative government's budget, supported by the Liberal Party, is simply unacceptable to Quebec and the people there, who, in a period of recession, were expecting significant and effective measures.

Indeed, it will be seen that, instead of helping Quebec, the Conservative government has consciously chosen to deprive it of the means to deal with the crisis. Absolutely. Not only did the government refuse to help Quebec sufficiently, on the contrary, it chose to respond to Ontario's demands. The budget contains measures intended primarily for Ontario—the media have discussed them at length—measures amounting to nearly $4 billion. They serve to support the automotive industry, primarily. We are not opposed to these measures, but would have liked the forestry and manufacturing sectors to receive a little more than the few millions announced.

On the weekend, we saw statistics on the numbers of people who have lost their job in the manufacturing, forestry and aerospace sectors. We can see that the measures announced by the Conservative government and supported by the Liberals do not appear to stimulate these sectors.

It is surprising that the Liberal Party of Canada chose, only a few hours after the budget was presented, to support it, knowing what the Quebec National Assembly called for unanimously. While the Bloc in its recovery plan proposed much more generous measures in order to help manufacturers, the government turned a deaf ear. The Liberals shut their eyes, criticizing in this House what they decided to support. It is surprising.

The manufacturing sector—particularly furniture manufacturing—is also present in my riding, and once again finds itself without a definite plan to help it survive the crisis, whereas the automobile industry received $2.7 billion.

And, to add insult to injury, the Conservative government has decided to reintroduce the community adjustment fund, which we criticized in the past. With this fund, Quebec will receive some $2,300 per job lost in the manufacturing sector, whereas Alberta will receive $25,000. That is incredible. In short, Quebec receives a minuscule fraction of the money allocated per job lost, even though Quebec is where the crisis in the forestry industry is hitting the hardest.

But that is not all. In addition to the $2.7 billion Ontario will receive for its auto industry, southern Ontario will also benefit from a $1 billion assistance fund. A new agency is being created for southern Ontario with $1 billion in funding, and in the same budget, Quebec is being deprived of $1 billion this year thanks to the cap on equalization. It is insulting and completely unfair to Quebec. That is why the Bloc Québécois is voting against these measures. I must admit, it is especially sad to see the Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec accepting such measures.

In short, this shows once again that it is impossible for elected representatives from Quebec to effectively defend the interests of Quebec within the major federalist parties.

Another important file is employment insurance. We have talked about it on several occasions. While thousands of workers are unfortunately losing their jobs—26,000 jobs were lost in January 2009 in Quebec alone—a large number of them still do not have access to the employment insurance system. Indeed, instead of expanding accessibility and eliminating the waiting period, the Conservatives, with the support of the Liberals, have decided to do nothing to rectify those injustices. Bill C-10 only extends the benefits period by five weeks, even though approximately 50% of the people who lose their jobs are not eligible and some of them may have found another job. These measures do not meet the needs of workers. Once again, the Conservatives have shown us the scorn they feel towards the thousands of workers who are losing their jobs.

Let us talk about equalization payments. The bill to implement the budget includes an amendment to the formula for calculating equalization payments. By changing the formula, and doing so without consulting Quebec, the federal government will cut the equalization payments Quebec was to receive this year by $1 billion. That will no doubt affect our education network and the health care system. Here again, those who are most vulnerable will be paying for it. This unilateral and unfair decision will mean painful consequences for people in Quebec. This says very clearly that the fiscal imbalance has yet be righted. We will continue the fight to make sure we settle the fiscal imbalance once and for all and eliminate the current formula ceiling.

Let us talk about investment in infrastructure. Although the government has stepped up investment in the 2009 budget, it must be mentioned that this is merely an attempt, in the end, to make up for the slowdown that has built up under the Conservatives since 2007. In addition, we call on the federal government to pull everything together into a single and unconditional transfer fund to respect Quebec and provincial jurisdictions. Finally, I believe the shares of municipalities and the federal and provincial governments must be adjusted in a more equitable manner in these agreements.

In Quebec, a number of small municipalities are heavily in debt. They do not often have the means to make a one-third contribution to a program. Given that the revenues of towns are less than those of higher government levels, contributions must be changed so that municipalities contribute 15%, provinces, 35% and the federal government, 50%. The Bloc has called for this division for many years. Once again, it does not appear in the budget. The municipalities, however, are calling for it.

As I have only a minute left, I will close as follows. Bill C-10 confirms as well the federal government's decision to proceed with a single securities commission, probably centralized in Toronto. With this bill, the government establishes a Canadian securities regulation regime transition office, with an operating budget of $150 million. In addition, a number of mechanisms are proposed to establish this commission, without the prior approval of Quebec and the provinces.

For all of these reasons, as the defender of Quebec's interests—and only Quebec's—we will oppose this bill, which would implement a budget that fails to meet the needs and expectations of Quebec and, of course, the riding I represent.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his input on Bill C-10, the budget implementation act. The member spoke in brief about the equalization issues as they relate to Quebec and generally as they relate to Newfoundland as well.

It seems to me that accountability, honesty, transparency and openness should be the hallmarks of any government and of any piece of legislation that gets through. However, the budget itself never even mentioned equalization or the fact that it might have an impact on certain areas of as much as $1 billion in their annual revenues. I am concerned that we have been receiving less than forthright information. The government has not been trustworthy in terms of providing the actual details.

Would the member care to comment on the implications to Quebec of tinkering? I can tell the member that even one of the Conservative members told me to my face that they had spoken to the Prime Minister about this and asked him to please not do this, that it was going to cost them seats and cause them problems. It is putting partisan interests before the people's interests--

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

Once again, with this bill, the federal government is offloading its responsibilities onto the provinces. That clearly shows, in our opinion, that the fiscal imbalance has not been resolved. Whenever the federal government has budget problems, it makes cuts in services to the provinces. The provinces—take Quebec for instance—provide services in areas such as health and education, which relate to the human condition. These are terrible cuts. the Conservative government acted unilaterally, without consulting Quebec or any of the provinces. That is the problem.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the 528 pages and 471 clauses of the budget bill, not one extra unemployed Canadian is assisted in accessing his or her own insurance money. Instead of having to work 900 hours in order to qualify, workers should be able to access their own insurance after working for 360 hours. Workers should be able to get at least 60% of their earnings. In the 1990s, unemployed workers were able to access 75% of their earnings up to $600 a week. Now it is only $447 a week.

Unemployed Canadian workers should be able to access more than 50 weeks of employment insurance. There is a bill in the United States that would allow Americans to qualify for up to two years. The Liberals have a chance to make this kind of amendment now. I am wondering why they are afraid to do so.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague from the NDP that the measures put forward are not making EI more accessible and are not improving the EI system in any way. The five week extension will not benefit the many people who sometimes find work before their benefits run out.

I would also like to raise my colleague's awareness of another issue related to EI, namely the waiting period and the need to waive that waiting period. People who lose their jobs may have to wait up to 50 or 60 days before getting their first EI cheque. In the meantime, rent has to be paid, and so does hydro and heat. Life goes on. These people rely on their credit cards to pay for life's essentials. I think that further measures could be put in place not only to improve the system, but also to speed up the process. With the help of today's information technology, the process has to be sped up so that people get their EI cheques as quickly as possible. Wait periods of 50 to 60 days before getting a cheque are plain incredible.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are studying the budget implementation act. What is this really about? These are the legislative changes made necessary by the passage of the budget.

The budget passed thanks to Liberal support for the Conservative government. That is how the government got a majority to support a budget that is not at all in the interests of Quebec.

The proof is in the motion passed unanimously by the Quebec National Assembly asking for help for its manufacturing and forestry sectors, as well as for some other important things to help Quebec overcome the recession. The federal government just ignored this unanimous motion of the National Assembly. With the help of the Liberals, it decided to pass the budget anyway.

So we are dealing today with this legislation to implement the budget. It is important to understand there are all kinds of very different things in it. For example, there is a change to the Navigable Waters Protection Act to reduce the amount of time needed for environmental studies, especially when municipalities have projects they want to develop. The environmental groups that will come to testify before us will say whether this is satisfactory, but it strikes us as interesting. It is not sufficient, though, for us to vote in favour of the bill.

In regard to the changes to the Competition Act, the Bloc Québécois has long asked that the competition commissioner be given more power to intervene. The bill seems to go a long way in this direction and we are very pleased that they have finally listened to our recommendations.

As a whole, though, the bill still has a lot of problems, for example the personal income tax cuts. Everyone knows that what is needed now is a real plan to boost the economy and everyone agreed that tax cuts were not the best way to get a multiplier effect. The Conservatives are doing this for electoral reasons, even though it has nothing to do with the real needs.

In addition, some things that should be in the bill are missing. For example, the Customs Act should be amended to lift the tariffs on imported manufacturing equipment. However, if companies are not helped to buy this equipment, we will only be continuing to help those that are already profitable and can pay the taxes, while the forestry and manufacturing sectors in particular will not have the means to take advantage of this kind of measure, which seemed quite attractive at first.

With respect to changes to employment insurance, my colleague from Berthier—Maskinongé just mentioned that the government did not do anything about the waiting period. The day after the budget was tabled, I got an email from a young woman who works in tourism. She thought that increasing the number of weeks from 45 to 50 might be a good way to help people cope with the recession, but it does not help her because she works seasonally in tourism. Every year, she works between 20 and 25 weeks, depending on how business in the sector is doing. Year after year, she goes through two weeks without any income. The government could have improved the employment insurance system by eliminating the waiting period, or at least reducing it. That would have removed the penalty and increased spending power for people who need it badly. It would have been nice to see a measure like that in this budget.

The budget also includes the creation of a single securities regulator. That measure will just irritate Quebec. I do not understand why the Conservative government thought it had to include that measure in the budget and the budget implementation bill. Canada has one of the best securities systems in the world, according to the OECD. These days, we have to make sure that every economic development move we make packs a punch, that we are investing our time and energy in the right places. The government could not have made a more useless move than this one, which will mess up the securities system.

Purdy Crawford, the expert who dealt with the credit crunch at the root of the current financial crisis, said that replacing the current securities system with a single regulator would not improve things for Canada at all. This measure will only upset Quebec and the members from Quebec, prompting them to vote against this bill. We had hoped that the Liberal and Conservative members would share the Bloc Québécois' perspective on this issue and demand that it be removed from the bill.

As for equalization, Quebeckers are used to seeing the rules change constantly. It has always been that way. As a result, the governments of Quebec and the other provinces—we have seen this with what is happening in Newfoundland—are finding it hard to predict what will happen. They never know whether the federal government is going to keep its promises. In this case, the government is not keeping its promise.

If I were the Minister of Finance of Quebec, I would feel that things had changed a great deal in the past month or two. Even last fall, we knew these figures reflected reality. The leader of the Parti Québécois mentioned them during the provincial election campaign. Now, the Conservative government is going to carry on the sad tradition of playing with the amounts available for Quebec and the provinces. That is not the right way to do things.

This bill also amends the Investment Canada Act. Even though deregulation has proven to be an utter failure all over the world, the government is moving in that direction. The threshold for a foreign investment review is currently $250 million, but the government is going to increase it to $1 billion. We saw this in the case of Rio Tinto, a huge company that was covered by the process in any case. Secret agreements were even reached. The decision was made not to set any requirements in terms of a minimum number of jobs, and we can see the results today. In many regions of Quebec and Canada, thousands of jobs disappeared.

In this case, to avoid having to answer for this sort of situation in the future, the government has decided simply to raise the threshold. Instead of investigating the appropriateness of purchases of $250 million or more, the government is going to increase the figure to $1 billion. Many transactions will no longer be covered by the act. In a few years, we could have the same record as we do now on deregulation. The effect is the same. In a few years, many companies will have been purchased by foreign companies even though it was not necessarily a good idea. With this amendment, such purchases are made legal, with no checks or controls.

This budget implementation act falls short on a number of counts. It would also have been important to include more specific measures for access to credit. People in our ridings, including owners of car dealerships, have told us that although the Bank of Canada prime rate is very low, there is a gap between that rate and the bank lending rate. In short, car salesmen find the situation to be unacceptable because it contributes to the slowdown of the economy and the fuelling of people's worries. The government should have gone much further to ensure that credit is truly accessible and to stimulate economic activity.

Like the budget, this bill contains a number of components opposed by the Bloc Québécois, not just because we are in opposition but because they do not reflect Quebec's priorities. It does not contain what we hoped for in a federal budget that would serve as a tool for economic development. There are discrepancies with regard to assistance. It was evident in last week's egregious example. There is a great deal of assistance for the auto sector but not much for the aerospace industry, which is concentrated primarily in Quebec.

This budget really is not a budget that will stimulate the economy. It is a budget that responds to the unfortunate situation in which the Conservative government found itself last fall, when it was called on the carpet by this House. This time, it was able to take advantage of the Liberals' renewed soft stance on adopting the budget. However, the Bloc Québécois will not aid and abet this position in any way. To defend the interests of Quebec, it is important that we oppose this bill. We shall see, in committee, when witnesses are called, whether or not we will be able to have the government make a certain number of changes so that we can at least mitigate the negative effects of such a bill.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

I listened to his speech and was surprised that he did not support this budget, given the wide consensus around it in Quebec. We need only think of Mouvement Desjardins, for example, which acknowledges the fact that this budget stimulates the economy in Canada and Quebec as it goes through uncertain times. The member's stand is poles apart from the wide consensus in Quebec around the issue, particularly with respect to credit support.

In its budget, the government plans to provide up to $200 billion through the extraordinary financing framework designed to improve access to credit for consumers and allow businesses to get the financing they need to reinvest, grow and create jobs. This goes to show that there are concrete measures in this budget.

Does the hon. member not feel that he is letting Quebec families and workers down at a time when they need a government that supports them, as we are doing right now?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, those who feel abandoned are Quebeckers and it is the Conservative government that has abandoned them. For example, the request concerning the waiting period in employment insurance is a unanimous one in Quebec. The Conservatives ignored it completely.

There has been criticism throughout Quebec of the measures in this budget vis-à-vis the crisis in the forestry and manufacturing sectors. We are realizing that the Conservative government, especially because of the weak representation by the members from Quebec, has failed to put forward measures that will benefit the economy of Quebec.

On the matter of credit—it is all very complicated—the amount involved is $200 billion. The problem with the banks is not the amount the government is releasing, but the imposition of conditions on them to ensure that the money will reach consumers. And, in this regard, more effort is required.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, in his speech my learned friend talked about the lack of merits of a national securities regulator and said that various provinces, including Quebec, have a great system now. This is 72 hours after the Caisse de dépôt announced that it lost $38 billion last year. One of the reasons for that loss was the investment in asset based commercial paper. The regulators in Quebec, Ontario and every other province did not understand the product, did not understand the rulings from the rating agencies, did not realize that these were toxic products. This caused a lot of losses and damages to ordinary working Quebeckers and Canadians.

Given the facts that have come to light in the last little while, does my learned friend think the system can be improved?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, my answer, simply, is that Percy Crawford, who established the rescue plan in connection with the whole issue of banking papers, said that the impact of the system would have been no different had it been a centralized system. The OECD considers the Canadian system second in the world in terms of its reliability.

In the financial crisis, however, this is not where the problem lies. We must establish how those responsible made the investments. The bottom line is that the brokers accepted a product that was unacceptable. This situation was repeated worldwide, where there were centralized systems and where there were decentralized systems.

Still, in this matter, Mr. Crawford, the person who succeeded in coming up with a solution to avoid a totally negative fallout, a leading light in Canada, said that a centralized system would not have improved the situation in any way.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, since this is my first occasion to speak in the House since you have been appointed to this position, I wish to congratulate you and wish you all the best as you assume your new duties.

I want to thank the other speakers who spoke on this particular issue. When we look back and listen to what everyone is saying, we come to realize what a large and diverse country Canada is. We come from many cultures, with two founding languages, and it certainly adds so much to the richness of this country and the richness of this debate.

I want to spend the limited time allocated to me today to speak briefly on the environment in all its forms: climate change, water, clean air. I certainly read the budget and I am a little disappointed in what I have read. I think there was a half a page or a page and a half on the environment. Some people would say there was little done and some people would say there was nothing done; however, regardless, it was pretty thin.

I know for a fact, and everyone knows, that environmental issues rise and fall with the economy. When the economy is doing well, the environment becomes a major concern with people and of course when the economy starts to slip, the environment becomes less of a concern. This is very unfortunate. It is up to us in Parliament to provide that leadership and provide that vision that is needed in these times.

I am not going to repeat in this House what everyone knows about the whole issue of climate change. It is, according to Sir Nicholas Stern, the greatest market failure the world has ever seen.

This is the fourth year the government has been in power. If it were four months, six months or eight months, we probably would not expect much action; however, this is the fourth year. The first environment minister who came to the House preached that we would have a made in Canada plan. However, we never saw any plan, let alone a made in Canada plan.

We then had a second environment minister, who said that he was going to regulate. We really never saw any regulations; although there was a lot of talk.

Now we have a third minister, after four years, and he has taken the position that we are going to now have a North American solution. The bottom line is that we really have not seen a lot. Looking at this budget, I believe there is a reference to the environment on page 269, although I may be incorrect on the page number. In any event, I am, like most other people, very disappointed in what is in this particular budget.

Mr. Speaker, before I go any further, I neglected to say that I will be splitting my time with the member for Beaches—East York.

I am very disappointed in what I have seen and I am very disappointed in what has been done, and I will give a few examples. One example that came vividly to light last week is the $1.519 billion trust fund. This was announced several years ago amid much applause and many press releases. There were a lot of self-congratulatory statements, a lot of rhetoric. There was going to be a reduction of 16 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. However, what was not explained to the Canadian people at the time was that these funds were going to be put into a complicated trust and the trust, in turn, would go to the provinces and there was absolutely no requirement--

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It being 2 o'clock, I must interrupt this member. He will have approximately six minutes when we return to government orders. We will go to statements by members, the hon. member for Oakville.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in response to the comments made by the Liberal member for Toronto Centre published in the National Post about Canadians who will benefit from the government's action plan for the economy, enabled by the very budget for which the member just voted.

The former NDP premier of Ontario does not understand that there is nothing wrong with Canadians using their own money to improve their own “docks, kitchens and decks”. After all, what could be more Canadian than docks? Who does not love a dock?

Docks are where Canadians rest after working so hard. Docks are where we can catch the sun, get our vitamin D and fresh air. Docks facilitate family gatherings and tourism.

In fact, I register my own shock experienced one evening last year while watching Rick Mercer on CBC. For who did we see, stark naked, jumping into one of our crystal clear Canadian lakes? The member for Toronto Centre, jumping off what? A dock. Without docks, what would Liberal leadership candidates do to get on television?

I stand today for the right of Canadians to boost our economy by spending their own money to build or repair their deck, kitchen or dock for the health and enjoyment of their families.

Kedgwick Regional Chamber of CommerceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Jean-Claude D'Amours Liberal Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, on January 31, I was pleased to attend the entrepreneur of the year gala organized by the Kedgwick Regional Chamber of Commerce.

They highlighted the extraordinary volunteer work of Chantal and Yvan Borris. The couple has been involved in the community for over 15 years, whether with youth, the elderly, the church or festivals.

Francis Bérubé, owner of the Foyer Chez Francis seniors home, was presented with the business of the year award. In 2002, Mr. Bérubé bought the home and made it an even more enjoyable place to live. Exceptional staff ensure that residents have a better quality of life.

The female entrepreneur prize went to Suzanne Lurette. Since 1983, she has been owner and co-owner of a number of businesses, including a clothing boutique, a sawmill, a daycare, and a coffee shop.

And finally, the Chamber of Commerce honoured Arthur Desjardins by making him an honorary member for life. Mr. Desjardins is actively involved in the community.

Thanks to all for what they do for the people of the Kedgwick area.

Pierre BourgeoisStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to highlight the exceptional contribution of a good-hearted man who recently retired as director of the City of Saint-Jérôme's police service.

Pierre Bourgeois is a kind and generous man. People call him a “rainbow-maker”. He masterfully resolved labour conflicts and organized peace missions abroad. He also initiated the construction of Saint-Jérôme's new police station.

The City of Saint-Jérôme's police force, the many stakeholders who have worked with him all these years, and the members of the Ordina-Coeur foundation can be proud to have crossed paths with him.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to thank him for his valuable contribution, and we would like to wish him the very best in his future endeavours.

Postal ServicesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, anyone who has ever driven along Highway 65 in Timiskaming will tell us there is only one possible place to get our mail, and that is at the Kenabeek General Store.

For decades, families have used the Kenabeek General Store. Imagine their surprise when the new owners of the store were told they no longer met the screening requirements of Canada Post. Since there is no other possible place to get their mail, this community is being denied mail service.

The same bizarre logic is being applied against the community of Matachewan. Since the postmistress retired, Canada Post has made this community jump through hoop after hoop, effectively paralyzing postal services in the community of Matachewan.

Canada Post needs to come clean with rural Canada. When a postmaster retires, it should not be an excuse for Canada Post to pick up stakes and leave town. It should not be allowed to use a bureaucratic maze to effectively limit and end postal service in small, isolated communities.

The people of Kenabeek, Matachewan and rural Canada deserve better. It is time Canada Post got the mail moving.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Conservative Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend I travelled from one end of my riding to the other, meeting with people, businesses and attending wonderful community events.

At the Richmond Hill Winter Carnival on Saturday, I spoke with a young couple who had just bought their first home. They told me that low interest rates had made it more affordable than ever before to purchase a new home and that they will use the home renovation tax credit introduced in our economic action plan to finish the basement for their children.

Ron Schell, who is co-owner of Schell lumber in Stouffville calls the home renovation tax credit simply fantastic.

Oak Ridges—Markham is truly a great place to live, work, invest and raise a family. From Nobleton to Schomburg, Richmond Hill to Ballantrae, Markham to Pleasantville, we are open and ready to serve.

I encourage people from across Canada to visit us and see why I am so proud to call Oak Ridges—Markham home.

Sultans of Science ExhibitStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to draw attention today to an incredible exhibit that opened at the Ontario Science Centre in Don Valley West this past week.

Sultans of Science celebrates 1,000 years of scientific creativity, imagination and scholarship coming from the Islamic world. It specifically explores the tremendous contributions made by Muslim scholars in the field of mathematics, science, health, aviation, translation and architecture during the so-called Dark Ages.

While the rest of the world was sleeping, the Islamic world was inventing. This international touring exhibit traces the roots of modern science and technology from Baghdad to Cordova, from Morocco to Constantinople. Its interactive displays invite us to learn more about Islamic contributions to our world.

Even more importantly, however, this exhibit invites us to a deeper, more appreciative relationship with the Muslim world and its contribution to humanity, helping to break down the walls of Islamophobia. I commend it to all members of this House.

World Pond Hockey ChampionshipStatements By Members

February 9th, 2009 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Conservative Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, once again this year the village of Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, will welcome the world as people gather for the World Pond Hockey Championship, running from February 19 to 22.

This world-class event that began in 2002 has often been copied but never duplicated. What started as an event with 40 teams from the Maritimes and Maine has grown, and this year's event will feature 120 teams representing communities from all across Canada, the American states and nine countries.

In 2007, the Prime Minister made the trip to Roulston Lake in the small Tobique--Mactaquac community, further adding to the worldwide media attention gathered by the event, including this February 19 when CBC's Hockey Night in Canada will broadcast from the competition.

Congratulations to event manager Danny Braun and the hundreds of volunteers who make this event happen each year, and of course a hearty welcome to all the players who will make the pilgrimage to this very welcoming community. I look forward to attending this year's event and encourage everyone to join me and the anticipated 8,000-plus visitors as we enjoy hockey the way the game was meant to be played.

Nineteenth Annual Suicide Prevention WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week marked the 19th annual Suicide Prevention Week, and the Association québécoise des retraité(e)s des secteurs public et parapublic brought to our attention the suicide rate among seniors.

Four out of ten people who commit suicide are 50 or older. Between 1977 and 1997 the number of suicides among people aged 65 and older increased by 85%. In addition, according to the figures of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec for 2006, the proportion of people aged 50 and over who took their own lives rose from 27% to 40%. The saddest of all is that researchers who study aging believe that this rate will be two and a half times higher in the next 35 years.

One of the risk factors is financial difficulties, and this is backed up by Mr. Vallerand, who was a director of a suicide prevention centre. He also fears that the economic crisis will increase that trend.

That is why it is very important to provide our seniors with all the support they need.

Warren KinsellaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, Warren Kinsella's offensive comments to the Chinese people have now gone international. Mainland Chinese media are reporting Mr. Kinsella's hurtful comments and half-hearted apology. The Liberal Party's top strategist's comments are quickly becoming an international embarrassment for Canada.

During these economic times, we cannot afford to needlessly offend a billion potential customers. We do not need to offend the world's most populous country.

We must show that the Liberal Party's top strategist's views are not acceptable to the Canadian people. The Liberal leader should immediately write the Chinese ambassador to apologize and affirm that Canada respects China, and the Leader of the Opposition must finally act and fire his top political strategist, Mr. Warren Kinsella.

[Member spoke in Chinese and provided the following translation:]

The Liberal Party has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and offended our community.

ACFO Ottawa Grandmaître Awards GalaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 5, ACFO Ottawa held its Grandmaître awards gala. This annual event recognizes francophones and francophiles who have distinguished themselves with their achievements, their dedication and their commitment to promote francophone culture in our community.

I want to pay tribute to Dominique Drouin, who won the young person of the year award; Sean McGee, who was named francophile of the year; Johanne Leroux, educator of the year; and Pierre Pagé, citizen of the year.

Congratulations also to the organization of the year, La Nouvelle Scène, a theatre I have had the pleasure to be associated with since its inception. The Grandmaître award was presented to Jacques de Courville Nicol, philanthropist, RGA founder, patriarch, public conscience, raconteur and bon vivant. Congratulations, Jacques, on this richly deserved honour.