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House of Commons Hansard #29 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was justice.

Topics

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

Edmonton Centre Alberta

Conservative

Laurie Hawn ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I have listened in the lobby and in the House to a lot of points that have been brought up for the bill.

It is an interesting bill. Yes, it has been around for a number of years, but really, I think there is a limited amount of good that the bill will actually do for refugees.

Canada has an extremely fair system already. Right now it potentially takes years and years for somebody to go through that process.

As has been pointed out, a very high percentage of refugee claimants in Canada are not legitimate. They arrive in Canada under false pretences and get off the airplane, having flushed their documents down the toilet in the airplane. It is obviously a shame when that happens, because those people do not deserve to come to Canada. As well, they get in the way of those who are using the system legitimately and honestly and who are coming to Canada for all the things Canada has to offer.

Clearly, a country like Canada will be a target for people who want to come here for legitimate reasons. The legal system we have, as it is designed, is probably one of the best immigration systems in the world in terms of the fairness of the process. For those using it, it takes a long time to get through that process. One of the biggest reasons is that people illegitimately abuse Canada's good nature, abuse the good nature of Canadians and abuse the open and very liberal system we have in this country.

The government strongly supports an effective refugee status determination system. There are a number of aspects to that. The immigration appeal board is one of them. The member who proposed the bill has concerns about the people on that board, about how they function and about their qualifications.

Clearly, we want to have people who are qualified on that board, but that does not mean that they necessarily have to have specific experience in the immigration system. It could be helpful, but on that board we really need people who have some common sense, people who have some life experience, people who know how to deal with people, people who have a sense of fairness and fair play, people who care about what is happening to Canada over their lifetime and the lifetime of their children.

They want the people who are ultimately here to become Canadian, to share in the Canadian dream and all that Canada has to offer, and to be the right kind of people. They do not want them to be people who cheat the system, people who jump the queue for whatever reason and by whatever method, but people who will be good Canadians, people who will obey our laws and take part in society and the economy.

We do want an effective refugee status determination system, but we do oppose this legislation because it is not necessary and would add considerable cost and delays. Some of those points have already been addressed by speakers before me, on this side of the House at least.

The cost of implementing a refugee appeals division would be in the tens of millions of dollars in ongoing costs to the federal and provincial governments.

Right now we have people who are abusing the system to the point that they are staying in Canada for years and years, sometimes for three, five, ten years or longer. Once we get them here, we have a hard time getting rid of them, and that again goes against the sense of fairness we should have in Canada for dealing with people who legitimately want to come to this country for all the right reasons, because it holds those people back unfairly.

The whole appeal process would add at least five months to the determination process. From what we know about the way the system works, it would probably add a lot more than that.

I, like other members of Parliament, deal with a lot of constituents who come with problems. About 90% of the situations I deal with are immigration-related.

Am I out of time, Mr. Speaker?

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member still has six minutes left in his time slot, but the time provided for the consideration of private member's business has now expired. The next time this bill comes before the House, he will have six minutes left.

The order is now dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

The House resumed from February 26 consideration of the motion.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking my colleague, the member for Laval, for her initiative in introducing this motion.

This very important discussion that we are having began on February 26. It is based on a status of women report pertaining to the very serious situation of violence against women in Canada today.

An NDP colleague of mine, a former member for Vancouver East rose in the House I think some 15 years ago to comment on domestic violence and that one in every seven women in our society was facing assault in the home. At that time that news was greeted with guffaws, chuckles and joking in this chamber. It was a national disgrace.

I am not suggesting that we have not moved beyond that. In fact, we learned a great deal from that reaction to such an important statistic. However, I am here to say that for every initiative that is taken, for every step forward we seem to be taking two steps back.

On this very day that we talk about violence against women it is absolutely unacceptable and reprehensible that we have a government in place that is in rolling back the clock on women's equality. This is the very time that Parliament should be standing at the head of the line pushing as hard as possible for equality in every aspect of political, economic, social and cultural life in this country. It is rather disheartening to rise in the House today to talk about violence against women and hope that the government will respond to our concerns when it has simply rolled back the clock on equal pay for work of equal value.

Some would suggest that violence can be defined broadly. It is not simply physical violence against women; it is psychological, it is social, it is emotional. I think the women of this country will say in unison that the government has imposed psychological and emotional violence against women by way of its backwards, negative and regrettable step of denying pay equity in this country. We know we have a serious problem on our hands when we have a government that can actually introduce legislation when it has the Liberals over a barrel, that denies the right of women to take a pay equity case to the Human Rights Commission. We do not have a government that actually listens to the needs of women and pursues without bias and ideological impediment the full equality of women.

The situation is more serious than ever when it comes to violence against women. This week, March 9 to 13, has been declared Sexual Exploitation Awareness Week. The week has been set aside because of the increasing incidence of sexual exploitation among children, teenagers and adults across the country. It comes at a time when there are more cases than ever of missing children. Child Find Manitoba will testify to that; in fact, it will remind us of the number of cases especially where there still are no leads, no clear indication of where these children have gone and what has happened to them, who took advantage of them.

In fact right now in Manitoba, there are 11 long-term cases of missing young people. Of those cases, eight are aboriginal children, including Sunshine Wood, who has been missing for five years as of February 2009. Over the past six months, there have been five new cases that are considered long term.

The situation is not getting any better. Parliament needs to think about what role it has when it comes to violence as it pertains to young children, teenagers and women in Canada.

Child Find is doing its job by trying to point out the connection between exploitation of children and the root causes of the horrible incidence in our society. Child Find issued a poster not too long ago that uses a very graphic description. The poster is part of the Stop Sex with Kids campaign. It reads, “Dear diary, last night I was so hungry that guy did what he wanted with me... I needed to eat”. Then it has a description over the face of a woman which reads, “Why doesn't anyone see me?”

Today we are trying to make these cases less invisible. We are trying to confront the realities of so many children, teenagers, and women in our society today. In Winnipeg, Manitoba there is a very active group of citizens, women in particular. They are working day in and day out trying to organize to stop the incidence of sexual exploitation among children.

I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Sexually Exploited Youth Coalition in Winnipeg. It has a large membership which meets regularly. Day in and day out it works with the provincial and federal governments, the police, the city, other social organizations, and the non-profit community to try to find solutions to the high incidence of sexual exploitation among our children.

It is time for the government to take seriously the recommendations of so many different organizations and make the problem visible, face it directly and deal with it.

Today I want to remind everyone about the problem of sexual exploitation. In this week which is Sexual Exploitation Awareness Week, let us set aside some time to think about the high incidence of sexual exploitation among children. Let us rededicate ourselves to doing something about it.

Another anniversary just passed. Sunday was International Women's Day, a day when we are supposed to celebrate the contributions of women and the progress women have made. This year there was no celebration. Everywhere across this country women took to the streets to decry the lack of action in many areas. It was propelled by the recent news that the government had rolled back the clock on pay equity, the fundamental concept of equal pay for work of equal value. Women rose up to say that is a human right that we fought for.

The government can try to take it away from us, but we will rise up and continue fighting until such time as that right is fully entrenched in every aspect of society, in the laws of this land, so that women everywhere have the right to take a complaint based on human rights to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which was founded on the fundamental freedoms outlined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The rising up in the streets on International Women's Day did not just focus on pay equity. It became a symbol for everything that is wrong with the government and why women have to remember that we have a huge fight on our hands. We have to organize politically and in the grassroots to speak out against the government and its disastrous and destructive programs and initiatives that hurt women.

The rising up in the streets on March 9 was also about violence against women. Women in Winnipeg sent a clear message to the federal government that they want it to invest in all areas pertaining to violence against women, especially women's shelters. They sported hard hats and construction vests and carried cardboard hammers. They gathered at the future site of the Canadian museum for human rights. They wanted to make the point that if we are going to build a place that respects human rights and remembers the many struggles our citizens have had to endure just to get to the point where human rights are recognized, then we have to gather there to send a message that our rights are being denied as we speak and so much more needs to be done.

I want to mention especially the work of the young women at the West Central Women's Resource Centre, the young women at the University of Winnipeg Women's Centre, the young women at the University of Manitoba, all young women, and thank God there are young women who are prepared to take up the flag and the challenges from those of us who have worked so hard over the last 30 years and sometimes wonder how we are ever going to leave a lasting legacy for our children and our children's children.

These young women gathered and spoke about the fact that domestic abuse does rise when there is stress and when people are losing their jobs. They made the connection between the economic recession we are now faced with and the rising incidents of violence. They talked about the fact that women are less likely to have a place to go if they are being abused at home and that it is more likely to happen now. It is a real concern. They signed messages on a board of bricks calling for an end to violence against women.

They especially referenced the case of Claudette Osborne, a woman who has been missing for six months. There is no sign of her whereabouts. They pledged to continue their quest to find Claudette Osborne and to work on behalf of all missing and murdered women whose numbers are growing. They number some 500, at least, across this country. There are probably more. We know of 500, but many others may not have been identified. These are women who have been kidnapped, taken from their communities, taken off the streets, abused and perhaps murdered.

We all know about the Pickton farm in British Columbia. We know about the Claudette Osbornes in the world. We need to rededicate ourselves to find a way to make those women more visible, to stop treating them as invisible persons, as secondary citizens.

The whole pursuit of the Sisters In Spirit campaign has been about missing and murdered women, about finding a way to ensure that their cases are not treated as less significant than others.

I want to reference in particular an article written by Constance Backhouse which appeared in The Ottawa Citizen a few days ago, just before International Women's Day. The title is, “Forgotten sisters”. In the article Constance talks about some cases that occurred long ago. She talks about the case of Rose Roper, who was brutally abused and murdered in 1967. She talks about a case that we know well in Manitoba, the case of Helen Betty Osborne, a 19-year-old Cree woman who was sexually accosted, stabbed to death and abandoned in the snow in The Pas, Manitoba.

She goes on to say it is not just those high-profile cases that we have to worry about. There is a whole group of women who do not have names, who do not have identities, who do not have anyone pursuing them in terms of seeking justice and answers for their situations. She talks about an award-winning doctoral thesis by Professor Tracey Lindberg from the University of Ottawa, who listed a shockingly high number of missing aboriginal women lost between 1975 and 2007.

As I mentioned, the Sisters In Spirit campaign, which has been in effect for the last four or five years, released a public information campaign showing that more than 500 aboriginal women have been missing in the past three decades, many of them suspected murder victims.

To quote Constance Backhouse, “So many have been lost along Highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George that it has been nicknamed 'the Highway of Tears'". She also says:

...nowhere does it seem that anyone is prepared to tackle the root causes that give rise to these appalling acts: hatred of women and long-standing injustice toward aboriginal communities.

Amnesty International has lambasted our government for complacency and inaction.

She ends with the question, “When will Canadians wake up? When will we finally take action to dismantle the legacy of misogyny and racism that runs through the heart of Canadian history and haunts us unceasingly today?”

This discussion is all about that. The Status of Women committee report on violence against women was all about that. It recognizes that there are missing and murdered women who do not seem to count and for which we have not put a lot of resources, effort and attention into solving cases.

Many of them are aboriginal women. My colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan has been on her feet in the House many times talking about the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women noted with regret that aboriginal women in Canada continued to live in impoverished conditions, which include high rates of poverty, poor health, inadequate housing, lack of access to clean water, low school completion rates and high rates of violence.

She asked this question. Could the government tell us what it sees as a priority that should have been included in the throne speech and then in the budget that would deal with first nations, Métis, Inuit and other desperate economic conditions? A very important question for which we have not received a serious answer.

Just today the British Columbia group dealing with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, B.C., CEDAW, called a public inquiry on missing and murdered aboriginal women. They called on the government to do that now. I read from its press release dated today:

Setting up a full public inquiry into the ongoing issue of murdered and missing Aboriginal women and girls is the only right thing to do and the time is now...

This group goes on to say that:

At the United Nations in Geneva in October 2008 when Canada's human rights performance under the Convention on the elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, (CEDAW), was reviewed, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination expressed concern about the hundreds of cases involving Aboriginal women who have gone missing or been murdered in the past two decades. The Committee urged Canadian governments to examine the reasons for the failures of the justice system to deal with these cases and give them priority attention.

That is an embarrassment. Canada has a deplorable record on the international front made even worse by the recent decision to cancel pay equity and nullify it as a program at the national level, in fact, to the point where the government had to face a call for an investigation at the United Nations about the deplorable record pertaining to women at the United Nations this past week.

It used to be that we were at the top of the list when it came to human development and equality for women. Now we are getting close to the bottom of the list. That is the result of inaction on the part of consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments. If we do anything today, it would be for the government to come forward with a statement saying that it recognizes the problems, that it will do more, that it will come up with a plan of action and work on a consensus basis to ensure that this happens.

Let me add a couple of words about the work that is being done in Winnipeg, which keeps us all going. At a recent event marking the disappearance of missing and murdered women, a woman by the name of Sheila Hillier wrote a very important piece. I want to read from it as I conclude my remarks. It is called “Remember Me”. It says:

They are the Silent Witnesses and we are their voice...

She asks us to remember the unique gifts and talents she brought to us all....

She asks us to look beyond her pain and her ways of coping with her life experiences and to see that she is a woman struggling to live life in the best way she knows how....

She asks us to forgive her, to know that she may not have shared everything that she was going through and she did so because of guilt and shame...

She asks us to walk with integrity and be proud in who we are.

She asks us to walk in compassion and without prejudice....

She asks us to enforce the laws that are in place.

She asks the men in our community to take their place in speaking out against violence and to be positive role models in the community.

She asks us to be there to provide hope and a way for women and children to live free of violence...

She asks us to be strong, to not give up hope, but to continue in our efforts, to press forward and to speak out when we have the opportunity.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today concerning the concurrence motion on the first report of the Standing Committee on Status of Women, which recommends that the federal government take real action to support women and denounce their abuse both in Canada and abroad.

This government supports the report. We have a strong record on addressing violence against women both at home and abroad. This report will build on our government's accomplishments.

According to Statistics Canada figures, women are considerably more likely than men to be victims of violent crimes, such as sexual assault and criminal harassment. For example, in 2004 there were over six times as many female victims of sexual assault as male victims. For Aboriginal women, the situation is even worse. Aboriginal women in Canada face a heightened risk of racialized and sexualized violence; that is violence perpetuated against them because of their gender and Aboriginal identity.

These challenges did not arise in the last three years. They festered and grew in scope, due to the superficial attention given to these matters during the previous governments. Amid this tough reality of violence against women, the good news is the Government of Canada is committed to action on violence to achieve real results for women and their communities.

Since taking office, our government has clearly demonstrated its commitment through a range of results focused action. We are humbled by the severity of this situation, but equal to the task of reducing the level of violence against women. It was on that basis that we embarked on a reorganization of the women's program.

The women's program of Status of Women Canada is important in achieving results for women. We have created two new components, the women's community fund and the women's partnership fund. Through these funds, we can better support the work of women's and other Canadian organizations.

Now more money is available than ever before for achieving these results. Thanks to our government the women's community fund grants and contributions budget increased, allowing more groups than ever before to have access to funding. In 2007-08 alone, 100,000 women benefited directly from community fund programs, and 1 million women benefited indirectly.

Just last week the government continued to fund groups that address violence against women. We announced funding to Family Service Regina for its project, “Domestic Violence Stalking Project”, to the Saskatchewan Association of Sexual Assault Services for its project, “Increasing Access to Direct Healing Services to Women Survivors of Sexual Assault in Saskatchewan” and Tamara's House - Services for Sexual Abuse Survivors for its project, “Improving Services for Women who have experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse”.

Partnerships are key to achieving results. The newly established women's partnership fund will support collaborative projects that involve matching funds from other partners, including other levels of government.

The Minister of State for Status of Women, over the last few weeks, has approved numerous projects funded from the women's community fund. These initiatives will advance equality for women and their full participation in the economic, social and democratic life of our country. These projects will yield concrete results for Canadian women by helping them find jobs, increasing financial literacy skills and supporting them in leaving the sex trade and in exigent situations involving violence and abuse.

Through the women's partnership fund of Status of Women Canada, we have been successful in creating partnerships and leveraging financial and in kind contributions from partners across society, partnering with WEConnect Canada to open doors to corporate markets for women ready to seize new business and employment opportunities through education, training, coaching and mentoring programs. We also joined with Equal Voice to support young girls leadership development and their engagement in civic and political life.

The response has been overwhelming. The projects are providing much needed services and support to women from coast to coast to coast. Since we formed the government in 2006, we have undertaken numerous initiatives to advance equality for women. These include but are not limited to the universal child care benefit, putting more money into the hands of older women by increasing the pension income credit and changing the guaranteed income supplement.

We are improving living standards among Canadians seniors. We are improving employment opportunities for vulnerable groups of women, including older women, women leaving abusive relationships, women with intellectual disabilities and aboriginal women living on and off reserves.

We are supporting women's work and family choices through a variety of measures, including creating the working income tax benefit. We are modernizing federal labour laws and standards and expanding business opportunities for women. We are creating special initiatives for women entrepreneurs, providing affordable housing and helping to reduce incidences of low income. We are increasing crime prevention, justice and security measures to protect children from sexual exploitation.

Our economic action plan continues to work. It takes action in these areas by making changes to employment insurance, including a plan to extend maternal and paternal benefits to self-employed Canadians, 47% of whom are women.

The budget allocates more funding for social housing and more resources for northern communities and aboriginal Canadians, including aboriginal women. The budget provides more resources for health care for women, including the addition of $554 million through targeted support for the implementation of wait time guarantees and HPV immunization programs to protect women and girls against cervical cancer.

Our government has responded to the needs of women on a wide range of issues by developing supportive policies and measures to address critical changes and by providing the resources to help deal with them.

We will continue to create the conditions for women's success by encouraging and supporting women in such areas as leadership, economic security and prosperity and by addressing the crucial issue of violence against women.

Our government is deeply concerned about the challenges facing first nations, Inuit and Métis women. My hon. colleague alluded and spoke to that earlier. We have taken concrete actions to increase aboriginal women's participation in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada and to eliminate systemic violence to which they are particularly vulnerable.

In the summers of 2007 and 2008, our government partnered in two national aboriginal women's summits. These important gatherings brought aboriginal women together with federal, provincial and territorial partners to discuss the issues, identify solutions and plan for future action. There was remarkable consensus on the need for action on the issues facing aboriginal women, including addressing poverty, protecting and advancing human rights and addressing violence against aboriginal women.

Our government is achieving results for aboriginal Canadians, including the repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and addressing family violence, the adaptation of police training to target the treatment of aboriginal women and girls and adapting youth training for girls in violence prevention.

Status of Women also maintains its ongoing commitment to the sisters in spirit initiative, administering the funds to the Native Women's Association of Canada through to 2010. Sisters in spirit is a research, education and policy initiative to increase public knowledge and understanding at a national level of the impact of racialized and sexualized violence against aboriginal women.

Our economic action plan also recognizes the importance of addressing violence within the general aboriginal community. We have committed to providing $515 million over two years to accelerate ready-to-go first nations projects in three priority areas: schools, water and critical community services. Since taking office, our government has taken action to make our streets and communities safer through legislation to restrict conditional sentences such as house arrest for serious crime. We have increased mandatory penalties for serious gun-related crimes.

We have raised the age of consent from 14 to 16 years to protect youth, including girls and young women, from adult sexual predators. This applies to sexual activity, including prostitution and pornography or where there is a relationship of trust, authority, dependency or any other situation that is otherwise exploitive of a young person. The issue of trafficking in persons remains a serious and growing concern for women and girls both in Canada and internationally.

Budget 2007 allocated $6 million to combat child exploitation and trafficking, and, with the Vancouver 2010 Olympics on the horizon, we recognize that international sporting events can create opportunities for trafficking, particularly into the sex trade.

As a result, our government is examining measures to avert trafficking from the Vancouver event. Toward that end, the RCMP is leading federal partners on training for law enforcement and other front line officials to teach investigative tools and enhance knowledge of laws surrounding trafficking and the services the victims require.

Under the guidelines, trafficking victims also will be eligible to receive a tax-free, temporary residence permit that allows them to stay in Canada for up to 180 days and apply for a work permit. This initiative is yet another reflection of the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to strengthening overall efforts to combat human trafficking through prevention, prosecution and protection.

Status of Women Canada has a long and proud tradition of representing Canada at the United Nations and other international forums, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Canada is a proud supporter of international endeavours to address violence against women internationally. We are a world leader in the fight to end gender discrimination and we take this role very seriously.

The Government of Canada is taking leadership to bring about equality for women because we want nothing less than women's full and equal participation in the economic, social and democratic life of the country. Our government is achieving concrete results for women and in the end this makes a difference for all of us, as we strive to improve the lives of women aiming for real results and creating lasting and positive change.

This government remains firmly committed to strengthening women's participation in all aspects of Canadian society. That is why I am proud to support a report that will add to our government's strong record on addressing violence against women.

Status of WomenCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech today on the concurrence motion on a report on women's issues, I want to pay tribute to a pioneer of women's equality. It is most appropriate at this time.

An article in the Whitehorse Star stated:

The Yukon lost its greatest champion for women's rights Saturday with the passing of Joyce Hayden. She was 77.

While Hayden served in the legislative assembly for one term as a New Democrat under the 1989-92 government of Tony Penikett, her achievements for the women’s movement in the territory went well beyond the halls of territorial politics.

“She leaves an enormous, enormous legacy for women,” said Charlotte Hrenchuk of the Yukon Status of Women’s Council, an organization Hayden brought to fruition in the early ‘70s.

“All the work for women’s equality in the Yukon came from a small group of women (which Hayden led). She was tremendous, and provided continuity to the women’s movement in the Yukon ... we’re losing a great pioneer for women’s equality.”

To witness her contribution, one need look no further than Whitehorse Transit, which evolved from the Yukon Women’s Mini-Bus Society that Hayden spearheaded in 1975.

Without a transit system in the Yukon capital, women were often stranded at home as their husbands used the family car to commute.

“The idea when we proposed it was, in those days, which was many years ago, for women with children who didn’t have access to vehicles,” recalled Dale Stokes, a friend of Hayden’s and colleague in the women’s movement.

“Getting it going was quite a feat actually, but Whitehorse residents have Joyce to thank (for their bus system).”

Marian Horne, the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate, fondly remembers how the mini-bus service often provided door-to-door service and was instrumental in providing women more personal freedom.

“Many former society members in Whitehorse can attest to Joyce’s pluck, dedication to the cause and perseverance as the reasons why the mini-bus service became a reality,” Horne said at a ceremony honouring the achievement in October 2008.

“A freelance writer and researcher by profession and a historian, feminist and community activist by choice,” is how Carcross Community School’s website, dedicated to documenting the lives of prominent Yukoners, describes Hayden.

Born in Birch Lake, Sask. in 1931, Hayden moved to the Yukon in 1953 with her husband, Earle. Here, they raised three children.

Through her activism, volunteerism and numerous contributions to the territory, Hayden earned the Canadian Volunteer Award, the Yukon Commissioner’s Award, the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship Award and was inducted into the Yukon’s Transportation Hall of Fame.

On Oct. 18, 2003, Hayden was honoured with the Governor General’s award in commemoration of the Persons Case--a landmark 1929 legal victory for women in which the judicial committee of England’s Privy Council (then the highest court in Canada) ruled “persons” in the British North America Act includes members of both sexes, not just men.

Previous interpretations of the term “persons” had been used to deny women from sitting in the Senate, and, in the case of Emily Murphy, who launched the original challenge, from becoming the first female police magistrate in Alberta in 1916.

In Hayden’s own right, she was involved in politics as a member, party executive and campaign manager for the NDP, both in B.C. and the Yukon.

She successfully ran in the 1989 territorial election, and, in mid-term, was named to the cabinet by Penikett.

She remained there until retiring from politics in 1992. While in office, Hayden presided over the Health and Social Services and Yukon Housing Corp. portfolios, and did not let the fact she was legally blind get in the way of her political determination or her ministerial duties.

Doug Phillips, a Yukon Party member who sat opposite Hayden in the legislature, fondly remembers his dealings with her.

“Sometimes the tone in the legislature can be mean and nasty, but Joyce was never like that,” he told the Star.

“Despite our political differences, you could sit and talk with her. She just wanted to get things done and was more interested in the issues you had, your suggestions to deal with them and that was always refreshing.”

Phillips called Hayden’s passing “a sad day,” and described his political rival as “a caring, compassionate person” who was “ahead of her time.”

“I’m just pleased to have worked with her,” added Phillips. “She had a great sense of humour, and we had some laughs in the legislature.”

Margaret Commodore, a cabinet colleague of Hayden’s during the later Penikett years, was a longtime friend of the late feminist dynamo.

“I’ve just got nothing but praise for her for whatever she’s done, and I’ve always admired her,” Commodore told the Star Tuesday from her home in Chilliwack, B.C.

“It’s hard to look back at all of those years and decide it was there one moment that springs out all of a sudden... I do remember her strength, she had that and was very consistent with what she believed in. You tend to learn from people like that and she definitely had that quality about her.”

Hayden is survived by Earle, three children and their spouses, Sandra and Darrell Merriman, Pat Burke and Dan Gresley-Jones, and Terry and Pat Hayden; as well as eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

That is the end of the Whitehorse Daily Star story, but I would add my own condolences to the family. In all the years I knew Joyce, she was, just as described in the article, always polite, soft, kind and yet very effective in the projects she took on. All Yukoners, especially the women for whom she achieved so much, will miss her.

I will now move to my speech on concurrence in the report. I first want to talk about the aboriginal women's summits that were mentioned earlier by the government, which I was glad it did. A number of summits were held in recent years to look at the totally unacceptable levels of violence against aboriginal women and an incredible number of murders and disappearances.

These summits, in which aboriginal women participated, came up with very long lists of excellent recommendations. Obviously, when these come from the people affected, they will have the best ideas as to how violence can be prevented. A summit was held in Newfoundland and in Whitehorse, which is where I spoke. I sincerely encourage the government to go over all the recommendations to see which ones have not been implemented and can be because they would go a long way to reducing violence against aboriginal women.

I want to note that there was a special ceremony outside the House at the Peace Tower. The Peace Tower was lit up in blue as a dedication to National Water Week. Acquiring water in the poorer parts of the world is a huge task and it often falls on women, which is more difficult for them because they also need to obtain quantities for their children and, therefore, may spend the better part of a day in very poor parts of the world doing just that one activity that we take for granted.

I am glad the motion also talks about women in international situations and not just women in Canada because the crisis happening in Canada now is exceptionally hard on people in desperate situations. We might forget that in other parts of the world people are being raped, murdered and put in prison for no good reason. There are people in even worse situations than we are. Women and girls are still bought, sold and trafficked and genital mutilation is still rampant in the world.

The countries I want to deal with internationally are the ones I have spent the most time on. Of course, in Darfur the systematic rape and killing of women is occurring. Due to the great work of the world famous human rights activist, the member for Mount Royal, the leader is being charged in the world court for war crimes. That situation continues to deserve the attention of the whole world. The Liberal member from London has done tremendous work in that country to alleviate the problems there.

In the Congo, of course, thousands of women are raped and murdered to get them out of the area so they are not an issue for the gangs that want to take over particular areas.

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the uprising in Tibet. In 1949, as we know, Chinese troops marched into Tibet and 10 years later there was a violent uprising where thousands were killed, including many innocent women. Human rights in various forms have been denied ever since.

My congratulations to all those who have kept up that struggle for half a century and will keep it up until it is over and victory is won, so that people will have their human rights, their culture and their religion back, as would be expected in today's modern and humane world.

I deal with another area as chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Burma. There is a horrendous dictatorship in Burma, where women are systematically raped and put in prison. There are extrajudicial murders and forced labour. They are just yanked out and told to build military roads, which of course they are not paid for. If they fall by the wayside, they may just be left to die. It is amazing to the whole world that Burma has put Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, on house arrest for many years. There is a tremendous lack of human rights. It is a huge sore in the humanitarianism of the world.

Right on the border it is bad too. In the place I visited, a girl had been murdered, her body burned and her head cut off just before I got there. The migrant workers told me this happens on an average of once a week.

It identified a problem that does not only occur there, but anywhere in the world where there are illegal migrants or illegal workers. They are often women. They can be taken advantage of by their employers, who threaten to expose their being in the country illegally if they do not work and exist under horrible conditions.

The last country I want to talk about is Iran, which systematically violates the human rights of its Baha'i citizens. For nearly 30 years it has persecuted the Baha'is, its religious minority, in a deliberate attempt to destroy the Baha'i community.

Three years ago, Iran issued a high-level confidential memorandum calling for the surveillance of all Baha'is. Since then, these attacks have intensified.

All seven leaders of this persecuted community were arrested ten months ago and remain in the notorious Evin Prison without formal charges or access to their lawyer, Shirin Ebadi. According to an Iranian news source, these prisoners will be indicted before the revolutionary court very soon on charges of espionage on behalf of Israel, insult to the sacredness of Islam and propaganda against the regime. These charges are baseless, but they are very serious and could lead to tragic consequences.

I hope that Canada will once again, as a great champion of human rights, stand behind these people, many of whom are women and who are totally unjustly charged.

I want to spend the remainder of my speech talking about some excellent but little-known report that came out recently. The member who is chair for our women's caucus and has done a lot of work on women was at the press release in November 2007. It is a study of women's homelessness north of 60°. There was an overall volume and then one volume for each of the three territories. This was an excellent report, and very detailed. Members can see it is very thick. It had all sorts of ideas and proposals.

Once again, I am putting these forward in a positive light. I hope that tomorrow the government will review these, go through the ones that have not been adopted and addressed, and use these good ideas for improving the lives of women in Canada, especially in the north, where women are so distinct but do not have conditions as good as those for men in similar situations.

I will read the 16 recommendations and then describe each of them.

One is to have a national housing policy that is inclusive of women. Two is to increase the supply of decent, safe, low income housing. Three is to have supportive housing options. Four is to increase emergency shelters. Five is to increase second stage housing options. Six is to have housing authority policies that remove barriers for women living in violence and those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Seven is to address landlord and tenant issues. Eight is to have poverty reduction strategies. Nine is to provide services to address the full range of determinants of women's homelessness. Ten is to remove the barriers to access services for homeless women. Eleven is to have appropriate funding for a range of front line services. Twelve is to have access to education and training programs. Thirteen is to have access to child care. Fourteen is to have mechanisms for collaborative and creative solution building. Fifteen is to have information collection, management and sharing. Sixteen is with respect to public awareness, attitude and change.

Those are all recommendations that came out of excellent reports from the three territories. Some information is generic to the territories, but a lot of the recommendations would apply across the country. I encourage governments at all levels, and the non-profit and volunteer organizations across the country to look at these recommendations and to do whatever they can.

I will not have time to explain all 16 recommendations, but I want to discuss some of the unique problems in the north.

On a winter's night, one does not see, as one does in southern Canada where most people live, people sleeping on subway grates trying to keep warm. When it is -30°C, -40°C or -50°C one would freeze to death. There is a type of homelessness one does not see, but it could be much worse because people have to find a warm place to stay. Women, sometimes with children in tow, find a warm place that is not particularly where they should be. They may have to provide services they otherwise would not want to provide, simply to avoid freezing to death. It is a horrible situation.

Homelessness is an even more critical problem in the north. There is a smaller population and therefore there is a smaller number of services. There are trans-generational problems that may not exist in such great numbers elsewhere. For someone to keep warm when it is -30°C or -40°C, there are huge heating and clothing costs which come out of a low fixed income. People may not have access to the literacy and educational services they need. There may not be enough shelters for women trying to get away from a violent situation. There may not be enough second stage housing once a woman gets out of a shelter and needs to be in a place for 9 to 18 months to get her life in order after fleeing that violent situation. And what about transportation and access to services? We are all pushing for and are happy that Internet and phone services can be installed. It is great for people in rural areas, but poor women and homeless women do not have phones and Internet. This puts women into a cycle of poverty.

We need public education against discrimination, racism and stereotypes of these women. Those things just make the situation worse.

There is a plethora of recommendations from various government departments. If we heed these excellent reports on women's homelessness in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and the aboriginal summits, we can really move forward the situation of women in Canada.

Message from the SenateRoutine Proceedings

7:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed a bill.

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

March 12, 2009

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the schedule to this letter on the 12th day of March, 2009, at 7:20 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates the bill assented to was Bill C-10, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

7:50 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, on February 27, I questioned the minister on the government's record of failure due to its lack of support for the farmers of Canada. Worse, the government penchant for making announcements and then never delivering the moneys announced is adding to the stress that farmers actually bear. With each passing week, the list of failures grows longer and longer.

Contrary to the government's propaganda machine, the Conservative government has never reached the level of financial funding as provided under Minister Mitchell. In the last Parliament, the government committed to the family farm options program with $400 million then cancelled it mid-program, abandoning farmers and, in effect, taking $241 million virtually out of the pockets of farmers. In 2006 the Prime Minister promised a cost of production program, $100 million per year to assist with the costs of producers. The money was never spent. Now, that promise has been broken and the cost of production program cancelled.

The Prime Minister promised a $500 million agriflex program over four years in the last election. It was not delivered. The only new money section is $190 million over five years. It is not flexible. It is not allowed for RM programs or the ASRA program in Quebec. Another broken promise. The Prime Minister promised a 2¢ reduction in the federal excise tax on diesel fuel. Was it in the budget? Absolutely not. Another broken promise by the Prime Minister.

The government has yet to improve the safety net programs so that farmers in the hog and beef sector can actually qualify. Instead, the government has provided additional loans and added further to their debt. Even the CAIS program the Prime Minister railed against was changed virtually only in name. In fact, we now know that when incomes are in decline agristability and agri-invest will pay out less than the old case program.

Agrirecovery, the so-called disaster program, is proving to be an insult and a disgrace to those farmers who need it and none more so than in my province of Prince Edward Island. Farmers are facing potato, wheat, carrot and turnip crop losses due to extreme wet weather. The minister promised $12.4 million and only $3.2 million has been delivered. That promise is four times higher than what was delivered. The industry, farm organizations and my colleagues have called on both levels of government to commit the full $12.4 million to water-damaged crop. In response to our letter, the minister stated, “As you know, the AgriRecovery initiative, the P.E.I. potato assistance program, was put in place last fall to encourage producers to destroy spoiled product in the field to mitigate losses in storage”.

That is absolutely unacceptable. This program was portrayed as a disaster program. Crop loss due to weather in field or in storage is still crop loss due to weather. We had three fine days in the month of August. Water-soak has completely damaged crops. This is about human beings. This is about lives and finances. Will the minister commit the full $12.4 million to this water-damaged crop?

7:55 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, the member for Malpeque has raised a great many issues with his one question. I am pleased to provide him with details on how our government keeps its promises to the agricultural sector. However, this business of making announcements and not delivering is coming from a Liberal member whose Liberal senators, up until today, were delaying and blocking the passage of our budget bill and thus delaying the movement of money to Canadians. It is a bit rich.

Our government is keenly aware of the economic and financial challenges faced by all Canadians. We do not take these challenges lightly and we keep our commitments to help. Members will see many of these commitments outlined in budget 2009.

I will highlight what we have done specifically for the agricultural sector.

As the member for Malpeque will recall, we announced a new $500 million agricultural flexibility program; a new $50 million to strengthen the overall capacity and improve the profitability of slaughterhouses across Canada; important amendments to the Farm Improvement and Marketing Cooperatives Loans Act, which will make credit available to new farmers, support intergenerational farm transfers and modify eligibility criteria for agricultural co-operatives; that we would work with interested provinces toward local delivery of the agristability program to support improved client service; and a range of other initiatives, including unprecedented new investments to support rural infrastructure and economic development, which will help all rural Canadians, including farmers.

It is clear that our government listens to farmers, recognizes the challenges that they face and delivers on its commitments.

This budget has been much appreciated by farm groups across the country.

From his own area of the country, Merv Wiseman, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture, said of this budget:

We have a whole new framework that's coming out to spend on some very key areas around food safety, food security...The broad strokes of the program, the basic framework for us as agriculture across the province and across the country is very positive.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture sent out a press release after the budget came out, and it said:

Further positive announcements included the recommitment to the Government's election promise of $50 million over the next three years to expand slaughterhouse capacity within Canada for beef, pork and other livestock producers. The program, which will make federal contributions available to match private sector investments, will support additional livestock slaughter capacity and help ensure Canada has a competitive livestock sector.

What more could the member ask for?

Speaking of the livestock, let me talk a little about that sector. This industry has been heavily impacted as a result of the volatility of the Canadian dollar, high input costs and uncertainty in the American market due to country of origin labelling requirements.

Our government has committed to help the industry and has provided the following assistance. For 2007 and 2007, more than $1 billion is projected to flow to livestock producers through the new business risk management programs, including agri-invest kickstart payments. To date, the livestock sector has also received a total of approximately $570 million using the advance payments program. This is in addition to the measures I just spoke about from budget 2009.

We are standing up for farmers. We have done so much for farmers. I know the member for Malpeque has a hard time keeping up with all of our accomplishments, but I do encourage him to try to stay current with everything that we are accomplishing.

7:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have heard a lot of fluff, but I have not heard much substance from the parliamentary secretary.

The fact is the minister is failing Prince Edward Island farmers. We have had the worst weather conditions on record in our history on Prince Edward Island, and what do we get? We get a so-called disaster program that is in fact not a disaster program. The government had committed $12.4 billion, and it is absolutely failing to deliver on that.

The program, in its first instance, was an insult, 1¢ per pound, which was to be used to disk down the crop. It is the same weather that caused the damage in the fields as is causing the loss in the warehouses. I know one producer who has lost $1.2 million as a result of that weather-damaged crop and the government is not allowing agrirecovery to do its job. It is unacceptable. This—

8 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

8 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again, the member for Malpeque is proving that he simply does not know what he is talking about when it comes to agriculture. He is basically full of hot air.

He was wrong on the poultry rejection project. Despite what he was telling the House, the program did start under the Liberal government. I tabled documents a few weeks ago in the House proving just that.

He was wrong on the contingency fund of the Canadian Wheat Board. Despite him stating that farmers were not interested in the losses of the contingency fund, they have indeed been calling for an investigation of Wheat Board's hedging practices. I tabled the response from the minister this very afternoon in committee proving that.

He is certainly wrong when he dismisses the assistance our government has provided to the P.E.I. Prince Edward potato farmers. When abnormal rainfall destroyed potato crops last year, our government reacted quickly and in partnership with the province to put in place the P.E.I. potato assistance program under the agrirecovery program framework, in order to assist producers and reduce the risk of further crop losses.

What did the Liberal government of Prince Edward Island say of the program?

8 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 8:02 p.m.)