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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

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise once again here today to speak to BIll C-2, which should lead to the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the states of the European Free Trade Association. The Standing Committee on International Trade has already studied it at length. We have heard from a number of witnesses and we are ready to debate it here today at this stage.

The Bloc Québécois has already indicated that it is generally in favour of this agreement. We in the Bloc think that it is a good agreement, especially for the Quebec economy, because there are attractive economic opportunities for us in the countries that are signing it. I will not spend any more time on why we support this agreement, since this has already been explained in previous speeches by some of my colleagues and myself, during the debate at second reading.

In my last speech I also spoke about shipbuilding and its place in this agreement, and I will take advantage of this opportunity to clarify my position on this matter. First of all, I must say that I am aware of the concerns the representatives of the shipbuilding industry in Quebec have about the implementation of this agreement.

The future of our shipyards is a matter of vital importance to Quebec, particularly its eastern part, where a sizeable portion of the economy depends on the economic spinoffs from the shipyards. I feel it is absolutely vital for Quebec's shipbuilding industry to remain healthy and able to develop in the years to come. For that to happen, the government needs to finally accept its responsibilities and invest in this field.

It must be understood that the difficulties being experienced by the shipyards and the marine industry in general did not just crop up today, and the blame must not be laid on the adoption of an agreement whose impact will not be felt here for many years to come. On the other hand, we must not miss our opportunity to make a major change of direction in our marine policy. We can state that there is no real marine policy in Canada at this time, and that could cause real trouble in future years if action is not taken now.

There is no denying that there will be more competition. We have concerns about competition from countries like Norway, where the marine sector has been heavily subsidized for many years. That said, we must start immediately to implement measures to help this industry become more modern and more competitive. We know that the major problem, the real problem, is that for years the shipbuilding sector has suffered, and still does, from a flagrant lack of government support. It is time the needs of Quebec and Canadian shipyards were paid attention to.

According to the agreement in question, there will be a tariff phase-out on the most sensitive shipbuilding products, for up to 15 years in certain cases. After that period of adjustment, no tariff protection will be allowed, and ships from EFTA countries including Norway will appear on the Canadian and Quebec market and compete on an level playing field with our own. This would not pose a problem if we were not so far behind.

According to the witnesses we heard in committee, if our borders were opened to our competitors tomorrow morning, our shipyards would simply not survive. That would be a very bad thing, because our shipyards are essential on a number of levels—economic, strategic and environmental.

One question comes to mind today: what will our shipbuilding industry look like in 15 years?

We are convinced that if the government finally assumes its responsibilities, as I was saying earlier, and decides to recognize that establishing a true marine policy is of the utmost importance, this industry will surely progress and be in an excellent position with respect to its future competitors.

Obviously, we do not believe that the government will take any action at all without pressure from those concerned. Therefore, in the hope of obtaining some movement by the government on this issue the Bloc Québécois presented the following important recommendation to the Standing Committee on International Trade before the free-trade agreement takes effect:

...the Canadian government must without delay implement an aggressive Maritime policy to support the industry, while ensuring that any such strategy is in conformity with Canada's commitments at the WTO.

That was the only recommendation made in the report. The Conservatives never see any problems with their policies, the Liberals, as usual, failed to propose any recommendations, and the NDP, in its predictable opposition to free trade, opposed the agreement altogether. The Bloc Québécois recommendation, which finally received the committee's support and was included in its report, meets the expectations of many shipbuilders in Canada and Quebec. Even though they have no hope of seeing their sector excluded from the agreement, they do expect the government to act quickly and forcefully.

We see in the report that, according to representatives of shipbuilders and marine workers:

...without combined access to the structured financing facility and accelerated capital cost allowances, the impact of the agreement would be devastating to the industry and would lead to job losses. In their view, this additional government support was critical if the Canadian industry was to survive increased competition from Norwegian producers.

Some will say that Norway has announced that it has stopped subsidizing its shipbuilders and that that will enable Canada to compete on a level playing field with that country. But what are we doing to make up for all the years when there were no subsidies here, while Norway was achieving the high level of competitiveness it enjoys today, thanks to generous government support? Quite simply, there needs to be a dramatic shift in the federal approach to the marine industry, which means abandoning the laissez-faire policy the Liberals and Conservatives have followed to date.

I am happy that we are holding this debate on the trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association, because it reveals how fragile our marine industry is in the face of foreign competition and forces us to take a stand on these issues quickly. It is not the agreement that is bad, but our policy. That is why a change of direction is imperative. In 5 or 10 years, it will be too late. We must act now. With a few targeted measures, our shipyards can become modern, productive, financially healthy and extremely competitive. The biggest problem to date has been the lack of political will to change things, and it is high time that changed too.

Of all the aspects of this free trade agreement, this one has concerned me the most. The other aspects of the agreement, including agriculture, seem to be well handled and in line with Quebec's interests.

I would just like to add, as some of my colleagues have already pointed out, that this free trade agreement may open the door to a future agreement with the European Union. We must seize the opportunity when it arises and, more importantly, be ready to compete.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Workers in Quebec have said very clearly that the Bloc should support the NDP amendment. Workers in Lévis and at the Lauzon shipyards have very clearly said that they want the Bloc Québécois members to support the NDP amendment.

Perhaps they can be forgiven for the softwood lumber agreement, the softwood sellout that has cost Quebeckers so much. Even Guy Chevrette had said we should sign the agreement. At present, no one in Quebec, no one in the entire shipbuilding sector, is asking the Bloc members to vote in favour of this agreement. Quite the opposite, and the consensus is very clear. The Quebec industry wants the Bloc members to support the NDP amendment.

It seems that the orders are coming from the Conservatives. I find this disappointing. I know the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques fully understands what is at stake, but the Leader of the Bloc Québécois—

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must interrupt the hon. member in order to give the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques the opportunity to respond.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, as my Bloc Québécois colleagues and I have said repeatedly during the debates on Bill C-2, we think this free trade agreement is an excellent agreement. We have all been very clear. However, we must make sure it is accompanied by a real, vigorous policy in order to ensure that Quebec and Canada can be very competitive in the coming years, to be able to compete with countries like Norway.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Resuming debate. Is the House ready for the question?

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

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

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

A recorded division on Motion No. 1 stands deferred until the end of government orders today.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am proud to speak to this very important piece of legislation. Across Canada, we have been witnessing an escalation in organized crime activity, including gang violence.

Like a number of Canadians, I am profoundly troubled by the wave of violence associated with organized crime and particularly with street gangs.

Organized crime affects all our communities in all the regions of this great country and I think it would be fair for me to say that there is unanimous agreement, hopefully, from all parties, that action is needed. Despite what we saw with the concurrence motion today, I am hoping that the hon. members at this end of the House will get the message that Canadians want us to move forward on organized crime legislation.

The last thing Canadians want at this time is to have this bill held up by political posturing and to unduly delay these necessary Criminal Code measures to effectively fight organized crime and gangs.

I will be clear that this bill is a priority for this government and, therefore, we will only be putting up a few speakers to try to expedite its passage. We would expect the bill to be debated and passed to the Senate before the Easter break. This would ensure the bill receives royal assent well before the summer recess.

It is incumbent, in my opinion, upon all members of Parliament to walk the walk and talk the talk to ensure legislation like this gets passed in the House.

With this bill, we are proposing firm but appropriate responses to some of the growing problems of organized crime and their threats to public safety. I am hopeful that hon. members will do the right thing and expedite its passage because, according to the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, approximately 900 identifiable organized crime groups are operating in urban and rural communities across Canada. The majority of these criminal organizations operate at the street level where they are generally referred to as street gangs. A high proportion of these groups are involved in trafficking in such things as drugs and stolen property.

This is why, coupled with this piece of legislation, we have introduced another bill as well. The next bill in our line of fighting crime in this country deals specifically with drugs because we know drugs are the currency of organized crime and gangs. I hope that bill receives appropriate treatment by the House, and by that I mean that it is expedited and moved through this process so Canadians will get the kind of laws they want and deserve.

Criminal organizations rely upon networking and collaboration with other criminal groups to conduct their illegal activities. However, regardless of their motives and their level of sophistication, these individuals are a plague on our communities. With these elicit activities comes, of course, gang violence and, tragically, this violence has profound effects--

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I regret to interrupt the hon. minister but he will have 18 minutes when this debate resumes.

Keith Kelly AwardStatements By Members

March 12th, 2009 / 1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Madam Speaker, the Keith Kelly Award for Cultural Leadership has been awarded annually since 1998, when it was first established to recognize the leadership shown by the former national director of the Canadian Council for the Arts. The award is presented to a Canadian who has made a significant contribution to the arts through advocacy work or the development of cultural policy.

This year's winner of the Keith Kelly Award is Simon Brault, director general of the National Theatre School of Canada and vice-chair of the Canada Council for the Arts. Mr. Brault is being awarded for his work with Culture Montréal, which brings together people from all backgrounds to promote and recognize the richness and diversity of Montreal culture.

I send my warm congratulations to Simon Brault.

Gavriel and Rivka HoltzbergStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, an act of brutal terrorism shocked the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Centre in Mumbai last November.

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife, Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg, of blessed memory, and four others lost their lives in doing God's work at this Chabad House, a refuge of humanitarian service open to all.

The Holtzbergs' young lives were a living ethic of doing good in the face of evil with deeds of kindness and charity. They would have wanted others to carry on.

Today, the Canadian Federation of Chabad Lubavitch and over 100 Chabad rabbis are hosting a memorial service here on Parliament Hill to both commemorate the work of the Holtzbergs and to celebrate the Lubavitch ethic of Keruv and Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.

I am honoured to have been asked to co-chair this service and to work with Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn to ensure that the lives of the Holtzbergs continue to serve as an inspiration for everyone.

Alexandre BilodeauStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, Quebec freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau has once again made his mark at the world championships, winning the gold medal in the men's dual moguls event in Inawashiro, Japan. This world title is certainly a dream come true for Alexandre and something he is very proud of.

Alexandre had an outstanding start to the year and won the single moguls event on the Olympic course in Vancouver before claiming victories in Sweden and Norway. All these performances have earned him the crystal globe as the men's overall world cup leader. The young moguls skier relies on outstanding technique and extraordinary concentration to dominate in his sport.

I want to congratulate him on his many victories, and all my Bloc Québécois colleagues join me in wishing him the best of luck in the future. Bravo, Alexandre.

International Day of La FrancophonieStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, on Friday, March 20, 2009, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie will celebrate the 39th anniversary of its founding, in 1970. As one of the founding members, Canada will mark the International Day of La Francophonie by paying tribute to the contribution of Acadian communities and highlighting its support for the 4th Congrès mondial acadien to be held in August 2009.

To celebrate the International Day of La Francophonie, the Greater Sudbury ACFO is organizing La Nuit sur l'étang, a music festival promoting franco-ontarian artists, to be held on March 21, 2009, at 8 p.m., at the Sudbury campus of Collège Boréal.

Francophones around the world will celebrate this day by expressing their solidarity and desire to live together, with their differences and in their diversity, thus sharing the values of La Francophonie.

I wish all francophones and francophiles in Canada, and elsewhere, a good International Day of La Francophonie.

Canadian Federation of Chabad-LubavitchStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Madam Speaker, today, more than 100 emissaries of the Canadian Federation of Chabad-Lubavitch have gathered for a national conference here in Ottawa.

At the funeral for the slain emissaries in Mumbai, the movement pledged that Jews traveling to and living in the city would not be forgotten and that the Chabad centre would flourish again. It was two rabbinical students from Canada who were sent to Mumbai to assist in these efforts.

This action is typical of the Canadian involvement in Chabad-Lubavitch world-wide. Canadian alumni of Chabad-Lubavitch institutions play a vital role among the more than 5,500 Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries situated in 73 countries as far-flung as Thailand, Ukraine and Chile.

Canada has been a catalyst for many Chabad-Lubavitch activities across the globe with its educational, humanitarian and youth centres. Our country boasts centres to assist those who are less fortunate, including children with special needs and drug and alcohol addicts.

These are programs that are being emulated throughout North America and, indeed, throughout the entire world.