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House of Commons Hansard #21 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was passport.

Topics

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-332, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (review of parole ineligibility) and to amend other Acts in consequence.

Mr. Speaker, the bill would amend the Criminal Code to repeal section 745.6 of the act, often referred to as the faint hope clause, which allows a person sentenced to life imprisonment for high treason or murder to apply after 15 years for a reduction in parole ineligibility.

The bill also makes related amendments to the Criminal Code and amends certain other acts in consequence.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Scrutiny of RegulationsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Kania Liberal Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations presented to the House earlier today be concurred in.

Scrutiny of RegulationsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Brampton West have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Scrutiny of RegulationsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Scrutiny of RegulationsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Scrutiny of RegulationsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Scrutiny of RegulationsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

(Motion agreed to)

Income TrustsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this income trust broken promise petition pursuant to Standing Order 36 and as certified by the Clerk.

It was forwarded to me by Mrs. MacIntyre of Sarnia, Ontario, who remembers the Prime Minister boasting about his apparent commitment to accountability when he said that the greatest fraud was a promise not kept.

The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he promised never to tax income trusts but that he broke that promise and imposed a 31.5% punitive tax that permanently wiped out over $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly of seniors.

The petitioners, therefore, call upon the Conservative minority government, first, to admit that the decisions to tax income trusts were based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions; second, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise; and finally, to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

War ResistersPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present another petition from the war resisters support campaign.

The petitioners call upon the Canadian government to demonstrate its commitment to international law and the treaties to which it is signatory by making provisions to U.S. war objectors to have sanctuary in this country.

Grandmothers for Grandmothers in AfricaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition today from the Grandmothers for Grandmothers in Africa in my riding. They have collected over 1,000 signatures from Barrie, Ontario.

The petition is focused on increasing foreign aid, in particular the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, and for providing lower cost medicines and drugs for developing countries.

It is my pleasure to table this petition on behalf of that very active association in the riding of Barrie.

Citizenship and ImmigrationPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour to present a petition signed by over 80 constituents who are profoundly concerned by the decision of the government to deport the Tabaj family to Albania.

This family fled to Canada after an assassination attempt on the life of Mr. Arjan Tabaj, in which two other people were machine-gunned to death. With the assassins still at large in Albania, the deportation of Mr. Arjan, his wife Anilda and three children back to that country would clearly put the lives of his family in jeopardy.

For this reason, the petitioners urge the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to reverse his decision to deport the Tabaj family.

Revenue CanadaPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of 850 fishers from Newfoundland and Labrador and some from Quebec who have been treated unfairly by the Government of Canada through Revenue Canada.

A group of fishers took part in a voluntary retirement program when they were invited to get out of the fishery by the Government of Canada at a time when the cod fishery was in dire straits. At that time they were advised by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, as a result of information passed on to it by Revenue Canada, that the money the fishers received in the way of a benefit would be taxed 100% as capital gains. This was in fact an error.

A correction was made by Revenue Canada but it was never passed on to the fishers who were impacted. All these fishermen are out thousands of dollars as a result of a decision by Revenue Canada that it is now refusing to correct.

On behalf of these fishers, we ask that this wrong be righted and that the fishermen receive the money that was taken from them. We ask that Revenue Canada own up to its mistake. Some of these fishers have since passed away and their estates are now looking to the government to right this wrong.

This was a mistake made by the government not the fishers themselves. Many people have been impacted by this and they need these thousands of dollars owed to them, which have not been forthcoming. We ask that the government to own up to this wrong and right it on behalf of these fishers.

Omar KhadrPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from hundreds of law students across Canada asking the government to respect the human and legal rights of Omar Khadr and bring him home. They are deeply concerned that the government believes the war on terror can be fought outside the law. As Canadians, they are concerned that our country's credibility as one committed to human rights and the rule of law has been severely undermined.

They also note that Canada's deep commitment to international human rights require ensuring Omar's right to a fair trial and humane treatment. For six years, Omar has been denied these rights. Canada's complicity in that denial implicates our country in gross violations of international law and undermines our value as Canadians. They want the government to bring Omar Khadr home.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Tackling Violent CrimeEmergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Vancouver Centre and I would now invite her to address the Chair on this subject.

Tackling Violent CrimeEmergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 52, I would like to request an emergency debate in the House of Commons for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration, in this case to address the recent alarming increase in violent gang shootings in the greater Vancouver region over the last month.

The Government of British Columbia has referred to the situation in a letter to members of Parliament as warfare.

While violent gun crime has been escalating in Canada's urban regions over the past three years, the situation has now become critical in the greater Vancouver region, especially in the last month.

The increase in gang shootings is an urgent new development with 18 shootings in the last four weeks, 13 of them occurring in 14 days and 10 of them fatal. These gang-related shootings are occurring in public places such as streets, malls and grocery stores where citizens are increasingly at risk of becoming innocent casualties. This has led to a heightened level of fear and anxiety among the citizens of greater Vancouver.

Members of the Government of British Columbia visited Ottawa on Thursday requesting urgent assistance. They returned empty-handed and disappointed. The legislation promised by the government will have little impact on the problem, meanwhile, the problem escalates daily.

Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair received the letter from the hon. member for Vancouver Centre this morning requesting this debate. I have heard her arguments on the point and while I have no doubt the situation is a serious one, I am not convinced at the moment that it meets the exigencies of the Standing Order in respect of an emergency debate. Accordingly, I will deny the request at this time.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-10, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, in response to Bill C-10 to implement the budget, the Bloc Québécois proposed amendments that were then grouped with other amendments. The main purpose of the Bloc Québécois' amendments was to delete the entire portion of the bill relating to the government's intention to create a single securities commission.

Last week, during the Bloc Québécois opposition day, we focused on this issue. In Quebec, there has been strong opposition to this plan for several years. The Conservative government had a so-called expert panel undertake some studies and, in the end, it told the government exactly what it wanted to hear.

Quebec has always been against this plan, primarily because of jurisdiction. Securities regulation falls under Quebec's exclusive jurisdiction. The federal government must respect that. That is the main reason the Bloc Québécois proposed the amendment to delete provisions creating a single, Canada-wide securities commission from the bill. Such a commission would result in a regulatory monopoly that we believe would be dangerous for the entire regulated securities sector.

We currently have a proven system that has been made better with the introduction of the 13 passports. Within this system, the various regulators can deal with each other and institutions or organizations regulated by one entity can do business with the other 12 regulators.

At present, only Ontario has refused to take part in this initiative, which has been commended by the OECD and the International Monetary Fund as being very effective. Ontario has refused to take part because, by refusing, it put pressure on the government to waste no time in creating a single securities regulator that would likely be located in that province. That would have many benefits for Ontario, but not for Quebec.

With the changes affecting stock markets, including the case of the Montreal Stock Exchange versus the Toronto Stock Exchange, the securities regulator in Quebec, the Autorité des marchés financiers, has become the last bastion protecting the industry and securities trading in Quebec. The current passport system has made it possible for several organizations to exist, and it will continue to do so. It provides balance. The smaller regulators can encourage diversity and innovation.

We have only to think of the solidarity fund managed by the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec or FTQ. This is a Quebec innovation, but other provinces have also made innovations. The current system makes these innovations possible. It provides protection against overly large markets that would create a form of regulatory monopoly, as I said earlier.

This bill would establish a Canadian securities regulation regime transition office. This bill would provide the government with $150 million for this plan. We do not need such a system. To start, we would save $150 million. We can see that the government wants to spend large sums at a time when the economy needs the money. Creating this kind of an organization does not make sense; this money should go into supporting businesses. We are reminding the government almost daily that it must increase its help to Quebec's forestry industry, yet it is contributing only $170 million for the entire forestry industry across Canada. This is pitiful compared to the $2.7 billion given to the auto industry in Ontario. This $150 million could very easily be directed elsewhere. It would not entirely correct the inequity, but it would at least serve to soften the severe blows to Quebec's forestry industry.

This group of amendments also deals with tax havens. If it passes—which we hope it will—one of the amendments would ensure that the government cannot back down on recent announcements. In 2007, it said that tax havens are unfair to small and medium-size businesses and to workers in various sectors, because businesses that benefit from tax havens pay less tax, and then the tax which the government requires in order to fulfill its responsibilities comes, for the most part, from the pockets of workers and small and medium-size businesses.

This amendment would keep the government from backing down on previous commitments. We will support this amendment to remove the entire clause pertaining to tax havens from Bill C-10.

To conclude, I reiterate the Bloc Québécois' support for these Group No. 1 amendments.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to have a chance to speak to the budget again at this stage. I want to reiterate my view, which is similar to the view stated by our leader: we are not so much supporting this budget as we are letting it pass. At a time of difficulty, what Canada needs more than anything else is fiscal stimulus and political stability.

There are some things in here that I think will help. Certainly there is a lot more than there was back in November. However, we think a lot more needs to be done and we are going to be looking for a lot more from the government. For example, with regard to pay equity, if the government wants to show some good faith to the people of Canada, the measures it has proposed regarding pay equity should be withdrawn from the budget. They are gratuitous, not needed and detrimental to Canada.

That is not the only area where we need to see changes. We have serious reservations. The biggest reservations I have with this budget concern the people in Canada who are most in need of help. On the weekend, the Leader of the Opposition was in Halifax for the very successful Nova Scotia Liberal annual general meeting. On Sunday morning, he had the chance to meet with some child care advocates in Nova Scotia. We had representatives from a host of organizations talking about the importance of early learning and child care. We had a representative who works in aboriginal early learning and child care, and people who work with people with disabilities and low-income families.

It is very clear that the government is heading in the wrong direction. I was disappointed that there was not something for early learning and child care in the budget. If we want to stimulate the economy, child care is a very positive way to do it. It does an awful lot of things.

Let me read a few of the things that early learning and child care does for Canadian families. Economically, it makes us more competitive. It yields a high economic and social return. Early learning and child care provided under the QUAD system, as was proposed by the Liberal government in 2005 and actually implemented, keeps families out of poverty. Of particular importance is that it supports the participation of women in the workforce, which $100 a month simply does not do.

In December UNICEF reported on a number of benchmarks for early learning and child care across the OECD countries. It is staggering to believe, but Canada ranked last. I should not say it is staggering, because those who understand what is actually happening in Canada, particularly now, would not be surprised. “Disappointed” is certainly a better word.

We come last in investing there. I do not know that all Canadians understand. Perhaps it is because we are not connected geographically to some of the more progressive nations in the OECD with which we consider ourselves allied. However, as a matter of fact, Canada lags when it comes to early learning and child care.

If we had a case in which a child of six or seven was denied access to primary school, there would be an outcry from everybody, yet every day, in every community in this country, children under six are denied the opportunity for early learning and child care. Child care does not stop at age six. However, education does not start at age six either.

On the social infrastructure side, this budget fails on a number of counts, such as employment insurance and tax policy. On EI, we have five extra weeks provided for those who qualify. Less than half of the people who actually pay EI can actually draw it, but this budget does not address that issue. It adds five weeks for those who already draw, which is helpful, no question, and they need it, but what about eliminating the waiting period, or making EI more generous, or equalizing access across this country, particularly for low-income workers, who often tend to be women? What about improving EI in that way? There is so much more that could have been done.

On tax policy, a report put out by Ken Battle of the Caledon Institute indicates that a family of four making $150,000 will get, and I am going from memory here, close to $500 in tax benefits from this budget, while a family of four making $20,000 will get nothing.

That is not fair. It is unconscionable. It is not right. I do not like that, and I want to make sure the government does something to equalize opportunity in this country.

I will give a couple of suggestions. What about doubling the GST rebate, so that families that actually need help could get more money? Measures like this are not only good for the individual and socially just, but they are also economically wise. They would actually put stimulus into the economy at a very big return rate.

A study Ian Lee has quoted, a senate study in the United States, indicates that investing in EI returns $1.61 into the economy. What about EI?

What about investing in the child tax benefit, particularly the low-income supplement that was sacrificed when the universal child care benefit came in? What about enhancing the child tax benefit as an opportunity to make this economy better for those who need help and also to improve our opportunities as a nation?

On the front page of The Globe and Mail today we saw the story of what is happening in research. Then the government stands up and says it is investing in research. It says it is investing here.

I met with some researchers back home on Friday afternoon with other colleagues from my party and my province. They are very worried. How can the government possibly cut the tri-council funding? Why would it cut funding to NSERC, to SSHRC and to CIHR? At a time when Barack Obama in the United States is investing $10 billion in research, we are cutting it back.

It indicates a fundamental lack of understanding of research. It indicates a fundamental lack of understanding that in research you cannot take your foot off the pedal. Ten years ago we reversed the brain drain in this country, and now we are on the verge of a perfect storm the other way. The Americans are investing and we are starting to pull back. That is not productive, that is not sensible and that is not good policy.

I would be remiss if I did not mention, while I have the chance, the importance of social science and humanities research as well. The government is not only cutting funding, but they are also targeting it away from social science and humanities funding. I think the reason is that social sciences and humanities funding validates arguments that are opposed to where the government likes to go on issues such criminal justice and economic policy. It does not make any sense.

We are going to let this budget pass. It is hard for me to say I support it. I say we will let the budget pass. I will give the government two great suggestions, and they do not have to credit the member for Dartmouth--Cole Harbour when they do it. I will stand up and say, “Well done”.

First, a couple of groups are not getting much attention in this whole slowdown. One is our students and another is the group of great not-for-profit organizations in our community, the people who work with people with disabilities, who work with seniors, who do youth recreation from soccer to swimming, who work with the heart and stroke foundation and all kinds of great organizations.

A perfect way to provide a stimulus is that for $100 million, in this day and age a very small investment, we could double the amount of money in the Canada summer jobs program. We could employ an extra 35,000 or 40,000 students this summer. They are going to be having a hard time. Companies cannot afford to hire like they used to, so students are going to be needing work.

At the same time, the not-for-profit organizations and the community organizations across this country are going to have a hard time hiring students. They are going to have a hard time keeping their own staff, so why not double the amount of the funding in the Canada summer jobs program? For $100 million, we could provide 35,000 or 40,000 jobs and help people who are suffering hardship as well as people who work with people with disabilities, with seniors and with child care. It is a great idea, and I give that to them free of charge.

Another one has to do with HMCS Sackville. Canada's naval memorial is looking for a permanent place. HMCS Sackville is the last surviving corvette from World War II. I think there were 269 corvettes that sailed across the North Atlantic and kept the shipping lines open. Many of the Canadians who served on them did not make it both ways.

Now Canada's naval memorial, HMCS Sackville, is looking for a permanent home in Halifax. If we want to use the infrastructure money effectively, the Government of Canada would do well to support the Queen's Landing project and give Canada's naval memorial a permanent home. I know the Minister of National Defence would share this view as well as my respect for HMCS Sackville.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the budget. It is not what I would like to see. I think at a time when Canada needs some political stability and economic stimulus, we will see how it goes. I cannot say that I am all that hopeful, but I am a patient man.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I cannot help but ask the member for Dartmouth--Cole Harbour how he can stand in the House and indicate that he is prepared to vote for something to which he says he is fundamentally opposed.

Where does the member draw the line? When is something so repugnant that he and others in his caucus will stand up and express their true feelings?

He will know, as others in the House know, the old expression, “They came for the women, and I was not there. They came for the people with disabilities, and I was not there. They came for the unions, and I was not there. They came for the Jews, and I was not there”.

Where and when does the member draw a line? When will he stand up for something that is as fundamental as pay equity, a human right in this country?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the question, but it portrays a fundamental lack of understanding of where Canadians are.

Let us say we vote against the budget. One of two things will happen. We would form a coalition government, which was proposed before.

Let us just see what she is accusing us of. She is accusing us of not wanting to take power. She is accusing us of not wanting to make our leader the Prime Minister of Canada.

What she is acknowledging in the question is that we are putting the country first, that we want to do what is right for Canadians, that Canadians want some political stability, that Canadians want a party that will put the politics behind us for awhile and make this thing work.

We have given those members every opportunity, but it is a very short leash, and our leader has made that very clear. We will have an election pretty soon, but my office has not been busy with people calling saying that they want an election because they have not had one for so long. It is crazy. We have to give this thing a chance to work, but we have to judge it harshly, and we will do that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is justly recognized as an astute observer in matters of social policy, spending, student assistance, research and a number of other areas. He has noted the really conspicuous propensity of the Conservative government to shrink government. At a time when government should be investing in the economy to assist the economy, could explain why that is there? Is it simply unrestrained prudence or is it just an exuberance to shrink government?

Three of the ministers over there came from an Ontario government that sold an entire highway to get government out of that. Could he comment on that?