House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was peru.


Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was disappointed to hear the comments from the member for Windsor—Tecumseh. I had understood that the NDP would support our government in trying to protect Canadians. He said that most Canadians did not understand pretrial custody. Essentially he is saying that Canadians are ignorant when it comes to the two-for-one and three-for-one debate.

Quite frankly, one of the reasons we have brought forward the bill is because Canadians do not understand why those who are in custody and are later convicted get two-for-one and three-for-one credit when they are eventually sentenced after trail.

Attorneys general and solicitors general across Canada have contacted our government and asked that we get this done. In fact, the attorney general and the solicitor general for British Columbia, my province, came to Ottawa specifically to plead with our government to get rid of two-for-one and three-for-one remand credits.

My question for the member for Windsor—Tecumseh is this. Can we expect the NDP to support the bill at committee and later at third reading? When can we expect him to stand up for Canadians and protect the safety and security of victims and those who are vulnerable in our society?

Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, he was misquoting me a bit. I said that the average Canadian citizen did not understand the conditions of our pre-trial custody and therefore had a very difficult time understanding why anybody would get two-for-one.

Yes, the attorneys general and solicitors general across the country have been lobbying the government to deal with the two-for-one situation. However, they have also been lobbying it, or maybe the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Justice, for additional resources to deal with the problems they have in the courtrooms. The delays are there. As I said in my speech, they are not just the result of the defence bar or the accused person; it is the system itself. There are not enough prosecutors, judges or court rooms.

In terms of his final point about when I will stand up for Canadians and protection, I have done that all my professional career. In fact, I did it even before I became a lawyer. I have no intention to stop doing that. Hopefully, with some reasonable amendments that would make the bill more useful, my party will ultimately support it. However, I want to be very clear to the House and the Canadian people that to portray the bill as the be-all and end-all of resolving this issue and the problem of two-for-one is to grossly mislead the Canadian public.

Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I complement the member for reminding Canadians of the horrible conditions that occur in remand on occasion and that hundreds if not thousands of these people under these conditions are innocent and ultimately not convicted.

I have two questions for the member.

First, does he think that being constricted from providing two-for-one could lead, in certain cases, to the judge putting a shorter sentence during the conviction to invoke justice? It would not have the desired effect.

Second, everyone has talked about how it would reduce remand because the defence and the person charged would stop manoeuvres to be in prison longer in remand. However, is there a possibility that the prosecutor, who was trying to get this person through the court system quickly so they would not have access to two-to-one, may no longer have the motivation and in some cases lead to a longer remand period?

Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not follow the second part of the question. However, on the first part, I do not think there is any doubt that members of the judiciary, if they feel they cannot work within the terminology of circumstances justifying it, will look at reducing the amount of time that is given in the ultimate sentence if they feel that is the only just way.

In that regard, I want to make a point at which the member may have been driving. We have a parole system where people get out because of good behaviour and an automatic return. The vast majority of people do not serve more than two-thirds. However, that calculation goes back to this whole issue of people staying in pretrial custody so they can get two-for-one. If they do that and then get an ultimate sentence, that period of time they have spent in pre-trial custody is not taken into account when they calculate the one-third reduction.

Consider two individuals who have committed the same crime. One manages to get out on bail and one does not. The person who gets out on bail will be convicted and spend less time in custody overall than the person who has been in pretrial custody. That is the normal pattern. The argument that the two-for-one automatically gets people a shorter sentence is not accurate in the vast majority of cases. It is a matter of where they spend that time. The time people spend in pretrial custody is much worse than what they spend in our federal institutions.

Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, that was a good additional point. The question is if the objective is to reduce remand, which as the member and the minister both mentioned as being more than half of the people in custody, and if the defence and the convicted person use less manoeuvres and tricks because there is no longer any gain, in theory this would speed things up and there would be fewer people in remand.

On the other side, the prosecutor, who was previously motivated to avoid the person getting out quickly because of the two-for-one, would now have no motivation to rush to get things through in good time to the trial period. This may be counterproductive to what the bill is intended to do and may actually extend the remand time in some cases.

Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not think that is at all beyond the pale of that occurring, but I would see those as exceptional cases. My experience with prosecutors across the length and breadth of the country is they are very dedicated to obtaining and providing justice in a criminal justice system that is fair. I doubt we would see them taking advantage of that other than in exceptional cases.

The workload they are faced with makes it impossible for them to speed the process up. They have too many files on their hands. We need more prosecutors.

Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, what does my hon. colleague mean by charter challenge? It was not quite clear to me when he referred to it in his speech.

Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the argument that would be brought forward under section 12 of the charter, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, would be that the pre-incarceration conditions were so bad that they amounted to cruel and unusual punishment and therefore the sentence has to take that into account or, as happened in Ontario under the Askov ruling of the early 1990s, the charge itself may be dismissed. That is a real risk.

We lost 40,000 to 50,000 cases in Ontario in the early 1990s because the backlog was so long. The consequences of a breach of charter is we would not even get to the sentencing process and the charges would be dismissed. A number of those charges in Ontario and across the country, because that ruling was followed across the country, were quite serious, some involving violent cases.

Truth in Sentencing ActGovernment Orders

April 20th, 2009 / 1:50 p.m.


Russ Hiebert Conservative South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for St. Catharines.

It is a privilege for me to speak to Bill C-25, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (limiting credit for time spent in pre-sentencing custody).

As members may know, my riding of South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale has been directly affected by the shootings and gang war that has erupted in the Lower Mainland. My constituents are extremely concerned about the ongoing violence and complete disregard gang members have in our community. As the police have clearly indicated, much of this gang warfare is directly related to the drug trade. The guns being used are often smuggled across the border and purchased with the profits from the drug trade, or traded for drugs. Ensuring truth in sentencing, as Bill C-25 would help do, is an important step in ending British Columbia's gang war.

Every member of Parliament brings some experience in other professions and trades to his or her job here. Before I was elected, I served as an attorney for the B.C. legal services. I saw firsthand the impact drugs are having on our young people. I saw firsthand how many young people would turn to a life of crime to feed their drug habits and addictions. Drugs are often the gateway to crime for many career criminals. That is why I feel so strongly that we need to crack down on those who attempt to profit at the expense of our young people. Ensuring that drug pushers and gangsters serve a sentence that matches the seriousness of their crime is an important part of combatting the drug trade.

Upon taking office, our government committed itself to tackling crime and making our streets safer. Our commitment included preventing courts from giving extra credit for pretrial custody for persons denied bail because of their criminal record or for having violated bail.

Under the current system, courts typically take into account certain factors, such as overcrowding in remand centres, lack of rehabilitative programs commonly available in sentence custody, and the fact that time spent in remand does not count toward parole eligibility. This has resulted in courts traditionally awarding a two-for-one credit for time served in pretrial custody.

Now, on rare occasions, the credit awarded has been as high as three for one, especially where the conditions of detention were poor, for example, because of extreme crowding. Although also rare, credit has sometimes been less than two for one where offenders were unlikely to obtain early parole because of their criminal record or because of time spent in remand as a result of a breach of bail conditions.

The general practice of awarding generous credit for time spent in pre-sentencing has resulted in correctional authorities straining to cope with the growing number of people who are held in remand. In many cases, the population in remand centres now exceeds the population found in sentence custody in Canada's provincial and territorial jails.

Provincial attorneys general and correctional ministers have expressed concerns about the growing number of people being held in custody prior to sentencing. They strongly support limiting credit for time served as a way to help reduce the growing size of their remand population. Concerns have also been expressed that this practice has been abused by some accused who delay their trials and sentencing to earn double credit for the time spent in pretrial custody, thereby reducing their sentence.

Canadians have told us loud and clear that they would like to see more truth in sentencing.

I want to refer to a case that happened just last month in Toronto. A man convicted of manslaughter in the death of a nearly one-year-old baby found with 38 wounds was sentenced to six and a half years in prison. However, given that he has already served three years in pretrial detention since he was arrested for this killing, the two-for-one credit will guarantee that he is out on the streets within six months of his conviction.

One way of achieving truth in sentencing is to bring the practice of giving double time credit for pretrial custody to an end.

We are listening to the Canadian public in proposing this legislation. It would provide the courts with greater guidance in sentencing by limiting the amount of credit that courts may grant to convicted criminals for the time they served in custody prior to their sentencing. Bill C-25 would limit the credit ratio to two for one in all cases. However, where circumstances justify it, courts would be able to award a credit of up to one and a half days for every day spent in pre-sentencing custody. In such cases, the court would be required to provide an explanation for those circumstances. These circumstances are not defined in the bill. This is so the courts would have the discretion to consider on a case-by-case basis whether the credit to be awarded for the time spent in pre-sentencing custody should be more than one for one.

For example, we would expect a credit ratio of up to 1.5 to one would be considered where the conditions of detention and remand are extremely poor, or there is a complete absence of programming, or when the trial is unduly delayed by factors not attributable to the accused. However, where accused are remanded for having violated bail or because of their criminal record, the credit would be limited to one day for every day spent in pre-sentencing custody no matter what the remand conditions are.

As a result of this initiative, more offenders would now have a federal sentence of two years or more, and an increased number of offenders who would likely have been sentenced to a federal penitentiary would be spending longer time in federal custody. From a rehabilitation perspective, this time in the federal system would present the opportunity for longer term programming that may have a positive impact on the offender.

Bill C-25 also proposes to require courts to note the sentence that would have been imposed without the credit, the amount of credit awarded and the actual sentence imposed. This requirement would result in greater transparency and consistency and would improve public confidence in the administration of justice.

The proposed legislation is part of a series of criminal justice bills that has been introduced since we took office to help ensure the safety of Canadians. To make Canada safer, we have enacted legislation to get violent and dangerous criminals off our streets. We have cracked down on sexual predators, dangerous offenders and those who use guns to commit crimes. We have given the police more tools and resources to combat crime and to deal with those who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In the current session we have introduced Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants), which will provide law enforcement officials and the justice system a better means to address organized crime related activities, in particular, gang members and drive-by shootings.

Bill C-15, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, was introduced on February 27. It would provide for mandatory jail time for those who produce and sell illegal drugs. The reforms would, however, allow a drug treatment court to suspend a sentence while an addicted accused took an approved treatment program.

We have also introduced legislation in Bill S-4 to provide law enforcement officials with the tools they need to protect Canadian families and businesses from identity theft.

We will continue to introduce legislation to strengthen the justice system. Bill C-25 is an important contribution to this objective.

I appreciate the support of our provincial and territorial partners for this legislative amendment to provide greater truth in sentencing. I can only hope that we can also count on the support of the opposition parties, who have so often stood in the way of any bill that would actually reflect truth in sentencing.

I note the Liberal member for Vancouver South, who has been a loud critic of this government on law and order issues, recently criticized our approach to the issue of sentencing. In the Vancouver Sun on March 26 he is quoted as saying:

If they were genuinely concerned about public safety, they would have actually gone through the system, including corrections and parole board, and attempted to deal with the issue of organized crime. I believe they have not done their job in that regard.

I have three things to say in response to the member, who is a lawyer and a former attorney general of British Columbia.

First, we have introduced four separate bills in the past two months that will help police and prosecutors to crack down on organized crime, and gang and gun war is being waged in the Lower Mainland right now. Will he and his party support those bills?

Second, since forming government in 2006, we have continually introduced legislation to better achieve truth in sentencing. His party opposed these bills in the House and in the Senate. It was not until the Prime Minister threatened an election that the Liberals finally agreed to allow this measure to pass. Why did his party oppose truth in sentencing for so long?

Finally, let us remember that the member for Vancouver South was elected in 2004 and appointed to cabinet. He said that he is concerned about organized crime. He said that he is serious about stopping gun and gang violence. Why was the legislation we are debating today not passed while he was still in power?

I would call on the member and all parties in Parliament to put aside the partisan rhetoric and join us in supporting this common sense legislation.

Corner GasStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, April 13 marked a milestone in Canadian television. The lights went out in The Ruby and the pumps were turned off at Corner Gas, and Canadian audiences said goodbye to Brent, Wanda, Lacey, Hank, Emma, Oscar, Davis and Karen. After six years of enormous success, Corner Gas has become a part of Canadian history.

I am proud to say that Dog River is actually Rouleau, Saskatchewan, and that Rouleau is in the Palliser riding, the constituency that I represent.

Corner Gas brought rural life and philosophy to our television screens and did so with great humour. The recipient of six Gemini awards and now syndicated, the show attracted many celebrities, including our own Prime Minister.

I am sure that this program will be in our hearts and minds for many years to come. I would invite all members to help me recognize Brent Butt and the truly comical Canadians who made Corner Gas such a huge success.

EducationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, this is Global Action Week for education.

Some 774 million adults around the world cannot read and 75 million children are denied the chance to learn to read and write. According to the World Bank, education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality.

UNESCO's Education for All campaign has helped to provide a pathway out of poverty for 23 million children.

In 2000, Canada committed to ensure that everyone realizes the human right to education by 2015. Initially, Canada and other donors rose to that challenge and increased their aid to help another 40 million children go to school. However, recently aid levels have plateaued and the government is showing signs of faltering on that commitment. Currently, Canada provides less than half of its fair share of the global requirement to meet these goals.

In honour of Global Action Week, we call upon the Conservative government to honour its commitment to the Education for All goals by contributing Canada's fair share and increasing Canadian funding to the full Education for All agenda.

Education is a key route out of poverty. Canada must do its share.

Karine BlaisStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Jean-Yves Roy Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, all of Quebec, and especially the Gaspé, was in mourning last Monday, when one of our own was killed on mission in Afghanistan.

Trooper Karine Blais, just 21 years old and from Les Méchins in my riding, was tragically killed when the vehicle she was travelling in hit an improvised explosive device. Karine is the first female soldier from Quebec to be killed since the soldiers of the Royal 22nd Regiment from Valcartier began their second six-month rotation in Afghanistan.

I would like to pay tribute to her and express my deepest sympathies to her grieving family and to all her fellow soldiers.

This tragic situation once again reminds us of the tremendous danger faced by our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. We hope that Karine's sacrifice and that of all the soldiers who have fallen before her in the effort to restore peace, social justice and democracy in that country are not in vain.

SeniorsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week I began a countrywide tour to hear first-hand from Canada's seniors what it is they expect from their representatives in Ottawa. There is one issue I heard about repeatedly. I was asked, if the NDP's seniors charter was passed in the House of Commons in 2006, even with government members supporting it, why has it not become the law of the land?

The charter was designed to provide the people who built this country with the health and income supports they need to live out their lives with the dignity they deserve. The charter has not been implemented because the Conservative government has chosen to ignore it.

Today our seniors are hurting. According to the Progressive Economics Forum, it would take $1 billion to lift all seniors currently living in poverty out of poverty. Compare that to the fact that the government is planning to spend around $75 billion to bail out our already profitable banks.

I ask the government and the Prime Minister, how did their priorities become so skewed?

Mel BrownStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a man who played a key role in developing Waterloo region's music scene.

In the late 1980s, Mel Brown relocated to Kitchener, Ontario after a long career playing guitar for some of the biggest names in music. Willie Nelson, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Bobby Bland and Waylon Jennings are just a few.

Mel's arrival put our community on the music map. It was common for blues greats like B.B. King to show up unannounced just to share a stage with Mel.

When blues great Buddy Guy last played in Kitchener, he said, “It's just you, me and B.B. left now”. At the annual Kitchener Blues Festival, talent from around the world looked forward to the private event where Mel played for the musicians and volunteers.

Mel Brown died in St. Mary's Hospital on March 20. He leaves behind his wife and musical partner, Miss Angel, two children, seven grandchildren and tens of thousands of fans.

Today we mourn the loss of Mel Brown, even as we celebrate his life and legacy. To those who loved him, our hearts are extended.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, today kicks off National Volunteer Week in Canada. This week gives us occasion to both recognize the work done by volunteers and to get involved in charitable work ourselves.

It is estimated that in Canada, some 12 million volunteers give their time to 161,000 charitable organizations, which generate $112 billion a year for our economy.

Volunteers are selfless in their actions, noble in their intentions, and they enrich the lives of people who they will never meet.

I would like to thank everyone at Volunteer Canada, which helps coordinate volunteers across the country.

Most importantly, I want to thank all of Canada's volunteers, like the individual men and women affected by the flood in Manitoba who have not thought twice about lending a helping hand to a neighbour in need. Thanks to all of them.

Maxime LandryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Maxime Bernier Conservative Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, April 13, I attended a huge gathering in Saint-Gédéon-de-Beauce to support Star Académie contestant Maxime Landry.

Maxime won the 2009 season of Star Académie by a landslide. In addition to sharing his tremendous talent, he inspired a sense of kinship throughout Beauce. Maxime's life has been anything but ordinary. He has faced everything with courage and great determination. His incredible strength of character has enabled him to conquer all the obstacles he encountered along the way. He showed great maturity during his time at the academy.

Maxime deserved to win, and, thanks to him, all of Beauce has something to be proud of.

On behalf of all members of the House, congratulations, Maxime. May he go on to achieve all of his dreams. Bravo.

Levinoff-Colbex SlaughterhouseStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Levinoff-Colbex slaughterhouse, which is located in my riding, is the only major slaughterhouse left in eastern Canada. This business employs close to 200 people and slaughters between 4,000 and 5,000 cull cows a week from five provinces.

Producers in Quebec have reinvested $30 million to finance the business and are counting on the federal government to contribute $19 million to expand and modernize the existing facilities so that steers from Quebec, which are currently slaughtered in the United States, can be slaughtered in Canada. This investment would maintain current jobs and create additional jobs.

The government provided $50 million in its latest budget to support the slaughter industry, but as in many other cases, it is dragging its feet on implementing the program. We call on the members of the Conservative Party from Quebec, who claim to wield a great deal of power in the government, to join the Bloc Québécois in standing up for Quebec's economic interests in this matter and to make sure that the slaughterhouse gets its fair share.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party sure loves taxes.

Last week we learned that the Liberal leader plans to hike taxes on Canadian families, a tax hike at the worst possible time, and there is never a good time to raise taxes.

Then again, it is not really a surprise. The Liberal Party wanted to raise the GST and the Liberal leader campaigned on the job-killing carbon tax.

Conservatives are taking action to help Canadian families with our economic action plan. Liberals are trying to take their hard-earned dollars away.

How much would the Liberal leader's tax hike cost Canadians? Which taxes will he hike and by how much will he raise them? Which Canadians will be forced to pay? Canadians deserve an honest answer.

National Organ Donor WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

This is National Organ Donor Week. I rise to encourage all my colleagues and fellow citizens to sign their organ donor cards and to inform their families of their wishes.

Yesterday marked the beginning of National Organ Donor Week and much remains to be done to give hope to patients waiting for an organ transplant. With this in mind I urge my colleagues, as well as all Canadians, to sign their organ donation cards and make sure their loved ones are aware of their decision.

Too many people remain on waiting lists for organ donations.

A single donor can save up to eight lives. I would also like to remind my colleagues that National Organ Donor Week has a lot to do with one of our colleagues in the House.

In fact, the National Organ Donor Week Act received royal assent in 1997.

This private member's bill had been put forward by my colleague, the member for Pickering—Scarborough East, and I wish to thank him for his important initiative.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Liberal Party clearly indicated it would raise taxes if it had the chance. Threatening Canadians with tax hikes in the middle of a recession is the worst thing to do when attempting to stimulate the economy. But could we expect otherwise? This same party wants to increase the GST and create a carbon tax that would be devastating for employment.

The Conservative government's economic action plan provides for $20 billion in tax cuts for Canadians. The Liberal Party wants to pick their pockets once again. The Conservative government has clearly set out its economic action plan and the Liberal Party should do the same with its tax plan. The Liberals must be up front with Canadians about which taxes they will raise, when they will do it and by how much they will be increased. And which Canadians will pay the price?

Forestry IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the forestry sector is being decimated right across the country. The Conservative government is doing nothing nationally to help producers, communities and families get through the crisis.

Over the last five years 45,000 jobs have been lost, large producers like AbitibiBowater and smaller producers like Buchanan Forest Products are going bankrupt.

Where was the elimination of the waiting period for employment insurance for forestry workers in communities right across Thunder Bay—Rainy River who have to go a full two weeks without any income when they are laid off? Where are the loan guarantees for healthy and profitable small businesses that are seeing their access to credit dry up, like Whalley Logging in Atikokan?

For heaven's sake, where is the severance and pension protection for the working families suffering from the collapse of Buchanan Forest Products?

The government is apparently not interested in helping all forestry producers, communities and families get through this crisis. If the government wants to consider itself a truly national party in government, now is the time for a national forestry strategy.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government has taken steps to help Canadian families deal with the global recession. We have reduced personal income taxes, increased child benefits, and we are helping families who are purchasing a first home or taking on home renovations.

These are the kinds of actions that are making a positive difference for Canadian families and they are in stark contrast to a new plan released just last week by the Liberal Party. Yes, just last week the leader of the Liberal Party said in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, “We will have to raise taxes”.

This is a very troubling revelation and it should have Canadians worried. The Liberal Party must inform Canadians which taxes it would raise, how much it would raise them by, and who would be forced to pay these higher taxes.

The Liberal Party ought to come clean with Canadians and tell them just how much this new plan is going to cost Canadian families.

Meeting of the CenturyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 2, 2009, I attended the “Meeting of the Century” between two institutions that are legendary in the lives and hearts of Quebeckers: the Montreal Canadiens, who are celebrating their 100th anniversary, and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, MSO, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Under the direction of Kent Nagano, the music took us back in time through the history of our beloved Habs. One particularly emotional moment was when the symphonic version of the Hockey Night in Canada theme rang out in the amphitheatre. Mr. Nagano directed his orchestra with all his customary skill and spirit, and he also indulged us with a version of Ode to Joy accompanied by a choir of more than 1,500 voices.

I would like to pay tribute the Montreal Canadiens who for the past century have captivated us with their success and have kept us company in our homes. These hockey players have served, and continue to serve, to unify all Quebeckers. I would also like to pay tribute to maestro Nagano, who has been directing the MSO since 2006 and who so passionately shares his music with us.

Best regards.

Earthquake in ItalyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise on behalf of my colleagues in Parliament to express our condolences to the people of Italy for the tragic loss of lives and the destruction caused by the earthquake of Monday, April 6 in the Abruzzi region, my place of birth.

The images of this disaster are vivid in our minds. Hundreds of people died, thousands injured, and tens of thousands left homeless. As well, we witnessed the devastation of the historical centre of the medieval city of L'Aquila with its rich cultural treasures and architectural magnificence.

The power of nature keeps humanity humble. When tragedy strikes one of us, it strikes us all.

As Canadians, we will do our part and provide our fullest support to help people rebuild their lives, their communities, and the unique cultural heritage that is shared with us and belongs to us all.

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Italian]

TaxationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too add my condolences to the folks in Italy. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all those folks in Italy.

But there is an earthquake happening in our own country.

I would like to remind Canadians what the Liberal leader said on April 14th, just last week, and I quote, “We will have to raise taxes”. We thank him for honestly revealing the Liberal plan.

While Conservatives work hard for Canadian families, Liberals want to make Canadian families work harder to pay more taxes. Our economic action plan is making Canada a role model for the world in these tough economic times.

The Liberals want to make Canada the most taxed country in the world.

Some questions for him remain: When would he raise their taxes? Which taxes would be raised? How much would they go up? Who would pay?

I invite the Liberal leader to stand and answer.