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House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was young.

Topics

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, it is very difficult for Canadians to imagine. We have seen accidents in other parts of the world and so far we have been spared those horrific events.

We know there are leaks and we know there have been leaks at AECL into the Ottawa River. We know there have been leaks at the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant into many centres that take their drinking water from Lake Huron. However, we have not seen the kind of devastation that was suffered at Three Mile Island or Chernobyl.

In terms of Chernobyl, generations have been affected by the fallout from that accident. The people who provided emergency assistance when Chernobyl exploded are long dead and gone. Their lives were shortened. They were afflicted with miserable radiation sickness and, even worse, cancers and death as a result of the fallout.

I cannot imagine what could possibly happen in densely populated areas like Toronto, Oshawa, Whitby or Pickering if we experienced a nuclear accident. If Darlington were to fail in some catastrophic way, we simply would not have the facilities to manage. Hundreds of thousands of people would need immediate help and our hospitals would be overwhelmed. The reality is that our systems are overburdened because federal and provincial governments have not seen fit to keep up with the needs of the medical community and hospitals. Hospitals and emergency services would be overwhelmed. Homes would be lost.

We know that in other kinds of disasters, such as floods, fires and hurricanes, the loss of homes is catastrophic to the people who live in those communities. Imagine hundreds of square miles where homes become uninhabitable, schools can no longer be utilized and there simply are not the kinds of services to support a huge population. While it may seem extreme, this is what we need to be prepared for.

Nobody who lived in Chernobyl believed that the nuclear plant would blow sky high until that catastrophic event, which left a community bereft, created illness and destroyed the future of not just the first generation but the second, third and fourth generations. We have no idea how many generations will suffer as a result of that accident.

We need to be prepared and $650 million does not do it and $10 billion does not do it. It is something we need to be cognizant of. We cannot allow taxpayers, the people of this nation, to be put on the hook to allow private sector nuclear facilities to pop up in order for the nuclear industry to prosper exponentially in terms of profits. We need to stand firm.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and join my NDP colleagues in speaking against Bill C-20, the nuclear liability and compensation act. In fact, we are the only party in this House that refuses to give the government a blank cheque on this inadequate reform to the limits of nuclear liability.

Simply put, I oppose this bill because it does not keep pace with the rest of the world's measures to provide safe use of nuclear energy. Nonetheless, there is no doubt about the need for modernizing the act. The liability limits were initially set in the early 1970s by the Liberals, but the limits were inadequate even then and certainly by today's standards are even worse.

To its credit, this bill does propose to increase the maximum liability for operators of nuclear installations for damage resulting from a nuclear accident from $75 million to $650 million per nuclear installation, but this limit remains shamefully low when we consider the consequences of a nuclear accident.

This bill seems designed to protect corporations rather than citizens. The total liability is way too low and will not be able to cover a medium-sized accident, never mind a catastrophic one. It has been estimated that a nuclear accident would cause billions of dollars in damage in personal injuries, death and contamination of the surrounding areas. According to the director of environmental governance for the Pembina Institute, a major accident at the Darlington, Ontario nuclear plant east of Toronto, and very near to my own riding of Hamilton Mountain, could cause damages in the range of an estimated $1 trillion.

Six hundred and fifty million dollars does not even come close to being adequate and taxpayers will be on the hook for the difference. Does the government and its friends in the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois really believe that $650 million would be sufficient to clean up and rebuild after such a disaster? Apparently so.

The U.S., on the other hand, has a cap of $10 billion. Germany, which has experienced the fallout of the Chernobyl meltdown, has an unlimited amount. Many other countries are also moving in that direction toward an unlimited amount of liability. Does the government really believe that Canadian lives, properties and communities are worth less than those of our U.S. and European counterparts? Again, judging by this legislation, one would think so.

Even relatively minor nuclear accidents can have huge costs. In the 1960s, a minor issue in a reactor in Michigan cost an estimated $132 million and that was over 40 years ago, but the government, propped up again by its partners in the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois, believes this bill goes far enough.

One of my big concerns is that this bill really is not about protecting Canadians but is all about the Conservative government laying the groundwork to sell Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. Privatization should never be acceptable and particularly not during tough economic times when the value is at its lowest and the Conservatives are contemplating a fire sale.

Perhaps more than anything else, this bill and the debate around it highlight the outrageous costs and potentially devastating risks of nuclear energy, particularly when we compare it to greener, more sustainable alternatives.

For example, the Three Mile Island incident outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1979, which my colleagues have already talked about, was a relatively minor nuclear accident, but it cost an estimated $975 million for the cleanup and investigation. To put the absolute enormity of these costs into context, for the cost of cleaning up Three Mile Island, 1,147,058 100-watt solar panels could have been bought and assembled.

The total subsidies for Canada's state-owned nuclear company, AECL, from 1952 to 2000, were approximately $16 billion. This is money that could be spent investigating safer methods of energy. But the enormous costs do not just apply when things go bad. The planned construction costs for the third Fermi plant in Michigan will cost an estimated $10 billion U.S. and take approximately six years to complete. The price of wind power, on the other hand, is dropping fast and can even be had for as low as 16¢ per kilowatt hour right now. Imagine the cost savings to taxpayers and the lower electricity bills for seniors and hard-working families if we could shift to cheaper, safer and more sustainable power. On top of the financial expenses, nuclear energy in general is extremely unsafe, both to the environment and to human life.

There can be no doubt that Canada needs a greener approach in terms of power. Statistics show that Canada ranked 11th in 2008 in a poll measuring wind power capacity. If Canada expects to be seen as a leader in the world, we need to compete in the field of clean renewable energy.

This pressing need is why we in the NDP launched a task force on the economic recovery which I have been proud to co-chair with my colleague, the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, who has done incredible work on environmental issues over the years.

As we confront the current economic crisis, we must be looking toward the future. We must ensure that the economy of the 21st century is green, sustainable and affordable for ordinary Canadians.

In my hometown of Hamilton, community organizations, environmentalists and ordinary citizens are coming together to imagine and realize that kind of green future. Green Venture, for example, has been doing home energy evaluation since 1997.

Environment Hamilton recently received a Trillium Foundation grant in support of its work on a green economic recovery for Hamilton. Environment Hamilton understands that fighting climate change and creating green jobs go hand in hand. I want to congratulate Lynda Lukasik, who is the executive director of Environment Hamilton, her staff and the board at Environment Hamilton for securing this important multi-year grant for advancing the future of our city.

Environment Hamilton has also launched an innovative project aimed at helping Hamilton area faith groups to conserve energy both at home and in their places of worship.

I recognize that nuclear energy provides jobs for a large number of Canadians and has been a part of our economy since 1949. The industry cannot and will not disappear overnight, but the real issue is that Bill C-20 just does not do enough to bring safety to a naturally unsafe and volatile substance. The compensation process would remain cumbersome and force victims of nuclear accidents to go through the courts. We know how costly and inaccessible the courts are as a remedy for this kind of situation.

Furthermore, the bill does not cover any accidents outside of the plant setting. Oil and mining companies and medical facilities use radioactive materials that can be dangerous, but they are not liable for any accidents related to their use or disposal.

It is as clear as it is unfortunate that only the NDP is serious about protecting the interests of ordinary Canadians while the other parties take a rather cavalier attitude to nuclear safety.

I can only hope that this debate will give the government, members of the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois pause. We need to protect families and communities from the devastating potential of nuclear disasters and this bill simply does not do that.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on her speech, especially the part where she said we need to develop other forms of energy. The Bloc agrees completely.

She said several times that we would agree with the limit of $650 million and that we feel that it is enough. It seems to me that I was clear earlier, and I was speaking on behalf of the Bloc. We feel that this is not enough, but that it is better than $75 million. We need to vote in favour of the bill, because if we do not, then the $75 million limit will remain. We cannot change this amount in committee.

The member mentioned that Japan has unlimited liability. What does it mean when a company owns a nuclear facility and has unlimited liability? It means that if the damages run too high, the company will close up shop and go away. That is what it means. The government will be forced to pay. We have to be realistic. We are dealing with companies. The same is true of Germany. Companies can declare bankruptcy and stop paying. Governments are forced to pay.

So yes, we feel that it is not enough, but on the other hand, it is not necessarily true that other countries have found the ideal solution. In the United States, the limit, which is between $9 billion and $11 billion—it is not $10 billion, it varies—would not be enough in the event of an incident such as the member described earlier. She said that it would cost $3 trillion if there were a complication in Hamilton. How could an insurance company insure for that much money? That is my question.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, I do welcome the question. I think the member and I fundamentally agree that this bill, as it stands, and its predecessor with the lower limit of $75 million in liability, are wholly inadequate.

The member raised the question about what happens if there is a catastrophic nuclear accident where the costs are in the billions and trillions of dollars. He is quite right in pointing out that we ought to be concerned about the fact that companies will close up shop and Canadian taxpayers will be left with the bill for the cleanup. I think he is absolutely right about that.

That is one of the really disappointing parts of this bill. The government is proposing a solution that in fact only tinkers. It does not provide a comprehensive solution to the question of nuclear liability and, more important, the protection of Canadian citizens as we are contemplating nuclear accidents, be they minor or catastrophic.

That is the part of this debate we have essentially skimmed over by focusing on whether $75 million is enough or $650 million is enough.

We know from the recent debate about events at Chalk River, where we are now experiencing an urgent crisis with respect to the supply of medical isotopes that yes, in fact our nuclear facilities are in relative states of disrepair. We need to invest, we need to regulate and we need to ensure nuclear safety.

One of the things that is really troubling to me is that the nuclear safety inspector whom the government fired last year has now been replaced by a political appointee. That is a position that should not be political. We need an independent person in that position. We are not talking about any of those issues though; we are simply talking about whether the amount should be $75 million or $650 million.

Canadians deserve better. They deserve a more complete answer. For that reason, I do not think it is good enough to pick a number out of a hat, such as $650 million, which we know from international experience is not adequate, and say, “Good job. Our job here is done with respect to nuclear liability and compensation”.

Canadians deserve better. This House deserves better. We must give this issue much fuller attention.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Madam Speaker, I just wanted to address what I thought was unnecessary fearmongering on the part of the hon. member and some of her colleagues.

In not being happy with the $650 million number, is there another number she might wish to posit that might be suitable for a disaster of the type she conjures up?

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Madam Speaker, I take some issue with the member suggesting that I am fearmongering.

I have a list of 81 nuclear accidents that are all documented. That is not fearmongering; that is trying to deal with the reality and trying to protect Canadians should such an eventuality happen here. Frankly, I think that is our responsibility.

With respect to the member's question about what is the appropriate amount, frankly the Conservative government has opted to go for the bare minimum. We should be aspiring to go with the best international standards, and those right now in Japan and in Europe are unlimited liability.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the member for Hamilton Mountain made an excellent presentation and dealt with many of the concerns. The comments of the previous member who suggested she was fearmongering were really misplaced.

We were told years ago that asbestos was safe, and workers worked their whole lives in asbestos mining and installation. Then we found out it was not so safe after all. We have spent untold amounts of money taking asbestos out of government buildings and paying the long-term liability costs of dealing with asbestos. We were told years ago that DDT was safe, and I recall as a child using it in our garden. Then all of a sudden it was discovered that was not safe. We have found out now that trans fats are unsafe.

The Russians, and I am assuming the Americans as well, have been storing nuclear waste in barrels and dumping them in the oceans. How safe is that going to be? How many years will it take before those barrels start to leak and cause untold damage?

Clearly, we have a very short-term view of things. The economics may dictate that we use these products in the short term, but we do not seem to look into the long term to see what the costs are going to be to do these cleanups.

The member mentioned that we have a list of 81 nuclear accidents. Why would we be proceeding to promote nuclear energy development when we know all of this?

We also know that it takes forever to get an approval. Any time an approval is requested in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta in the next couple of years, people from all political stripes, NDP, Liberal, Conservatives, will be standing up and saying “not in my backyard, you will not build--

Nuclear Liability and Compensation ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

At this point I must interrupt the hon. member. He will have approximately 17 minutes to complete his comments when the bill reappears on the order paper.

The House resumed from May 13 consideration of the motion.

Guaranteed Income SupplementPrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on Motion No. 300 under private members' business.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #69

Guaranteed Income SupplementPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from May 15 consideration of the motion that Bill C-288, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit for new graduates working in designated regions), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division of the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-288 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #70

Income Tax ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from May 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Supreme Court Act (understanding the official languages), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Supreme Court ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-232 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #71

Supreme Court ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Supreme Court ActPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 6:16 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from February 25 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Youth Voluntary ServicePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to finish my remarks in support of Motion No. 299 put forward by the member for Papineau.

When we left off on February 25, I know I have been called long winded but I have never given a three month speech before. However, I am very pleased to continue the discussion on this important motion.

Since I spoke on this the first time, it has been illuminating for me. The member for Papineau came to my constituency to visit Auburn Drive High School and was able to engage with the young people in my constituency about the importance of youth service and about his motion. I can tell the House that there is a great deal of excitement about that. I want to thank Mike MacKenzie and the other teachers at Auburn Drive High School who arranged that visit. We had originally planned to speak in front of one class. Then they called and asked if it could be two classes and then they asked if it could be three classes. We ended up speaking to about 220 students.

The member for Papineau is an excellent leader, particularly when it comes to young people. He has an issue here that has been very important to him and I think it really strikes a chord with young Canadians. I think this galvanizes young Canadians. I think young Canadians are particularly interested in youth service. They are looking for some options and some ways to be involved in the community and there are a host of benefits that come, both for the young Canadians who might do it but also for the community.

A poll done less than a year ago by EKOS indicated that 80% of Canadians favoured some kind of a national youth service strategy for Canada. Jean-Guy Bigeau, the executive director at that time for Katimavik, said:

A strong national youth service policy would produce visible evidence of our commitment to ensure that this vital segment of our population is included into the socio-economic life of our society.

That is very important. We have great potential. Other countries are doing this kind of thing. We know the gap year in the U.K and countries like Australia and other European countries are doing this. It is very important for Canada to engage in this.

Why now? It would increase dramatically the level of engagement of young Canadians into the political, social and the many dynamics of our society. People say that young people are disengaged but that has not been my experience in my community. They are engaged. They need a reason to be involved in things like politics but there are things they need to do first, which is to get involved in their community, and it also gives them a chance to have a look at Canada.

We have such a big country that most Canadians, by the time they get through high school, have not had a chance to see Canada. We should encourage them to experience the linguistic, cultural and geographic diversity of the country.

I have not had a chance to talk much with the member for Papineau about this but I think there is a huge potential for a group of young Canadians whose potential we are not harnessing and that is young people with disabilities.

I, and I am sure other members, see young Canadians with disabilities in our constituencies who actually go to high school with their colleagues and are very much accepted and embraced by the high school students and feel very much a part of everything that happens in high school. They are involved in the social side of high school and then they graduate. They all celebrate together and then all of their friends go off to university, community college or to a job and many young Canadians with disabilities are left with nothing.

I think there is a huge potential, through the member's initiative, if we can study it at committee and have a look at what other countries are doing. We need to look at what works and what does not work. We need to talk to young Canadians, NGOs and communities who would welcome the opportunity to have young people involved in building the infrastructure of their community and increasing their cultural awareness of what they do.

This is a very positive step and its time has come in Canada. I want to applaud the member for Papineau. This is not a new initiative for him. He has worked on this for much of his relatively young life. He has brought this passion with him to Parliament. It is an entirely worthy project and I hope all members of the House will support it.

Youth Voluntary ServicePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Papineau has brought an interesting issue to public attention.

As my hon. colleague is well aware, community service and engagement increases our skills and knowledge, whether it is learning to build houses with Habitat for Humanity or raising funds for a local charity. It builds social networks by introducing us to new people and strengthening our ties to our communities, while at the same time it strengthens our communities.

Our government firmly believes that the well-being of our society is a responsibility that everyone shares. We recognize and respect the efforts of volunteers across our country who give so generously of their time and talents to enhance the quality of life of Canadians of all ages.

According to the Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, volunteer rates are highest among youth, and the average number of hours volunteered is highest among seniors.

Our society is aging and the high number of volunteer hours provided by our country's seniors must gradually be taken up by the younger generations. It is obvious that as a society we need to harness the energy of our young people, as evidenced by their high volunteer rate, by encouraging them to volunteer more of their time.

As members are aware, our government supports many youth programs that encourage our young people to use their talents in their communities, but of course the government is not the most important vehicle for volunteerism. For example, the Canada summer jobs program provides many young people with summer work experiences in the not-for-profit and community organizations.

The latest Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating tells us that nearly 12 million Canadians, or more than a third of the country's population, volunteer their time to charitable and not-for-profit organizations. Their contributions add up to almost two billion hours, or the equivalent of one million full-time jobs in a year.

These volunteers are helping their fellow Canadians in just about every facet of life, from teaching valuable and essential skills, including literacy and computer use, to coaching sports for children and youth. Volunteers are supporting the arts and culture in our communities. They are engaged in projects to protect our environment and helping those less fortunate than themselves, and the list goes on and on.

I want to emphasize that these millions of volunteers are from every age group in our society.

There are some very interesting numbers available to us. Thanks to our economic action plan, this program will receive additional two year targeted funding of $10 million per year to enable more employers to hire more summer students. Our plan also announced a one-time grant of $15 million to the YMCA and the YWCA to place youth internships in not-for-profit organizations, with a focus on environmental projects.

These measures will help young Canadians by providing them with both valuable work experience and earnings.

We know that in a tough economy it can be harder for many young people to find work opportunities. To improve these prospects, our government is also investing $20 million over two years into targeted programs to strengthen the student employment program in the federal public service.

We are not only helping students and youth find opportunities during the summer, this government supports youth participation all year round. Across the country, countless opportunities are being offered to help young people gain valuable skills while helping their communities.

For example, the youth employment program offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is preparing the next generation of workers in the fields of agriculture, agri-food and veterinary medicine.

Parks Canada's Young Canada Works provides high school and post-secondary students with summer jobs in Canada's national parks and historic sites.

Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's career focus program is designed to help post-secondary graduates prosper in the knowledge-based economy. It provides career-related work experience with Canadian employers. The goal is to help young people acquire hard job skills and become better leaders in their fields.

Under Industry Canada's community access program, young people are helping community organizations and small businesses get on the information highway. At the same time, young people are acquiring the computer skills needed to compete in the knowledge-based economy.

The housing internship initiative for first nations and Inuit youth provides on the job training for first nations and Inuit youth, paving the way to rewarding careers in the housing industry. This program is offered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Other federal departments also offer programs for youth services, including the junior rangers and the valuable and rewarding cadets programs of the Department of National Defence, programs that often inspire young Canadians to serve our country in the armed forces.

Our government has also recognized the need to support volunteerism by young people by changing the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award to include a youth category.

It is clear we are doing our part to promote the spirit of community service and engagement among Canada's youth. Our government is already taking action to engage young Canadians in their country and their communities.

As all members know from experience, there is no shortage of good causes in need of good people to help out within our communities. In fact, the diversity of youth service options supported by our government is a strength in itself, which encourages young Canadians to serve their communities in many different ways, according to their tastes and skills.

There is no question of the value or of the necessity of volunteering to our country. Nor is there any doubt about the need to bring new blood into the ranks of Canada's volunteers. That is why our government is investing in a number of youth programs, to encourage the participation of young Canadians in their communities.

Our government recognizes the value of volunteering and serving in the community. It is an important reality that this government takes to heart. Canada has always enjoyed a strong volunteer spirit. Volunteers are on the front lines of many of our community services, helping the sick and the elderly, helping the fight against crime and violence, celebrating our culture, coaching minor sports, building new economic opportunities in our neighbourhoods and the list is endless.

Simply put, volunteers are Canada's great unsung heroes. Every day volunteers are working quietly behind the scenes to make our lives better.

For example, in my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook, I think of Christine Kerr from Fonthill, who has been involved with a number of volunteer organizations helping to raise money and doing many things. In 2005 she was honoured with a Governor General's Award of Caring Canadians, which goes a long way. I also think of Kees Van Leeuwen in Grimsby, who passed away last Sunday. He was very involved in the community, not only through volunteering his time but his money as well. I know he will be greatly missed.

These constituents of mine are making a real difference in our communities and I want to thank and commend them for all their efforts.

I also want to recognize the selfless efforts made by countless other Canadians whose voluntary and charitable actions and contributions have assisted untold numbers of their fellow Canadians.

Youth Voluntary ServicePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to discuss Motion No. 299, tabled in this House by the member for Papineau.

This motion calls for the introduction of a national voluntary service policy for young people. I must explain that in my speech I will use the French term “service bénévole” instead of “service volontaire,” which I think is a better translation of the text that was likely created here in this House.

The main reason I am speaking today is that I am worried that this motion clearly infringes on the jurisdictions of Quebec, and, more specifically, of Quebec's department of education, leisure and sport.

Before going into more detail on my position, and, of course, my party's position, I would like to take a few minutes to show not only that this motion infringes on the jurisdictions of Quebec, but also that the means proposed to implement this national voluntary service policy for young people are not new or innovative, do not make it possible to achieve most of the objectives one would expect of such a policy, and would duplicate other means that already exist in Quebec schools, among other things.

Motion No. 299 states:

That the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities be instructed to consider the introduction in Canada of a national voluntary service policy for young people by analyzing existing programs...

It makes complete sense to me to conduct analyses before introducing this kind of government policy, but we are talking about programs that already exist. The member for Papineau says himself, in his motion, that these programs already exist. There is the evidence of the duplication. If he had done some research before tabling his motion in the House, he would have seen that across Canada, and especially in Quebec, there are policies, means and programs that directly meet the objectives of the policy he is trying to introduce with Motion No. 299.

The motion goes on to say:

...and using the work done by the Voluntary Sector Initiative in 2003...

We must understand while the Voluntary Sector Initiative, or VSI, was doing its work, Quebec was already in the process of negotiating with organizations to develop a policy of recognition and support for the community sector. This policy of recognition had the exact same objectives as the VSI.

Many stakeholders were not able to participate in the VSI because they were in talks with the Government of Quebec. Naturally, the Government of Quebec was not even invited to participate in the development of the policy, most likely because it was already in talks with organizations. The mover would like to base the motion on some document or study, but neither the Government of Quebec nor primary stakeholders from the province were involved. At any rate, there can be no doubt about the result: VSI policies were founded on an English-Canadian model because most of the work was done in English and Quebec was left out of the initiative.

I have a hard time understanding why the member for Papineau thinks that the House will pass this motion, which is based largely on work from more than six years ago that excluded Quebec and used an English-Canadian model. What is even more astonishing is the fact that a Quebec member is moving the motion.

I have to hold back and wrap up my comments on the measures proposed in Motion No. 299. I do not have much time left and would like to talk about other aspects of the motion.

Perhaps I should close with the end of the motion:

...by holding public hearings; and by presenting a report to the House no later than October 2009 that would contain among other things a review of similar policies in the rest of the world and a summary of the evidence heard.

I am taken aback by the administrative burden Motion No. 299 calls for, with all of the work to be done by October 2009. I will have to end my discussion of the measures here, but there are other reasons I oppose this motion.

I have been clear about how this policy would encroach on Quebec's jurisdiction. The policy proposed in Motion No. 299 is based in part on the Katimavik program for youth aged 17 to 21, which provides opportunities to learn skills while performing volunteer work. Katimavik's goal, and the goal of Motion No. 299 with respect to a national voluntary service policy for young people, is to demonstrate Canada's commitment to national voluntary service for young people and the importance of integrating young people into the social and economic fabric of our society.

The principle of integrating young people into society and helping not-for-profit organizations is very commendable, and I agree completely with it. But that is exactly what the Government of Quebec did in 2006 when it created the youth action strategy. After consulting more than 1,200 young people, 70 national groups and the anglophone, cultural and aboriginal communities, Quebec put in place its own youth action strategy. Even though it is still imperfect, this strategy, which was developed just three years ago, is bound to improve with time.

Quebec's youth action strategy has a number of objectives, including fostering young people's entry into the workforce and enhancing their participation in society, in their community and in the world at large.

The wheel was invented around 3500 B.C.E. in Sumer, in lower Mesopotamia. We do not need to reinvent the wheel today. Quebec already has a youth policy with almost the same objectives as Motion No. 299. Not only does this motion interfere in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, but it also amounts to needless duplication of effort, because Quebec already has its own youth policy.

What is even worse, the proposed policy also represents an intrusion into education. The Katimavik program provides participants with continuous learning in five areas: leadership, official languages, environmental stewardship, cultural discovery and healthy lifestyle. The new education program introduced by the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sport has objectives that are exactly the same as Katimavik's. I will quote some of them. Page 24 of Quebec's new education program states:

Each discipline can play a part and provide an opportunity to cultivate in the student the qualities essential to realizing his or her potential: creativity, self-confidence, initiative, leadership...

This is almost exactly what Motion No. 299 says.

In conclusion, this motion is a flagrant intrusion into the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces. In addition, it amounts to needless duplication of effort. I am therefore opposed to this motion.