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House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Customs ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member for Windsor West if he could elaborate on his feelings about the discretion involved with secondary searches.

It seems every time I cross the border, whether I am on my own or with my three children, I always draw the long straw for the secondary search, and I have yet to be able to cross through a metal detector with my shoes on.

Does he feel that these requirements are necessary, and could he elaborate on that?

Customs ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a very serious issue, and I was going to make some comment but I will not. If the member is being pulled over so often, what she might do is try to find out whether something is popping up on her record. It is unusual to have that type of situation.

I do not know whether the member is being cross-referenced with someone else. The member does not look suspicious to me, and I am sure her children do not look suspicious either.

However, the member brings up a very interesting point. It does happen on our Canadian side too. I often talk to different people who are entering the United States. I think it is one of the reasons we should institute a border czar on both sides, to work together on certain things.

It is ironic that we have all this material coming in from the ports that is never screened at all. It gets into our country. Some of its poisonous material, whether it be toys or food. Only 4% is checked.

Meanwhile, at our land border crossings, they pull over a minivan with a couple of parents and kids and send it through twice the security. Therefore, I think it is a valid point.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There is enough time for a brief question.

The hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville has the floor.

Customs ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I already asked this question today but, unfortunately, only a partial answer was given.

When we go to the airport, we should be welcomed with a smile at customs and we should feel that the officers will not abuse their powers.

Can my colleague indicate how we can be assured that this bill will not result in the abuse of power?

Customs ActGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Nothing changes, Mr. Speaker. If an employee of CBSA is acting inappropriately, someone should approach the supervisor. None that changes in this particular bill, because there is nothing at this point that has been proposed for that.

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

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I grew up in beautiful Etobicoke and I have always been proud of my green community ever since my grade three class at Silver Creek Public School produced its first map and then walked our neighbourhood. We had to tell the teacher what we liked best about Etobicoke. I liked the parks, rivers and sports facilities.

All these years later, I still love to bike, run and walk the ravines of the mighty Humber and trace the paths of the first settler, John Rowntree, who brought his family to Canada in the 1830s, with the dream of a new life, a new beginning and of real hope for the future.

Ever since, Etobicoke North has drawn from people from around the world, and in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was an ever expanding community. Schools were being built at a fantastic rate: Kipling, Lakeshore, Martingrove, North Albion, Thistletown, West Humber and Richview, where the Prime Minister went to school.

The Etobicoke Olympium was built in the 1970s and was, at the time, a world-class facility, where our diving team hosted the World Masters Games, the Canadian Olympic trials and our gymnastics club welcomed the Chinese national team, as well as top gymnasts from around the world. There was an excitement, a focus on the future. There was real investment, fostering of the next generation and the building of a strong, well serviced community.

In the ensuing decades, however, Etobicoke North suffered.

Today, numerous high-density apartment complexes mark the landscape and car infrastructure built in the 1960s is in disrepair. Almost 20% of the riding is engaged in manufacturing, the second highest percentage for the entire country. In stark contrast, only 5% is involved in management, the 301st ranking of 308 ridings in Canada. Investment disappeared, as did hope.

Today, Etobicoke North has been identified as one of thirteen at-risk neighbourhoods by the city of Toronto and United Way. The community wrestles with many socio-economic issues related to affordable housing, education, family breakdown, immigration, poverty and unemployment.

Sadly, during the election campaign, two our volunteers lost family members to separate gun crimes within a period of only three days. Each assault causes unspeakable grief to families, creates instability in communities, obstructs the development of business centres and reduces trust in government. The Etobicoke North community needs investment and our children need a real deal.

A visionary principal, Michael Rossetti, from Father Henry Carr wants to build a field of dreams for Etobicoke North. His hope is to build a first-class track and field centre and basketball courts for the school, as well as for the whole community. Etobicoke North needs investment in sports as there is no athletic centre in the district.

The field of dreams project is receiving strong support from Pat Flatley, a former alumnus of the school and New York Islander captain, who has already met with Toronto's mayor, as well as Michael “Pinball” Clemons, CFL legend and Toronto Argonauts CEO. The principal has also received letters of support from Ron Taverner, chief of 23 Division, as well as Bill Blair, chief of the Toronto Police Service.

Investment in communities is more than an economic stimulus, more than jobs and lack of investment hurts families. Our community cannot afford to finance or borrow beyond existing budgets. Will the government help?

6:30 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to address the question raised by the hon. member for Etobicoke North.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind the House of the significant investments this Conservative government has made in infrastructure nationwide. Our government is delivering an economic action plan that will stimulate economic growth, create jobs and support Canadian families and Canadian jobs across the country.

This includes a $4 billion infrastructure stimulus fund to help provinces, territories and municipalities get projects started as soon as possible; $2 billion to accelerate construction at colleges and universities; $1 billion to create a new green infrastructure fund for new green infrastructure across this country; and $500 million to support construction of new community recreational facilities and upgrades to existing facilities that are in disrepair.

This Conservative government is the real deal. We have also flowed more than $307 million to provinces and territories under the provincial territorial base initiative. That is money more quickly given to them so they can spend it on their priorities.

Our government has taken some serious action in order to get shovels in the ground and projects under way as soon as possible to keep Canadians employed and get more Canadians employed.

Over the last few months, we have approved more than 500 projects in small communities across the country worth over $1.5 billion in combined funding. These projects will directly stimulate local economies nationwide.

We have also announced 21 major projects with a total federal contribution of $980 million, almost $1 billion, including the Evergreen transit line in Vancouver, the Edmonton southwest ring road, the GO Transit in Ontario and expansion of a drinking water facility in Lévis, Quebec.

We are getting the job done for Canadians. Since the start of the fiscal year, we have flowed $1 billion in gas tax money to towns and cities three months early so that they could put federal money to work right away creating those Canadian jobs and making more Canadian jobs. We will flow another $1 billion to municipalities later this year, doubling what they received in previous years.

That is just the start of the good news. In the member's own home province of Ontario, we asked municipalities to tell us what projects they could get going on with help from our infrastructure stimulus fund. The deadline for application just closed at the end of the day Friday.

Indeed, and despite the accusations of some of the parties opposite regarding municipalities not being ready to begin these projects, we have received 2,746 project proposals from over 425 municipalities province-wide, totalling approximately $6.1 billion. These are eligible costs and a requested federal contribution of $2.1 billion.

Our government is committed to working with our partners in the provinces, territories and municipalities in order to get projects moving and shovels in the ground as soon as possible. We are working with other levels of government to leverage two-thirds of the money to create more jobs and realize more projects.

We are getting the job done by expanding and accelerating our infrastructure investments and by cutting red tape that has been there for years. By working with other levels of government, as we are, we are ensuring Canada emerges from this global recession sooner than other countries and stronger than ever before with more jobs, more Canadian jobs.

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish we did not need to go to corporations to help our schools. Our students see the opportunities that other communities have and want do know why not them. They are at risk of joining gangs because they suffer from the greatest inequality and they are also in danger of using drugs and becoming involved in serious crime.

One Canadian study showed that of 900 male school dropouts and young offenders, 15% reported having brought a gun to school. What makes change happen? Money.

Investment in North Etobicoke would mean more students staying in school, fewer youth looking to belong in gangs and more men and women eager to improve their lives if only they were given a chance. This is development. It is not something abstract. It is real change in the lives of real people.

What would the government invest if it could change a school with many students, with numerous family members, if it could change a community?

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government has moved forward. We have moved forward with a tough on crime agenda, and that is what I heard from the member. I wonder why that member has not supported us in our tough on crime legislation. Why does the Liberal leader continue to suggest raising taxes but does not want to do anything in regard to getting tough on crime?

The agenda of the Conservative Party is to create Canadian jobs, create a better quality of life for Canadians and to get tough on crime by ensuring our communities are safe. We want Canadians to have a better quality of life than anywhere else in the world. We are getting the job done and I wish the member would get on board and help us with it.

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to follow up a question that I asked back before Christmas. The occasion was the third anniversary of the cancelling of the child care agreements, which had been signed by the member for York Centre and the provinces and territories around the country. Because the three year funding had been phased out, the city of Toronto announced that 6,000 spaces would be gone as a result of that cancellation.

The point is that Canada is failing on child care. It is failing its citizenry and it is particularly failing its children. In a report released in December, Canada ranked last out of 25 OECD nations on 10 key benchmarks. Those benchmarks were further to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Canada is failing on the benchmarks of early learning and child care.

In 2004-05 we had a brief hope when the Liberal government, under Paul Martin, brought in these chid care agreements and the member for York Centre signed them. That was dashed when the Conservative government came forward in 2006. It cancelled those agreements and replaced them with the universal child care benefit of $100 a month. Everybody can use $100 a month. There is no question about that.

However, I want to refer to a book that I picked up last week called Beyond Child's Play, when I met with some child care advocates in Vancouver on Friday.

Speaking to the universal child care benefit, in a wonderful article by Jody Dallaire and Lynell Anderson, they said:

While families need adequate incomes, they also need services to be available and affordable in their communities. The UCCB does not build or sustain child care services.

That is very true. Nobody would argue that many families need $100 a month, but it is a fallacy and a fraud to suggest that this is child care. It is not. We need a system in our country. Maybe some people would say that it is too expensive to have a system in Canada. I would like to quote from the same article again. It says:

Some say that, in uncertain times, Canada cannot afford to invest in child care. We say, nothing could be further from the truth. Child care services are an essential part of every community's economic and social infrastructure—an economic stimulus with long-term benefits for Canada.

There is no question among people who know what is happening in child care in our country that we need to have a system. We need to build a system. There are countries in the OECD that have a system. In Canada people like Monica Lysack, Jody Dallaire, Martha Friendly and many others understand this and are trying to get this message across.

What kind of an outcry would there be in any community if an eight-year-old boy or girl was refused entry into elementary school? It would be on the front page of the local paper. However, every day in every community in Canada, children cannot get early learning and child care. Why does Canada have very high rates of illiteracy for a country as wealthy as it is? We are not maximizing the human potential of all children. We need to do that.

I would like to close with another quotation from an article by Martha Friendly. She said:

While many would say that a recession is not the time to be putting forward demands for a new social program, others would follow Barack Obama's lead to argue that the choice between “getting our economy moving now and rebuilding it over the long term” is a false choice—that leaders need to be able to walk and chew gum by ensuring that the demonstrated potential for early childhood education and care to contribute to a prosperous Canada is realized.

The government does not realize it, but the time will come when a more enlightened government comes into this place and makes early learning and child care a reality for Canadian families.

6:40 p.m.

Souris—Moose Mountain Saskatchewan

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, that member was part of the previous Liberal government that made many promises with respect to the national child care program. In 13 years, how many spaces did it create? It created none. The Liberals are long on promises but short on action.

Our government has made promises and has delivered. Support for families with children is one of our most important goals. Our government is committed to helping parents by providing them with real choices in deciding what is best for their children. Our government's approach is not very popular with the opposition but it is very popular with Canadian parents.

We provide choice and direct support to parents through the universal child care benefit. This provides $100 per month to parents for each child under six. That is $1,200 per child and that money helps families. When I stop by small coffee shops and ask the moms how many children they have under six, I find that in that little group of people in the coffee shop in that little community they receive $9,000-plus.

The universal child care benefit has lifted about 24,000 families with about 55,000 children out of low income and it provides more than $2.4 billion each year to 1.5 million families with 2 million young children. That is a significant number of people who are affected.

Due to the support of this government, the provinces and territories have announced the creation of over 60,000 new child care spaces since March 2007.

Last year, this government invested $5.6 billion in early learning and child care. That was the single largest investment in child care in the history of Canada, three times more than the previous Liberal government ever invested, and that support is going up. For the next fiscal year, all provinces and territories will receive an increase of 3% in funding under the Canada social transfer. However, we will not do what the hon. member's party did, which was to balance its books on the backs of vulnerable Canadians by cutting $25 billion in social transfers.

In budget 2009, our economic action plan provides tax relief for low to middle income Canadians. The plan increases child benefits for modest and middle income Canadian families under the national child benefit supplement and the Canada child tax benefit, something most parties agree is of significant help.

The budget also announced the creation of an expert panel to review EI maternity and parental benefits for self-employed Canadians to help those Canadians at the beginning of their children's lives.

The fact is that the Liberals promised a national child care program every year since 1993 and did not create a single space, no spaces at all during that period of time. This is not a credible record and all Canadians recognize that.

This government believes that parents know best how to raise their children. We support choice in child care. We support Canadian parents and we will continue to work to ensure that the broadest range of choices are available to all Canadian families.

In fact, our government was chosen in two elections in a row. Canadians chose this government's plan because it puts the needs of families ahead of special interest groups and additional layers of government bureaucracy. We delivered what Canadian parents wanted: choice. It is no surprise that this government's plan is extraordinarily popular with Canadian families, even though it may not be with the opposition parties.

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I hear my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, talk about a system that we think should be built in Canada. His party talks about it being institutionalized and talks about this child care system the way that many in his party talked about medicare 40 years ago. They said that it was a terrible thing, that it would never work and that it would cost money.

We have the lowest child care access rates in the industrialized world. If that is something to be proud of, then we have done something wrong.

Does the parliamentary secretary still believe that we cannot afford to invest in early learning and child care? I do not think that we can afford not to invest in early learning and child care.

Thank heavens we have the Monica Lysacks, the Jody Dallaires, the Martha Friendlys, the Susan Wolstenholmes in Halifax and others who understand this, such as Janet Austin who hosted the meeting for us in Vancouver. They get something that the government does not. We should be investing in our children. We should not be making excuses.

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member has not heard me. We are investing record amounts of dollars in early learning and child care, something the previous government promised to do on occasion but never did.

Can members imagine cutting $25 billion from the Canada social transfer to the provinces, downloading the responsibility to the provinces and proposing a national child care program to create spaces? Over 13 years there were no spaces created.

The member should apologize every time he gets up on behalf of his government for making promises and not carrying out one logical thing that would create a space and help Canadians families.

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:49 p.m.)