House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jurisdiction.


Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


James Rajotte Conservative Edmonton—Leduc, AB

Mr. Speaker, I really do not understand the logic of the member for Markham—Unionville. He is changing a position that he took as recently as January 28 in the House of Commons. He is changing a position that the member for Wascana, the former finance minister for that party, took when he was in government. He said:

I don't believe that the passport system is an adequate response. It still leaves us with a system that is largely fragmented and certainly less sophisticated than that in virtually every other country in the world...I don't think we can wait forever on this kind of topic because healthy, strong, vibrant capital markets are critical to a successful economy.

Why has the Liberal Party changed its position on the need for a national securities regulator? Why are the Liberals abstaining on this vote in the House of Commons?

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if I need to explain the point a fourth time. People in the House may get a little bored with repetition.

I said that my own inclination, as an economist, would be to support a single regulator. I think the quote by the member for Wascana would suggest something similar.

However, today we are not really talking about the economic pros and cons so much as the jurisdictional issue that is raised by the Bloc motion. On the question of jurisdiction, as I said before, some months ago the Liberal Party stated that a future Liberal government, given that legal uncertainty, would refer the matter to the Supreme Court. We are merely adhering to the position we took some months ago.

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Keith Martin Liberal Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague, a former chief economist of the Royal Bank, has really been a voice of reason in the House on matters relating to the economy.

Aside from this issue, the government has not frankly shown any leadership on this issue. Nor has it shown any interest in developing the international standards that are required to prevent and inoculate the nations of the world, including our own, against the types of economic contagion that has blown up economies around the globe.

What does my colleague think the government should do in broad strokes, in terms of an international level, to try to prevent these kinds of catastrophes from occurring again and damaging the savings of so many Canadians?

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is a very good and broad one, one to which I cannot possibly do justice, except to make a couple of very brief comments.

One thing that has helped to protect Canadians, at least in relative terms, is the stability of our banking system. I will do something that might be described as a mea culpa. The hon. member mentioned I used to be chief economist of the Royal Bank, at which time, a decade ago, we were pushing for a merger. In hindsight, given the chaos around the world today, the government of Jean Chrétien took the right decision in saying no to this merger, ensuring a higher degree of regulation of the Canadian banking system than was the case in the United States and the United Kingdom.

I would not give the current government credit for that stability. It was operating over a longer period of time and also related to the decision by the Liberal government on bank mergers. I believe that was one decision and set of regulations that stood this country in a good position relative to other countries.

I would also commend the work done by the IMF. I think there was a committee chaired jointly by a Canadian and a person from India, which has come forward with various ideas for how there can be a greater degree of international surveillance, co-operation and regulation to help prevent the kinds of economic meltdowns we have seen in recent months.

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again on this important issue. I say speak again, because we have dealt a number of times in this House with the issue of provincial jurisdiction over securities regulation.

I listened carefully as my Liberal colleague tried to explain why the Liberals were going to hide once again instead of defending the provinces' rights. In addition to voting against Quebeckers' rights with regard to language of work, thereby stripping any real meaning from the recognition by this House of the Quebec nation, the Liberals are systematically taking positions that will help the government score a victory over the provinces, hurting not just Quebec, which is not the only province involved, but all the provinces.

The proof of what I just said is the fact that two NDP governments have been elected in Canada. As hon. members are aware, the New Democratic Party just won a resounding victory in Nova Scotia, with a huge majority. We also have a majority government in Manitoba. These two NDP governments are clearly opposed to any desire by the federal government to impose its will in an area they rightly perceive as coming under provincial jurisdiction.

We have only to consider the division of powers that has existed in Canada for more than 140 years to understand how ill-advised the Conservatives are to stubbornly try to encroach on the provinces' jurisdictions. The federal government already has all the jurisdiction it needs with respect to criminal law. In the case of fraud, embezzlement and the like, the federal government already has all the powers it needs. Moreover, it can impose standards on anything that has to do with transfers between the provinces.

Since the Confederation pact of 1867, the provinces have always had jurisdiction over property rights and civil law, with Quebec being the only province with the French civil law system, as the other nine provinces use common law, modelled on the English system. The provinces have always had jurisdiction over how contracts between individuals are managed. But because we live in a world where we need to understand better how the different jurisdictions across the country are connected, as cross-border transactions take place instantly with modern means of communication, the provinces have set up a passport system that is proving to be successful.

Once again, the Conservative government's so-called solution is to choke the provinces and force a decision down their throats. This encroachment into provincial jurisdictions by the federal government is not the answer to any known problem. The Conservatives are unable to tell us that there is a problem and that they are acting in the nation's best interests. True, some people on Bay Street want the central government to impose its will on the provinces. It takes a Conservative government that is willing to listen to them to heed their call.

As for the Liberals, they are doing even more kowtowing than usual. It could not get any worse than what we saw today. Unbelievable. Their so-called leader went in front of the television cameras to say that there are conditions, but they are not really conditions, and that he wants to see EI reforms, but the government just needs to say that reforms are coming. He even said that if such reforms are too costly, the Conservative government does not even have to say it will do anything with the EI system.

The Liberal Party of Canada is giving the Conservatives the majority they do not have in the House. Sometimes it does it directly, as was the case last week with regard to EI. A dozen Liberal MPs, representing the extreme right wing of the Liberal Party led by one of their leadership candidates, voted against an important bill brought forward by my colleague from Welland that would have improved the EI system by ensuring that people who receive even the smallest severance pay would not be penalized.

Even that was too much for the far-right people in the Liberal Party of Canada who are now ruling the roost. So, what happened? The government was supported by this far-right Liberal phalanx. As a result, the workers have been deprived of improvements to the EI system. How presumptuous to say today that, come to think of it, this is major priority for them. They are prepared to extend sitting hours in the House to make sure that we cannot attend the national holiday celebrations in Quebec. Sitting hours could be extended because EI has become their main priority.

Last week, the Liberals voted against any improvements to the EI system. This week, they are sending out their leader to pretend to care all of the sudden about those who are losing their jobs. That is shameful. It is a sham. They do not have compassion for the public. It is just not there. Today, they sent their critic out to argue that it is not clear whether this falls under the jurisdiction of the provinces or that of the federal government, therefore the matter should be referred to the Supreme Court of Canada. What are they talking about? There is nothing in there for the Supreme Court to consider. It is sheer nonsense to say that the Supreme Court should look into this. That is totally false. It is a fig leaf to try to hide their incompetence, among other things.

Let us be clear. There is no shortcoming in the securities regulation that cannot continue to be dealt with between the provinces through a passport system. It is true that the National Assembly of Quebec went one step further in passing a unanimous resolution condemning this attempt by the federal government to interfere. This unanimous resolution of the National Assembly of Quebec is the reason for what is clearly an attempt on the part of the federal Liberals to try not to find themselves again in the position of voting against Quebec. Let us not be fooled; the end result remains the same. By allowing a minority government to act as if it were a majority one and letting it do as it pleases, it is obvious that the Liberals will allow this motion to be defeated. The message this will send, thanks to the Liberals, is that Quebec and the provinces are once more being steamrolled by the federal government in one of their own fields of jurisdiction. No one in Quebec will be fooled.

The Liberals will try very hard to make us believe that it is only a question of asking the Supreme Court who really has jurisdiction, but nobody will believe them. That is outrageous. And then they wonder why they cannot gain support in Quebec outside their well defined demographic group of supporters. That is a good example. They talk from both sides of their mouths, blow hot and cold at the same time and try to make people believe all kind of things. They abstain but will say that does not mean they are against the government when they know very well that by not acting, they will allow the Conservatives to do exactly what they have always done, that is to stomp on the provinces. That is the problem.

The management of the issue does not require the intervention of the federal government. As I said earlier, the federal government has complete jurisdiction over criminal law. In United States, because of states' rights and state policing powers, criminal law varies from state to state. What is considered to be a crime in one state is not necessarily one in the next state. Each state has its own criminal law. In Canada, there is a uniform Criminal Code for the whole country. That means that the federal government has all the powers it needs to address problems like fraud, embezzlement, theft and others. The problem does not lie there, then, because nobody in any province is asking the federal government to prove that it has jurisdiction over criminal matters.

Furthermore, since the beginning, the federal government has had complete jurisdiction over banks, negotiable instruments, bills of exchange and currency, except when it is losing gold at the Royal Canadian Mint. We can see that it is not in charge of or responsible for many things.

It is also the only entity responsible for competition. If an individual breaks the rules of competition though unethical behaviour, it can also be sanctioned within the federal government's existing jurisdiction. Where does this desire come from? I think it developed from a false perception that the federal government can do some things better than the provinces. Let us talk about this for a moment. Health matters fall exclusively under provincial jurisdiction. The federal government is responsible for some things, for example, the health of veterans. For anyone who wants to know what kind of health care our veterans receive, I invite you to go to Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue to see how they are treated.

The federal government is also responsible for health on reserves. As my colleague who represents a riding in northern Manitoba showed, the current influenza A (H1N1) crisis that exists on some reserves is conclusive evidence that people on reserves often live in third-world conditions. That falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government, the big-time know-it-all, that would now like to tell us how to regulate securities.

What else? There is the sexy issue of isotopes. The government was responsible for the production of isotopes. In November 2007, 18 months ago, the government convinced this House to suspend its normal rules to sit all night, since we absolutely had to get rid of a terrible person who was going to prevent the production of isotopes in order to examine safety at Chalk River. The person in question, who, according to the legislation, was responsible for overseeing nuclear safety, was dismissed in the middle of the night by the Conservatives. Everyone, on the basis of the government's arguments, made some compromises and decided that we could not take risks with isotopes. Then the government told us that there was no danger and that production needed to continue, or else there would be a health care crisis. We all worked hard and collaborated, putting aside our partisan differences. How devastating for those people with cancer and their families. Everything that this individual said turned out to be true.

The opinions we heard were right. Rather than halting the production of isotopes long enough to do some repairs at the Chalk River facility, production has been permanently stopped and the government has announced that it wants out of the isotope business. The federal big brother knows better than anyone else when it comes to the one tiny area of health care under its jurisdiction. It is a good thing no one has to set foot in a federal hospital. Fortunately, under the Confederation agreement, the provinces have jurisdiction over education and health, and they are being left alone to see to their areas of jurisdiction.

Since 1867, property and civil rights have been other areas of provincial jurisdiction. Obligations between various parties, contracts, property rights, estates, and so on fall under provincial jurisdiction. There can be some duplication, and one example is consumer protection, as some have pointed out. However, there is nothing in the Conservatives' move to again interfere in provincial areas of jurisdiction which could be interpreted as a solution to any identifiable problem. It is a pure and simple attempt to take powers given to the provinces by the Confederation agreement of 1867 and keep them here in Ottawa.

Every time we look at what the federal government is doing with its areas of jurisdiction, we realize that, time and time again, it is missing in action when it comes to its own responsibilities. Yet it is willing to take on the responsibilities of others because, according to the government, it knows best. That is wrong, and it is disgraceful that the Liberal Party of Canada is using a transparent excuse to allow the Conservatives to do indirectly what they do not have the right to do directly, that is, take control of this particular jurisdiction.

The Conservatives will try to string us a line, with talk of it being optional, on a voluntary basis. Let us not be fooled. From the moment it is introduced, what was optional will become mandatory. If it is introduced, it will be attacked for lack of jurisdiction, and that will drag on endlessly.

Rather than respecting the provinces and what makes Canada work—namely, the fact that responsibilities that affect citizens more closely are assigned to local authorities that can manage them more directly—they are trying to take control. And it would be a mess, as it is every time they stick their noses into something that is none of their business.

This afternoon, our main aim is to make the Liberals understand that no one in Quebec will be satisfied when they try to say that it is very logical for them to abstain. It is not logical. It sends a message that is contrary to the interests of Quebec and the other provinces. I will give two examples of provinces where the majority support the NDP: Nova Scotia, with its new government, and Manitoba. Once again last week, I spoke with Manitoba's finance minister. They are clearly opposed to the federal government's attempt to interfere in the area of securities.

Every time they want to do something, they order a new report. First we had the Purdy Crawford report. He traipsed all around Canada, with a few Quebeckers in tow. Jacques Ménard was one of them and even he supported the Hockin report, which recommended scrapping the passport system, even though it is working well and no problems have ever been reported. They are going to steamroll over the provinces and do what they want.

We have seen it again with the current provincial Liberal candidate in Paul Martin's former riding. All of a sudden it is not so serious if he opposed it in all these reports. It nevertheless works. People have the right to wonder if this is what the Liberals really believe. I think we have proof today. In Quebec, though they tried to distance themselves from the former positions of their candidate in LaSalle—Émard, the fact remains that the candidate was just being more frank.

The thinking of the Liberals here, in Ottawa, is the same as that of the candidate in LaSalle—Émard. They believe that the federal government is entitled to meddle whenever it wants to do so. For the Conservatives and the Liberals, the recognition of Quebec as a nation means nothing. We recently saw this. There is a fundamental difference and we will deal with it in the fall. There is a fundamental difference as to the scope of the response required.

As for the Charter of the French Language, which gives workers language rights, the right to receive information in their language, the right to file complaints in their language, the right to a collective agreement in their language, the right not to be forced to learn the other language—unless they need to in order to do their job—we want all of the rights included in the Charter of the French Language to be included in federal labour legislation. That will ensure that employees of chartered banks, which fall under federal jurisdiction, have the same language rights as credit union employees. We do not want a telecommunications company in Rimouski to be allowed to hire a unilingual anglophone boss from British Columbia and force all employees to speak English if they want a promotion because that has nothing to do with their work and everything to do with the boss's language. It is not true that we would be stepping back 50 years.

We have always made it perfectly clear that this bill should have gone to second reading to eliminate the most problematic issues involving the federal Official Languages Act. There was no interest in doing anything like that to protect workers' rights. The Liberals voted against that too. Ever since they recognized Quebec as a nation, every time the Liberals and the Conservatives have had a chance to do something meaningful, they have voted not to. The Liberals are the worst of the bunch because today they are abstaining, also known as hiding. The end result is the same, but they do not even have the courage of their convictions.

On that note, the NDP will do the same thing it did last time: support the motion.

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment our NDP colleague on his good speech on this matter.

I would ask him to explain the position of the Liberals further. They did the same thing with EI. They were a long time in office, as we well know. They plundered $55 billion from the employment insurance fund, rejected any improvement to the employment insurance plan and now say that they want an election to improve the situation of workers, something we know they will not do.

As regards the securities commission, they voted in favour of our motion the last time. Now, at the dawn of an election campaign, they are hiding behind the idea of consulting the Supreme Court on this, when we know that it is under exclusive provincial jurisdiction.

I would like our colleague to explain this sham position of the Liberal Party further.

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, as our colleague explains it so well, the chapter on the sham positions of the Liberal Party of Canada is the biggest chapter in the book, especially since the successive sincerities of the Liberals on the subject of employment insurance are enough to give anyone trying to follow them a stiff neck. Let me explain.

In January, at the time of the budget, had they thought it important to do something for employment insurance, they would have followed our lead. We set a condition. They voted for the budget. We voted against. At that point, we lost some hundreds of thousands of jobs in only a few months. That was the most pressing file.

Last week, my colleague from Welland put forward a legislative amendment. He said he was at least going to make it so that severance pay was not deducted from employment insurance. The Conservatives opposed it. They have always opposed any improvement to EI. The Bloc and the NDP support the amendment, the Liberals, to hear them speak, support it, except that some fifteen Liberals voted with the Conservatives to ensuring that this major improvement to EI for employees did not happen.

I close my remarks with this. Today, the Liberal leader pretended to be interested in EI. He forgets that the problems he is criticizing were created by the Liberals. But he would not know that, because he was in Boston at the time.

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, the finance critic for the New Democratic Party, is also a member of the finance committee, on which I sit.

Fundamentally, I completely disagree with his approach. As I said earlier in my speech, I am fully supportive of a national securities regulator for Canada.

To my surprise, the Liberal Party talked about abstaining from a vote that we had on this very same topic in February. It opposed the Bloc motion then. In March 2008, it was opposed to it, but today, all of a sudden, Liberal members are abstaining. Could the member tell me what has changed and why they are taking this odd approach?

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have been following the bouncing ball of the Liberals' changing position on any number of subjects.

The finance committee is going to have an interesting occasion this week. On the Nortel dossier, I had said I wanted to bring in the president of Nortel. Once the NDP announced that, the Liberals put forward their motion right away to the committee. We in the NDP have decided now that the Liberals believe in subpoenaing people to the finance committee, let us bring in somebody who knows both politics and finance. Let us bring in John Manley.

We are going to do that and we will find out if the Liberals still think it is a good idea to subpoena people from Nortel. I am sure I can count on my Conservative counterparts to help us in that regard.

Opposition Motion — Securities RegulationBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.


Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to take part in the debate on the motion by the Bloc Québécois that it is worth reading again:

That, in the opinion of the House, securities regulation falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of Quebec and the provinces and that, therefore, the federal government should reject, once and for all, the idea of creating a single securities regulator for all of Canada, thereby respecting the unanimous will of the National Assembly of Quebec.

It is even more important to read the motion again because the Quebec National Assembly did not adopt such a unanimous motion only once, but twice. Those who follow Quebec politics will know that there are diverging orientations. The Parti Québécois, our proud sovereignist party in Quebec, the Liberal Party and the Action démocratique du Québec all have different political orientations. On an issue as important as Quebec's jurisdiction, we were able to get the National Assembly not once, but twice, to adopt a unanimous resolution.

I will take the time to read them, so our colleagues from Quebec, Liberals and Conservatives alike, can understand well. I know that Quebec is not important for the rest of Canada, but members who have been elected to represent Quebec ridings, Liberals as well as Conservatives, should check what is happening at the National Assembly. Quebec's National Assembly unanimously denounced the federal government initiative. It adopted its first motion on the issue on October 16, 2007. Here is what it said:

THAT the Assembly ask the Federal Government to abandon its Canada-wide securities commission project.

As I said, the National Assembly reaffirmed its position on January 15, 2009, by adopting a second unanimous motion. I will read it and we will see that it is still valid today.

THAT the National Assembly demand that the Federal Government give assistance to workers, communities and businesses affected by the economic slowdown;

THAT it insist that the Federal Government provide financial support to sectors experiencing problems, particularly the manufacturing and forest sectors, as it is doing for the automobile industry;

THAT it ask the Federal Government to improve the employment insurance programme by relaxing the eligibility criteria and by allowing workers who are in training to continue to receive their benefits;

THAT it demand that the Federal Government maintain the equalization programme that is currently in place;

THAT it call for the increase and acceleration of infrastructure investments, particularly by carrying out Building Canada projects, and lastly;

THAT it reiterate its firm opposition to the Canada-wide securities commission project.

I find it hard to understand how Conservative members from Quebec could stand up and vote against today's motion. It is my understanding, from the position stated by their colleague, that they intend to vote against the Bloc Québécois motion we are currently debating. As for the Liberals members from Quebec, they will apparently abstain from voting on this unanimous resolution. I am having a real hard time understanding that.

I can understand why the Bloc Québécois and the people of Quebec are so proud to have a party that represents them, a party that stands up every day in this House for their values and interests. The Conservatives and the Liberals are not here to defend the interests of Quebeckers. I find that hard to understand. During election campaigns, the Conservatives tell us that they do not want to be centralizing, that they want to be respectful of the provinces' powers and, above all, that they do not want to interfere in provincial jurisdictions. In their last budget, the decided to promote the establishment of a Canada-wide securities body, which plainly encroaches on provincial jurisdictions. I can understand why Quebeckers are done listening to them. Because they keep delivering something different from what was announced, they are losing support among voters.

The explanation is somewhat more complicated where the Liberals are concerned. Being a Liberal means caring not as much about the interests of the people as one's own interests and those of the party. It means being driven and guided by polls and, as we have seen with the sponsorship scandal, especially by money and power. That is what being a Liberal member is all about, and being a Liberal member from Quebec is even worse.

Today, federal Quebec Liberals have once again decided to sit on their hands. They are not going to vote. That is the message their critic is sending right now. I am looking forward to tomorrow, when the vote will take place. The message we are getting is that yes, a unanimous motion was passed by the Quebec National Assembly, but the Liberals are going to abstain from voting. Why? Because if they voted against it, Quebeckers would be upset, and if they voted for it, it is Canadians who would be upset.

Therefore, since they are always sitting on the fence, they will once again end up where they belong: face down, on the ground. As always, Liberal MPs from Quebec are unable to protect Quebeckers' interests against the rest of Canada. That is the reality, and that is what has been hanging over their heads for the past 100 years. That is also what the Bloc Québécois is fighting against every day. Since 1993, Quebeckers have always elected a majority of Bloc Québécois members in every election. Why? Because Quebeckers are tired of sitting down, of being on their knees, of lying down. They prefer to stand up. It is always better to be standing up to look at the future, to look forward, then to be lying down. But that is what the Liberals are doing. That is their way of doing politics. It goes without saying that this is not our way.

One must understand that this national securities commission interferes directly with the jurisdictions given to the provinces under the Canadian Constitution. Canada has its powers and the provinces have their own. I can understand why the Conservatives would accuse the Liberals of pushing for centralization. However, in the end, the Conservatives behave just like the Liberals when the time comes to adopt policies. That is the case with this single securities regulator for all of Canada. And this is despite the fact that the World Bank and the OECD have said that the current system works well. That is probably one of the reasons why Canada did so well during the last crisis, why it fared better than other countries. I should qualify that statement, because even though we are doing well, it still hurts, it is still difficult. Earlier, I read the unanimous motion passed by the National Assembly on forestry, employment insurance and job losses. However, compared to the rest of the world, we are doing a little better. I would say that the Bloc Québécois is largely responsible for this performance.

In 2000, when I was first elected here, bank lobbyists were the first lobbyists to come to see me. They wanted to merge Canadian banks. When we would meet with them, they would tell us that they needed to be able to buy and to compete in the world banking system. They wanted to buy bigger banks. We saved them, because if they had merged, if they had bought American banks like they wanted to do, today they would be bankrupt, just like the American banks. That is the reality.

This is why the Bloc Québécois is the social and political conscience of this House. We have always been here to protect the interests of Quebeckers. We are not here to support government policies and try to tell our fellow citizens how the Canadian government should manage the affairs of the state. No. On the contrary, we are telling parliamentarians in this House what our fellow citizens want. We are here to tell the House what the public wants and what is in its best interests.

What we wanted, at that time, in 2000, was not to let the banks merge and eliminate branches in an attempt to buy up international banks and make the banks bigger so their shareholders would receive quarterly dividends. What we wanted was service and to ensure that profitable Canadian banks stayed that way. For that reason, I will tell you that we saved their lives. We have always fought in this House against all bank merger policies. Today, we see the results have been good. The results have been so good that the securities and banking system is considered by the OECD and the World Bank to be a system that works well.

Why do they want to change that? Why do they want to change that so much? Allow me to raise the question. Is it perhaps to take part of the securities market from Montreal and move it to Toronto? Perhaps that is the reality. Once again, take an economic activity that is working well in Quebec and move it to Ontario.

I have a great deal of difficulty understanding the Conservative and Liberal members from Quebec who support this measure. The Conservatives support it and the Liberals are lying low, out of sight, and not defending the interests of Quebec.

You will recognize that I am proud to speak to my party's motion that will be debated today and voted on tomorrow. Why? Because we must highlight the policies that we defend in this House. It is very well for the Conservatives to tell us they will be less centralizing, that they will respect provincial jurisdictions and that they will not use their spending power in those areas. However, as we see in the securities system, they centralize the whole system in Ontario even though this power belongs exclusively to the provinces.

The federal government would do well to concern itself with its own jurisdictions. In the field of health, one of its responsibilities is to provide isotopes to hospitals for detecting and treating cancer and other diseases. It does not manage the health system and it knows very well that the provinces do that. It is not even able to manage the isotopes that are within its responsibility. That is the federal reality. It wants to invade provincial jurisdictions while it is not even able to look after its own affairs. That is very disappointing.

It is discouraging when Quebeckers see that an economic activity such as securities will be moved to Ontario. However, if we see the Conservative members from Quebec stand in their places tomorrow to vote against this motion, which reflects a unanimous motion of the Quebec National Assembly, that will be heartbreaking. In addition, if we see the Liberal members sit in their seats and abstain from voting on this motion, that will be really discouraging. We have to watch all this when we defend the interests of Quebec in this House. It is important to understand the people who are listening to us today, those who work hard to pay their taxes and those who have worked hard to earn their retirement. Some people have paid into employment insurance all their lives and get no benefits.

Once again it is painful to observe how little attention is paid to people’s problems or the interests of the provinces. Quebec has done a great deal with its own tax revenues, even though more than half the money collected is paid to the federal government. At present, a little more than 52% of the taxes paid by Quebeckers is transferred to the federal government. Corporate tax rates are higher in Ottawa than in Quebec. That is the reality.

The fact is that Quebec succeeded in creating the most powerful hydroelectric network on the entire planet, using only its income and other taxes, and with half of its own resources and revenue, that is, with no money from the federal government.

On the other hand, the nuclear and oil industries have been subsidized by the federal government to the tune of billions of dollars. Quebeckers have paid a quarter of that money, and we have developed our own hydroelectric network with no federal contribution. When Hydro-Québec developed the electric engine, the federal government even managed to let it leave the country. We had a lot of trouble holding onto that innovation, that asset, and so the technology was sold to the Europeans. The federal government never stood up to ask why it was not kept here. And today, extensive research is being done on that motor, to develop it, and that will probably be what provides the solution to the oil crisis.

It is hard to watch as Quebeckers from other parties in this House—I am not talking about the NDP Quebecker who will support us today, and we thank him; I am talking about the Conservative Party members—rise to oppose a unanimous motion of the National Assembly of Quebec.

They prefer to centralize and transfer an exclusive jurisdiction from Quebec to Canada with the creation of a Canada-wide securities regulator. Once again, the choice is to centralize, to take part of the economic activity on the Montreal Exchange and move it to the Toronto Stock Exchange. I think this is a terrible thing to see, but it is also terrible to see the federal Liberal members who will sit on their hands for purely partisan reasons on a unanimous motion of the National Assembly. They sit there, tucked in, dug in, for purely partisan reasons because there may be an election called at the end of the week and they would not want to be embarrassed by this motion today. That is the only reason why the federal Liberal members from Quebec will decide to sit on their hands, and obviously to crumble. They have been supporting this government for over two years now.

It is wonderful to see the new Liberal Party leader say that employment insurance should be fixed when he supported the Conservatives in the last budget. We knew very well that the employment insurance problem would not be fixed and the 360 hours of employment, that we wanted to see standardized across Canada for employment insurance eligibility, was not included in the budget. Nor was the elimination of the two-week waiting period, the two-week penalty, that has cost workers so dearly, in that budget. This is insurance workers have paid for and they are being punished for the first two weeks when they have tremendous need of it to get the economy going. The Liberals knew it was not included in the budget, but they decided to support the Conservatives. Today, their fortunes seems to have risen, depending on which polls you look at. They have decided, politically, to think about their interests rather than to think about the public’s interests.

That is how federal politics works. We all know that many Quebeckers are disillusioned with federal politics for precisely that reason. Some politicians are here only for their personal power and not in the public interest. If the Conservative members from Quebec stood up for the public’s interests, they would not vote against the Bloc Québécois motion, which reiterates the unanimous motion of the National Assembly. If the federal Liberal members acted in the interests of the people they represent, they would not crumble and sit there, dug in, tucked in, when it comes to this motion, saying they prefer to sit on their hands. They would not be doing that. They would be getting to their feet, to stand up for the interests of Quebeckers.

Once again, it is obvious that the Bloc Québécois is the only party that strongly and vigorously defends Quebec's interests. The federal government must not go ahead with the proposed Canada-wide securities commission simply because it will hinder development and harm Quebec's economic interests. Quebec and the other provinces had their highly-rated passport system. I repeat that the OECD and the World Bank even congratulated Canada for the way it dealt with the whole securities issue. But once again, this centralizing government has decided to increase Canada's powers at Quebec's expense and, more importantly, to concentrate securities in Ontario, again for purely partisan reasons on the part of the Conservatives. It could not be any clearer. It is just as obvious as what they are doing for the auto sector. They are giving everything to the auto sector and nothing to the forestry sector. That is the choice they made. The Speaker is telling me that I have only one minute left, so I will conclude.

The most surprising thing is that the Liberals have decided today to sit on their hands on this motion from the Bloc Québécois, which is the same as the two motions that were passed unanimously by the National Assembly on October 16, 2007 and on January 15, 2009, asking the federal government to reject the idea of creating a Canada-wide securities commission.

Again, Conservative and Liberal members will vote against the interests of Quebeckers. That is totally consistent with what they stand for in this House. Quebeckers are proud and happy to have the Bloc Québécois to defend their interests strongly and vigorously in this House.

Tour de Beauce Bike RaceStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Maxime Bernier Conservative Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, this weekend, Beauce was in high gear as it hosted the 24th Tour de Beauce bike race.

Fifteen teams with seven cyclists each competed in some very exciting races. Once again, the organizers did themselves proud.

I would like to congratulate those people who stepped up to the plate. Thanks to their dedication and perseverance, the spectators got their money's worth.

I would also like to acknowledge the 500 volunteers who made this event possible. Their involvement helped make the Tour de Beauce a huge success. They proved once again how indispensable they are.

I am very proud that my government contributed $50,000 to the Tour de Beauce.

This put Beauce on the international map, and brought in participants from various countries.

Once again, congratulations to the participants, organizers and volunteers.Until next year.

National Blood Donor WeekStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to celebrate our second National Blood Donor Week, which became official following the royal assent of a bill I sponsored in the House last year.

The demand for blood is constant. Hundreds of thousands of donors are required every year to meet the needs of Canada's health care system.

What makes the system so amazing is that all of those donors are volunteers, people who choose to give their time and their blood to help their fellow citizens.

The summer months can be especially hard on the blood system. Canadian Blood Services forecasts that it needs to collect 226,000 units of whole blood and 30,000 units of plasma during June, July and August to meet hospital demand throughout the country.

This week gives us an opportunity to remind Canadians of the precious gift they have flowing through their veins and encourage them to share that gift with others.

Giving blood is easy and painless, so I urge those who have never given blood before to visit to find a donation centre near them.

Hélène DorionStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, Hélène Dorion, who lives in my riding, will be the first Quebecker to receive the Charles Vildrac poetry prize, to be awarded tomorrow in Paris, for her latest publication, Le hublot des heures. She was also the first Quebecker to win the Académie Mallarmé prize.

Hélène Dorion has published over 20 books in Quebec, France and Belgium, and has been awarded several prizes, including the Anne Hébert prize for her first novel, Jour de sable. She has also been awarded the Wallonie-Bruxelles international poetry prize, the Romanian international poetry festival prize, and the Académie des lettres du Québec's Alain Grandbois prize, among others, for her work. She is also a knight of the Ordre national du Québec.

Some have said that experiencing Hélène Dorion's poetry is like walking into a temple with neither walls nor ceiling. I hope that she will keep us dreaming for a long time to come.

Renewable EnergyStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, with oil prices climbing back up it is clear that Canada must take serious action to develop renewable energy technologies.

Instead of shifting funding away from wind energy and toward uncertain carbon capture and storage technologies, the government could take a page from the Government of the Northwest Territories.

The N.W.T. has brought in an energy plan and greenhouse gas strategy focusing on developing renewable energy to replace diesel fuel currently in use across the north.

For example, soon, four wind turbines will be installed and operational in Tuktoyaktuk by the summer of 2011. This will save 88,000 litres of diesel and a reduction of 247 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year.

Also, a biomass strategy is already being implemented, increasing the use of biomass energy in the N.W.T. through the use of wood pellets to replace heating oil in homes, businesses and government buildings.

I hope the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources will pay attention to northerners who are taking action to develop renewable energy, which is the future, a future I hope the government can get behind.

National Aboriginal DayStatements by Members

2 p.m.


Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, as a proud Métis woman, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to mention that on Sunday, June 21, Canadians are invited to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

It is an opportunity for the Inuit, the Métis, and members of first nations to express their deep pride in their heritage and their successes.

On that day, I will pay tribute to Louis Riel, the passionate Métis leader and founder of the province of Manitoba, and to the Métis people, who have learned to live together in a bilingual and multicultural society as they inspire us by their diversity.

I would also like to thank and congratulate APTN, a television network created by and for aboriginal people, and the Union nationale métisse Saint-Joseph du Manitoba and its president, Gabriel Dufault, for the excellent work they do with francophone Métis people.

As Canadians explore the rich, diverse cultures of the Inuit, the Métis and the first nations, barriers fall and friendships are formed.

National Aboriginal Day is for all Canadians. Join in the celebration. Meegwetch.

SeniorsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

All Canadians need to work together in order to increase our ability to recognize and prevent mistreatment of older people so that all adults can be free from abuse, neglect and exploitation in later life. It is critically important that we protect vulnerable seniors and recognize them as an integral part of Canadian society.

I would also like to acknowledge that June is Seniors' Month, a wonderful time to celebrate the contributions that seniors make in all of our communities.

On behalf of all members, I would like to thank our valued seniors who have worked so hard to build our great country and who continue to contribute to the communities that we all enjoy today.

Firearms RegistryStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of thousands of residents in my riding and others across Saskatchewan who have affixed their names to a national online petition to scrap the long gun registry.

The petition was created by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and has been signed by almost 40,000 Canadians from all walks of life who believe the registry has utterly failed to enhance public safety.

The petition is supported by 25 member organizations of the Canadian Outdoors Network, which represents wildlife federations in every province and territory. It is also supported by several national wildlife and conservation organizations, and many other groups that represent Canada's recreational sport shooters.

I am proud to acknowledge the thousands of individuals who took the time to register their support to scrap the useless long gun registry. It is my pleasure to forward the names on this petition to the Minister of Public Safety for his information and response.

At this time, I urge all members of Parliament to support Bill C-391, recently introduced by the member for Portage—Lisgar, to rid Canadians of the long gun registry once and for all.

Marc-André FleuryStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Pittsburgh Penguins on winning the Stanley Cup on Friday. Six Quebeckers play for the team, including the excellent goalie Marc-André Fleury, who is from Sorel-Tracy.

Marc-André played minor hockey in Sorel-Tracy. His outstanding ability enabled him to move directly from the bantam category to the Quebec major junior hockey league, without going through the midget category.

His excellent performance as a junior won him a spot on the team representing Canada at the world junior championships, and he was picked in the first round of the National Hockey League draft in 2003.

His remarkable talent, his discipline, his desire to win and the unconditional support of his family are major reasons for his success as a hockey player.

The people in my riding, the Bloc Québécois members and all the people in Quebec congratulate Marc-André and wish him a long career in the NHL. Keep on amazing us.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Daryl Kramp Conservative Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader only came back to Canada to be prime minister and he will do anything to get that job. He even came back to Canada after more than three decades in the U.K. and America, his country.

On April 14, he said, “We will have to raise taxes”. Furthermore, he would hike the GST. He is the father of the job-killing carbon tax. He called the forestry sector a basement industry. He criticized the auto sector. He said that Canada had become the laughingstock of the world. He called our flag a pale imitation of a beer label.

This is the country with the best managed economy in the G7. The OECD has praised our management in these tough economic times. Last week the Prime Minister reported that 80% of our action plan initiatives are already being implemented. We are delivering by creating jobs, stimulating the economy and helping those hardest hit by the global recession.

Canada is strong, proud, independent and free. Maybe the Liberal leader will learn that during his visit to this great country.

The Stanley CupStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, this summer, the Stanley Cup will come to Cole Harbour again. The Pittsburgh Penguins, led by captain Sidney Crosby, won the championship against the strong Red Wings in Detroit on Friday night.

At the age of 21, Sid has been the most celebrated number one draft pick in years. He has won the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award. He is the youngest captain in NHL history and is now a Stanley Cup champion.

Congratulations to the Red Wings and their great coach, Mike Babcock, and fellow Atlantic Canadian, Danny Cleary, of Harbour Grace, and sympathies to his loyal MP from Avalon.

Sidney Crosby may have won his first Stanley Cup, but he has been a champion to kids everywhere, particularly in Cole Harbour, for years. He is a young man of grace and determination whose efforts on the ice are matched by his personal humility and generosity. Stories of his quiet contribution to his community abound back home. He has earned the respect and devotion of legions of boys and girls who now know beyond a doubt that nice guys do not always finish last. In fact they can win the Stanley Cup, and like Joey DiPenta a couple of years ago, bring it home to Cole Harbour.

Way to go, Sidney Crosby.

Economic Action PlanStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that not all that much pondering is needed when it is so obvious. We are in the midst of a crisis, and our government has the best plan in the world to address the economic crisis.

For example, our plan permanently reduces taxes and helps unemployed workers by improving employment insurance and training programs. Our plan creates jobs and helps the industries and communities most severely affected by the global recession. Our plan helps to create the economy of the future by improving post-secondary infrastructure and by supporting research and technology. Our plan makes it easier for Canadian business and households to access financing.

Our plan works. An unnecessary election triggered by political opportunism would only delay the implementation of our economic action plan, to the detriment of those who need it right way.

World Congress of AcadiansStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Congrès mondial acadien is a major gathering of Acadians from around the world held every five years. This year, the Acadian peninsula, in northeast New Brunswick, will host the fourth Congrès mondial acadien from August 7 to 23, 2009. It will be a unique occasion for the citizens living on the Acadian peninsula to show their warm hospitality and, above all, for Acadians from Canada and elsewhere to get together and celebrate their shared history and traditions with their cousins.

The highlight of the congress will undoubtedly be National Acadian Day and the traditional “tintamarre” or festive noisemaking on August 15. Over 50,000 people are expected to attend.

I invite all members to come celebrate with us and discover our vibrant culture. I hope all Acadians will enjoy the gathering. Welcome to all.

Firearms RegistryStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, this morning at the subcommittee on private members' business, the Liberals, Bloc and NDP revealed that they have a strategy to jointly and secretly kill efforts to repeal the long gun firearms registry. Their strategy is to make Bill C-391, the private member's bill that repeals the long gun registry, non-votable.

The three parties are well aware that all government MPs support this bill, along with enough opposition members to gain a majority in the House, so their solution was to kill it at an in camera meeting of the subcommittee by making it non-votable.

This morning the committee met in open session. The opposition members did not read the notice and did not realize that the meeting was open. Therefore, they stated openly that they have no basis under the Standing Orders to do what they are doing and deemed the bill non-votable. When it was revealed the vote was taking place publicly, they halted in mid-vote forcing the meeting to close its doors to the public.

The NDP and Liberal backbenchers who claim to want to end the registry can still stop this unparliamentary action by telling their leaders they do not want the bill to be killed in secret and in silence.

Islamic Republic of IranStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, following the Iranian presidential election held on June 12, many supporters of presidential candidate Mousavi are reacting with shock and disbelief. Hope faded when, merely two hours after polls closed, the Interior Ministry announced that candidate Ahmadinejad had been re-elected with more than 62% of the vote.

According to numerous press sources, as well as the Mousavi camp, Iranian authorities took a different approach for these elections, bypassing the normal three-day verification and declaration process. Mr. Mousavi had appealed to the Guardian Council to annul the results.

In 1953, that large country where 70% of the population is under 30 years of age had its democratic revolution stolen away by the United States and Great Britain, which were hungry for its oil resources. Time has come for it to finally enjoy democratic life.

Corporal Martin DubéStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.


Alexandra Mendes Liberal Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that we learned of the death of yet another of our brave soldiers in Afghanistan.

I would like to express our sincere condolences and sympathies to the family and loved ones of Corporal Martin Dubé, from the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment based at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, Quebec.

Corporal Dubé was killed by an improvised explosive device he was trying to disarm. He died doing his duty, and for that, his memory shall forever be honoured.

I know that all of my colleagues join me in saluting Corporal Dubé's courage and sense of duty. We continue to be proud of Canadian Forces soldiers as they carry out their very dangerous missions in Afghanistan.

Corporal Dubé is the 120th of our brave men and women of the Canadian Forces to make the ultimate sacrifice since the beginning of the Afghan mission. May none of them ever be forgotten.