House of Commons Hansard #91 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was women.


Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this important budget bill, Bill C-47. It is another in a continuing series of discussions we are having with the government about what it should be doing to deal with some of our difficult economic realities. Among other things, it should be investing in communities and people, and looking after families that are finding it hard to make ends meet in these difficult times. As jobs continue to be lost or changed in nature, incomes go down, the cost of living continues to increase, and people struggle to keep body and soul together as they attempt to provide their children with support, education, and help with their health care needs.

As we continue this discussion about the budget and the economy, it is important to understand how they connect, and how we as government support communities that are struggling to keep all of their citizens' heads above water. It is important to understand and reflect on what got us where we are today. We need to consider the 2008 collapse of the world's financial sector and understand why it happened.

The government did not recognize the 2008 recession until the opposition on this side of the House made it aware of the problem. Then, all of a sudden, the government began to realize that it needed to respond in a serious way to this economic and financial tsunami that was coming at us.

The cause of this was that we allowed our banking systems, both here and around the world, to continue to be further and further deregulated. Besides the banks, we deregulated a lot of other financial practices. We allowed the ethos of greed and fear to be the driving force behind the decisions made by corporations and governments around the world. Finally, to keep things from getting even worse, governments had to step in and become engaged again.

Deregulation and free trade, which went hand in hand with the deregulation, allowed some corporations to become more powerful and wealthy than many countries. We saw a push towards less government intervention, which is what is now challenging the government of the day. Even though they are great believers in less government intervention, this government was forced to intervene in the economy as never before.

At the same time, we lowered taxes for corporations over and over again, at the provincial and the federal levels. Finally, the government woke up and realized that it had to come to the table with big bags of money to help its friends in the business world to weather these difficult times. But because it had given away so much of the treasury, so much of the capacity of the government to play a role in our economic life, the government had little money left. The result is that we now find ourselves with a huge deficit, and we will be in deficit for a long time to come.

Why are we in the New Democrat caucus speaking so aggressively against this budget today? It is because the government will not be turning these corporate tax breaks around. Instead, the government wants to reduce even further its ability to intervene in the economic affairs of this country.

If we do not stop, take a long look, and do something different, this will be tragic. It will be especially tragic for those who are most at risk and marginalized, and this is the group of people that government has the greatest and most urgent responsibility to help.

For the six years that I have been in this place, and particularly over the last two years since the collapse of the financial world, I have been calling for a national anti-poverty strategy. Six provinces in this country recognize that something significant needs to happen if we are going to deal with the increasing number of people who find themselves unable to make ends meet. Provincial strategies have been put in place. I was in the Northwest Territories a couple of weeks ago, and they are moving on a strategy to deal with poverty.

The provinces are telling us that they will not be able to do all that they have to do. They will not be able to put in place those programs that they know are necessary to lift people up and give them the opportunity to take advantage of the new economy when, a year or two from now, this recession has eased off.

The provinces just do not have the resources, and they are calling on the federal government to be a partner in this effort. They know that we need to move away from this ethos of greed and fear to one of hope and concern for the common good.

Those of us who have been engaged in this exercise over the last three years know that it makes good economic sense to deal with poverty. The choices we make will affect not only our ability to help those who are in difficulty, but also our ability to turn our economy around. Failing to address the problem is costing us in many direct and substantial ways.

We heard from all kinds of people as we travelled the country, getting input on what the federal government should be doing about poverty. They told us the choice is clear: we can pay to address poverty now, or we can wind up paying a lot more for a lot longer.

We pay for poverty through lost productivity, lost opportunity, and increased family violence. We pay for it through the health care system and our criminal justice system. We pay for it through growing demands on an already-frayed social support system. We pay for it through our children's reduced life chances, employment opportunities, and earning capacity.

For the first time in their lives, thousands of families across this country are going into Christmas relying on the good graces of provincial and municipal welfare systems, or what is left of them. People are finding that there is not much to be had.

After the government of the day's 1995 elimination of the Canada assistance plan, the reduction in the transfers to provinces, and the huge rollout of corporate tax breaks, not much was left in the coffers when people came calling in their time of need. People who pay their taxes, work every day, and pay into unemployment insurance are finding as they face this Christmas that the safety net they thought was there has disappeared.

If nothing else, when we consider this budget we should be addressing the difficult reality that is confronting many of our friends and neighbours, our constituents. We need to deal with the question of poverty in this country.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question the member raised has come up often in the finance committee, namely, whether we need to cut back right across the board, without differentiating, whether we ought to try to grow out of this now, and make it up later on.

Some of the groups from the poverty coalition came before us and reminded us of the pain caused during an economic downturn. They told us how difficult recovery can be for those who had nothing in the first place. I tend to agree with my colleague.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on whether there was a time when we had to look at providing means tests so that individuals could get certain benefits in our social programs.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to suggest that the member go back to a time in our history when we used a means test to distinguish the deserving from the undeserving. That is long past.

We as a country, as a government, need to take the same approach we took a few years back. It was driven by the NDP, and it looked at the question of poverty and seniors. We brought forward hugely successful programs: the Canada pension plan, the old age security plan, and the guaranteed income supplement. We put those vehicles in place so that we would not have to get into long and hurtful discussions about who deserves and who does not. We put in place programs to help seniors, and we literally lifted all seniors out of poverty.

We need to be doing the same thing for all of our citizens today, no matter where they live or what their socio-economic condition may be.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned that he has done a lot of work on poverty and an anti-poverty strategy. I know he had wide consultations across Canada with many people active in the movement to eliminate poverty. He came up with a private member's bill that calls on the federal government to adopt a strategy for the elimination of poverty in Canada.

I wonder if the hon. member might talk about what that process would be. Perhaps he could also relate how he developed this piece of legislation that he tabled in the House.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member himself participated actively in the discussions by bringing to the House the stories of the people he represents.

The hon. member is absolutely right: there are real opportunities here. There will be a report tabled in this House, probably after the Remembrance Day break, that will make solid recommendations. If adopted, they will go a long way towards developing a partnership with the provinces, territories, municipalities, and first nations that will eliminate poverty in this country once and for all.

Bill C-545 would serve as the framework for this federal project. This empowering piece of legislation would give the government the vehicles it needs to begin working in partnership, so that we can once and for all get rid of the scourge of poverty that affects so many of our constituents, neighbours, and family members.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned poverty reduction in his speech. He mentioned six jurisdictions that are now making efforts to reduce poverty. One of them is my own province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has a wide-ranging poverty reduction strategy. This strategy includes subsidized heating costs for seniors and nutritional supplements for young low-income mothers.

This could be important. Yet the vision does not lead to an overall poverty reduction strategy. Lacking a general narrative or theme, we have only a patchwork of short-term measures.

I wonder if the member could comment on one of the general themes that he would choose as a plank for poverty reduction.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland was one of the first provinces to move forward with a strategy. But they are saying to us that, unless the federal government is at the table, it will be difficult for them to achieve all they know they can achieve.

There is no lack of good ideas out there. We heard them from many people, and there will be a lot of them in the report that will be tabled.

Bill C-545 mentions three areas that could immediately be addressed by the federal government and by all of us here: housing, income security, and social inclusion.

Sustaining Canada's Economic Recovery ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

We will now proceed with statements by members, beginning with the hon. member for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

Veterans AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to pay tribute to a former member of Parliament for Kamloops as well as a war hero, 93-year-old Don Cameron.

Don is presently on a mission to ensure that the death of every fellow veteran throughout Kamloops is recognized. Working in collaboration with the local legion, Veterans Affairs and officials from the last post fund, Don is heading up an effort to find unmarked veterans' burial plots and ensure that a proper headstone is in place.

This has proven to be a difficult task, with Don spending hours every day combing through newspaper obituary notices, looking for mention of military service or looking for familiar names. He then presents the names to the local cadets who have agreed to search the maps provided by the local cemeteries to detail which plots are marked and which are not.

This kind of painstaking work speaks to the character of Don Cameron. There are not too many people today who would take on this difficult task with such selfless determination.

On behalf of the constituents of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, we thank Don for his exemplary efforts.

Betty Louise CrossleyStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Martha Hall Findlay Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased, but with sadness, to rise in the House to recognize a wonderful person. Betty Louise Crossley, born Betty Noble, was an activist and an extraordinary member of the Willowdale community.

Her husband, Kelvin, two sons, Kelly and Matt, and, of course, her grandchildren were her immediate family; however, her family life extended to many others whom she met and was close with over the years.

She was an outstanding teacher and her students will all have left more learned but, more important, more engaged in the world around them. The same is true for anyone who had the privilege of getting to know her.

In a time of increasing apathy, getting people more engaged, which is so critical to improving society, is one of the highest legacies possible and it is very much one left behind by Betty Crossley.

Betty has now passed on but her family and friends know that, as she called it, her “unsolicited advice”, which was always greatly appreciated, will live on.

We thank Betty. She will be missed.

EnerkemStatements By Members

2 p.m.


France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, on October 13, Enerkem was selected as one of the 100 best clean technology companies as part of the 2010 Global Cleantech 100, which “highlights the most promising private clean technology companies from all around the world.... These companies are the most likely to make the most significant market impact over the next five to 10 years”.

The company produces green fuels using waste materials, such as household garbage, thereby actively pursuing environmental goals that are very important to Quebeckers. Enerkem operates two plants in the Eastern Townships, one of them in Westbury.

My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I would like to congratulate Enerkem on being selected for this prestigious distinction, which makes it one of the environmental jewels in our region's crown. On behalf of the people of Compton—Stanstead, I wish the company every success in its pursuit of environmental innovation.

Algoma UniversityStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Tony Martin NDP Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, I attended a dinner to honour Dr. Celia Ross, who has retired as president of Algoma University.

The community recognized Celia's outstanding contribution and the extraordinary growth of our university. Algoma University now has over 1,200 students and is expanding to Timmins and Brampton. Its 10% growth in enrolment is well above the Ontario average and includes more international students.

In 12 years, Dr. Ross introduced studies in community economics and social development and computer games technology.

Strongly committed to supporting Anishinaabe communities, Celia helped affirm Algoma University's core partnership with the Shingwauk Education Trust. With her leadership, Algoma received its own charter in 2008.

I congratulate Dr. Ross, Algoma University and its new president, Richard Myers from New Brunswick. Algoma's future is very bright indeed.

Canadian International Development AgencyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Colin Mayes Conservative Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are a very generous people who have clearly supported their government in sharing some of Canada's prosperity with the global family.

On behalf of Canadians, CIDA has delivered program funding that provides medical and food aid, economic assistance and democratic infrastructure. CIDA is the government's face of our citizens' compassion.

Many dedicated Canadians are working in foreign countries lending a hand up to those less fortunate and making certain the funds are spent on the most needy.

Today I would also like to salute the non-government organizations representing Canada in providing humanitarian aid to countries all over the globe. Canadians believe in the creed that “to those much is given, much is expected”.

Today let us thank Canadians on the ground in foreign fields that are sharing the message of our caring and compassion. May the fruits of their toil be one of hope, peace and understanding.

Casa dos Açores do OntarioStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Mario Silva Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased on behalf of the Parliament of Canada to recognize Casa dos Açores do Ontario located in my Davenport riding as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Canada's long and storied history with the Azores dates back hundreds of years. The nine lush islands of the Azores has for mariners formed a welcome horizon over the Atlantic Ocean with Canada to the west. For the 400,000 Canadians of Portuguese origin who were born in the Azores, both places are special in their hearts.

The Azores is home to many esteemed poets and the first two presidents of Portugal. As the first Canadian member of Parliament to have been born in the Azores, I share this pride.

Azoreans on both sides of the Atlantic cherish their country of birth, the place they have always considered their homeland. For the past 25 years, Casa dos Açores has helped build bridges between two neighbours: Canada and the Azores.

I would like to congratulate Casa dos Açores on this special anniversary.

The Kings Mutual Century CentreStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Greg Kerr Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to participate in the opening ceremonies for the Kings Mutual Century Centre, known in the Annapolis Valley as the Apple Dome, located in Berwick, recognized as the apple capital of Nova Scotia.

This amazing complex was made possible because dedicated volunteers from several communities joined together and spent many years bringing it to fruition. The planning, the fundraising and the level of co-operation was phenomenal.

Visiting former NHL star, Rick Middleton, could not believe this incredible facility was located in a small town in Nova Scotia. Several times he commented on what people can do when they have vision, dedication and co-operation. The Apple Dome is debt free and is already booked solid with activities.

I am proud that our government supported this wonderful initiative as part of Canada's economic action plan. It has been a great economic boost for this region and a great asset for future development.

I congratulate all of the wonderful volunteers who made the Apple Dome dream come true.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is once again trying to impose its ideological agenda on Quebec women by reopening the abortion debate. The chair of the anti-abortion caucus introduced a bill meant to isolate women who are considering the procedure.

It is not just domestically that this government is calling into question a woman's right to choose. While the minister responsible for CIDA is announcing her child and maternal health plan for the 10 poorest countries, we still do not know whether the organizations that offer abortion-related services will continue to be funded. All forms of birth control, including abortion, should be funded by this plan.

The Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances, the Fédération des femmes du Québec and Action Canada for Population and Development are just some of the organizations that oppose these backward and ideological decisions. The Conservative government must stop tampering with the hard-won rights of women once and for all.

Freedom of ReligionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, one of the bedrock principles of Canadian society is the freedom to believe as we choose and the freedom to worship without intimidation. This is not how things work everywhere in this world. Yesterday, we got another glimpse of the very real pain that extremism and intolerance cause.

We mourn today the death of dozens of people in Baghdad who, when they woke up yesterday, wanted nothing more than to go to their church and to worship their God. They never got to. Interrupted by a car bomb, the Our Lady of Salvation Church was overrun by a group of armed thugs who first shot the priest, then herded the congregation into an enclosed area and set off explosives when the Iraqi authorities launched a rescue attempt.

This misguided and evil act needs to be denounced.

Perhaps the Pope expressed it best when he called it “absurd violence, made more ferocious because it was directed against unarmed people gathered in the house of God”.

While it may not seem to us that our words coming from so far away can make a difference, we must still say them, and from this distance, we pray for God's mercy on both the victims and their attackers.

Chinese CanadiansStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Ujjal Dosanjh Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, in June of this year, CSIS director, Richard Fadden, accused municipal politicians in British Columbia and provincial politicians in at least two provinces of being under the influence of a foreign government and then went on to identify China as a country aggressively engaging in this practice.

The people of the Chinese community were justifiably outraged. They were being accused of being disloyal Canadians.

At the public safety committee, Mr. Fadden failed to clarify his remarks and failed to apologize saying that he would forward a report to the minister. The minister has not adequately shared that report with Canadians. Mr. Fadden must apologize and, if not, he must resign. Failing that, the minister must ask Mr. Fadden to resign and, if not, the minister himself must resign.

As for the Prime Minister, his silence is deafening and insulting to all Chinese Canadians.

Veterans' WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, this year, Canadians mourned the loss of our last first world war veteran, Mr. John Babcock. After a long and full life of 109 years, his passing was a significant reminder that we must keep the memory of his great generation alive.

During Veterans' Week, let us remember historic milestones of the first world war which are synonymous with our proud military heritage: Passchendaele; the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont-Hamel; and the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Throughout these battles, regiments from coast to coast saw action together to forge a new and stronger sense of Canadian identity.

Ninety-two years ago, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns of the first world war fell silent. This November 11, our nation will pause to remember the generations of Canadians who have bravely served for our country and we will honour those who continue to serve today.

Sandy CameronStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the many people who knew, respected and loved Sandy Cameron mourn his death and the loss we will experience.

His decades of leadership, compassion and hard work in the downtown eastside helped countless people. Sandy's enduring and thoughtful columns in the Carnegie Newsletter, his books of poetry and his work at the Carnegie Learning Centre, as well as his kind and gentle ways of helping people, are things that inspired a whole community.

He told us and recorded our history. He was a wonderful teacher, a mentor and a guide who, along with his partner of 25 years, Jean Swanson, helped forge a strength of community that is legendary across Canada.

Most of all, Sandy worked for social justice and peace. He believed and lived that it came from the people. His unwavering belief in our own ability to create a better world without violence and inequality is what he left us. The best thing we can do is carry on that work because that is what he would expect us to do.

We thank Sandy for the gifts he gave us. His words live on.

Veterans' WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, next week, Canadians across the country will mark Veterans' Week. As we remember our veterans, we take a special moment to honour the many Canadian aboriginal people who joined in the fight to protect the values and freedoms we continue to enjoy today.

Canadian aboriginal veterans have reason to be proud of their wartime contributions. More than 7,000 first nations people served in the first and second world wars and the Korean war, along with an unknown number of Inuit, Métis and non-status aboriginal people.

Many aboriginal people currently serve in the Canadian armed forces. These people overcame cultural challenges and made impressive sacrifices and contributions to help our country.

As the granddaughter of a Métis veteran, I can testify that their courage, sacrifices and accomplishments are a source of pride to their families, communities and all Canadians.

This Veterans' Week we honour their legacy. This Veterans' Week we remember.

1995 ReferendumStatements By Members

November 1st, 2010 / 2:10 p.m.


Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, 15 years ago, with my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, who was also a minister in the Parizeau government, I asked Quebeckers “the national question”. With an unprecedented voter turnout where 4.8 million votes were cast, representing more than 94% of the electorate, our country slipped through our fingers by 54,000 votes.

There is nothing left to say about this result, which nevertheless was respected because that is how things work in a democracy. Since then, Canada has continued to define itself as a country, a country that we do not identify with and a country that does not bring us together.

Now Quebec has a choice: face the music and join the ranks of the provinces or achieve its destiny as an independent, sovereign country. Moving Quebec toward sovereignty, continuing this fight here and elsewhere, is why we are still here and we will be here until Quebec is free and independent.

CensusStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, under our system of government, the cabinet has the collective constitutional responsibility to decide the policies and direction of the nation and administer the day-to-day operations.

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister made the decision to do away with the long form census and replace it with a shorter voluntary form. The voluntary form will not be nearly as accurate, and this decision has been opposed by almost every group, organization and individual in Canada.

The Prime Minister made this decision without consulting Canadians, interested stakeholders, his own caucus or the cabinet. In allowing a decision to be made in this manner, all members of cabinet violated their constitutional responsibility and breached the oath all members took when they were sworn into cabinet.

I do not expect the Prime Minister to admit this mistake and make the right decision. However, I am calling on all members of cabinet to carry out the responsibilities given to them under our country's Constitution and do the right thing: reinstate the long form census.

National DefenceStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Bloc has shown that it cannot be taken seriously when it comes to our armed forces. It is all over the map on the F-35 fighter jets.

Last Friday, the Bloc finance critic stated that he was opposed to buying the F-35 jets and said, “If I were the finance minister, I would take the fighter jet money and use it for more pressing needs”. Yet, the previous day, the Bloc member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel gave a passionate defence of economic spinoffs of the F-35 procurement. He said, and I quote, “Reversing this decision would have serious consequences for the Canadian aerospace industry, particularly in Quebec. Our workers do not need uncertainty. Too many jobs depend on this, especially in the Montreal-Mirabel aerospace sector.”

Once again, the Bloc is contradicting itself rather than being honest with Quebeckers. Once again, the Bloc is showing its true colours: it will say anything. Quebec deserves better. The Bloc is not serving Quebeckers.

Potash IndustryOral Questions

2:15 p.m.


Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government wants Canadians to be quiet about the sell-off of Saskatchewan's potash industry to foreign control. It does not want to hear anything more.

The Conservatives negotiated with a hostile bidder over the weekend, but now they do not want to listen to anyone else, not even the Premier of Saskatchewan.

Since the Minister of Industry had lots of time to tweet this weekend about going to bed early, having a nice romantic dinner, enjoying a hockey game and watching a Hallowe'en movie, will he be able to assure Saskatchewan that its premier's advice has been heard and heeded?