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House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

[Members sang the national anthem]

The BudgetStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week's budget delivered good news for Canadians right across the country.

The big winners in Thursday's budget were taxpayers, as the government committed to balance the budget over the medium term through fiscal discipline, not higher taxes.

From coast to coast, our budgetary plan received accolades from observers and experts. The chamber of commerce in my wonderful riding of North Vancouver is pleased that the government is committed to balancing the nation's books and strongly believes that this is possible without tax hikes.

It also welcomes our strategy to promote a more competitive economy. Part of that strategy was unveiled yesterday as this government moved to enhance the competitiveness of Canadian industry by eliminating tariffs on manufacturing imports. Unilateral tariff relief is a truly exciting concept that will put manufacturers in my riding and across the country in a better position to grow exports and compete with the world.

Improved competitiveness creates jobs and economic growth, and that is good news for Canadians.

TibetStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are commemorating the 51st anniversary of the national uprising in Tibet, when Tibetans opposed the presence of Chinese communists on their territory.

The failure of this uprising led to the repression of the Tibetan people and ultimately to the exile of the Dalai Lama, who is still exiled to this day.

I want to highlight this sad event to remind Canadians that we must defend our cultural diversity and tolerance of differences.

It goes without saying that I support the people of Tibet who are working to achieve freedom, because unfortunately they continue to live in fear and are unable to freely practice their religion.

To our friends in Tibet, I want them to know that Canadians are standing by their side in the hopes that real progress will be made soon.

TibetStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Meili Faille Bloc Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, March 10 marks the 51st anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against the systematic, brutal oppression Tibet suffered at the hands of Chinese authorities.

That is also when the Dalai Lama and other groups of Tibetans fled to India. This anniversary commemorates the thousands of Tibetans who died that day, as well as the thousands of Tibetan martyrs sent to forced labour camps in China.

After more than half a century, the preservation of Tibetan culture and heritage is threatened. Little has changed when it comes to human rights. Unfortunately, Tibetans are not likely to find the peace and tranquillity they once knew any time soon.

Together, let us recognize the strength of these people, who have not lost hope that their government in exile will find the common ground that will allow them to preserve their culture and religion.

The Government of Canada has a moral obligation to defend Tibet's right to regional autonomy and must urge the international community to push for substantive negotiations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama.

Mark Anthony GrahamStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commend Hamilton City Council, under the leadership of Mayor Fred Eisenberger, with particular recognition to ward 8 councillor, Terry Whitehead, in changing the name of Olympic Park located on the West Mountain portion of my riding to the Mark Anthony Graham Memorial Olympic Park in honour of a respected Hamilton soldier who died tragically four years ago in Afghanistan.

Born in Jamaica, Mark grew up in Hamilton. He attended Chedoke Middle School and Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School, and in 1992 represented Canada at the Barcelona Summer Olympics in the 4x400 metre relay team. Even after his renowned success at the University of Nebraska and Kent State as a track and field athlete, Mark returned to Sir Allan MacNab Secondary School to help coach the next generation of local track athletes.

Mark Anthony Graham went on to serve in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. He was deployed to Afghanistan where, on September 4, 2006, he made the ultimate sacrifice.

Renaming this park affords our community a fitting tribute to this outstanding Hamiltonian. We will remember his legacy both as a gifted athlete and a soldier who selflessly served our city and our country.

International Women's WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week is International Women's Week, time to reflect on women's achievements.

Women in Canada have come a long ways since the 1876 law which said, “Women are persons in matters of pains and penalties, but are not persons in matters of rights and privileges”.

This was an illogical definition that excluded women from exercising fundamental rights. How could well-educated, civilized, legal minds of that day arbitrarily define a whole class of persons as “not persons”.

This law proved that too many people, even well-educated ones, put blinders on their eyes to deny human rights when it suits their own self-interest. By fooling ourselves, we make fools of ourselves in the eyes of history. Even 21st century Canadians are not immune.

In the spirit of the struggle for women's rights, let us ensure that all our laws recognize the human rights of every human being.

Music AwardsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, recently, Atlantic Canada witnessed a massive outpouring of pride in our culture.

Hundreds of delegates and thousands of music fans gathered for a musical extravaganza highlighting the best in east coast music.

Cape Breton was a sea of music as ECMA's delegates gathered and performers treated fans at night jam sessions, concerts, schools and shopping malls, while the award show at Centre 200 on Sunday night capped off what was arguably the world's longest and largest kitchen party.

It was a night of heartfelt tributes as the famous Inverness county Rankin family were awarded the Director's Special Achievement Award and Joel Plaskett from Dartmouth cleaned up with six awards.

Sydney songwriter and musician, Scotty Turner, along with Richmond county duo, Cornelia and Billy MacLeod, received awards.

I want all members to honour the organizers, delegates, musicians and fans for an amazing display of east coast talent, proving once again that Cape Breton is Canada's music and hospitality capital.

Arctic Winter GamesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week, the city of Grande Prairie and the Peace Country at large play host to the circumpolar world and the Arctic Winter Games. These games will proudly represent Canada as a northern nation, exhibiting the best in Arctic sportsmanship.

I have no doubt that our athletes will make us proud showcasing the many talents of our northern communities.

Over the past three years, the local organizing committee has worked tirelessly to plan and execute this world-class event. The hundreds of volunteers, some of whom have spent the last number of months preparing for the games and the cultural events, have demonstrated the vitality and the hospitality of our community and our country.

On behalf of the Government of Canada and on behalf of Peace Country residents, I want to thank the sponsors, the organizers, the athletes and the volunteers who have worked so hard to make the 2010 Arctic Winter Games such an overwhelming success.

CubaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Dorion Bloc Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were shocked to learn that a Cuban prisoner, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, died on February 23 after being on a hunger strike for two months to protest the conditions in which he was being held. Sentenced to 25 years in prison, he is the first political prisoner in Cuba to die in prison since 1972. And now, Agence France-Presse is reporting that another dissident, Guillermo Fariñas, has become seriously ill since he, too, went on a hunger strike.

While the Cuban government has the right to protect its national sovereignty against foreign intervention, that does not relieve Cuba of its international obligations to respect fundamental human rights. Nothing can justify suspending those rights.

The Bloc Québécois joins the international community in expressing its deep regret at the death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. We also call on the Cuban government to respect fundamental human rights.

The BudgetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc falsely claims that there is nothing good for Quebec in the budget.

Our government has brought down a budget that will allow Quebeckers to benefit from tax cuts, resources for innovation and commercialization, spinoffs from the economic action plan that will help preserve and create jobs, and tariff elimination, which will make businesses more competitive.

The budget also contains other measures for Quebec: continued investment in infrastructure; assistance for our fishers; potential access to $75 million for livestock processing, in agriculture; several million dollars for community revitalization; help to make SMEs and communities more competitive; and research and development initiatives for green energy in support of forestry industry workers. More importantly, Quebec will continue to benefit from significant federal transfers.

The Bloc Québécois claims to defend the interests of Quebec, but in fact, it is only defending its own interests. Our Conservative government is getting things done for Quebeckers and Canadians.

James OtchakovskiStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the entire Peel Liberal caucus to honour the life of Constable James Otchakovski.

On March 1, Constable Otchakovski was responding to a call when his cruiser collided with another car and then a light post. Constable Otchakovski was rushed to a hospital and sadly passed away on March 2.

Constable James Otchakovski was a two-year veteran of the Peel Regional Police Force's 21st Division where he served with distinction. He was a committed police officer.

His passing reminds us of the important work done by all of Peel's first responders. Our community is a safer place because of the work of people like Constable Otchakovski.

With the tragic news of the loss of yet another officer this week just outside of London, I hope all members will join with me in offering my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Constable Otchakovski and the entire Peel Regional Police family at this difficult time.

International TradeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, our thoughts and prayers are also with those families.

In these times of economic uncertainty, the government has acted aggressively in its pursuit of free trade. Canada is a trading nation. Two-thirds of our economy relies on trade. Free trade is essential in creating jobs and strengthening the economy for Canadian workers.

Last month we negotiated a deal with the Obama administration to resolve “buy American”, which had been a persistent irritant with our strongest trading partner. In last week's throne speech, we stated our commitment to an aggressive free trade agenda with countries in all regions of the world.

Year two of Canada's economic action plan shows that Canada is a world leader in tearing down trade barriers by making Canada the first country in the G20 to create a tariff-free zone for manufacturers. This will enhance economic prosperity and create jobs here in Canada.

It is clear this government is committed to resisting protectionism, and promoting free trade and open markets. Our government is acting and acting aggressively, and making sure Canada--

International TradeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for London--Fanshawe.

Social ProgramsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, following the last meeting with G8 leaders, the Prime Minister announced that the health of women and children must be a priority. Determinants of health include adequate housing, access to nutritious food, and quality child care.

Budget 2010 will be the final year of the government's meagre commitment to affordable housing, emergency shelters, and the homeless.

In my community, this means My Sister's Place, a resource centre for women struggling with abuse or mental issues, will have to find other sources to make up the more than $145,000 in federal funding or eliminate staff and programs that help the very people the Prime Minister said should be a priority.

Budget 2010 provides a small increase of $3.25 a week for families with young children, but zero new child care spaces. When it comes to putting our money where the Conservatives' mouths are, they give that money to the big banks and oil companies, and leave women and children behind.

UkraineStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are known for promoting democracy around the world. This year is no different.

In February I had the privilege of travelling to Ukraine to observe another historic presidential election. I joined hundreds of dedicated Canadian volunteers, including the hon. member for Edmonton East, Senator Raynell Andreychuk, and Senator Consiglio Di Nino. Our volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure the elections were both fair and democratic.

This afternoon, many of these observers will meet with the Prime Minister here in Ottawa to commemorate this historic event. Among them are representatives from the Canada Ukraine Foundation and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Canadian Ukrainians have strong ties to their home country and we will continue to strengthen this bond. We are proud to support the people of Ukraine during these elections and in their continued democratic development.

I wish to thank each and every Canadian who volunteered in Ukraine and observed the presidential election.

François LanoueStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, March 3, Reverend François Lanoue passed away in Joliette. Quebec is mourning the loss of an exceptional person, a man who distinguished himself through his many contributions to the world of education and culture. His memory will live on in the hearts of the people of the Lanaudière region.

One of his accomplishments was co-founding the Musée d'art de Joliette with Father Wilfrid Corbeil. He was also the president of the Joliette-De Lanaudière historical society from 1985 to 1993, where he kept alive the memory of New Acadia.

Born in Saint-Jacques de Montcalm, Reverend Lanoue taught at the Joliette seminary. Bernard Landry and Jean Chrétien, two of his pupils, paid a stirring tribute to this extraordinary teacher.

François Lanoue was ordained in 1943. He worked on a number of cultural projects, including the religious art movement, and was the diocesan representative at the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church until 2007.

It is with great respect that I salute this very dedicated man. We will remember his love for the Lanaudière region and his passion for sharing his vast knowledge.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is always quick to comment on any court judgment that does not align with its get tough on crime rhetoric. Why just as recently as January, the Prime Minister publicly criticized a Toronto judge for handing down a sentence he deemed to be too light.

Interestingly, Conservative MPs are now maintaining stunning silence when one of their own, a dangerous driver who failed a breathalyzer test and was caught in possession of illicit drugs, was released with no criminal record and just a slap on the wrist. Even the judge in this case called the outcome “a break” for the former Conservative MP.

In the past, the Prime Minister has said, “We believe we have to send a message” to individuals caught with even a small amount of illicit drugs. Why the double standard?

Nothing before stopped them from commenting. Does the government stand by its rhetoric of getting tough on crime or is this just more Conservative hypocrisy?

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is the Liberal leader's plan for the economy? Well, he has really only ever talked about two things: tax more so he can spend more.

He says a job-killing GST hike is on the table. He brags he was the first Liberal to call for a carbon tax on everything. All his MPs and advisers talk about is the need for higher taxes. What would the Liberal leader do with the billions of new taxes that he would ask Canadians to pay?

The Liberals want higher taxes on everything: taxes for grandiose and costly environmental plans; taxes for more Liberal social engineering programs; and taxes for megaproject after megaproject.

For the Liberals, it is all about tax, tax, tax and spend, spend, spend.

They just do not get it. Higher taxes and reckless spending will not create jobs, and they will not encourage economic growth.

Canadians know full well that the Liberal plan for the economy is very simple: tax more, spend more.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it has been nearly a week since the government appointed Justice Iacobucci to study documents in the Afghan detainee torture scandal, but the Conservatives still have not told us about what he has been asked to do, so I want to ask the Prime Minister this.

When will we see Justice Iacobucci's written mandate? What will the mandate be and when will he report to us about his findings?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think we have been very clear. We are asking Justice Iacobucci to look at all of the documents that have been previously reviewed by public servants in terms of access to information. Justice Iacobucci will conduct a thorough inquiry on those documents and he will report according to his terms of reference.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this government shut down Parliament. It intimidated witnesses. It withheld crucial documents from Parliament. The Canadian people are tired of this. It is adding a democratic deficit to this country's operation.

We need to know who in government knew what and when about torture in Afghan jails, and that should be the justice's mandate.

Why will the Prime Minister not give him the power to do the proper job? Why will he not appoint a public inquiry?

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, obviously, I categorically reject all of the unfounded allegations contained in that question.

The fact of the matter is that Canadian public servants have reviewed and have made all documents available that are publicly available under the law. We are asking Justice Iacobucci to review their work to doubly ensure that that is the case.

However, I remind the House that it was this government that instituted, three years ago, the present transfer agreement with Afghan authorities to correct deficiencies from those agreements that were never dealt with in the past by that government.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the allegations regarding the transfers came after the new agreement was in place. That is the problem. The Conservatives said that they fixed the problem, but they did not. That is why we need a public inquiry led by Justice Iacobucci.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the government, through our access to information officials, gave the opposition and the public all of the documents that were legally available. We have asked former Justice Iacobucci to review their work to make sure this is the case.

So far, the evidence has been clear: the Canadian Forces, the diplomats and all the Government of Canada officials have always acted responsibly.

AfghanistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that Justice Iacobucci has done a report on the Canadian government and torture. Nearly two years ago, his report on three falsely accused Canadians tortured abroad was given to this government. It ignored it and did nothing.

Why would Canadians believe it will be different with the torture of Afghan detainees? After prorogation failed to make it go away, all Canadians see are excuses to buy time and bury the issue.

Is the Prime Minister not just using this respected jurist's good name to buy time and then ignore him all over again?