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House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was women.

Topics

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member. I listened carefully to her comments on the Speech from the Throne and there is just one thing I want to clear up with her. Why did her party vote against the transfers and equalization to the tune of more than $18 billion for the province of Quebec?

According to the vice-president of the governing party in Quebec, that represents 25% of her province's global budget. Why did the hon. member's party decide to vote against the transfers, which have increased by more than 50% over the past four years? When that party was in power, it declared that there was no fiscal imbalance.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to address my hon. colleague's concern.

We are dealing with a Speech from the Throne that contains a lot of inadequacies. It does not deal with the issues of jobs of today, jobs of tomorrow, poverty or a national housing strategy that we require. It certainly does not adequately deal with a number of these very key issues.

The Speech from the Throne needed more polish before being presented so that we could address the concerns of Canadians and have a vision toward where we should be as a country. I again repeat that while the issue is something that needs further discussion in terms of how we could have more fiscal equality in our country and better social mechanisms—

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Elmwood—Transcona.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to refer the member to page 14 of the throne speech where it says that the government is planning to introduce a new biometric passport that will significantly improve security. I would like to know from the government, and I am sure she would too, what the timeline is for that biometric passport.

Before the government is able to do something like this, it will need to negotiate on a world-wide basis with the organization that deals with and approves the form of passports. If it does not, we will have a biometric passport that will not be able to be read by any country that our citizens visit. I think the government is talking about the biometric being a fingerprint, an iris scan or face recognition. I am really not sure just where it is headed with this.

I would ask the member for her comments, especially in light of the fact that some provinces, like Manitoba, have gone ahead with enhanced driver's licences and now—

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I would like to give the member a chance to respond.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, that is a very interesting question. As the member said, some provinces have had to move ahead on some of these key issues because there has been a lack of leadership and vision from the federal government.

On the new biometric passport, the hon. member is correct. We will need to ensure that it meets international standards. It is very important, of course, for our continuing trade with other countries. We have a lot of people crossing borders and we need to move forward on this. Hopefully, we will do it expeditiously and have those agreements in place so we have mechanisms and means to ensure free trade in our country.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciated the reference to own the podium. My predecessor in Vancouver Quadra was the initiator of that and it has been very successful.

The member for Kootenay—Columbia, who I wish well in his retirement, talked about the importance of people's tax dollars being spent wisely, well and in an accountable way. Could the member comment on the increase in the Prime Minister's budget, the advertising program for Canada's economic plan and whether it fits that description?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague did an admirable job as a representative at the Olympics and will do so as well at the upcoming Paralympics. I wish her well on that.

With regard to “spent wisely, well and accountable”, I am quite concerned about some of the increases to the Privy Council Office, which, as I said in my speech, are increasing quite substantively. A tremendous amount of money has been added to that budget. Now that we are going to have a cap put on budgets, I think we will have a cap put on the higher level.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

I rise today in the House to speak in support of the Speech from the Throne and to speak to the positive and lasting impact it will have on all Canadians.

This government has been clear. Our priorities are creating jobs, growing the economy and reducing the deficit when our recovery from the global recession is apparent. The Speech from the Throne shows that we know where we are going and we have a plan to get there.

Last year at this time, Canadians were faced with uncertainty. Businesses were struggling to make a profit, layoffs were increasing, investments were strained and credit was more difficult to get.

We spoke with our constituents, consulted the experts, rolled up our sleeves and went to work on our economic action plan, a plan that would include, among other things, a $62 billion shot in the arm for the economy to get our country back to work and protect those hardest hit by the downturn.

The mayors, reeves and councillors throughout my riding have continued to express their gratitude for our government's investment in many of their infrastructure projects. They have told me that we were right on the mark with our economic action plan.

The stimulus measures of our plan have made an enormous difference in their communities, communities such as: the village of Clearwater in my riding, where an infrastructure stimulus fund award is helping to build a new water treatment centre to supply clean water to residents who, ironically, have been living on a boil water advisory for the past several years; and in the village of Notre-Dame which received a RInC award to provide a new concrete surface and artificial ice plant system, ensuring that the local arena continues to be the heart of the community and to be a gathering place for children and for families.

I am very proud to serve the region of Portage--Lisgar. I am very proud of my constituents' determination and will and what communities have been accomplishing with our assistance project by project.

It is my firm belief that as this government continues with determination and commitment to return to balanced budgets, to cut spending and to promote a more innovative and competitive economy, this nation will come into a period of prosperity and growth that will make us the envy of our international neighbours. That is why I support this government's strategy outlined in the Speech from the Throne.

At the same time, the Speech from the Throne acknowledges and invites all Canadians to take their rightful place.

This plan respects women, their diverse viewpoints and their right to express them. Today, women in Canada are some of the most successful in the world. Canadian women are business owners, farmers, students, professionals, stay at home moms, teachers and leaders in every sector. They are diverse in interest and occupation, in background and belief, and they care about the economy, the deficit and the ability of Canada to compete on the world stage.

Canadian women do not see themselves as victims who need to be taken care of by government. They see themselves as strong and capable and with greater capacity to prosper and to succeed than ever before. These are the women of Canada and I am very proud to be one of them and to have a government that respects us.

I recently invited the chambers of commerce from my riding to consult with their members and then to meet with me and let me know the challenges that they are facing and what they thought was the right path toward a speedy economic recovery. I received a very clear and consistent message: the economy is certainly the top priority. While we are starting to see signs of a recovery in Canada's economy, it is still fragile. My community leaders and chambers of commerce encouraged us. They said that it was time to cut back but with caution.

Our government feels the same way. So many businesses right now are experiencing cutbacks and many Canadians are earning less than they did prior to the global economic recession. That is why this government is looking first in its own backyard to improve efficiency, to lower costs and reduce the size of government and the public service. We are leading by example, comprehensively reviewing government administrative functions and looking for ways to reduce overhead and cut costs.

Especially important in my riding and outlined in the Speech from the Throne is the government's new direction to eliminate tariffs. By eliminating tariffs on inputs and machinery, we are fundamentally improving Canadians businesses. We are allowing Canadian industry to lower production costs and invest in the equipment it needs. We are enabling Canadian businesses to reduce administration and customs cost, which will attract investors, create jobs and result in lower consumer prices. We are sending out a very clear message that Canada is an investment and trade friendly country and we are open for business.

I was also pleased to hear in the Speech from the Throne that we are continuing to work with international neighbours to open new doors between our countries and provide a gateway to the broader markets in place, like the Middle East, Europe, Asia and North Africa. This is helping create duty-free access to markets for Canadian exporters, like livestock producers, a sector that has been so hard hit by market challenges and the global economic downturn. Farmers can know that our government is working hard around the world for Canadian farm families so that they can sell more products to more customers.

I believe crime continues to be a serious issue for Canadians and it demands the full attention of citizens and legislators. Canadians deserve to live in safe communities. The government is unwavering in our pledge to champion public safety issues in order to make Canadians safer in their homes, in their communities and on their streets. We are continuing to target crime through new measures like strengthening the national DNA data bank, cracking down on white collar crime and taking further action to investigate the disturbing number of unsolved cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women, including some in my own riding of Portage—Lisgar.

My private member's Bill C-391 to repeal the long gun registry is consistent with our government's approach to public safety and focusing resources where they can yield the most and the best results. I will continue to work hard to get the message out and to see my bill pass to end the long gun registry, which has been ineffective, irresponsible, expensive and wasteful, and it needs to end.

I also applaud the government for its decision to coordinate a new national strategy on childhood injury prevention. We work in partnership with non-government organizations, like the Manitoba Farmers with Disabilities located in my riding, and where people, like Jill Stafford and Neil Enns, work to make farms safer and provide support when injury occurs. That organization recently produced a new interactive farm safety DVD to help parents teach their children how to be safe on the farm. This government shares its concern in keeping Canadian children safe, and I commend that group for the excellent work it is doing in our region.

Our message is clear. The government will continue to help families and stand up for families. We will continue to stand up for taxpayers and for communities. We will continue to work hard for small businesses. We will continue to help the unemployed and those who need a job. We will keep focused on the future and where we want to be.

I encourage all members of the House to support the upcoming vote on the Speech from the Throne. Together this plan will help us build a stronger and a more united Canada.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Madam Speaker, right now we are facing the largest deficit in Canada's history, $54 billion or $56 billion, although the Parliamentary Budget Officer says that it is even higher.

The only thing we have really seen in the way of austerity is the Treasury Board President saying that he will eliminate some 250-odd jobs that were basically already vacant. If they were all full, however, it would only save about $1.3 million.

I wonder how the member would feel about saving some money on real waste. As an example, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation issued its award yesterday for waste and at the top of the list were ten percenters being sent out principally by Conservatives. In fact, 19 out of 20 were Conservative spenders at a cost of $10 million, which is almost 10 times the amount as the amount saved by cutting 250 positions. Would she support killing that measure which the Taxpayers Federation attacked?

Would she support cutting the tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in partisan advertising that the government puts on during the Olympics, the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl? Would she support ending things like ministers taking jets to Tim Hortons? Would she support cutting the increases in the Prime Minister's budget? While he is freezing other budgets, the Prime Minister's personal budget is increasing.

If the Conservatives were really interested in austerity, does the member not think that those would be the kinds of things that should be ended?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, first, Canadians know who to look at when it comes to wasting taxpayer dollars. It was unfortunately the previous Liberal government that spent money to reward its friends, that wasted money on boondoggles. When Canadians look at the government and the party that will support and stand up for taxpayers, it is this government.

I am very glad the member mentioned the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. It recently sent out a letter with regard to my bill, Bill C-391. It called on the public safety committee to not play games with the bill because of the money that had been wasted on the long gun registry, which was its prime concern. We want to stop that wasteful spending.

I would encourage the member not to play games at committee when it comes to that bill.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, as the member knows, the throne speech was on March 3, but four days before that, on February 27, there was an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in southern Chile. There was tsunami coastal flooding. It affected two million people and caused eight hundred deaths. In fact, 138 Canadians are still missing.

Last Saturday a social was held in Winnipeg, which raised $10,000. I am sure there will be social events across the country to raise money. The people at that social wanted to know whether the Canadian government would match dollar for dollar the personal donations of Canadians for the victims of the Chilean earthquake as it did in the Haitian catastrophe.

Will the member approach her leader, the Prime Minister, and ask him to give the same treatment to the victims of Chile as the government did for Haiti?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, all of us are just so saddened at the tragedy that happened in Chile. We saw the recent earthquake in Haiti and the tragedy that it went through. It is heartbreaking to see what is happening in Chile.

Our government has doubled its funding under CIDA. We respond and Canadians respond when they see a tragedy around the world. We want to see as much support go to these victims, their families and to the people who are suffering. All of us are united in that.

It is important that we carry this message forward, that we encourage Canadians to give. Canadians want to give, and they overwhelmingly gave to Haiti.

Therefore, I support any measure and our government supports helping our neighbours and people internationally who have been through these kinds of tragedies.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to the Speech from the Throne, which reiterates our government's priorities for the future. My comments will focus on our country's role as a leader on the world stage.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier commented that “Canada has been modest in its history, although its history is heroic in many ways”. Canada continues to have a history that is heroic in many ways. Our involvement abroad in the 20th century led us to discover many of these skills and talents.

As Governor General Michaëlle Jean laid out last week in her address to us, Canada continues to be involved abroad, sharing our nation's gifts with the world. The gifts to which I will refer today are our economic leadership, our foreign aid and our defence of democratic rights, each of which has earned us a spotlight on the international stage.

I represent a west coast riding that welcomed the world recently for the Olympic Games. I am looking forward to attending the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games tomorrow. Like the Olympics, I am honoured that most of the Paralympic Games will take place in the riding I represent. Truly, the games and other events of the past few years suggest that this is the beginning of Canada's century in a greater way than Laurier could have ever known.

Canada's fiscal health is the envy of the world. The Minister of Finance delivered a budget last week that will help to ensure that Canada's financial initiatives are models to which other countries look for guidance. This government is wrapping up its timely, targeted and temporary economic stimulus package, while moving directly toward spending restraint. This combination will continue to keep Canada in the forefront as a model for the world.

The throne speech referred to our Conservative government's rolling out of year two of the economic action plan. Our Minister of Finance has, by virtue of the plan, been recognized as the world's leading minister in that portfolio and all of this at such a difficult time in the world's economic history.

The economic stimulus part of the plan resulted in 16,000 projects across Canada, with positive effects in every corner of the riding that I represent and in the ridings represented by my colleagues in the House. Over $205 million has come to the riding that I represent since 2009, money which has in many cases been matched, once by provincial funds and again by municipal funding.

Projects include small craft harbour funding in Powell River and the Sunshine Coast, highway improvements in Sechelt, recreational infrastructure and sewer upgrades in West Vancouver and Bowen Island, pulp and paper mill expansions in Gibsons and Powell River, the replacement of the old blue bridge and highway upgrades for West Vancouver and North Vancouver, sewer system improvements for Lions Bay and, in Squamish, investments in a brand new heritage railway park and convention centre. In addition to Whistler's legacy of sports facilities, the resort municipality received a fleet of cutting-edge hydrogen buses.

These are only a few examples from my riding that evidence the stimulus package, a big part of Canada's economic success on the international stage.

Most of these projects would not have materialized without close co-operation among various levels of government. I enjoyed working with my provincial counterparts, mayors, first nations leaders, regional district leaders and councillors. This great co-operation among different levels of government is another distinct factor in Canada's leading the industrialized world out of the recession.

The Olympics and Paralympics showed our country that we could succeed in sport when we follow a plan. The Speech from the Throne showed the world our plan, the plan by which our country will continue to win gold in economic performance.

I would like to highlight five economic legacies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, legacies that were referred to in the throne speech. For each of the five Olympic rings, we can identify an economic legacy that will provide lasting benefits for our country.

First, due to the games, the Olympics brought Canada a wealth of opportunities for Canada to sell our goods and services. The internationally renowned consulting group PricewaterhouseCoopers anticipates significant growth in the Canadian economy due to the games, especially in B.C. While we are still awaiting the final numbers, the consultants concluded that, due to the games, British Columbia's GDP had increased by almost $1 billion and 10,500 jobs had been created in B.C. alone by the end of 2008.

Second, we heard of investment benefits. With a record TV audience, these games made it possible for more people than ever to hear about reasons to invest in Canada. We have the world's number one banking system and soon we will have the lowest corporate tax rates in the G7. We Canadians are proud that our debt-to-GDP ratio of only 31% is lower than either the U.S. at 67% or the U.K. at 75%. Through freezing salaries for the Prime Minister, cabinet ministers and members of Parliament, our government is leading by example for Canadians and people around the world, ensuring that we once again move toward a balanced budget.

Meanwhile, our investment climate has attracted Tim Hortons and others to choose Canada as its headquarters.

Third, the Olympics brought Canada tourism benefits. People who came for the games decided to come back. On March 1, the Vancouver Sun noted, concerning the U.S. alone, that:

—174 million Americans watched the Vancouver Games on NBC through the first 12 days, 24 per cent more than the entire last season of American Idol, while average viewership of 25.2 million was 20 per cent higher than the 2006 Winter Games.

Our tourism industry enjoyed the best advertising imaginable. This builds on the Prime Minister's great breakthrough in China last December when we achieved approved destination status for Canada, a status our government had sought for 12 years. The new status was a breakthrough, celebrated by people throughout my riding and around the country.

Fourth, we heard of foreign students, people who contribute hundreds of millions of dollars each year to our economy, while enriching our cultural and intellectual lives. We know that in 2008, students from South Korea alone spent over $750 million on goods and services in Canada. The tremendous showing of the Olympics and Paralympics will only bolster the number of students who come here from abroad.

Fifth, the games inspired Canadians to live healthier lives. Through healthier living, we will decrease ballooning health care costs, a double benefit for our country. Health and fitness benefits will also be promoted by my private member's bill, Bill C-475, tackling crystal meth and ecstasy drugs.

Canadians are proud of our reputation for helping other people around the world in their time of need. Let me therefore move from Canada's economic leadership to its role in providing aid to the neediest people around the world. With continued fiscal health, we will be able to ensure the success of its overseas commitments, and our government will, as mentioned in the throne speech, fulfill the promise that the previous government made in 2001 to double aid spending by 2010.

In terms of foreign aid, our Canadian Forces have demonstrated their capacity as agents of hope. Buoyed by their experiences through years of peacekeeping, and assisted by equipment furnished by this Conservative government, our forces were on the ground in Haiti within 20 hours of the devastating earthquake.

Our Prime Minister has visited Haiti twice since that earthquake, and Governor General Jean was there just yesterday. The Canadian public has, in a short period, contributed $130 million in donations, which our government matched. Canadians can be proud of our nation's response to this crisis.

I have discussed two important gifts that Canada is providing the world, its economic leadership and foreign aid, made possible by its resilient economy. The throne speech reflected in different ways upon a third gift, which rivals the first two in importance, and that is our robust democracy. Canada has always been a leader in promoting democracy at home and on the international stage.

As the Governor General outlined in the throne speech, our government has committed to increasing the number of seats in the chamber, particularly for underrepresented western Canada and Ontario. On the world stage, countries such as Iran have grown to expect a strong response from Canada when they deny their citizens basic human rights.

Canada's hosting of the G8 and G20 summits this coming summer will further highlight the Canadian democratic advantage. Our government has capitalized on our strong position and has invested time and effort in several free trade agreements. We will hear more about them in the upcoming session.

To sum up, this is indeed Canada's century. The Speech from the Throne offers an outline on how Canada will play an increasing role on the world stage, with strong economic leadership, effective foreign aid and an ongoing commitment to democratic rights. Through the commitments outlined in the speech, we are ensuring that in this Olympic year Canadians continue to compete and win gold on the world stage.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Madam Speaker, I have listened attentively to the speeches all afternoon, and I have heard absolutely nothing on the environment. The government is in its fifth year now, and we have seen three ministers, three plans.

The first minister announced for a year-and-a-half that we would have a made in Canada plan. She did absolutely nothing. The only things she did were to cut $6 billion of existing programming and to eliminate any reference to climate change on Environment Canada's website.

We had a second minister. He said that he would come forward with tough regulations for all major emitting industries. He did absolutely nothing, nothing in whatever language one wants to use.

Now we have a third minister. His plan is to start a dialogue with the Obama administration. Of course, he has done absolutely nothing on the environment.

It is a serious issue. Canadians from coast to coast are telling members they want it taken seriously.

Why has the government not done anything on the environment?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, this throne speech talked about staying the course. We are staying the course in terms of our commitment to the environment. We have a minister who has made robust commitments, achievable commitments, a minister who went to Copenhagen and came back. One of the first countries that signed that agreement was Canada and it made all Canadians proud.

We are not a government that is going to make commitments to unrealistic targets, but to specific and achievable targets with mandated penalties for those who fail to apply and comply to those targets.

I am proud to be a Canadian, to be in a country that leads in the environment and is not just blowing hot air.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member talked about two things. The first one was fiscal responsibility and the second was foreign aid.

I would like to make a couple of comments about them, and then perhaps the hon. member could make his comments or response on any one or all of the things that I mention.

First, there is fiscal responsibility. There has been a $13 million increase in the Prime Minister's Office budget. That does not sound like fiscal responsibility. There are $1,000 doorbells and plants, and using government jets when commercial airlines are just fine. On foreign aid, no one seems to know how much or if any of the money from CIDA has been released to help in relief in Haiti.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on any or all of those particular issues.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, if there is one thing that this Conservative government stands for it is for accountability. We have seen that accountability in terms of the fiscal stimulus projects. Some 16,000 projects across Canada to stimulate the economy, all driven by local priorities, and very clear criteria not by vested interests. It is money that has been spent well and accounted for.

In terms of foreign aid, none other than Bill Clinton complimented Canada for our quick and effective response to the crisis in Haiti, something that made all Canadians proud and raised eyebrows around the world for our excellent response.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for his excellent speech. I also want to thank him for all the good work he did during the Olympics, and how he represented his constituents and country. He did an excellent job.

I have been sitting here and listening to the different speeches from the opposition. I listened to my colleague's speech.

I was wondering if he could do a quick comparison for everyone, comparing the leadership shown by our government and our Prime Minister on the economy, foreign aid and tough on crime legislation to the vacuous speech that I heard from the Leader of the Opposition, that non-existent vision fixed with billions of dollars in promises and, I was entirely surprised, there was no plan for economic responsibility. How is he going to pay for these things?

Does the member have any ideas how the members of the opposition would pay for all of these billions of dollars in promises?

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, it is great to talk about dreams, but it is crazy to dream about talk. The difference between the two is huge.

Our government stands for specific goals. We have specific accountability. We are moving this country forward. That is why our country is at the top of the G7 in rebounding from the global recession. That is why, in terms of GDP ratios, our debt is the lowest of all the western countries. Meanwhile, the Leader of the Opposition has no specifics to offer us.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I will start by saying that I will share my time with the member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

I am particularly happy to speak today to criticize the throne speech, and I will try to use my 10 minutes to do so. It is clear that this throne speech has virtually no environmental commitments, but, quite the opposite, that it is setting us back considerably in a number of areas, which I will try to talk about today.

First, members should know that this government's plan is to multiply Canadian oil and gas projects while eliminating the environmental safety net that should be an essential part of a sustainable development strategy.

Let us take this example from page 21 of the throne speech, where the government said, “[the government] has pursued a balanced approach to emissions reduction—”.

But at the same time, it is saying that it plans:

—to support responsible development of Canada’s energy and mineral resources, our Government will untangle the daunting maze of regulations that needlessly complicates project approvals, replacing it with simpler, clearer processes that offer improved environmental protection and greater certainty to industry.

What does that really mean? It became clear the following day, when the budget was presented. The government announced that oil projects, among other things, would no longer be assessed by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, but would be assessed by Canada's National Energy Board, which will have ramifications on the Department of Natural Resources and financial ramifications on the government. There is every indication that the government is preparing for some rapid, major development of oil and energy resources in the west, at the expense of an environmental safety net.

If the government plans on forgetting about this environmental protection, it must understand that it will have to deal with opposition from the Bloc Québécois. Quebec created the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement. We believe that projects should be done in consultation with communities. We believe that projects should be assessed in accordance with certain environmental regulations. There is no question of weakening environmental regulations or assessments.

Second, the government is singing its own praises in the throne speech. It says it will “continue to take steps to fight climate change by leading the world in clean electricity generation”. That is a bare-faced lie. Not only has the government the gall to step out before the world and renege on its 1997 commitments with respect to the Kyoto accord, but it holds out to the world a throne speech that dares to call Canada a world leader in clean energy. That is totally unacceptable.

The government, on the contrary, intends to increase the production of oil from the tar sands, and, to do so, it will invest in nuclear energy. It announced $300 million in its budget for the development of nuclear power. We are not talking about $300 million to develop medical isotopes. It is for developing more energy in order to produce more oil from the tar sands. This does not come from us.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited—AECL—has signed an agreement with Energy Alberta Corporation to develop ways to use Candu reactors to provide the steam needed to extract the oil from the tar sands and thus produce more. This is from AECL's website. So the opposition is not talking gibberish. Quite the contrary. The government's economic policy and strategy are focused in essence on the interests of the west, to the detriment of Quebec.

Third, this government tells us that it intends to protect the environment. And yet, what did we see in the budget? We saw a government that has refused to renew funding for research on climate. We must remember that, some 10 years ago, the federal government created the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, which funded research centres at the University of Sherbrooke, in the riding of my colleague from Sherbrooke, and at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Should the government not know it, it is called the ESCER centre. Essentially, the foundation's budget funded young researchers working in the fight against climate change and developing a climate model so as to be better able to reach our greenhouse gas reduction objectives.

What did the government do? It decided to cut the project and not renew it. Why? Does it surprise us? No. The member for Beauce had said three weeks earlier in an open letter that he did not believe in climate change or in any scientific basis linking increased greenhouse gas emissions with human activity.

The member for Beauce thus paved the way for the government's announcement in its throne speech and budget statement as well. The effect of this will be very serious, because, at international conferences on climate change, Canada will be unable to present national reports making it possible to evaluate the impact of climate change on the various regions of Canada. This is tantamount to denying the existence of climate change.

If a government refuses to give researchers the means to develop scientific proof of the existence of climate change, we have to assume that it does not believe in climate change.

It is not surprising, because we heard the Prime Minister say at the Copenhagen conference that, basically, he did not believe in the Kyoto accord, that he did not believe 1990 should be the reference year, when developing countries, Europe and all those supporting the Kyoto accord believed that 1990 should be used as the reference year.

Our Prime Minister went to Copenhagen and refused, before the international community, to set out Canada's positions. Why? Because this government has always denied the existence of climate change. Since 1997, it has made economic choices favouring the west, its interests, its electoral base and the development of the oil industry in Canada. All that, when Quebec made a totally different choice. Since 1997, Quebec has opted for the Kyoto accord and renewable energy.

Once again, the throne speech and the budget show that Canada has two faces, but only one vision focused on the west.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

2 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Chair NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member will have five minutes for questions and comments following oral question period.

Olympic AthletesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

Madam Speaker, London, Ontario is Canada's golden city. Long after the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, the golden glow continues in our community. Londoners are exceptionally proud of our local Olympians.

We sent six athletes from our London region to compete in three sports and every single one of them came home with a gold medal. This bears repeating. Every single Londoner who competed in the Olympics is a gold medallist, and while communities across our country lay various claims to our Olympians, London's claim is no less strong.

Congratulations to Christine Nesbitt, Scott Moir, Tessa Virtue, Drew Doughty, Corey Perry and Joe Thornton. Hockey players Rick Nash and Pat Kane, along with Corey, were part of the legendary London Knights and did our city proud.

To our Olympians I say that their results were the best in the world and they had us cheering louder than they could ever imagine. While we shared in their dream, we know they did the work. They made the commitment. They won the gold, and for that they deserve every accolade they receive. I thank them for making London Canada's golden city.

Azeri CommunityStatements By Members

March 11th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise here today to ask the House to join me and the Azeri community in commemorating the Khojaly tragedy, which took place 18 years ago on February 25 and 26.

I know those date has passed.

However, I think it is important for Canada, as a global nation, home to people from different countries who came here to find new beginnings, to recognize the tragedies that once marred their lives and mourn with them, however briefly.

The tragedy of lost human life is still too common in a world plagued by civil strife. Canada, through democracy and rule of law, has found peaceful resolution to our own civil disagreements. By remembering tragedies such as Khojaly, we can hopefully help our new citizens to remember the past while beginning anew to embrace values of peaceful coexistence here in Canada.

Jacques HétuStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paule Brunelle Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 9, 2010, Jacques Hétu, a composer and musician from Trois-Rivières, passed away at the age of 71.

The composer most frequently performed abroad, and considered Quebec's greatest composer ever, he also enjoyed a brilliant career teaching music at Université Laval, Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal.

Jacques Hétu was made a member of the Royal Society of Canada in 1989, an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001 and officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2007. Just a few days before his death, he received the Opus homage award from the Conseil québécois de la musique for his life's work.

He has left us with a remarkable body of work, including five symphonies and several chamber music compositions. In 2008, Jacques Hétu was inducted into the Panthéon de la musique classique in Trois-Rivières, where a music school was named in his honour in 1999.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I wish to extend sincere condolences to his family and friends.