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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

Gender Equity in Indian Registration ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

National Office for Fire and Emergency Response Statistics ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-495, An Act to amend the Statistics Act (National Office for Fire and Emergency Response Statistics).

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to introduce a bill that would create a national office for fire and emergency response statistics.

This office would build a database to compile fire and emergency response statistics from across the country. These statistics would be a valuable and much needed source of information that could help our firefighters and policymakers analyze data to keep our communities safer.

Last year I met with Gord Ditchburn, president of the Vancouver Fire Fighters' Union, and Chris Coleman from that union's government and public affairs committee. They told me that Canada does not track fire statistics and they were missing this important tool to help them do their jobs, keeping Canadians and firefighters safe.

Just yesterday my colleague from Ottawa Centre and I met with Ottawa firefighters John Sobey and Rob Collins. They, too, told us about their need for a comprehensive source of information on fire damage, fire deaths and emergency response times in Canada.

I am proud to rise in this House today to propose legislation that would fulfill this sound and needed request.

There are many other things that the government could and should be doing to support firefighters. We should implement a public safety officer compensation benefit for the families of fallen police and firefighters. We should include firefighter safety considerations in the national building code. We should expand our fire database to eventually include comprehensive information on all aspects of firefighting that could be shared from Nova Scotia to British Columbia.

Finally, this bill is one important component of what firefighters have been calling for. I urge all members of this House to join with me in supporting our firefighters. Support this bill and give firefighters access to the information they need to keep us all safe.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-496, An Act to change the name of the electoral district of New Westminster--Coquitlam.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a piece of legislation that is of concern to the people in my riding.

Nestled between the Fraser River and the Pacific Ocean, with the beautiful coast mountains as the backdrop, my riding includes three distinct communities, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Port Moody.

When the riding name was updated in 2006, only two of these communities were recognized. Port Moody's name was not included in the title, and as a distinct and important part of my riding I am hoping that the House will consent to correct that. This is the aim of this piece of legislation.

I am very proud of my riding and I would ask that all members of the House lend their support to this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Tanning Equipment Warning (Cancer Risks) ActRoutine Proceedings

March 11th, 2010 / 10:05 a.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-497, An Act warning Canadians of the cancer risks of using tanning equipment.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Surrey North for seconding my bill that would create an act warning Canadians of the cancer risks of using tanning equipment.

Her family and my family all too well know the dangers and risks of skin cancer, in particular melanoma, and I have been wanting to bring this bill forward to draw everyone's attention to the dangers of using tanning equipment.

Last summer the World Health Organization, under the advice of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, made the recommendation to move tanning equipment to the highest cancer risk category and is now calling tanning beds carcinogenic to humans.

Young people are most at risk and so the bill would develop warning labels and increase signage in tanning salons to ensure that people could see these risk factors, know that there is a chance of getting skin cancer, as well as other premature aging and other issues associated with the use of tanning equipment.

More importantly, we must ensure that the youth of our country are not unnecessarily using these devices. Research has shown that if one starts tanning before the age of 30 in artificial tanning beds that one's risk of cancer increases 75%.

Therefore, these are huge risk factors and we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can from a standpoint of consumer awareness, and this bill would make that happen.

I look forward to everyone's support.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Firearms RegistryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition signed by 726 of my constituents, who are calling for Parliament to reject Bill C-391, which would abolish the firearms registry. These 726 people, like the majority of Quebeckers—women's groups, police chiefs, survivors of the Polytechnique and Dawson massacres—all agree that the registry should be maintained and that it is an important tool for crime prevention.

Three unanimous motions adopted by the Quebec National Assembly called for the registry to be maintained in its entirety. A majority of women and children who are killed by firearms are killed by long guns. Therefore, it is important to preserve this firearms registry, which is consulted over 10,000 times a day by police officers.

This government must listen to the consensus in Quebec once and for all.

Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like today to present petitions on behalf of my constituents who have been victims of violent crimes by young offenders.

In support of the family of 15-year-old Baden Willcocks who was murdered on June 19, 2009, the petitioners call upon Parliament to implement the necessary changes to the Young Offenders Act for the benefit of the victims' families whose lives have been destroyed by violent crimes committed by young offenders.

Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric SciencesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am presenting a petition calling on the Government of Canada to restore funding to the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences.

The petitioners want the government to know that interruptions in funding for climate sciences may cause experts to leave Canada and some research groups to be shut down. It takes decades to develop such groups, and their disappearance would not only negate the important investments of time and money made in the past but would also be wasteful if ongoing research projects could not run their course. Furthermore, the loss of Canadian expertise in climate science would decrease our ability to predict climate change and to adapt, all in the middle of the warmest winter in history in many areas of Canada.

The Conservative government must not send us back to the times of Galileo, when scientific dogma was imposed by the authorities.

Animal WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. The first is from 100 people in Saskatchewan calling on the federal government to support a universal declaration on animal welfare.

The second petition is a bit related with 90 petitioners in total. They want the federal government to amend the animal transport regulations under Canada's Health of Animals Act to reduce transport time for pigs, poultry, horses, calves, lambs, cattle, sheep and goats.

Aviation SafetyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present. First, I rise to present a petition signed by individuals from all across the country calling on the government to initiate a judicial inquiry into the state of aviation safety in Canada. They note that the government is intent on reducing aviation oversight and cutting back on inspections.

The government has failed to protect whistleblowers who report unsafe practices and the government is putting financial considerations ahead of the safety of aviation workers and the travelling public. These individuals call on the government to stop ignoring its responsibilities and to do its job to keep Canadians safe. I am honoured to rise today to present their call for action.

Animal WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by residents of Vancouver Kingsway urging government support for a universal declaration on animal welfare. This declaration calls for states to take all appropriate steps to prevent cruelty to animals and to reduce their suffering. It calls for the development of standards for animal welfare governing the treatment of farm animals, companion animals, animals in scientific research, and animals in recreational uses and wildlife.

It recognizes the scientific consensus that animals are sentient, have the capacity to have feelings, to experience suffering and pleasure. I spoke in support of the declaration on animal welfare when it was before the House last year and I am pleased to rise again on this important subject to present this petition on behalf of my constituents and prevent cruelty toward all animals.

Canadian ForcesPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from approximately 70 constituents in my riding. They are seeking through their petition to have our Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan come home as soon as possible and indeed, as they say in the petition, immediately. They cite a number of concerns which I will leave for the government's consideration.

Air Passenger Bill of RightsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my petition has dozens of signatures calling on Parliament to adopt Canada's first air passenger bill of rights. In fact, Bill C-310 would provide compensation to airline passengers flying with all Canadian carriers, including charters, anywhere they fly in the world. The bill would include measures on compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and unreasonable tarmac delays. The bill would deal with late and misplaced baggage. It would deal with all-inclusive pricing by airline companies in their advertising.

It is inspired by the European Union law where overbookings have dropped significantly in Europe in the last five years. Air Canada is already operating under these European laws for its flights to Europe, so the question is why should Air Canada customers receive better treatment in Europe than they do in Canada?

The bill would ensure that passengers are kept informed of flight changes, whether there are delays or cancellations. The new rules have to be posted at the airport. Airlines must inform passengers of their rights and the process to file for compensation. The bill is not meant to punish the airlines. If they follow the rules, they will not have to pay one dollar in compensation to travellers.

The petitioners call on the government to support Bill C-310 which would introduce Canada's first air passenger bill of rights.

Animal WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present petitions on behalf of two ridings. I would like to table these petitions today on behalf of the constituents of my riding of Palliser and on behalf of the constituents of the riding of Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre.

The petitioners note that one billion people around the world rely on animals for their livelihood and many other rely on animals for their companionship. They feel it is important that animals be considered during relief efforts and emergency planning. They call on the Government of Canada to support a universal declaration on animal welfare. I am pleased to table these petitions on their behalf.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 3 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:15 a.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, when I was casting around for things to say about the throne speech, I found myself recalling a story about a famous writer. She was once asked what she thought about a certain American city, and she replied, “There is no there there.” It is what I feel about the speech from the throne: there is no there there.

The Prime Minister shut down Parliament to recalibrate the government's agenda, and so we had expectations. We thought there would be great visions, great plans for the people and the country, but of course there is none of that there.

Recalibration was a fiction. It was a flimsy excuse from a Prime Minister who gambled on the cynicism of the Canadian people and lost. Canadians saw through it and their response was clear: do not mess with Parliament; do not mess with democracy; get back to work.

Everyone in Canada knows why the Prime Minister shut down Parliament. It was to avoid difficult questions, probing questions about the Afghan detainee issue. Those questions will not go away now that Parliament is back in session. The government can try to cover up the truth. It has censored documents, intimidated witnesses and slandered whistle-blowers.

Now the government is trying to hide behind Justice Iacobucci, but the Conservatives have not asked him to get at the truth. They have asked him to decide which documents Parliament and the public can see, which is not the same thing at all. We still have not seen his written mandate. Justice Iacobucci, for whom everyone on this side of the House has the greatest respect, is the right man, but with the wrong job.

On this side of the House, we have been clear. Regarding the Afghan detainee scandal, Parliament will not be satisfied with anything less than the truth, because that is what Canadians deserve.

Because of prorogation, because of this government's contempt for Canada's institutions, we have a democratic deficit to go with our budget deficit

In terms of the economy, after over two months of prorogation, the government had promised a throne speech focused on innovation and the jobs of the future. The government did not keep its word in that regard either.

In fact, this throne speech will pass into forgetfulness. It will be ignored by history, but it will be remembered for one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the history of Canadian politics, one of the most remarkable flip-flops anyone in the House has ever seen: a promise to change O Canada that lasted for 48 hours.

When one then thinks about how that could have happened, one begins to imagine what the Prime Minister was thinking. He was thinking that we are in the worst economic downturn in half a century, 1.6 million Canadians are out of work, our pension systems are in crises, Canadian women are making 72¢ on the dollar, and what we really need now are new words to O Canada.

The real question is, having jettisoned one gimmick over the side, what is the next gimmick the government is going to throw away?

The throne speech is just chockablock with gimmicks. At a time when seniors need our help, what do they get? They get Seniors' Day. At a time when some of our veterans are struggling with serious, serious things like post-traumatic stress disorder, what do they get? They get Vimy Day. Do not misunderstand me; we support Vimy Day. My grandfather fought with the units that fought at Vimy Ridge. We support Vimy Day. We support Seniors' Day. But does the Prime Minister seriously believe that these are adequate responses to the problems and challenges faced by our veterans, seniors and families?

On jobs and innovation, the throne speech does not so much hold water as it treads water.

The Conservatives never did grasp the fact that profound changes were taking place in both the Canadian economy and the global economy.

Canada needs to be prepared for a new world. Energy will be more expensive. Pollution will have a price. The Canadian dollar will be worth as much as the American dollar. The expertise of Canadians will become our greatest resource, and the most dynamic markets will be India and China, not the United States.

This is the world our children will grow up in, and they will needs jobs to feed their families. The throne speech fails to address the challenges that await them.

Canadian workers understand the challenges of our times, but their government is not listening.

This throne speech leaves our shared destiny to chance, that is to say, to laissez-faire.

Look at the specific issue of health care about which there is a stunning silence throughout this throne speech. Our families depend on world-class medical care, diagnostics and treatment in every region of the country. Never forget that this is the government that twice left Canadians without a supply of nuclear diagnostics for cancer and heart treatment.

We still have not met the challenge that we face in the health care system in other areas. I want to focus on one issue in particular: access to health care in rural, remote and northern communities, where families have to cope with a lack of specialists, mental health services, pediatrics and care for the elderly. These are real issues and the federal government has a positive role to play here. We have to work with the provinces and territories and our rural communities to strengthen rural and remote health care and we have to start doing it now.

That is the message I got from a consultation that was held in the great city of Guelph last month. If we add on top of that the fact that our population is getting older and our workforce is shrinking, the government will have an increased burden of retired persons to fund and support. The passage of time will make the strain on our health care system more acute and widespread, but rather than meet the challenge, the government has run away.

Getting health care costs under control is crucial. There is a long-term solution; we have been saying this for more than a year. My hon. colleague from St. Paul's has made important contributions in this regard. The long-term solution has to be health promotion, prevention and education. Our goal has to be more health and less health care. However, there is nothing here on health promotion, illness prevention or community-based health, all of which hold a solution to making us both healthier and keeping health care costs under control.

Let us recall on this side of the House the important reputation of a great Canadian, Tommy Douglas. Tommy Douglas used to speak about the second stage of medicare, about keeping Canadians healthy and keeping them out of the health care system in the first place. After about four decades of Tommy Douglas saying that, it is about time we got started.

This is the kind of forward-looking policy that Canadian families expected after two months of what we were told was recalibration. We expected policy that would ease the pressure on Canadian lives, but what did the government offer? Nothing.

For millions of Canadian families, their immediate concern is taking care of an aging parent and paying for their children's education. The government has forsaken those families.

Turning to another issue, we are in the midst of a pension crisis that threatens millions of seniors and older workers. The government's response to this reality is to create “senior's day”. If the government were to establish a day dedicated to everyone they are forsaking, we would have a holiday every day of the year.

When can we expect to see “unemployed workers' day”, “deficit day” or “truth day”? We cannot build the future of our country on such nonsense.

The federal government is responsible for the ties that bind us together as one country, as one great people. The government is casually but also deliberately relinquishing that responsibility in pensions, in health care, in domain after domain after domain, and the country will be weaker as a result. We must do more to give life to the compassion that holds our country together. That is what we will always stand for on this side of the House.

If this throne speech is defined by unmet expectations, it is equally defined by missed opportunities. Nowhere is this more remarkable than in the field of clean energy. One cannot put forward a credible strategy for innovation in the jobs of tomorrow and then ignore clean energy and clean technology. The world is racing into the future and the Conservatives are racing to get into the present.

Nothing illustrates this government's lack of vision more clearly than its total inaction on clean energy. This ideological approach is isolating Canada. In the United States, President Obama is investing six times more per capita than our Prime Minister in clean energy research. As we speak, the jobs of tomorrow are being created elsewhere. We must either act now or spend the next decade wishing we had.

But the missed opportunity of clean energy has direct consequences for Canadian industry and for every Canadian family.

Right now oil is trading at $80 a barrel and the world economy is still fighting off recession. Recovery will spur demand and prices will rise. High energy prices are good for Canada's energy sector, for natural gas in B.C. and Atlantic Canada, for oil and natural gas in Alberta and Saskatchewan. But high energy costs will hurt other sectors of our economy, putting jobs at risk. They will hurt Canadian families, especially when they get that home heating bill at the end of the month.

This throne speech was an opportunity to meet those challenges head on, to assert federal leadership in making Canada the most energy efficient economy in the world powered by renewables tied together with clean energy infrastructure and smart grids. The government could have made renewable power a national priority with coordinated efforts from Ottawa and the provinces, but the Conservatives missed this opportunity too. Last fall the Conservatives actually cancelled Canada's flagship federal renewable energy program, eco-energy, at exactly the time when the United States renewed its comparable program until 2012.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:25 a.m.

An hon. member

Unbelievable.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Indeed it is unbelievable, as my colleague said so well.

The Conservatives' approach to innovation, education and research is another missed opportunity. This government slashed $140 million in funding for research councils last year. It cut $160 million from the Canadian Space Agency. It cut the National Research Council of Canada. It scrapped 50 years of Canadian leadership in nuclear medicine.

The Conservatives have been putting some money into bricks and mortar, but they have neglected the brains. They are renovating university and college buildings while cutting funding for the research that goes on inside. Rather than make a long-term commitment to build a national knowledge economy for Canada, the Conservatives giveth and the Conservatives taketh away, and their bluster cannot conceal the truth of that.

It is unclear how the government could have imagined that it could create a credible innovation agenda without a comprehensive commitment to learning, starting with world-class early learning and child care, through post-secondary education and research, working with provinces and territories to fight literacy, which holds millions of Canadians back from achieving their full potential, providing enhanced language training in both official languages for new immigrants coming to our country, and lifting the cap on aboriginal post-secondary education.

That is how we Liberals want to develop a workforce for the new world economy. That is how we would create opportunities for our kids. That is how we would invest in Canadians.

Instead of a future filled with promise, this government is saying that we are in for some lean years. The Conservatives have promised to freeze departmental spending, but what programs are they going to cut? We do not know. This year may be the year of small cuts, but next year promises to be the year of the axe. They are going to justify the cuts by talking about the recession, but our deficit is the result of their own incompetence.

The Conservatives promised cuts and freezes to the programs Canadians count on, but meanwhile the government is spending $570 million every year for management consultants. That is a 200% increase, and no Canadian can understand why that is justified.

Spending in the Prime Minister's own department is up 22%, more than $13 million. Meanwhile, the finance minister spent $3,000 on a photo-op and a cup of coffee. It was the most expensive double-double in the history of Canada.

The throne speech shows the choice facing Canadians. On the one hand is the laissez-faire approach, where everyone looks after themselves and the government has nothing for us but five years of austerity, cuts and freezes. On the other hand is the Liberal alternative. We believe that a good government can protect people today and plan a future of employment and hope. We believe in a government that unites Canadians instead of dividing them.

The choice for Canadians is becoming clearer by the day: on the one hand, laissez-faire and cuts; on the other hand, a government that believes in uniting Canadians around a shared national project of readying our great people for the opportunities of tomorrow.

The throne speech could have been an investment in Canadians' future, in health care and pensions, in clean energy and innovation. But the government did not choose that route. It chose gimmicks, a slash and burn approach and laissez-faire ideology.

This is not the Canada we stand for, and it is not a Canada where we stand united. A strong, united Canada, an educated, healthy Canada, a green Canada open to the world, a great Canada, rich with the greatest hopes and dreams of its youth, that is the Canada that we want to build with Canadians and that we want to celebrate.

In conclusion, this throne speech was not just disappointing, it was unnecessary. It was damage control after the Prime Minister had shut down Parliament. Every paragraph makes that clear.

Therefore, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting the period and adding the following:

and offers our humble wish that Your Excellency is not burdened in future with frivolous requests for prorogation.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:30 a.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor ConservativeMinister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I have listened carefully to the Leader of the Opposition's comments on the throne speech. If we were in ancient Greece he might get some points for rhetoric, but I do not think I would give him too many points for content.

As the Leader of the Opposition, he claims that his group is the government in waiting. We have asked on a number of occasions what their vision is and how they will pay for their vision, and all I have heard from the hon. member so far is his talk about jobs, creativity, clean energy, et cetera.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, order. The chief government whip has the floor. We will want to hear his question and comment.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

Mr. Speaker, it sounds like a beauty pageant that wants world peace. The member does not explain how he is going to achieve these things. He does not explain how he is going to pay for these things.

I would like to hear his vision and how he is going to pay for it.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was touched by the attentiveness of the hon. member opposite to my speech. He noted that we had all these crazy young ideas like jobs, creativity and education, and I am glad that he was listening carefully.

We do indeed believe that a government in waiting, like ours, that seeks to secure the confidence of Canadians will have very formidable challenges to overcome. The government inherited, from this side of the House, a $12 billion surplus, then spent like drunken sailors for three years until the edge of the recession, taking us to the edge of deficit before the recession began, and then took us from a $32 billion deficit to a $56 billion deficit and now presumes to tell us that we are the problem. It defies belief.

We believe that is the first challenge and we have dealt with that challenge before. As the Speaker will well remember, we inherited a $43 billion deficit from the previous administration. We will inherit a $56 billion deficit from this one. We cleaned it up last time. We will clean it up this time, and then we will set to rebuilding the Canadian economy.