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House of Commons Hansard #10 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. I believe it is a violation of the Standing Orders to say—

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Bloc Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Madam Speaker, I withdraw the word I used. I will simply say that some people go out of their way to misrepresent what the bill is trying to do. I apologize, but I am still of the same opinion.

We all want to die with dignity. I listened to one of our colleagues across the floor who was saying earlier that his mother passed away while in pain, but despite everything, she died peacefully. How would he know? How can he know if his mother died peacefully while she was in pain? She had no choice. Perhaps she would have felt more peaceful if she had had the choice. There was nothing else to help her. I do not know. I think the members was making a gratuitous remark.

Let us talk about palliative care. Yes, there is some very good care, but there are also people who will simply be left on their own at the end of their lives, even if they have good palliative care. Does anyone here know someone who has died of Alzheimer's disease? What happens in the last four or five days of the life of someone dying of Alzheimer's disease? They can no longer swallow and they can no longer think. They are simply left on their own and given cortisone or morphine.

I have before me a text written by Claire Morissette. She died on July 20, 2007. She explains what she was going through during her final days. I would like to read a passage. This is what she wrote about pain.

Suffering is much like shivering. You shrivel up, your entire body contracts from your scalp to your feet. It HURTS!!! It hurts constantly. The shivering consumes all your strength, all your consciousness, it is exhausting. Think about it: could you stand shivering for ten days, twenty days, two months, years on end?

Then relief comes, the shot of morphine. It is like a wave of warmth that releases you from the shivering, blessed relaxation on an open beach. Thank you!!! Oh, thank you!!! That feels so good. But, [with doses like that], you hallucinate, you become confused, half-deranged.

While this is going on [listen carefully], the body drains away. Lacking appetite and exercise, you dissolve. In the mirror, you see (no exaggeration) a concentration camp skeleton. You have no buttocks to sit on, your breasts are empty, your knees are unreliable. [In fact, you have to hold a pillow between your knees so you can keep them together.] Your skin shrivels; wrinkles take over. How humiliating. What is worse, because of the medication, your urine, your feces, your flatulence, your breath, your vomit all smell like the end of the world, and, in complete humiliation, you inflict it on the people helping you. If you have to defecate in bed, in a dry bedpan, the stench is beyond description. Then someone else has to wipe your bottom, which is still more humiliating.

Is that how we want people to live? Is that dying with dignity? That is truly the end of the road. She goes on to say that making even the smallest movement takes an enormous amount of energy. People watch DVDs and try to get used to it, but when they are really suffering, all they want is to find sleep, deep sleep, unconsciousness, oblivion. Yes, indeed, everyone feels awful about it. Everyone wants to help, to do what they can. But their helplessness is tangible.

Claire Morissette continues on, saying that people will cry in secret, no matter how hard they try to keep the atmosphere from being too dismal. But their grief is heartbreaking. Is that really allowing a person to live with dignity?

She says that she could die of hunger or she could die of thirst. She knows that she will die, but all she wants is to die with dignity and to be allowed to choose where, when and how she will die.

This bill introduced by the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île will allow, would allow or would have allowed this person and their doctor to talk about options. All that is requested is our compassion. We would not let an animal die this way. If your dog was suffering, you would take him to the veterinarian. What about a human who is suffering terribly? We do not give them the possibility—

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:50 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order. Resuming debate. The hon. member for Langley has about two minutes before adjournment proceedings.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, the seniors that the hon. member just spoke of are not trash. They are treasures.

I would like to state from the outset that I do not support Bill C-384 which proposes the legalization of physician assisted suicide and euthanasia under specific conditions.

The bill raises a number of serious concerns and I propose to outline the ones that I consider the most troubling.

First, Bill C-384 is too broad in terms of its scope. Bill C-384 proposes to amend the Criminal Code to provide an exemption not only for the offence of assisted suicide but also for the offence of murder. These amendments would represent a substantial change in the current state of law on a matter that touches life and death.

The proposed legalization of medical euthanasia and assisted suicide would not only apply to terminally ill patients but also to persons who suffer from severe physical or mental pain without a prospect of relief.

Therefore, under the bill, persons who suffer from depression could request that a doctor help them to commit suicide. They could also request that the doctor carry out the act itself that would cause their death.

When I articulated earlier that Bill C-384 is too broad in its scope, this concern applies to both the fact that it would permit physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, and to the fact that it would allow a vast array of persons to make a request to a doctor for assisted death.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. The hon. member will have approximately eight minutes when the bill comes back to the House for debate.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I put a question on March 5 to the government. The Minister of the Environment popped up immediately to respond to it. I would like to repeat my question, which is to the Government of Canada. Why do I say that?

It is the entirety of the Government of Canada that issued the budget which took a blow to Canada's environment. While we would expect a lot of resources in the budget to go to the Minister of the Environment, and I would love to see much more resources go to the minister and his department, in fact, the vast majority of any resources that could potentially be used for environmentally munificent purposes, such as furthering what the government calls its clean energy strategy, would go to the Minister of the Environment because he and his officials would know best where we can find the savings in reducing harmful gases and pollutants, and where best those savings could be deployed.

In its wisdom, the government has decided to give that entire basket of resources to the Minister of Natural Resources. Regrettably, in this budget, it did not shortchange the Minister of Natural Resources.

The reason I put the question to the Government of Canada is because, in its wisdom, in the throne speech it said that nowhere is the commitment to principled policy, backed by action, needed more than addressing climate change. Then it moved to table a budget that did exactly the opposite.

The government chose to kill, at the end of this year, an extremely popular program for homeowners to energy retrofit their homes, which is incredibly oversubscribed.

Did the government choose to put any money into a program to retrofit small businesses? No. In fact, in my riding small businesses are crying for support and we are trying to organize them so they can do it cost effectively.

Did the government, as per its U.S.-Canada clean energy dialogue, agree to follow, and it repeatedly said it was following the lead of Obama by working in sync, President Obama's lead and agree, over two years, to retrofit 75% of federally owned buildings? No. I discovered in a search that it has moved on retrofitting approximately 6 out of over 20,000 buildings.

Where is the principled policy, backed by action, to address climate change in the government's policies or in its budget? It cannot be found.

Then the government moved to actually claw back the environmental regulation that is there that might call into question projects coming forward that could be further curtailing or mitigating the environmental impacts. No. In its wisdom it decides it is going to take that power away from the very agency established by previous governments, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and assign, transfer that power to the National Energy Board and the nuclear agency, both agencies well known for touting fossil fuels and nuclear power, respectively.

In the budget, we see not a dollar pledged for foreign aid on climate change. This is puzzling since the minister, even today, before our committee, asked why the other parties were not stepping up and commending him for signing the Copenhagen accord? What does that Copenhagen accord do? It compels the government to commit specified dollars for foreign aid. Well, if the government is following President Obama, who has already committed $1 billion, where is the estimated over $400 million that the government has committed?

So, my question remains: where is the action, where are the dollars for a green economy for Canadians?

7 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, it is clear that the member has not done her homework. The hon. member claimed the budget shows no commitment to clean electricity. The Speech from the Throne, on the other hand, for budget 2010, reiterated our government's commitment to ensuring Canada is a clean energy superpower.

The budget includes new funding totals of $190 million to support a cleaner, more sustainable environment as part of this government's overall climate change strategy. These new resources build on the important ongoing investments initiated under Canada's economic action plan to help make our economy more sustainable and strengthen Canada's position as a clean energy superpower.

The budget includes $1 billion over five years for the clean energy fund in support of clean energy research, development and demonstration projects, including carbon capture and storage. It also includes $1 billion over five years for the green energy infrastructure fund for priorities such as clean energy generation and transmission infrastructure and carbon transmission and storage infrastructure.

Canada's electricity supply mix is already one of the cleanest in the world, with three-quarters of our supply emitting no greenhouse gases. We are committed to building on this strength and leading the world in clean energy generation as part of our overall climate change strategy.

The member claimed the budget shows no commitment to greening our economy. That is not true either. This budget has allocated $100 million for the next generation renewable power initiative to support the advancement of clean technology in the forestry sector, making this industry more sustainable and competitive. It will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change by supporting the development, commercialization and implementation of clean energy technologies in the forestry sector.

In addition, almost $3 million has been allocated for consultation by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with aboriginal communities around green initiatives. Budget 2010 also includes an expansion of the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment. This facilitates private investments in technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I would like to remind my NDP colleague of Canada's economic action plan, which she unfortunately voted against. Budget 2010 builds on the important work initiated by our action plan to support a cleaner, more sustainable environment and help Canada meet our global climate change objectives. This includes the clean energy fund for clean energy research and the green infrastructure fund for green energy generation and transmission infrastructure, as well as the carbon transmission and storage infrastructure that I mentioned earlier.

In addition, budget 2010 extends our economic action plan with a commitment of an additional $80 million to the eco-energy retrofit homes program, helping Canadians save money while making their homes more energy efficient.

Finally, the member claimed that the government slashed funding to the environment department. Again, that is simply not correct.

In fact, the government just tabled in Parliament the main estimates outlining the government's spending plans of over $1 billion for the fiscal year 2010-11. While it gives a snapshot of the annual planned spending for the department, these main estimates outline more planned spending at the beginning of the year in the environment department than any main estimates tabled in Parliament in recent years.

The member needs to do her homework, and she also needs to vote for this budget.

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Madam Speaker, I have done my homework and I have plowed through every line of the budget hoping to find some hope. I have not found it. Apart from the fact that the budget mostly talks about what the government did last year and does not give a lot of detail on what it will do this year, it also makes it clear what it is cutting.

If the government were truly committed to helping homeowners reduce their energy costs and reduce the need for building big, dirty generation facilities, it would extend that program over many years. I think it would get lots of letters of support from homeowners in Canada. If it really cared about small business, why not extend that program to small businesses? They need the savings right now, when they are suffering in the recession.

How can the member claim that the clean energy fund is working toward clean electricity, when the only thing it is financing is the subsidization of the coal fire power industry and two oil and gas companies to test one technology? Not a cent of that fund is going into really investing in renewable power. As a result, I am told by the sector that the investment is all going south, with the exception that some provinces have taken the initiative the government has not taken to genuinely give incentives for moving toward cleaner electricity generation.

For the forestry sector and pulp and paper, we absolutely need to give them incentives, including incentives to go to cogeneration. However, the member should check into the litigation going on in Alberta right now. The industry that has tried to move to cogeneration and would like to tie into the grid cannot compete with coal-fired power on the spot market.

I would encourage the member to examine in more detail the way the deregulated electricity regime is run in Alberta. It is not a fair game, and there needs to be a lot more federal support going in. We need to talk to the provincial government to get them on board on this agenda.

I would add to that the cutting—

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, budget 2010 includes new investments totalling $190 million to support a cleaner, more sustainable environment. These investments serve to enhance our strategy of combatting climate change.

It is obvious that the statements made by the NDP environment critic are not based on fact. At a time of overall fiscal restraint, the commitment of resources by this government to support environmental programs and to sustain existing ones is encouraging.

Canadians can rest assured that the environment remains a key priority to this government. Our climate change strategy is top of mind and we are taking action in many different ways to strengthen it.

It is high time the NDP realized that it is not the only political party that is a good steward of our environment. If the member really cares about the environment she would support the programs that we are implementing in part of this budget and stop voting against these good environmental programs.

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, on March 10, I put a question to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services regarding government spending. There were reports in the newspapers about Public Works and Government Services Canada having agreed to pay rather step bills. Even the minister said that she found these expenses to be unreasonable and over-the-top.

Then she said: “This type of contract is awarded and managed by the department and not by the minister.” Such a statement is a clear abdication of ministerial responsibility, which is totally contrary to the main principles of our parliamentary system in Canada.

Indeed, the minister is trying to shift responsibility for these expenses to our civil servants. But they are not the ones who have to account to the House; the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is.

I have no intention of giving a lecture on ministerial responsibility. I will simply commend to the minister a document entitled “Responsibility in the Constitution,” which deals with ministerial responsibility. It is still topical, even though this Privy Council Office document dates back to 2003.

The history and Constitution of Canada cannot be manipulated, something I am sure our friends across the way would do if only they could. Here is an excerpt:

In our system of parliamentary and cabinet government, ministers are constitutionally responsible for the provision and conduct of the government. This is to say that through the law and the convention of the constitution, power and hence responsibility are concentrated in the hands of ministers... Our system of parliamentary and cabinet government is, therefore, based on the constitutional responsibility of ministers to the elected House of Commons...

After the adoption of the Federal Accountability Act, the Prime Minister presented a guide entitled “Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Secretaries of State”. In his message to ministers and parliamentary secretaries, he declared, and I quote:

in Canada’s system of government, the principles of accountability have no greater expression than in Parliament, to which Ministers of the Crown are individually and collectively responsible and accountable. You are expected to demonstrate our Government’s respect for Parliament, and help strengthen its effectiveness as our system’s foremost institution of law-making and accountability, through close and conscientious attention to your parliamentary duties.”

A little bit further, under the heading “Powers, Duties and Functions”, we read, and I quote:

“Ministers are individually responsible to Parliament and the Prime Minister for their own actions and those of their department, including the actions of all officials under their management and direction, whether or not the Ministers had prior knowledge.”

Why did the minister abdicate her ministerial responsibilities and why did she try to put the blame on civil servants?

7:10 p.m.

Langley B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, as the member well knows, the minister has answered this question, and, like all Canadians, we find the expenditures unacceptable. What has the minister done about it?

As a first step, the minister instructed her officials to undertake an immediate review of expenditures in question. Her second step was to ask for a broader examination of the expenditures related to SNC-Lavalin ProFac. This broader examination will be carried out by an independent third party. Her third step was to undertake a review of the SNC revenue expenditure and transaction controls. That is under way and will be completed later this year. This review will also be conducted by a third party.

Canadians can be assured that this government takes the spending of taxpayer dollars very seriously. The minister has taken the necessary actions to ensure that the expenditures surrounding this contract are thoroughly scrutinized.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Madam Speaker, the accountability obligation of civil servants is limited to their appearance before parliamentary committees. The minister is the only one who is accountable to the House of Commons.

At the beginning of their mandate, the Conservatives were crowing about concepts like accountability and responsibility. Today, ministers want to see their picture everywhere, they want to cut ribbons as often as possible and promote their party with taxpayers money. But ministerial responsibility is not about partisanship. It is part of the checks and balances of our parliamentary system.

Why would the minister want to weaken the concept of parliamentary responsibility? Is it to give more power to the Prime Minister and to his ministers?

7:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I do not think the member is being fair. I have known the hon. minister for a number of years. I was her parliamentary secretary in environment for many years. She is very bright, very committed and one of the best ministers this House has ever had.

She said very clearly to the member that she finds the expenditures unacceptable. The Minister of Public Works and Government Services has asked her deputy minister to review these expenditures to ensure taxpayers' dollars are being used correctly. She has asked for an independent third party, and one has been appointed to carry out this task. The Auditor General is aware of the direction the minister is taking, and she is happy with it.

The member needs to support the House, be an active and positive participant and work with the minister.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:15 p.m.)