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.


Opposition Motion—Throne Speech and Budget
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.


André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to this important motion from the Bloc Québécois, tabled this morning by the member for Joliette.

We note that the Speech from the Throne and the budget do not meet the needs of Quebec. We heard several speeches today both from members of the Bloc Québécois and members of the other opposition parties, outlining the deficiencies of the throne speech and budget.

When the members of the party in power cite a few quotes on a few points that may have seemed positive to some, it is always the same thing: one can never say that a budget is entirely bad, just as one can never say that a budget is entirely good. However, the Conservative Party has puts its blinders on and is pretending that everything is just fine. But that is far from the case.

Some have been forgotten in the throne speech and budget who desperately needed attention. When we rise in the House, it is not to talk about things we have pulled out of thin air. We consult people and we meet with them, and they are probably the same people that our colleagues from the Conservative Party meet with, but they do not necessarily hear the same things as we do concerning the demands made by certain groups.

Like my colleague from Compton—Stanstead who sits with me on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, I think that we could have expected much more sweeping measures in the last budget to come to the assistance of the agricultural sector.

Even before tabling the previous budget, the minister had announced with great pomp and ceremony the setting up of a real program, AgriFlex. As its name implies, this was a program designed to be flexible in order to meet the needs of Quebec and the provinces. But the government had set a little trap.

When we read the budget and saw exactly what the AgriFlex program announced by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food contained, we realized that they had left out income support. And there is the rub. In the final analysis it appears they set up a program that is strictly window dressing. It was not at all what the agricultural sector had asked for.

So we always have to be careful. It is not because the government says it will do something that it will introduce a measure that truly meets the needs of people in a real and concrete way.

The government quoted someone as saying that this or that was great or wonderful. I, too, found some statements about agriculture. These ones demonstrate that neither the Speech from the Throne nor the budget respond to Quebec's agriculture needs.

In a press release most likely sent out the day after the budget, Quebec's farmers' union, the Union des producteurs agricoles, said:

Time will tell if the new budget contained anything useful for the agriculture sector. During Minister Flaherty's pre-budget consultations, the UPA had spoken with him about specific requests, which the federal budget has not currently addressed. Quebec's agriculture sector is disappointed.

They are cautious, and they have every reason to be. One only has to think about the AgriFlex program that I mentioned earlier to remember that you cannot count your chickens before they hatch.

This press release spoke specifically about private woodlots, which my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques spoke of. The UPA stated:

The same goes for the lack of a registered silvicultural savings and investment plan for the 425,00 woodlot owners in Canada. There are 130,000 in Quebec and 35,000 of them are forestry producers. There is nothing in the budget about this. The automobile industry got help and the oil industry as well, but the hundreds of thousands of forestry producers who have endured years of crisis are still waiting...

The UPA is also disappointed that there was no follow-up to the request for funding it put forth in partnership with the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to go ahead with development plans for various sectors of Quebec's agricultural production.

Pierre Lemieux, senior vice-president of UPA, was quoted in the press release, not the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture. I do not think that the latter would have had such sensible things to say about agriculture.

We cannot say that the government has satisfied all the requests, which were totally reasonable in this period of economic recovery, to help a sector that creates thousands and thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars both in Quebec and in Canada.

The UPA fears cuts. The UPA has grave concerns about the intentions of the federal Minister of Finance who is looking to reduce program spending by $1.3 billion in order to balance the budget within the next five years. “It would be sad to see the agricultural sector take another hit”, warns the union, which also pointed to the structured nature and the importance of agricultural investment, especially for regional economies.

A number of requests were made by the Union des producteurs agricoles and the various agricultural sectors in Quebec when the government launched its prebudget consultations. We do not rely on the government's prebudget consultations alone. We hit the ground to meet with people and talk to them about their concerns.

I had the honour of welcoming the hon. member for Hochelaga in my riding. We talked to people not only from the agricultural sector, but also from the community, business and municipal sectors. This is the same approach I used throughout Quebec with my colleague, the finance critic, in order to understand precisely what people wanted. Three recommendations from the agricultural sector had already been made to the federal government, and the government has not acted on them.

As I was saying earlier, there was a request for an AgriFlex program worthy of the name to allow Quebec to use money allocated to the AgriFlex program to finance its own income security programs.

A second recommendation had to do with improving the AgriRecovery program to have it cover losses on a specific basis in the short, medium and long terms and to allow the recovery of businesses affected by crises like the golden nematode crisis in Saint-Amable. My colleague from that riding and I have worked hard on that issue in order to get the government to listen to reason. The government completely abandoned potato farmers who were dealing with golden nematode a few years ago.

Finally, there was a recommendation on assistance for the meat sector. In the budget, monies were allocated to help slaughterhouses. That is not new money. The money will be taken from existing programs.

If we just look at what is written in the budget, we might think that there is good news. We have to give credit where credit is due. However, as I mentioned earlier, there is the matter of AgriFlex. We must read between the lines and know the exact details of this program to ensure that American producers and Quebec producers are placed on a level playing field. Quebec producers have to respect Canadian rules regarding specified risk materials. However, American producers do not, giving them the advantage. There is a difference of almost $32 per head, which means that, for one year, $24 million are needed to deal with this problem in Canada. An amount of money was allocated in the budget. We have to see whether the criteria will enable our slaughterhouses—especially the Levinoff-Colbex facility in Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover, which is very close to my riding—to access the program and help them to survive. It is a question of survival.

I will continue by sharing the reactions to the budget of others in the agriculture sector. Here is one from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. This time, the Conservatives cannot accuse the evil sovereignists of speaking against the budget. The title is quite eloquent and telling: “Not much new for Canadian Agriculture in Federal Budget”. That is the title. I will read from the press release. “Dubbed a ‘Jobs and Growth Budget,’ we had hoped the budget would show increased investment in the agri-food sector--a sector which was recognized in the Speech from the Throne as an industry that is the foundation for Canada’s prosperity and supports thousands of communities, both rural and urban, and provides one out of every eight jobs in 2008—”

Laurent Pellerin, CFA president, said: “We had hoped to see some initiatives that would encourage and assist new entrants to provide the needed growth and increased stability within the sector.”

These types of comments are an indication that the budget does not have unanimous approval of the agriculture sector. The CFA was also surprised.

Opposition Motion—Throne Speech and Budget
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

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

2010 Power Smart Manitoba Winter Games
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.


Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, this past week, the city of Portage la Prairie proudly hosted the 2010 Power Smart Manitoba Winter Games, opening its doors to 1,400 athletes, 960 volunteers, as well as coaches and spectators.

It was a tremendous opportunity for the city and municipality to showcase the just completed PCU Centre, a remarkable state of the art recreational facility.

The Manitoba games showed that the dedication and success of Canada's Olympic team is continuing to inspire young Manitoban athletes to follow in their footsteps.

I give special thanks to co-chairs, Ferdi Nelissen and Jim Malenchak, and their team of volunteers, people like Marion Switzer who was in charge of the food venue. She went the extra mile every day to make athletes feel welcome and well fed.

May the memory of the 2010 Manitoba Winter Games live on in the community and inspire young Manitobans to strive for excellence in all that they do.

Crimes Against Humanity
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, 22 years ago, in the early evening of March 16, 1988, seven or eight planes conducted up to 14 poisonous gas bombing runs on the Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq.

The attack, which was ordered by Sadam Hussein, lasted five hours and when it was over 5,000 people were dead, almost 10,000 were injured and, since then, thousands have died from complications.

In 2009, I had the opportunity to visit the predominantly Kurdish region of northern Iraq, referred to as Iraqi Kurdistan. While there, I visited the town of Halabja and the Monument of Halabja Martyrs, which is staffed exclusively by survivors of the gas attack. I was struck by the strength of the survivors and their resilience.

Today, I asked the House for unanimous support of a motion recognizing this attack and other atrocities against the Kurdish people as a crime against humanity.

On behalf of the Canadian Kurdish community, I want to thank all members of the House for their support.

La Tribune Newspaper
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


France Bonsant Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, La Tribune, which was founded by Jacob Nicol in 1910, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. That is 100 years of quality articles, faithfully covering the news in the Eastern Townships and Centre-du-Québec region.

To celebrate this occasion, management of the newspaper organized a major event at the Université de Sherbrooke cultural centre with 1,300 invited guests. I would like to congratulate Maurice Cloutier, editor, Louise Boisvert, president and editor, all of the journalists who were named ambassadors of the Mérite estrien, as well as everyone who helped make this evening a historic event.

The secret of La Tribune is that it has always operated with the same passion. The journalists and employees care about developing the community and about the well-being of the people who live there.

Happy anniversary to La Tribune. I wish it continued success.

Infrastructure Funding
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, according to representatives from the non-profit sector, only one in twelve non-profit infrastructure stimulus applications were approved by Infrastructure Canada.

In London, two very worthy projects, the Spriet Centre for the safe storage and display of artifacts at Fanshawe Pioneer Village and the Arctic Gallery Project at the Children's Museum of London, which works to educate our children about Canada's north, were among those denied any federal funding.

Both of those organizations have done extensive fundraising and received funds from the municipality but they cannot complete their projects without federal help. Both projects are shovel ready.

These initiatives would support existing jobs, create short term jobs through infrastructure upgrades and establish long-term opportunities by boosting London's tourism sector.

Museums and science centres are asking the government to establish a $200 million dedicated fund to keep these facilities up to date and to educate and inspire our children.

I support Canada's museums and science centres and I call upon the government to do the same.

Violence Awareness and Random Acts of Kindness Week
Statements by Members

2 p.m.


Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, sometimes, as we all know, things can get a tad contentious here in the House of Commons during question period as we battle and debate in wars of words over bills and partisan disagreements.

So, it is always refreshing to see a community come together to put aside personal differences and partisanship to reach out to help other folks in their communities.

Last week in Belleville, the community participated in Violence Awareness and Random Acts of Kindness Week. Everyone wore blue ribbons and went out of their way to take a little extra time to help their fellow citizens.

I wish to extend congratulations to the founders and the organizers of this event, the kindness crew and to everyone in Belleville and area who participated. I am sure many lives were enriched and I hope everyone will remember to carry the sentiments of kindness to others with them every week of the year.

The poet, William Woodsworth, said, “The best portion of a good man's life are his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love”.

I ask all my colleagues to remember to show a little kindness.

Francophonie Week
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Lise Zarac LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow night, March 17, the Club Richelieu LaSalle will celebrate our French language and culture with its presentation of the 2010 night of the Francophonie. This is, after all, the de la Francophonie Week.

Once again, the organizers will crown la Francophonie's Richelieu LaSalle personality of the year. The fourth person to receive this award will be singer Marie-Élaine Thibert, one of the discoveries from Star Académie's television first season.

This talented artist has had successful albums since her arrival on the scene in 2003. She rubs shoulders with the who's-who in Quebec music. Marie-Élaine Thibert is involved with the Children's Wish Foundation as a sponsor and spokesperson. I, along with my constituents in LaSalle—Émard, would like to offer her our most sincere congratulations for this well-deserved honour.

2010 Winter Olympics
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, for two weeks in February, my wife and I had the incredible experience of being volunteers at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Together with our friends, Fran and Roger Hohm, we travelled from southern Alberta to Vancouver to help out at the curling venue.

Our new friends, Ken and Hiroko Yoshihara, took us under their wing and made our stay in their home very special.

The curling competition, under the leadership of sports manager Neil Houston and his team of Kyla, Laura and Russian understudy Olga, ran the on-ice competition with focus and expertise. Our sports liaison co-workers, Ken and Gail Damberger, were great partners.

What an unforgettable experience to be part of the thousands of volunteers, the blue jackets, who helped make the 2010 Winter Olympics the best games ever, and to witness first-hand the tidal wave of national pride that rose up and swept across our great nation. Winning a silver and gold in curling was icing on the cake.

This week, the Paralympians continue carrying the Olympic spirit for us all.

Some things in life turn out to be far better than expected and this experience was one of them.

Community Television
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Carole Lavallée Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is holding hearings in April to address the demands of community television stations, which are trying to emphasize the need to increase their revenues as well as their capitalization, which are affected by current regulations.

Community television stations have an important regional base and convey information in their respective regions. The creation of a Canada-wide community channel would go against the very notion of local television. In order to ensure the survival of community television, the CRTC should, among other things, continue to compel cable television companies to offer the local community channel as part of their basic service. The CRTC should also allow them to relax the rules around advertising so that community television stations can increase their revenues.

At the regional or local level, community television is what allows people to access quality information about what is happening where they live and in the surrounding area. That is one of the many reasons why the Bloc Québécois supports their demands.

Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.


Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, today our government has announced legislative changes that would strengthen the way the young offenders system deal with violent and repeat offenders.

These measures will give our constituents greater assurance that violent and repeat young offenders will be held accountable for their actions. They will help ensure that protection of society is duly taken into consideration in sentencing these criminals.

This bill is entitled “Sébastien's Law” in memory of Sébastien Lacasse and in honour of the determination and courage of his parents, Line and Luc. The Lacasse family and other courageous families work tirelessly to defend victims' rights. In introducing this bill, our thoughts are with all the families who have lost loved ones in crimes involving violent and repeat young offenders.

The Association des policières et policiers provinciaux du Québec also support us in this because it is a matter of protecting families and making our neighbourhoods safer.

Kraft Hockeyville 2010
Statements by Members

2:05 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I stand here today to pay tribute to the town of Bishop's Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador. Last night, Bishop's Falls reached the final 12 communities in the running for Kraft Hockeyville 2010.

With just over 3,000 people, Bishop's, as we call it, is the little town of athletes. Hannaford, Goobie, Kennedy, Stanley, Healey and, of course, Faulkner are all legendary names in our town.

Alex Faulkner of Bishop's Falls was the first Newfoundlander to ever play in the NHL, most notably alongside Gordie Howe. He learned to play hockey on the Exploits River and, from there, he played in arenas all over the world.

This is a town whose spirit is larger than any map can hold. It is a town of legacies, such as the legacy of Ron Healey, a community builder as well as a legendary referee, who taught us the value of youth.

I want to congratulate Kerry Lynn Greene and her team of volunteers. I also congratulate Kraft and CBC Sports for allowing us to show the entire country that Bishop's Falls is Hockeyville 2010.

Young Offenders
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Ed Fast Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of Justice tabled legislation to strengthen our young offender system. Bill C-4 would give Canadians greater confidence that violent and repeat young offenders will be held accountable. It would also ensure that the protection of society is given due consideration when young offenders are sentenced. All too often, a young offender who commits a serious crime such as murder or aggravated sexual assault receives a sentence that is much shorter than Canadians expect. Our new law would require the courts to consider adult sentences for youth who are convicted of these serious crimes.

In some cases, a youth who is convicted of a violent offence is quietly released into the community without anyone knowing about it. This means residents have no way of knowing a convicted sex offender is in the area. Bill C-4 would, in some cases, require the courts to publish the name of a violent young offender when necessary for the protection of society.

This bill is just another way in which our Conservative government is improving the safety and security of Canadians.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Statements by Members

2:10 p.m.


Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, my great riding, Vancouver Kingsway, is one of the most diverse in Canada. It is a wonderful blend of cultures from every continent. Men, women and children of every race, religion and ethnicity join together to seek happiness and prosperity and to live in peace and harmony. Vancouver Kingsway is a multicultural success and a model of what makes Canada work. We celebrate our uniqueness, we unite as Canadians and we treasure our freedom to be who we are.

March 21 will mark International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On this day, we remember that prejudice and intolerance still exist. We remind ourselves that building a civil and respectful society for all is the responsibility of every one of us.

The Canada of today was built by first nations and immigrants from all over the world. The Canada of tomorrow will deepen that reality as we welcome more people from every nation.

Let us celebrate our Canada as one that is tolerant, respectful and dedicated to the principle of equality, and let us commit ourselves to stamp out intolerance and discrimination in all of its forms.

2010 Paralympic Winter Games
Statements by Members

March 16th, 2010 / 2:10 p.m.


Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was a golden day for Canada, as our Canadian athletes won two gold medals and a bronze at the Paralympics.

The people of Canmore, in my riding of Wild Rose, are very proud of their own Brian McKeever, who won Canada's first ever winter Paralympic gold medal on home soil. Brian won gold in the 20-kilometre, visually impaired cross-country ski race, along with his brother, Robin McKeever, who acts as his race guide.

Our second gold was won by Lauren Woolstencroft, of North Vancouver, in women's standing slalom. Lauren is a four-time gold medallist and the reigning world champion in slalom, giant slalom, downhill and super G.

We are also proud of Karolina Wisniewska, who took the bronze in the women's standing slalom. Karolina, who lives in Vancouver, is now a seven-time Paralympic medallist.

On behalf of the people of Wild Rose and all Canadians, I wish our Paralympians continued success at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.