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House of Commons Hansard #2 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Before we proceed with routine proceedings, I have an important statement I would like to make to the House about the result of a vote taken on December 10, 2009, on the motion for third reading of Bill C-291, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171).

As hon. members will recall, the announced result was a tie, with 143 members recorded as having voted in favour and 143 members recorded as having voted against. On hearing that the votes were equally divided on the motion, I gave the casting vote in the negative on the procedural grounds that the existing act should be maintained in its current form in order to uphold the status quo.

Since then, it was brought to the attention of the Table that a member had been erroneously counted as having voted yea. Further verifications were made to confirm that an error had in fact been made, namely that the hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence had remained seated throughout the vote.

As hon. members will realize, if this yea vote had not been counted in error, events would have unfolded differently. No tie vote would have occurred. No casting vote would have been required. However, and most significantly, the outcome of the vote remains the same. The motion for third reading of Bill C-291 remains defeated, but on a vote of 142 yeas and 143 nays.

Accordingly, in keeping with precedents for when such errors are discovered, I am informing the House that a corrigendum was published on December 30 to correct the Journals of December 10, 2009, so that the true result of the vote may be properly reflected in our official records.

I thank hon. members for their attention to this detail. It is an important one from the point of view of the number of casting votes the Chair has to cast in the House.

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 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, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 344 petitions.

Veterans AffairsRoutine Proceedings

March 4th, 2010 / 10:05 a.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind Canadians that Canada's last known veteran of the first world war, John “Jack” Babcock, passed away on February 18, 2010, at the age of 109.

I attended a private memorial service for Mr. Jack Babcock this past Saturday in Spokane, Washington, along with his family and friends, and the Chief of the Defence Staff. It was a moving tribute to a man who lived to a remarkable age.

At the tender age of 15, Mr. Babcock did not hesitate to answer the call for Canadians to serve in the first world war.

From the time that he emigrated to the United States in the 1920s until 2008, when his Canadian citizenship was reinstated, Mr. Babcock always insisted that he was a Canadian at heart. He was always very proud that he was able to serve his country when his country needed him.

Mr. Babcock was not the only one who eagerly served his country. More than 650,000 brave Canadians and Newfoundlanders defended our country during the first world war. Tragically, more than 68,000 of them lost their lives, and more than 170,000 were injured. The entire country, all regions of Canada and Newfoundland, were in mourning.

Despite the terrible price, ordinary Canadians like Mr. Babcock were determined to protect our shared values of freedom, democracy and human rights. In doing so, they defined our nation and provided us with a true sense of what it means to be Canadian.

This is our rich history. The proud and noble tradition passed on to us from the Canadians who served in the first world war, and whom we honour and commemorate today.

And now we mourn the loss of an entire generation. Let us never forget the courage, sacrifices and achievements of these men and women who served our country.

We have announced our plan to mark the end of this era. The Government of Canada will organize a national commemorative ceremony honouring all of Canada's first world war service men and women to pay tribute to their achievements and contributions. This ceremony will be held on Vimy Ridge Day, Friday, April 9, 2010, in Ottawa at the National War Memorial.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Babcock. We join them in mourning the passing of a great man and a great generation.

Veterans AffairsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour John Henry Foster Babcock who died last week at the remarkable age of 109. Canadians from coast to coast to coast were not only touched by his death, but have been, and will continue to be, inspired by his life.

Today, we recognize the passing of the last Canadian first world war veteran and pledge to keep alive the spirit of freedom, courage, democracy and dignity that marked his generation and left an indelible mark on Canada and the world.

We know the story but we revel in its telling again.

Just prior to his 16th birthday, Jack Babcock joined the 146th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force out of Sydenham, Ontario. The young soldier was dispatched to England, but when his true age was discovered, he was assigned to the young soldiers' battalion where he trained and worked in support services until a birthday would allow him to be deployed to the battlefields of France.

The signing of the armistice, while celebrated by millions craving peace, denied the young Mr. Babcock the opportunity to see battle with fellow soldiers.

A Canadian at heart, but one with a continuing sense of adventure and a restless spirit and in need of employment, Mr. Babcock settled in Washington State where he lived, raised a family and contributed to that community. The restoration of his Canadian citizenship in 2008, however, brought to full circle his love of this country and our country's love of this soldier.

On behalf of colleagues in the Liberal Party of Canada, I offer my condolences to the Babcock family on their loss. We will remember him.

We will remember him.

As the minister has acknowledged, over 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the first world war. Tragically, more than 68,000 of them would never return to Canadian soil. Another 170,000 were wounded in service. Every one of them paid the price of peace on our behalf.

That is why we on this side of the House heartily welcome the government's intention to hold a commemorative ceremony in April honouring the Canadian heroes of the first world war, soldiers who defined our country and established a tradition of excellence that continues to this day in the women and men of our armed forces serving in Canada, in Haiti, in Afghanistan and around the world, proudly bearing the maple leaf in our name.

We will remember them.

Veterans AffairsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are rising in the House here today to pay special tribute to the memory of John “Jack” Babcock, the last veteran of the first world war, who passed away on February 18, 2010, at the remarkable age of 109.

Mr. Babcock was born at the dawn of the 20th century on July 23, 1900, in Kingston, Ontario. A member of a very large family, he showed his determination very early on in life. As soon as he turned 15, he joined the 146th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Sydenham, near Kingston. He was sent to Valcartier for basic training.

Because he was only 16, he was assigned to the reserve battalion known as the Boys Battalion or Young Soldiers Battalion. He was then sent to England for further training until he was old enough to fight, that is, 19. However, the war ended before he reached the age required to be sent to the front.

No one doubts Mr. Babcock's courage and determination. He himself said that he would have fought if he had had the chance.

That courage and determination exemplify all men and women who have served in the armed forces. That is precisely why we are rising here today. We would be remiss in failing to recognize the sense of duty shown by anyone, including Mr. Babcock, who decides to join the armed forces, and face the worst obstacles and most terrible situations in order to fulfill their mission with valour.

Whether on peacekeeping missions or helping people whose countries have been ravaged by war or disaster, the armed forces must always be able to count on the strength of character of its men and women in order to meet the expectations of their fellow Canadians, as well as local populations.

To honour Mr. Babcock's memory is to honour the memory of all men and women who have chosen to join the armed forces and serve their fellow citizens.

It is also to honour the families and friends who have supported them, as well as all veterans.

Veterans AffairsRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, to rise today to pay tribute to an extremely remarkable gentleman, Mr. John Jack Babcock, who, as we all know, lived to the ripe age of 109 years.

First, I would like to congratulate and thank the previous minister of veterans affairs from New Brunswick Southwest for his diligence and sincerity when it came to dealing with veterans issues.

I would also welcome the new Minister of Veterans Affairs and let him know that I am very honoured to work with him to advance the needs of veterans, RCMP veterans and their families. I congratulate him on his new post. He has the most remarkable cabinet post in all of government.

We are here today to pay tribute to a man who was a symbol, a light and a torch for an entire generation, who served our country during horrific times from 1914 to 1918.

What makes a 15-year-old young boy want to give up his youthfulness to participate in a deadly war? We call that person a Canadian, a person who knew, even at that age, that his country needed help, that the world needed help. He was willing to sacrifice his youth, and for that matter his life, to serve not only his country but the entire world for all of mankind, so that we in this country could live in peace, freedom and democracy, and that other countries could share in that life as well.

On behalf of our leader and the New Democratic Party, we extend sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Babcock, but also to all the families of all those people who served in that tremendous generation, who helped build this country and set the path forward for today.

We are extremely pleased that the government has recognized the honour and significance of having a national commemorative ceremony on April 9. We are pleased that the House honoured this motion by passing it unanimously, not just to honour Mr. Babcock, but again to honour all those who served so valiantly.

On behalf of New Democrats throughout the entire country, we offer our sincere condolences to the Babcock family, and also our congratulations to the government for honouring, on April 9, the service of not just him but all those who served.

As we say in the Royal Canadian Legion, “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. We will remember them”. God bless.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership of committees of the House.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Pursuant to order made on Wednesday, March 3, 2010, the report is deemed adopted.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Ménard Bloc Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I feel extremely confident about asking the House for unanimous consent to pass a motion. I know of not a single member of the House who does not believe that we should eliminate the provisions that allow people sentenced to jail time to walk away after serving just one-sixth of their sentence, particularly when the courts have recently handed down some of the harshest sentences for some of the most serious frauds ever committed in Canada and when the media are suggesting to everyone that they should divide those numbers by six. The purpose of Bill C-434 is to eliminate two little provisions in existing legislation. That is why it is one of the shortest bills ever.

I therefore request the unanimous consent of the House to adopt the following motion:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-434, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (day parole — six months or one sixth of the sentence rule), be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.

Consent would demonstrate the unanimous desire of the House to get rid of these provisions as quickly as possible.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Marc-Aurèle-Fortin have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Procedure and House AffairsCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There is no consent.

Child PornographyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 and as certified by the Clerk of Petitions, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of my constituents who are concerned with the issue of child pornography.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that the creation, use and circulation of child pornography are condemned by a clear majority of Canadians, and that the CRTC and Internet service providers have the responsibility for the content that is being transmitted to Canadians, and that anyone who uses the Internet to facilitate any sex offences involving children is committing an offence.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect our children by taking all necessary steps to stop the Internet as a medium for the victimization of children and the distribution of child pornography.

Postal ServicePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Inky Mark Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions on behalf of the people of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

The first petition calls on the government to instruct Canada Post to maintain, expand and improve postal services.

Hunting, Trapping and Fishing HeritagePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Inky Mark Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on the House to enact Bill C-222, an act to recognize and protect Canada's hunting, trapping and fishing heritage, to ensure that the rights of present and future Canadians to enjoy these activities are protected.

Animal WelfarePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a few petitions today. First, I would like to table a petition signed by a hundred or so people who are calling on the House of Commons to pass animal welfare legislation. I am not supposed to say so, but everyone knows I am in favour of this.

I would also like to table two other petitions signed by a number of people who are calling on Parliament to adopt a universal declaration on animal welfare. We unanimously adopted the motion of my colleague from Scarborough Southwest on this issue during the previous parliamentary session. I am proud that our Parliament adopted it, and we have already seen an impact in the House.

Employee Benefits and Pension ProtectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

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

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition brought to me by Melanie Johannink, a former Nortel employee.

The petition calls on the federal government to amend the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act in order to protect pensions. She asked me to point out that a number of the signatures are of people from the riding of the Minister of Industry. I strongly urge the government to take swift action to resolve this situation.

Employee Benefits and Pension ProtectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine should know, when presenting petitions members are not allowed to state their personal preference; they are merely asked to present the petition on behalf of their constituents. I would ask that perhaps the Speaker can give further instructions to all members in case they have forgotten.

Employee Benefits and Pension ProtectionPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Of course, the hon. parliamentary secretary is quite correct in his statement of the procedure in the House. I am afraid I was not listening to every word the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine said in respect of the petition. I missed the fact that she may have said she supported it or opposed it; I have no idea which way it went. I know the hon. member will want to avoid that kind of blunder in future because, of course, we would not want to have points of order arising out of presentation of petitions on a regular basis, as we would if members were to do that.

The Chair has received two requests for emergency debates. I will call now on the member who presented the first one, the hon. member for York West.

PensionsRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I sent you a letter on January 27, after the prorogation that we had not expected to happen, in regard to the pension crisis that I believe is facing this country. In the letter I asked that Parliament take swift action to deal with the pensions for hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers, whether we are talking about the forestry workers, Nortel in particular, or the hundreds of other companies that are going bankrupt.

Pensioners today are very much worried about whether they are going to have pensions and are looking to Parliament and the Government of Canada to take action to protect those pensions; hence, the reason I sent the letter asking that we have an emergency debate. We can put through some amendments to the bankruptcy act very quickly if the will of the House is to do that, which would help to secure the pensions of thousands and thousands of people across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you take it under consideration and make a ruling.

PensionsRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for her submissions and for the request she sent on January 27. I have had ample time to consider the matter.

I recognize that there was certainly a crisis in respect to the bankruptcy she mentioned. I myself received much correspondence on the subject from constituents who expressed their concerns. However, I am not sure the situation that has occurred constitutes an emergency for the purposes of the Standing Order that deals with emergency debates. Accordingly, I am not going to allow the hon. member's request at this time for such a debate.

I now call on the hon. member for Toronto--Danforth who also submitted a request.

Prorogation of Second Session of 40th ParliamentRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to request an emergency debate on the recent advice of the Prime Minister to Her Excellency the Governor General, requesting that the second session of the 40th Parliament be prorogued.

To be clear, I do not make this request out of any question of the role of Her Excellency, but simply and importantly because I believe the judgment of the Prime Minister in offering such advice was deeply flawed. We need to debate it here on an urgent basis because such faulty logic could be used by the Prime Minister again on any given day going forward.

As we know, the Governor General did not really have a choice. However, the Prime Minister's serious lapse in judgment in requesting this prorogation has to be discussed. This is the second prorogation requested by the Prime Minister. The first request was made in December 2008 in order to avoid a matter of confidence that was to be debated and put to a vote.

The latest prorogation seems to have been another attempt by the Prime Minister to avoid accountability on matters that are inconvenient to the government.

As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, our system is one where the government exists because the Governor General decides that it has the demonstrable support of the House of Commons and it only exists under those conditions. It is therefore a fundamental character of our democracy that when a government is appointed, it is to be held directly accountable to the House of Commons, which of course can only happen when the House of Commons is sitting.

I submit that the recent advice of the Prime Minister to the Governor General to prorogue the second session raises serious questions about the Prime Minister's commitment to the House of Commons and suggests that he believes that this chamber should exist at the convenience of his government rather than the other way around.

Our democracy has a fundamental characteristic: an elected government is to be held directly accountable to the House of Commons. The use of the power to prorogue in order to shirk that responsibility is highly problematic and shows a lack of respect for Canadian democracy.

It is a fundamental breach of the Prime Minister's duty to be accountable to the elected representatives of the Canadian people and, as such, it constitutes an urgent situation, in my submission.

As the former House leader of my party, Stanley Knowles, is quoted as saying in the second edition of the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, on page 677, “Debate is not a sin, a mistake, an error or something to be put up with in parliament. Debate is the essence of parliament”, and it cannot happen when it is shut down. I make this request in that spirit.

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have expressed their disagreement with this prorogation, I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will agree to this request.

Prorogation of Second Session of 40th ParliamentRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for his submissions and the correspondence on this subject. Once again I have reservations, however, about whether this constitutes an emergency within the meaning of the Standing Order in question. Clearly the prorogation took place some time ago; Parliament is now sitting again. I note that we are going to be having a debate on (a) the budget, (b) the throne speech and (c) supply days for a fair number of days, I suspect, in the month of March when all these subjects could be raised.

I suggest that in the circumstances it is not a situation where a request for an emergency debate is appropriate. Accordingly, with regret, I will deny this one also today.

Prorogation of Second Session of 40th ParliamentRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to seek unanimous consent to propose the following motion: “That in view of the fact that there is no justification for the imposition of a 31.5% tax on income trusts, the government take all necessary steps to introduce and implement the Marshall savings plan”.

Prorogation of Second Session of 40th ParliamentRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Does the hon. member for Mississauga South have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?