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House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sentences.

Topics

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I share the views of my hon. colleague on the cautious optimism about this particular bill as it enters committee.

One of the issues the member brought forward, which is dear to my heart, is the idea of how to handle rehabilitation of young offenders in rural areas, and the facilities and programs that are available for that rehabilitation process.

I would like the member to discuss that further. I know she did not have a lot of time and she has a wealth of experience in this sort of thing. She did mention the rural areas. I am particularly concerned about the lack of rehabilitation. Depending on where the resources are, certainly where I am, in an area that is sparsely populated, it is of major concern.

Therefore, I ask the member to bring that up and perhaps bring more details to the House.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure about my wealth of knowledge, but it is a really serious issue.

In Nova Scotia there is really one facility for young people to go to if they need to spend time in a youth detention facility. It is pretty much in the centre of the province, but it really ends up taking many of these young people away from their homes and from their communities.

In Nova Scotia we have a restorative justice program that is contingent and relies on the community to hold young people accountable. It relies on the community to be there when the youth is released and to match their progress in the community. That can have a really detrimental effect.

We see the situation in other rural areas of Canada where youth can be put into adult facilities, which is entirely inappropriate. They are young people and they need to be treated like young people, not in adult facilities where they will learn how to be better criminals. We need them to be where they will learn how to be better citizens.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Conservative Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of her concerns with the bill is that a publication ban on the name of the offender might be lifted. I certainly agree with her that a blanket lifting of publication bans is not appropriate under the circumstances. However, I can envision certain circumstances where the name of the young person ought to be released.

I think specifically of a particularly violent offender, perhaps a sexual predator who is about to be released into the community and who perhaps attends a high school. I am curious to hear her comments as to whether she believes that in this situation the public has a right to know about the individual and his or her imminent release into the community.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, honestly, at first blush, this piece in Bill C-4 raises my hackles and makes me very worried. Right now, I do not see opportunities where this is a good idea. I am open to hearing evidence at committee that this may be an effective tool in some cases. The Youth Criminal Justice Act is also about protecting communities, so I have room for being convinced.

However, on its face, it seems very problematic to me. If it is ever used, it should be used so sparingly that we could hardly count on one hand how many times it is used. I do not see how this would be in keeping with many other principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, in particular rehabilitation and reintegration into community. However, again, I look forward to hearing witnesses at committee.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise here today to speak to Bill C-4.

I would like to begin with a side comment about crime. Crime dominates the media. The trials of violent offenders and notorious fraud artists get extensive media coverage. We sometimes get the wrong impression and think that crime is on the rise, when quite the opposite is true. Statistics Canada's facts are rather clear and no one is accusing of it partisanship.

Youth courts are seeing fewer and fewer cases. In 2005-06, 56,271 cases were heard, a decrease of 2% from the previous year. While it is true that the youth crime rate increased by 3% in 2006, I must point out that that was the first increase since 2003 and for that reason, we cannot conclude that there is a strong upward trend.

Furthermore, with the exception of Quebec, where the rate dropped by 4% in 2006, all the provinces saw increases in the youth crime rate. Quebec focuses on rehabilitation. Some people will say that it is quite a coincidence, but it is no coincidence. When it comes to justice, the Bloc Québécois firmly believes that the most effective approach is always prevention. We must go after the underlying causes of crime.

Tackling the causes of crime and violence, rather than waiting for things to break down and then trying to fix them, is the wisest, and more importantly, the most profitable approach, in both social and economic terms. Clearly, we must first tackle poverty, inequality and exclusion, all of which provide fertile ground for frustration and its manifestations: violence and crime.

Speaking of fertile ground, I remember when I was young, during the most critical years of childhood and pre-adolescence. I lived in a poor neighbourhood where everyone was poor. People were either the poorest, less poor or just poor. There were some rich people, but they did not live in my area. In that environment there were some people my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue described as “having the makings of a criminal”. It was a social setting where that was likely. The funny thing is that there was a real divide between two streets: one street where people committed lesser crimes and the other street where people committed more serious crimes. This comes to mind because I saw people change under these circumstances. The difference came mainly from the influence, or lack of influence, of their absent parents. We also saw how the context affected the most vulnerable young people in these environments.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a party hosted by a family that had lived in that neighbourhood. It was a rather big party and many of the young people who had lived in that neighbourhood were invited. I saw that for some people, things had turned around and changed. Some people who were not there were probably still in prison or dead. Other people there had had rather turbulent lives. In talking about it, we realized that social structure and support had been missing in some places. However, other people had been more privileged and things worked out for them.

Prevention is the dominant theme when we talk about potential crimes by young offenders.

Prevention can take a number of forms at the family level. These days some significant tools are available. Let us take, for example, early childhood education centres in Quebec, the CPEs, where children receive intellectual stimulation and physical activity. Young people can make progress more easily than in the past.

With respect to prevention, members will recall that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie already introduced a bill regarding violence on television. I strongly believe that violence on television influences the actions of our children today. Crimes are often broadcast during prime time and are seen by young people. They get a message. Often, these crimes are excessively gratuitous and seemingly have no consequences. We can see someone committing robbery, acts of violence and even shooting another person.

The people committing these crimes seem to have no emotions, or perhaps just smiles on their faces. We never see the consequences. We do not see the police showing up. We do not see the people supporting the victim. We do not see the effects that these actions have on society and on the loved ones of the victims. We do not see any consequences. It is gratuitous and the scenes of violence do not show any sign of a punishment at the end of the day.

My colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie did some fantastic work on this issue. He held consultations all over Quebec. Many groups that work with young offenders and at-risk youth have helped kids avoid getting involved in criminal activity.

Television violence also has a major impact on crime rates among young offenders. We should consider taking a closer look at this important factor because, if I am not mistaken, television networks can choose not to broadcast programs or to broadcast them at times when young viewers are much less likely to see them. That is an important aspect of prevention.

As I said earlier, peer groups, poverty, follow-up and support are important factors for at-risk youth. If young people lose interest, cannot keep up at school and feel alienated, and if authority figures do not help them develop a sense of belonging and to their peer group and to society, they may look elsewhere, start getting in trouble and eventually get involved in criminal activity.

Prevention is essential, but unfortunately, there are always going to be some people committing some crimes, whether major or minor. Once that happens, we have to work with those people to identify the root causes. We cannot deter young people just by sticking offenders in jail for as long as possible. They need structure, support and help to identify the problems and fix them.

Some kids really do seem headed for a life of crime. That is when we have to take a different approach. We should adopt Quebec's approach, which focuses on prevention and rehabilitation.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, could the member to continue with the issue of rehabilitation and other items that are necessary in youth justice? It shows the wrong direction of the government.

The reason the government's crime agenda has been failure is it has not dealt with the fact that when convicts are released into society, rather than put them in what is called the university of the jails, there have to be other treatments such as rehabilitation, anger management and education so people are released less dangerous rather than more dangerous. As he said, if prevention programs are implemented to begin with, a lot of people will not end up in jail in the first place.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, prevention means that fewer people go to prison. However, some will still go and if they are looking at four or five years in youth reception centres before going to prison, the important thing is that there is structure. There needs to be active intervention. We cannot just shove them into a corner, as my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue said. He is our party's critic on this file. He said that if these people do not get help from within the system, the first thing they will want to do is escape. However, getting them help is important, but it is something that is also very taxing on the system. It is a fact. There are constant follow-ups.

He gave the example of a young man who, at 15, I believe, killed his father. It took a year and a half for him to figure out why—a year and a half before this young man truly realized what he had done. When the crime was committed, was this young man really in a position to not commit the crime? I cannot say, but at least there was a follow-up and now, the member told us, he is an eminent surgeon.

The potential was there. If he had been shoved into a corner and then transferred to a prison, a school for crime, where people who would teach him about crime, he would not have gone to the university that he did, and he would not be an asset to society as he is today.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess the question we are talking about is priorities.

The government is going to spend billions to build prisons, to demonize youth, to take away the protections they have so that they can be thrown into prisons, and yet we see underspending of $180 million every year in first nations schools.

In the James Bay region that I represent, in the last two years we have had 11 suicides and 80 attempts among children and youth who feel their lives are so hopeless. In my region I have two communities without grade schools.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague, why is it that the government is spending billions to build jails, to throw young people away, to treat them as a discarded generation, when the children in communities on the James Bay coast and northern Canada are being left without the most basic supports, so that we have such outrageous levels of suicide attempts and such outrageous levels of dropout because the schools are substandard?

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, as an aside, we may need money to build prisons if there are too many real criminals—as I will refer to them—who must pay their debt to society. However, we should never lose sight of the fact that, at the same time, we must deal with the root of the problem. We must work with youth in all areas, whether it is education or development, to truly prevent all kinds of inappropriate social behaviour.

We have work to do and investments to make in all areas. Prevention is one of those areas. The framework for this bill clearly establishes that prevention is an essential component. Granted, that could cost more than the $180 million mentioned by the member. Naturally, we have to make a commitment if we truly wish to succeed.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are debating another, another, amendment to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I say that knowing that the act used to be referred to, at one point, as the Young Offenders Act. This is probably the fifth set of changes this Parliament has dealt with since the time when Parliament accepted that the old Juvenile Delinquents Act did not really suit where we were headed as a society.

It is quite fair to accept that, from time to time, it is necessary to fine-tune our legislation. That is essentially what we do here all the time for all of our laws and our public policy. Approximately five years ago, there was an inquiry in the province of Nova Scotia dealing with young offenders. That particular inquiry produced a very credible report that suggested that components of our Youth Criminal Justice Act were not up to par and that portions of it could use some minor amendments in the public interest.

Those areas dealt with the way we handled youth who, with 20/20 hindsight, were potentially violent and seriously violent offenders and were not really controllable by the kinds of routine orders and judicial intervention available under the act. I sat on the justice committee at the time and I recall pretty much around-the-table acceptance of those suggestions. Those suggestions for reform have now found their way into this bill.

In fairness, I should say that there have been a couple of other bills before Parliament that attempted to implement the same changes. We are finally getting around to it now. For those changes dealing with the really hard-to-handle procedural problems involving young offenders, I could not imagine there would be too much dissent.

Even the judge who led the inquiry in Nova Scotia said that these should be seen as minor amendments. There is no need to make a radical overhaul of the statute, but these amendments would suit the public interest in the sense that they would protect both the public and the young offender from potential serious harms in the period that follows the police intervention until the time when the youth is sentenced. That would be the interim period while the youth is being processed, while charges are being laid and during the trial.

I do not think he pointed out any problems with the act regarding the period after conviction and sentence. But he did request that these amendments look very clearly and honestly at the problem of youth who have adopted a potentially violent modus operandi and society needs protection from that.

In this particular bill, there is a whole lot more than just those recommended changes. Members should go to the title; this is not the first time I have spoken about this. On the front page, it says, “An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act”. There is nothing the matter with that, but then clause 1 says that this act may be cited as somebody’s law, protecting the public from violent young offenders.

That is a commercial. That is an Orwellian mantra. It is a distortion. It is an adulteration of what should be there in the first section. This is a bill that is there to make a minor but important amendment, not a very complex set of amendments, to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I object to that type of title. When that kind of a title is in there, it actually ought to tell us something. The bill just might be torqued to do a little bit more than just a minor amendment to the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Anyway, we read through the bill and find it does attempt to make some significant changes.

I note that this is one of about half a dozen criminal law amendment bills, and I also ask the question: Why did the Conservatives not put all these criminal justice bills into one bill? We have done that lots of times before. We make several amendments to the Criminal Code, we put them in a bill, call it an omnibus Criminal Code amendment bill and the House deals with it. But no, the government has to do a separate bill for every category of change it can think of. That has to tell us something also.

So utterly telling is the contrast between this bill and the budget implementation bill, Bill C-9. Do members know how many bills that bill changes, how many statutes that bill amends? It seeks to amend 29 statutes in one bill, and yet when it came to making amendments to the Criminal Code, the government had to introduce a half dozen separate bills. I do not quite understand that. Maybe I am naive and maybe there is something going on here I do not see, but I will leave it to the voters to figure that one out.

When it comes to youth criminal justice, a term we should be dealing with is the concept of intervention. I have not heard that term a lot here, but it is so important, and in my view it is the most important concept. When a youth goes offside, breaks the law, and I am talking of a person who is between the low threshold and 17 years old, I prefer to regard our obligation as that of intervention. Now some Canadians would just like to treat that like a normal criminal act; we charge, we convict, we sentence, we deal with it. But we have learned in society that it is the absolute worst way to deal with young offenders. For a person in the sometimes turbulent, confused youth years, a lot of things happen.

I will admit that, when I was under 10 years old, I broke into a house, I as a little kid with some other kids. As great irony would have it, Mr. Speaker, you will not believe it, but the house I and the others broke into was the house of a Juvenile Delinquents Act judge. Is that not unbelievable? And I was the son of a policeman, to boot. At the time I really did not think I was breaking any laws. I actually did not know a lot about what I was doing. But the point is: What if they had taken all those youths who were all different ages and just put us all in jail? How would our lives have turned out? That would have been a bad story.

I refer colleagues to the Perry preschool project and the whole history of that project, which began about 1960 and went on for 25 years in the Chicago area. It measured outcomes between one group with which there was a huge intervention, in school and otherwise, and another group for which there was no intervention. The outcomes were like night and day. We have proven that intervention works and jailing does not. Even though it can be very expensive, the dollars we spend on intervention are infinitely better spent than any money we are going to have to spend later, after the fact, jailing and punishing. In addition, the youth who get through these turbulent years and make better choices rather than bad choices end up costing us zero and are productive citizens.

I am getting close to the end of my time for debate. I will pause here in the hope of being able to speak further at a later date.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his speech and his éminence grise character with respect to justice issues. I want to ask a point-blank question though. Does he think the additions to a preamble of a bill to take away from its concentration on children and move it to a concentration on public security, when those factors are already covered, are necessary? Why is it, then, that the Criminal Code does not have any preamble at all?

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, everyone knows what the Criminal Code is. It is straight, charter-based criminal justice.

Our Young Offenders Act and Youth Criminal Justice Act were designed to shape the hand of the societal intervention. The preamble we put in there is intended to show us why we are doing this, to shape the hand of the intervention so the outcome can be better than it would have been. We are looking for outcome. It is not the societal response. It is not the punishment. It is the outcome in relation to the life of the youth in question.

Sébastien's Law (protecting the public from violent young offenders)Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I will proceed with statements by members at this point. When the debate is resumed, there will be three and a half minutes left for questions and comments on the speech by the hon. member for Rouge River.

Battle of the AtlanticStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Kerr Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, one of the most important struggles in the second world war was the Battle of the Atlantic. It was a military engagement that lasted six long years.

The campaign was fought on the vast battleground of the north Atlantic, where many Canadian sailors and civilians sailed under constant threat of German U-boats. It was a struggle to sustain the vital lifelines of supplies from Canada's east coast to Great Britain and the European front.

In the end, we were victorious, but a terrible price was paid for that victory. More than 4,600 courageous men and women lost their lives at sea. These Canadians who joined the navy, the air force, the infantry, the women's reserve and the merchant marine to help in the fight against oppression and tyranny must never be forgotten. They helped create freedom for all Canadians.

We honour the sacrifices of those who died in the frigid waters of the north Atlantic and of those who lived to tell the tale. We owe these brave Canadians an enormous debt of gratitude for their valour and sacrifice.

We must never forget these brave men and women.

Canada remembers the Battle of the Atlantic.

World Press Freedom DayStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, last week, you ruled that it is not the government, not the Prime Minister, but Parliament that ultimately would decide what information could be withheld from the Canadian public.

However, today, on World Press Freedom Day, the organization Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is giving the Conservative government yet another failing grade. More than 40% of access to information requests are not met on time.

Conservative staffers have tried to “unrelease” information. One even forced officials to say that they did not know how much they were spending on wasteful partisan advertising when he had the price tag in his hand.

We still do not know why the Prime Minister forced one of his ministers to resign in the dead of night.

Withholding information from the public for no good reason is unacceptable. It is time to end the Conservative culture of deceit.

Broadband Canada ProgramStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Guimond Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, ever since the Minister of Industry announced the creation of the broadband Canada program, hundreds of people across Quebec have mobilized to rally for high-speed Internet access for their regions. Just as the minister asked, these working groups have done their homework and developed projects that meet the program criteria.

Where I am from, the Conférence régionale des élus developed a program that has unanimous support in the region. It would offer high-speed Internet access to almost all constituents in my region.

By working on these hundreds of projects, people from rural areas could finally look forward to having the tools they need to do business in the 21st century and adopting the means to keep young people in the regions.

Unfortunately, while these fine individuals, most of them volunteers, were doing their homework, the minister did not do his and the current delays are still compromising high-speed Internet access in the regions.

The EnvironmentStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, just this weekend I returned from an excellent meeting of progressive minds in Terrace, British Columbia. Renewal Northwest draws together business leaders, environment groups, first nations and local governments, building a plan for sustainable economic development in our region that creates jobs, while protecting the environment. It is looking for the federal government to be a partner and not an obstacle in this effort.

Instead of investing in good green jobs, the government continues to be intent on boosting the oil and gas industry with subsidies and cutting efforts in the wind, solar and other green energy projects around the country. Canadians know where that path leads: increased environmental destruction and holding back green future that we all need.

It is time for new ideas in our regional economy, championed by the people of the northwest. They want a government that listens to them and respects them and does not burden small businesses and low-income families with taxes like the HST.

Government needs to come to the table and support people in building the sustainable future they so desperately want.

Amnesty InternationalStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Terence Young Conservative Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the efforts of the members of the Oakville/Milton branch of Amnesty International who work quietly and diligently in the service of people worldwide who do not benefit from the rights and freedoms that Canadians do.

Currently, they are working to support Canadian citizen and prisoner of conscience Huseyin Celil, who is imprisoned in China, with letters of support for him and his family. Their track record is outstanding as they have conducted similar campaigns for others who are now free.

Today, I recognize Wendy Belcher, Moni Kuechmeister, Brenda Buchanan, Rita McPherson and Maria Ferguson, and thank them for their advocacy and success in promoting Canadian values and human rights worldwide.

World Press Freedom DayStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this World Press Freedom Day, we are reminded of, and reaffirm, freedom of the press as the lifeblood of democracy, the cornerstone of the search for truth, the precondition of the people's right to know, and the basis for government transparency, accountability and adherence to the rule of law, a right consecrated both in the Charter of Rights and international human rights law.

Unfortunately, this right and the safety of those who exercise it are increasingly at risk in many countries where journalists are attacked, kidnapped, tortured and even murdered with impunity.

Let us join in marking World Press Freedom Day in the hope that freedom of expression will be secured, that journalists who exercise it and are imprisoned will be released and that those predators who assault it will be held accountable.

Democratic ReformStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Chong Conservative Wellington—Halton Hills, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak today about parliamentary reform.

A growing number of Canadians are disengaging from the political process. When citizens disengage, the very legitimacy of this institution is at risk.

Canadians across the country may not be able to put their finger on exactly what ails our institutions, but they know that something is wrong. That is why I want to commend the Minister of State for Democratic Reform for introducing a number of bills, including Bill C-12, which demonstrates the government's commitment to institutional renewal.

The heart of our democracy is Parliament and the heart of Parliament is question period. Through the national media, millions of Canadians follow question period each and every day. I am optimistic that parliamentary reform can reconnect Canadians who feel disengaged by political behaviour that would not be tolerated around the kitchen table.

That is why I will be introducing Motion No. 517, a proposal that asks the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine specific changes to reform question period. I ask members of the House to consider this motion and to lend it their support.

Doris ThomasStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Josée Beaudin Bloc Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge today the determination and commitment of a person from my riding, Doris Thomas.

Ms. Thomas is 50 and will be taking part in the second annual Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 280 kilometre bike ride between Montreal and Quebec City that will take place on July 10 and 11.

The challenge Ms. Thomas is preparing to face is quite remarkable. After a brush with death in a bicycle accident in 2006, she got back in the saddle as a personal challenge to herself, and also in tribute to her father, Fred Thomas, who died of cancer in 2007.

Eight other participants from Saint Lambert will join Ms. Thomas: Élisabeth Masson, Lydie Querin, Nicola DiCiocco, Denis Beauchemin, Renée Boisvert, Nicole Fortier, Martine Riopelle and David Wood

I encourage everyone in my riding to support those taking part in this challenge by going to www.conquercancer.ca.

Leader of the Liberal Party of canadaStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader officially took the reins of the party a year ago, and what a year it has been: political flip-flops, election threats, promises to increase taxes, staffing changes, and division within his own caucus on more than one occasion. We have seen almost everything, except a display of real leadership.

While the Liberal leader still dreams of dividing Canadians and increasing taxes, our Conservative government has implemented measures to help our economy make it through these tough times. That is the type of leadership Canadians expect from a government.

Once again, the Liberal leader has shown that he is not truly interested in Canadians and Quebeckers, but that he thinks only of himself.

Polish Constitution DayStatements by Members

May 3rd, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is Polish Constitution Day, a day Polish people around the world celebrate with great parades and patriotic festivities. This year I feel it will also be a day of healing. It has not been a month since the death of Poland's late president, Lech Kaczynski, the first lady and 94 others killed in that tragic plane crash over Katyn.

It has not been uncommon through history to celebrate this day against aversion and hardship. The Polish Constitution, signed May 3, 1791, only lasted a year, when the Russo-Polish War of 1792 saw Poland partitioned by invading forces. And thus started the long, tumultuous history of Polish Constitution Day. Banned several times throughout history, Polish Constitution Day was restored as an official holiday in April 1990.

Poles have celebrated this day through centuries. It has served as a day of unity and healing across centuries, and it does so again today. I join with my fellow Polish Canadians in celebration, commemoration and remembrance. Today we proudly celebrate our strong heritage and commemorate and remember the many great men and women before us—

Polish Constitution DayStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Canadian NavyStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Guy Lauzon Conservative Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week we commence the celebration of the centennial of the Canadian navy when we will recognize the vibrant heritage of the navy and its long tradition of serving Canada and Canadians.

Yesterday the Minister of National Defence announced that the executive curl would be reintroduced to the naval officer uniform. This initiative is a result of the unanimous passage by the House of a motion that I introduced some weeks ago.

The curl was part of the Canadian naval officer's uniform from the founding of the Canadian Navy until unification. The curl will play an important role in distinguishing the more than 5,000 naval officers in the regular and reserve forces. We look forward to seeing the executive curl at the west coast International Fleet Review in June.

Today we salute the men and women of our navy and thank them for the 100 years of service to Canada. On a personal note, I would like to acknowledge the service of my deceased brother, André Lauzon, good friend Kendall Dolliver and each and every member present who served in the Canadian Navy during its proud 100-year history.