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House of Commons Hansard #57 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was colombia.

Topics

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House this afternoon to talk about the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement as a member of the international trade committee and as someone who had the opportunity to travel with the committee just over two years ago. This is a very important initiative for our government and our global commerce strategy.

As a side note, it was two years ago today that then minister of international trade, David Emerson, announced formally that we would be entering into these negotiations. I know for a fact that we have had considerable debate from both sides of the House and through committee. It is time that we move on as a government and as country to provide opportunities for our businesses. This agreement is a great opportunity for Canadian businesses.

We know that there are challenges within Colombia. We have heard today and through our committees over 130 different testimonies and 98 different witnesses. The fact is that there has been progress over the eight years that President Uribe has been president. We know that there are new leaders coming on stream who support the general principle of trade agreements and of moving forward and fostering opportunities for Colombians as well as Canadians.

Once this free trade agreement is implemented, Canadians will be able to expand their presence in this important market. This is exactly the kind of opportunity Canadian industries across the country have been asking for.

One of those associations was the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, which testified to our committee, “Colombia has the potential to be an important future market for beef exports”.

The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters stated, “Colombia is a very good example of a market that is growing very rapidly where we have been successful in expanding our presence in that market...supplying them with Canadian products and services”.

Hon. members of the House should recognize just how important the Colombian market is for the businesses in their regions. As the member of Parliament representing Kelowna—Lake Country and the Okanagan, I know that British Columbia will benefit from this agreement, as will Ontario, Quebec, and all parts of the country. We are looking to expand trade and to yield customers new opportunities. In particular, British Columbia's machinery and paper industries stand to benefit most from this agreement.

We have heard already that Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba will benefit from this agreement. Specifically, the prairies and the agricultural producers are a key building block of our economy. The immediate removal of Colombian tariffs from groups such as wheat, barley, and pulses will make these products from the Canadian prairies even more competitive in the Colombian market.

In addition, Alberta enjoys a significant investment presence in the Colombian market, thanks to oil and gas projects. By providing greater predictability and protection for investors, our free trade agreement with Colombia will help secure Canadian investment in the region. We have heard over and over again that rules-based trading is secure, safe, regulatory protection for investors, which is key to continuing to help grow our markets as well as Colombia's.

These investment provisions will directly benefit those Alberta firms that are investing in Colombia. In Ontario and Quebec, manufacturers need all the opportunities they can get to grow stronger. That means opening doors in new markets, such as Colombia. With this agreement, Colombian tariffs on all machinery and industrial goods will be eliminated. Canadian manufacturers of mining equipment and heavy machinery, concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, will benefit from the immediate elimination of Colombia's 5% to 20% tariffs on products in this sector.

This is a significant opportunity for all Canadians. With over 42 million dollars' worth of vehicles, 15 million dollars' worth of mechanical machinery, and 10 million dollars' worth of electrical equipment exported to Colombia in 2009, companies in Ontario have a lot to gain, as well, from this agreement.

This is a very important agreement for Quebec, as well. Quebeckers employed in industries such as paper, paperboard and other forest products, copper, and machinery will clearly benefit from free trade with Colombia. After all, 21.6%, or over one-fifth, of Canada's exports to Colombia last year were from Quebec. That is a significant figure.

In total, Quebec's exports to Colombia amounted to $130 million in 2009, including $29 million worth of machinery and $27 million worth of paper and paperboard.

On the east coast, the provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador exported about $52.84 million worth of products to Colombia.

By deepening our trade relationships with Colombia, important industries will benefit, such as paper and paperboard and machinery exporters. With these kinds of benefits across Canada, it is no wonder that Canadian businesses, investors, and producers alike have been calling for closer commercial ties with Colombia.

This agreement is a result of this government listening to Canadian businesses and strengthening this country's economy. It is clear that this agreement makes commercial sense, and not just for one specific region or one province; it makes sense for all of Canada. Colombia is a significant trade partner for this country. In 2009, our two-way trade in merchandise was worth over $1.3 billion. That is right; it was over $1.3 billion. Over the past five years, Canadian merchandise exports have grown by over 55%.

By eliminating tariffs on a range of products, Canadian exporters and producers will become more competitive with other nations that are also trading with Colombia. This trade agreement will have significant benefits for important sectors of the Canadian economy, such as forestry, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, resources, and mining. These are all areas in which Canada excels, and they are integral to our economy. These sectors are economic drivers of both small communities and large urban centres across this great nation. In particular, in the agricultural sector, Colombia is an established and growing market for Canadian exporters.

In 2009, Canada exported agriculture and agri-food products to Colombia worth $247 million. Colombia is the second largest market for Canadian agricultural exports in South America. Key stakeholders in Canada's agricultural sectors have spoken out about how important this deal is for their businesses. Pulse Canada has testified that Colombia is a critical market for Canadian pulses and special crops. The Canadian Pork Council has said, “it would be critical, for us to be a player in the Colombian pork market, to see this great agreement passed”.

This government is listening. Once implemented, most Canadian agricultural exports will benefit from immediate duty-free access to Colombia. This includes wheat, barley, and pulses, which in 2009 represented 35% of Canadian merchandise. Exports to Colombia are currently subject to tariffs of up to 60%. Duty-free access to Colombia for these products is an important achievement.

This agreement is also expected to have a positive impact on the Canadian manufacturing sector by creating new market opportunities for Canadian exports of manufactured products.

Canadian companies, in particular the extractive and explorative companies, have made important investments in the Colombian market. As I mentioned, having had the opportunity to travel there, we saw first-hand those investments and the corporate social responsibility leadership those Canadian companies are providing the Colombians.

Canadian companies, with their presence, have created many opportunities for Canadian exporters of equipment and other manufactured products.

One of the leading exports to Colombia in recent years has been off-road dump trucks, for which immediate duty-free access would apply with the implementation of the free trade agreement. Who would have thought; off-road dump trucks? However, it is a great market, and it is an expanding market and opportunity.

Canada has also shipped a substantial quantity of auto parts to Colombia in recent years, which will receive the same tariff treatment as the United States exports, including on remanufactured products. The free trade agreement with Colombia will strengthen these types of linkages by fully eliminating Colombian tariffs on these and many other products.

Colombia is also a strategic destination for Canadian investment, to the point that the stock of Canadian investment in Colombia reached $773 million in 2009 alone. This agreement establishes a stable, legal framework for Canadian investors in Colombia.

The oil and gas and mining sectors will also benefit from provisions, directed by governments, to promote principles of corporate social responsibility in their business communities. The promotion of corporate social responsibility, something that is near and dear to my heart, fosters better relations between companies and local communities and contributes to a stable business environment. Canadian companies have indicated their strong belief that their increased engagement in Colombia, bringing with them good Canadian values, would help advance local conditions with respect to corporate social responsibility. Canadian service providers, in particular for financial, engineering, mining, and petroleum extractive services, will also benefit from more secure, predictable, and equitable treatment in Colombia.

The Standing Committee on International Trade has heard from many companies, associations, and individuals regarding the direct benefits this agreement will have. Without export markets, our industries will be unable to expand, compete, and grow. That is why I ask all hon. members to show their support for Canada's businesses from coast to coast to coast by supporting the passage of the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement.

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with the hon. member's comments, but I do appreciate them.

My colleague knows that two years ago the trade committee had hearings in Colombia where we heard from the labour movement. The committee was unanimous in its recommendation that the government not proceed with trade negotiations with the Government of Colombia until an independent human rights assessment was done on the impact of the agreement on human rights in Colombia given the egregious constant and ongoing human rights violations taking place there.

The member well knows that we are not talking about 2008. From January 1 to April 30 of this year, 30 trade unionists were massacred. Thirty of them died standing up for better health and safety conditions in their workplace, for better working conditions for Colombian workers. We are not talking about five or six years ago. We are talking about what happened a few weeks ago.

Given that the recommendation of the committee was unanimous and that those people who talked to committee two years ago wanted to come back on Bill C-2, my simple question is: Why do the Conservatives refuse to hear from the free and independent labour movement in Colombia and the labour movement in Canada, as well as the many activists who wanted to come before the committee?

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster for his passion. We have some major differences. He has an ideological position that our government does not agree with. I believe that in the best interests of Canadian businesses we need to continue to provide opportunities to expand our markets. We are a trading nation. Over two-thirds of our market are elsewhere. Our global economic strategy calls to expand these opportunities through the EFTA and numerous other agreements. There are about 11 agreements that we have signed or are working on, including the Colombia free trade agreement.

Specifically to the human rights issue and the situation in Colombia, my heart goes out to those who have lost their lives. It is definitely not a perfect situation there.

This agreement is the first one in the history of trade agreements to include side agreements on labour, the environment and human rights. We are setting a precedent. We want to make sure that we do this right. We are working together. I would like to thank the hon. member for Kings—Hants for his initiative to help bring the issue of human rights forward.

While we were in Colombia, the hon. member heard things firsthand. Do we engage or isolate these individuals? We need to engage them.

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Kelowna—Lake Country for his hard work on the trade committee and for his support for this piece of legislation.

My question for the hon. member is extremely straightforward.

We heard from dozens of witnesses at committee. When I listened to the member for Burnaby—New Westminster speak, I would swear that no one attended trade committee on this important subject, but that is far from the truth. We have had 31 committee meetings. Nearly 100 individuals have testified. Eighteen of those witnesses have actually testified twice and another seven have testified three times.

I would ask the hon. member if there is any more to the NDP opposition to this bill, or has that party simply taken an ideological position and refused to allow democracy to prevail and vote on this piece of legislation?

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade for his hard work on the trade committee and his dedication in helping to expand market opportunities for Canadian businesses.

Specifically to the question of the NDP and its ideological difference, I believe in free and fair trade but that party has a different definition. It has never supported any trade agreement. No matter how long we went on with this, we would be looking at stalling, delaying, dithering and dodging by the NDP. We need to move forward for Canadian businesses.

We are looking at the human rights issue. We are providing hope, opportunity and jobs for Colombians. I believe from the bottom of my heart that this agreement is in the best interests of Colombians and Canadians as we move forward.

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is more one of process. Eighteen months ago, the Conservative government prorogued Parliament so it could recalibrate, to use its term, its legislative program. After a long wait while it recalibrated, we came back and the very first piece of legislation tabled, the top of mind, number one priority for the government was not the global economic crisis. It was not housing or social programs. It was Bill C-2, a free trade agreement with Colombia--

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I will have to stop the hon. member there.

The hon. member for Kelowna—Lake Country will have a similarly short period of time to reply.

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have had ample opportunity to hear from unions. We have heard from people across this country. Ideologically the NDP is opposed to this agreement, but as I said before, it is in the best interests of Colombians to provide hope, opportunities and jobs for the folks of Colombia. As we move forward, we will continue to assess the human rights, look at the environment and labour situation and build a bridge for all of us.

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time I have spoken to Bill C-2, the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement. It was introduced in the second session of this Parliament and then again after prorogation.

The Bloc Québécois will again say no to this bill because certain amendments should have been made. We have difficulty understanding why the Liberals accepted certain amendments in committee. The Liberals have backtracked on their position. We consider the amendments to be cosmetic and not at all relevant to the issues in this matter.

The compromise is acceptable to the Liberals. They have agreed to let the Colombian government assess the human rights situation. A number of companies will invest or do business with Colombia even though some human rights are not respected there. Given that the Colombian government is being asked to conduct its own assessment of the human rights situation and to report only annually to the Government of Canada, the Bloc Québécois believes that the Colombian government is both judge and judged in this situation.

Some very serious human rights violations take place in Colombia. I will talk about some of them and provide statistics.

After Sudan—where we find Darfur—Colombia has the second largest number of people displaced by threats, reprisals and violence. In addition, 2008 was one of the worst years for this. Since 1986, 2,970 trade unionists have been assassinated. In 2008, crimes committed by paramilitary groups rose by 41%. In 2006, 47% of the population lived below the poverty line and 12% lived in abject poverty. The unemployment rate is one of the highest in Latin America.

The situation in Colombia is thus very disturbing and makes us wonder about the Liberals' support for an amendment that would have the Colombian government perform a self-assessment of the situation.

The Bloc Québécois believes that an impact study should be conducted by an independent international organization, which would give us the straight goods. It would be more likely to provide a critical and pertinent assessment. It would also be more objective because, by report on itself, the Colombian government becomes both judge and judged.

We are left wondering about the position of the Liberal Party, which said it was worried about human rights and, in particular, respect for those rights. We wonder why the Liberals have done such a radical about-face and agreed to these amendments.

The issues in the side agreements are tied to the main agreement on trade. But we have to wonder about the merits of the bill. The Conservative government is keenly interested in investment, which is why they support the agreement and have introduced this bill.

Something does not add up with this bill. The provision on investment protection is modelled on chapter 11 of NAFTA. It will not contribute to improving human rights and general living conditions in Colombia. Allow me to explain. The fact that some aspects of this infamous bill are consistent with chapter 11 of NAFTA means that foreign investors may apply to the international tribunals themselves, bypassing governments.

We are in favour of having investment protection provisions, but not at the expense of the people. The bill could also have some provisions on the environment. Under the agreement, if an investor has put money into a company and that company pollutes or violates human rights, this will not be dealt with between governments. The investors themselves will turn to the courts, where they could seek compensation if their investments stop being profitable enough.

There could also be an inquiry into a lack of return on their investments.

We wonder what the government's intentions are with this bill. We have very little trade with Colombia. We trade much more with other countries. Why are they so absolutely keen on passing this bill?

Canadian investors would be able to take legal action against the Colombian government if it decided to make life better for its citizens or improve its environmental protection regulations. There, too, the investors have a say regarding the suitability of the government's actions.

When President Clinton was in power, the United States renegotiated Chapter 11 of NAFTA. They included the issue of human rights in a side agreement, which is not directly related to trade. Side agreements are ineffective when they are not part of the free trade agreement. We have to wonder why the Liberals did not pick up on this ploy. We know very well that this will not be included in the free trade agreement. They are just side agreements, which will have no direct impact on trade.

The purpose of this bill is simply to open the door to investments. We know that some Canadian mining companies that will go to Colombia could not care less about protecting the environment.

We believe that human rights are non-negotiable. We cannot have an investment free-for-all; we must be vigilant. The Bloc cannot understand why the Liberals are following the lead of the Conservative government on this issue.

We will vote against this bill because it is not in line with the expectations, priorities and values of the Bloc Québécois in terms of human rights.

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would comment on the comments made by the previous speaker, to the effect that this free trade agreement with Colombia sets a precedent for future free trade agreements. My recollection is that the NAFTA set the precedent, especially with the rich side agreement which provided for a separate council, a full-time secretariat, the opportunity for citizens to file complaints of failed enforcement and the potential for penalties to be imposed.

What does the hon. member think about the ratcheting back and evisceration of environmental conditions to these trade agreements?

Motions in AmendmentCanada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is true that this agreement does not meet certain conditions, especially when it comes to the environment. The government could not care less about the environment, as it proved in Copenhagen, where it wilfully ignored numerous environmental issues.

The fact that there is a side agreement that deals directly with human rights indicates that the Conservative government is not committed to dealing with this issue as part of free trade. And it shows in this bill.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, on June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended an apology to the victims of the residential school era. He asked for forgiveness--

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. I would remind the hon. member not to use the names of members but to use their riding or title.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge Conservative Winnipeg South, MB

This weekend is the two-year anniversary of that apology. To mark this historic event, the National Coalition of First Nations, Inuit and Métis will gather to issue a public response.

Aboriginal leaders have planned the national forgiveness summit, which will take place in Ottawa from June 11-13, for a number of years now. The summit will encourage victims of the residential school system to embrace forgiveness and begin a road of healing.

To prepare for the summit, a journey of freedom will take place in aboriginal communities, churches and resource centres throughout the country. Participants will present a charter of forgiveness to the Government of Canada and to the churches of Canada.

I look forward to this monumental event this weekend and believe it will be meaningful for many aboriginal people across this country. Every MP is welcome to attend.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, worldwide, Polonia celebrated the beatification of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, the Catholic priest who in the 1980s ministered to Solidarity workers at the Huta Warszawa steelworks.

An unassuming pastor, Father Popieluszko did not shirk his responsibility to minister his flock when Polish workers began to organize the Solidarnosc union.

In sermons he defended national and human rights. For this he suffered detentions and interrogations. Finally, in 1984, after leading mass he was kidnapped by Communist secret police and 11 days later his tortured, bound and gagged body was dredged from a reservoir.

Today, along with Polonia, we bow our heads in Solidarnosc, remembering Father Popieluszko and the long list of martyred Catholic clergy: Polish Cardinal Wyszynski, Ukrainian Cardinal Slipyj, Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty, Croatian Cardinal Stepinac, Czech Cardinal Beran, and Slovak Bishop Gojdic, who suffered torture and even death at the hands of the evil ideology of communism.

Doris St-PierreStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was happy to learn that the Quebec government presented an Hommage bénévolat-Québec award to Mr. Doris St-Pierre on April 21. He has sat on the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre's board of directors for 20 years as its non-native representative. He is working to bring Val-d'Or's communities closer together. For Édith Cloutier, executive director of the centre, “Doris is an adopted brother to the Friendship Centre, a man whose commitment goes greatly beyond his active presence at board meetings.”

He has played a leading role in a number of important projects, such as the construction of a new building for the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre and the creation of an aboriginal early childhood centre for 80 children. Mr. St-Pierre is also a strong advocate for environmental causes, including, to name a couple, Action boréale Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Organisme de bassin versant Abitibi-Jamésie, which he helped found in January 2010.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, we thank you and congratulate, Doris.

My Sisters' PlaceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, on June 4, the service providers, clients, board of trustees and the community celebrated the grand opening of the new location of My Sisters' Place in London, Ontario.

My Sisters' Place is a transitional support centre that provides a safe day space, basic needs, assistance, programming and access to community partners for women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and individuals who live with the effects of poverty, addiction and mental illness.

The new home for our sisters, purchased and refurbished by the family of Noreen and David Bird, allows fragile and vulnerable women to support each other and build friendships. The sisterhood that is integral to the program's success has quite literally saved lives.

This is a home of love and devotion that enriches the lives of the women involved, and it enriches our entire community.

Tragically and shamefully, the federal funding for My Sisters' Place and all programs of the homelessness strategy ends in March 2011. The government needs to fulfill its obligations to those in such profound need.

Breast Cancer AwarenessStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend 96 teams took to Peterborough's Little Lake, paddling to raise close to $160,000 in the fight against breast cancer.

My wife Kelly and I were proud members of the blisteringly quick Morello's Independent Grocer “Yigomanic” team that carved its way to a first place finish. Big thanks to team captain Angela Pammet and store owners Dave and Kim Morello for all their efforts and support.

The 2010 event marked the 10th anniversary of the dragon boat festival in Peterborough inspired by Meredith Cosborn and driven by the entire Peterborough survivors abreast team. Their contributions to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre over the past decade are saving lives each and every day.

This coming weekend, Peterborough and the entire electric city region are gearing up to host the 2010 international dragon boat festival following up on previous festivals that have been held in Vancouver and Australia.

The objective of the international festival is to promote breast cancer awareness internationally and to encourage participation from breast cancer survivors.

Survivors Abreast Peterborough is tickled pink to be hosting this year's event and we welcome the world to the electric city for this great cause.

Jean-Pierre BrabantStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I commend the extraordinary courage and bravery shown by a police officer from my riding, LaSalle—Émard.

While on patrol on May 10, 2010, officer Jean-Pierre Brabant of LaSalle’s police station 13 dove into the icy waters of the Lachine Canal to save the life of a suspect who jumped into the canal to try to escape during a police chase. The suspect quickly became hypothermic and lost his strength, and was therefore unable to grab the buoy that was thrown to him. Seeing a human being in distress and acting on instinct alone, officer Brabant dove into the water to save the life of someone he had been pursuing just moments earlier.

Jean-Pierre Brabant's bravery and courage exemplify his heroic spirit and his profound desire to serve his community, even at great risk to his own life. On behalf of the people of LaSalle—Émard, I would like to say thank you and offer my most sincere congratulations on this act of bravery. The LaSalle police can be proud to call a hero like Jean-Pierre Brabant one of their own.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, on May 28 I attended the combat golf tournament at the Meaford Golf and Country Club. The tournament this year raised a phenomenal $11,000 for the military family resource centre.

I enjoyed golfing with Deputy Commanding Officer Major Ross Donald, Master Warrant Officer Ian Boyd and Linda Van Aalst. The day started off with a literal blast from a Howitzer for the shotgun start. Military personnel were located at each hole along the course to allow the golfers to learn more about the military.

This past Saturday, I attended Veterans Commemoration Day at the Billy Bishop Museum in Owen Sound and met many local veterans. The Billy Bishop Museum and its staff are great supporters of our veterans. The military family resource centre in Meaford also supports the families of our military while they are deployed around the world.

I want to publicly acknowledge both organizations and the military itself for the great work they provide their community and this country. Thanks and a job well done.

Government SubsidiesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, after the government refused to fund the Festival international des rythmes du monde through the marquee tourism events program, claiming that the festival did not meet the eligibility criteria, now we learn that the festival is joining the big leagues as one of a select group of major international events in Quebec.

The reasons for the industry minister's refusal are especially hard to understand considering the scope of the event.

Two months before this important occasion for Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean, it is not too late to acknowledge this mistake and reassess the application. The Conservative government has not even spent all the money it allocated to the program, leaving millions of dollars on the table, to the detriment of festival-goers.

By acting in this way, the government made an ideological choice to cut funding not only for the festival, but for hundreds of up-and-coming artists, craftspeople and creators who care about culture.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Leader of the Liberal Party admitted that he would form a coalition government if the opportunity presented itself after the next election.

This reminds us of a statement made not so long ago when the Liberals were trying to form a coalition with the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. The Leader of the Liberal Party said, “I am prepared to form a Coalition government, and to lead that government”.

The Liberal strategy is the same as the last time: run an election campaign telling Quebeckers and Canadians that there will be no coalition. Then, after the election, get together with the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to overturn the results.

The Liberals' plan is still unacceptable to Canadians. It is unacceptable to democracy to ignore the results of an election and to install a party and a leader that were rejected by the voters.

Len MacdonaldStatements By Members

June 7th, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to pay tribute and to honour the life of Mr. Len Macdonald, a constituent from my riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and a strong advocate for the English-speaking minority communities of Quebec for many years.

Len Macdonald passed away on April 28, 2010, following a heroic battle with cancer. Throughout his life, Len was active in supporting many English-speaking organizations, such as Alliance Quebec.

On behalf of Quebeckers and especially the English-speaking minority community of Quebec, I would like to express my deep sadness for the loss of such an influential and passionate person.

I would also like to extend my most heartfelt condolences to his wife, Kathleen Tansey, and to all his family and friends. Len's passion and dedication to protect fundamental rights will surely be missed by many.

Firearms RegistryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week at the public safety committee, the NDP alongside the Liberals and Bloc Québécois ganged up and passed a motion to try to derail Bill C-391 and keep the long gun registry as is.

The passing of this motion by the opposition parties is further evidence that they are more interested in playing partisan political games with the long gun registry than doing the right thing and speaking on behalf of their hard-working, law-abiding constituents.

On this side of the House, we are committed to ending the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. We call upon those opposition MPs who voted for Bill C-391 at second reading to vote on behalf of their constituents at home, not on behalf of their weak-kneed, iffy political bosses in Ottawa.

Canadians will not be tricked by these political games. They know that when it comes to the long gun registry, MPs can either vote to keep it or vote to scrap it. It is that simple.

Health CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, Friends of Medicare is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

For the past three decades, the members of this organization have been central in the struggle to protect public health care in the province of Alberta. They successfully combated extra billing by doctors in the eighties and for the past twenty years have fought against numerous attempts to increase privatization of the health care system.

In April 2000, tens of thousands of Albertans attended rallies held in Edmonton and Calgary to protest the infamous Bill 11, which would have introduced private hospitals in Alberta.

Canadians from all provinces have reasons to be grateful to this grassroots organization. By stopping the scourge of private health care from gaining a foothold in Alberta, they helped to prevent its spread across the country.

I congratulate members of Friends of Medicare for the dedication and passion they bring to the defence of our public health care system that Canadians value so highly.