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House of Commons Hansard #73 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

[Members sang the national anthem]

AgricultureStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I stand in this House today to draw attention to the challenges being faced by many Peace Country farmers this fall.

Many Canadians have heard a lot about the flood conditions in parts of Alberta but have heard little in the media about the drought conditions in the northwest region of the province. In my tours of the driest areas of my constituency, I have come across some of the worst crop failures I have ever seen.

The drought this year comes on the heels of four years of poor crop yields that have already significantly impacted the financial stability of many producers. For this reason, we are very thankful for the announcement of assistance that will aid local farmers.

The announcement of an estimated $170 million that will be distributed through the agri-insurance, agri-stability and agri-recovery programs to Peace Country farm families came as a major relief and a much needed encouragement.

Peace Country producers, like all Canadian farm families, know they can count on this Conservative government to stand with them in times of disaster and in times of need.

CensusStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Pablo Rodriguez Liberal Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, reaction about the census is extremely clear. We know that the list of organizations that disagree with the government's decision is growing every day. Here are some more: the Association des statisticiens et statisticiennes du Québec, the Canadian Bar Association, the Association des Soeurs du Canada, the Association canadienne-française pour l'avancement des sciences, the Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale, the Association francophone pour le savoir, the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives—there are still more—the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Association of Educational Researchers of Ontario, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada, Quebec's Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

And that is only a fraction, only some of the organizations that are furious with the government. I will stop there, but I could go on and on.

Jean-Guy Saint-GelaisStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, Jean-Guy Saint-Gelais has a most impressive list of achievements. For the past few decades, he has been volunteering his time to work with youth and seniors, in addition to being a member of the board of directors of the Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, in Canada and internationally.

Mr. Saint-Gelais received the Quebec Lieutenant Governor's Seniors Medal and a certificate of achievement from the Quebec National Assembly, and he is well known by people in the Ascot neighbourhood of Sherbrooke for his dedication to Ascot's public health organization and to the newspaper Regards.

On behalf of the community of Compton—Stanstead, I salute all of the work Mr. Saint-Gelais has done, and thank him for the hundreds of hours he has invested in the well-being of his fellow citizens.

SeniorsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, this summer, I had the opportunity to knock on doors in various communities throughout my riding. One thing was clear: constituents, like Frank Rainville from Sturgeon Falls, are deeply anxious about their future and their retirement prospects, for good reasons.

The Conservative government can spare millions of dollars on television and billboard ads but can only spare a $1.50 increase to old age security, after a two year freeze.

Our seniors are facing mounting costs in every aspect of their lives. Whether it is their medication or the unfair McGuinty-Harper HST, life is becoming harder. Limited access to long-term care is adding insult to injury. Those who are fortunate to be employed are deeply worried about their pensions.

I am proud of the work of the NDP. We are listening and acting on their concerns.

With concrete plans, such as improving the Canada pension plan, increasing the guaranteed income supplement to lift seniors out of poverty, to lowering drug costs through a national drug strategy, we are fighting to ensure Canadians retire with dignity and security.

Human RightsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, an unimaginable evil is happening in parts of Africa. Body parts of people with albinism are being hacked off and sold to witch doctors with deadly results. They believe that the body parts of albinos have magical powers, capable of bringing riches. In one instance, a Tanzanian trader was caught with the head of an albino baby. He was to be paid for the head by its weight.

Under the cover of darkness, a group of vicious hunters in northwestern Tanzania charged into the room of another victim. Bib-i-ana's pale young body was pinned down and one of her little legs was hacked off as her sister screamed in horror.

Albinos are known as zeru zeru, meaning invisible, inhuman, a ghost. They are being hunted and sold to witch doctors for lucrative profits.

I ask each member of this Parliament to please help me and others to stop this horrific evil.

CensusStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the list keeps on getting longer of Canadians who oppose the government's decision to stop the long form census: the region of Peel; the city of Brampton; the town of Caledon; the town of Halton Hills, the town of Milton; the town of Smiths Falls; the city of Fredericton; the city of greater Sudbury; the city of Hamilton; and the city of Kelowna.

There is also: the Canadian Catholic Council of Bishops; the Burlington Chamber of Commerce; the Transportation Association of Canada; the United Steel Workers; United Way of Canada; the Canadian Historical Association; the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association; the Canadian Public Health Association; the Chinese Canadian National Council; and the Canadian Association for Business Economics.

These are only a fraction of the people who oppose the decision. The consensus on the census is that Canadians do not agree.

International Day of Older PersonsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, October 1 is International Day of Older Persons. This Friday, Canadians will celebrate Canadian seniors and recognize the important contributions they continue to make.

One in seven Canadians today is a senior. Today's diverse group of seniors assumes many different roles. Seniors are remarkable business leaders, devoted mentors, energetic athletes and exemplary volunteers.

Budget 2010 invested an additional $5 million per year in the new horizons for seniors program, bringing the total overall budget to $40 million. This additional funding will support projects that encourage seniors to volunteer and mentor other generations, as well as initiatives that aim to increase awareness of financial abuse.

The government also introduced several cost-saving measures, including pension income splitting, doubling the pension income credit, increasing the age credit and reducing minimum RRIF withdrawals.

Much still needs to be done. We will continue to work hard to meet the needs of Canadian seniors.

For strengthening our yesterday and continuing to shape tomorrow, let us honour Canadian seniors today.

Information Rights WeekStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week is Information Rights Week in Quebec and Canada. Information rights are critical to any democracy because they tell us how healthy a democracy is and reflect the authorities' willingness to be transparent.

Since the Conservatives came to power, there has been widespread criticism about the government keeping too tight a lock on information and having a culture of secrecy. Examples of this are many: Parliament was prorogued to prevent access to the Afghan detainee file, many senior public servants who dared to criticize the government have resigned, organizations that criticized the government have had their funding cut, and a unilateral decision was made to scrap the mandatory long form census to make it easier for the government to impose its ideology.

I should also note that three ministers, including the Prime Minister's Quebec lieutenant, have been the subject of priority investigations by the information commissioner.

According to the commissioner, “delays threaten to render the entire access [to information] regime irrelevant”. This government has to drop its obsession with controlling information—

Information Rights WeekStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Saint John.

New Brunswick ElectionStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate premier-elect David Alward and his Progressive Conservative team on their decisive victory in the province of New Brunswick on Monday.

New Brunswickers have chosen an extremely talented team of MLAs to work for them at the Legislative Assembly in Fredericton.

This marks the first time in New Brunswick history that an incumbent government has not been re-elected to a second term.

On a more personal note, I have known Premier Alward since 1999 when we were first elected and served together in the provincial legislature. He is an honest, decent and hard-working individual whose passion and commitment for New Brunswick is unwavering.

On this side of the House, we look forward to working with Premier Alward and his team on issues important to New Brunswick.

Together, we will get things done and deliver for all New Brunswickers.

CensusStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, the list of those whose advice to keep the long form census, which the Prime Minister rejects, continues to rise. It includes: Tom Flanagan, his former chief strategist and political plotter; Alex Himelfarb, former clerk of the Privy Council; the Canadian Jewish Congress; the Social Planning Council of Toronto; the Toronto Association for Business Economics; the Toronto Board of Trade; the Toronto Board of Health; the Toronto immigrant and employment data initiative; Toronto Public Health; Toronto social research data; Toronto Women's Housing Co-op; Transportation Association of Canada; United Way of Toronto; University of Toronto; Volunteer Toronto; West Hill Community Services; West Toronto Support Services; York Community Services. The list goes on.

Why does the Prime Minister not open up his ears to those who give him good advice?

Employment InsuranceStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, we have expressed our government's strong opposition to the plan by the Liberal leader's coalition for a massive, permanent increase to EI premiums to support a 45-day work year.

At a time when Canadians can least afford it the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition is proposing drastic changes to the EI program which would cost Canadians and Quebeckers more than $6.6 billion annually.

Working for just 45 days and collecting EI for the rest of the year is irresponsible and offensive to hard-working Canadians.

This initiative would cost Canadian taxpayers billions and result in a massive, permanent increase in payroll taxes that would hurt workers and small businesses.

The Liberals shamefully raided the EI surplus when they were in government to pay for their pet political projects.

Our Conservative Government believes that the best solution is to get Canadians back to work.

Canada PostStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, successive Liberal and Conservative governments slashed social programs and it is now up to family members to pick up the slack when health care, long-term care and social services fail to deliver. Most often, it is women who become the de facto social safety net in this country and it is leaving them overstretched. The least we could do is ensure that government policies support a better work-family balance.

Sadly, Canada Post is adopting exactly the opposite approach by forcing regular letter carriers to work overtime. Not only does this undermine a healthy work-family balance, but it also threatens the health and safety of workers.

This summer, a woman letter carrier in Hamilton suffered heat exhaustion because of the extra hours on the job. Someone could get seriously hurt.

In these tough economic times, why would we allow a crown corporation to adopt a policy that is detrimental to existing workers and undermines new jobs for more Canadians? Why would Canada Post pay overtime rates to regular employees who do not want it when other employees would gladly do the same job for regular wages? Is Canada Post really just trying to deplete CUPW's strike fund before its collective agreement expires?

The Minister of Transport has responsibility for Canada Post. When will he take that seriously and defend the interests of hard-working Canadians against a crown corporation run amok?

National DefenceStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, our government's investment in the F-35 program is a win-win for the Canadian Forces and the Canadian economy.

The forces will benefit by replacing the CF-18, an aircraft that will soon reach the end of its useful life, and Canadians will benefit from well-paying, highly skilled jobs for decades to come.

However, do not just take my word for it. Yesterday, CEOs from major Canadian aerospace companies confirmed that this investment would create thousands of high-quality jobs and investment across Canada for years to come. In fact, CEOs warned that delaying or cancelling this program would be devastating for Canada's world-class aerospace industry.

Greg Yeldon, president of Esterline CMC Electronics, said it best:

We want all parties to support the government's decision because it is in the best interest of all Canadians.

We urge all parties to put Canadian jobs first, support Canada's economy and get behind this crucial project.

The Member for Brome—MissisquoiStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 24, my colleague, the member for Brome—Missisquoi, was named an honorary fellow by his Royal Architectural Institute of Canada peers.

An architect with a masters in building engineering, the member for Brome—Missisquoi has almost 50 years' experience. The 1973 oil crisis sparked his interest in green, bioclimatic architecture, an area he pioneered. He incorporates renewable energy as well as renewable and recyclable materials in his building designs, which are inspired by nature and respect the natural environment.

The member for Brome—Missisquoi is also a speaker in his area of expertise, green architecture, and has been a commentator on radio and television as well as a columnist in the print media.

As the critic for affordable social housing and the assistant environment and sustainable development critic, the member for Brome—Missisquoi has championed geothermal energy.

All members of the Bloc Québécois join me in congratulating him.

CensusStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lise Zarac Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the list of those who support the census does not end there. We have a number of other examples: the Federation of Canadian Demographers, the Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l'Université de Montréal, the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, the Fédération canadienne des municipalités, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d'université.

That is not all. Also on that long list are the department of demography at the Université de Montréal, the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, the Société franco-manitobaine and the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick.

Employment InsuranceStatements by Members

September 29th, 2010 / 2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal leader is trying to have his cake and eat it too, but he cannot fool Canadians. By flip-flopping on today's Bloc bill, he thinks that Canadians will forget that he supports a $4 billion, 45-day work year. Yet even though the Liberals admit that the bill is costly and irresponsible, the Liberals' own official critic is in support of it. Who is the irresponsible one: the Liberal leader or the Liberal critic?

The fact is that the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition supports EI changes that would cost workers and businesses $7 billion and would result in massive and permanent hikes in EI premiums. Canadian families and small businesses just cannot afford the tax and spend schemes of the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition.

CensusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, over 350 experts and organizations agree that the government's decision to scrap the long form census is a mistake. Now the governments of Quebec and Ontario are saying the same thing.

Will the Prime Minister admit that he made a mistake? Will he support the Liberal motion to save the long form census?

CensusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the long form will be distributed to more households, but our position is clear. When the government asks people questions about private matters, it cannot threaten to punish them in order to get the information. That is not how we do things in the 21st century.

CensusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I have never known any citizen to have problems with the census. I have never seen anyone put in jail because of the census. Refusing to correct a mistake is pure stubbornness.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the chambers of commerce, the Bank of Canada all say the same thing: scrapping the long form census is a mistake.

Why will the Prime Minister not listen to these Canadians?

CensusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I believe the leader of the Liberal Party once said that he had never met a single Canadian opposed to the gun registry.

Our position is very clear. There will be a long form that will be distributed to more households than ever before. We encourage people to complete it. We understand when some people have reticence about giving out personal information. The way to deal with the public in this day and age is not to threaten them with fines and jail terms or with taking away their employment insurance, as some in the opposition have demanded. We will treat the public like adults. That is how we are going to conduct business in this country.

CensusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal motion precisely removes the penalty of imprisonment, which removes the Conservatives' excuses.

Small businesses need the census. Medical professionals need the census in order to deliver health care. Canadians need the census.

What no one can understand is why the Prime Minister is the only person in Canada who seems to believe that it is permissible to vandalize an institution that Canadians care about.

Why will he not listen to Canadians? Does he believe that he makes the rules?

CensusOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what I understand, and what we understand on this side, is that if we want accurate information from the Canadian population, we do not threaten them with jail terms or fines or with taking away their passports or their employment insurance. We deal with the reasonable concerns of the population. We work with the population. We are confident that the population will give us the information we need if we treat them like the responsible adults they deserve to be treated as.

National DefenceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, while other partner countries in the joint strike fighter project are hitting the brakes because of costs rising from $50 million to $92 million per plane, the Conservative government is going full throttle and is planning to stick Canadians with the bill.

Why can Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, and the United States re-evaluate their need for stealth aircraft and Canada cannot?

Why does the Minister of National Defence not act responsibly, slow down, and yes, meet the needs of the air force, but at best value for the taxpayers?