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House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was prairie.

Topics

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Presence in GalleryOral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier on a point of order.

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

November 28th, 2011 / 3 p.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the member for Ottawa—Orléans took advantage of my not being in my seat and insinuated that, in a statement I made on November 23, I put words in his mouth that he never uttered. Today I would like to correct the statement he made at the time. I shall read exactly what was said on November 22 in the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

I think it is rather inappropriate to use the official languages committee to make such inflammatory remarks. Canada's linguistic duality is essential to the country's survival.

A little further, we read:

Because this issue is raised in every meeting, I would like to take a few moments of my time here to point out that I was among the most disappointed of MPs when we learned of the appointment of a non-bilingual auditor general.

When the appointment was announced, I reacted strongly, wanting to know where the mistake had been made. The question I asked was, “Are you asking me to believe that nowhere in this country is there an accountant, an auditor, who is not just as qualified as the one we have hired, but who is also bilingual?”

I think that is clear enough. To put things in perspective, I will also reread my statement to make certain that everyone sees that the words I spoke were found in the remarks of the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans.

I would like to read my statement, which will not take very long—

Statements by MembersPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I think the hon. member has had enough time to present her argument, but the Chair believes that this disagreement over facts is not a valid point of order. I shall end the discussion now.

The hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, although my colleague, the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs and member for Ottawa West—Nepean, is not here, I would like to remind him, regarding what he said during oral questions last Friday, that I am the member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, and my name is Djaouida Sellah, not Pauline Marois.

Human Rights CommissionRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I have the honour to lay upon the table a special report from the Canadian Human Rights Commission entitled, “Human Rights Accountability and National Security Practises”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(e), this document is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Citizenship and ImmigrationCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled, “Supplementary Estimates (B) 2011-2012”.

Human Resources, Skills, Social Development and the Status of Persons with DisabilitiesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in relation to supplementary estimates (b) 2011-2012.

Canada Labour CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-361, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (minimum age of employment).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill which complements the incredible work of young members in the trade union movement who are raising awareness about Canada's inadequate minimum age laws and to advocate for Canada to ratify International Labour Organisation convention 138.

My bill would bring federal labour legislation into compliance with ILO convention 138 by ensuring that the age of employment shall not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling, which in Canada is age 16.

This threshold is set to protect the health and well-being of young people, and to ensure that they have the proper means to develop as individuals and citizens through sufficient education.

Just to be clear, my bill is not targeted at teens who work at Timmies after school. I fully appreciate that many students need part-time work to save for post-secondary education, help their families survive in these difficult economic times or to gain valuable working experience.

My bill would make an explicit exception for the light work of persons between 13 and 15 years of age. It states that such work may be permitted if it is not likely to be harmful to their health or development and is not such as to prejudice their attendance at school, their participation in vocational orientation or training programs.

However, there is an urgent need for Canada to act on adopting a minimum age law. We need to be clear that we do not condone child labour and we need to reverse the trend of increasing young people injured on the job. We have a duty to protect young Canadians.

It is shameful that all the existing minimum age laws under Canada's federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions currently contravene convention 138. In some cases, as with the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, official minimum age laws have actually weakened in recent years, dropping to as low as 12 years of age.

I hope that passage of my bill will be the impetus the government needs to finally signing on to ILO convention 138. Canada should be a leader in the fight to defeat child labour globally, but instead we remain passively complicit, if not active proponents of child labour here at home. If Canadians were aware of this fact, I am sure they would wholeheartedly agree that the time to act is now.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-362, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (increase of maximum number of weeks: combined weeks of benefits).

Mr. Speaker, all too often the government pays lip service to supporting women without taking any concrete steps to improve the lives of women and girls. Offering posters and platitudes simply is not good enough.

We need to take action now. That is why I am pleased to reintroduce legislation today that would make the employment insurance system fair for working mothers. One of the many barriers that prevent women from accessing EI entitlements is the anti-stacking provisions in the Employment Insurance Act. For example, these provisions prevent mothers who have secured maternity and parental benefits from accessing regular EI benefits in the event that they lose their jobs during these officially sanctioned leaves.

With layoff announcements still coming daily, new mothers often find that their workplaces are closing during their maternity leave, or they return to work but lose their jobs soon after. Shamefully, they find that they no longer qualify for the employment insurance benefits for which they have paid.

My bill would bring fairness to working mothers by eliminating the 50-week cap and changing the qualifying period so individuals could access their maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits without worrying that if they lost their jobs in the interim they would be left without EI.

Working moms deserve the support of this House. I urge all members to give unanimous consent to pass this bill now.

Finally, I want to thank the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan for seconding this bill and for her continuing support of this initiative. I know that when that bill comes before her committee, she will lead the fight for fairness for working mothers.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Conscientious Objection ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-363, An Act respecting conscientious objection to the use of taxes for military purposes.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this bill respecting conscientious objection to the use of taxes for military purposes. As an aside, I thank my colleague from New Westminster—Coquitlam for seconding this bill.

According to this bill, once an individual registers with the Minister of National Revenue as a conscientious objector, he or she may then request that a portion of taxes for military purposes be credited to a special conscientious objectors' account. This money would then be used for any non-military peace-building purposes.

I would like to congratulate my former colleague, Bill Siksay, for all his hard work in this area. Details of how this can be implemented are outlined in the bill.

I would also like to thank Anna Kirkpatrick and others from Conscience Canada who worked with me to fine-tune this bill.

Let us give peace a chance.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

The EnvironmentPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by residents from all over Ontario concerned with the proposed mega-quarry in Melancthon township in Dufferin county. This will be the largest open pit quarry in Canada at over 2,300 acres. People are concerned that the mega-quarry threatens the Grand and Nottawasaga Rivers' watersheds, including various freshwater fish species.

They call upon the Government of Canada to conduct an environmental assessment under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act on the proposed Highland Companies' mega-quarry development.

Kidney ResearchPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to present two petitions.

The first petition is from residents of the Peterborough area who are very concerned that kidney disease is a huge and growing problem in Canada. While real progress is being made in a variety of ways of preventing and coping with kidney disease, in particular the development of bio-artificial kidneys, they call upon Parliament to make research funding available to the Canadian Institutes for Health Research for the explicit purpose of conducting bio-artificial kidney research as an extension of the research being successfully conducted at several centres in the U.S.

Human SmugglingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns the formerly named Bill C-4, which was the bill on preventing human smugglers from abusing Canada's immigration system.

In this petition, signed by people in East Vancouver, the petitioners point out that this particular bill violates Canada's international obligations under the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

They point out that smuggling is already punishable by life imprisonment or a fine up to $1 million in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. They call on the Government of Canada to withdraw this bill.

Canadian Wheat BoardPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, this is a very timely petition given the government introduced Bill C-18, which is going to kill the Canadian Wheat Board. This petition is signed by many prairie farmers calling upon the government to respect the wishes of a majority of farmers. We all know that the majority of prairie grain wheat farmers want to retain the Canadian Wheat Board.

It is with pleasure that I submit this particular petition, which is very timely, and would ask all government members to pay attention to what a majority of grain farmers are saying in the Prairies.

Affordable HousingPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition which has been submitted by residents of Vancouver. It is a petition dealing with the right to housing, specifically noting that the right to proper housing is within Canada's commitments under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and pointing to solutions that have been developed.

This petition specifically references the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' proposals for a plan on housing and homelessness. It calls on the federal government not only to have a national affordable housing program but to make some very significant changes to our tax structure to allow those who are investors and builders to get a tax benefit from building more rental housing.

I am very honoured to present this petition. I know there are people at the city level who will be working very hard. We need to join with them at the federal level.

Child PornographyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, a number of folks from Trail, Montrose, Fruitvale and Rossland are really concerned about child pornography and child exploitation. The petitioners state that statistics show that 39% of those who possess child sex abuse materials have images of children between the ages of three and five and 83% have images of children between the ages of 6 and 12 being sexually assaulted.

Section 163 of the Criminal Code currently allows sentencing of as little as 90 days for making criminal child sex material and 14 days for the possession of criminal sex materials. They request that Parliament speedily enact legislation to change this illegal terminology in section 163 from child pornography to child sex abuse materials, and enact strong and mandatory minimum sentences to protect children, provide justice and deter pedophilia.

Multiple SclerosisPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition regarding chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency or CCSVI.

Over 15,000 procedures have now been performed in over 60 countries. While the government has announced requests for proposals for phase 1 or 2 clinical trials, angioplasty is a standard of care practice in North America. The United States already has three phase 2 clinical trials being undertaken.

The petitioners are calling on the Minister of Health to consult experts actively engaged in diagnosis and treatment of CCSVI, to undertake phase 3 clinical trials on an urgent basis with a large patient participation in multiple centres across Canada, and to require follow-up care.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The EnvironmentRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The Chair has a request for an emergency debate on the same subject by two different members. I will hear the member for Etobicoke North first and then the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

The EnvironmentRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask for an emergency debate regarding federal leadership on our international obligations with respect to climate change.

As the world's nations, which have committed to action on climate change, begin meeting for COP 17 in Durban today to negotiate a fair, ambitious and binding deal to address global climate change, our own government is threatening to eschew its international obligations.

The latest round of negotiations is particularly important because the existing framework expires next year and the window to keep climate change to the 2°C limit, a threshold associated with dangerous climate change, is fast approaching.

I therefore request an emergency debate to ask the government to show leadership by providing a clear plan to demonstrate how it will meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets, reversing any climate change and ozone monitoring cuts at Environment Canada, and taking a leadership role in negotiating in good faith at Durban.

The EnvironmentRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, while our requests to adjourn for an emergency debate are in the same subject area, they are slightly different.

I am requesting an emergency debate on a specific and important matter regarding urgent consideration. It is specifically in reference to Canada's negotiating position at COP 17 taking place and opening today in Durban, South Africa.

In this House, we have not had an opportunity to debate and as I laid out in my letter to you, Mr. Speaker, we have been denied positions within the official delegation, which means no opposition members of Parliament will be capable of advising our government as it goes forward in negotiations.

I did put a question to the hon. government House leader on Thursday as to whether there would be an opportunity to debate climate change in the very narrow window we have to influence the Canadian government, that being the time before the hon. Minister of the Environment himself leaves to go to Durban to lead our delegation in those negotiations.

This is very urgent. It is very specific. If there were ever a time for an emergency debate in this House, it would be on this issue on this day when we have also just learned through the media that there is an intention from the government, without having consulted the House, to actually withdraw from our legal commitments.

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, with the number of precedents which I have cited for you, that your discretion be exercised toward allowing the members of Parliament in the House of Commons, here present, to have an opportunity to debate the urgent issue of our negotiating position going toward COP 17.

Speaker's RulingRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I appreciate the fact that there may have been a slight difference in the request for emergency debate. The main thrust of the subject matter was in the same general context, so that is why I chose to treat the requests at the same time.

I regret to inform the members that I do not think it meets the very high threshold established for granting emergency debates at this time.