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House of Commons Hansard #68 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was person.

Topics

Vallée Bras-du-Nord Co-operativeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The hon. member for Saint Boniface.

Doreen Champagne and Hyacinth ColombStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour two very special people who, unfortunately, both passed away on Monday, December 12.

My beloved friend, Doreen Champagne, passed away at the Riverview Health Centre surrounded by friends and family after a courageous battle with cancer. She was known for her volunteer work with the Boy Scouts from the 4th Winnipeg Group, including sewing neckerchiefs since the 1970s. She was also a regular blood donor and very active with her social club at 41 Clayton Drive. Her smile and warmth will be sadly missed by our community and her family.

I would also like to take a moment to remember Hyacinth Colomb, a 95-year-old elder and aboriginal leader from Pukatawagan. Throughout his life, he served his community as chief, band councillor and president of the Manitoba Trappers Association. He operated a trap line until he was 86 years old. Cree people deeply appreciated his wisdom and vast knowledge of their history, culture and traditions. He worked for Manitoba Conservation for more than 30 years and, in 2001, he was inducted into the Order of Manitoba recognizing his life of service to others.

I ask the House to join me in honouring the memories of both Hyacinth Colomb and Doreen Champagne. May they rest in peace.

TanzaniaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, on December 9, I had the honour to represent Canada at Tanzania's 50th anniversary celebration in Dar es Salaam. I left Tanzania 34 years ago with my wife and eldest daughter to immigrate to Canada to start a new life. Tanzania will always have a place in my heart as it is the land of my birth, where I studied and spent the early years of my life working as an air traffic controller.

East Africa, including Tanzania, remains imbedded in our hearts and I had the honour and privilege to be strongly engaged in promoting strong relations between Canada and East Africa. I am happy to note that progress has been made in Tanzania since implementation of the multi-party democratic system. However, as President Kikwete said, “more needs to be done”.

I wish the leadership and all Tanzanians at large the best in the next 50 years for the country to become prosperous and economically powerful under sustained peace and unity.

David RobertsonStatements By Members

December 15th, 2011 / 2:05 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to remember a good friend and colleague, David Robertson, who passed away last Friday, December 9.

David Robertson served his community for decades in various capacities. He served as a councillor for 13 years on Etobicoke City Council. He worked in Premier Rae's correspondence department in the 1990s. We were Scarborough running mates in the 2006 federal and municipal campaigns and, more recently, David was my campaign manager in this year's federal election.

In addition to his many years of public service, David was a teacher who taught ESL programs to new Canadians, a job he was very passionate about, and helped to integrate thousands of new Canadians into our society.

I wish to offer my most sincere condolences, those of the New Democratic Party of Canada and her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to David's mother, Helen; his wife, Phoenix; their son; Long You; and sister, Joan.

I thank David for dedicating so much of his life to building a better Toronto, a better Ontario and a better Canada.

International TradeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canadians gave our Conservative government a strong mandate to stay focused on what matters: creating jobs and economic growth.

On Monday, the NDP said that it would vote against the Canada-Panama economic growth and prosperity act. Yesterday, when the Canada–Jordan economic growth and prosperity act was debated, the NDP trade critic said that the NDP had issues with the bill and suggested that the NDP would not move forward on this agreement.

The NDP streak of opposing trade continues. Our government will press forward with our pro-trade plan. These bills would create jobs and economic growth for Canadian workers and families.

Yesterday, the Minister of State for Sport was in Brampton highlighting the Canada–India trade negotiations. Today, the hard-working Minister of International Trade is at the WTO fighting protectionism and opening up new markets for Canadian workers.

With one in five Canadian jobs generated by trade, the NDP's anti-trade agenda is proof that it is simply unfit for Parliament.

Law Clerk and Parliamentary CounselStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House on behalf of the NDP to pay tribute to one of Parliament's most distinguished procedural officers, Robert R. Walsh. Since his appointment in 1999, Rob has carried out his duties as Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel with fortitude and expert knowledge.

I have had the honour to know Rob over the years and to appreciate his wisdom, integrity and fairness. We recall in particular, in 2009, his outstanding contribution to uphold the rights of MPs to disclosure of documents pertaining to Afghanistan detainees. He never wavered in providing advice and expert opinion to the House.

He has shown immense dedication to serve and support individual MPs. He has courageously defended the democratic mandate of this parliamentary institution, a true public servant in the most honourable sense.

I know I speak for members from all sides in giving sincerest thanks to Rob for his service to Canadian democracy, and wish him all the best in his retirement.

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP has had quite a year of attacking Canada at home and abroad. Its members fought against good paying union jobs in the energy sector. They have opposed tax measures that helped Canadian families. Instead they offer lavish spending schemes that would push Canada off track and from a return to balanced budgets and have offered a whole range of higher taxes.

The NDP leadership candidates have proposed tax hikes on job creators, on consumers, on investors, on families, on banks and even a carbon tax that would raise the price of gas, energy and almost everything people buy.

The NDP agenda will put the economic recovery at risk, cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and hurt Canadian families. Canadians cannot afford the ineffective, disunited NDP—

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member is out of time.

The hon. member for Cape Breton—Canso.

Government of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, 'twas the week before Christmas and all over the Hill
The self-absorbed Tories were imposing their will
The stockings in Muskoka were stuffed to the brim
But life on first nations remained woefully grim.
And at the North Pole, Santa's problems abound
There was much work to do, but no workers around.
How can we do Christmas with no reindeer or elves?
The sleigh is a wreck, there are no toys on the shelves.
Costs have just spiralled, the elves threaten strike
They won't work this Christmas without a pay hike.
Federal money for deer feed and vets
Has just been reprofiled for big jails and jets.
Heartbroken children would spring from their beds
The first Christmas ever shut down by the feds.
No presents for Christmas, Tories felt the frustration
So they saddled the elves with back-to-work legislation.
No reindeer or sleigh can stop our roof-topper
Call Coast Guard and send in a Cormorant chopper.
The moral I share: Tories lack rhyme and reason
Nonetheless, all the best for a great Christmas season.

Religious FreedomStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned about crime and that is why they gave our government a strong mandate to keep our streets and communities safe. We have taken strong action on this file, specifically with the safe streets and communities act. However, we still see in our society ugly incidents of violence and discrimination based solely on an individual's race, colour or creed.

Violent attacks against synagogues, mosques and churches cannot be tolerated. That is why our government introduced the security infrastructure program in 2007, and that is why we extended it in the budget.

This program is important for cultural and religious communities to protect themselves from those who wish to harm them.

Today, the Minister of Public Safety has announced that we are now accepting applications for the next round of funding. I encourage any religious or cultural group that needs protection from racist or religious attack to bring forward an application.

As Canadians, we can all work together to protect important religious and cultural institutions from violence.

Committees of the HouseStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is official. The Conservative government has stopped pretending that it is open and transparent, and the Prime Minister's Office is bent more than ever on silencing anyone who dares to oppose it.

They have muzzled the backbenchers in the House.

The government would now like to hold committee meetings in camera.

I would like to remind members that, in 1995, this Prime Minister spoke out against in camera sessions when he stated, “In my opinion it is in the best interests of the public for the information to be readily available. It will affect who is elected. That will affect the quality of government.”

He was right. It does affect the quality of government.

Illicit lobbying, a $50 million slush fund, the use of military resources as a personal taxi—Canadians have seen it all, but the ministers remain unscathed.

In 1995, this Prime Minister came to Ottawa to change things, but Ottawa has changed him.

SyriaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. Since October, we have been encouraging Canadians to leave Syria while commercial means are still available. However, with additional sanctions imposed by the Arab League, reducing flights out of Damascus taking effect today, there may soon be fewer options to leave safety.

For this reason, today our government announced a voluntary evacuation for all Canadians from Syria. Over the next month, we will provide specialized consular assistance and an open express lane across government departments to help Canadians obtain the documentation they need to leave.

This is a difficult time for the people of Syria, as they face incredible hardship in their struggle for a brighter future. We urge Canadian citizens, their spouses and dependent children to apply for travel documents and ask that people with loved ones in Syria help us spread the message to loved ones back home. The time to leave Syria is now.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy new year.

The Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives will have a lot of explaining to do over the holidays. They will have to explain why they are forcing committees to sit in camera, why they spent $50 million without Parliament's approval and why their Minister of National Defence is taking trips in search and rescue helicopters and staying in luxury hotels in Europe. Can the Prime Minister tell us whether he is going to make good resolutions and change this behaviour in 2012 or whether he feels that the Conservatives are above these laws?

The Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, at this time of year in particular, we appreciate how lucky we are to be Canadian. One reason is that our government and our country have a very good track record in terms of job creation and growth, as compared to the other large, developed countries. These are our government's goals and we intend to continue to focus on the economy, growth and job creation.

The Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in fact, at this time of year, the government also has the responsibility to answer questions, and its track record is not very good in that regard.

The Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. We are experiencing technical difficulties with the simultaneous interpretation.

Is it working now?

The Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

The Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was saying that this time of year is also the time to look back and reflect, that it is important for the government to answer questions, and that the government's track record is not very good in that regard.

The Prime Minister's Minister of National Defence charged taxpayers $3,000 for just two nights in a hotel. His MPs hide their dirty tricks by forcing committees to meet in secret. His choice to run Treasury Board misdirected $50 million into a slush fund.

Again, will the Prime Minister make a New Year's resolution to clean up his act in 2012?

The Conservative GovernmentOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the assertions in that question at all.

What I have said is that at this time of year, in particular, we understand we are very lucky to be Canadian when we look around the world. This government is focused on the economy, on jobs, on economic growth. That is one of the reasons our country has one of the best records on those issues that matter to Canadians.

Those things will continue to be the focus of this government. That is why we were elected in 2011. They will continue to be the focus of this government in 2012.

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this government recently signed a border agreement that it had secretly negotiated with the United States. The Conservatives claim that this agreement will improve the flow of goods, but what they hid is that it will make travel more difficult. Eight border crossings across the country could disappear, and the opening hours of other crossings could be reduced. As usual, people in small communities will be forced to take long detours, and the local economies will certainly suffer. Could the Prime Minister explain the logic behind this decision?

Canada-U.S. RelationsOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, no such decision has been made. On the contrary, in this border plan with the United States, this government plans on investing more in our borders to improve the flow of goods and people.

While I am on my feet, if I do not happen to have this chance again, let me use this occasion to wish you, Mr. Speaker, and, through you, members of Parliament on all sides, a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, and all the best for the holiday season.

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, closing border crossings just makes matters worse. These crossings are the lifeblood of communities across the country. Why do the Conservatives not understand?

Details of the border deal negotiated behind closed doors are just leaking out now and it is not good news for border communities and their families. It turns out that part of the secret negotiations was looking at closing eight border crossings and reducing service at many more.

Why is the government shutting these crossings down? Why did it keep this secret for an entire year?

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, no decisions have been made regarding the draft report to which the member refers.

Our government is focused on ensuring that the shared border we have with the U.S. is secure, while also easing the flow of legitimate trade and travel. We are investing in our borders and we will continue to do so.

Canada-U.S. BorderOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all want smoother border crossings, but the government is not helping when it is shutting down crossings completely.

The Prime Minister had a year to come clean on his plan to close border crossings and he did not. He had a year to be honest with Canadians and he was not. Instead, he chose silence in Parliament and a fancy photo op at the White House.

We see yet again, every time the Conservatives negotiate with Americans, Canadian families lose. Why are they selling out border communities yet again?