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House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was women.


Fair Representation ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Mississauga—Brampton South Ontario


Eve Adams ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-20, the fair representation act, as it would provide much fairer representation for my home province of Ontario. What the bill addresses is the serious and increasing under-representation of our fastest growing provinces, especially Ontario.

This under-representation is a serious problem that requires an immediate solution. Something must be done. This problem is only going to get worse if we keep the status quo. Happily, we have a solution to fix this problem and a government that is interested in fixing it, not just using the problem to score political points.

Our government is committed to addressing this problem with the fair representation act. Bill C-20 provides a principled update to the formula allocating House of Commons seats that is fair for all provinces. This is an important point. Increasing representation for the faster growing provinces should not be done at the cost of pitting region against region, or Canadian against Canadian. What we have seen from the opposition parties on this issue is quite the opposite. Their proposals, both in their own way, compromise the democratic representation of some Canadians in the name of making political statements.

The NDP, on the one hand, would guarantee a province a fixed percentage of seats in the House regardless of its share of the population. That is not in keeping with our formula that moves all provinces closer to representation by population. The fact is the NDP proposal would introduce a new factor that would cause further under-representation of the faster growing provinces, like Ontario, provinces that we need to treat more fairly. The change proposed by the NDP is not something this House and our Parliament can do on its own.

The Liberals, on the other hand, present a proposal that would be a recipe for provincial anger and conflict. The Liberals propose taking seats away from the smaller, slower growing provinces and giving those seats to the larger, faster growing provinces.

We make no apologies for addressing the significant and increasing under-representation of ordinary Canadians. Our bill does that, just as we promised it would. We also make no apologies for believing that this problem should not be fixed by inflicting seat losses on other provinces.

Just as we are ensuring that no province can move from being overrepresented to under-represented as a result of this formula, we are also ensuring that no province would lose seats through this formula. That is why we made three distinct promises on House of Commons representation in the last election to ensure that any update to the formula would be fair for all Canadians in all provinces. First, we said we would increase the number of seats now and in the future to better reflect population growth in places like British Columbia, my home province of Ontario, and Alberta. Second, we would protect the number of seats for smaller provinces. Third, we would protect the proportional representation of Quebec according to its population.

We would have to move away from those promises in order to implement either of the opposition parties' proposals. We are not going to do that.

Our government received a very strong mandate in the last federal election to deliver on the commitments we made, and we are doing exactly that with the fair representation act. It is important that these three commitments be taken together. When taken together, the update to the formula allocating House of Commons seats would be fair across the country. The practical result of Bill C-20 is that every single Canadian moves closer to representation by population.

Our first commitment is the importance of introducing a seat allocation formula that is more responsive to population size and trends. This legislation would move the House closer to fair representation for Canadians living in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, while maintaining the number of seats for slower growing provinces, and ensuring Quebec's representation is equal to its population. By introducing a seat allocation formula that is more responsive to population size and trends, the fair representation act would move the House closer to representation by population both now and well into the future.

The practical effect is that Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta would be entitled to new seats under the fair representation act. Ontario, with the largest population, would receive 15 new seats. Historically, we have always been under-represented in the House. I believe my residents deserve equal voice in the House. Alberta would receive six new seats rather than only three. British Columbia would receive six new seats rather than only one. Quebec's representation which will equal its population means that it will receive three new seats.

This is the best formula to move all provinces toward representation by population in a principled manner. This fair representation would have a direct effect on my riding in Mississauga and on the greater Toronto area as a whole. Canadians, especially new Canadians and visible minorities, would be much more fairly represented than they are now. Ontario residents are entitled to fair representation, and the populations of our ridings would be much more manageable.

Our second commitment is that the government will address under-representation in a way that respects the representation of smaller provinces. This is a long-standing commitment of our government and our party. Canadians have given us a strong mandate to deliver in this regard.

The fair representation act is fair for all Canadians, not just for some provinces. It is a measured investment that brings every single Canadian closer to representation by population. We have committed to protect the seat counts of the smaller provinces and we will keep that promise.

Finally, our third commitment under the fair representation act also provides that the seat allocation formula would apply a representation rule. If a province becomes under-represented as a result of the application of the updated formula, additional seats would be allocated to that province so that its representation would equal its share of the population. Based on population estimates, Quebec would be the first province to receive new seats in order not to become under-represented by the application of the updated formula.

Quebec has 23% of the provincial population and will have 23% of the provincial seats in the House of Commons. My colleagues have said that before and I will repeat that again. Quebec would be fairly represented under this bill. That said, the representation rule is nationally applicable and applies equally to every single province in the country that enters the scenario.

This representation rule is a principled measure that ensures smaller and low-growth provinces would not become under-represented in the future. They would maintain representation that is in line with their share of the population. That is fair as well.

In conclusion, this bill, the fair representation act, is the best formula to address the under-representation of Canadians living in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia without causing undue conflict. It is reasonable. It is principled. It is nationally applicable. Most importantly, it is fair to all Canadians. It will achieve better representation for Canadians living in faster growing provinces while maintaining representation for smaller and slower growing provinces. It is eminently more fair for Ontario. It brings every single Canadian closer to representation by population. It delivers on our government's long-standing commitment to move toward fair representation in the House of Commons.

The fair representation act is principled and reasonable legislation that needs to be passed as quickly as possible. I encourage the opposition to work with us on this important piece of legislation for Ontario and for all Canadians.

Fair Representation ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member will have five minutes for questions and comments after question period.

Fred Page CupStatements By Members

December 9th, 2011 / 10:55 a.m.


Scott Armstrong Conservative Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the Truro Junior A Bearcats in my hometown. The team will host the 2013 Fred Page Cup.

The Fred Page Cup is the eastern Canadian junior A hockey championship. It will showcase the best junior A hockey players from Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

I congratulate Stu Rath, Keith MacKenzie, Shawn Evans, and the rest of the Bearcats organization for being awarded this tremendous opportunity.

I would like to let members and all Canadians know that this event will be held in the Central Nova civic centre, a brand new facility which is under construction right now, thanks in part to a $10 million federal government investment announced by the Prime Minister himself in February 2010.

The Fred Page Cup is going to be a tremendous event. I cannot wait to drop the puck at centre ice with the Minister of National Defence, who is also a great Truro Junior A Bearcats fan, and then see the Truro Junior A Bearcats hoist the cup in victory.

I invite everyone to come and see the Fred Page Cup in Truro and enjoy some of our world-class hospitality.

SOS RichelieuStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely shocked and disgusted today by the theft that took place on December 7 at SOS Richelieu.

This assistance organization, which was created in the aftermath of the disastrous flooding that devastated a large part of the Montérégie region in the spring and summer of 2011, surprised everyone with its quick response and incredible effectiveness across the Haut-Richelieu region.

A total of $17,000 in gift cards was stolen. These gift cards, donated by extremely generous business owners in the riding of Saint-Jean, were to be handed out to the flood victims' children at the children's Christmas party organized by the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I commend this association for its solidarity.

On September 25, I even personally invited these people from SOS Richelieu to congratulate them.

I want to reiterate my support for the entire SOS Richelieu team and especially its president, Michel Fecteau, and to let them know that they can count on me, the members of the NDP and my colleagues from Chambly—Borduas and Brome—Missisquoi to help boost morale among the families affected by the flooding.

Government PrioritiesStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, last spring Canadians elected a government that is listening and keeping its promises.

Canadians told me they wanted a government that would make keeping their children and communities safe a priority. As promised, within the first 100 sitting days of Parliament, we will pass Bill C-10.

Farmers in my riding told me that they wanted the freedom to market their own wheat and barley. We are delivering by passing Bill C-18.

I regularly hear how wasteful the long gun registry is. I am very pleased that the government is passing Bill C-19 to end this discrimination against law-abiding citizens.

People across Canada have also told me of the need for increased transparency and accountability for first nations governance. I am proud that the government has introduced Bill C-27.

We have listened and we have acted.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, rising global greenhouse gas emissions present clear evidence that the fight to prevent dangerous climate change is being lost and we must not let that happen. That is why the stakes are so high at the climate conference in Durban and constructive solutions are so urgently needed. How shameful that the Conservative government has been described as “swinging a wrecking ball through the conference”.

Canada's emissions continue to increase and will fall well short of our required reductions as well as the watered down Conservative targets for 2020.

Under the current government, the oil and gas industry receives $1.3 billion in annual subsidies. In effect, Canadian taxpayers are paying almost $9 for every tonne of CO2 pollution the industry emits. That is backwards. In Europe the polluter pays per tonne of CO2. The result in Germany has been the creation of almost half a million new green energy jobs.

The conference in Durban ends today, but the battle to prevent climate change is far from over. The government must respect the majority of Canadians who want Canada to help construct, not obstruct, solutions.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to call the attention of the House to the situation in Camp Ashraf which the Iraqi government has demanded be closed by the end of the month.

The camp, which is home to over 3,000 political refugees, has been protected by the U.S. and coalition forces. However, with the U.S. winding down its operation in Iraq, there are concerns that this will displace thousands of people who will have nowhere to go.

Canada encourages the Iraqi government to extend the closure deadline in order to allow remaining residents sufficient time to take the required steps to seek asylum and to allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to consider and process applications.

We call on Iraq to meet its obligations under international law and ensure that Camp Ashraf residents are not forcibly transferred to another country where they could suffer.

Canadians, indeed all people, expect no less.

HomelessnessStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a group of individuals. We often see them on the street, but we do everything we can to ignore them. I am talking about homeless people.

Because of the economic crisis and job losses, their numbers are increasing. This summer, shelters were at 90% capacity, which is unheard of. Imagine how full they must be now that winter is here. And this phenomenon is not unique to urban centres; the number of homeless people is on the rise in my riding of Hochelaga, which is about five kilometres from downtown Montreal.

Despite the skyrocketing needs, federal funding is a third of what it should be. Several vital programs have been denied assistance. For instance, Cap Saint-Barnabé in Hochelaga needs more support. The government needs to deal with what is quickly becoming an emergency situation and provide funding to community groups immediately.

Here is my suggestion to government members: the next time they meet a homeless person in the street, they should look that person in the eye. Perhaps then they will understand.

Head InjuriesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to bring awareness to an issue I have championed for years in my role as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and that is the prevention of injuries among Canada's youth.

Injury prevention is critical to providing safe environments for Canada's children to grow up healthy and active. Tragically preventable injuries are one of the leading causes of death of Canadian kids.

In my riding of Simcoe—Grey, I was pleased to hold a helmet clinic at Matthew Co-op in Collingwood to highlight to children the importance of wearing helmets.

I am proud to be part of a government that has taken real steps to reduce sports-related head injuries among Canada's youth.

Our government's national injury prevention strategy launched nine months ago is making significant strides in investing in the initiatives to reduce head injuries. Organizations like the Sandbox Project and ThinkFirst are just two of the many organizations that have brought awareness to head injuries and concussions.

I urge all members of this House to encourage young people to stay active, play sports and, most important, play safe by wearing a helmet.

Eastern Ottawa Resource CentreStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, the holiday season is a time for all Canadians to embrace the spirit of Christian love and sharing. However, what are happy memories for some can cause anxiety in others.

As we prepare to offer our families and loved ones tokens of affection, let us go beyond the symbols of consumerism. Let us offer real love and sharing. Let us focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Reach out and lend a hand to someone in need.

In Ottawa—Orléans the best way is to assist the Orléans-Cumberland Community Resource Centre at 613-830-4357.

May we never forget to reach out to those in need. In Ottawa—Orléans, the best way to do so is through the Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre, at 613-741-6025.

Gloria in excelsis Deo.

White Birch PaperStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, today the 600 workers of White Birch Paper in Quebec City, their families, the suppliers, and customers waiting for delivery of their orders continue to be held hostage by investor Peter Brant. Unless Justice Robert Mongeon deems the shutdown illegal and requires the plant to continue operating 24/7, 365 days a year, all these people will be at the mercy of a billionaire's whims, two weeks before Christmas.

The Quebec City mill has a full order book and White Birch Papers has tens of millions of dollars in liquid assets. The current owner is refusing to top up the employees' retirement fund after years of failing to make contributions. This holdup of our industrial gems is tantamount to the despicable abandonment of our honest citizens by vultures who are incapable of contributing to our society.

For too long our government has sacrificed our men, women and children to these criminals masquerading as respectable people. Dealing with these economic crimes is on the NDP's agenda.

Natural ResourcesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, not long ago, Canada's natural resource industries were considered the old economy. No more hewing of wood and drawing of water for us, we were all going into that new information economy.

Our natural resource industries have come roaring back and are now the backbone of the Canadian economy. A recent BMO forecast said that economic growth would be the strongest in provinces dominated by the resources sector. The recent 3.5% third quarter increase in Canada's GDP was largely driven by a surge in exports of natural resources from rural Canada.

From mining to energy, from agriculture to forestry, from commercial fishing to trapping and from angling to hunting, these sectors are all carried out in rural Canada. They represent environmentally sound sustainable use at its very best. Interestingly, rural Canada represents about 20% of the Canadian population, but accounts for close to 50% of the value of Canada's exports. Talk about punching above our weight.

I represent a truly rural riding and I am proud of the contribution that rural Canadians and our natural resource industries make to our country.

Human Rights DayStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Alexandrine Latendresse NDP Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, December 10, is Human Rights Day. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created 63 years ago and we have recognized the extraordinary work of those who defend human rights throughout the world every year since then.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has declared the theme for Human Rights Day 2011 to be social media and human rights.

This year, the Arab Spring showed the extraordinary power that social media have to identify and denounce human rights abuses. Human rights defenders from Tunisia to Yemen took to the streets to demand the establishment of true democracy and an end to human rights violations. Through social media, activists throughout the world, from New York to Cairo, are able to engage in discussions and organize peaceful protests that focus on the importance of human rights for everyone.

Respect for human rights is everyone's responsibility. On this important day, I would like to pay tribute, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, to all those who defend human rights.

Status of WomenStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Kyle Seeback Conservative Brampton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 30th anniversary of Canada's ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It happens on December 10, Human Rights Day.

Canada was one of the first countries to sign and ratify this convention, which set international standards for eliminating gender discrimination. It provides the basis for realizing equality between women and men in economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.

Promoting equality for women and their full participation in the social, economic and democratic life of our country is a priority for our government. In line with our treaty obligations under this convention, we continue to take targeted action so women and girls are safer, more secure and much more economically successful.

Robert RideoutStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honour a great Newfoundlander who recently passed away. A great family man, a great soldier and a dear family friend, Robert Rideout, or Bob Rideout as most of us knew him, lived, married and raised his family in the town of Botwood.

In 1942, at only 17 years of age, Bob joined the 166th Field Regiment as a gunner and went to war overseas in Great Britain and Italy. After World War II, Bob devoted decades of service to the Royal Canadian Legion. He was a branch president and became a life member of Branch 12 in Grand Falls—Windsor. He was also commanding officer of the Botwood Sea Cadet Corps. For many years, Bob Rideout spent countless hours visiting veterans all over the province.

In 2005 he was awarded the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation. In 1999 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

At his funeral, Father Eugene Morris said that Bob Rideout exemplified the term “service”, service to his family, service to his community and, indeed, service to his country.

Religious FreedomStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Joe Daniel Conservative Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I commend individuals like Nguyen Van Ly, Gao Zhisheng, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and others who continue to struggle to promote freedom.

As Canadians, we should bear in mind that the rights we enjoy are not always shared by others around the world. Criminalization for apostasy and blasphemy disproportionately affects the religious minorities.

Regrettably, egregious violations of the right to religious freedom against individuals continue. Some examples include: Baha'is and Sufis facing mistreatment in Iran; Christians being forced out of Iraq; Copts facing attacks by extremists in Egypt; and Ahmadis continuing to face discrimination in Pakistan.

Sadly, places of worship, including churches, mosques, synagogues, shrines and monasteries, have been attacked or vandalized.

Our government will continue to promote freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world.

French as Language of WorkStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, I am pleased to rise to defend the French language in this House, but I am also sad because we have yet to see many results.

There are all kinds of concerns about the difficulty of working in French in Quebec, and the best idea the Conservatives could come up with was to create a committee, which we have not heard of since.

It is a non-committee with no mandate, no time frame, no chair, no budget, nothing concrete. Nothing, other than the government's clear attempt to buy time, hoping that the situation will resolve itself. But everyone knows that it will not. Quite the opposite, in fact. Problems continue to multiply, in banks, at Air Canada—with the potential move of 140 employees—and even in the Canadian public service.

I want to commend the work of the NDP, which has done its homework and is proposing practical solutions to problems facing francophone workers.

Once again, I urge the government to accept our offer of help and to work with us to recognize the language rights of francophones.

Canada-U.S. BorderStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.


Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, this has been a fantastic week for Canada-U.S. relations, our trade relationship and, most important, the Canadian economy.

I thank the Prime Minister, because on Wednesday he travelled to Washington, D.C. to announce the new beyond the border agreement with the President of the United States. Following the announcement, key economic stakeholders from both countries viewed this deal as very favourable. In fact, John Manley, president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said that this, “announcement represents a significant and much-needed step forward in Canada-U.S. cooperation, building on the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement”.

Our government has laid out a practical but ambitious plan to create jobs at home by improving the flow of goods and people across the Canadian-U.S. border. Going forward, we will continue to focus on what really matters most to Canadians: creating jobs and strengthening the Canadian economy.

PovertyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the gap between the rich and the poor in Canada is growing. According to the OECD, 10% of Canadians have an income of less than $10,000. In my riding, homeless shelters are full to overflowing. These people do not have a voice. They are helpless in the face of the government's inaction.

While the big banks are reaping record profits, the poor are becoming increasingly poor. How can the government justify this injustice?

PovertyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario


John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are pleased with the success our economic action plan has seen over the past few years. Many new jobs have been created.

However, we are well aware that there is still a lot of work to be done. That is why we included measures in the budget to speed up job creation, so that all Canadians can have a good quality of life.

As the federal government, our top priorities will continue to be job creation and economic growth.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the six biggest banks in Canada made $25.5 billion in profit this year. To reward them, the Conservatives are giving them $1.4 billion in tax cuts. We know for a fact that these gifts do nothing. No jobs will be created.

In other words, while families are having difficulty making ends meet, they are paying taxes to give gifts to banks. What exactly does this do for Canadians?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario


John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, providing support to low-income Canadians has been a huge priority for our government over the past six years. Let us look at some of the initiatives we have taken: we have taken over one million low-income Canadians right off the tax rolls, so they are not paying a dollar of tax themselves; we have increased the basic personal amount Canadians can earn without paying taxes; we have introduced the working income tax benefit to support low-income Canadians; we have increased the guaranteed income supplement for our most vulnerable seniors; and, finally, we lowered the GST, one of the taxes that low-income Canadians pay the most, from 7% to 6% to 5%. The NDP voted against each and every one of these initiatives.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.


Hélène Laverdière NDP Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, to take just one example, we could certainly do a lot more for seniors.

We are all for a healthy, well-regulated financial sector in this country, but that does not mean we should pamper the banks. The Royal Bank of Canada made $6.7 billion last year. The Conservatives saw fit to contribute almost $400 million to that profit in tax giveaways. How does that make sense?

Why are the Conservatives putting the Royal Bank before out-of-work Canadians?

The EconomyOral Questions

11:15 a.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean Ontario


John Baird ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case whatsoever. The member opposite, and Canadians, would be interested to know that banks in this country pay more than $8.4 billion in taxes.

Let us talk about seniors. The member opposite talked about seniors. We are the ones who brought in substantial support, the biggest increase in the guaranteed income supplement in 25 years, and the NDP voted against that. We brought in income splitting to make retirement easier for couples; the NDP voted against it. We took more than a million low-income seniors entirely off the tax rolls; the NDP voted against it. These were good measures to support low-income seniors.

The EconomyOral Questions

11:20 a.m.


Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the big six banks might be celebrating under the Conservative government, but Canadian families are not getting any further ahead. Jobless numbers are going up, not down. Life is getting more expensive, not more affordable. The $1.4 billion the government just blew on tax cuts for profitable banks could have been used to create jobs.

The government sure likes to play Santa to the banks, but why are Canadian families only getting a lump of coal?