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House of Commons Hansard #137 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was military.

Topics

2 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 Medicine Hat.

[Members sang the national anthem]

Terry FoxStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Holder Conservative London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, last fall, I helped launch the Parks Canada, Terry Fox Foundation and Fox family competition, “What Terry Fox means to me”.

Young people from across Canada submitted their ideas for a quote in English and one in French, as well as a design concept for the Mile 0 tribute to commemorate Terry Fox in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Terry Fox inspired his generation and those who followed with his courageous Marathon of Hope.

Now, these three youth will, in their own way, inspire their generation and those who follow. As proof of Terry's ability to unite a nation, the finalists come from coast to coast. I congratulate Andrew Schulz of Fraser Lake, British Columbia; Alyssa Villeneuve from Rockland, Ontario; and Ashley Murray from Saint John, New Brunswick.

I also applaud the Minister of the Environment and his predecessor, the hon. Jim Prentice, for their steadfast commitment to preserving and enhancing the legacy of one of Canada's greatest heroes.

Terry Fox's legacy lives on.

Elder AbuseStatements By Members

March 2nd, 2011 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this week, Canadians were shocked to learn of a case of elder abuse involving a 68-year-old woman with dementia living in an unheated garage.

The minister for seniors responded by saying that these cases were not new. He said that he was familiar with elder abuse from his days as a police official and promised that help was on the way.

This all sounds good but, despite what the minister would have us believe, the Conservatives clearly have no intention of addressing this crime today or ever.

On page 179 of the 2011-12 estimates, the government committed to slash the funding to non-profit organizations working to reduce the incidence of elder abuse and fraud.

That is right, despite the promises of help to prevent elder abuse, the Conservatives plan to cut this funding by a staggering 44%.

Elder abuse is a heinous crime that can and must be stopped.

Talk is not enough. When will the Conservatives start living up to their own promises and start standing up and protecting seniors?

Roméo PronovostStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, two days before Valentine's Day, on February 12, 1906, Mr. Pronovost was born and was named Roméo. He was a horticulturalist by training and moved to the Eastern Townships in 1934, where he worked with area farmers. He was the man responsible for the apple trees in Compton and the strawberry and raspberry plants that are the pride of our region.

I was very pleased to be able to celebrate the 105th birthday of the oldest man in Sherbrooke. This political enthusiast has stories to share about the likes of premiers Alexandre Taschereau, Maurice Duplessis and René Lévesque.

The wisdom of this venerable Sherbrooke resident is matched only by his great clarity and unfailing political judgment. Thus, it is no surprise that he is the oldest member of the Bloc Québécois. Although he never knows whether he will make it until his next birthday, he did not hesitate to renew his membership card for three years.

Mr. Pronovost, on behalf of all of our colleagues, we wish you all the best on your 105th birthday.

2014 Juno AwardsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Denise Savoie NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, Victoria is a hotbed of creative industries and musical talent. Indie rockers Jets Overhead, violin sensations Timothy and Nikki Chooi, the eclectic Oliver Swain, and the ultra-cool Vince Vaccaro are just a few of the exceptional and inspiring musicians from the capital region of Canada's coolest province.

I am not personally on that list so I will instead use my speaking voice in the House of Commons to boost our community's exciting campaign to bring the Junos to Victoria in 2014.

I have connected the heritage minister with the bid committee which is planning a year-long celebration of Vancouver Island music in advance of the Juno ceremony.

We have the facilities, we have the best March weather in the country and we have extraordinary talent to host a rockin' Juno party in 2014.

New Democratic Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Ottawa NDP has an unblemished record when it comes to being soft on crime, and their opposition to Bill S-10 is just the latest example. Bill S-10 would crack down on grow-ops and traffickers but the NDP is standing in the way.

Just this week, two masked men broke into a home in Pitt Meadows looking to rip-off a grow-op. They held the occupants of the home at gun point. There was one problem. They had targeted the wrong house. This is the fear of every family living near a grow-op. Innocent people are put at risk when these criminal operations are allowed to flourish.

I recently received a letter from Mission residents who are living in fear in their own neighbourhood. They told me, “We need to change our laws. These criminals are laughing in our faces. Why can't we support our RCMP, our cities and our citizens?” Those are very good questions.

Our Conservative government will continue to stand up for law-abiding citizens and victims of crime. Why will the Ottawa NDP not do the same?

Miguel Gonzalez and Luc PaquetteStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Massimo Pacetti Liberal Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 8, 2011, at the Citadel in Quebec City, I had the pleasure and honour to see Miguel Gonzalez, one of my constituents, receive the Star of Courage from the Governor General of Canada. This medal recognizes acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril.

The ceremony recognized the heroic and courageous actions of Mr. Gonzalez. On October 28, 2008, in Quebec City, Miguel Gonzalez and Luc Paquette jumped into the polluted, frigid waters of the St. Lawrence River to rescue a co-worker and keep him from drowning. The victim accidentally fell into the river and was injured and unconscious.

I would like to again congratulate Mr. Gonzalez and his co-worker, Mr. Paquette, on this great act of bravery and generosity.

Bay of FundyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Kerr Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, as I said in the House last April, the Bay of Fundy is the only Canadian contestant left on the international stage of 28 finalists to become one of the new seven wonders of nature.

The Bay is going head to head with renowned sites such as the Grand Canyon and the Amazon, but with enough votes we can win.

Until recently, votes were only accepted online. Now people can vote as many times as they want from a mobile phone by texting the word FUNDY to 77077. Each vote costs 25¢ and will count as one vote for the Bay.

As Terri McCulloch from the Bay of Fundy Tourism said, “If everyone spent $1 and voted four times, the Bay would have a terrific chance on the world stage”.

I am once again asking all members of the House to support this initiative and to encourage their constituents to vote for the Bay online and by text. Voting will continue until the contest's conclusion in November.

Voting for the Bay is voting for Canada.

Quebec AthletesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year's Canada Games wrapped up in Halifax on Sunday, February 27. Quebec's athletes triumphed at the games. They scored a fantastic hat trick by winning the most gold, silver and bronze medals, with a total of 137 medals, beating out Ontario and British Columbia.

We would also like to commend the efforts of Quebec's future athletes who are competing right now at the Quebec winter games, which are being held in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the great victory achieved today by a young cross-country skier from Quebec, Alex Harvey, and his teammate, Devon Kershaw, who, by winning the classic sprint relay, became the first Canadian men ever to win a gold medal in a cross-country world championship race.

The Bloc Québécois is proud to commend these athletes' excellent achievements in their respective sports, as they showcase, once again, all the brilliant talent that Quebeckers possess.

Alex Harvey and Devon KershawStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, this very morning, two Canadian athletes made cross-country skiing history. In Oslo, Norway, cross-country skiers Alex Harvey from Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges and Devon Kershaw from Sudbury led Canada to the top of the podium in the men's team sprint at the Nordic world championships. This is Canada's first gold medal in men's competition at the world championships.

We would be remiss in not recognizing the perseverance and years of work it takes to prepare for this level of competition. This morning, two Canadian athletes showed they are among the best in this sport.

I want to stress the remarkable support for our heroes, their families, the trainers, the technical support and the sponsors.

I want to congratulate Alex Harvey, the son of an engineer, and Devon Kershaw. We wish them much success for the rest of the season and for seasons to come. They are proving that anything is possible when we work together as a team.

Shahbaz BhattiStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rob Oliphant Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise with a heavy heart today to pay tribute to the life of Pakistan's minority affairs minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, and to condemn his assassination yesterday.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Mr. Bhatti and to encourage him in his work protecting the rights of minorities in Pakistan.

Today we stand with all who grieve this loss of a voice of reason, compassion and tolerance.

His brother, my friend Peter, has asked me to call on our government to take concrete actions to compel the government of Pakistan to protect minority communities. He has also asked for special consideration for those whose lives are in grave danger seeking refuge in Canada.

Following the assassination of the Punjab governor, Salman Taseer, Mr. Bhatti acknowledged that he would likely be killed but said that forces of violence and extremism would never stop him. We must now ensure that these forces never win.

The Muslims I represent have shown me the beauty of Islam and taught me that Islam espouses respect among all people. With me, they condemn this atrocity and together we pray for the dignity of every human being regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

First Nations Financial Transparency ActStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House Bill C-575, the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, which will be voted on this evening in the House of Commons at second reading.

This is a serious and important issue. The men and women of first nations reserves across Canada have the right to know what their elected officials are receiving from their bands' bank accounts, just like we all know what other elected officials at the federal, provincial and municipal levels are earning.

Bill C-575 will create legislation to disclose the remuneration paid to councillors and chiefs subject to the Indian Act. By establishing a clear, consistent standard for the financial disclosure of salaries and reimbursement of expenses of elected officials, we will enable citizens to make informed decisions.

First nations citizens deserve to know what their leaders receive in salaries and benefits. I call on all members of the House to vote in favour of this bill and support first nations communities.

Child WelfareStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week the Canadian Human Rights Commission took the extraordinary step of issuing a public statement rebuking the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

There has been a two-year delay in hearing the details of a case brought forward by Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations against the federal government for the underfunding of child welfare agencies on reserves.

This commission said the failure was having a direct impact on the lives of vulnerable children. There are more aboriginal children in foster care now than attended residential schools at the height of that era.

Child welfare advocates across the country have been speaking out about the funding and how it puts aboriginal children at risk: at risk of failure to thrive, at risk of losing attachment to their extended family, at risk of poor health, at risk of poverty, at risk of entering the corrections system at a young age, and at risk, in too many cases, of losing their lives.

I ask all members to join me in demanding better for these vulnerable children. The underfunding of child welfare services on reserves must end.

Digital Media HubStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of this House a wonderful project, which is currently under way in Kitchener and is known as the Hub. It is a communitech operation based in Waterloo, operating in Kitchener, which is in fact designed to encourage digital communication across the country and around the world.

This is just an example of the many high-tech operations going on in my riding of Kitchener Centre.

Canadian BilingualismStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Gaudet Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to point out to the House the obvious bad faith of the federalists who too often repeat the mantra of Canadian bilingualism.

If Canada were truly bilingual, my colleague from Jeanne-Le Ber would not have fought for years for access to French services at the Montreal office of the Immigration and Refugee Board. The current debate about the bilingualism of Supreme Court justices would not be needed. The Commissioner of Official Languages and the French and English media would not have unanimously criticized the limited amount of French, an official language of the Olympics, at the 2010 Vancouver Games. Francophone employees of Service Canada in Kentville, Nova Scotia, would be allowed to provide services in French to francophones. That shows that, outside of Quebec, French is of no importance.

Canadian bilingualism from coast to coast cannot pass a reality test. In fact, Canadian bilingualism is but a grand federalist illusion.

International Criminal CourtStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the International Criminal Court was first established on July 1, 2002, I stated then that it was the most important development in international criminal and humanitarian law since Nuremberg, that it would work to bring war criminals to justice, to combat the culture of impunity, to provide redress for the victims of mass atrocity and to act as a deterrent to further atrocities.

Years later, with all the imperfections that have attended its work, the ICC has nonetheless fulfilled its initial mandate and promise as exemplified in the indictment of President al-Bashir of Sudan for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and the referral by the UN Security Council, supported by the government, of the cases of Colonel Gadhafi and Libyan leaders to the ICC for prospective investigation and prosecution.

Therefore, it is astonishing that the government would seek to cut financial support for the ICC at a time when it is so crucial to the struggle for international justice. It is astonishing that a government that would expend billions of dollars for the building of megaprisons that are unnecessary, and that would cut funding for the International Criminal Court that is so necessary to the pursuit of justice.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, our party stands alone in its commitment to keep taxes down.

In 2007, this government made the decision to lower taxes on job creators. Thanks to our government, Canada's corporate tax rate today stands at 16.5%.

At the Canadian Federation of Agriculture's general meeting, one of my constituents asked the Liberal leader about the party's current position on job-killing tax hikes. The Liberal leader said, “We've got corporate tax in Canada at 18%”.

My constituent gave the Liberals the benefit of the doubt. The Liberals do not understand agriculture. They do not understand business. The opposition has made job-killing tax hikes the centrepiece of their vision for Canada.

Farmers deserve to know if the Liberals are deceiving them on purpose, or whether the Liberal Party, as has been speculated, just does not get agriculture or business.

Agriculture is a business that does not need to be taxed to death.

PakistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, before I ask the normal round of questions, I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to join the member for Don Valley West to express the shock, outrage, and anger of this side of the House at the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, a friend of Canada and a passionate defender of religious freedom in Pakistan.

PakistanOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his question and the member for his statement as well.

I want to also share in that shock and outrage, and also to express our condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who was a courageous defender of human rights. He was recently in my office. He knew that his life was in jeopardy in his fight against the notorious blasphemy laws and his defence of religious freedom.

We call on Pakistani authorities to pursue justice for the killers of minister Bhatti and also to ensure that they continue the fight for religious freedom for both non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Federal Court of Appeal judges agree with Elections Canada and the crown attorney: the Conservatives violated the Canada Elections Act. They have been accused of fraud, and members of the Prime Minister's inner circle may have to serve time in prison. To claim that this is simply a difference of opinion on an administrative matter is an insult to the intelligence of this House and Canadians.

When will the Prime Minister stop defending the indefensible?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the courts rendered different decisions on this issue, which is why we will appeal the most recent decision. Our party's position is to always respect Elections Canada's interpretation of the law and, in fact, we changed our practices in this regard three years ago.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this in and out scandal is more than forged invoices. It is more than police raids on Conservative Party headquarters and it is more than just the clique around the Prime Minister facing jail time. This is fundamentally a question about the public character of the Prime Minister, his lust to win at any cost and at any price.

Will he admit that he encouraged his party to break the law, defraud the Canadian taxpayer, and will he have the decency to stand in the House and finally tell Canadians the truth?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, there have been different court decisions on this particular matter, which has gone on for some years. For that reason, we will be appealing the most recent decision.

That said, our position is clear: we respect the interpretations of Elections Canada. In this particular instance, we changed our practices to conform with its new interpretations three years ago.

As for election verdicts, I would encourage the Leader of the Opposition to focus on the economy and the real priority of Canadians.

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed that the Conservatives did not have the right to be reimbursed for fraudulent campaign spending out of taxpayers' money. The Conservatives have been caught stealing from Canadians. The truth is out about their system of electoral fraud.

What is the Prime Minister waiting for to punish his special friends in the Senate who have been charged in this case? Is he waiting until they are behind bars?

Political FinancingOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows this is a five-year-old administrative dispute. One court has ruled in favour of the Conservative Party and another court has not. Otherwise, it is the typical back and forth that one would expect in an administrative dispute of this kind.

That said, the Conservative Party has always followed all of the election rules. We have a strong case and we will continue to defend it.